Tuesday, 27 April 2010

REMINDER: Economics for Real People

I’m reminding you all about this do tonight at Auckland Uni—and I’ve been reminded to tell you too that everyone attending tonight goes into a draw for their own copy of Henry Hazlitt’s seminal book Economics in One Lesson.

Which reminds me, I really must work out who’s currently got my copy . . .






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Is there anything about Geoffrey Bloody Palmer’s plan (announced today) to turn us into a nation of wowsers that we didn’t already know about?

We discover that people like drinking.  Just imagine.

That “six in 10 drinkers had become intoxicated at least once in the past year”  Astonishing news!

That “one in three men aged 18 to 24 reported drinking enough to feel drunk at least weekly.”  At least weekly!

And that Geoffrey Bloody Palmer somehow considers it his business to change that with bans, extortionate tax  hikes, and early-closing restrictions on nightclubs.

Somehow, your drinking is his business.  The Tui billboards, which he wants to ban, are somehow his business. What you and I might do in Courtenay Place or the Viaduct after dark, which he wants to regulate, is somehow his business.

His business, it seems, is putting his own lemon-sucking wowserism into your business and saying “Suck on that.”

Why does this pin-headed former politician wish to use the bad behaviour of a few to impose his schtick on all the rest of us.

Why does he think it’s his business to tell us how we’re all going to spend our evenings?

And why, oh why, does this cretinous busybody seem to have as much authority now to recommend law changes as he did back when he was dreaming up the bloody Resource Management Act? 

The answer, I suspect, lies in the intellectual vacuum that is the top floor of today’s Beehive.

The first person to give the face of this life-long busybody what it deserves will get a very loud cheer indeed.  It should be delivered with the full moral rectitude of a job that sorely, and urgently, needs doing.k

GUEST POST: Turning right

A guest post here by our Ministry of Transport correspondent (who may, or may not, bear the name Spanker Brainby) on how NZ’s most ridiculous traffic law came into being. An example, in advance of this afternoon’s Law Commission announcement on how to make us a wowser nation, of how  “interfering, and unduly unintelligent, legislation often results from the brain stirrings of over-zealous (and over-powerful) civil servants” and their advisors.
Spanker Brainby
I drove into town today and heard the news that Archie Snutford had finally passed on to that great traffic office in the sky.

He actually departed, presumably at a safe speed and with due caution, over three years ago but it often takes time for such news to reach me.
My retreat near Whangamomona has become a safe haven for me over the years. I hide myself out there; I rarely make the journey into town – and I have a perfectly rational fear of driving on New Zealand roads these days.

I am free at last, now that Archie has gone, to tell the correct story of how what is often called ‘New Zealand’s most ridiculous traffic law’ came into being.

Plan Hawking from outer space

It has to be said: physicist Stephen Hawking must have a superb publicist.  One throwaway comment about "aliens", and the whole world is talking about his new documentary for the Discovery Channel.

Nothing mysterious about that result.

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Death threats ain’t so funny [update 3]

Okay, making fun of Islamists isn’t always as much fun as flashing your boobs for science—as South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have discovered. They put Mohammed in a bear suit, and before you could say jihad they had a bunch of crazies issuing one in the name of the religion of peace:

    “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show [said the crazies]. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

Average Joe has a round-up of the episodes, the issues and the reactions, including his:

     “Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Freedom of expression? Freedom of religion?
     “Where are we left? We either have freedoms…or we don’t. There is no middle ground here. Once you attach strings to freedom, then freedom is tethered and can’t be called freedom….
    “I guess what we have in truth in the world in 2010, is freedom that society allows us. We have freedom that the government approves. We have freedom…as long as we don’t say Mohammed.”

Islamists don’t like being laughed at? Fuck ‘em.  At least that’s what the media would like to say.  But “that sound you’re not hearing”? 

   “[It’s] the media, [says Frank Ross, via Instapundit], holed up in their towers along Sixth Avenue and across the street from the old Show World Center porn palace on Eighth Avenue, noisily rising to the defense of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the South Park creators who recently upset the tender Muslim sensibilities of this guy
    “That’s right: an American-born Muslim convert with ties to a small extremist group operating openly in the United States of America can affect the programming policy of a cable comedy network whose headliners — Stone and Parker, and Jon Stewart — pride themselves on their fearless irreverence.”

Even Bart Simpson is scared [hat tip Tim Blair]:


At least the Pope doesn’t issue death threats when people make fun of him and his own benighted hordes. The only threats the Pope issues are ones not to show up. He saves his best threats for the “next” world…

UPDATE 1: In the comments, Mark links to more good commentary at the Fun With Gravity blog.

    "Consider this fictional scenario. Imagine you lived in a remote protected fort surrounded by violent hordes. Over the years, those in charge of the fort have had countless opportunities to crush the violent groups outside, but have failed to do so. Now emboldened, the hordes surround the fort, pointing weapons at you, and you have to decide whether you want to mock them. That is essentially the position that Stone, Parker, and the rest of us now find ourselves in."

UPDATE 2: There is a grass-roots fight back!  Ari Armstrong urges everyone to join the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. See his own entry and commentary here, including this on-the-money point:

    “Offending somebody's religious sensibilities is NOT incitement to violence. The fact that somebody may respond to free speech by destroying property or threatening or murdering people is no legitimate reason to squelch free speech; it is instead an overriding reason for the government to take defensive action against the aggressors. If speech is held hostage to the irrational violence of some, then there is no such thing as freedom of speech. There is only tyranny.”

Well said.

UPDATE 3: Apparently, it’s May 20, so start now:


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BoobQuake: Who says science has to be boring?

BoobQuake Today in the States is the day for science like you’ve never seen.

To test the claim of an Iranian cleric that women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes, women across the States have pledged to dress immodestly in a bid to test the first part of the hypothesis, if not yet the second.

Started by blogger Jen McReight at Blag Hag who pledged to “offer my boobs to science,” it seems the experiment has already yielded what organiser McReight calls “statistically insignificant” ground movement in Taiwan.

Keep up with the experiment at its Facebook page, on Flickr, and on Twitter with the the tag #BoobQuake tag.

This is important work, people.  You wouldn’t want to miss a tremor.

Meanwhile, from the Irony Room:


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‘Baench House’ Hans Scharoun


scharoun.ausschnitt4 People don’t need to break their lives into little boxes—either in their day-to-day lives, or in their homes.

Hans Scharoun thought it wrong that people should be squeezed into boxes—that the outside shape should dictate the life inside.  He thought that the inner life of the house should generate the form in its entirety—or as much as possible, in the case of the 1935 Baensch House, since the rules about street-frontages in this case dictated a ‘box-form’ to the street (left). [More about this kind of ‘Mullet Architecture’ here.]

Nonetheless, within the constraints upon him, Scharoun (the designer of the justly-famous Berlin Philharmonic Hall) crafted a remarkably open feeling of spatial flow encompassing half-a dozen changes of level, producing a remarkably relaxed place in which to live.

See if you can work out where on the plan each of these pictures was taken.



Monday, 26 April 2010

More ‘Economics for Real People’ at Auckland Uni tomorrow night [updated]

UoA-ECon-002 I wanted to tell you about the second meeting tomorrow night of the Auckland Uni Economics Group

Tomorrow evening, they’ll be talking about the phenomenon that makes us all rich, but about which far too little is known: ‘The Division of Labour, and How it Makes Us All Rich.’

All welcome—especially non-students of economics who, unlike too many econ students (and their lecturers), have mostly retained the ability to talk sense.

Date: Tuesday 27th April

Where: Owen Glenn Building, Uni of Auckland, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland, 1010
(NB: Plenty of parking in the basement. Car park entry is off Grafton Rd)

Room: B5 260-051

Time: 6pm

Entry is Free!

For more information, any questions, or just to get on their regular email list, email UoAEconGroup@gmail.com

UPDATE: I’ve been reminded to tell you that everyone attending tonight goes in the draw to win a copy of Henry Hazlitt’s seminal book Economics in One Lesson.  So don’t miss out!

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Auckland’s logo?

It’s not just the city’s new super-bureaucracy that’s not going to be super. Have you seen their new logo?

supercitylogo_new_2 Just so you know (since you’d hardly guess otherwise) it’s supposed to be “a stylised pohutukawa.” It’s not only not very compelling, it’s hardly even original:  it appears to have been filched and then ‘koru-ised’ from the US’s all-encompassing, all-stultifying Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [hat tip Leighton Smith]:

epa_logo No wonder Bob Harvey likes the logo so much.