Saturday, July 26, 2008

Robbie Deans for Prime Minister

On the basis of that pathetic shambles of a performance, you'd have to say the All Blacks will be lucky to come third in this Tri Nations.

If you think of that as the final round of a job interview, Deans just aced it. Shame the bosses' incompetence meant he's already signed up for the other side. Henry and co just have to go; they couldn't coach a bloody darts team.

Frankly, the Mad Butcher could do a better job. Or even his mother.

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Fishing for bullshit

John Boy does fishing show to make like he's a 'real bloke.' Real blokes on fishing forum think otherwise.

Hat tip Sport Review, who has a wee tip for the Contrived One.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

NOT PC - the week's best

Here's a wrap up of what proved to be the most-read posts here at NOT PC over the last seven days. Check 'em out if you missed them the first time 'round:

  • Scientists for sophistry
    The Royal Society of NZ was once an objective scientific organisation, but as Vincent Gray's thorough fisking of their recent descent into egregious warmism demonstrates, those days are over.
  • Another interest rate decree set to distort the economy
    How Alan Bollard's interest rate meddling messes with the economy, and with people's natural time preferences ... (part one of three)
  • Nosmo King - by order!
    British anti-smoking zealots are strangling the British pub culture and turning the country into a dictatorship.  Sound familiar?
  • Say "No" to the public-service pushers!
    What makes an eager, fresh-faced intelligent young graduate take their hard-earned degree and, with the whole world as their oyster and opportunity their friend, choose instead to take up a comfortable berth in the civil service -- where instead of being productive themselves, they spend their time, energy and intelligence devising schemes that get in the way of those who are?
  • Beer O'Clock: Hop Heavyweights
    Announcing the battle of the two hoppiest beers ever available in New Zealand, coming soon to a public house near you.  If you're lucky.
  • Dystopia
    At some stage in their lives every thinking person has to read the 'complete collection of classic dystopian novels.' There are many pretenders, but this is the core list...

Queenstown fascists bankrupting bar owners

From left Jason Clark, Adam Marshall and Ben Eastwood of Wanaka practice mixing cocktails on Sunday 050205 Award-winning bar owner Jason Clark is facing closure by council bullies intent on snuffing out late-night pleasure in the twenty-four hour tourist town.

Clark's highly popular cocktail and entertainment bar in Queenstown, Debajo, has a 24-hour licence, but council wowsers are now trying to get all bars to close at 4am, and to do that they're making an example of just two bars which they insist must start closing early -- by order! -- and as early as next week.

This is not just an argument about opening hours. Debajo make around a third of its income in the hours after 4am, with entertainment through to 8am.   And since all the other bars in town will still have 24 hour licenses, all the punters will head off to the other bars while Clark is forced to close at the time he usually makes most of his income, destroying his business.

LL mixology 33 copy Clark is a responsible host and Debajo is one of the top bars in Queenstown. He has been nominated as barman of the year. He competes in many competitions in the hospitality world, and is taking his good old dad to Rarotonga in two weeks for an expenses-paid holiday courtesy of a competition he won for a new cocktail involving rum, pineapple, liquid nitrogen and a blow torch. He has also been chosen by Beefeater Gin to represent them in the world championships. This is not just a regular barman - this is his chosen career - he's damn good at it -- and fascist wowsers are trying to close him down.

Promises, pledges or ideas for support can be sent to brilleaux@xtra.co.nz.

Let Fannie and Freddie fall [updated]

It's not the role of any business to be a ward of the state.  Former vice president and economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Gerry O'Driscoll reckons the best thing for multi-trillion dollar failures Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is not to bail them out, but to let them fail.  The Federal Reserve's bailout plan, he points out, is totally without any protection for taxpayers.

    They'll fund the downside if losses mount at the two mortgage giants. But if Fannie and Freddie recover, stockholders and management gain. Call it "casino capitalism" - taxpayers bankrolling management high rollers.
    The plan doesn't ask stockholders or management to suffer for their financial indiscretions. The players who put their companies in jeopardy get to stay in charge - Paulson says he isn't looking for "scapegoats." Someone should remind him that capitalism without failure is like religion without sin.

UPDATEYaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute recommends reading the Wall Street Journal's "revealing opinion piece, 'The Fannie Mae Gang,' by editorial page editor Paul Gigot, a longtime critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    "Gigot's piece is a devastating expose of how these quasi-governmental behemoths concealed their shady practices and shaky finances by enriching powerful friends on Wall Street, Main Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
   
"Gigot's account should lay to rest the idea that 'public-private partnerships' such as Fannie and Freddie bring valuable new assets to the free market. In fact, the government's only contribution to the market is to forcibly take some individuals' money and freedom for the sake of others.
   
"Fannie Mae's 'public-private' goal of 'promoting home ownership' turned out to mean nothing more than handsomely rewarding reckless lenders by forcing taxpayers to bail them out. Any proposal for how to clean up the Fannie Mess must seek to phase out and eliminate the twin housing monstrosities--not prop them up."

Read it online here.

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Electoral Finance Act by another name would still smell as rank

Amid a maze of me-tooisms that only Ariadne could navigate with certainty, one of the few policies National leader John Key has been clear about is that if elected National will repeal the Electoral Finance Act (EFA).

Many otherwise honest people have drawn great comfort from this promise, eager to have this assault on our freedom of speech repealed.  But the talk about repeal made not so much to abolish a law that tramples our freedom of speech, but to replace it in Key's words with "something that works."

So what exactly is this promise worth, then?  What precisely will he replace it with?  Will free speech be protected, or rationed?  Do we want the same authoritarian law with a different name, in a different package, just "working better"? Not me, but that looks to be what Flip Flop Boy thinks is all we're going to deserve.

On Morning Report this morning [audio here] John Boy "clarified" his approach is to be exactly as mealy-mouthed on this as in everything else.  He confirmed his intentions regarding the EFA's replacement have nothing to do with free speech ... the main concern is "consensus," to make the electoral process  "workable," to seek "cross-party support" -- and further, many of the "aspects" of the Electoral Finance Act will be retained, says Key, who predicts no "dramatic changes" in any replacement legislation ...

So if anything at all is clear after that it's that nothing will be clear until "consensus from all parties" is sought, and found, and free speech is cut up, repackaged and rationed out by agreement among our political 'masters' who are all supposed to be our servants.

So what's a Key promise worth when it's examined?

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New Scottish banknotes - Stuart Rost, designer

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I thought it was very cool when New Zealand science legend Ernest Rutherford appeared on our $100 notes -- one of the few unalloyed good things the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has ever done. 

There's nothing quite like getting a bundle of Rutherfords as payment for a job well done; it's not gold, but it does at least offer superb aesthetic value.

So with a Rutherford judged as 'very cool,' these new Royal Bank of Scotland notes have to be judged as very cool indeed.

They combine two of my favourite things: bridges and money.  Kerry Rodgers   explains their significance  [hat tip Building Today magazine]:

It was no mere script writer's fancy that Captain James T. Kirk's chief engineer on the USS Enterprise spoke with a phony Scottish burr.  The Scots have long enjoyed reputations as serious engineers, whether of a mechanical or civil bent. 

... just one reason places like NZ's West Coast still have some mouldering engineering marvels from the nineteenth century still extant...

And it is highly appropriate that the backs of an entire new note issue from the Bank of Scotland pays homage to some of the more notable engineering achievements of the Land of the Mountain and the Flood.

Read  all of Rodgers article for a description of all the the fine engineering works depicted.

           bos_20_new_b

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Newspaper gets it wrong

The Department of Internal Affairs reports that stories of somewhat colourful children's names being registered by their parents is somewhat exaggerated -- that is, they are wrong.  Says a DIA press release,

     Some of the unusual names being circulated in media reports have not been officially registered by the Department of Internal Affairs, despite claims to the contrary.
   Brian Clarke, Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages says some of the names mentioned have not been registered. "The names Fish and Chips, Masport, and Mower, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit have not been registered."

Remember, just because you read it in a newspaper, it doesn't make it true.

Saluting 'Maori Language Week'

To salute Maori Language Week, Whale Oil has pulled out another hilarious Billy T. James video from YouTube.  Go and have a belly laugh.

Christopher Trotter went down with malice

Yes, I'm afraid with illness and all I rather missed all the kerfuffle over Christopher Trotters' weekend 'hate speech' against rich pricks, in which he clearly bared his blood red dripping soul, but I did enjoy the rejoinders against Trottersky by Lindsay Perigo and Phil Howison.

You might too.

Quotation for the day ...

... apropos of yesterday's post:

Lobbyists, special interest groups, and tainted money are drawn to political power like flies to garbage. The only way to get rid of the flies is to clean up the garbage - by cleaning up [politics], by taking away from the federal government the ability to grant favors.
- William Winter

I trust the relevance will be obvious?

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Food, Freddie & Fannie

Paul Walker at his great blog Anti Dismal summarises in two recent posts recent research on the causes of rising world food prices (hint, it's neither growing Indian and Chinese demand, nor is it the fault of speculators), and some recent rational commentary on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle.

Thomas Sowell's quoted observation on the latter issue offers the broader lesson from both:

Politics is largely the process of taking credit and putting the blame on others— regardless of what the facts may be. Politicians get away with this to the extent that we gullibly accept their words and look to them as political messiahs.

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AGW: Bring it on!

Two good reasons to like global warming, brought to you by the same people who brought you the invasion of New Zealand.

I voted for the robin.

UPDATE: Crikey, those Australians move fast: the link has already been changed. To see the two video I promised, click here to go to the programme's archives page and try out the top two videos for 'Which agency's fossil fuel company climate change message do you warm to more?' And of course feel free to check out all the other great stuff on offer.

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Another interest rate decree set to distort the economy

In less that an hour, Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard will bring down from the mountain tops his latest decree on the country's interest rates, which he will deliver to us with all the gravity of one who has just been to the mountain tops communing with the economic gods.

He hasn't, of course -- instead, he's been interviewing his calculator.

In his view, and the view of those who support the mainstream economic model on which his pronouncements are based, from his calculator issues forth all the wisdom that the market lacks. According to these mainstream economic models, interest rates can't do their job -- they are governed by irrational "animal spirits" (yes, this is the sort of 'thinking' on which the mainstream economic models are based) -- and they require the likes of Bollard to do the job for them with calculations like this one, in which the interest rate, r=p + 0.5q +0.5 (p-2) +2, and p is defined as the inflation rate over the previous year, and q represents a notional figure based on guessing what 'full output' looks like.

Elegant, huh? The figures '2' appearing there, by the way, indicate the banker's nominal inflation target of two percent.

If you've ever wondered why economies experience severe business cycles -- lurching cyclically from boom to bust, from inflation to stagflation -- then the heart of the answer lies in the failure of this flawed economic model, and the difference between the interest rates brought down from the the mountain (or received from their calculators) by the likes of St Bollard, St Greenspan and St Bernanke, and the 'natural interest rate' that would be set by the market if interest rates and the money supply weren't being meddled with by the likes of these beatified few.

The 'natural' interest rate is not set by central bankers. In fact, it's not set by bankers at all. It's set by the natural time preference for money of numerous individuals, as shown by their spontaneous decisions to save or consume or invest.

Time preference is simple to explain, but profound in its implications. It is simply a measure of how much I prefer present satisfaction to future satisfaction, as demonstrated by my own actions. If I demonstrate by taking out a loan that I prefer $100 dollars now to $110 one year from now, then that suggests a 'natural' interest rate of ten percent, as demonstrated by my own demonstrated time preference. If I find a lender willing to forego his own consumption of that $100 for one year on the basis that he will receive my $110 in a year, then he has demonstrated a similar and reciprocal time preference.

It is on simple decisions such as this on which a rational market is based.

The natural market interest rate is simply the sum of all such preferences shown by borrowers and lenders across all markets, and if coordinated through the voluntary choices and actions of individual actors the result is to provide the necessary constraints and incentives to keep savings in line with investment, and to distribute new resources to future investment projects, based all the time on people's demonstrated willingness to forego present consumption. Left alone, instead of being used to further the political goals given to the world's central banks, interest rates can do their "growth governing" job - if, to stress the point, they are allowed to.

I'll leave it as an exercise for you, the reader, to work out what happens when people's demonstrated willingness to forego present consumption does not match the resources distributed to future investment projects -- which is what happens when interest rates are set by saints bringing down wisdom from the mountain tops instead of by simple market forces.

NB: In fact, I'll only leave it until tomorrow to muse upon the question, since I propose to answer it tomorrow with some rather tasty looking graphs. Keep watching.

UPDATE 1: As you've probably heard if you're reading this now, Bollard's calculator told him to make a cut in interest rates this time, the first interest rate cut in five years [Herald story here]. The NZ dollar had already eased slightly in anticipation...

UPDATE 2:  ... the dollar had eased slightly, but not as quickly as it 'eased down' after forex dealers heard the sound of Bollard's chickens coming home to roost.  Interest rates: they play a huge part in setting our exchange rate; they're the means by which we divide up our income between consumption and investment; they set the levels at which resources are distributed to projects with  a long-term payoff ... and all Bollard's calculator is able to do for him is confirm the failed myth that he is capable of  influencing inflation, without apprising him of the damage he's doing in the process.  [Thanks to Lou at No Minister for the graph.]

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'Cloud Study' - Jacob Collins

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The Wall Street Journal, no less, sets up artist Jacob Collins as the 'next big thing' -- his 'classical' realism opposing all the 'novelty art' that has heretofore succoured the empty souls of the big-money New York art buyers.

The new school Collins represents finds its artistic home in the Florence Academy of Art, a school "founded in 2002, offering rigorous training in modelling, one-point perspective, cast drawing, and all the other technical aspects of art that one used to assume would be part of an artist's training." Says the Wall Street Journal,

Is technical mastery sufficient by itself to guarantee high artistic accomplishment? The art world has been shouting "No" for decades. That judgment is correct -- ultimately -- but it leaves out the important codicil that an artist who lacks technical command also lacks competence.

Hallelujah! That point has been either lost, evaded or mislaid for more than half a century!

If an artist's 'inner voice' lacks the technique to communicate except by the visual equivalent of Tourette's, there's no reason to give them the status of artist. If Collins and artists like him can rehabilitate the importance of technique, they will have done an immense job in moving art back to what it had once achieved when both technique and expression -- and having something to say -- were valued.

NB: Collins's painting above is very much a study. Just 4 1/4" x 11", studies like this form the basis for works like this.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Housing? Me too.

I've had emails asking me to comment on National's housing policy, released today to vigorous spin.

But what's to comment on?

And what's there to say that I haven't already said before, when arguably there was a trifle more to talk about?

Once again, the miasma of 'me too' permeates everything John Key touches,

[Thanks to Scott for the 'redirect.']

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Defanging all the power-brokers

I freely confess that when it comes to stories about who gave what to which politician, and how much, and what it was for - and why it might be either illegal or against the cabinet manual -- my eyes begin to glaze over, as I suspect do most of yours. Which is what, or course, politicians like Mr No-No-Yes rely upon, that seven days from now you'll all be hard pressed to even remember the details about Winston's donations from Owen Glenn and the Velas, and why they mattered.

WINSTON-YES In a better organised world, they wouldn't matter.

There are arguments about whether donations follow policy or policy follows donations, and it's frankly impossible for anyone but the donor to know which is which and whether they're getting value for money, which points to the primary problem here -- that politicians have almost unlimited power to deliver policy and favours in which their donors are interested. Policies that so often deliver special privilege, or special favours, or monopoly interest.

WINSTON-Maybe They're all in on the same scam, it's just that Winston is the one being pinged for it this week.

The problem is not with the donations, it's with the power politicians have to deliver those special privileges. The problem is not chiefly that policy might follow donations, but that politicians have the power to deliver the policies favoured by this sort of donor. That's the problem that those decrying Winston need to face up to, and that both sides of the Electoral Finance Act debate need to address -- that there are no constitutional restrictions whatsoever on how much parties can do once they have power, ands as long as that remains the case, the temptation will exist to buy one's laws or special favours direct from the political wholesaler.

But isn't this just another reason why the levers of political power should pull so much less weight? That there should be constitutional restrictions not on how much we can spend on our favoured party so it can gain power, but instead on how much parties can do once they have power. Isn't that infinitely more important, and far more supportive of genuine free speech?
As PJ O'Rourke says,

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
Isn't that the point in a nutshell? Restrict the range of areas in which legislators can meddle, and you immediately lessen the interest in buying political power.

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Nosmo King - by order

50085_2 Around £100 million has been spent renovating outdoor areas for smokers ... sales of patio heaters have doubled to 3.2 million (prompting complaints from environmentalists) ... but following the British government's ban on smoking in pubs, smokers are staying home in large numbers instead of patronising their local -- and non-smokers have been staying home with them.

As the Express reports, and despite predictions to the contrary from anti-smoking zealots before the ban was imposed, British pubs "are facing an uphill struggle to attract customers." It's been the same in every benighted part of the world where the zealots have trampled on the property rights of pub and bar owners.

“Trading conditions are incredibly tough. We’re seeing hundreds of pub closures and smoking is definitely a factor,” says a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association.
“Current closures will certainly continue for the foreseeable future. At the moment 27 pubs are closing every week” ...
Pubs are not the only businesses suffering – there are more than 600 bingo clubs countrywide and most say customers are disappearing in the wake of the ban.

"I hate the ban," says smoking rebel Bill King. "It has turned the country into a dictatorship... Why not have smoking and non-smoking pubs? And as for the nonsense about smokers being a drain on the NHS, well the tax on a pack of 20 comes to about £4.20 so I think it’s the smokers who keep the NHS going.”

I'd be interested to see some local figures, if anyone has been able to collate them?

UPDATE: Lindsay Mitchell has graciously provided the local figures here, and the words "cash' and "cow" spring immediately to mind. Anti-smoking zealots please take note.

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Bring on the medical tourists!

I was fascinated to see news that Auckland's Mercy Hospital will soon be host to NZs first ever private cancer treatment centre, offering "the latest in high-tech treatment, using lower doses of radiation, pinpointing the cancers more precisely, yet treating the cancers more aggressively. Treatment sessions will be quicker and the average patient will be in and out in three minutes. And patients will not have to rely on fluctuating public hospital waiting times to start their treatment.

"We will start their treatment within a week and all the urgent cases will start work within 24 hours," says Dr Benji Benjamin, clinical director.

Given the crucial importance of time in cancer treatment, with British researchers, as just one example, attributing their "dismal" cancer survival rates to the "late diagnoses and lengthy waiting lists for treatment" that are endemic with socialised medicine, this is fantastic news.

One can't help but assume the news is linked to plans announced earlier in the month for privately-owned Ascot and Mercy hospitals to begin offering "New Zealand up as a destination for 'medical tourists' from affluent countries who want 'cheap' operations and other medical procedures" -- a deal by which everyone wins: the medical tourists get timely, inexpensive treatment in well-appointed private hospitals "that, unlike their public counterparts, are not full to overflowing; English-speaking hospital staff and a culture that felt familiar to many Americans," and we get the use of services, facilities and technology that wouldn't be affordable otherwise, and get to retain and attract back just a few of those New Zealand surgeons working overseas, or thinking about heading off.

Great news all 'round, really.

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Feminomics

Cactus calculates just how much the above average woman spends each time she gets her leg over. It's the very least you can do to buy her dinner -- or offer her a tax deduction.

UPDATE: I can only imagine the response to Cactus' calculations if men wrote advice columns:

Male Agony

'The Gods of the Copybook Headings' - Rudyard Kipling

Welcome to Glenn Beck watchers.  Poem first. Analysis later.
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
 Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
 And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
 That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
 But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
 So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

UPDATE [11 June 2010]:  Acute analysis here from Robert Tracinski:
The title of Rudyard Kipling’s poem is obscure today but would have been clear to any educated Englishman of his day. A copybook was a kind of penmanship exercise in which the student copied over and over again a sentence printed in the heading at the top of each page. These copybook headings were usually aphorisms or statements of commonsense wisdom, so Kipling used the Gods of the Copybook Headings as a symbol for basic, immutable truths.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn.
The point of the poem is that the various schemes for “social progress” being promoted at the time—and most of them are still with us today—are based on denying the basic truths represented by the Gods of the Copybook Headings.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
Kipling’s derisive reference to the “Gods of the Market Place” was not intended as anti-capitalist. “The market” is not short for “the free market,” as it is in contemporary parlance. Rather, the “market” refers to the public spaces where people gather to listen to demagogues who promise the impossible and the irrational—the function performed by CNN today. 
Which brings us to modern politicians and the collapse of the European welfare state...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sorry

Sorry everyone, I've got a bug that has been opening my sluices at both ends all night. I doubt I'll be posting anything here today.

Feel free to go at it with general comments if you wish.

They're eating KFC here

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Where do you think this KFC outlet is located? 

Mangere? Cairo?  Fallujah?

Take a bow all those who picked the latter, formerly Iraq's most dangerous city.  Says the 'North Shore Journal' [hat tip Tim Blair]:

    Only a short time ago the city of Fallujah served as stronghold for insurgents. Daily skirmishes, improvised explosive device detonations and public unease made operating a business in the city very difficult...
    The KFC is the first to open for business in the city. Before improved conditions in the city, insurgents threatened business owners, demanding money to support acts of terrorism...  
    “I remember when I was here last in July 2004 and things were much different than they are now,” said Sgt. Steve J. Arnoux, a 25-year-old vehicle commander from Browning, Mont. “When we would go out on convoys in the city, the attitude was a lot different. It seemed like we were just waiting to get ambushed. Now we stop at KFC.”
    Citizens of the area can now work steady jobs, where as prior conditions kept many from even coming to work on a daily basis.
    “I love the work here, because we have the opportunity to go to work every day,” said a KFC employee.

UPDATE 1: And AP reports:

BAGHDAD (AP) — An oil refinery in Iraq's western desert has resumed production, the government said Sunday, as part of an outreach to an area once controlled by Sunni insurgents.
   
And in the country's south, a new airport opened in Najaf in what the prime minister said was a key step in the reconstruction of a country devastated by war.

UPDATE 2: Michael Yon has a link to a Power Point presentation on some stats from Iraq. The success of the surge is deeply impressive [hat tip Half Done]

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Three favourites

aalto-paimio

Michael Newberry's colleague Brett Holverstott chooses his three favourite architects.  One out of three isn't bad.  ;^)

To be fair, his choices two and three offer much from which to learn, but to me they lack the cohesion, integration and sheer life-loving flair of his number one choice.

Can you guess who that is?

(Photo, by the way, is of the Paimio Sanitorium, designed in 1929 by the architect who's Brett's number three choice.)

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Brendan in Beijing

beijingdiary_listingmasthead While we were hunkering down with a martini in Grahamstown, Thames, Brendan O'Neill from
Sp!ked Online "has been reporting from just about the most exciting city on the planet right now: Beijing. Read the truth about the city as the Chinese prepare for two weeks of unadulterated showing off to the world" - including news about the biggest building on Earth, why Beijing is the new New York, the "People's Republic of PR," and "the battle between Blue Sky Days and Grey Sky Days, and why it's time we tackled the many myths of the Tiananmen Square massacre."

Sounds like a series worth reading.

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Dystopia

At some stage in their lives every thinking person has to read the 'complete collection of classic dystopian novels.' There are many pretenders, but this is the core list:

  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Utopia, by Thomas More
  • Clockwork Orange, By Anthony Burgess
  • Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  • We, by E.I. Zamyatin
  • Anthem, by Ayn Rand

If you haven't already, check them out when you get the chance.

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Afternoon in Grahamstown

Yes, I had a great weekend down in Thames with friends -- and thanks for asking. It was capped off with a phone call from another friend telling me Geelong (number one on the AFL table) had just beaten the Bulldogs (who are number two) by sixty points. Sixty points!

Thames has come of age. Just as myself and CP had decided that Thames very definitely isn't a 'martini city' in the manner movingly described by Voltz, when hey presto we stumbled upon a newly renovated "lounge bar" at the Grahamstown end of Thames called 'Nectar': the second-smallest bar in the country, which not only had great atmosphere, not only was open at the time in question (well, openable), but had the decency to allow me to play barman myself. You can't beat that.

In answer to the question, "Why visit Thames?" let me give you a simple answer. There we were in Grahamstown, Thames, and in just a few short steps we had an excellent martini in a friendly bar ('Nectar'), bought a book in a second-hand bookshop that I've long sought (the memoirs of Alexander Kerensky), and had the best afternoon meal I've had ever, at Sola Cafe.

Why wouldn't you want to visit?

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Liar

Courtesy NZ HERALD So Winston Peters lied. Again. Something out of which he's built a career.

But did anyone realise he is so low he's prepared to use his mother's death to extricate himself from questions he's unable to answer? To garner sympathy, and so gain a hole to try and wriggle out?

Can anyone possibly have any respect for him again?

Winston Peters keeps them honest. Yeah right.

There are certainly apologies and resignations to be done, as Peters demanded last week -- if, that is, any integrity remained. But the apologies and the resignation should be his.

UPDATE 1: Winston Peters says the money Owen Glen donated (about which he claimed "no knowledge" for so long) didn't go to a "political fund." It went instead to a "solicitors account ... controlled by the Law Society" -- to "a legal fund" set up in 1991 when Mr Peters became involved in a series of legal actions.

No it didn't, says Winston's lawyer [hat tip Whale Oil] -- "no fund or account for Mr Peters’ legal bills existed."

UPDATE 2: Who said this:

There is little corruption in politics in this country, and the corruption that has occurred has been targeted, found out, and exposed.

Answer: Peter Brown, deputy leader of NZ First, opposing a register of pecuniary interests for MPs. And yes, Peter, it has been.

UPDATE 3: David Farrar has a host of questions that a believer in Winston's immaculate integrity would need to believe if they are to maintain their idolatry.

UPDATE 4: And little comment at all, apparently, from blogs or politicians further left. Go figure.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

                                       Libz-Welfare

Welcome to Sunday Star Times readers. 

Robbing Peter to pay Paul certainly doesn’t help Peter and it doesn’t do Paul much good either. New Zealand is drowning in welfare. Click here to see what Libertarianz intends to do about it.

And here's some more posts on Welfare here at NOT PC:

And finally:

Or check out all the posts on welfare here and here

And if you want to donate to see more Libz policy promoted more widely, you can click here and donate to our advertising campaign.  Every dollar helps.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell
LIBERTARIANZ List Candidate

PS: Click here for a new parable on giving ...
                      Socialist Samaritans

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