Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Morning Ramble: The Christmas Edition

An old favourite every year here at NOT PC Towers:
The reason for the season? – NOT PC

And…

Christmas Myth #1: Introduction, and The Miraculous Birth
Christmas Myth#2: The Star of Bethlehem
Christmas Myth #3:  The Song of the Heavenly Host
Christmas Myth #4: The Birthplace and Surroundings of the Little Baby Jesus
Christmas Myth #5: So, What’s With All That Frankincense?
Christmas Myth #6: The Slaughter of the Innocents
Christmas Myth #7: Why December 25?

And…

“In answer to the question of whether it is appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas…”
Christmas – AYN RAND LEXICON
Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial – Leonard Peikoff, PEIKOFF.COM

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“For a welfare statist, though, your happiness is not a morally legitimate goal. What is?”
How The Welfare State Stole Christmas – Don Watkins & Yaron Brook, FORBES

Michelle Boag “is trying to get her mates Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges to NATIONALISE the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust, the outfit that holds shares in trust for the people of Auckland and South Auckland and gives every family in Auckland and South Auckland a $335 Christmas dividend cheque each September.”
Christmas Countdown: The Boagan Whow Wants to Steal Christmas (and her Ten Dwarves)WHALE OIL

Taxes, regulations & welfare lead to…
Down and out: the French flee a nation in despair – Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, TELEGRAPH

“Our most accurate global temperatures are from satellites, and they show little or no warming. Temperatures are far below climate model forecasts.”
State Of The Climate Report – CLIMATISM

ScreenHunter_5163 Dec. 13 05.39

What he said.
Putin's insane-sounding quote about bears is essential for understanding Russia today – Max Fisher, VOX

Two views.
President Obama Didn’t Tell The Whole Story About Cuba – Mike Gonzalez, THE FEDERALIST
President Obama Right To Call For Trade With Cuba: Half Century Of Failed Embargo Is Enough – Doug Bandow, FORBES

“A way to measure the potential of the Cuban market is to ask: how many people have even a land line, like the one Raul Castro used to chat with Barack Obama today?”
The starkness of Cuba’s technology gap, charted – Jim Rose, UTOPIA, YOU’RE STANDING IN IT

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“At least 10 catastrophic failings by federal and state agencies led to the Martin Place atrocity, which Tony Abbott admitted could have been "preventable.”
Man Haron Monis: The 10 fatal failures – HERALD SUN

“SYDNEY'S chief Islamic ­funeral director yesterday declared no Muslim funeral home would accept the body of terrorist Man Haron Monis.”
Muslim leaders: Just dump his body at seaHERALD SUN

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“Truth is, there are basic steps that anyone can take to safeguard privacy and protect against theft of emails, identity, and financial information.” Even Sony.
What we can learn from the Sony hacking scandal – Simon Black, SOVEREIGN MAN

“Everything I've written about The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, my favourite book this year… a great Christmas present, all the way down to the festive cover.”
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: Recap – Bryan Caplan

“And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul?
Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.”

- Plato, Protagoras

“With $185 trillion dollars’ worth of exposure to interest rate contracts, it is no wonder the Big Four Wall Street banks want US tax payers to pick up the tab.”
The Coming Greater Depression – Vern Gowdie, DAILY RECKONING

“As Russia has deployed its reserves to (so far unsuccessfully) stop the currency collapse, it has made traders betting against the ruble richer while leaving the Russian government poorer. Poorer by $80 billion, to be precise.
The Russian rouble – Tyler Cowen, MARGINAL REVOLUTION

“Regulators forced up capital requirements up after the Global Crisis – triggering fears in the industry of dire effects…the capital increases had little impact [however] on anything but bank profitability. Lending spreads and interest margins are nearly unchanged, while credit growth remains robust everywhere but in Europe. Perhaps the requirements should be raised further.” Why not 100%?
The jury is in – Stephen G. Cecchetti, CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC POLICY RESEARCH
Has Fractional-Reserve Banking Really Passed the Market Test? – Jorg Guido Hülsmann, INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE
Confusing Capitalism with Fractional Reserve Banking – Frank Hollenbeck, MISES DAILY

“To better understand the current economic environment, financial analyst, historian, journalist, and value investor James Grant, who is informed by both Austrian economics and the value investing theory of the late Benjamin Graham, analyzes the Depression of 1920–1921 in his latest work, The Forgotten Depression: 1921 — The Crash That Cured Itself.”
James Grant Explains "The Forgotten Depression" – Joseph Calandro, MISES DAILY

“Poetry is something more philosophic & serious than history; for poetry
speaks of what is universal, history of what is particular.”

- Aristotle, The Poetics

Had to happen.

Sultry Julie London sells Christmas underwear like they’re hotcakes.

More champagne?

Oh, okay.

And finally.

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Ten Books That Changed Your Life

A while back a friend on Facebook1 challenged me to list for her the Ten Books That Changed Your Life. So I thought long and I thought hard, and then I wrote this instead2. Not necessarily my ten favourite books as we speak. In fact not even just ten. Because I cheated…

Ten books that changed my life:

1= Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
1= Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture – Selected writings 1894-1940, ed. By Frederick Gutheim
1 = Economic Sophisms – Frederic Bastiat

2 = Ninety-Three – Victor Hugo
2 = Time Enough For Love – Robert Heinlein
2 = Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology – Ayn Rand

3 = The Four Million – O. Henry

4 = Austrian Economics: A Reader – Richard Ebeling, editor
4 = Foucault's Pendulum – Umberto Eco
4 = The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature – Ayn Rand

5 = Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics – George Reisman
5 = Aristotle – John Herman Randall

6 = The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
6 = No Highway – Nevil Shute
6 = Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
6 = We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

7 = Martini: A Memoir – Frank Moorhouse
7 = The Complete Saki – Saki
7 = The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway

8 = All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty – PJ O’Rourke
8 = How to Lie With Statistics – Darrell Huff
8 = Up the Organisation: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People & Strangling Profits – Robert Townsend

9 = The Book of Tofu – William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi
9 = Willard & His Bowling Trophies – Richard Brautigan
9 = Architecture as Nature: The Transcendentalist Idea of Louis Sullivan – Narciso Menocal

10 =The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to the Present Day – Geoffrey & Susan Jellicoe
10 = The Noblest Triumph: Property Rights Through the Ages – Tom Bethell
10 = The Roosevelt Myth – John Flynn
10 = Putting Humans First: Why We Are Nature’s Favourite – Tibor Machan

So which ten or so books changed your life?


1. No, not a Facebook friend, but an actual friend who communicated with me on Facebook. It happens.
2. And promptly forgot about until just now when I found a copy down behind the printer.

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Quote of the Day: On Low Oil Prices…

"The chorus of theories on how a low oil price is bad for the West are
a sign of the times. We are collectively unable to accept good news."

- Marc Andreessen, via Alex Epstein

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quote of the Day: On Sydney’s Victims

"It would have been illegal for them to have had a knife, a stick, a
pepper spray, a personal taser, mace, anything like that for self-defence.
I regard that [as] an absolute travesty. To turn an entire population
into a nation of victims is just unforgiveable in my estimation."

- Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm,
'Disarmed Victims: Senator Calls for Gun Debate after Sydney Siege

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Message to Bill English…

I have a message to Bill English from Calvin Coolidge:

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As U.S. President in the boom years of 1923 to ‘28, “Silent Cal” was a fan of balanced budgets. Not so Bill English. As even Russel Norman was heard to say yesterday, “here is the reality of Bill English’s tenure as Finance Minister: he does know how to borrow…”:

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You might say…

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(Russel, of course, would prefer a government that prints.  But that’s another story.)

Anyway, a lot of the so-called learned commentary yesterday about Bill English’s failed surplus was very revealing, being as so much of was a discussion of the alleged “tensions” between the government need to cut spending, and the alleged negative effects on economic growth of cutting spending.  Virtually to a man and a mainstream woman, the commentariat opined that the economy needs government spending to thrive, and cutting spending back would throttle it.

There are certainly some alleged economists who need throttling. It’s as if a balanced budget were a “balance” between sucking the country dry and allowing it to progress – with the blood-sucking actually reviving the corpse instead of draining it of all life.

“Silent Cal” would be appalled.

This problem of utter economic ignorance is crystallised in the mainstream word “austerity.” “Old fashioned ‘living within your means’ has somehow been re-labelled as ‘austerity,’” says Vern Gowdie at the Daily Reckoning. “This is an indication of how far we have drifted away from common sense.”

Politicians lack the ‘male equipment’ to make the really tough calls on spending cuts. Society has become so pampered it doesn’t recognise the party is over and refuses to countenance any cut backs. Politicians therefore look for creative ways to dig deeper into our pockets to extract more tax dollars —aimed invariably at ‘the rich’. Who are ‘the rich’? Anyone with more money than the person asking the question. ‘Everyone else must pay except me’ is the unspoken creed.
    The problem with higher taxes is they never raise the revenues the treasury boffins predict. People become creative and reorganise their affairs to minimise or even skirt the new tax regime.
    The budget dilemma we are seeing in Australia [and New Zealand] is being played out across the developed world — too many promises and not enough money.
    Budget deficits are locked in for years to come.
    The problem is Western countries all have different levels of existing public debt (as a percentage of GDP) — Japan around 240%, US 100%, France 95%,
NZ 36%, Australia 30%.
    To finance deficits, these economies have been printing money and buying government bonds, or making money available to investment banks to then channel back into the bond market.
    There simply aren’t enough dollars, yen, euros, or renminbi to fund these deficits without printing more. This is madness, yet no one seems to notice. If they do, they don’t seem to care.
    Perhaps this is because the system has not yet succumbed to economic gravity. So we keep up the illusion.

The illusion is maintained by the economic nonsense that government spending boosts the economic system. The economic nonsense is maintained by the simple fact that economists’ measure of economic health, GDP, is defined to include government spending. So the more of it you have, the more alleged growth you are alleged to have. Or as Robert Murphy puts it, the stimulus simply boosters assume their conclusions.

With such flawed measurements, with such blatant economic error built in – with the error-mongers themselves in charge of the economic system -- is it any wonder the economic world is in such dire straits? When there is such a fundamental flaw in such a “"fundamental issue.

The problem with these ostensibly scientific and empirical measurements is that GDP itself is defined to include government spending. As they teach in any introductory macro class, the expenditure-based formula for GDP is

GDP = C + I + G + NX,

where C and I are private consumption and net investment, G is government spending, and NX is net exports (gross exports minus gross imports).
    Now we see the problem. Even if we set aside the serious theoretical and practical difficulties with the aggregation necessary to estimate these figures, we are still stuck with the fact that the above formula is an accounting tautology, not an economic theory. Yes, other things equal, an increase in government spending G on the right-hand side will make GDP on the left-hand side increase dollar for dollar. The whole argument, however, centres on whether other things will remain equal.  [And it ignores how little “I,”
how little actual productive investment, is actually measured!]
    For example, in a depressed economy with excess capacity, the typical Keynesian will say that an increase in G will cause private consumption and investment to increase also, so that a dollar of extra government spending will cause GDP to rise by more than a dollar — the famous Keynesian multiplier.
    In contrast, the typical Austrian or Chicago-school economist will say that an increase in G will tend to make private-sector spending fall by a greater amount, so that a dollar of extra government spending will cause GDP to fall. (We could get the confident support of free-market economists for this conclusion if we stipulate that the extra government spending is financed through higher taxes, which
destroy more private after-tax income than they raise in extra revenue.)
     Moreover, even if “total GDP” rises somewhat because of an increase in government spending, that wouldn’t be a good thing, because $10 million spent by politicians is not nearly as likely to channel resources to valuable uses as $10 million spent by private investors.
    After this discussion, we can see why pretty charts … showcasing government spending’s “contribution to GDP growth” quarter by quarter don’t really mean anything. It’s the same for the
ex post “empirical” analyses that concluded that the Obama stimulus package “saved or created” such-and-such million jobs. The underlying models that generate these estimates assume a Keynesian world, and thus cannot test whether the Keynesian model is correct.
    The critical yet missing piece of information in these analyses is the counterfactual, to know what the size of the economy and level of employment would have been in the alternate universe where government spending had taken a different course.

We can however look at cases in which govt spending shot up because economists said it would “stimulate,” and when govt spending was held back, despite economists bewailing its lack. Such cases are the U.S. “stimulus,” and the U.S. sequester.

From a naïve, “let the facts speak for themselves” perspective, the Obama stimulus package clearly hurt the economy. Remember that unemployment shot up higher with the stimulus than the Obama team warned people would occur without the stimulus.
    The exact opposite happened with the so-called sequester. For example, the firm
Macroeconomic Advisers, using a Keynesian model, predicted that the spending cuts would knock 1.3 percentage points off of second quarter 2013 growth, and 0.6 percentage points off of third quarter 2013 growth. Here’s what really happened:

It’s the mirror image of the Keynesians’ stimulus blunder. The economy grew faster with the sequester than the Keynesians said would occur without the “drag” of the spending cuts. ..

So, Bill, if you want to ever deliver a budget surplus, how about delivering some real spending cuts.

And don’t let those advisers of yours tell you it will be bad for us.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 10 Posts for 2014

December is  a time of year to review your year almost gone, and make up a few best-of lists

So according to readership and the analytics of Mr Google, these right here were the best posts at NOT PC this 2014, in order:

  1. “I decided to write this after I noticed that western libertarians have unaccountably developed a soft spot for Russian president Vladimir Putin.”
    Putin’s Libertarians – Mikhail Svetov
  2. “As Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads to the Northern Territory to live in an aboriginal community for a week, honouring an election promise to gain “a better understanding of the needs of people living and working in those areas” by spending one week every year living amongst them, our guest correspondent from Australia, Suzuki Samurai, offers his own thoughts on the aboriginal culture, and its problems.  Complete with strong views, and even stronger language …”
    And Now for Something Completely Different – Suzuki Samurai
  3. “’These are some of the most serious allegations I’ve seen,’ said David Cunliffe this morning, about allegations that bloggers Whale Oil and Cactus Kate wrote ‘attack blogs’ at the behest of a paying client and a justice minister ‘gunning for’ a minion.”
    “Some of the Most Serious Allegations I’ve Seen…” – PC
  4. The Ant and the Grasshopper–2014 NZ Election Version – Anonymous
  5. QUOTE OF THE DAY: On the gap between rich and poor – Robert Samuelson
  6. Tall Poppies, Cyber Bullies, Culture Wars & Antidotes – PC
  7. Why Jamie Whyte Can’t Build an Electoral Fire under ACT – PC
  8. Quote of the Day: “…it is time to question the motives of socialism's advocates” – Ayn Rand
  9. Fuelling the Flame Within: Montessori Education and the Development of the Self – PC
  10. “So, How Come You Keep Bashing Religion?” – PC

Just thought you’d like to know that, once again, I’ve been beaten into a cocked hat by my own guest writers.

Bastards.

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Quote of the Day: ‘From Sydney to Peshawar’

“The current war is very different from the second world war. Our enemy is not so very different. But the casualties to date are infinitely lower and most populations around the world do not yet face anything like the threat that they faced back then. But this war is also several times longer already. And to a greater extent than any previous war in history, it is being played out as much in terms of public opinion via the media (witness the Sydney gunman’s use of Facebook and YouTube) as in the cafes of Sydney and the schools of Northern Pakistan. The drip-drip of negative news could do some good. Or it could, if sustained for long enough, result in a stultifying and morally appalling form of equivalence and despair from here and America.
    “Which is why today is also a day when it is worth remembering that, no, we are not ‘just as bad as them.’ British and American troops do not go into schools and deliberately gun down students. In fact, in recent years, British and American soldiers have been gunned down in Afghanistan and Iraq while trying to protect Muslim children going to school in safety, in spite of the extremists from their own religion. That is a truth worth keeping in mind. But it is a truth that is slipping, in the face of a concerted campaign. A campaign which may be political and partisan at one end, but which is – at the other end – simple drum-beating by civilisation’s enemies.”
-  ‘From Sydney to Peshawar – Islamic extremists are civilisation’s common enemy,’ 
       Douglas Murray, SPECTATOR

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A New Day. A New Barbarity.

“Slay the idolaters wherever you find them…”
-
Quran, Ch. 9:5

“When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads until
you have made a great slaughter among them….”

- Quran, Ch. 47:4

If it was heartening yesterday to see Muslim leaders here and in Australia condemn the chocolate shop gunman, then it was sickening to be reminded overnight that mass killing in the name of 'the religion of peace' is still nonetheless very much a thing.

That we find it impossible to get ourselves inside the head of someone who is driven by their religion to murder 132 schoolchildren in the name of their religion is a very good thing -- we haven't experienced that sort of thing here in the west since Mormon militia killed 140 members of a California-bound wagon train who just happened to worship the wrong way. 1

But those condemnations and that psychological and historical distance doesn't mean the threat of this un-peaceful religion has gone away, or has in any way been neutered.

It won't go away for good until it has its own reformation. And that takes more than just condemnation. That will take real courage.

Until or unless that ever happens (and since Islam is unique among world religions in having been begun through murder and spread by the sword, that may be no more than a pipe dream), the only silver lining in the dreadfully dark cloud of this massacre in Peshawar is the hope that it might at least wake up the moderates and 'neutrals' in the region sufficiently to end their moral and logistical support for the barbarians, without which the murderers would simply be impotent.

But that may be only a pious dream.


1. Or, in the ‘Christian west,’ since Cromwell conquered Ireland’s heretics, leaving 40% of the country’s Catholics dead. As James Joyce described it in Ulysses, "What about sanctimonious Cromwell and his ironsides that put the women and children of Drogheda to the sword with the bible text God is love pasted round the mouth of his cannon?"

[Video from Muslim conference in Michigan]

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Innkeeping with the Times

This week Bernard Darnton accidentally offends an indigenous homosexual donkey.

imageOn Sunday I took my angel and my shepherd to church for their annual booster shot of Christianity. I like to go to the nativity play and give them a small dose of Mary and Joseph to go alongside Diwali’s Rama and Sita, Pegasus and the Chimaera (from one of the less likely chapters in The Iliad), and a rather saucy graphic novel featuring Rhinemaidens. It’s absurdity, sex, and violence -- that is, culture -- all the way in our house.

At one point, the somewhat non-traditional nativity script switched to the donkey’s point of view, with the donkey complaining about having to carry the heavily pregnant Mary all the way to Bethlehem. The asinine griping ended with the donkey taking offence at the innkeeper’s offer of the stable to Mary and Joseph, when he noted that they’d “have to share with the animals.” The donkey was indignant at the suggestion that sharing with the animals would be a bad thing.

The innkeeper’s insult is a crime known today as “microaggression.” The trick to microaggression is that you don’t know you’re doing it. If the innkeeper had said, “Piss off Joseph, and take Eeyore with you. I fucking hate donkeys,” the anti-donkey sentiment would have been clear. As it was, the unthinking denigration of the donkey as an inferior creature probably wasn’t even noticed by the humans, being part of the dominant culture as they are, but the hurt inflicted by the casual anthropocentrism was apparently keenly felt. (It’s hard to tell if the offence was genuine, because donkeys are generally ornery bastards.)

Microaggression can also be directed at other humans. In my previous life as Libertarianz party leader I once got into trouble for not knowing the correct acronym by which the gender- and sexually diverse identify themselves. I thought it was “LGBT”, but this is microaggressive towards the intersex. Maybe it’s LGBTI; maybe it’s LGBTQI, LGBTQA, or LGBTTIQQ2SA, for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited and Allies”. I swear I don’t make this stuff up, but even that is exclusive of hijra, takatapui, and fa’afafine. Or is it? To be honest, I wouldn’t have a clue. And I suspect I’m not supposed to. As a curmudgeonly old white heterosexual - can one microagress against oneself? -- it’s easier just to say “Other.”

I relayed all this to a family member, who laughed and said, “Why can’t they just be normal like us?” “Holy shit,” I thought, glowing in relative liberal smugness, “are you even allowed to say that?”

I assume that still counted as microaggression rather than actual aggression -- she didn’t actually claim that God Hates Fags or form a lynch mob -- and probably didn’t mean any harm by it. It’s just that old people are inadvertently way more sexist, racist, and homophobic than the rest of us, who are just ageist.

Microaggression can range from the tasteless, the thoughtless, and the impolite, through to what might be better named “nanoaggression”, “picoagression”, or even just “not aggression”.

Professor Val Rust at UCLA, charged with improving his students’ writing, was demonised -- a word sure to antagonise thin-skinned demons everywhere -- for daring to correct a student’s capitalisation of the word “indigenous.” University authorities were summoned and they quickly capitulated to the illiterate but deeply sensitive students. By asserting that the word didn’t warrant a capital letter, the professor apparently showed disrespect for the student’s ideological point of view. Bastard.

Regardless of colour, skins this thin are not fit for purpose. Those who insist on seeing racism and sexism in any sentence that isn’t perfectly manicured are simply too fragile to go outside. Enough genuine victims have been created through real aggression that there’s no need to create swarms more imaginary victims through perceived “microaggression.”

And yes, there is still real sexism and racism today, but if you heckle someone like Professor Val Rust, one of the inventors of multiculturalism, to silence, the only people left willing to discuss racial questions will be those with pit bulls and swastika tattoos, which might explain something of European politics.

To improve the world you need to take part in it. Pitch a tent in the marketplace of ideas. But you won’t be able to handle it if you have the delicate sensibilities of a California sophomore. Perhaps take a leaf out of the journal of an old dead white guy:

“When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?”
- Meditations 7:26, Marcus Aurelius.

And try not to be an ass.


  Bernard Darnton is not PJ O’Rourke. But some Tuesday afternoons, he’d like to be.

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Sydney Hostage Crisis: A Failure of Law [updated]

AS DRAMATIC AND TERRIFYING as it was, the Sydney hostage crisis was more widely reported worldwide than it might have been, even than other similar incidents occurring at the same time, because the hostage-taker was a self-identified Muslim barbarian.

It’s unarguably true many Muslims see themselves at war with the west. But his being free to inflict terror on three-dozen 17 Australians points to a serious flaw in Australasian justice more than it does to the spread of Muslim barbarism.

MANY HAVE WONDERED WHY, if the Sydney cafe gunman just wanted an ISIL flag brought in, he hadn’t just brought one in himself.  War correspondent Michael Totten explains the reason by identifying the gunman’s own flag so widely misreported:

Shortly after he took over the café, he forced some of the hostages to hold a black flag up to the glass for news cameras to photograph. It is known variously as the black standard, the jihad flag, and the Salafist flag. It’s similar in some ways to the Saudi flag. It’s also similar to the black flag of the Abbasid caliphate.
    Anybody who flies it is potentially dangerous.
    Salafism is a relatively recent Islamic ideology (less than 150 years old) that arose as a reaction against 19th century Western imperialism in general and the liberal Western ideas that began percolating into the Middle East at the time…  Salafists wish to remove all modern “innovations” from Islam and to bring back the 7thcentury version as practiced by Mohammad. They also wish to build a caliphate—a state—based on the 7th century model. Some of them would be content to do this non-violently, but others are a little less, shall we say, patient.
    So an individual won’t necessarily be violent just because he’s a Salafist—especially not in the Persian Gulf region where their numbers are huge—but Al Qaeda and ISIS are the armed wings of the Salafist movement.
    When the Australian gunman forced his hostages to hold that flag up to the glass, he was identifying himself as a Salafist. But no one in media seemed to know what that flag is… The gunman sent a message, but it wasn’t received…
    Would the standoff have ended better if the man had more quickly succeeded in delivering his initial message without all the mounting frustration of being misunderstood? Probably not. Obviously, since he took hostages at gunpoint, he was not from the non-violent wing of the Salafist movement. Nevertheless, it’s time for Westerners who aren’t Middle East experts to know what a Salafist is and what they’re insignia looks like. They’ve been at war with us now for a long time.

So the gunman took in a Salafist flag to make a point, but his monitoring of the news told him no-one had a clue what it was. So he wanted to change the flag.

Which makes it fairly clear: The gunman was certainly motivated by Muslim brutality, but wasn’t too precious about which particular Muslim brutes he identified with.  

BUT THIS PARTICULAR BARBARIAN shouldn’t even have been on the streets.

He was on bail on sexual assault charges from his days as a “spiritual healer.” He was on bail for allegedly helping his girlfriend brutally murder his ex-wife in January. He was charged with two serious counts of brutality – one from twelve years ago! – yet was left free by the Australian injustice system to walk the streets and brutalise others.

Justice delayed was justice denied to those he terrorised, and to the two Australians that were killed overnight.

This is not the first time here or there. You could compile a long list of Australasians who have been attacked, killed and maimed by thugs who had a history, who were out on bail, out on parole, or who had killed before but had not been given the sentence their crime deserved. Two more people were added to that tragic list overnight.  Susan Couch, Tai Hobson and the families of Kylie Jones, Karl Kuckenbecker and many many other good NZers who deserved better can tell you the story on this side of the ditch.

This is an utter failure of law. The first duty of any responsible govt is to protect the rights, lives and liberties of its citizens. That’s its duty. That’s its job. This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

The legitimate arms of government are there to protect innocent people from those, like this savage, who think force is the means by which humans deal with one another. Instead, by delay and intransigence the arms of government deliver mercy to the guilty and injustice to the innocent.

Thank goodness another arm of government was there to pick up the pieces, but sadly too late to rescue the two who died.

NOT THAT THIS IS the only flaw in the law. Almost immediately that reports of the hostage-taking hit the news, commentators and politicians began talking up Australia and NZ’s latest terror laws.  The dumbest was twit Tau Henare who trolled…

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There were responses…

imageimageimageimageimage

… to none of which Tau bothered to respond with anything but dumb laughter.

But in defending those laws this morning, our Prime Minister did make a good point: that in calling for worldwide jihad ISIL is essentially running “an outreach campaign” for deranged and disenfranchised individuals. Which appears to be the only way in which ISIL et al have any global reach at all.

If we were to find some good news in all this, that might be it.

The bad news is that the law failed Australians – the same laws and delays, in regard to bail, as we endure in New Zealand.

UPDATE:  “The Sydney siege – the grandiose name being given to the invasion of a chocolate-and-coffee shop in Sydney by a mentally ill sex abuser – has exposed the dual fears of the ‘war on terror’. On one side we have those of a more right-leaning persuasion citing the siege as evidence that Western nations like Australia are under threat from ‘politically motivated violence’ stoked up by outsiders. And on the other side we have small-l liberals, those who fancy themselves as searing critics of officialdom, claiming that actually it’s the insiders, Western nations’ own apparently dumb, prejudiced, Muslim-fearing populations, who are the true source of social instability today. One side ratchets up fear of Islamofascism, the other spreads panic about Islamophobia. One side frets over foreign-inspired lone wolves, the other agonises over the native masses and their likely response to seeing a brown man doing something bad on the news. Both sides peddle the politics of fear.
    “What happened in Sydney yesterday was certainly tragic. Ordinary people were buying their morning coffee in a Lindt cafe when they were terrorised and held hostage for hours by a clearly disturbed man in Islamo-headgear and wielding a gun. Three people, including the gunman, were killed. This is terrible. But was it an act of terror, as such, never mind an act of war? The man who carried out the attack, Man Haron Monis, was apparently a troubled individual, a weird sheikh, a‘fringe and erratic’ man, who was under investigation by the police for sexual assault. His attack could just as easily be seen as the random act of an individual with mental problems, which he then tried to doll up as ‘political’ by waving a black Islamic flag and demanding a phone conversation with Tony Abbott. Monis was certainly a threat to the people in the cafe, but he posed no threat to Australia or its national security or democracy. Even to describe his actions as the ‘Sydney siege’, as if he had the whole city under his command, is to imbue his erratic behaviour with way too much menace and meaning; he should be known as the Lindt loser, the chocolate-shop gunman…
    “The impact of acts of terror is determined, not by the terrorist himself, who is usually isolated and weak, but by us, by how we choose to respond to his actions….
    “So the Sydney siege – or the Lindt event, rather – shines a light on the extent to which modern public debate is really just a clash of fears, a struggle between different breeds of panic. The question people are asking is: ‘What’s more terrifying: Islamofascism or Islamophobia? Muslims wolves or mass idiots?’ A better question to ask would be this: why is our first response to even small acts of violence always fear and panic rather than defiance and simply carrying on with life exactly as it was the day before one guy decided to do something wicked?”
- After the Sydney Siege, the Clash of the Fearmongers – Brendan O’Neill, SPIKED

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Thoughts, Not Environmental Conditions, Cause Criminal Behaviour

Criminals are neither bon that way nor made that way – they chose to be that way, say Kerry Kirkpatrick in this guest post.

For over forty years, clinical psychologist Stanton Samenow has been interviewing criminal offenders for the courts (1, 2, 3). His conclusion is that criminals are not criminals because of their upbringing or environment, or because of what they see on television or in movies.

Criminals are who they are because of the thoughts they hold, and have held, in their minds from an early age.

When many people walk into a crowded room, they think about who they would enjoy talking to. The criminal first checks escape routes, then looks for items to steal or weak targets to intimidate, swindle, or rob (i.e., pick their pockets). Criminals go to great lengths, sometimes using a considerable intelligence, to plan their crimes.
The criminal mind enjoys, or gets a jolt of excitement, as Samenow puts it, by doing what is wrong and getting away with it. “If rape were legalised today,” said one offender, “I wouldn’t rape. But I would do something else.”

The criminal act has to be illegal, otherwise the criminal would not experience the excitement.

When criminals get caught, they blame themselves for being stupid and careless. When interviewed by the courts and Samenow, they either never admit to their wrongdoing or blame their behaviour on external circumstances, such as upbringing or environment. They insist that they are good human beings and find no contradiction in “praying at ten and robbing at noon.”

Some even express disgust at child abusers, then find no difficulty robbing and murdering someone else who, according to their way of thinking, “deserved it.”

Samenow repeatedly insists, and demonstrates with many examples, that criminals are not victims of family abuse or unpleasant surroundings. Criminals come from all walks of life and include the highly educated and intelligent. They all have siblings and other relatives who grow up in the same family cultures and situations and do not turn out the way they did.

What they have in common is lying as a way of life, and it starts young. A child of five or six may lift a friend’s or sibling’s toy and get a thrill out of it. Denying guilt or blaming someone else—and getting away with the theft—provides another thrill and encourages further, more daring behaviour.

People who follow the rules, according to such a young child, or adult thief, are suckers. Their lives are boring. “My life of crime,” thinks the criminal, “is exciting.” It is these thoughts that drive the criminal mind to plan the next “exciting” caper.

imageCriminals do not have friends, because they trust no one; they see other people as targets to manipulate. They do nonetheless gravitate to each other so they can share illegal adventures and plan bigger and bigger payoffs. They have nothing in common with the child or adult who lives a quiet, law-abiding life. Criminals envy the nice things in life, such as a home, car, or expensive computer, but they cannot conceive of working to attain these values. They would just rather take them.

Can criminals change? Not easily. Those who try to settle down in a job to make money for a car or home often succumb to their urges for the excitement of crime. Samenow does describe two success stories of criminals who changed, but they both went through long processes of catching the criminal thoughts midstream, challenging them, and struggling to substitute better ones. The process required is not unlike the will power of recovering alcoholics who must repeatedly check their desires for a drink.

In addition to dispelling the myth of environmental determinism as cause of criminal behaviour, Samenow demonstrates that there is no such thing as a “crime of passion,” the so-called out-of-character crime.

The reason, again, is the thoughts the criminal holds. A sudden and gruesome knifing, Samenow reveals, is not so surprising and out of character when one discovers the hostile thoughts, resentments, and perhaps even fantasies of stabbing or killing the target that the criminal has experienced for many months or years.

Samenow (pp. 6-7) states, “ I have found that thinking errors are causal in every case of criminal conduct. . . .The error is a flaw in the thought process that results in behaviour that injures others. The harm done may be minor or extremely serious” (emphasis in original).

Humans are rational beings, guided by thought, which means thought [or the lack of it] causes behaviour, both good and bad.


My Photo

Jerry Kirkpatrick is professor of international business and marketing at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and author of In Defense of Advertising: Arguments from Reason, Ethical Egoism, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism
This post first appeared at his blog.

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Lima Climate Conference: It Takes a Village to Demonstrate the Failure

The real failure of the Lima Climate Conference is encapsulated in the fine print of one of the conference reports.  I do not mean the failure by the political agents of change to effect any substantive agreement limiting carbon emissions – by which is meant an agreement to limit the use of fossil fuels to produce energy – I do mean the utter failure to stop and realise what an agreement to curtail fossil fuel use would have meant.

That failure is encapsulated in this short report describing the conference’s set-up:

The talks are taking place in a vast temporary village constructed on the site of the Peruvian military headquarters.
    Organisers rejected powering the village with solar panels on the grounds they were too unreliable, while efforts to hook the site up to the national grid – which is half-fed by renewable energy – failed due to technical problems… [Instead] the conference has remained overtly reliant on fossil fuels, in the form of diesel generators. [Emphasis mine.]

That, in microcosm, is the problem facing the entire planet if fossil fuels are made illegal: Powering the village with solar panels was  too unreliable. Instead the conference has remained overtly reliant on fossil fuels, in the form of diesel generators.

You might say that it takes a village to make the point that affects the whole world: that so-called renewable energy is not only too unreliable to rely on, it is both too premature and too wrong to force human industry worldwide to abandon a reliable form of energy production for one that can’t even power this temporary ant’s nest.

Because human civilisation desperately needs to keep the reliable energy it has, and to keep producing more of it. Human ingenuity does not take a clean planet and make it dirty; it takes a take a naturally dirty environment and makes it clean -- a naturally dangerous climate and makes it safer.

The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy — usually fossil fuels; and, fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West.

So-called renewable energy is neither reliable nor economically sustainable – nor even workable without reliable fossil fuel generation when wind and sun are not around. If the world’s greatest apostles for renewable energy still can’t make it work reliably, then isn’t it a bit premature (not mention immoral) to demand the billions of people be forced to switch?

RELATED READING:

  • “So, what did we get out of the LIMA conference other than a big carbon footprint? It depends on who is reporting it, but nothing comes to mind.”
    So, what did we get out of the LIMA conference other than a big carbon footprint?  - Bob Greene, JUNK SCIENCE
  • “Warmists slam ‘lacklustre’ Lima climate deal: ‘Little scientific relevancy…half-baked…bare minimum… political expediency won’”
    Observers slam 'lackluster' Lima climate deal – YAHOO NEWS
  • “Press coverage has been along predictable lines. There is one aspect that goes unsaid: almost everyone notes how each of the COPs result in an utter failure. Christopher Booker notes for example how every conference throws up as a ‘breakthrough’,  ‘a meaningless document that commits no one to anything.’
        “However we need to be reminded – this is the best thing that can happen. It is a ‘failure’ for the UN climate mechanism sure but it is the world saved for another year.”
    Is Lima a Failure – SHUB NIGGURATH CLIMATE
  • “Two weeks ago, the New York Times warned that humankind faces “extinction” unless the international community reached a diplomatic breakthrough at the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima Peru. Despite these dire stakes, the Lima climate confab wrapped up this weekend  with yet another empty agreement—thereby dooming human civilization, if the Grey Lady is to be believed—and not a single Sunday network news talk show gave any airtime to COP-20. Indeed, nary a single powerhouse roundtable even mentioned climate change. Thus, it would seem that networks give as little priority to climate change as do American voters. This is why opposition to climate change mitigation policies is healthily bipartisan in the U.S. Congress.”
    Weekend Media Roundup: COP-20 Ignored by Sunday Talkies, North Dakota Oil Regulations, and Video of Greenpeace Activists Damaging World Heritage Site – William Yeatman, GLOBAL WARMING.ORG
  • “’'Negotiators and Secretary General continue to ignore scientists and public opinion. ‘Climate change negotiators in Lima, Peru seemed oblivious to the findings of the UN’s ongoing My World survey about what the people of the world really want the agency to focus on,’ said Tom Harris, executive director of the …  International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). ‘The seven million people polled so far indicate that, in comparison with issues such as education, health care, jobs, and energy, they care very little about climate change.’
        “’Perhaps most out of touch with reality is the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself who on Wednesday asserted that climate change remains his ‘top priority’,’ continued Harris.
        “ICSC chief science advisor, Professor Bob Carter, former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia explained, ‘That ‘action taken on climate change’ rates dead last among the 16 priorities the public wants to see action on is not surprising.  They understand that the remote possibility of human activity contributing to climate problems decades from now is unimportant in comparison with the very real problems faced by the world’s poor today.’”
    Time For the U.N. to Get Out of Climate Change: U.N. Should Concentrate on What People Want -  Tom Harris, Executive Director, INERNATIONAL CLIMATE SCIENCE COALITION
  • “Despite millions in subsidies and government loans, solar power is projected to remain a tiny portion of overall electricity generation in the U.S., according to Energy Department figures… Federal, state and local subsidy regimes and green energy mandates have helped the solar industry grow in the last few years…
        “Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, uses 173,500 heliostat mirrors to reflect sunlight onto centralized towers. The sunlight heats up water in the towers which turns into steam to generate electricity. The project … was given a $1.6 billion loan by the Obama administration …
        “But Ivanpah has not lived up to its expectations. Not even a year after it began operations, the project’s owners have asked the federal government for a $539 million grant to help pay back its federal loan.
        “Apparently, Ivanpah has only been generating about one-quarter of the energy it was said it could produce. Why? Because the sun hasn’t been shining as much as studies predicted it would. Because of the lack of sun, the plant has had to increase its use of natural gas to heat up its water towers…”
    Solar Energy Will Produce Less Than One Percent Of US Power In 2015 – Michael Bastasch, DAILY CALLER.

[Hat tips Climate Depot, Watts Up With That]

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Morning Ramble…

Left-wing loon and failed/failing/failingest political pundit Martin/Martyn Bradbury still hasn’t got over the election trouncing.
2014 – Year of the angry white knuckle – Martyn/Martin Bradbury, DAILY BLOG

Mind you, some National supporters are still thankful for the support of Martyn/Martin’s little helpers.
Mana planning to stand in 2017 – David Farrar, KIWIBLOG

“Whenever a small country gets mentioned specifically in an international report, that report there gets noticed… A new OECD working paper claims that income inequality hurts economic growth, and particularly hurt New Zealand growth… The set of results is then a little surprising….”
OECD on inequality – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR   [BONUS: Eric guests at the usually dreary Interest-Co.NZ with a decidedly un-dreary Top Ten.)

“All in all, the OECD has gone into the dragon’s den by backing the accumulation of human capital as its mechanism to link inequality with lower growth. No matter how you spin it, this linking of lower economic growth to greater inequality through financial constraints on the accumulation of human capital by the lower middle class was a bold hypothesis.” Interesting use of the world “bold.”
Charles Murray and the OECD’s Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth – IQ, signalling, over-education and plain bad career advice – Jim Rose, UTOPIA – YOU ARE STANDING IN IT

Mind you, it’s not like the OECD has a clue.
The Only Thing More Bullish For The Economy Than Lower Oil Prices Is ... Higher Oil Prices - OECD

And ours.
Blame America's Housing Woes on Zoning Laws – ARCHITECTURE LAB

“The whole question of when the State should be able to step in to stop people going overseas to act on their moral principles - in particular, by fighting for them - is a quite fraught one.”
Kurdish bombs over Kobane – Andrew Geddis, PUNDIT

“90% of rental houses failed the warrant, yet the Dom Post wants it made compulsory. That’s a great way to make rental housing far more scarce and expensive.”
Dom Post calls for 90% of rental houses to be banned – David Farrar, KIWIBOG

Waterview Connection September and October Time-lapse

“Distinguish between the non-problem of inequality and any legitimate issues… Make them justify their proposed solutions… Reject the premise that successful people don’t count.”
How to Disarm the Inequality Alarmists – Don Watkins, VOICES FOR REASON

“In this case, underneath our current weak protection of property rights is an ethical belief that persons don’t have a right to what they’ve earned or inherited. Sentiments such as ‘you didn’t build that,’ and ‘it takes a village,’ hold much cultural sway. This is a significant philosophical change from the 19th century, when people had strong convictions that they deserved what they earned.”
The Surging Tide of Resentment – Marsha Enright, THE SAVVY STREET

And people say scientists sit in ivory towers…  “"Heels don't subordinate women - they empower them in romance," said Kaufmann.”
Study proves high heels do have power over men – ASSOCIATED PRESS

“This rather inconspicuous speech, on an anniversary occasion in the ancient Moravian town of Olomouc, contains perhaps the most comprehensive outline of the ‘Havel Doctrine’ of humanitarian intervention. It is striking in its simplicity. It emphasizes the shared responsibility of people to stand up to evil wherever and whenever it is being committed, and the unacceptable nature of appeasement, inaction, or indifference in the face of evil. It is cognate to the maxim attributed to Edmund Burke, ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’”
In Search of Allies: Vaclav Havel and the Expansion of NATO – Michael Zantovsky, WORLD AFFAIRS

“It probably makes you more productive.”
Does Working from Home Work? – APARTMENT THERAPY

“In the great fiscal scheme of things, October 22, 1981 seems like only yesterday. That’s the day the US public debt crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time. It had taken the nation 74,984 days to get there (205 years) … ; and the last trillion was added in hardly 365 days.
How US Govt Debt Went From $1 Trillion To $18 Trillion in 33 Years David Stockman, ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL

We never cease to be amazed what can make it through peer review and several levels of editing …”
Overly honest references: “Should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?” – RETRACTION WATCH

“According to [warmism], getting rid of fossil fuels is a free lunch. The wise will roll their eyes at [warmism’s] wishful thinking.  But no one exposes its sheer absurdity better than Alex Epstein in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.  You cannot have modern civilisation without abundant energy.  And despite decades of government favouritism, alternative fuels have yet to deliver.  As global wealth has skyrocketed, energy use has risen 80%, thanks almost entirely to increased production of fossil fuels… Haven't alternative fuels played a big role, too?  No.”
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: We Owe Civilization to Fossil Fuels – Bryan Caplan, ECON LOG

“We're marking the fifth anniversary of Climategate here at SteynOnline, in part because the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century is in some ways a bit of unfinished business arising from [Climategate].”
The Emperor's New Carbon Credits – Mark Steyn, STEYN ONLINE

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“As it says next to my picture, I defend laissez-faire capitalism. ‘Anti-government’ is the term Leftists use to smear this position. And, amazingly, some calling themselves ‘libertarians’ are indeed anti-government across the board; they argue for what they call ‘anarcho-capitalism.’  ‘Free competition works so well for everything else,’ these anarchists say, ‘why not for governmental services, too?’  But that argument comes from an anti-capitalist premise….”
Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government – Harry Binswanger, FORBES

“Here’s an excerpt: “You may notice that there is something striking about the way we define this ‘illness’ — that is, by its symptoms, rather than its cause. If we were to define a heart attack by the chest pain, then the appropriate cure would be painkillers, rather than repair of the heart. Other examples are easy to find…”
ADHD: the Party’s Over – DR HURD.COM

We dare not brush aside unexplained a horror such as Nazism...

cause hitler's germanyThe re-issue of the classic book answers the question so often-asked, and so rarely answered.  “How could it happen? How could ordinary people, seemingly decent Germans, turn into goose-stepping, Sieg-Heil-ing robots, eager to obey any orders, even to administer the ‘final solution’–the Holocaust? Leonard Peikoff’s answer to ‘How could it have happened?’ is: ‘The land of poets and philosophers was brought down by its poets and philosophers.”
Makes the rise of the Nazis finally intelligible – THE CAUSE OF HITLER’S GERMANY

“The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favours to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.
    “So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy—punishable by death—to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Time For A Muslim Reformation. – REASON VS. FAITH

Objectivist podcasts on the philosophy of religion? That will excite some of you…
Resuming My Podcasts on Philosophy of Religion – Diana Hsieh, NOODLE FOOD

“Heather Wilhelm explains why she left feminism … I think the article is a fine snapshot of what this movement means for women in practice. Here's an example…”
Philosophical Rohypnol – GUS VAN HORN

Mockingjay - Part One is an uncomfortable movie. I suspect this is why it has not been greeted with the praise that was heaped on The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. But I’m glad this first part of Mockingjay isn’t comfortable. It’s not supposed to be.”
Mockingjay: Are You Uncomfortable? – THE FREEMAN

How to maximise small rooms.
Small Space Solutions: IKEA's Idea-Packed Videos – APARTMENT THERAPY

“Humanity's quest for knowledge has taken us back in time to the early stages of the universe — well before the first grains of dust clumped together to form our home planet, Earth. To accomplish this, we use powerful instruments high above Earth's atmosphere to collect particles of light that are more than 13 billion years old.”
These 3 Images Changed Our Understanding Of The Universe Forever – TROVE

What’s wrong with the visuals in the Tintin movie is what Rembrandt got so right!
Fatal Flaw: Showing the Light Source: A Lesson to Learn from Spielberg's Tintin – Michael Newberry, OBSERVATIONS IN VISUAL ART

An atheist Christmas carol….

Duke Ellington’s Best Album—One of the Best in Jazz—Is Also One of His Least-Known

“… If there were nothing on this album but Mood Indigo, if there was nothing in the Ellington canon but this [extended concert-version] arrangement of Mood Indigo, it—and he—would deserve a special spot in the annals of 20th-century music. But then the album’s new song, The Tattooed Bride, which Ellington and Strayhorn wrote shortly before the session (and which afterward entered their vast repertoire of classics), delves deep into greatness….”

It took hundreds of years for British pub culture to develop. And only a few years of nannying government to destroy.
The real reasons for the tragic demise of the British pub industry- Allister Heath, TELEGRAPH

“Epic @Roger_Kerrison comment after NBR's Yeastie Boys story is a mini manifesto for NZ craft beer scene.”
Yeastie Boys will seek $500K crowdfunded equity through PledgeMe – NBR

How could you not like an Auckland brewer’s Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014

Oh, and …

00650-epic-9th-birthday-flyer-01

[Hat tips Christopher Chinchilla, Kaila Geary Halling]

Thanks for reading,
Have a great weekend,
PC

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