Friday, 16 April 2010

FRIDAY RAMBLE: The Whitewash Edition

Much to talk about in this week’s ramble, so let’s get started.

  • There’s much to be said about Telecom’s fall and fall and further fall since David Cunliffe began dismembering while Theresa Gattung pandered.  The complaisance of Gattung while Telecom burned and Cunliffe plundered is a case study in (amongst other things)  how appeasement leads to destruction just as surely in business as it does in foreign affairs.
    Despite the self-serving cant of her biography, Gattung was Telecom’s Neville Chamberlain.  Yesterday’s fall in Telecom’s share price is her legacy, and Cunliffe’s.
  • While everyone was getting off on slapping each others back at the success of Obama’s ‘lets-all-get-along’ bunfest in keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists, the country who is the world’s biggest sponsor of world terrorism was getting on with their nuclear programme.  “Iran's bomb [say analysts at the Gloria Center] will change the strategic balance, inspire revolutionary Islamist movements, lead Arab and Western states toward appeasement, and thus shift power in the region decisively toward Tehran.” So no wonder Obama didn’t want them there.
    Listen to the Two Best Arab Journalists Warning What A Nuclear-Armed Iran Means [hat tip Nevil Gibson, NBR]
  • Does Obama’s arms control tie America’s hands?  You betcha. The primary importance is not reducing the number of nukes from many thousand to several thousand, but properly identifying your enemy.  Obama’s evasion of Iran’s belligerence (and Bush’s war on a tactic) indicate neither Administration has yet grasped that.
    The Non-Nuclear Option: Does Obama's Arms Control Tie America's Hands?  - PAJAMAS TV
  • John Cox comments. And now a word from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...
    MA And recommends Charles Krauthammer’s “sharp and insightful piece on the signing of the arms reduction treaty that examines how rogue nations just may benefit from this agreement.”
  • The first fruits of Obama-style engagement?  “The Wall Street Journal reports that Syria has transferred long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah.”
    The Fruits of Obama-Style Engagement - POWERLINE
  • Don’t worry about Obama’s re-plunging popularity.  He’s going to win the 2012 election the same way Franklin Roosevelt won the 1936 election at the same time in the Depression cycle: He’s going to buy it.
    FDR - Obama, Another Ominous Parallel – SHAVING LEVIATHAN
  • Okay, what’s this?
    pornfortheblind-300x210 If you answered, “a pornographic magazine for the blind,” then you get the prize.
    Pornographic magazine for the blind launched - TELEGRAPH
  • Britain is now enduring its own Tweedledum and Tweedledummer election.  Liberty Scott tries hard to see any difference between the Conservative and Labour Party manifestoes.  He’s not entirely successful.
    New Labour - Trust us, we know how to spend other people's money. – LIBERTY SCOTT
    Conservative manifesto - less worse than Labour but where is the freedom? – LIBERTY SCOTT
  • Samizdata shares similar sentiments:
    Dave Cameron's bold vision - more of the same... renamed – SAMIZDATA
  • But Tim Evans from the Adam Smith Institute thinks different. Brian Micklethwait interviews Tim, who is “in opposition to those who say that Cameron is a waste of space and heading for disaster, of one kind or another, electoral or Prime Ministerial.”
    Tim Evans talks about David Cameron – BRIAN MICKLETHWAIT’S BLOG
  • And how did those leaders’ debates go last night.  Says Guido Fawkes, “Spin is cheap, punters put their money where their mouth is, currently the punters on Political Smarkets rate the chances of victory for the leaders in the debates thus:
            16:45 David Cameron 55%  Nick Clegg 48% Gordon Brown 29%
            18:30 David Cameron 65%  Nick Clegg 48% Gordon Brown 20%
    And check out Guido’s ANTI Spin Room
  • Here’s three “highlights,” one from each of the people wanting control over British pockets:

  • And here they all are pandering to bigots:
  • Watch that last one again, and you’ll see what Chris Mounsey of the new Devil’s Kitchen means when he says:
                “Oh wow! It's only taken about ten minutes for the three Big Party leaders to
            attempt to outdo themselves in how unpleasant and draconian they are going to
            be to immigrants.
                “Any minute now, the camera will pan up and we'll see Nick Griffin [from the
            British National Party] holding the strings on three puppets. That must be the case.
                “Because surely Brown, Cameron and Clegg cannot possibly be this authoritarian
            and unpleasant, can they?”
    Um, yes they can.  And are.
  • The “scientific” report is out on the alleged scientists at the centre of the Climategate scandal and, surprise, surprise, it’s a whitewash.
    • ”The whitewash has been applied so thinly, you can still see the scandal poking through,” says Iain Murray.
      Whitewashing is quick work! – DAILY CALLER
    • “In short; trust us, we’re an inquiry.”
      A stuff-up but no conspiracy – CATALLAXY FILES
    • “I’ve read blog posts longer than this report,” says Anthony Watts of the Oxburgh committee’s 200o-word whitewash of Phil Jones and the East Anglian Climate Research Unit. The Global Warming Policy Foundation of London has this to say about it:
              “ The Panel worked by interviewing and questioning staff members of CRU, but
          failed to interview critical researchers who have been working in the same field
          for many years. The Panel even ignored, as it admits, to properly review their
          written evidence.
              “We welcome the acknowledgement by the Panel that the Urban Heat Island
          effect on surface temperatures records in and around large cities is important but  
          poorly understood. We also welcome the admission that the IPCC ignored the
          expressions of uncertainty in CRU papers.
              “We also note, in the context of the long-term temperature record, its comment that
                  ‘the potential for misleading results arising from selection bias is very great in
                  this area. It is regrettable that so few professional statisticians have been
                  involved in  this work.”
      In general, the report is being politely kind to CRU, but in essence rather
          critical of the disorganised and amateurish use of statistics….”
      Read Another Unsatisfactory Rushed Job
    • Steve McIntyre, the researcher responsible more than any other for bringing the Climate Research Unit to book, was just one of many the Oxburgh committee failed to speak to. Says McIntyre of the inquiry:
              “Without specifically mentioning the famous ‘trick …to hide the decline,’
          Oxburgh subsumes the ‘trick’ as ‘regrettable’ ‘neglect’ by ‘IPCC and others.’
              “But watch the pea under Oxburgh’s thimble.
              “The Oxburgh Report regrettably neglected to highlight the fact that CRU
          scientists Briffa and Jones, together with Michael Mann, were the IPCC authors
          responsible for this ‘regrettable neglect’ in the Third Assessment Report. They
          also regrettably neglected to report that CRU scientist Briffa was the IPCC author
          responsible for the corresponding section in [the IPCC’s Fourth Report] AR4….”
      Read Oxburgh’s Trick to Hide the Trick – STEVE McINTYRE
    • However, “After incompletely whitewashing the Climategate scandal, a member of the Oxburgh committee mentions in passing that the notorious ‘hockey stick’ may have been a crock::
      All clear, expect for one or two big exaggerations
  • ipcc-mwp-hockey-stick-globalwarming-graph-wuwt_thumb Meanwhile, following multiple revelations of slipshod, shoddy and less-than-scientific work in the IPCC’s much-vaunted reports, on which the world’s governments and Nick Smith are relying to do us all over,  a “citizen’s panel” of 40 auditors in 12 countries has taken it upon themselves to audit the quality of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) against the standards for peer review the IPCC say that they follow—and it turns out they’re rarely, if ever, followed at all.
            “21 of 44 chapters in the United Nations’ Nobel-winning climate bible earned an F
        on a report card [released] today. Forty citizen auditors from 12 countries examined
        18,531 sources cited in the report – finding 5,587 to be not peer-reviewed.
            “Contrary to statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
        Change (IPCC), the celebrated 2007 report does not rely solely on research published in
        reputable scientific journals. It also cites press releases, newspaper and magazine
        clippings, working papers, student theses, discussion papers, and literature published
        by green advocacy groups. Such material is often called ‘grey literature.’
            “We’ve been told this report [by the IPCC] is the gold standard. We’ve been told it’s
        100 percent peer-reviewed science. But thousands of sources cited by this report have
        not come within a mile of a scientific journal.
            “Based on the grading system used in US schools, 21 chapters in the IPCC report
        receive an F (they cite peer-reviewed sources less than 60% of the time), 4 chapters
        get a D, and 6 get a C. There are also 5 Bs and 8 As.
            “In November, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri disparaged non-peer-reviewed
    Read IPCC AR4 also gets a failing grade on 21 chapters, and send a copy of this report to your MP.
  • While climate scientists continue to be a disgrace to the last word in their job description, a real scientist has had a court victory in Britain over some real quacks—the Scientologists of medicine, the Chiropractic Association.
    Victory for Science over Quackery – WHALE OIL
  • So to celebrate, here’s a kitten with an iPad [hat tip Roar Prawn]
  • You think if “miracles” aren’t explicable you should fall down on your knees and pray?  Then you need to read this:
    The Skeptical Homeopath – DAMIAN PETERSON
  • China is "the world's greatest anti-poverty program of the last few decades," says Alex Tabarrok.  That’s a great way to think about it,
    The future of cooperation -- and economic growth: Exclusive interview with Alex Tabarrok – TED
  • VonMises Turns out Barney Frank knows his Ludwig von Mises better than most Republicans. “On Feb. 24, 2004, Rep. Frank took to the floor of the House and expressed amazement that many of his Republican colleagues, who had professed to believe in the free-market principles of Ludwig von Mises, were arguing for larger agricultural subsidies. Bravo! Although he himself opposes free markets, Barney Frank knows that Mises never would have advocated subsidies for a special interest. “
    And turns out, sadly, that many people know Ludwig von Mises better than the Mises Institute which, says Mark Hendrickson, should be re-named "The Rothbard Institute,"  something I’ve suggested myself before now.
            “I think [says Hendrickson] Mises would be disappointed that the institute named after him would be known as
        a center of anarchist thought.”
    Ludwig von Mises: Setting the Record Straight - Mark W. Hendrickson, BROOKE’S NEWS
  • Twenty-two years after the Basel I Banking Agreement that essentially told banks around the world that loans to buy house would rank better as reserves than loans to businesses (cue low capital growth and the slow inflation of a worldwide housing bubble), the Basel bankers are economics03back with Basel III, “advising financial engineers how to model the cat we’ll swallow to catch the bird that is catching the spider that is catching the fly. The West Germans told us to swallow the fly 22 years ago.”
    The First Basel and a Doofus from West Germany – MIKE KONCZAL
  • Who knew?
    Greenspan and His Fed Were Wrong 90% of the Time  - DAILY RECKONING
  • And what about his successor? “If Bernanke admits the forecasts made by himself and other economists are equatable to a weather forecast, why are they making them so far out into the future and why aren't we being told they are essentially guesses"?
    Bernanke's Economic Predictions and Unpredictability of the Future -  TODD SULLIVAN
  • Economists, listen up, and repeat after me: “the purpose of economic models isn’t prediction.”
    I can’t hear you . . .
    Economic models – THE VISIBLE HAND
     Mankiw is right – this time on prediction  - THE VISIBLE HAND
  • Time for another reminder that you can stick on your wall and show folk:
  •          "If it were possible to calculate the future structure of the market, the
          future would not be uncertain. There would be neither entrepreneurial
         loss nor profit. What people expect from the economists is beyond the
         power of any mortal man."

                    - Ludwig von Mises (1949)
                      Human Action: The Scholar's Edition, p. 867.

  • In all the most disastrous economic fallacies, the Broken Window Fallacy is the most egregious, the most widespread, yet the easiest to debunk. Tom Palmer and Austin Petersen from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation offer the latest debunking (hat tip Anti Dismal):
  • The Association of Private Enterprise Education went to Las Vegas, and all we got were reports of this great debate between Jim Otteson and Yaron Brook over the defenses of capitalism offered by Ayn Rand and Adam Smith.  “This was one of the best conference sessions I've ever been to,” says Art Carden. “I (and others) suggested that Jim and Yaron should take the show on the road or, in the spirit of the meeting's location, get a theater in Las Vegas.”
    So who’s got a link to?
    The Association of Private Enterprise Education is Decadent and Depraved: 2010 Edition – DIVISION OF LABOR
  • If you believe in miracles, then you’re ripe for exploitation.  And there are charlatans willing to exploit you.  Here’s the final in an online contest to find the biggest charlatans in the Christian universe.  The competition is fierce—and hilarious—and that’s without including the Pope and his cardinals.
    CMMI Championship: New Mystics vs Cancer Pastor – SCOTTERIOLOGY [hat tip Damien Peterson]
  • It’s the most famous epitaph in history:
                ‘I am just going out and may be some time.’
    But did he really say it? Or do we have to take
    Scott's word
  • Motella has a whole collection of motel signs that don’t quite make it . . .  including these two

  • Dim Post showed up to bitch about mainstream TV news, and stayed around long enough to discover they’ve improved.  A bit.  He has a pie chart.
    That went well/badlyDIM POST
  • Imperator Fish is not so relaxed.
    A Good Old Fashioned Rant At The MediaIMPERATOR FISH
  • Still, we have a “cycling superhighway.” 50 people gathered to enjoy the taxpayer’s boon. I bet it was still cheaper than the “information superhighway” that’s currently quoted at $1.5 billion, plus cockups.
    The Cycling SuperhighwayPUBLIC ADDRESS
  • At least one of the New Atheists is starting to understand that if morality doesn’t come from God that doesn’t mean there isn’t any morality at all—or that we have to examine our feelings to find it.  Sam Harris makes the case that morality comes from realityAlmost sounds familiar, doesn’t it.
  • Stephen Hicks is still posting his Philosophy of Education lectures online at his website . Recent posts: ‘The Argument from Design,’ ‘The Value of Reason,’ ‘Obedience Experiments,’ ‘Education’s epistemological mission’ and ‘What Epistemology Is.’ 
    All good stuff.
  • And speaking of education, Chapter One of Angeline Lillard’s superb book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius is now online at Angeline’s site, along with a truckload of articles and op-eds., including how ‘Students Prosper with Montessori Method’ from the ‘Scientific American.’  Great stuff.
    Montessori: The Science behind the Genius, Chapter 1 (PDF)
    Articles at Montessori-Science.Org
  • While we’re still speaking educatin, Charles Anderson has taken a look at the price of American state schools compared to the best private alternatives, and discovered that with state education you really do pay more for less.
    I’m pretty sure a look at NZ education would show something very similar, the utter waste of money spent on sinkhole schools teaching nothing but indoctrination to students made illiterate by their teachers--not to mention the many hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted buying homes in school zones so parents can  get their offspring into the few good state schools remaining.  So who’s up for doing that research?
    The Public School Scandal – OBJECTIVIST INDIVIDUALIST
  • And speaking even more about education, it’s time to “rid our schools of junk history,” says historian Niall Ferguson.  Actually, I think it was time several decades ago, but a start now would be good.
    Niall Ferguson: 'Rid our schools of junk history' - GUARDIAN
  • What’s “the most influential work of academic political philosophy in the last half-century”?  If you named John Rawl’s execrable ‘A Theory of Justice,’ then you got that prize—and one answer to why so much of academia is such junk. 
    So here’s an antidote, what Stephen Hicks describes as “an excellent overview and critique”:
    “Blind Injustice” – ERIC MACK
  • And now, a public service announcement for intelligent folk who might be short of a dollar: The Objective Standard’s First Annual Essay Contest, with over US$3000 in prizes!
          Topic for 2010: The Moral Foundation of Capitalism
    Few people who advocate capitalism know fully what this social system is, and even
          fewer are able to defend it on moral grounds. What is capitalism? What are its
          distinguishing characteristics? On what moral principles do they depend? And why are
         so few people able to name and uphold these principles?
    Write and win!
    The First Annual TOS Essay Contest – OBJECTIVE STANDARD
  • Need help with your writing?  Then if you want to get into intellectual activism, you could do a lot worse than take some writing tips from the now-widely published Paul Hsieh (hat tip Thrutch).
    Tips for getting published – NOODLE FOOD
  • Who knew that the witty British “television legend” Clive James has a neat website full of his interviews and reviews
    If you’ve never come across him before, start with this interview with the author of Wild Swans and Mao, and go from there.
    INTERVIEW: Jung Chang, writer – CLIVE JAMES
  • The Tea Parties, then and now (courtesy of the Heritage Institute, and hat tip Noodle Food)
  • The Rational Capitalist reminds today’s Tea Partiers of their legacy, and the ideas behind that legacy, in his latest speech.
    A Message to the Tea Party – THE RATIONAL CAPITALIST
  • Here’s a beer to play with your sensibilities: a beer called ‘Fucking Hell.’  True story. Honest.
    German Firm Wins Right to Make Beer Called 'Fucking Hell'  - DER SPIEGEL
  • When do you think this was written:
  • You must know that the world has grown old, and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the sun’s warmth are both diminishing; the metals are nearly exhausted; the husbandman is failing in the fields, the sailor on the seas, the soldier in the camp, honesty in the market, justice in the courts, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals...
    The person who said "in the third century AD" wins the prize. Yep, today's pessimists and are pikers compared to the doom-makers of the third century.
    More mining please – NOT PC, Aug 2006
  • I missed my blog birthday here last week.  It was five years ago on the 5th of April that this blog began taking flight, and I’ve been blogging here regularly ever since.
    Here’s a look back at that first week of blogging, which included an attack on Don Brash and the Nanny State, praise for The Herald, some salutations to the Pope, posts on music, art and Frank Lloyd Wright . . . much the same as this week, really.  So you can’t say I haven’t been consistent.
    The Very First Week of NOT PC
  • coffee poster And now, some good news.  Coffee isn’t just good for mornings, it’s good for life!  “The enhanced learning, memory, and speed of information processing caffeine delivers has been well documented scientifically. New research published on-line in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, reports that coffee can also ward off some effects of aging on the brain.”
    The Fountain of Youth in a Cup of CoffeeNATURAL REMEDIES THAT WORK
  • Always wanted to ring someone up and impersonate Tiger Woods?  Slate’s Tiger Woods Soundboard makes it easy for you.
    (Hat tip Sport Review)
    The Tiger Woods Crank-Call Generator – SLATE
  • And also courtesy Sport Review, here’s something you don’t see every day: a Formula One car played on electric guitar.  Yes, you read that right.
    Fernando Alonso Bahrain 2010 lap on slide guitar – YOU TUBE
  • And finally, when they say the wedding brought the house down, this wasn’t what they meant.  (Hat tip Tim Blair).  To paraphrase Billie Holiday. “Ooh, ooh, ooh, what a little pole dancing can do to you…”

Have a great weekend!


  1. RE: The broken window fallacy. A possible exception is the 1856 Wellington earthquake which raised flat land for the airport and the Hutt transport corridor. Someone at the time commented that because of the low population at the time and the geographic changes, the 1856 earthquake was an actual net economic positive.

    Of course the next Wellington earthquake will also be a positive - assuming parliament is sitting at the time.

  2. It was a good thing that Telecom withhold its sharetrading in the later part of the week, because there may have been leakers (insider-trading) who were going to take advantage of the news about staff layoffs. This is fair, as the owners of Telecom (ma & pa , everyone else) were not privy to this info. It is only private when everyone else (owners/shareholders) get the same info at the same time.


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