Friday, 11 February 2011

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The ‘Fire in Cairo’ edition [updated]

All eyes this week, and especially today, are on Cairo . . .

  • This is what we’d all like to think is happening in Cairo [hat tip Marcus B.]:
  • MubarakMustGoMore realistically, however . . . “Egypt is [still] a nation in flux, and on its way to somewhere worse.”
    Egypt’s “Sense of Nationhood” 
    – Scott Powell,  P O W E L L  H I S T O R Y   O N L I N E, 2008
    Middle East Watch: Egypt
    – Scott Powell,  P O W E L L  H I S T O R Y   O N L I N E , 2007
  • In case you missed it, here’s the most recent, most comprehensive summary of the Muslim Brotherhood, in its own words.
    The Muslim Brotherhood - in its own words: Jihad is the way by Mustafa Mashhur, Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, 1996-2002
    – P A L E S T I N I A N  M E D I A  W A T C H
  • Some people still haven’t read this “popular” work however. The idiot head of US National Intelligence, for example, who’s on record declaring that the Muslim Brotherhood is "largely secular and eschews violence."  Go figure. [Hat tip Jeff Perren]
    There's wilful blindness & then there's wilful stupidity – N R O
  • It’s easy to overstate Egyptian enthusiasm for democracy. “Middle class Egyptians want free speech and fair elections. But the middle class in Egypt is very small. There are more than three times as many illiterates as there are college graduates…
        "’A population that was convinced just two months ago that sharks in the Red Sea were implanted by the Israeli Intelligence Services is hardly at a stage of creating a liberal democracy in Egypt,’ Egyptian student Sam Tadros said in an email to Clarice Feldman of the American Thinker.
    "’Egypt lacks the sort of political culture that can sustain a liberal democratic regime,’ Amr Bargisi, a leader of the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth, told the Wall Street Journal. "Without knowledge of the likes of Locke and Burke, Hamilton and Jefferson, my country is doomed to either unbridled radicalism or continued repression.’"
    High prices, high risk – Jack Kelly,  P I T T S B U R G H   P O S T - G A Z E T T E
  • And in any case . . .
    Democracy is not freedom: An Egyptian case study -  N O T  P C
  • And as of today:  Mubarak may be about to step down, as demanded by the people in Tahrir Square. But it seems with army leaders saying the military would “make sure all their demands are met,”—topmost among these being the now-achieved [will he, won’t he?] removal of Mubarak—that a military coup may already be a fait accompli
    A Military Coup in Cairo? – Andrew Sullivan, T H E  A T L A N T I C
    Military Coup in Egypt? Mubarak May Be Stepping Down – T I M E
  • UPDATE, 12:30pm: Egypt now, in two tweets [hat tip Rachel Maddow Blog]:
  • Mohamed ElBaradei, before President Mubarak's speech today.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, after President Mubarak's speech.

  • And after taking the wrong line on the Iranian people’s uprising, at least the Obama Administration has been decisive this time . . . Mark Steyn summarises: “The official U.S. position is that (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak needs to go immediately, he needs to stay indefinitely, he needs to stay for a bit and then go, he needs to stay for a bit longer and then go sooner rather than later, unless he decides to stay until September . . .”
    Transcript from Mark Steyn’s opening first-hour monologue on 7 Feb – Mark Steyn

_Quote The most compelling explanation for the marked shift in the fortunes of
the poor is that they continued to respond, as they always had, to the
world as they found it, but that we — meaning the not-poor
and un-disadvantaged — had changed the rules of their world. Not of our
world, just of theirs. The first effect of the new rules was to
make it profitable for the poor to behave in the short term in ways
that were destructive in the long term. Their second effect was to mask
these long-term losses — to subsidize irretrievable mistakes. We tried to
provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to
remove the barriers to escape from poverty, and inadvertently built a trap.
- Charles Murray, Losing Ground [hat tip Anti Dismal]

  • “The childcare needed to get people off the DPB or more accurately doing something productive needn't be more costly.”
    National, do some lateral thinking about childcare -   L I N D S A Y  M I T C H E L L
  • Liberals everywhere talk about helping "at risk" youths, but they’re most quiet about the most at risk. Frankly, it doesn't get more "at risk" than being a youth in a culture of militant Islam…
    “It was a suicide attack by a 12-year-old bomber in school uniform,” top police officer Abdullah Khan said on the early morning attack [in which] thirty-one Army personnel were killed and 40 others injured . . .
     31 Pakistani soldiers killed in ‘schoolboy’ suicide attack – I N D I A N  E X P R E S S
  • Here’s a decent BBC podcast for weekend listening: “Was the economic crisis caused by fundamental problems with the system rather than a mere failure of policy? Over two weeks, Analysis investigates two schools of economics with radical solutions.
        “This week, Jamie Whyte looks at the free market Austrian School of FA Hayek. The global recession has revived interest in this area of economics, even inspiring an educational rap video….”
    Radical Economics: Yo Hayek! – B B C  A U D I O
  • Global business analyst Richard Maybury takes a contrarian (and sometimes conspiratorial) look at the ongoing effects of several years of malinvestments, which Ben Bernake’s Fed are resolutely  refusing to let out of the system—with implications from Europe to the US, and Cairo to Beijing. [Hat tip Louis Boulanger]
     Richard Maybury on the Collapse of the Anglo-American Empire and What It Means for You -  Richard Maybury,  D A I L Y  B E L L
  • It’s not easy being a contrarian investor however. . .
    It's Not Comfortable Being Contrarian -  C A P I T A L I S T  P I G
  • Paul Walker’s been looking at the empirical evidence on privatisation. See:
    Empirical evidence on privatisation – A N T I  D I S M A L
  • Roger Kerr’s been taking on the many myths about privatisation.
    The Truth About Privatisation: Blog # 1 – R O G E R  K E R R ‘ S  B L O G
    The Truth About Privatisation: Blog # 2- R O G E R  K E R R ‘ S  B L O G
    The Truth About Privatisation: Blog # 3 - R O G E R  K E R R ‘ S  B L O G
  • “Partial privatization seems unlikely to be worse than the status quo - it just seems insufficiently better to be worth the hassle. If Key's going to take flack for any use of the P-word, it would have been nice if he'd have gone just a bit farther with it.”
    State versus Private Ownership – E R I C  C R A M P T O N
  • Q: How do you decide whether or not it’s worth going to uni?
    A: Always look to the margin – E R I C  C R A M P T O N
  • Q: If government creates one job you can see, how many others are lost that aren’t seen?
    What Happens When Economists Skip Econ 101 – T H E  F O U N D R Y
  • Speaking of uni and Econ 101, we’re looking to kick off the Auckland Uni Economics Group again soon, and we’re sorting out the syllabus for the year—a much fuller one than last year.  Here’s one that might be nice to follow:
    My Undergraduate Austrian Economics Syllabus 
    - Steven Horvitz,  C O O R D I N A T I O N  P R O B L E M
  • Speaking (again) of Econ 101, Hillary Clinton recently declared that the United States can't legalize drugs "because there is just too much money in it." Apparently, Clinton doesn't understand that there's so much money to be made selling illegal drugs precisely because drugs are illegal. . . The Dumbest Thing Ever Said! Hillary Clinton, about the Drug War 
    – R E A S O N  T V
  • Oh, and while China ‘s propping up the whole economic world, you might have thought it’s been taking it easy on the money printing front.  Sadly, however . . .  [pic from Zero Hedge]
China QE
  • Brian Edwards goes on the front foot against bullying lawyers (are there any other kind?)
    Lawyers for the Sunday Star Times threaten me with an action for defamation – but the threat is “not for publication." – B R I A N  E D W A R D S  M E D I A
  • How do you explain a culture? How do you explain a successful culture—and at the same time the reason for that culture being so widely despised?
        “Imagine a relatively small culture brimming with influential intellectuals (Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Baruch Spinoza, etc.), ground-breaking scientists (Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Jonas Salk, etc.) and highly successful businessmen (David Sarnoff, Michael Dell, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, etc.) And then imagine the punishment of that culture not for its faults, but for its values and virtues. It is punishment that occurred not just once, but throughout time. It continues to this day…
        “It sounds like the backdrop for an Ayn Rand novel. But this is not fiction, this is history. It is the story of the triumphs and tragedies of Jewish culture -- and their causes….”
    The Ultimate Cause of the Triumphs and Tragedies of Jewish Culture 
    – C H A R L O T T E  C A P I T A L I S T
  • Meanwhile, back in the Collapsing States .  . .
    Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism – G A L L U P
  • If you’ve ever watched a modern American television show, you can’t help wondering about all those corpses lying around and wondering, “What would it be like to play a corpse?” A WSJ journo finds out.
    Playing Dead on TV Can Keep a Career on Life Support – W A L L  S T R E E T  J O U R N A L
  • Here’s a couple of songs for all you Creationists [hat tip Autism and Oughtisms]

  • One for Stephen Fry [hat tip Sally O’B.], from a young woman desirous of his seed. (Yes, she does know.)
  • And finally, one for long-suffering Aussie cockies, from a Scots Aussie import . . .


Enjoy your weekend!

PS: And finally, if you’re not Stephen Fry, take a look at the mathematics of finding a woman . . . [hat tip Kenneth I.]


  1. Imagine a relatively small culture brimming with influential intellectuals (Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Baruch Spinoza, etc.)

    Ayn Rand could hardly be called influential, and Mises is borderline at best (though he's on far stronger footing than Rand). Austrian economics is fringe, and you'd have to be delusional to think that Atlas Shrugged took the world by storm. This is true regardless of one's opinion of either of those people.

    Evidence: Libertarianz is the only party whose senior members routinely cite Rand and Mises as influences, and they garnered a grand total of 1,176 votes out of 2,376,480 in the most recent election.

    If the author was looking for influential right-wingers, she'd be on stronger ground if she mentioned Nozick. If she was just trying to make a point about Jewish people, one can hardly deny that Marx was/is influential.

  2. the drunken watchman11 Feb 2011, 16:18:00

    “Middle class Egyptians want free speech and fair elections. But the middle class in Egypt is very small. There are more than three times as many illiterates as there are college graduates…"

    I knew an Egyptian middle class college graduate. He was consumed by an intense hatred for Israel. The only time I saw him happy was the anniversary of some date where some Israelis had been killed by some Arabs (cant remember the specifics of that event).

  3. I appreciate the hat-tip! Just thought I'd mention that the link isn't working though since you've accidentally put your own website in front of the address, it should be

  4. Go look at the "middle class intellectuals" on display at public address. Choose any thread on foreign politics (Egyptian ones are good this week) and count how many comments it takes to devolve into virulent America hating. Intellect (or supposed intellect) and a nice middle-class upbringing are no guarantee of sense, rather you'll just get a more prosaic way of hating.

  5. "you'd have to be delusional to think that Atlas Shrugged took the world by storm."

    I don't know what context you drew the quote from, but if you're referring to the U.S., Rand is very influential, cited in dozens of major magazines and on websites with enormous audiences. Her books continue to sell in the thousands monthly. She is decidedly mainstream (in awareness) now.

  6. It's Time + Money, not Time x Money. So the workings from there are moot.


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