Friday, 15 October 2010

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The miner miracle edition

Friday, thank Galt it’s Friday—and time for another ramble ‘round the ‘net.  And with the miner miracle yesterday in Chile and the minor miracle on the netball court in Delhi, it’s the end of a week with much to celebrate.  But first, there’s more to be said about Simon Power-Lust ‘s wish to “regulate” the “Wild West” of the internet….

  • Eric Crampton is incensed. “I moved to NZ taking less money for more freedom. National is reneging on the deal. Somebody punch Power for me.”
    MacDoctor explains the point for Simple Simon: “There is a word for regulation of opinion: censorship. New Zealand is a free society precisely because I can call you an idiot, Mr Power, and not be shot at dawn by your goons.”
    Go Fer Yer Guns, Power! – MACDOCTOR
    Regulate What?PUBLIC ADDRESS
    The Thought Police are Mobilising – OSWALD BASTABLE
    Cry “Power-Lust” and let rip the censorship of the blogosphere – NOT PC
  • God gets none of the blame for getting the miners trapped, but all of the credit for them getting saved? Does that seem fair? Especially when it was capitalism that saved the miners. “The profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at the mine rescue site.” [Hat tip Ari Armstrong]
    Capitalism rescued the miners – Daniel Henninger, WALL STREET JOURNAL
    Where Was God when the Miners Needed Him? - SOLO
  • Why is the Royal NZ Herald going so hard to sell Ian WishHard’s new book? A “story that fills the entire front page … a story about an unsolved murder committed forty years ago, a story prompted by the reaction of the victims' daughter after reading a book by Ian Wishart, a book which puts the blame on a man who is now dead and which offers no new evidence.” Why?
    Second that emotion – Paul Litterick, FUNDY POST
  • Len Brown’s been dreaming the Think Bigger dream—an Auckland train set bigger than any ever seen before in these parts. The simple truth however is that his ideas will (at best) benefit only a tiny percentage of commuters at a cost of thousands of dollars for every other Aucklander.
    Len's boondoggle – LIBERTY SCOTT
  • Do we really need to have several years effort and $1.7 billion (plus cockups) of our money spent on a new motorway between Puhoi and Wellsford, when with a little tinkering, a quarter of the time and just one-tenth of that sum the existing road could be made to work?
    “Operation Lifesaver” – a better solution for Puhoi-Wellsford – AUCKLAND TRANSPORT BLOG
  • bigmac Oh yeah, the Big Mac Index is out this week, “a clever, if simplistic way” to measure the purchasing power of the world’s currencies—and potentially very useful as currencies begin their race to the bottom.
    The Big Mac Index is Out – ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL
  • And because you’re bound to ask, according to the Big Mac Index, the NZ Dollar is undervalued by 4% according to this measure. 
    Big Mac Index 2010 – ANTI DISMAL
  • More on moron Bernard Hickey.  And there’s something strange when the Business Editor at left-leaning Scoop, for goodness sake, has to explain free markets to someone who claims to have been a one-time supporter.
    SMELLIE SNIFFS THE BREEZE: What future for Smellsianism? – Patrick Smellie, SCOOP
  • Pakistani jihadists are insisting that American aid to the benighted state should have all the branding deleted because it offends them. Delete the branding? You know what, says Pamela Geller, why not just delete the aid?
    Perhaps we should just delete the aid – ATLAS SHRUGS
  • John Lennon would have been seventy this week. In a land that had forgotten what music sounded like, it’s easy to remember how refreshing his music was.
    It’s Johnny’s Birthday. . . – RATIONAL JENN
  • Margaret Thatcher was eighty this week.  In a grey, fey socialist seventies, she truly was a real breath of freedom and fresh air.
    Happy Birthday, MaggieLIBERTY SCOTT


  • Now this is cool, especially with your speakers up to eleven: Obama can’t Gymkhana [hat tip Marcus B]
  • There are a thousand reasons for procrastination—and a thousand ways to do it—but (as Austrians could have told you) Time Preference has a lot to do with it.  And Victor Hugo might have had the best way to avert it. [Hat tip Amy P]
    Later: What we can learn from procrastination – NEW YORKER
  • A recovering anti-plastite confesses.” Plastic is a good thing. Why did I let the Luddites infect my thinking for so long? (Warning: this post is a rant, and only a rant.)”
    Don’t Be a Plastic Bashing Luddite! – Amy Mossoff, THE LITTLE THINGS
  • "Don’t give him the Nobel – he’s right-wing!” Some members of the Nobel committee are wondering if they might have made a blunder with the award to Mario Vargas Llosa.
    "Don’t give him the Nobel – he’s right-wing! – SPIKED
    Mario Vargas Llosa wins the Nobel Prize despite having abandoned the Left – Daniel Hannan, TELEGRAPH
  • Here’s a few simple solutions to every country’s immigration problems.
    How Should the US Reform its Immigration Policy? – MOTHER OF EXILES
  • “Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life.”
    brGlobal warming fraud: the tide begins to turn – James Delingpole, TELEGRAPH
  • Carbon dioxide is bad for the planet? Hell no, Carbon dioxide makes plants grow.  Latest evidence of the bleeding obvious:
    Warmer, wetter climate helping US farmers grow more crops – USA TODAY
  • Long delays, usurious costs, and messy decision-making means High Court litigation cases are in “a death spiral,” with most potential litigants plumping instead for arbitration, mediation and other initiatives to resolve disputes rather than go to the main courts. The collapsing of the courts has been in full plummet for some years…with the result that many enterprises are not willing to do any business at all in New Zealand because of their lack of confidence in the courts.
    ”Meanwhile, down at The Northern Club, members mourn – after 70-odd years of coining it at the estate’s expense - the hasty settlement in Jarndyce and Jarndyce.”
    Why 'private courts' are booming – NBR
  • Today’s sage advice is that older women are always better.  They don’t tell, they don’t smell, they won’t yell, and they’re always grateful as hell.  Apparently Benjamin Franklin understood this 230 years ago!
    On affairs with older women – STEPHEN HICKS
  • And you thought you knew how to make a pencil?  It’s a little more complex than you might have thought…

  • Reuters picks the world’s top ten sexiest building.  They only score five out of ten by my count, but any list with both Calatrava and Wright is my kind of list. (Make sure to click on the slideshow at the top right.)
    Top 10 sexiest buildings – STUFF
  • You want to know what the world of online communities looks like?  Here’s an online map.
    Online Communities 2 - XKCD
  • Dear friend,
    Do you want to learn how to use Web 2.0 Social Media to become a millionaire overnight? How would you like to increase your Twitter followers by eleventy-billion in 3.68 seconds? Do you want to use Twitter to make a gazillion dollars through affiliate marketing and multi-level marketing schemes? Do you use the term "Twitter Coach" to describe yourself?
    Great news! You're well on your way to becoming a Social Media DouchebagTM already!
    Now with more Web 2.0! – SOCIAL MEDIA DOUCHEBAG
  • The Onion has caught up with a script that’s been floating around Hollywood for at least 75 years. It’s had more than 250 stars and 300 directors attached, and been rewritten 600 times, but backers swear this time it’s a go.
    Script Has Been Floating Around Hollywood For 75 Years – THE ONION
  • MaxAndHarry Cult hero Max Rooke announced his retirement this week from Australian football—not even Geelong’s Man of Steel can last forever—prompting #MaxRookeFacts to immediately become the top trending Twitter topic in Australia. Sample “facts”:
        * Max Rooke once participated in the running of the bulls. He walked. The bulls ran away.
        * Godzilla is a Japanese rendition of Max Rooke.
        * Max Rooke faked his 2009 concussion to allow Joel Selwood a few moments to experience what it's like to be Max Rooke.
        * BREAKING NEWS: RAAF unveils new weapon consisting of Max Rooke and his mate Harry (right)
        * I've just got word from the International Chess Rules Committee... They have renamed the Castle piece the "Max Rooke"
        * Aus $ surging for parity against US$ due to Australia being a safe haven – it’s protected by Max Rooke.
        * E.T. only went home because Max told him to.
        * Max Rooke has refused to be in the next series of 'Underbelly'...he wanted something tougher.
        * Retiring after Max Rooke is like going on stage after Elvis.
        * Max Rooke didnt retire because his body wont hold up, he was worried about the body of every other player.
    And from his former captain, Tom Harley:
        * A-Gift-to-My-ChildrenI just told Max about #maxrookefacts. He said "What's twitter?" I'm closing my account because what Max doesn't know, isn't worth knowing.

  “Beware of all politicians everywhere.
They excelled at recess
when they were in school but
have excelled at little since."
             - investor Jim Rogers, from his new book A Gift to My Children

  • fed-spending-krugman But the US government needs to spend more, says Paul Krugman!!  Open your eyes, Paul, it already has been.
    Yes, Paul Krugman, Spending Has Steeply Increased – HERITAGE
  • When the US sneezes, we catch a cold.  So when the US gets pneumonia … Doug Reich has a great summary of where the US is now. Economic illiteracy. Bailout crack. Capital strike. A “race to the bottom” for the world’s currencies. New ways for the govt to get into your pocket.  Yes, Virginia, it’s all bad.
    What I'm Thinking #1 – Doug Reich, RATIONAL CAPITALIST
  • It happened this way with the Roman Empire too, you know.
    Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire – Joseph Peden, MISES DAILY
  • When you can see economic disaster from the air, you know a country is really stuffed. Here’s the Florida housing bust from the air. “The images of half finished (and barely started) developments are strangely beautiful, with a geometric symmetry that belies the state of human misery these developments represent: Lost deposits, bankruptcy, misallocated capital.”
    Aerial Footage: Portrait of a Housing Bust -  Barry Ritholtz, THE BIG PICTURE
  • Even devotees of Austrian Economics have debates about Fractional Reserve Banking—to what extent it’s part of the problem, and how it might be made not. John McVey suggests talking a little bit of Fractional Reserve Banking is like taking a little bit of radiation…
    Historical data in the fractional reserve banking debate – JOHN McVEY
  • Former chairman of BB&T Bank John Allison—who during his 2o years at the helm saw it expand to thirty times the size it was when he took over—and who ensured it was one of the few to successfully weather the present financial storm—has a few things he wants to tell you about the financial meltdown. And when Allison talks, it makes sense to listen. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks, who’s linked all eight clips in the series together for you]

  • The week before he was in Sydney talking to us, Yaron Brook was in Guatemala talking to the only institution in the Americas dedicated to freedom.  A busy man before a receptive audience.  And guess what, people: not everybody is a “utility maximiser.”
    Ayn Rand: Radical for Capitalism – Yaron Brook, UNIVERSIDAD, FRANCISCO MARROQUIN
  • Eric Crampton has made his debut in Sydney on the Mont Pelerin stage (something Yaron can’t do until next year) with a presentation arguing that nannying is bad economics—i.e., “that paternalism is far less beneficial and far more costly than voters expect.”  As a public choice economist however, he is unfortunately silent on the morality of minding your own damn business.
    Address to the Mont Pelerin Society - OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
  • Pssst. While the danger still exists of the American Tea Party movement being commandeered by religionists, it’s worth reminding ourselves of a bit of history.
    America is a Monument to Reason, not Faith – RULE OF REASON
  • I’ve said it before. A love of good art is essential to human cognition.
    The Cognitive Function of Art – ROBERTO SARRIONANDIA
  • Induction is at the root of all knowledge. And Francis Bacon is at the root of virtually all induction. So wouldn’t you want to know what he had to say about it?
    Bacon’s Theory of Induction as Presented in the Novum Organum Part 1 of 2 – Roderick Fitts, INDUCTIVE QUEST
    Bacon’s Theory of Induction as Presented in his Novum Organum, Part 2 of 2 – Roderick Fitts, INDUCTIVE QUEST
  • Pretty much every Objectivist in the world wants to know what’s going on between Leonard Peikoff and John McCaskey, and what it means for Objectivism. The Doctors Hsieh do their best to get to the bottom of it all.
    The Resignation of John McCaskey: The Facts – NOODLE FOOD
  • An online US College advice blog has a list of the 30 best blogs for exploring Objectivism. A few strange ones there (Kinsella, FFS!), but a good start.
    30 Best Blogs for Exploring Objectivism – ACREDITED ONLINE COLLEGES
  • And an Objectivist blogger is volunteering to do for Objectivist blogs what Tim Selwyn hasn’t had time to do with NZ blogs since December—to rank them all.  Big job.
    Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) – DANIELLE MORRILL
  • How does drug prohibition affect current violence in the U.S. and Mexico? How do you think.
    Prohibition Déjà vu – THE UNDERCURRENT
  • To mark what would have been Beatle John Lennon’s birthday this week, here’s his best song from their second-best album:
  • And to mark the passing of Australian soprano Joan Sutherland this week, here she is in the very scene of the very opera that first brought her fame, and which she and her husband brought back to the stage: the Mad Scene from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. First a short one, then the full scene (complete with a very strange intrusion from the TV show on which it appeared)

Have a great weekend!
And keep an eye out for those possums on Great Barrier.


  1. Yes Revolver was a great album dude, and I wondered what you think the best song ever was from John Lennon.

  2. God gets none of the blame for getting the miners trapped, but all of the credit for them getting saved? Does that seem fair? Especially when it was capitalism that saved the miner

    Well actually, capitalism is what also put the minors underground and working in notoriously unsafe conditions. It wasn’t capitalism directly that saved them, but the decision of the company owners to act to their conscience and use every means available to save their workers.

    It’s not the hammer and nail that build the house, but the builder wielding it.

    And why think you need to blame God if he gets the credit? You really don't get the "free will" thing do you? God is not a see-saw.

    You have complete freedom to go for a drive in the Countryside. Let's say you do, knowing your car is a bit dodgy.

    You break down. What a surprise.

    So you call your friend to come pick you up. Do you blame your friend for letting you drive your car? Do you expect him to be on call for you 24/7? Would you be content if he sends a taxi on his behalf?

  3. "Every available means..."

    Available from where?

    Invented and produced by whom?

    Qua religionists, the company owners were like Chile's health minister, Jaime Manalich, who said, "I never realized that kind of thing actually existed."

    But you think they were all like a taxi sent on your god's behalf. Do you realise how batshit crazy that makes you sound?

    So the modern jet carrying the high-tech Center Rock drill bit and the men who knew how to use it were "God's taxi."

    The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig was "God's taxi."

    The super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above was "God's taxi."

    That cellphone with its own projector was "God's taxi."

    The socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria were was "God's taxi."

    Zen, while your religionists were on their knees calling for their mate in the sky to rescue the men, the profit=innovation dynamic was effecting the rescue.

    Sheesh already.

    "God's taxi" indeed.

    Tell me again how the world is shaped like a banana . . .

  4. You really don't get analogies and metaphors do you?

  5. Zen, while your religionists were on their knees calling for their mate in the sky to rescue the men, the profit=innovation dynamic was effecting the rescue.

    Yeah, but it was the profit > safety that got them there, so blaming God on one hand and then praising man on the other doesn't cut it.

  6. God gets none of the blame for getting the miners trapped, but all of the credit for them getting saved? Does that seem fair?

    The minors had free will. They chose to work in the mine. The owners chose to have slack safety standards. The consequences unfolded. That is why God is not to blame. This is not a case of "fair", because life isn't necessarily fair.

  7. PS: Whilst I took exception to the sweeping statements made, I also said on my own blog:

    I don't know them, but like the rest of the world, we all know of them. It has been said that deep down, miners are really nice people. Now that we've brought them back up, we can see they were also very brave and courageous people. I'm so glad they were rescued and the rescue operation, by all accounts was a triumph of human endeavour.

    You don't need to assume that I am not acknowledging one aspect of your argument - I just disagree with parts of what you said.

  8. Well actually, capitalism is what also put the minors underground and working in notoriously unsafe conditions. It wasn’t capitalism directly that saved them, but the decision of the company owners to act to their conscience and use every means available to save their workers.

    That's a pretty poor anti-capitalist stab.

  9. Just using the same logic as Peter when he wonders why God gets the credit for the rescue, and expects God therefore deserves the blame.

    Well, if capitalism gets all the credit, perhaps it deserves some of the blame? Oh, but now it's different of course...well think a little and see if you can also spot the flaw in logic in the first assertion.

    In any event, capitalism is a little too generic a term to give it ALL the credit. I think you need to also credit man's ingenuity, and man's desire to effect the rescue. You could also credit man's ambition.

  10. If the mines were unsafe due to dodgy methods and setup then that wasn't Capitalisms was an attempt to short cut and cheat the laws of objective reality,the same laws on which Capitalism is founded.

    Ever action has consequences....the mine owners took a punt on cheating reality and they failed...reality delivered the appropriate consequences.Thats actually Capitalism working as it should....its underlying principle is justice.

  11. Well actually, capitalism is what also put the minors underground and working in notoriously unsafe conditions.

    You shouldn't assume it was capitalism that put the minors underground. Across the border in Potosi, Bolivia, the mines are owned by co-ops made up of the workers. Several co-ops are all digging on the same incredibly mineral rich hill.

    There is very little use of machinery. Holes are drilled by hand for the dynamite and the workers will then carry 40-60kgs of stone on their backs up to the level with tracks.

    They have a short life expectancy usually due to respiratory illness.

    I'm sure if the hill was in Australia it would be flattened by now from the top down using bulldozers and trucks, rather than hand drills and back-sacks. Instead the industry is protected and kept in the 19th century in order to provide jobs.

    I don't know if the setup in Chile is similar

  12. What's the definition of Capitalism here then? It seems to simply be claiming credit for innovation (and we could hardly say that capitalism is responsible for all innovation), as distinct from the economic theory.

  13. "Laissez-faire capitalism is a politico-economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and in which the powers of the state are limited to the protection of the individual’s rights against the initiation of physical force."
    - George Reisman, from his book 'Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics.'

    Capitalism is "the system of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."
    - Andrew Bernstein, from his book 'The Capitalist Manifesto' and 'Capitalism Unbound'

    "Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."
    - Ayn Rand, from her book 'Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal'

    "An economic system, marked by a free market and open competition, in which goods are produced for profit, labor performed for wages, and the means of production and distribution are privately owned."
    - American Heritage Dictionary

    "Capitalism means free enterprise, sovereignty of the consumers in economic matters, and sovereignty of the voters in political matters."
    - Ludwig Von Mises, from his book 'Socialism'

    Those are good definitions of capitalism. Innovation, ingenuity, and ambition are the result.


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