Friday, October 16, 2009

Beer O’Clock: Putting beer in its proper context

Crossposted from the Malthouse blog our fearless beer correspondent Neil Miller features (Sir) Jeremy Clarkson on Chinese beer, and explains why Fiji Bitter tastes better in Fiji:

Beer is a highly contextual beverage.  Our taste impressions and flavour memories can be strongly influenced by whatever else was happening when we drank a particular beer. 

fijibitter This phenomena first really came to my attention when, as an aspiring beer neophyte, I was tasked with handing out samples of “Beers from the Pacific” at a small beer festival.  One of those beers was Fiji Bitter (seen in its proper context on the right).  Having tasted this rather sugary yet somehow metallic brew at a couple of student parties, I thought it would be tough work to even give the stuff away.  I was wrong.  There was a queue.

Not just a queue but a queue adamant that Fiji Bitter was, in fact, the very best beer in the entire world.  I poured tasting glasses as quickly as I could and watched, without exception, their expectant faces fall as soon as the insipid liquid passed their trembling lips.

“This doesn’t taste nearly as good as the stuff in Fiji.”
“This is not the same beer.”
“This is truly awful.”

The thing is, it was exactly the same (awful) beer but they were also quite right that it tasted much better in Fiji.  Why precisely that was the case quickly became clear when I enquired about how they drank the beer in Fiji.  Essentially, they all drank ice-cold Fiji Bitter in the hot sun, by the pool, relaxing on holiday while being waited on by someone young, attractive and largely naked.

In contrast, the Fiji Bitter they had in Wellington was served cool-ish, the rain was lashing against the spartan meeting room’s windows, it had been a busy working week and the beer was being served by a husky chap in a Hawaiian shirt.   It is all about context.

Confirmation of my contextual theory was recently provided by Jeremy Clarkson, the tight-trousered bane of environmentalists, hybrid car enthusiasts and assorted beardies.  In his customary meandering introduction to a car review, (Sir) Jeremy Clarkson took the time to reflect on beer:

“In 1984, I spent some time wandering around China, where, so far as I could tell, it was always 48 degrees and raining.  This made me very thirsty so I spent most days drinking gallons of the local brew, which is called Tsingtao.  It was delicious.  I loved it.  And then I tried some when I got home and I decided that it was exactly the same as drinking watered down mouse pee.”

Same beer, different context - though I would have to say that Tsingtao (pronounced Ching-Dao) can be a refreshing accompaniment to spicy Chinese food.  Care must be taken with the pronunciation however otherwise you can end up with Singha (an inferior lager) or, if you really mangle it, Lindauer (an inferior type of bubbles).  This last theorem was recently proved by my best friend, much to his mortification and to our collective merriment.

And now, in the context of Wellington drinking or for drinkers further afield and eager to add to their list of “must-try” beers, a list of the fresh range of Octoberbest beers are awaiting their opportunity to shine in the convivial drinking context of the Malthouse.  In no particular order, these include:

Mussel Inn Captain Cooker – a true Kiwi classic, this is a distinctively spicy and fresh brew from Golden Bay.  The beer itself is a pleasing rich amber colour and has a complex fruity, flowery and spicy body before a perfumey Turkish Delight finish. 

Epic Lager – it may be the Impish brewer’s least hoppy offering but this fruity yet crisp lager is wonderfully balanced.  According to his website, making great beer takes “a prodigious amount of toil and love.”  Bless his impish little socks.

Harrington’s Rogue Hop – one of the surprise package beers of 2008 for me.  It is a grassy, floral, fresh pilsner with just a hint of nettle.

Harrington’s Pig and Whistle – one of the surprise hits of the 2009 Brew NZ Beer Awards.  This trophy-winning brew won best European style ale.

Three Boys Golden Ale –  this ale is tasting the best I’ve ever had it.  Another rather quenching offering from the marvellous Dr Ralph Bungard.

Golden Ticket Exchange Student – this is a beer I’m really looking forward to sampling.  The debut offering from Golden Ticket Brewing is described as “a late hopped pale ale with a hoppy aroma, moderate bitterness and nice malt balance.  Generously hopped with New Zealand and American varieties for a full-on flavour hit, it’s just the ticket to prepare you for summer.”

In the right context, a pretty poor beer can taste, at least briefly, pretty good.  However, a far better long-term strategy is to drink already excellent beers in the context of a beer haven like the Malthouse.


Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand 
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Crossposted at (guess where) the Malthouse Blog.

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Friday Ramble, 16 October

Here’s your regular Friday Ramble through the best of the web.  As always, if you want links like this live as they happen, then bookmark my Twitter page.

  • Whale Oil has a story about why ACC is screwed.
  • Liberty Scott fisks Sue Kedgley. And again.  Yes, fisking Kedgley like shooting goldfish in a bathtub, but someone has to do it, and this is about as thoroughly as it can be done.
  • And explains why a republic gifted by Keith Locke may not be the sort of republic even republicans could support.
  • Wellington’s student unionists show how student politics is done – and how it’s beaten back: watch as Wellington Voluntary Student Membership supporters attempt to pass a pro-VSM motion despite desperate anti-constitutional attempts by compulsion touters to block it (sorry about the musical interludes).
    How To Lose A Vote In 40 Minutes - Part 1
    How To Lose A Vote In 40 Minutes - Part 2
    How To Lose A Vote In 40 Minutes - Part 3
  • From the socialists-miss-the-point-completely file: Broadband is to become a human right in Finland.  What’s next, free pizza?
  • Steven Crowder:” has a theory; Balloonboy is now so scared of how mad his dad is, that he's hiding every belt in the house in the basement.
  • Note to self: don't let a 6-year-old hop in helium "homemade flying saucer." Denver Post has the story if you missed it all:
    http://retwt.me/Y3vv
  • 35963399How about we just extend the recession Indefinitely?
    http://bit.ly/2MxMLd
  • Pictures in the sidebar: Romance is not dead in Wellington - http://twitpic.com/letjb (Some very grumpy Jennifers in Wellington yesterday!) [hat tip Eric Crampton]
  • The Wall Street Journal looks at the reasons for the plunging US dollar:
    http://bit.ly/HQT69
  • Is the current recession the worst since the Great Depression? You might be surprised... http://bit.ly/1iTGhx
  • Whatever made anyone think Al Gore was a scientist? The Washington Post reminds is of old Al’s credentials: Al Gore took only 2 undergraduate science courses at Harvard, scoring a D & a C - & he flunked his science entrance exams.  How’s that for street cred?
     http://tinyurl.com/dy6c4
  • "The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out?"  New Scientist magazine looks at what your phone is telling people you might not like it to.
     http://tinyurl.com/ylmcq7f
  • The World Health Organisation turns wowser, launching a "war on alcohol." As if there weren’t already enough wowsers in the world!
     http://tinyurl.com/yhelfme
  • John Stossel wonders what fa film-maker Michael Moore is talking about? Michael Moore is “confused,” he says politely.
    http://bit.ly/316H0q
  • The CATO Institute measures the effectiveness of Obama’s stimulus plan. Looks like failure to me.
    http://bit.ly/2jyKyZ
  • Who guards the environmental guardians? Ontario's polluted residents want to know – and the rest of us can draw the necessary environmental lesson: bureaucracy bad, common law good.
    http://tinyurl.com/yfj7b4f
  • Eric Crampton defends the political economist's Nobel.
    http://bit.ly/GB4mc
  • Larry David explains Elinor Ostrom's Nobel Prize research with a party, some caviar and Christian Slater ...
    http://bit.ly/jrcPE
  • Stephen Hicks is still bummed that Obama didn't win the Nobel for economics too. But learning a lot about Ostrom: http://tinyurl.com/yftra9d
  • If you’re Californian then it’s cell phone bans for thee, but not for wife of Arnie -
    http://is.gd/4ih41
  • "It's easy to be red-faced when your cause is global warming doomsterism. Warmists have had yet another bad week" Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch (and isn’t it great to see our locally-coined term ‘warmists’ make it all the way to Canada).
    http://tinyurl.com/yffhlet

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."
- Ayn Rand

  • A child listens to a nice Climate Change Bedtime Story. How sweet ...
    http://bit.ly/2dkDFK
  • Remember last year when Nancy Pelosi's office issued a hysterical 'projection' of US unemployment WITHOUT govt stimulus to just show JUST HOW GOSH-DARNED IMPORTANT it was to flood the US with green paper. One year later however, let’s see how things panned out shall we...
    http://tinyurl.com/ycadvev

Whoops!
Oops!

  • Ed Glaeser offers fascinating account of some of that Nobel Prize-winning work.
    http://bit.ly/bhdCD [hat tip Virginia Postrel]
  • Stephen Hicks asks "Is Capitalism Bad for Art?"  Well, what do you think?
    http://bit.ly/H9Pqz
  • TV Psychic is wrong on Aisling, sceptics say. "It's not sensing murder, it's sensing exploitation."
    http://tinyurl.com/yjjow63
  • The NZ Herald has a former resident's video of the overflowing drain at 5 Longburn Rd – a neighbour who “moved because of the  danger to her children."
    http://bit.ly/3nPSBg
  • You can't keep a good entrepreneur down - even in Malawi. But think what William Kamkwamba could do with some capital
    http://tinyurl.com/yljhv7w
  • "The part of the economics profession that would hate a Nobel going to Ostrom is part I want nothing to do with," says a busy Eric Crampton.
    http://tinyurl.com/yzof833
  • "Women cull their style ideas from people who are not attracted to them." Hence all their self-image problems.
    http://tinyurl.com/yjshtse
  • RT @greigmcgill @Peter_Cresswell Re Zac Braff: It's a fake. Sorry. :( .2:33 PM Oct 12th from Flock in reply to greigmcgill
  • Wealth is not debt. Financial assets are not “wealth,” but a claim on real wealth. Good sense and a reminder in The Economist.
    http://tinyurl.com/yg6mrjd
  • Check out the Wall Street Journal’s Guide to ObamaCare – a comprehensive collection of Wall Street Journal editorials and op-eds.
    http://tinyurl.com/yef879a
  • The overwhelming majority of parents abuse their children, reports The Onion.
     http://ow.ly/15Uorf
  • North Korea celebrates Obama's Peace Prize in the normal way – i.e., by firing five missiles off their east coast.
    http://bit.ly/3GfFao
  • Check out the Cherry-Pickers Guide to Global Temperature Trends. Everyone else does it, so why not you too?
     http://masterresource.org/?...

“Printing money is merely taxation in another form. Rather than robbing citizens of their money, government robs their money of purchasing power.”
- Peter Schiff

  • Intel's "ridiculous" antitrust defence: they argue that a corporation has a right to the same due process of law as individuals.
    http://tinyurl.com/y9cf7kw
  • Privatise! Crikey, if Gordon can do it, then why the hell can't John?  (And when you’ve answered that question properly, you’ve explained everything wrong about NZ politics in the past twenty-five years.)
    http://bit.ly/2qqomT
  • Al Gore still doesn't debate, but he did briefly 'answer' questions recently - until the journalist's mike got cut off. Don’t want any of those “inconvenient” questions, eh.
    http://tinyurl.com/yl642fn
  • The twentieth-century’s 12 largest hyperinflations were all caused by financing huge public budget deficits through money creation. And guess what, “the tipping point for hyperinflation occurs when the government's deficit exceed 40% of its expenditures. . . .” Guess where it is now . . .  http://tinyurl.com/yje8xwu
  • Intellectual history with flow charts: Stephen Hicks has posted his neat flowchart summary of The Enlightenment Vision — flowchart in Excel and PDF posted at his site.  http://www.stephenhicks.org/ [Scroll down a post or two to find it. It’s worth it.]
  • Friends report that Chris Knox had his first Epic (beer of champions) since his stroke.
    http://chrisknox.blogtown.co.nz/2009/10/12/epic/
  • The Wall Street Journal offers another important lesson in malinvestment: Fannie's Next Big Adventure.
    http://bit.ly/pkkoB
  • Reserve Bank of NZ issues its strongest warning yet on unbalanced economy. (Wonder when  they’ll realise it’s them who’s the primary cause of that?)
    http://bit.ly/185wYA
  • An 8m giant Maori Bronze Statue?! It's hardly the Statue of Liberty, is it.
    http://tinyurl.com/yfrtklv
  • Jim Rogers: “People are printing money, gold is going up."  These two things are not entirely unconnected.
     http://tinyurl.com/ygo2kf2
  • "The Reserve Bank of New Zealand assures me that they do not own any gold. How barbaric!"
    http://bit.ly/1BejDY
  • Emphatically NOT a dead parrot. [Hat tip David Slack] 
    http://tr.im/B9ba

“I have been probing the arguments for global warming for well over a decade. In collaboration with a lot of excellent coa-uthors I have consistently found that when the layers get peeled back, what lies at the core is either flawed, misleading or simply non-existent.”
- Ross McKitrick, in ‘Flawed Climate Data’

And finally, here’s two helpings of Simon’s cat [hat tip Noodle Food]

 

Enjoy!

ACC: Just shoot it

ACC is not an insurance scheme, it’s a virus. “No Fault” is absurd, and invitation to abuse. If ACC (with $12.8 billion gap between assets and liabilities) is the world’s best no-fault accident insurance scheme, then what would the worst look like?

Fact is, the whole white elephant was never truly sustainable -- it’s just a failed way to prop up the welfare system, the health system and to help massage unemployment figures.

It’s not an insurance scheme, it’s a virus. As Deborah Hill-Cone says, “The theory was that people had actually paid their premiums and so shouldn’t feel they were getting summat for nothing. Dinky idea, but as we now know [as if we didn’t already], the premiums do not cover the cost of the ACC scheme – so claimants are getting something for nothing.  Actually.”

It’s not viable, it’s not an insurance scheme -- it’s just another failed welfare state experiment and, like all failed welfare state experiments, it can’t be repaired, it needs to be taken out and shot.  Richard McGrath says it better than I could:

    “In the wake of catastrophic multi-billion dollar losses, ACC should be put into liquidation, and the accident insurance market privatised,” said Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath.
    “Proposed rises in the ACC levy of 50% or more are outrageous. The National Party said before the last election they would give New Zealanders tax relief. But self-employed people now face a 1.5% increase in taxation on their income, thanks to ACC’s ability to coerce people into buying their insurance at whatever price ACC sets - a privilege not granted to private insurers.”
    Richard McGrath said his party advocates the dissolution of ACC to allow New Zealanders to choose their own accident insurance provider. “Competition in this market will weed out the incompetent players such as ACC, and remove political influence on insurance providers.”
    “The National Party obviously has no qualms about raising taxes, despite their rhetoric during the last election campaign.”

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Events you need to know about

1. CHRISTCHURCH: Liberty Conference in Christchurch this weekend, starting bright and early at 9:o0am tomorrow at the Cashmere Club, 88 Hunter Terrace, Cashmere.  Speakers include Bernard Darnton, Richard McGrath, Trevor Loudon and me (not to self, better think of something to say).
Email craig.milmine@libertarianz.org.nz for details, or just to find out where we’ll all be dining and carousing thereafter.

2. CHRISTCHURCH: Eric Crampton, good lad that he is, is organising a Christchurch bloggers' bash for tonight: 9 PM at The Thirsty Weta – cunningly timed to coincide with my plane touching down in the Garden City.  So  all those Canterbury folk who said they owe me a beer, here’s your chance.  :-)

3. WELLINGTON:  PUBLIC ADDRESS - ‘Children Creating and Developing Language from Birth Onwards' 
London-based Montessori trainer Cheryl Ferreira talks on Saturday October 17th on how children create and develop language from birth onwards
Come along to hear about the factors that impact on the development of spoken language from 0-6 and how this impacts on writing and reading'.

* * Saturday October 17th @ 7-9p.m, $10 payment at the door (includes tea &coffee)
* * Wa Ora Montessori School, 278 Waddington Road, Naenae, Lower Hutt, Wellington*
* * For information and bookings contact mmef@ihug.co.nz or phone Anna on (04) 232 3428.

4. AUCKLAND: And there was one other I was supposed to tell you about . . . oh yes, in honour of Willy, who can’t tell the difference between Swiss chocolate, a beer and a hole in the ground, we’re planning a beer tasting for people who don’t taste their beer: i.e., a blind taste test of all the mainstream beers, to see if anyone can detect any difference between them, followed by a session in Galbraith’s where we may partake of higher things.

Ruakura Campus Club beer maestro Greig McGill has already begun putting a tasting schedule together for the afternoon and evening, so why not put October 31st in your diary and join us.  More details closer to the date.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thanks Microsoft [updated]

Sadly, on this occasion I’ve come not to thank Microsoft, but to express my annoyance at being deprived of my work computer for one week – not by accident, but by design. Their design.

This time eight days ago I was up to my eyes with work and surfing through it enthusiastically. Then came the Microsoft Update.  Little did I know when I clicked the “Turn off after installing Microsoft updates button” last Wednesday night, after automatically downloading Vista Service Pack 2, that a week later I’d still be hours away from having a working computer.

You see, what happened when I reopened my ArchiCAD computer to start work Thursday morning was that I couldn’t.  It wouldn’t open.  I couldn’t start work.  What the message on the computer required of me, before allowing me to do anything else, was for me to reinstall the entire Windows Vista operating system – with all the data loss that implied, and without which the computer would resolutely remain a hunk of useless metal.

Like I say, this wasn’t some accident.  This was by design. Microsoft’s design. This is what the Microsoft Update required before unlocking my computer.

Now that I’m only minutes away from finally getting back up to speed (after a week of trial and error and ghosting and workarounds to conquer the problem) I have to say a big thank you to the good folk at Eden Computers, from whom I’ve bought my last four work computers, and who went above and beyond to get my weapon of choice back into action in at least as good condition as it was before Microsoft stuck their oar in.  (They come with my highest recommendation.)

And I have to give a giant raspberry to Microsoft, whose security bloody update system has, by design not by accident, taken a whole working week away from me.  Bastards.

UPDATE:  Good news: Computer’s back and ready to rumble (thanks Eden Computers).

Bad news: Every Microsoft programme now wants its disk reinserted before it will open any damn thing e.g., click a Word document, and a dialogue box demands that I “Insert the Microsoft Office XP Small Business disk,” whereupon I’m informed “The feature you are trying to use is on a CD-Rom or other removable disk that is not available.”  Bastards.

Thank goodness for OpenOffice, eh.

NOT PJ: Too Big Not To Fail

Bernard Darnton wrote this piece about ACC several days ago, assuming that Key’s latest changes wouldn’t do much to fix anything. No editing was required.

_BernardDarnton ACC is widely admired overseas, we’re told by its cheerleaders. Every other country in the world has been too awed by the scheme’s brilliance to copy it.

When Libertarianz puts together its alternative budget each year the plan’s always the same: slap everything on Trade Me. Last time, when we tried to work out what the “Buy Now” price for ACC would be, we ran into a problem. One dollar reserve was a massive over-valuation.

We’re not talking about a Kiwirail-sized problem here; at least the track has some scrap value. ACC is more of a breach-of-the-Companies-Act trading-while-insolvent type of problem. If a company in the real world had finances like ACC’s the liquidators would be brought in. Anyone mad enough to bid on our auction would have immediately been marched in front of a judge.

As well as failing the insolvency test, ACC’s hypothetical (and presumably insane) private owners would be in trouble for their other business practices. Invoicing you for services you didn’t ask for – pro forma invoicing – is a breach of the Fair Trading Act. If an insurance company sends you a pro forma invoice, you should ask for proof that the deal was agreed to. “No proof, no payment” is the advice from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ “Scamwatch” website.

As for ACC’s demands that we buy insurance for things that have already happened, Consumer Affairs has no advice – presumably because no private sector criminal has ever thought he could get away with such a scheme.

Of course, ACC isn’t an insurance company; it’s yet another welfare agency. If it was an insurance company it would offer me a lower premium if I took on a larger excess. I might get a no claims discount. It could offer me exclusions for things I didn’t want to insure – for example, “self-harm.” I’m pretty sure I don’t need to insure against deliberately slicing myself with a razor. First, I’m not an idiot teenager. Second, if I’m desperate for attention I just knock together a scantly researched and inflammatory blog post.

Over the last few years, ACC has morphed into the Accident, Bad Luck, Stupidity, and Feeling Sad Compensation Corporation. Add to that the booming free physiotherapy lark. Bolt onto that some doctors’ insistence that insect bites and other “accidents” are responsible for every ailment from Aagenaes syndrome to Zuska’s disease (thanks Wikipedia). Onto all that shovel a colossal heap of malingerers for whom ACC is another hiding place from the unemployment stats, and it’s no wonder that the scheme is in a twenty billion dollar hole.

Levies may need to be raised by up to 50 percent, warned ACC chairman John Judge. Without the hikes ACC would become even more bankrupt. That’s really, really bankrupt.

So this week the Prime Minister announced that his government would be rearranging the wheelchairs on the Titanic. True to form, the government’s aim hasn’t been to get the scheme under control, let alone replace it with something that works. The aim has been to keep levy increases to “politically acceptable levels” – in Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s memorable words: plucking the goose to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount if hissing.

Start hissing; you’re about to get plucked.

* * Bernard Darnton is not PJ O’Rourke. * *
* * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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Winter Sunset from My Pool – Cathy Cadieux, 2009

frompool

A beguilingly seductive piece, colour used to give huge depth.  Notice how the land recedes and the sky and water come forward.  Study it.  See how se does it.  Michael Newberry explains what’s going on.

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‘All Steel Houses’ – Frank Lloyd Wright, 1938

AllSteel003a

Part of a collection of prefabricated houses designed for pre-war Los Angeles. Wright called the scheme “All Steel Houses,” explains Wright archivist Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer,

“proposing building one-hundred houses on a hillside location in Los Angeles. Each house has a unique design [based on its particular location and market demands], but the system of construction and all the detailing were standardized, thereby reducing the unit cost.”

AllSteel004a

You can see more plans, discussions and drawings of four of these houses here at this 'Wright Chat' page (naturally, you’ll have to scroll past the obligatory chat about Ayn Rand first), including the suggestion that in these beautiful houses Wright was trying to outdo the likes of Neutra, Schindler and Mies – and succeeding brilliantly, I might say. It was only fair, really, since it was this first generation of modernists that were themselves so heavily influenced by Wright’s early work, only fair therefore that he should leapfrog them to demonstrate again how it should be done – as he did again with both Fallingwater and his House on the Mesa.

AllSteel001

 

download And if you’re really keen, you can download and play with this Google Sketchup model (right) of one of these houses, though without (confusingly) the accompanying sloping ground. (The model and Sketchup programme are entirely free, by the way).

Enjoy!

 

AllSteel003

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I confess, I’m a Marxist

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

“The poor are not helpless victims” – Hernando de Soto

In yesterday’s interview about his new book, former NZ PM Mike Moore mentioned he was a chum of Hernando de Soto, and that de Soto in fact wrote his (Moore’s) introduction.

So who’s Hernando de Soto then? He’s a hero. A man who maintains “the poor are not helpless victims in need of rescue, but entrepreneurial people capable of pulling themselves out of poverty when left free to do so.” Here’s an introduction, a documentary from Free to Choose Media featuring Hernando de Soto which began airing in the US on October 8 [hat tip Free Agents Network]:

“Filmed on location from Latin America to Africa, The Power of the Poor demonstrates how free markets, individual freedom and especially the right to property can transform the poor into the most powerful resource in the world. At its heart is the potential triumph of capitalism as a system.”

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A republican dilemma

Remember that dilemma that Annie Fox offered you a few weeks back: You need a kidney transplant, but the only available candidate comes from a bureaucrat.

Another similar dilemma has just emerged this afternoon.  A bill to make New Zealand a republic has just been drawn from the parliamentary ballot – sponsored by Keith Locke . . .

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To be released, or not to be released? ‘How’ is Tolley’s question.

Is Anne Tolley the first Cabinet Minister to demand that information be released, and at the same time that it be withheld?

Mrs Tolley has demanded that “pupils from years 1 to 8 [be] assessed in numeracy and literacy against national academic standards from next year,” and that schools “have to report on the percentage of pupils above, below or well below the standard, broken down into groups including Maori, Pasifika and gender.” And now she’s all smiles about striking a deal yesterday with teacher unions, who are desperate for parents not to know what goes on at their member’s schools, she also “confirmed [she] will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce league tables that rank schools” from all that information that’s been supplied.

So she demands that schools collect this information; she demands they pass this information on to government, who will use it to see how well schools are doing; she insists it be passed on to parents, who will use it to see how well schools of doing; and she demands of everyone else that they don’t use it -- especially not if they work in the media – and more especially not if they they want to see how schools are doing.  They may not use use it even if they’re a parent who works in the media (and what would those odds be, eh).

Information, according to Mrs Tolley and her new partners, does not set you free – it gives you ulcers.  And so, apparently, does common sense.

One is at a loss to explain the thinking here, if I can use that verb.  Mrs Tolley is apparently opposed to the premise articulated by Abraham Lincoln and posted here yesterday:

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

She is clearly not a student of logic. (It’s  hard to demand of information that it be both used and not-used.)

And she is demonstrably opposed to the very principle of free speech. (Hard to go past that phrase “the Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media” as a statement adumbrating the very model of a censorious state.)

So she’s not a fan of freedom, not a fan of truth, and certainly not of setting it free. And nor is she a not a student of political philosophy or of logic or of any bloody clue how exactly to bring about this ban of hers (maybe she’s assumed a can-opener?). What she is a student of, however – or what she was a student of – was Computer Programming.  She has a diploma in it.  That this is the only qualification she holds should not however be seen as any impediment to her holding firm views on things she clearly knows nothing about – which is, after all, the primary qualification to be a cabinet minister. (Having no qualifications or any kind of real work record is not the real problem – having no basic common sense is.)

So just to summarise the week’s two big political stories so far: Yesterday the government were combating the idea that taxpayers should pay for free rugby on on one TV channel by having taxpayers outbid themselves to put the rugby on another channel.  And today they’re insisting that information be both released and be not-released.

And to think there are some people who think they don’t know what the hell they’re doing!

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Warmists with redder faces [update 2]

“Growing ice, the mob and red-faced professors: Warmists are having yet another bad week,” says a not unhappy Lawrence Solomon.

There’s bad news from the Arctic and the Antarctic, from organised crime and the fields of censorship, of warmist luminaries like Stephen Schneider and warmist grails like carbon trading. No wonder there’s so many red faces, the reasons for which are all summarised in Solomon’s article, Global Blushing.  But as he concludes,

    “This week of embarrassment for the global warmists does not look all that different from most weeks. Overzealous scientists and their enablers have a habit of selecting the data they like and setting the rest aside. Some — Schneider among them — have even justified exaggerating the dangers in the cause of making the public take note. When they get caught they often resort to obfuscations and cover-ups.
    “And red faces become the norm.”

UPDATE 2: “Warming Uncool” notes Tim Blair’s headline:

“It has finally happened,” writes Marc Morano at the Climate Depot. “We have reached the ‘tipping point.’ 2009 can now be officially declared the year the media lost their faith in man-made global warming fears.”

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Donating, Insulating, Fixating & ‘P’

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his irreverent weekly trawl through some of the past week’s headlines.

1. Gary Taylor: Housing initiative covers the bases – Environmentalist Gary Taylor is crowing about two bits of news. Firstly that the taxpayer will be forced to help build “a new community” on the former Hobsonville air base. Expensive services such as solar electricity will be provided to the 3000 homes, and Waitakere ratepayers will be also be made to fund a boat-building company to be placed near the residential area. Houses will be “properly” insulated – I wonder how much that will cost? Of course there will be bus and ferry connections – subsidised for their losses, no doubt, by the good ratepayers of Waitakere.
    The other bit of news that tickles Gary are the 18 greenwashed National MPs who met in Taupo. The ‘Bluegreens’ have grown like didymo since they formed in 1998, and now fully a third of the National caucus are paid-up members of National’s Society for the Worship of Mud Puddles, Insects and Weeds. Gary tells us the Bluegreens discussed such burning issues as the latest imaginary hobgloblin from which politicians need to save us (anthropogenic climate change) and figuring out ways to throw more money at Maori while continuing to deny them property rights (“co-governance with iwi”).
    Hey, Gary – can I make a suggestion re the Hobsonville Point development? How about using your own money for a change, you bloated bloodsucker! About time the housing industry was left to the for-profit sector. Ratepayers that want to contribute will surely buy one of the houses, if they’re that good – why force them to become property investors?

2. Paul Holmes: Key emerges as nemesis of ‘P’ – It is very disappointing to see Paul Holmes backing an escalation of the War On Pleasure. And disappointing but not surprising to see John Key sticking his oar in as well. The two of them seem to think retaining the prohibition on methamphetamine, while making it more difficult for gangs to procure the necessary substrates, will help solve the “problem” of people using methamphetamine. How naïve.
    The reason gangs are in the ‘P’ trade is because most potential competitors are scared off by the prohibited status of the drug, leaving criminals ready to reap the profits. John Key could pull the carpet out from under gangs and stop their drug revenue overnight by legalising the production, possession, use and sale of methamphetamine.
    That’s step one: taking the manufacture and sale of the drug away from gangs. A lot of harm arises in having to deal with these often unpleasant people and their less than user-friendly trading habits. There would be no more buildings damaged by the toxic chemicals used in clandestine P labs; instead, production could occur in secure, safe, commercial laboratories. With competition permitted, the price would drop; with legalisation, the illicit thrill obtained by flouting authority would disappear. With legalisation, the virulence of the drugs solid illicitly would diminish (the flip-side of Milton Friedman’s ‘Iron Law of Prohibition.’)
    The use of methamphetamine and other recreational substances would become a health issue, not a legal one. Users would be less afraid to seek help for their drug-related health problems. Everybody would win – apart from the gangs.
    Prohibition is a knee-jerk response to a perceived problem. It has never worked, never will. Sorry Paul and John, all you’re doing is helping is helping the gangs get richer with your silly posturing and power play. Destroy the gangs by getting drugs out into the open. Note how few gangs turn a dollar by selling alcohol (and how many more people kill themselves using alcohol and tobacco compared to methamphetamine – but that’s another story altogether).  

3. NZ, Australia to give Samoa $12.2m – The headline should read: NZ, Aussie taxpayers forced to hand Samoans $12.2m. Gee, that was generous of us. Can I claim this donation on my tax return? I didn’t hear John Key thanking us for our generosity. It’s like the Telethon all over again, isn’t it – John Boy basking in your forced generosity to gazump the genuine article.
   I see this money is going straight to Samoan politicians, so you can bet the bureaucrats over there will cream off their share for simply passing the money on to someone else. It’s very easy to put your hand in someone else’s pocket and give their money to someone in need. But that’s not charity. It’s theft. It’s like the Mafia taking a share of the profits of your business at the point of a gun and then building a children’s playground or a hospital with the proceeds.
    I have no qualms about people giving freely and generously when others are in need. But it is simply not the business of government to violate the rights of some for the benefit of others. Let’s face it: foreign aid should be unforced and arise from a benevolent sense of community spirit, not because you have a gun in your back and a politician’s hand in your wallet. 
    And when you know you have a politician’s hand permanently in your wallet, your own donation is going to be so much the less for the extraction of that forced emolument.

4. Taxpayer millions on tap for Maori TV rugby cover – Maori TV only obtains 4% of its revenue from the free exchange of values i.e., selling advertising to willing buyers. The other 96% it obtains by plunder – by filtering taxpayer dollars via organisations such as the Maori broadcasting agency, or by getting paid directly from the trough. So the sky is the limit in terms of how much moolah taxpayers may be told they must stump up to bankroll Maori TV’s bid for rights to broadcast the Rugby World Cup. And Sky TV will probably be what they will need in order to access televised games. Nothing like having to pay twice, is there? People uninterested in rugby will be delighted to know they are paying for others to watch the national game, and helping to boost the coffers of pay-TV operators. A good reason to rip broadcasters of all stripes off the state tit.  

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

richardmcgrath

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House #4, View Rd, Mt Eden – Organon Architecture

43A-View-Rd-05i

I like to think that houses I’ve designed are houses folk like never to leave, so I’m disappointed to say that another of my houses has been on the market.  Put on the market in September and it looks like it’s already sold – so too late for you to take advantage of an Open Home – but  photographer Brad Thom at Soul Agency kindly sent me these photos for you lot to see.

43A-View-Rd-03i

Designed and built as a spec house back in 2002 as a  neighbour to this one, this 4-bedroom steel, glass & concrete house has just 220sqm of space, cunningly arranged (he says) to feel larger. On a small site and surrounded and overlooked on three sides, it opens up to the sky, to the north and out to light, space and open landscaping.

43A-View-Rd-08i 43A-View-Rd-10i
43A-View-Rd-14i  PICT0028

Overall, it’s a bloody nice, spacious, well-built, light-filled house that anyone should be pleased with. Well,anyone with a soul.  :-)

43A-Perspective

PS: If enough of you are interested, I’ll post a floor plan once I get my main computer back from the ‘shop, where it’s been in to get fixed from its latest Windows Update.  Grrrr.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fisk fisked again over currency rumours

There’s been lots of speculation about the currency oil might be traded in at some time in the future, mostly because of a conspiratorial piece in the UK Independent that included the words “Robert” and “Fisk.”  "Ridiculous hype" Mish called it, but those stories linger nonetheless – some of them giving this as a proximate cause for the US dollar’s ongoing collapse.  In a terse assessment of the rumours, Julian Jessop at Capital Economics asks “does it matter what currency oil is traded in?”

    “We are deeply sceptical of all this [says Jessop and his team]. The report was written by a veteran Middle East political correspondent who does not usually comment on economics or markets issues. [In other words: he’s a fruitcake.] The report cited anonymous “Arab sources” and “Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong”, but has since been widely denied. Nonetheless, there has been talk for many years of re-pricing oil in other currencies, so this is a good opportunity to revisit the fundamental points.
• First, moves to price oil in some unit other than the dollar would, on their own, have no direct effect on the value of the US currency. Suppose, for example, that oil were priced in euros but payment continued to be accepted in dollars. An oil consumer who preferred to pay in dollars would simply convert the euro price into dollars and transfer the relevant dollar amount to the producer.
• Indeed, if oil were re-priced into a basket of currencies, it would make no commercial sense for producers to insist on payment in several different currencies and decline to accept one payment in dollars (at the prevailing market exchange rates). Similarly, if gold were somehow involved in the pricing of oil, it is inconceivable that purchasers would actually require payment in precious metal. Again, purchasers would simply covert the gold price into dollars and pay in dollars…
• …[any] decision to re-price oil would be a consequence of other factors that have undermined confidence in the dollar, such as worries about inflation or the fiscal position, rather than a cause of weakness on its own. Indeed, a rebalancing of reserves away from the dollar would still happen under these circumstances even if oil itself continued to be traded in dollars.
• Note finally that even if the report in The Independent was spot on, it would still be many years before the dollar is replaced in oil trading. In the meantime, there is ample opportunity for fundamentals to change and sentiment to swing back again in favour of the US currency. Talk of moving away from the dollar in oil trading is therefore a sideshow compared to the far bigger issues driving currency markets.”

And those “far bigger issues” are, let’s be clear, very big indeed. Projections by the US Office of Management and Budget, for example, “imply that the US will run deficits equal to 43.3% and 39.9% of expenditures in 2009 and 2010, respectively. To put it simply, roughly 40% of what [the US] government is spending has to be borrowed…”

That after-effect of stimulunacy has serious historical hyperinflationary implications. How serious?

“There have been 28 episodes of hyperinflation of national economies in the 20th century, with 20 occurring after 1980… [T]he 12 largest episodes of hyperinflations … were caused by financing huge public budget deficits through money creation … the tipping point for hyperinflation occurs when the government's deficit exceed 40% of its expenditures…

If you’re wondering why the dollar is collapsing, you don’t need to look for rumours to explain it.  Just look at what’s happening right in front of your eyes.

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Quote of the day: Abe Lincoln on facts

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
…………………………………………………………. – Abraham Lincoln

Not sure luminaries like James Hansen or Stephen Schneider or Jim Salinger or The ‘I-won’t-debate-with-you’ Goracle agree with old Abe.  Must be a generational thing. (Gore still won’t debate by the way, but he will sometimes answer questions – but only if the audience is tame.  Or tamed.)

Hey, what’s a little “emphasis on extreme scenarios” between friends, eh?  It’s all necessary to push that old carbon taxing barrow, right.

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Local politician getting international praise – and he deserves it!

saving-globalization-book Another day, another great local read to recommend – and by a former Prime Minister, no less:  Saving Globalization, by Mike Moore. From the book’s introduction:

    “Globalization is not new, nor is it a policy, it’s a process that has existed as long as man looked over the horizon, travelled and traded…
    “Extreme inequality, corruption and environmental degradation threaten the stability and legitimacy of many developing countries’ regimes.  Anti-globalization and anti-capitalist campaigners’ confidence has been emboldened due to the present economic crisis.  Protectionist rhetoric is growing as are the arguments to control and regulate markets.  Leaders are meeting to discuss how to face these problems and create a new international architecture.  How did we get to this position? What should we do?  What is it that determines why some contemporary states are successful while others have failed?
    “Saving Globalization … answers these question by tracing the development of what Moore considers to be ‘the big ideas of history’: democracy, independent courts, the separation of church and state, property rights, independent courts, a professional civil service, and civil society…”

You can read glowing reviews of the book by clicking this link -- reviews by everyone from Madeleine Albright to Vaclav Havel to Bob Hawke to FT associate editor Martin Wolf. And for the next seven days you can listen to Moore being interviewed on Leighton Smith’s show at this link. Interview starts around 12 minutes in.

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Thought for the day:

From Home Paddock:

    “We keep being told the Accident Compensation Corporation is the world’s best no-fault accident insurance scheme.
    “If a scheme which has a $12.8 billion gap between its net assets and claim liabilities is the best, what would the worst be like?”

Fair question.  Good thought. No answer, is there. And on a related note, from Liberty Scott:

    Privatisation. If Gordon can do it, why can't John?

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Your ‘right’ to free rugby [updated]

Okay, let's do a quick exercise.  Grab yourself a paper and pen, and write down all the useful things on which the Ministry of Maori Affairs, aka Te Puni Kokiri, spends around $200 million of your money.

Finished?  Now, let’s compare notes.  Does your list look anything like mine:

  1. vaev
  2. vesvb
  3. bsreb
  4. brb
  5. br

So given what it does waste your money on, isn’t it better that it spends $3 million of your money on something you’d actually like to watch, like the Rugby World Cup on Maori TV, instead of what it might otherwise waste your money on?

Frankly, I’d be more interested in people whinging about that money being spent to show the World Cup if I heard them complaining about all such taxpayer-funded wastage. Like Te Puni Kokiri itself.  Or taxpayer-funded broadcasting.

And I’d be more interested in their complaining about their “right” to watch the World Cup on free-air TV if they were more interested in the actual right here: of taxpayers to keep their own money.  Which is the point my colleague Mr Watkins makes at his SunLive blog today:

    “John Key said that Te Puni Kokiri are allowed to spend my money on a broadcasting rights bid. According to this, whether you and I like rugby or not, I and you have to pay for it anyway.
    “Worse than that though is what Key thinks constitutes a ‘right.’ Says that nice Mr Key, ‘It is our view that every Kiwi has a right to watch the main games of the Rugby World Cup for free.’ WTF?!? A ‘right’ to free rugby on T.V.!  What Key forgot to mention is that in waving his ‘rights-wand’ and bestowing rights on people to watch rugby for free, he has to breach other people’s real right to keep their own hard-earned money; but hey what’s the right to property in comparison to a game of kick & clap eh...do we get free beer too?”

Taking your money to pay for something you wouldn’t pay for voluntarily is wrong. And it’s pretty damn clear you wouldn’t spend your money on this so-called “right,” since the government has to take your money by force to make you pony up for it.

But how does it make any difference down which particular state-funded black hole it’s poured?  TVNZ and TV3 show programmes funded by your taxes. Maori TV is funded by your taxes.  Why complain about one but not the other?

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LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Small fashion in an adult world

Susan Ryder says large fashions are now challenging small lives.

susanryder GOING TO THE MOVIES is one of my favourite things to do, so ‘Fashion Month’ seemed an appropriate time to see the acclaimed documentary The September Issue: Anna Wintour & the Making of Choice.

September is the most important month in northern hemisphere couture. The autumn/winter collections are presented with great fanfare in the fashion capitals of New York, London, Paris and Milan. Designers clamour to have their styles featured in the publications that matter – and with haute couture, there is little more important than Vogue and its legendary editor, Anna Wintour.

The September Issue captures the frenetic months that precede the release of September’s Vogue and the creative and marketing machine rolled out to sell it. Global fashion is a $300 billion industry, a world where supermodels are international celebrities, and celebrities from the fields of entertainment and sport vie with the supermodels to grace magazine covers. It is glamorous, expensive and exclusive.

It is an adult world however, that is impacting upon children and childhood.

Once upon a time there was a clear delineation between childhood and adulthood. A child was “a child” until the day she reached adulthood. The term “teenager” never evolved until the earlier 20th century, when greater wealth removed the majority of ”teens” from the workforce, and became more widely used from the late 1940s in connection with the invention of demographics by advertisers.

In little more than 30 years, New Zealand homes have advanced from accessing one state-owned television channel and a handful of radio stations to an unlimited range of global news, sport and entertainment via cable television and the internet. Access is cheap and plentiful, providing product to satisfy all tastes. It is an electronic wonderland.

Being neither a Luddite nor someone who is fearful of technology, I love the freedom it offers the individual.

But not all of what is freely available is suitable for children. Children aren’t yet adults; they need  parental protection until such time as they are – including parental protection from all the adult material that abounds in today’s entertainment and fashion worlds.

And what material! Music clips on television and the internet feature explicit material from wafer-thin, scantily-dressed young women targeting teen markets, and younger. A recent offering from singer Britney Spears is entitled If You Seek Amy, the title of which you probably shouldn’t dwell upon for too long, but it’s not about looking for her. And there is now a newly created market to exploit: ‘Tweens’, a term to describe pre-pubescent kids between childhood and teenage years, i.e., ages 9-12. Nine, apparently, is now too old to just be playing with dolls and dominoes.

So what of the impact upon children? From a fashion perspective, the obsession with body image, particularly for girls, has been documented for decades. According to a 2008 Channel 4 production*, some 80% of UK 11-14 year olds routinely worry about their weight. But in the last couple of years,
British health professionals have noticed a shocking rise in the number of 8-10 year olds developing anorexia nervosa, with a staggering three-quarters of British seven-year-olds wanting to be thinner, and girls as young as five talking disparagingly of their bodies.

Rhodes Farm is a specialist treatment facility in England for eating disorders whose founder, Dr Dee Dawson, believes that children are increasingly being robbed of their childhood – and that fashion magazines contribute to the pressure for children to grow up years before their time. She is also critical of the nutritional promotion of low-fat diets and the advice to avoid “evil fats.”

It would seem that in their determination to battle obesity, health authorities are inadvertently creating other problems in the form of eating disorders. It is reasonable to assume similar outcomes in other western countries.

And then there’s technology, the sole television in the corner of the living room that once entertained the family en masse  has been replaced by multiple televisions and personal computers rendering parental guidance a difficult task. While there is technology available to limit child internet access, the worlds of television programming and advertising are largely run by young adults who enjoy pushing boundaries. Fair enough, but what can a parent do who doesn’t approve of material screened during children’s viewing hours?

The simple answer is to turn all the televisions and computers off , but that doesn’t solve the issue of patently irresponsible programming and advertising scheduling. If we were able to individually pick and choose our television programming as we pick and choose our reading material, family-friendly channels featuring appropriate advertising would evolve to meet the demand. Similarly, other channels would accommodate the adult market with neither dictating to the other, “self-censorship” always preferable to any imposed alternative. Unfortunately, the state’s one-size-fits-all approach to broadcasting serves only to impose, at public expense, its programming and advertising standards upon everyone while being accountable to no-one and lowering the bar for all, as per the current situation.

The moral of the story is simple: The printed material in your home is there of your volition; you chose it. But when you don’t pay for something yourself -- when it’s foisted upon you, like it or not –then  you lose the right to determine that personal choice.

Meanwhile your children remain vulnerable, exposed to material beyond their years, which is perhaps how a leading local kids’ clothing chain came to market minuscule bras for 8 year olds with nothing to put in them. I’ve seen bigger band-aids.

Best leave lingerie to its real market and allow little girls to worry about nothing more than their next spelling test, eh?

*Real Life episode: ‘Dana: Story of an 8 year old Anorexic.’

* * Read Susan Ryder’s regular column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *
* * This column first appeared in the Franklin E-Local newspaper * *

Archilocus, on drinking

When university philosophy professors start posting poetry, your first reaction is going to be to turn off, right? And when it’s antique poetry, from over two-and-a-half-thousand years ago, you’re gonna turn off real quick, right?

Wrong. Stephen Hicks has posted a series of poems by a Greek called Archilocus that add a huge store to the world’s sum total of human happiness. Hicks explains that in some respects Archilocus is “the anti-Homer poet. While Homer’s subjects are gods and heroes, Archilochus writes of drunkenness, running away to live and perhaps fight another day, the common man with his feet planted firmly on the ground — and, occasionally of sweet love.”

So here’s Archilocus On drinking:

And I know how to lead off
The sprightly dance
Of the Lord Dionysus,
The dithyramb.

I do it thunderstruck
With wine.

And here he is again:

Kindly pass the cup down the deck
And keep it coming from the barrel,
Good red wine, and don’t stir up the dregs,
And don’t think why we shouldn’t be,
More than any other, drunk on guard duty.

Before you pass that cup down from the deck, check out some of Archilocus’ other gems.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Beer news: Quality will out

New economic realities and improving beer quality have between them signalled a change a in beer consumption that’s worth noting:

  1. DB head managing director Brian Blake estimated overall beer consumption declined 4-5% in the year to September, compared with the previous year.
    "It's been a huge category shift and I've never seen that sort of momentum before in the market," Blake said
  2. On the other hand, the Real Beer Blog reports the Brewers Guild of New Zealand has done a craft beer survey showing that for the first six months of the year craft beer bottled sales  increase 10%.

Sure, the craft beer market represents only around two percent or so of the total beer market, so that ten percent growth is from a small base, but d’you think there’s a message there for the Brian Blakes of the world?

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(Large) quote of the day: On the causes of the financial crisis and the dangers of increased regulation

Hat tip to Thrutch for spotting this article the Financial Post on the causes of the financial crisis and the dangers of increased regulation – and “how regulation forces homogeneity and therefore susceptibility to the same risks”:

    “IT IS A FUNDAMENTAL misunderstanding that the market is rational and at some sort of equilibrium, where all information and wisdom are incorporated in decisions. Neoclassical economic models filled with unrealistic assumptions about humans and the economy should always have warning stickers attached to them. The market is nothing other than all the millions of decisions that we all take as we produce, act and invest -- and the tiniest bit of introspection is enough to realize that we do not behave like the textbook models. Since finding lots of information before acting takes time and costs money, we often go with our gut, following rules of thumb and copying what others have already done. That is why the market has a herd instinct. When others seem to be successful at something and get rich on it, you follow suit. After a while, the hollowness of the enthusiasm becomes apparent, and then it often changes into overblown fear that soon ushers in recession.
    “A key lesson to be drawn from such events, however, is that borrowers, lenders, bankers and brokers are not the only ones to be affected. Politicians, bureaucrats and central bankers are at least as likely to succumb to the herd instinct -- and they have special power. If you act in a different way from what they have approved, they may take your money or even send you off to jail. This gives them the ability to head the march of the lemmings and set its pace.”

Discuss.

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“Key tackles ‘G’ “

After announcing his new plan to increase gang’s profits and make things harder for people who have colds, John Boy has now announced a War on Another Letter of the Alphabet.  Lindsay Perigo has the whole speech:

“Thank you for being here.
    “Let me acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues.  Let me also acknowledge our serving police officers, customs officers, treatment providers, community workers, volunteers, that ghastly attention-whore, grandstander and failed father Paul Holmes, and all of you who pretend to care deeply about New Zealand.
    “It is my privilege to regularly meet with groups like this one to celebrate some of the success stories of our country.
    “Today my speech has a different purpose.  I want to talk about a problem that is wrecking lives, wrecking families and fuelling crime.
    “I’m here to speak about “G”. . . “

Read on here.

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Local historian getting international praise

51WgBt4JbEL._SL500_AA240_ Local historian James Belich earns plaudits from Tyler Cowen, who calls Belich’s new book Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939 “one of the very best non-fiction books of the year.”

And that in a year when Thomas Wood’s Meltdown successfully explains the single most important event of the year: the meltdown of the world’s economies.

So that’s high praise indeed.

In a world of navel-gazing about minutiae, Belich seeks to explain “the explosive historical process that now sees English as one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.”  Not a simple task. Canadian historian Andrew Smith says,

    “Rather than writing to condemn or celebrate Anglo-Saxon expansion, [Belich] simply wants to explain why it took place. In particular, Belich seeks to explain why it was English-speaking people and not, say the French or the Spanish or the Chinese, who were able to colonize North America and Australasia and thus become the dominant culture on the planet.”

Looks like you should file it along with Paul Moon’s work as books by local historians that are worth checking out.

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“What happened to global warming?”

“What happened to global warming?” asks … guess who … the BBC.

 What happened to global warming?.
    “This headline may come as a bit of a surprise [says the BBC’s climate correspondent Paul Hudson], so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.
    “But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
    “And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

Bet you never thought you’d hear any of those those words from the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation. [Hat tip Climate Debate Daily]  Is this the start of a media tipping point?

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Your wallet is about to be picked

This current National-led Government doesn’t even have the cojones of the last. Faced with what Nick Smith says is an unaffordable $9 billion hike  in ACC liabilities, what’s being proposed is not privatisation – these timid puppies would sooner neuter themselves than show balls like that – it’s not putting an end to or even limiting the nonsensical “no-fault” scheme on which ACC is based – too big a football, that one, for these bozos to kick -- and it’s not even as simple as what the last National-led Government did: to free up competition in the accident insurance market, a move that in the all-too-brief time it lasted saved businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So if Rod Oram’s right  (which would be a first) that Nick Smith is simply lying about the numbers here, then the whispers that ACC levies, petrol prices & car rego prices are going to be hiked to the moon to cover them can be seen as just a move by the Blue Team to raise taxes by stealth.

Remember taxes?  Those things they once promised to cut?  They never meant it, did they – just as they’re not being up front here.

Either ACC is stuffed, as Nick Smith says, in which case the whole system needs to be seriously re-jigged.  Or it’s simply a ruse, as Rod Oram says, to allow these pricks to put their hand even deeper into your pocket. 

Which means they either lack courage, or they’re short on honesty.

And which ever it is, they’re now going to pick your pocket: and it’s this lying cheat that’s going to do it for them: 

Think about him every time you fill up your car.

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