Friday, 2 November 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: In the wake of Poseidon

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New
York's skyline… The sky over New York and the will of man made
visible. What other religion do we need? … Is it beauty and genius
[religious pilgrims] want to see? Do they seek a sense of the
sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the
Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no,
I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war [or destruction]
came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the
city, and protect these buildings with my body.
- Ayn Rand


Obama boasted his primary win would mark the moment "the oceans
began to roll back." We rate this claim "mostly false."
- Dave Weigel

“The number of deaths in the U.S. attributed to Sandy rose to at least 90, nearly half in New York City, as millions of people in the Northeast continued to confront traffic, gas lines and patchy public transit on Thursday.”
Sandy's Grim Toll Rises in Battered East – WALL STREET JOURNAL
Live Updates: Sandy  - WALL STREET JOURNAL

News reports naturally focus on Manhattan. But much of the US damage was inflicted in New Jersey.
6 stunning APP aerial videos show Sandy's Shore damage – ASBURY PARK PRESS

“Does ‘a big storm require big government’ as the NY Times argues? In fact, nearly every measure to prepare for the storm and to deal with its aftermath is a product of private efforts…”
Does a Big Storm Require Big Government? – Ari Armstrong, OBJECTIVE STANDARDMartin Hoerling: As to underlying causes, neither the frequency of tropical or extratropical cyclones over the North Atlantic are projected to appreciably change due to climate change, nor have there been indications of a change in their statistical behavior over this region in recent decades (see IPCC 2012 SREX report).
Kevin Trenberth: So we do have a negative North Atlantic Oscillation and some blocking anticyclone in place, but the null hypothesis has to be that this is just “weather” and natural variability.
Patrick Michaels: It’s also consistent with a planet with colder temperatures as well as one with warmer ones. More important, events like this are inevitable on a planet that has an ocean with the geography of the Atlantic (meaning a Gulf Stream-like feature), a large north-south continent on its western margin without a transverse mountain range to inhibit the merger of tropical warmth with polar cold, and four seasons in the temperate latitudes.
Quoted at TOM NELSON

imageOne of the biggest problems reported by Manhattanites … no power for their cellphones (Yes, #FirstWorldProblems).  Midtown Manhattanite Harry Binswanger reports

‘I have whined before (August 2003) about the trauma, for high-rise apartment dwellers like ourselves, of power outages. We're almost trapped in our apartments, with no heat or water. Fortunately, it's better this time than it was in 2003 because the power is on just a few blocks uptown from here. In the mobile age, that has created a new phenomenon: people congregating at publicly reachable sockets, such as inside some banks' ATM centers, re-charging their cellphones, laptops, tablets, and the like. At one socket, there was a guy with a power strip, allowing multiple people to charge up simultaneously.
    ‘Wandering around this afternoon, I found an outdoor socket at the Met Life building at 44th and Vanderbilt (near Grand Central Station), and started charging along with another guy, but a building employee came up and told us to stop. That's the owner's right, but it's nuts. Met Life loses as lot of good will—to save 25 cents? Most mobile devices use all of 10 watts to charge. If Met Life's PR department had any brains, they would run cables with power out to the sidewalk, provide chairs, and post signs saying: Charge up, courtesy of Met Life.

Failing that, the few little shops that are open could sell time on their power for high rates. I would certainly pay $5 or $10 for half an hour of charging. And so would a lot of other New Yorkers.’

The local and international alarmosphere is already touting a dramatic Bloomberg cover story foolishly touting Sandy as the work of global warming—complete with blazing headline: “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” As hurricane expert Roger Pielke, Jr, says, “The only accurate part of this Bloomberg Business Week cover is “stupid.”
Helping Bloomberg understand ‘stupid’ – Antony Watts, WATTS UP WITH THAT

And in the wake of Obama…
Hurricane Sandy to Cost $40 Billion… Or, About Half as Much as Obama Blew on Green Energy Boondoggles 

“The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel toward other
human beings is profoundly egoistic… In revering living entities they
are revering their own life. This is the psychological base of any emotion
of sympathy… It is on the ground of this generalized good will and
respect for the value of human life that one helps strangers in an emergency…”
- Ayn Rand, “The Ethics of Emergencies

I fear now government is looking to be hands-on that “affordable housing” is going to mean “building the slums of tomorrow.”  “It is time, instead, to begin to think about quality not quantity in our urban planning.  And that means really thinking outside the compact city box.”
Trans-Tasman Blues – the Housing Crisis and Our Future – Phil McDermott, CITIES MATTER

“Christchurch inner-city commercial landowners remain confused and suspicious about compulsory acquisition of their properties.” To that, add “bloody angry”!
Confusion rife as valuers come to grips with compulsory acquisition – NBR

You can disagree with his anti-farmer invective and still realise he’s right: while protesting the suppression of democracy in Fiji, the National Government were following the same model in Christchurch.
National's tyranny – Idiot/Savant, NO RIGHT TURN

The Australian PM and Treasurer have now “retreated from what was once a rock-solid, come hell or high water guarantee” of a return to surplus in 2012/13.  Watch Bill English and John Key do the same next year. Which is…
Budget politics at its most cynical – CATALLAXY FILES
Peddling Spin and Paddling Furiously – Niki Savva, THE AUSTRALIAN

Why Hayek matters…

More signs that the writings of Hayek, Mises, and modern Austrian economists are beginning to have some influence even in places where it might be least expected … like China!
Austrian Influence: China and the WSJ – CIRCLE BASTIAT

“More than two decades of failed Keynesian economic policies have left Japan with near zero economic growth.”
Japan is in worse than a deflationary trap: One-time powerhouse, it’s withdrawing from the stage – MARKET WATCH

No, we haven’t.
Financial crises: Have we learned nothing? – ECONOMIST

And now, to US GDP figures: “With the figure for the third quarter now in, it puts the growth rate for the year at 1.7%. Wait a minute. As the Wall Street Journal put it, 'we borrowed $5 trillion and all we got was this lousy 1.7% growth.' But it's worse than that. Of the third quarter's growth, at least a third of it is attributable to growth in government spending….  This is described in the press as a "fragile recovery". But it is no recovery at all. It's a scam. The US population is growing at a 0.9% rate. That leaves actual growth per person at 0.4%.  And that's a figure that has already been twisted by seasonal, qualitative, substitutional and other "adjustments" that make it meaningless. In other words, there is so much fudge in the GDP figures that you can get tooth decay just looking at them.”
The GDP Figures Leading a Scam Recovery – Bill Bonner, DAILY RECKONING

If central banking were a stock, you’d go short.
Pity the Central Banker – Ingolf Elde, COBDEN CENTRE

“Despite last week's blowout $6 billion or so profit from ANZ, it turns out all is not entirely well in Australia's financial services industry. For the last five years, the pattern in the markets has been the same. A crisis starts at the margin, with a peripheral player, and then moves its way up the food chain.
That's what happened when non-bank US lenders got in trouble in 2006…. The same pattern held in Europe, with a few slight differences…
Australia avoided this fate, or has seemed to, but at a cost. The marginal players and non-bank lenders either disappeared or were swallowed by the Big Four banks…. You have less competition and arguably a lot more systemic risk in the home loan market than you did at the beginning of the financial crisis. From a risk perspective, things have actually gotten worse, not better.
This is all part of Australia having an over-sized banking industry relative the country's economy. But there is a more immediate worry for 3,000 people in Victoria. About $660 million in savings is in limbo after non-bank lender Banskia Securities Limited called in receivers…”
Australian Banks at Risk to the Core – Dan Denning, DAILY RECKONING

It’s true, you know. What folk need after disasters is some honest price gouging.
Price Gouging Saves Lives in a Hurricane – David M. Brown, MISES DAILY
In praise of price gouging, revisited – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some
hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days -- the conviction
that ideas matter. In one's youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident
absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not
share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters,
that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of
growing up, is the best aspect of youth. . . .

- Ayn Rand

Warmist scientist, inventor of the Global Warming Hockey StickTM and Nobel Prize winner Michael Mann is taking Mark Steyn to court over this post. He’s a brave man.
Nobel Mann Takes On Revolting Peasants – Mark Steyn, NATIONAL REVIEW
Inherit the Wind Farm – Mann made global hilarity – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES
Michael Mann Sues NRO, Mark Steyn, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg – POPEHAT

“To mark Michael Mann’s Nobel Prize, we bought this full-page ad that ran in today’s Penn State student newspaper…”
Honoring Michael Mann’s Nobel Prize – Rich Lowry, NATIONAL REVIEW

“And does Prof. Mann fully understand the concept of "discovery" under American law? During this phase of his lawsuit he will be required to release any & all documents that the lawyers of the defendants demand of him. The public release of those will be beyond fascinating!”
Michael Mann to Proceed with Lawsuit – Robert W., SMALL DEAD ANIMALS

Mann’s hockey stick disappears – and CRU’s Briffa helps make the Medieval Warm Period  live again by pointing out bias in the data – WATTS UP WITH THAT

Climate skeptic Richard Lindzen joins Alex Epstein  talk about perspectives on climate change and the loaded questions surrounding the top, including questions about climate, “balance” in nature, the goals of environmentalists , and much more.
POWER HOUR: Questioning Climate Science with Dr Richard Lindzen – Alex Epstein, CENTRE FOR INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS

"The destruction of values by scientific error has increasingly
come to seem to me the great tragedy of our time."
— F. A. Hayek

This is Australia, where folk move to get away from big government. They think. But do you really think New Zealand is any better?

Evil on its own is is impotent. It’s said that all that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Even worse if you do for evil what it couldn’t do itself. “Someone designed the furnaces of the Nazi death camps…. This person was an engineer, an architect, or a technician. This person went home at night, perhaps laughed and played with his children, went to church on Sunday, and kissed his wife goodbye each morning… Few men better exemplify this danger than Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect.”
The Architecture of Evil – THE NEW ATLANTIS

President Obama took to teenage music mag Rolling Stone recently to tell readers Ayn Rand is only read by teenagers. “How ironic,” responds Stuart Hayashi, “that the President so reputed to have inspired the idealistic youth of America to vote for him, is now dismissing this very same demographic as being somehow inherently prone to shallowness.”
About Teens, Ayn Rand Answers President Obama from Beyond the Grave – Stuart Hayashi, SOLO
President Obama Duels With Ayn Rand Over What Makes America Great – Yaron Brook & Don Watkins
Obama’s Straw Man Attack On Ayn Rand – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE
A Philosophy for Teenagers – Robert Tracinski, TRACINCKI LETTER

Obama’s hit was followed up by a dishonest hit piece from Huffington Post’s Sanjay Sanghoee, bizarrely using SuperStorm Sandy to smear Ayn Rand.
HuffPo’s Sanghoee Uses Tragedy of Sandy to Smear Ayn Rand – Ari Armstrong, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

So, is government the problem, or the solution? Ayn Rand Center’s Yaron Brook debates David Callahan.

Watch live streaming video from aynrandcenter at

So, is fracking good or bad? Director of ‘Frack Nation’ Anne McElhinney debates ProPublica’s Abraham Lustgarten:

Summarising Leonard Peikoff on the election: “The political choice in November is: non-entity vs. anti-entity. Or: a man who is nothing vs. a man who wants to mass-produce nothings. This, in my judgment, is an unanswerable reason to vote for Romney, no matter what the nature and quantity of his flaws. A man such as our current president is far more dangerous to the survival of the United States than any terrorists from the Mideast.”
Leonard on the Election – LEONARD PEIKOFF

Diana Hseih disagrees in two ways.
Dr. Eric Daniels on Why Voting Doesn't Matter – Diana Hsieh, PHILOSOPHY IN ACTION
Vote for Mitt Romney? Thanks But No Thanks! – Diana Hsieh, NOODLE FOOD

“Historians, as a general rule of thumb, don't like playing the what-if game…. But there's one notable exception: the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
The JFK Library's Frightening Alternate History of the Cuban Missile Crisis – HISTORY NEWS NETWORK

“A real-life election mystery, with Edgar Allan Poe as possible victim.”
Death by voter fraud? – WASHINGTON EXAMINER

"A government which cannot obey any principles must maintain
itself by handing out special favours to particular groups."
- F. A. Hayek

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science says labelling [genetically modified foods] would “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” The AAAS – best known for publishing Science magazine – says genetically modified foods are fundamentally no different from conventionally bred foods. In fact, the organization says they are tested more extensively than most new crop varieties… “Civilization rests on people’s ability to modify plants to make them more suitable as food, feed and fiber plants and all of these modifications are genetic,” the AAAS statement says.
In case you haven’t been paying attention – Tyler Cowen, MARGINAL REVOLUTION

And now, from our Good News Desk: “A recent study of children’s brains in the UK and the US found that adults who began drinking as children were more intelligent that their more sober peers…”
Smart Kids Drink More as Adults, Non Drinkers ‘Dull’ – Dan Denning, DAILY RECKONING

And even more good news: because the answer is “Hell, yes!”
Will 3D Printing Change The World? – FORBES

Yes, folks, this was the original meaning of the phrase.
Exception that proves the rule – WIKIPEDIA

Well, they had to start learning somehow…
#BaldForBieber Hoax Teaches Kids to Fact Check Before Shaving Their Heads – MASHABLE

English soccer has been trying to reduce racism and anti-racism to name-calling, handshakes and yellow t-shirts.
The phony war over football racism – Duleep Allirajah, SPIKED

How do publishers compete in the internet age?
For Magazines, The Digital Future Lies Beyond The iPad – Jonathan Harris, FORBES

“After seeing the Los Angles premiere of Atlas Shrugged, Part 2, the film that opens today based on the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, a question struck me as I was exiting the theatre surrounded by Hollywood types most commonly stereotyped as liberal: Why don't liberals admire Ayn Rand and her philosophy of objectivism, so forcefully presented in this book and film?”
Why Ayn Rand Won't Go Away: 'Atlas Shrugged,' Part 2 and the Motor of Moral Psychology – Michael Shermer, HUFFINGTON POST

Don’t take Sociology if you’re looking for career prospects.
Worst College Majors for Your Career – KIPLINGER

Speaking of which, Joseph Schumpeter explains the emergence of a world full of Martyn Bradburys:
“The man who has gone through a college or university easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work. His failure to do so may be due either to lack of natural ability—perfectly compatible with passing academic tests—or to inadequate teaching ... those who are unemployed or unsatisfactorily employed or unemployable drift into the vocations in which standards are least definite or in which aptitudes and acquirements of a different order count. They swell the host of intellectuals in the strict sense of the term whose numbers hence increase disproportionately. They enter it in a thoroughly discontented frame of mind. Discontent breeds resentment. And it often rationalizes itself into that social criticism which as we have seen before is in any case the intellectual spectator’s typical attitude toward men, classes and institutions especially in a rationalist and utilitarian civilization.”
Schumpeter on the Effects of College on the Willingness to Do Manual Labor – Kenneth Anderson, VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

[Hat tips to Catallaxy Files, Climate Depot, Anti Dismal, 3 Quarks Daily, TakingHayekSeriously, Joe Bastardi, BarrowiceSonaliRanade, William F desRosiers, Shea Levy, The Libertarians, Paul Hsieh, Dr Simon Sellars, Pete Cashmore, Tim Harford, Architizer]PS: NEW BOOK: The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope


PPS: Free Market Revolution is the book that shows how Ayn Rand's ideas can END big government.


And finally, let’s visit Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands for a dip in the world’s most spectacular swimming pool:


Thanks for reading.
Have a great weekend!

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