Friday, 23 November 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: Thanksgiving Edition


Yes, it’s Thanksgiving in the States—the sort of holiday we don’t have here in NZ, but should have. Don’t you have much to be thankful for?

On with the show!

No, it’s not what you think.
Beehive springs a leak – report – NZ HERALD

“The people complaining about New Zealand’s 100% pure marketing campaign have had a logic bypass.”
Critics have had logic bypass – HOME PADDOCK

Far too little, much too late, but still very, very helpful. Why did it take so long?
Brownlee orders land-use plan – THE PRESS

And while virtual ring fences around Christchurch’s outer suburbs continue to raise land prices, disgruntled property owners in the central city argue that the fences around the Chch CBD are in place to keep their prices depressed.
CCDU, what are you doing?: Locked out of undamaged factory for 635 days  - REBUILD CHRISTCHURCH

CERA’s Roger Sutton has finally, well after time, answered an Official Information (OIA) request for costing information and robust feasibility studies about his organisation’s multi-billion dollar plans for central Christchurch, none of which have been released to the public yet on the basis of which land confiscations have already begun. His answer to the question do you have costings or robust feasibility studies for your plans:  No.  Or in his words: “There are currently no confirmed costs.”
Scroll down here to see his OIA response:
CantabriansUnite – FACEBOOK

Finally someone in the media has asked Labour Leader David Shearer for a little bit of detail about his uncosted Lotto housing policy.  Like, for example, how many sections will the taxpayer need to buy?  Shearer couldn’t um, er, ah answer.
Shearer's Big 'Um' on Housing – WHALE OIL

Or maybe he wasn’t talking about actual houses, on actual land…
Labour Admits Affordable Housing = Apartments – CACTUS KATE

Insider trading on bringing down David Shearer? Who could be doing that!
David Shearer and the Labour Leadership - Part I – iPREDICT BLOG

Oh yes, and as a reward for a job done bloody poorly, the head of EQC has just been rewarded with a $70,000 pay rise.
Rewarding incompetence – NO RIGHT TURN

What gets political reporters excited?  “Political stories are generally very ‘managed.’ Political parties invest huge amounts of money and energy into controlling their presentation in the media, which can frustrate some journalists… I suspect that’s why journalists like Paddy get (very) excited when things don’t go as scheduled, e.g., the tea-pot tapes, the Labour conference. ‘Something’ actually happens – i.e., something that isn’t calculated and pre-planned by teams of highly paid experts.”
Do you support Paddy Gower? – DIM POST

So who are the winners and losers on Labour’s factional warfare?
Winners and Losers – KIWIBLOG

Urban legends, and Annette King, might be wrong say scientists.
Full Moons Won’t Make You Cray-Cray, Say Scientists – BLISSTREE

Safety message for our American readers on Thanksgiving, from William Shatner: “Just remember: ‘Fire, metal, oil, and turkey are glorious when in harmony.’”

Thanksgiving may look like like a holiday for consumption, but it’s really a holiday for producers.
Thanks to whom? – Jeff Scialabba, VOICES FOR REASON

As Americans sit down to enjoy their Thanksgiving they will, hopefully, be giving thanks to all those who made their consumption possible. Themselves.
Celebrate Thanksgiving the Ayn Rand way: Thank yourself – Debi Ghate, CS MONITOR

America might never have even got off the ground if those early pilgrims hadn’t thrown off communism. Read the almost unknown early history of those early Pilgrims -- of how private property saved their lives and their colony, so making today’s Thanksgiving celebrations possible.
How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims -  Tom Bethell. HOOVER INSTITUTION

By the way, “There are some things that God cares deeply about -- sex, foreskins, menstruation, and animal sacrifice,for example. And food.
Most Christians forget about that. They prepare and eat food on Thanksgiving that God abhors, while thanking him for it.. Don't make that mistake this Thanksgiving.
Here are some suggestions for a biblically correct Thanksgiving dinner.”
All the fat is the Lord's: The Bible's guide to Thanksgiving dinner – DWINDLING IN UNBELIEF

Is America a Christian nation? Or one nation under a constitution?


The fundamental dynamics in Gaza are more about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood Gaza and the weakness of the Obama Administration than anything Israel can do anything about. Apart from military deterrence.
Gaza reality – Editorial, JERUSALEM POST

The choice to initiate the conflict rested, and rests, on a choice only possible to one side.
Gaza could have chosen peace but no – LIBERTY SCOTT

Is there no way to resolve the perennial Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Are both sides morally equivalent? For those interested, I can recommend this older but clearly still relevant lecture by Yaron Brook.  “Central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the question of whether the state of Israel has a moral right to exist…”
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What is the solution? – Yaron Brook, AYN RAND CENTER, 2002

“Israel is the only free country in a region dominated by Arab monarchies, theocracies and dictatorships. It is only the citizens of Israel--Arabs and Jews alike--who enjoy the right to express their views, to criticize their government, to form political parties, to publish private newspapers, to hold free elections. When Arab authorities deny the most basic freedoms to their own people, it is obscene for them to start claiming that Israel is violating the Palestinians' rights. All Arab citizens who are genuinely concerned with human rights should, as their very first action, seek to oust their own despotic rulers and adopt the type of free society that characterizes Israel.”
Israel Has a Moral Right to Its Life – Peter Schwartz and Yaron Brook, 2002

Fascinating interview with a renegade historian.
“'You've [talked] about Arabs being incapable of democracy, not respecting the rule of law or sanctity of life.”
Also the treatment of women, treatment of homosexuals. I've got a whole list.
Have you seen anything in the "Arab Spring" that leads you to rethink that?
It's only made things worse.”
Israel historian Benny Morris responds to critics left and right – L.A. TIMES


As a public service, the Washington Post’s defence writer put together this primer for generals on their way to Afghanistan.  “Here is a list of 19 things that many insiders and veterans of Afghanistan agree to be true about the war there, but that generals can't say in public.”  Top of the list: “We don't know why we are here, what we are fighting for, or how to know if we are winning,” and “Pakistan is now an enemy of the United States.”
19 true things generals can't say in public about the Afghan war: A helpful primer – Tom Ricks, BEST DEFENSE

It’s true for us too, you know.
The Best Reason To Reform Immigration Is It Would Be Good For America and the World – Matthew Yglesias, SLATE
Heartland Draws Hispanics to Help Revive Small Towns – WSJ

Are zealously defended borders necessary to make a nation?
If Defended Borders Make a Nation, Then the U.S. Has a Pretty Short History – Brian Doherty, REASON

Voters legalised it, but whether Washington and Colorado can implement laws to legalise the recreational use of Marijuana remains unclear.
Unperturbed puffery – THE ECONOMIST

“As President Obama embarks on his second term, we’ll have to see whether he conjures up the specters of his controversial campaign moments. Recall his insistence that “if you have a business, you didn’t build that.” That upset a lot of people. But here’s the thing about that memorable line: If you have a business, there is a sense in which you didn’t build it all on your own.
Obama was right—but for the wrong reasons.”
The Enduring Lesson of I, Pencil – Nicole Ciandella, THE FREEMAN

Mick Jagger's lyrics don't ring so true any more:


Interactive graphic explaining how China is ruled and the structure of the Communist party.
Who wields power in China? – FINANCIAL TIMES

How big was the American housing bubble that Greenspan, Bernanke and other monetary gods never saw?
Biggest Housing Bubble Since 807 A.D. Has Burst – ZERO HEDGE

WE ARE now in the middle of the fourth quarter of 2012. That means that it has been five full years since the American economy first tipped into recession amid a gathering financial storm. How have we done since that time?
The long slump – ECONOMIST

“Many commentators blame reckless bank lending as the key cause behind the 2008–2012 financial crises in Ireland and Iceland. Our analysis, however, suggests that it was not the banks as such that caused the crisis but rather the boom-bust policies of the central banks of Ireland and Iceland.”
Ire and Ice: A Tale of Two PIIIGS – Frank Shostak, MISES DAILY

Yes, Keynes does prescribe the destruction of wealth through the dilution of capital by monetary authorities. It’s right there in black and white on age 376.
Kyle Bass: Fallacies Such As MMT Are "Leading The Sheep To Slaughter" And "We Believe War Is Inevitable" – ZERO HEDGE

Mind you, he also believed perpetual war was a way to permanent prosperity. 
Keynes On Worker Utopia Through Perpetual Threat Of War – ZERO HEDGE

Problems with your debt ceiling? Then just eliminate it.
But Timmy, You Can't Borrow Forever! - VITAL SIGNS

The morality of the free market: And do note the example of Say’s Law right at the start of this vidoe where the mown lawn is exchanged for food and drink. Demand is created by supply. This has been replaced by Obama’s Law: from each according to his ability, to each according to his vote.” – Steve Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Taleb, “Herewith are five policy rules that can help us to establish anti-fragility as a principle of our socioeconomic life. Rule 1: Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine…”
Learning to Love Volatility – Nassim Taleb, WSJ

There’s an awful lot of asphalt in Manukau.
Form follows parking – Peter M, AUCKLAND TRANSPORT BLOG

With the summer holiday season approaching Stats Chat responds to requests for a post on the relative safety of driving and flying.
Fly away home – STATS CHAT

“Almost forty years after animal rights advocates began asking us to put down our steak knives, plant advocates may start asking us to relinquish our salad forks as well. Plants have rights too, they say…”
Rooting Out the Motive of “Plant Rights” Advocates – Ross England, T.O.S. BLOG

When it happens spontaneously, it’s great!
Return of the walking city -  - Kent Lundberg, AUCKLAND TRANSPORT BLOG

As more of us use “the cloud,” the less secure the cloud is becoming.
Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore – Mat Honan, WIRED

Professor Flynn from Otago is trying to help you improve your mind.

“Last night and today I have been chatting with friends on facebook about the nature of Romanticism. And I realized that my stance is radical, and it is so simple and intuitive I can’t believe it is not embraced as the standard for the next era of art.”
New Romanticism – Michael Newberry, ARTIST

Don’t order all those “name brands” you see in the movies.
Hollywood's best fake products. – FAST.CO.CREATE

A tip for exam season:
When taking a test, should you change that answer or stick with what you put down first? – BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

How much do you love a good cigar?  Then make the most of it:

“Tosca, you make me forget God!” A stunning first-act climax:

The Auckland Philharminc did a top job last night of Mahler’s 5th Symphony. Here’s the gorgeous Adagietto, with Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philarmoniker, along with clips from the film that made it “famous”:

Time for a martini or two…

[Hat tips to Thrutch, History News Network, Great Opera Videos, Richard Dawkins, Geek Press]

Thanks for reading.

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