Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday Morning Ramble: ‘’Twas the fortnight before Christmas, and all through the House…” edition

“Parliament is full of whores … The Whore Index of New Zealand Politics simply looks at how much of a whore each party is, measured by how many dollars they spend per vote.” So which two parties are far and away the biggest whores? (Write your answer down before you click.)
The Whore Index of New Zealand Politics – The Pitchman, WHORES & GANGSTERS

“The parliamentary year ended yesterday, and so it is time for the school prizegiving.”
Of musical chairs and other absurd carryings-on – Claire Trevett, NZ HERALD

Submissions detailed in a report titled A House Divided, released today by the Independent Constitutional Review Panel, show overwhelming opposition to race-based political representation and the inclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi in our constitutional arrangements, panel chairman David Round, a law lecturer at Canterbury University, said today.
Big opposition to race-based representation – Independent Constitutional Review Panel, SCOOP
NB: The full report, which includes an evaluation of the review by the government-appointed Constitutional Advisory Panel,  is here:  A House Divided.

Just in time for Christmas: “A Maori trust is planning a direct action campaign this summer after a meeting with tourism companies failed to reach agreement over boats passing through the iconic Hole in the Rock.”
Let Me Guess ... There's a Taniwha There? – WHALE OIL

“It’s easy to understand why the families of the men who perished in the Pike River mine are angry.”
Reparation but no revenge – HOME PADDOCK

A NZ Herald editorial last week rightly criticised the country's growing nanny state.  Eric was impressed.
A welcome turn – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

“Nick Iversen nominated the Herald’s story on increasing inequality as Stat of the Week, on the grounds that it didn’t have any data showing increasing inequality.”  This looks like a choice, rather than an omission.
Inequality in NZ – Thomas Lumley, STATS CHAT

Occupational licensing restricts entry to the marketplace, making outcomes worse for everyone except those professionals being protected. Latest example…
Robin Hood conviction proof of 'desperation' – NZ HERALD

Attend a talk overseas on the man who should have been Time’s Person of the Year, Edward Snowden, and find yourself stripped on your return of every bit of electronic equipment you have.
"No bloody clue " – WIRELESS

Chris Trotter worries that Labour’s Old Guard are conspiring against Cunliffe’s leftward lurch. He worries as if such a conspiracy would be a bad thing.
A Sort of Victory: Is Labour’s Old Guard Undermining Cunliffe’s Lurch to the Left? – Chris Trotter, DAILY BLOG

Australasian governments went to elections promising “they” would deliver ultra-fast govt broadband. That the promises are causing and falling into disarray on both sides of the Tasman is just precisely what you’d expect when government enters any market, with motivations very different to your usual market participant.
National Broadband Network review finds Titanic black hole – MACROBUSINESS AUSTRALIA

And in the US, we have ObamaCare, where Democrats, “have moved on to bargaining: maybe the ‘fixed’ website will be just good enough to save the system from total collapse and stave off a grim electoral reckoning for Democrats. Chances are it won’t; I’ll get to that in a moment. But the big change is this: ObamaCare’s backers have stopped claiming or expecting that the system is going to work well, that it’s going to be easy to use, that it’s going to save everybody money… They’ve stopped telling us that we’re going to love the law once we find out what’s in it, because—well, because we’re finding out what’s in it.”
True Believers – Robert Tracinski, TRACINSKI LETTER

“ ‘The challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization,’ President Obama said. ‘It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier, which is we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly. . . . The White House is just a tiny part of what is a huge, widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world.’
    “So after five years, Mr. Obama has discovered government is inefficient and wasteful, or at least it is when he needs a political alibi… But there’s a special irony here for Mr. Obama, given that the cardinal political project of his Presidency is to rehabilitate the public’s confidence in large activist government.”
Quotations From Chairman Barry – POWERLINE

“The soap opera of General Motor’s departure from Australia is ending. The company has been operating with sporadic profitability for a decade and more. Last year it lost $153 million…”
GM Holden’s Australian closure – Alan Moran, CATALLAXY FILES 
Ensuring car industry’s closure benefits consumers – Leith Van Onselen, MACROBUSINESS AUSTRALIA
The answer isn’t more subsidies but saner unions – ANDREW BOLT

Pic from “Reason’s Greetings,” by ATHEIST WISDOM

Great news. “Four out 10 Kiwis now declare themselves non-religious, putting us firmly among the most secular countries in the world.”
Census points to non-religious NZ – STUFF
NB: Check the stats for yourself here: 2013 Census totals by topic

Q: So is it appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas:

   “Yes, of course. A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively
religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than
the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of
mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part,
but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion. 
    “The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will
in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry
Christmas”—not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a
material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending
them cards in token of remembrance . . . .
    “The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics:
the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . .
stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products
devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations
put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees,
the winking lights, the glittering colours—provide the city with a spectacular
display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us. One would
have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.”

Clarke & Dawe take their last tilt for the year …

“Churchill was wrong. The best argument against
democracy is five minutes listening to talk radio.”

- Dan Gardner

“I’m not a Liberal by any measure, but I think many of my American Conservative and libertarian friends are missing the point about Nelson Mandela. Would any self-respecting American have failed to take up arms against the Apartheid regime in South Africa? Would Washington or Jefferson have tolerated the subjugation of his people by a criminal gang that controlled the majority of its citizens through state-sponsored violence and torture, restricted them to living in detestable ghettos, required them to show “passes” to move within their own nation and restricted the futures of their children and grandchildren. Let me make this clear…had I been a Black living under Apartheid I would have taken up arms and fought to free my people, much as Mandela did, and as our Founders did.”
A Contrarian's Take on Nelson Mandela at the Time of His Passing – Charles David Edinger, RIO NORTE LINE

A former Trostkyite’s take on Nelson Mandela at the time of his passing: “They’ve airbrushed out the true destroyers of Apartheid: the black masses.”
How Mandela’s worshippers are rewriting history – Brendan O’Neill, SPIKED

Cartoon by John Cox

Big banks shouldn’t have done well out of the GFC, but did—thanks to massive intervention. Now, banking should be “next in line for slaughter at the hands of technology.” But will regulators bail them out again?
Banking faces a revolution, but not if regulators can prevent it – Jeremy Warner, TELEGRAPH

“There is no justification for the Federal Reserve System or for any government intervention regarding money. The government should neither impose gold nor forbid it.”
Free Money! Then Free The Rest Of The Economy – Harry Binswanger, FORBES

“Bitcoin is backed by nothing other than the hope that it might be worth more tomorrow.”
The Case Against Bitcoin – A Faith Based/Emotion Backed Currency – Louis Cammarosano, SMAULGD

Raising the minimum wage doesn’t really fight poverty.
The Minimum Wage Ain’t What It Used to Be – David Neumark, NEW YORK TIMES

Amazon’s Drone has got other businesses thinking about what else you can deliver by drone—and what’s already being delivered out of the sky. Domino’s Pizza, delivered by Domicopter; textbooks in Sydney; packages in Shanghai; supplies to refugee camps in Haiti—where it costs only 20 to 70 cents to deliver a two-kilogram package 10 km, at least a fivefold savings compared to standard truck delivery…
Jeff Bezos’ Amazonian Drones – Doug Hornig, CASEY RESEARCH

Britain is starting to look at lifetime costs of wind energy. “The wear and tear on offshore wind farms means that within a decade we will have to pay tens of billions of pounds to replace them…”
Wind turbines policy is all at sea – Christopher Brooker, TELEGRAPH

“’Time’ chose wrong: Pope Francis advocates centuries-old,
altruist-collectivist ideas; Snowden started debate
about unprecedented government surveillance.”
- Amy Peikoff on Time magazine’s decision to award their
‘Person of the Year’ award to the Pope over Edward Snowden

“Whatever you think of Snowden, his actions have drawn significantly more attention to the NSA’s intrusive programs. Now the question is: will anything be done about them?”
Don’t Tread on My Metadata – Amy Peikoff, PJ MEDIA
A Right to Privacy Is No Promise of Privacy – Steve Green, VODKA PUNDIT

Time’s newly named Person of the Year Pope Francis unfortunately insists once again on statist ideas that go against an open society based on free markets.
Once Again, Pope Francis – Alberto Benegas Lynch, CATO AT LIBERTY

The Popes “two main ‘testable changes in society’ are completely false.
On the comments of Pope Francis – Matt Nolan, TVHE

Time magazine also picks its Most Surprising Photos of 2013, including this enigmatic snap:


The unfortunate story of the one German in the crowd who did not perform the Nazi salute.
The Toll of "Rassenschande" on a Family – MENTAL FLOSS

Islamists (still) against free speech.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation "Organizes" for Censorship – Ed Cline, RULE OF REASON

“Cell biologists at Johns Hopkins have identified a unique class of breast cancer cells that lead the process of invasion into surrounding tissues. Because invasion is the first step in the deadly process of cancer metastasis, the researchers say they may have found a weak link in cancer's armour and a possible new target for therapy.”
First Step of Metastasis Halted in Mice With Breast Cancer – SCIENCE DAILY

Q: What has protectionism done for French literature?
Why don't French books sell abroad? – BBC

“…a somewhat rambling case against what [New Statesman author Steven Poole] calls the ‘cult of hard work,’ … and some good observations about what one could also call ‘‘productivity' as a fad’ -- or perhaps ‘toil-worship.’
Toil vs. Productiveness – GUS VAN HORN

Apparently there was enough goodness on NZ telly to award a Top Ten. Who knew?
Telly Vision Episode 5: Top Ten TV of 2013 – Sarah Square Eyes, 13TH FLOOR

Q: What are the similarities and differences between Objectivism and secular humanism? “My Answer, In Brief:Secular humanism is an attempt to meld secularism with altruistic and collectivist ethics, plus leftist politics. It's not a coherent philosophy – or well-grounded in facts. I urge secular humanists to honestly consider at Ayn Rand's philosophy as an alternative.”
LISTEN TO: Objectivism Versus Secular Humanism: Philosophy in Action Podcast – Diana Hsieh, POLITICS WITHOUT GOD [18 minutes]

Filmed over two months- ‘Como un sueño’ is an architectural study by Vat Jaiswal that investigates the work of Santiago Calatrava in Valencia, Spain:

I got them old “song stuck in my head” blues again. It’s Rory…

… and an unlikely Thelonious Monk cover, by the unlikeliest of pairings…

…and the real thing, with Basie observing.

PS: It has been 8 years since the first bottle of Epic Pale Ale was filled. It is also that time of year, so Epic Brewery is putting on an Epic party today!

The party goes all day, so everyone can find a time to come and have a celebratory beer with the Epic team. Come at lunch, for dinner, or after dinner, and stay as long or as short as you like. 
More details about the 10 beers on tap, and activities through the day will be posted on the
Facebook event page.

[Hat tips Julian D., Stephen Hicks, Neil Miller, Yates, Timothy P Carney, Zac, Marginal Revolution, Architecture Lab]

Thanks for reading,
and have a great weekend!


  1. I thought you might refuse to use census data as a matter of principle? :-)

  2. Meanwhile on the weather front from BBC News
    Weather behind ozone hole changes
    Thanks for another year of great reading. Xmas cheers. Peter

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