Friday, 1 March 2013

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: A slow news week?

This week I’ve had time to ramble around the internet.  Here’s some of what I found.

Nice for those who can get it.  “A Crown Treaty negotiator has pocketed $1.5-million, another more than $1m and several others large six-figure sums according to information released in response to detailed questioning by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson revealed that $5.5-million has been paid to 14 individuals since 2008, several of them former Cabinet ministers and MPs.”
Mike Butler: Treaty troughers revealed – Mike Butler, BREAKING VIEWS

Larry Mitchell has ranked all NZ’s councils on the basis of how heavily indebted they are—and how much liability you as ratepayer have for that debt. Highlight’s exposed by this year’s report include persistent deficits; debt continuing to build up; average debt per ratepayer up 10% from $3,834 to $4,176; and continuing low levels of asset replacement reserve funds.
How does your council do?
A Brief Summary of the 2013 Local Government League Table and its results – LARRY N. MITCHELL

Tim Watkin is having a commuting crisis due to rubbish Auckland trains, the very trains he once so loved. Here's why.
An open letter on Auckland trains. Grrrr – Tim Watkin, PUNDIT

There is no reason for EQC to exist, and every reason for it to be exterminated as soon as practically possible. More evidence here: (“Usual grain of salt warning about blogs written by former employees, but still…”)
EQC Truths

So why does the government own a coal company anyway?
Some Solid questions on energy – Colin Espiner, BULL DUST

So who owns graffiti? Passersby?
It's not "your" Banksy – LIBERTY SCOTT

Well, the Maori Party and the ACT caucus are nominally in coalition, so why should this be considered unusual?
Maori Party president makes plea for charter schools – RADIO NZ

The Oscar Pistorius case is a good illustration of the dangers of turning athletic stars into role models or symbols of evil.
Oscar Pistorius: when good metaphors turn bad – Duleep Allirajah, SPIKED

“Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent,
hardworking, honest folk. It's the other lousy two percent that
get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.”
           — Lily Tomlin

Economist Armen Alchian, who died the other day at age 98, puts it plainly: “Economic law is not suppressed by legislated law.” Yet politicians think they can keep raising the minimum wage with no consequence to those they claim to be helping.
What support for the minimum wage reveals – Sheldon Richman
Real minimum wages – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

You want proof that Keynesian economics is insane. Well, here it is. From The Telegraph in London: a strategy to discourage saving! What complete fools/
Keynesian insanity reaches a new peak – Steven Kates, CATALLAXY FILES

The British Pound is getting pounded. It deserves to be.
The British Pound Gets Pounded – MONEY MORNING AUSTRALIA

It looks like whatever he tries, David Cameron’s Treasurer can’t get the British economy off its knees.  Except that he hasn’t actually tried anything sensible.
Osborne cornered – Alasdair Macleod, COBDEN CENTRE

Maybe he wouldn’t be cornered if he stepped outside his ‘paradigm.’
My 10-point plan to reboot Britain – Allister Heath, TELEGRAPH

Ask Yaron:

“Having mostly failed to see this crisis coming before failing to predict even the general pattern of events, senior economists now want more of the medicine which already nearly killed the patient. This may look like madness or stupidity to those of us without a high level of formal education in economics. It is neither. Contemporary economists are trapped in an intellectual prison founded on now-old errors of method and epistemology: the knowledge and simplifications necessary to make their mathematical models work are unavailable and invalid respectively.”
The madness of contemporary economists – Steven Baker, MP, COBDEN CENTRE

There is little evidence economic forecasting is any better than guessing, abundant evidence that economic forecasting, abundant evidence that economic forecasting by “elite economists” such as those in Treasury or the Reserve Bank performs worse than guess-work, and no evidence whatsoever economic forecasting has improved in recent decades.
Dispelling Some Big Myths About Economic Forecasts – Murray Dawes, MONEY MORNING AUSTRALIA

It’s sometimes worth reflecting that Paul Krugman may be insane. Except that he’s not—he’s just the perfect reflection of the insanity of mainstream economics.
Krugman's Call for a Housing Bubble – Daniel Sanchez, MISES DAILY

It’s far from perfect, but “the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World reveals the destructive, surreptitious, incestuous, and highly corrupt nature of central banking… One of the jewels here is the rare look into the lives of the powerful men, the ‘lords of finance,’ who were behind the solidification of modern central banking in the US and Europe during the years 1910 to 1935.”
Lords of Finance: The Backroom World of Central Banking – Dan O’Connor, MISES DAILY

“Once the rule of law is established, an economy thrives
despite government, not because of it.”
                 - Adam Creighton, writing in The Australian

When is the U.S. getting rid of “too big to fail?” Says America’s central banker “ah, uh…”
Elizabeth Warren Grills Bernanke on "Too Big to Fail" Policy – MISH’S GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

More key excerpts from Bernanke's first Humphrey Hawkins testimony before the Senate. “Highlights obviously ours..”
Bernanke's Tools: "Belts, Suspenders... Two Pairs Of Suspenders" And Other Senate Testimony Highlights – ZERO HEDGE

“Waiting for Japan's economy to make a strong recovery has been an ongoing game since 1990. Shall we play that game one more time? There have been many false dawns in Japan over the past 20 years. Is this another false dawn for the rising sun? Or sunset?
The Arrival of Japan's Sunset: The repercussions will be tremendous 
- Gregor McDonald, PEAK PROSPERITY

“It is becoming more apparent that modern macro with its Keynesian Y=C+I+G is utterly defective to the point of vacuity but the problem remains what ought to replace it? Here is my formula in brief…”
How to manage an economy – Steven Kates, CATALAXY FILES

Austerity? I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means – Don Watkins, LAISSEZ FAIRE

The “Third Way” of politics has been tried and failed. So it’s bound to be tried again. And again. And again.
“Third Way” politics and its fruits – STEPHEN HICKS

But what are think tanks? Who funds them? And what the hell does the LSE Review of Books know about them anyway?
Farcical Concept of the Day – Jim Harper, CATO AT LIBERTY

From the “this is total nanny state bollocks” file:
Man Charged With Felony for Letting Go of Balloons – HIT & RUN

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter calls libertarians pussies for “sucking up to liberals” on pot and gay marriage. "’We're living in a country that is 70 percent socialist,’ she says. ‘The government takes 60 percent of your money. They take care of your health care, your pensions ... who you can hire ... and you (libertarians) want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, oh, we want to legalize pot?’
“Coulter has a point.  Government rarely makes a dent in people's drug use or their ability to partner with people of their own gender.
“’Seventy percent socialism’ does much more harm. It kills opportunity and wrecks lives.
"But Coulter doesn't just want to downplay ‘liberal’ parts of the libertarian agenda. She opposes them…”
Libertarians' Awkward Bedfellows – John Stossel, REAL CLEAR POLITICS

“Here’s what I don’t get about the drone debate. Why the @#$% did it take so long to start?”
Drone Rage: A Day Late and a Sequester’d Dollar Short? – Wilton Aston, BASTIAT INSTITUTE

“No one expected outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon to make the speech he made to the UN General Assembly in September 2012. Calderon, the staunch drug warrior, called time on the Drug War… On the same Wednesday that Calderon made his speech, two other Latin American leaders told the UN Assembly the same thing… Collectively, the three leaders formally asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for a review of the organisation’s drug policies.” The UN’s first reaction to the call? Expunging their speeches from the record.
When the drug warriors turn – Russell Brown, HARD NEWS

I didn’t (don’t) watch the Oscars. But it sounds like it was a blast!
Seth MacFarlane: we saw him boob, that’s all – David Bowden, SPIKED

Government regulations hurt small business. How much do they hurt? Here’s one story:
Subway 'Wouldn't Exist' If Started Today Due to Regulations: Founder Deluca – CNBC

“A man's liberties are none the less aggressed upon because
those who coerce him do so in the belief that he will be benefited.”

                 — Herbert Spencer

Hope for Solid Energy? The age of coal may not be altogether over. “Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and director of the Clean Coal Lab, has just completed a 203 hour test of a radical new way of obtaining energy from coal. Typical coal-fired power plants burn coal to boil water, and run the resultant steam through turbines to produce electricity. Fan’s process, a new technology called “coal-direct chemical looping,” does not burn the coal. Instead, it chemically converts coal to heat in a sealed reactor chamber. Tiny iron oxide beads help to deliver oxygen to the coal particles, which are then cycled through an airflow chamber for re-oxygenation, then run back through the reaction chamber. This is the “looping” in the technology’s name. The process gives off no air pollution, and the captured carbon dioxide is ninety-nine percent pure, enough to make it a valuable commodity.
Scientists Generate Electricity from Coal Without Burning It – Howard Roerig, T.O.S. BLOG

They came, they saw, they confronted and counter-protested the ragtag “anti-energy” rally in America’s capital. This is their report.
The Light Brigade: Confronting the Anti-Energy, Pro-Blackout Rally in DC 
– Travis Fisher, MASTER RESOURCE

image“Fossil fuels improve the planet.” Download the free e-book by Alex Epstein NOW!
Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet: The E-Book – CENTER FOR INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS

Is dark matter the next scientific discovery? Or the latest “ether” or phlogiston? We’ll know, or not, in the next few weeks.
AMS-02 dark matter results in 2-3 weeks – Lubos Motl, REFERENCE FRAME

“What space-age material is two hundred times stronger than structural steel?
What conducts electricity so insanely quickly that researchers at IBM see ‘no intrinsic limits into how fast it can go’?
And which new substance is the subject of three thousand new research projects, and has just been given a one billion Euro research investment from the European Commission?
Amazingly, the answer is the same for all three questions…”
Graphene: The Two-Dimensional Diamond That’s Set to Turn Your World Upside Down – Alex Cowie, MONEY MORNING AUSTRALIA

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research by Pinka Chatterji and Sara Markowitz indicates a way that bicycle helmet laws may be creating less bicycle-related head injuries: discouraging getting on the bike in the first place.
Bicycle Helmet Laws: Good At Keeping Kids Off Bikes – Brian Doherty, HIT & RUN

Useful news for parents of autistic children?
Children With Autism Show Increased Positive Social Behaviors When Animals Are Present – SCIENCE DAILY

Dense cities don’t have to be ugly. Take the 3d cities of visionary architect Paolo Soleri, for example…

…or the Mile High city of Frank Lloyd Wright:

Succinctly answering the question so many readers have asked me:
What is Objectivism? – Craig Biddle, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

Succinctly answering another frequent question: What is Montessori?
Listen here to neuropsychologist Dr. Steven Hughes, chair of the Association Montessori International Global Research Committee, and Matt Hillis, executive director of Bergamo Montessori Schools in California:

“I'd suggested last year that there's no alcohol crisis in New Zealand… Well, it turns out that there could be a crisis. Here are the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand…”
A real alcohol crisis [warning: may not actually contain crisis] – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

He’s the literary figure who refuses to die. So who owns him?
Who owns Sherlock Holmes?  - THE ECONOMIST

“Is peace or war the natural state of man? Do men fight primarily over material possessions or over women?” Napoleon Chagnon’s controversial study of the Yanomamö, a remote constantly-warring tribe in South America, tells us more.
An Anthropologist’s War Stories – NEW YORK TIMES

Sex Addiction? Yeah right.
You’re Addicted to What? – Dr Marty Klein, THE HUMANIST

Not sure why it’s news, but it has emerged Britain’s most commonly spoken language is now Bollocks. True story. (Almost.)
Bollocks is Britain’s first language – DAILY MASH

While we’re at the Daily Mash site …
Secret of successful relationship is getting pissed together
Most people don't have any potential

It’s the first day of Autumn. Time for a Vodka Mojito?
Homemade Vodka Mojito – Will de Cleene, GONZO FREAKPOWER

There’s sure to be more in your Vodka Mojito than in my Vaportini.
The Vaportini: A Cocktail Inhaled, Not Stirred – THE SALT

Now this is good. But Brent Grapes’s performance of the Arutinian Trumpet Concerto last night with the Auckland Philharmonia was even better!

Speaking of trumpets, here’s Dizzy Gillespie (turn it up loud!)

Pianist Van Cliburn, hero of the Cold War and creator of the best-selling classical album for a decade (Lindsay Perigo tells the story), passed away this week.  Here on YouTube, he still plays Beethoven.  He plays it beautifully:

This is how the Gods end, not with a whimper but with a bang: In the climax to Richard Wagner’s 'Götterdämmerung', we see Brunnhilde (Anne Evans) throw herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre, setting off the cataclysm that destroys the Gods' castle of Valhalla, and the Gods themselves—who have proved themselves unable to cope in a world with free will.  Only Alberich, the opera's villain, and the new human race are left. (See more at: )

[Hat tips Stephen Hicks, Kiwiblog, The Classical Liberal, Geek Press, Eric Crampton, Anthony Smith, Joel Rowan, Erosophia]

Thanks for reading


  1. Treaty troughers pay-outs? Yet Doug Graham claims he is in penury.

    Chris R

  2. "Dense cities don’t have to be ugly. Take the 3d cities of visionary architect Paolo Soleri, for example…"

    Gack! It's hard to find examples of architecture that are uglier than Soleri's. His work is high on gimmickry and low on artistic taste. It's contrivance in place of soul-expression.


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