Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Morning Ramble: Let’s get started

The media are still talking about John Banks. And Kim Dotcom. I can’t be arsed. Let’s take a ramble…

More on China…

Ah yes, the book that started the modern environmental movement. “This week Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring will turn 50.”

  • “In Silent Spring, Carson crafted a passionate denunciation of modern technology that drives environmentalist ideology today. At its heart is this belief: Nature is beneficent, stable, and even a source of moral good; humanity is arrogant, heedless, and often the source of moral evil. Rachel Carson, more than any other person, is responsible for the politicized science that afflicts our public policy debates today.”
    Silent Spring's 50-Year History of Selective Data – Ronald Bailey, REASON
  • “It’s not polite to talk about brown and black people dying because rich white people in America feel better about themselves when the brown and black people don’t get to use DDT," says the University of Alabama's Andrew Morriss, co-editor of the new book Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson“The legacy of Carson's best-known book - widely considered the starting point of the modern environmentalist movement and the international ban on the malaria-fighting pesticide DDT  - has caused many more problems than it has solved.”
    Rachel Carson's Silent Spring at 50 Years – Joshua Swain, REASON
  • “Did cancer doom ever arrive? No. In Silent Spring Carson cites data showing that American farmers were then applying about 637 million pounds of pesticides to their crops. The most recent EPA estimate is that farmers used 1.1 billion pounds in 2007...What happened to cancer incidence rates? According CDC, age-adjusted incidence rates have been dropping for nearly two decades.”
    Silent Spring's 50-Year History Of Selective Data – CLIMATE DEPOT
  • “I don't want to talk about the particular topics she was hyping: they don't deserve it.
    Instead, I want to say that she was a pioneer of an ideologically driven pseudoscience pretending to be science. When she talked about the life of birds and their interactions with the environment, it sounded like a science – ecology. When she talked about pesticides, it sounded like a science, too – some kind of biochemistry. So by the choice of words, she could have pretended she was speaking as a scientist. A problem is that the claims she was making were actually never scientifically justified, at least not with good enough standards. They were ideological slogans. And she was one of the first people in the West who intensely insisted that the compatibility of a proposition with her ideology may replace the scientific rigor that was normally needed to establish scientific claims…
    “While pesticides are pretty important to feed the whole mankind today, they're not really an essential and omnipresent part of the civilization… What the newest fearmongering wants to ban – carbon dioxide emissions – is much more universal and crucial for the civilization…”
    Fifty years after Silent Spring – Lubos Motl, REFERENCE FRAME
  • How about praising a real hero.
    When it Comes to Human Flourishing, Forget Rachel Carson & Remember Bruce Ames – REASON
  • Disaster sells. But do the facts matter when we're scaring ourselves to death, or is it okay to lie in order to "wake people up" to calamity?
    Selling disaster: The four horsemen of modern apocalypse – NOT PC, 2006
    When politics masquerades as science – NOT PC, 2006

Do you think the National Cabinet could sit still for long enough to discover what a Reagan-era apparatchik has to tell them about how “crony capitalism”corrupts?  Would they even understand?

Is he really talking about Mittens?Potentially the most transforming president of the twenty-first century – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

Mitt Romney, class warrior?
Economic Status Doesn't Determine One's Ideas – Harry Binswanger, FORBES

Freely trading EnZed would not do well with a Mittens presidency. “But the bigger and more disconcerting story in all of this is the apparent ascendancy of economic nationalism within the GOP [and] Romney’s persistence in trying to brand himself the “most protectionist” … in the presidential race … Have you seen the Romney ads? … It was once the case – not too long ago – that Republican candidates argued in support of trade and the freedom of Americans to partake of the opportunities afforded by the global economy. But things, apparently, have changed.”
Mitt Romney’s Contrived Trade War – Daniel Ikenson, CATO

They sure have.
Peter Schiff Smacksdown Mitt Romney – ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL

Know your enemy. If affordable housing is your wish, then developers are not your enemy. Planners are.
Developers fight to house citizens – NZ HERALD
High price of land thorny issue – NZ HERALD
Factions divided on why NZ housing so expensive – NZ HERALD
Building Battle: Fees drive up prices – NZ HERALD
The Answer Is Urban Consolidation – What Was The Question? – CITIES MATTER
Housing Affordability Inquiry [343-page PDF] – PRODUCTIVITY COMMMISSION

For those who need assistance…
Ahmadinejad and Morsi lay out the Islamic agenda – Robert Spencer, JIHAD WATCH

Just in case you missed the agenda behind the latest pretext for protest: “Freedom of expression must come with ‘responsibility’-- i.e. it must be restricted in accord with Sharia.”
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi at UN, calls for restrictions on free speech – Robert Spencer, JIHAD WATCH

Pretext? Yes, pretext.
Libyan President Confirms: Movie "had nothing to do with this attack." – REASON
Shameless liars – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

Yes, it is possible.
Feature Length, Honest Muhammad Movies in the Offing? – ANDREW BOSTOM

Only in Pakistan?
Minister willing to pay for contract killing – LIBERTY SCOTT

There’s a lot of pseudo-intellectual blog wankery about. Fortunately, with a Grade Level of 13 and Reading Ease Score of 40, there’s much less of it at this blog than is spouted forth from your average Labour MP.
There's a lot of pseudo-intellectual blog wankery aboutWHALE OIL

Q: How do you confuse an Apple FanBoys and Girls queuing for the latest model? A: Drop a case full of iPhone 5s at their feet. “Do thy get irate at the bigmouthed handtruck-tipping klutz? Do they offer to help out? Do they look up from their earlier-gen iPhones? Do they try to get an irregular discount? None of the above. As Alex Goyette finds out in this prank, Apple users do what they do best: sit passively and wait to be told what to do.”

“Your teacher asks you to challenge me to give ‘one good reason why the law should not require that women be paid the same as men for the same work.’  I’m happy to oblige.  There are many good reasons, but I’ll here stick to one… Suppose that the law your teacher endorses were applied to the market for women’s dresses…”
Letter to a Very Bright 11th Grader – Don Boudreaux, CAFE HAYEK

“Last summer, two researchers from the New England Complex Systems Institute published a short paper examining the correlation between rising food prices and civil unrest. It was a timely analysis, to say the least. A number of food riots were occurring throughout the world, not to mention waves of revolution sparked by the high cost of food… The researchers’ [reached] a simple conclusion– whenever the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)’s global food price index climbs above 210, conditions ripen for social unrest. Today, the FAO’s food index is at 213… and rising.”
Two no-brainer ways to play rising food prices – Simon Black, SOVEREIGN MAN

See, I told you. “Don’t get me wrong, that high Kiwi dollar hurts me like billy-o. Yet as one exporter to another there is much more than monetary policy involved. We know from experience that we cannot take on the world. Nor should we start pumping out five dollar notes because that is a race to the bottom.”
Whining about the high exchange rate misses the key point; it is our fiscal and regulatory failings that are doing the real damage. – Bruce Wills, INTEREST.CO.NZ

It’s now officially a 3-way race to the bottom between the dollar, the euro, and the yen. Why would we want to join in?
It’s officially a 3-way race to the bottom – Tim Staermose, SOVEREIGN MAN

A bunch of links, most courtesy of Cafe Hayek, on Ben Bernanke’s bazooka:

  • “We are reaching — or may already have passed — the practical limits of “economic stimulus.” … Let’s do the sums.”
    Bernanke on the brink – Robert Samuelson, WASHINGTON POST
  • “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke evidently thinks that driving up the stock market will quicken the animal spirits of the affluent 20 percent who own 93 percent of equities, and this “wealth effect” will spur economic activity, eventually benefiting others. So, the interest rates Barack Obama favors are a form of the trickle-down economics he execrates.”
    A different kind of inflation problem – George Wills, WASHINGTON POST
  • "The increased dependence of the individual upon government which inflation produces and the demand for move government action to which this leads may for the socialist be an argument in its favor.  Those who wish to preserve freedom should recognize, however, that inflation is probably the most important single factor in that vicious circle wherein one kind of government action makes more and more government control necessary.” Pete Boettke finds inspiration in FA Hayek.
    Quotes of the day inspired by recent ECB and Fed actions – Pete Boettke, COORDINATION PROBLEM
  • You have to be kidding!
    The Fed Has Another $3.9 Trillion In QE To Go (At Least) – Tyler Durden, ZERO HEDGE
  • Here’s the reason many investors pulled back this week. “There has been very little coverage in mainstream media about the Fed super-money printing and how much of it is going into excess reserves… But for the second time in two weeks, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser is warning about the time bomb that is excess reserves.”
    HOT: Fed Prez Spills the Beans on the Excess Reserve Inflation Time BombECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL
  • Yes, Virginia, it’s true.
    Fed Virtually Funding the Entire US Deficit: – CNBC

The problem is not just the Reserve Bank targeting inflation. The same problems occur whatever they choose to target.  “Here is the prime fallacy behind the nominal GDP target and, in fact, [of all similar targets]: It tacitly assumes that money is neutral, which money never is. Let me explain…”
The fallacy of nominal GDP targeting – Detlev Schlicter, PAPER MONEY COLLAPSE

“Indeed, the fact that central banks can create money out of thin air, so to speak, is something that many observers are likely to find surprising and strange, perhaps mystical and dreamlike, too  – or even nightmarish.” Says the President of the Bundesbank!
Money out of thin air, mystical and dreamlike – Ralph Benko, COBDEN CENTRE

Speaking of fractional-reserve banking (come on, you knew that was the topic), it’s interesting to see the capital ratios of local banks.
Fitch Ratings says NZ banks' will be barely impacted by RBNZ's tougher new Basel III capital standards given they already meet them - Gareth Vaughan, INTEREST.CO.NZ

“You have probably seen this video here, where Paul Krugman explains why the threat of an alien invasion could be a good thing. It would lead to the kind of stimulus package he wants: politicians would put their philistine concerns about the budget deficit and inflation aside, and bring on a fully-fledged fiscal and monetary bazooka.”
What if Paul Krugman’s aliens had already landed? – Kristian Niemitz, IEA BLOG

“The monthly unemployment report is not much use as a real-time statistic. The data is meaningful only after it has been revisited, revised and is no longer current.”
Any month's Unemployment Report is useless – PRACTICE GOOD THEORY

The BBC has a new three-part series they call “Masters of Money,” a title belied by two of the three “masters” chosen to eulogise: Keynes and Karl Marx.  In the first episode, they repeat all the usual Keynesian fallacies, including Keynes’s description of unexpected changes in economic behaviour as “animal spirits”. “Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England no less, said on the programme that it was the best explanation for the banking crisis five years ago. To describe such an event in those terms is not an explanation and exposes a yawning gap in King’s knowledge.
“Animal spirits” amount to the failure of Keynesians to explain a basic phenomenon of human action.”
Animal spirits – Alasdair McLeod, COBDEN CENTRE

The BBC’s other choice, presumably due to dialectic necessity, is Hayek. But if you want to watch it to learn anything, even one word, about his economics, you’re going to be disappointed.
Masters of Money: Hayek (BBC) – YOU TUBE

Even The Economist doesn’t have a clue about the actual economics of the Nobel Prize winner.  Here’s a letter to The Economist
The Price of Monetary Meddling – Don Boudreaux, CAFE HAYEK

You’ll learn more about Hayek’s actual economics in five minutes from this than you will from the BBC’s sixty minutes:

A random web search led me to this neat site (click to head straight there):


I’m excited. The Ayn Rand Bookstore has finally joined the e-age, allowing lectures to be downloaded for peanuts that formerly cost megabucks to buy on CD, or cassette (remember cassettes?).
For me, I’m putting time aside over the weekend to listen to A Brief History of the Middle East, Philosophy of Education, and The 19th-Century Atomic War. Optimistic? Me?

Speaking of history, I know some readers are going to be fascinated with these:
JFK audio recordings available – HISTORY NEWS NETWORK

Now, this is very cool: “Even the most skilled and steady surgeons experience minute, almost imperceptible hand tremors when performing delicate tasks. Normally, these tiny motions are inconsequential, but for doctors specializing in fine-scale surgery, such as operating inside the human eye or repairing microscopic nerve fibers, freehand tremors can pose a serious risk for patients.  By harnessing a specialized optical fiber sensor, a new "smart" surgical tool can compensate for this unwanted movement by making hundreds of precise position corrections each second -- fast enough to keep the surgeon's hand on target.”
Cyborg Surgeon: Hand and Technology Combine in New Surgical Tool That Enables Superhuman Precision – SCIENCE DAILY


I confess, I’ve always wanted to design Tatami mats into my houses. I’ve yet to find a client with a matching enthusiasm.
Quick History: Tatami Mats – APARTMENT THERAPY

“We’ve talked about the myth that the post-WWII period demonstrates that Big Government fosters Big Economic Growth. A new report from Mercatus takes a careful look at the postwar boom. Particularly interesting, it addresses the left’s claim that much of the boom was a result of the GI Bill.”
Economic Recovery: Lessons From The Post-World War II Period – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE

I doubt you go to Law School for an enjoyable career path. So does it pay?
The Economics of Law School – Orrin Kerr, VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

If you’ve ever wondered why only white people can be racist, the two word answer is “Karl Marx.”
Only white people can be racist – LIBERTY SCOTT

Should an atheist refuse to have a religious wedding?
Question: A Religious Wedding for an Atheist Groom [AUDIO] – Diana Hsieh, NOODLE FOOD

When should nuclear weapons be used, if ever? Under what circumstances should a free society use nuclear weapons?
Question: The Morality of Nuclear Weapons [AUDIO] - Diana Hsieh, NOODLE FOOD

Yes, it surely is the age of the Infographic.
Greg Beato on the Age of the Infographic – REASON

No, it’s not easy is it.
On having sex in the bath – GIRL ON THE NET


In preparation for OctoberFest, UBS Bank has been doing important work, showing showing the cheapest parts of the world to buy a beer. See above. Yes, America wins … but have you ever drunk American beer!
U.S.A. Wins In Beer Affordability Index – REASON

But where the hell is EnZed I hear you ask? Fear not, the noble folk at Stats Chat have heard your plea. “On average it takes 13.62 minutes to earn a pint in New Zealand. There are no figures on the plot, but we seem to sit somewhere between Australia and Argentina, our fellow Rugby Championship competitors, but a long way below South Africa.”
How is the beer up (down) here? – James Curran, STATS CHAT

And in homage to their homage, here’s NZ’s La De Das’ “How Is the Air Up There,” pithily described on YouTube as “a stormer of a garage track”!

I’ve never heard him play it himself, but I’m told Duke Ellington was a lifelong fan of Scott Joplin’s almost classical ‘Solace.’

Isn’t YouTube great! We can now watch, at our leisure, any time we want, brilliant performances by legends like Toscanini.

And finally, it’s Grand Final weekend in Melbourne—Swans v Hawks. (No, no Geelong this year. But having beaten both in recent weeks, we do have bragging rights, no?)
So … enjoy the start of the Special Grand Final Edition of the AFL Footy Show…

[Hat tip Michael D., Russell W., Julian D., Noodle Food, Thrutch, Robert Wenzel]

Have a great weekend!


  1. Oz rellies seem to be xtra exuberant about Hawks being in final.
    Talk of footie led me to recalling that John Key rushed thru legislation ammendment for the World Rugby Cup security; and "trust me I won't misuse the xtra powers given me"
    Opinion by Annemarie Thorby 7/12/10


  2. Regarding the Jihad Watch, and Sharia, I wasn't aware at all we had Islamic schools in New Zealand. Sorry to push myself, but I've just put this piece up going into weekend: South Island's first Islamic school in Dunedin.

    Have been meaning to get a chance to say I've been loving the Chinese pieces you've been doing over the week. Have a good weekend.

  3. Hi I noticed you quoted Jihad Watch. Are they the same people who paid for those shameful advertising in NYC? (and tried to do the same in Washington DC but was successfully denied that right?). They are not as much anti-terrorism as they are pro-Israel no? And therefore perhaps anti-Islam and anti-Arab which is different from anti-terrorism and anti-violence no?



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