Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blunt on Goff’s Renal Failure

Renal-Failure

Friday, October 14, 2011

More updates from Papamoa, from our correspondent Jonathan Livingston

Jonathan Livingston reports from his eyrie above Papamoa Beach.

UPDATE, 9:19am, 14 October

A report on Newstalk ZB just moments ago appeared to claim that the beaches at Papamoa are now clean due to the manual clean-up. Bravo, well done boys, etc.

I observed the beach near me from one day to the next, where no manual cleaning had been conducted, and it too had been mostly cleared of oil globules during the tidal cycle.

The notion that the only way the oil can go is to be manually removed by humans reminds me of the absurd notion being (successfully) promulgated by the greenies that trees must be planted by humans before they can grow.

The blobs of oil will break down naturally, the same way each grain of sand came from a larger rock, and end up constituting an even lesser proportion in parts per million in the sea water than , say, radioactive uranium.

UPDATE, 7:18pm, 13 October:

I went all down the beach today. SO FAR it is pretty minimal, at the Mount you wouldn't know anything had happened, except from a few beached containers (being guarded), and one little enclave of oil eddying around near the Papamoa Surf Club. It doesn't extend far in either direction (so far), and could be cleaned up by a front end loader with a skilled operator in a few hours. Still haven't figured why it is being done by hand!

Oh, and that little micro-pocket of oil is where all the media shots are being taken of course.

My theory was that this stuff will ultimately be washed away and go somewhere else, like North Korea for example. Westerlies are  now coming in over the next couple of days, so may have to make that Venezuela, not North Korea…

Tupperwaka: Too much hooey, bit late with the do-ey

I’m certainly not the only one to be, um, disappointed about the $2m of taxpayers’ money spent on the Tupperwaka to “showcase” Ngati Whatua culture to Rugby World Cup visitors.

At least, that was how it was sold to the politicians giving away our money.

I heard a Tupperwaka spokesman crowing that with the Tupperwaka open they could now “showcase their culture to the world.” Mate, I thought, the world’s gone home. They’ve been and gone. They came, they looked around, and now most have toddled off home. If you built this for the World Cup, for the six weeks and twenty teams and supporters who were here, then it’s a bit late isn’t it, with just eleven days and only four teams left.

Altogether too late.

Mind you, perhaps it wasn’t truly intended as a “showcase” at all. Maybe it was only intended to give piles of money to a few chosen members of the Browntable (you think?), in which case it has already been a success.  For the recipients of our largesse, at least.

And if they’d truly intended to showcase their culture to the world, then I fear—with this whole shambles—that they have.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things are Interesting Down Here at Papamoa, and other thoughts of Jonathan Livingston [update 3]

A guest post from our correspondent Jonathan Livingston, a common-sense kind of gull who perches in an eyrie overlooking Papamoa Beach.

I see signs are going up down at the Mount, and volunteer beach oil cleaners have been advised they need to do a course before they can help - apparently clean-up volunteers must "register." The claim about the so-called “toxicity” of the oil clumps coming ashore is, I suspect, just spin to justify control.

An engineer colleague tells me from his fuel oil manual it is no more toxic than tar-seal.  Maybe just a few more base metals in it than more refined oil.

The main difference between this “bunker oil” and crude, I'm told, is that crude floats. So this stuff will just go all through the ocean. My theory is that it will ultimately go somewhere else, like North Korea for example, so I am not going to worry unduly about removing the tiny little bit on my beach as I’d be surprised if it didn’t wash away in the next storm and join the rest of it.

As for the "toxic" container, try googling ferrosilicon. Doesn't look too bad to me, but the the entire beach from the Mount to Maketu is now been pronounced off-limits on account of it. Nobody knows where it is, and it is claimed that it can’t readily be identified—which is awfully convenient for the clipboard wielders. (I wonder though how they deliver these containers to their respective consignees if they cannot be identified?)

H L Mencken would probably have been able to say something about all this, but hey, he's just a silly conspiracist, right?

Interesting too to hear Leighton Smith interview the salvor spokesman this morning, who I understand was claiming to be an “expert.” Leighton asked him why the ship could not be torched. The way I heard it, the spokesman was pretty much flummoxed, lost for words, and couldn't give any answer other than to mumble something about not knowing if that was an option.

It is surely surprising the expert spokesman couldn't explain why burning is not an option (it may well not be, I don’t know). Perhaps the answer was so obvious, the notion so absurd, that the spokesman didn't need to answer the question. Leighton mentioned that someone out of the thousands of experts now in on it would have suggested it had it been an option.

As far as the oil around my own nest, there is less there this morning, most of it having washed away to North Korea over the last tidal cycle.

Cheers
Jonathan Livingston

UPDATE 1:  More from Jonathan:

I went all down the beach today. SO FAR it is pretty minimal, at the Mount you wouldn't know anything had happened, except from a few beached containers (being guarded), and one little enclave of oil eddying around near the Papamoa Surf Club. It doesn't extend far in either direction (so far), and could be cleaned up by a front end loader with a skilled operator in a few hours. Still haven't figured why it is being done by hand!

Oh, and that little micro-pocket of oil is where all the media shots are being taken of course.

Westerlies coming in over the next couple of days, so may have to make that Venezuela, not North Korea…

UPDATE 2From NewstalkZB: “…there are more details of the hazardous goods container - one of 88 which fell overboard.  Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman, Sophie Hazlehurst says it's not ferrous-silicon as first thought - but another dangerous liquid which is water soluble and not expected to cause a significant health risk at this stage.”

UPDATE 3:  And in related news:

There's a sliver of good news from the salvage crew that's been all day on the Rena, after being winched aboard this morning.
Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman, Sophie Hazlehurst says their first job was to see if they could get the power going and she understands they can.
Their next step is to heat the custard-thick fuel so it thins enough to pump.

Only just now getting the power going, and the fuel-oil heaters going? You’d wonder if perhaps the right decision might have been to allow the crew to sort that out first, and deal with the arrests later. Or, perhaps, were they just arrested to proffer the illusion the government is in charge?

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Exiting the Parliamentary Trough

_richardmcgrathYour weekly prescription of headline dissection from Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath.

This week, Exiting the Parliamentary Trough

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Parliament has finally risen. And if Mark Twain is correct, that should mean our lives, liberties and personal property should be safe again for a month or two.

Fat chance.

Nonetheless, the end of this parliamentary term has seen several MPs disengage themselves themselves from the trough from which they have gorged themselves these past three years. Some have been feeding from it for two-score years or more. Others have stayed just long enough to qualify for the parliamentary pension. I can't remember what the rules around that are now—perhaps the perks are not quite as gold-plated as they used to be, although subsidised air travel appears to remain on the list.

One of the troughers finally extricating himself after years on the State tit is Rodney Hide, the perk-buster come perk-luster who shouted his girlfriend an overseas trip paid for by the sweat of others ("But I was entitled!" he squealed, paying up only once he was found out). Another is Roger Douglas, who by my reckoning has chalked up twenty-seven years warming a seat in the debating chamber; he made himself famous in his first terms as a Labour Finance Minister prepared to challenge and then rescue the country from the totalitarian tendencies of Robert Muldoon; he  made himself famous in this one by being prepared to have the taxpayer pay for his books and his  trips to his granddaughter's wedding in the UK. ("But I was entitled!" he squealed, refusing to pay up at all.)

Other parasites—cockroaches like Trevor Mallard and Murray McCully spring immediately to mind—hang on like the leeches they inevitably become, addicted to the OPiuM of the masses (Other People's Money) and the power plays of the Parliamentary precinct.

Those of us who have to pick up the tab for the circus that is Parliament, for the time-wasting, filibustering attempts to justify a salary that is several times the minimum wage, and the TV channel that broadcasts the heavily censored antics of these goons into our living room (the cameras are not allowed to capture MPs sleeping, reading newspapers or picking their noses, and newspapers may not—on penalty of being banned—republish photos of any action that might occasionally happen in the chamber) often become somewhat irritated by the overinflated sense of importance that MPs exhibit and their insatiable lust for unearned reward. Unearned, because none of them produce a damned thing. They can only either inhibit or destroy.

The best thing they could do would be to get out of the way. Let people work hard, and desist from stealing the fruit of their labour. Go on indefinite gardening leave, for example, as PC has suggested most 'public servants' do. But no, they insist on making more and more laws to regulate and micromanage our lives, as if that somehow justifies their bloated salaries.

Until they see the light and start pulling their heads in voluntarily (fat chance), I propose a radical reform of the system of remuneration and the trappings associated with being an MP. This would involve pulling ALL current MPs off Nanny's nipple and sending them back from boarding school to their parents with a note from Matron. That note would essentially say that the golden days of living off the taxpayer forever are over, From now on, MPs would have to be funded by their own political parties.

Yes, let the National Party set John Key's salary, and that of his Labour-Lite colleagues. And let the members of the National Party raise the funds to pay that salary. Likewise let the Labour Party pay its own MPs—that should be a relatively cheap exercise for the next 3 years at least.

Radical? Hell, yes. It would probably mean National seeking funding from corporate sources and Labour competing with other left-wing parties for union funds. But it would mean political parties were actually bankrolled by the people that support them instead of holding a gun to heads of productive people and forcing them to cough up their hard-earned pennies to pay delinquent parasites whose principles and policies are often diametrically opposed to their own personal beliefs.

Speaking for myself and my own pocketbook, I personally resent having to pay a Prime Minister who is a liar and his sidekick the Dipton Double-dipper—happy, both of them, to consign our children to a burden of crushing debt, the inevitable consequence of which which will be default and further credit downgrade.

Make all political parties responsible for paying their MPs whatever they want, and arranging their pensions and perks. You can bet there wouldn't be the same golden shower of pay and perks these jobsworths enjoy at the moment at our expense.

Hell, some of them might be forced to find productive work! 

And yes, fat chance of that as well.

See you next week!
Doc McGrath

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Class warfare hits the U.S. streets

Last night the #OccupyWallStreet movement #OccupiedBoston, much to the consternation of the Boston police.

Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute joins the crew at PJTV to discuss the good and bad about the grassroots protests:

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Time to go

Another picture doing the rounds…

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It’s a disaster [updated]

There’s no way around it: the ship breaking up and spewing fuel oil off Papamoa is a disaster.

A disaster for the beach, the wildlife, the home-owners and beach regulars (of which I’ve been one), for Tauranga harbour, for the shipping industry—and, one would hope, for the ship’s owners, helmsmen and navigators.

Since the ship’s stranding, the weather has hardly helped the salvage. But given how much interest there is in cleaning up the spill, is there a reason there aren’t waves of volunteers out there on the beaches helping clean up? There are stories about that folks being banned from doing any clean up by busybodies more interested in waving clipboards than cleaning up.  (Just like happened in Christchurch after the shakes, eh. Seems to be the knee-jerk response to disaster by “the authorities” these days: to spout about how they’re “in charge” while demonstrating precisely the opposite.)

And make no mistake, it’s a disaster too for any large-scale oil industry that might—or, now, might not—ever appear off the East Coast. Eric Crampton says, and I agree with him, “The Greens are largely right on this one.”

There's little chance of public support for substantial offshore drilling if a minor freighter crash leads to locals having to clean up the mess [or being barred from doing so]. The exploration companies ought to pull out something credible demonstrating either capacity to contain a spill or financial capacity to pay for a clean-up should a spill eventuate.

Yes, they should.  And yes, it’s true that the Gulf of Mexico spill appears to have cleaned itself up very quickly, and was eventually good for fish stocks rather than bad.

But the circumstances here aren’t quite the same (the naturally occurring microbes that happily clean up crude oil, for example, don’t do the same job  for fuel oil) and there’s been far too many recent cases of companies expecting to privatise profits and socialise their losses.

Time for one of them to step up now, or (deservedly) forever hold their peace.

So what do you think?

UPDATE: It would a disaster compounded if the justified anger at what appears to be rank sea-going incompetence were to spill over into anti-corporation anti-industrialism. A letter by Don Boudreaux at the time of BP’s blunder in the Gulf of Mexico oil makes the pertinent points:

During today’s 1:00pm hour you played a clip of a listener who is “livid that Americans aren’t up in arms against the devastation that corporations inflict” on us.  This gentleman’s anger was sparked by the BP oil spill.
    I have little sympathy for BP, it being a firm that has often feasted at government troughs.  But some perspective is now very much needed on the costs and benefits of corporations.
    Consider that the latest estimated cost of the BP spill is $33 billion.  That’s a lot of money, to be sure.  But this sum pales in comparison to the amount of money that Wal-Mart’s retailing efficiencies are estimated to save consumers each year: $200 billion.*
    Oil spills are compellingly photographable – and, hence, attention-getting and emotion-stirring.  In contrast, lower prices for – which, by the way, mean fewer resources used to bring to market – clothing, children’s toys, digital cameras, camping equipment, kitchen appliances, groceries, and other goods that we routinely enjoy are not photographable in any compelling way.  The result is that the social benefits of corporate innovations and competition are easily overlooked, ignored, taken for granted, forgotten.  But these benefits are enormous.  And any assessment of the worthiness of corporations in modern life had best take them into accurate account lest we adopt policies that make us all poor and miserable.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Production versus Consumption ... and more [updated]

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Our friends at the UoA Economics Group just sent me through their update on tonight’s meeting:

Hello all,

“Progress is movement in the direction of a higher, better and more desirable state of affairs.” Growth? Not so much. Join us tonight as we discuss the difference between progress and growth, wealth and production, productive consumption and UNproductive consumption.

It will help us next week when we discuss the GDP Delusion—the idea that GDP measures production, and not something else that’s almost the opposite.

    Time: 6:00pm
    Date: Tuesday, 11 October
    Location: Case Room 1, Level 0, University of Auckland Business School

Look forward to seeing you there.

UPDATE:  Here’s some notes and images used last night (my source for the images is Mark Skousens’s book Structure of Production):

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StagesOfProduction

And here’s the slides showing all those definitions we discussed. Hope you find them useful:

SLIDES-Production Versus Consumption

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John Key lies [updated]

Two years ago, if you believed the Key Government, the biggest problem facing Bill’s First Budget was whether or not he could somehow forestall a credit downgrade. Government cheerleaders cheered when our hero pulled it off.

Not so much today.  Those cheerleaders are resolutely silent.

And the talk elsewhere now is not about last week’s downgrade—due in part to “increased spending by the government”—but about John Key’s lies about it.  About the lie he told parliament after last weeks’ downgrade that an even bigger downgrade would have happened under a Labour Government—and he knew this (he says) because Standard and Poors told him.

 Bullshit, says Standard and Poors. They aren’t now, never have been and never will be so partisan—and, frankly, any former manager of Merrill Lynch knows that as a fact you can take to the bank, whatever he now says he heard second-hand from whichever ill-tamed unnamed source.

He lied. Perhaps to take attention from the downgrade itself. But he lied.

He can’t help himself.  It just comes naturally.

He lied to you about tax cuts. Before the last election he promised “a tax cut programme [fully costed and funded] that will not require any additional borrowing” – a “pledge to deliver about $50 a week to workers on the average age.” It was a lie. As their borrowing grew, their tax cuts fizzled, spluttered, then died in a political sleight of hand: a small cut with one hand, a larger rise with the other. (And no fear saying Smile and Wave never saw the collapse coming.  You don’t think a former Merrill Lynch manager would have noticed when Merrill Lynch went under?)

He lied about it, and you bought it.

And how about this boast of his in parliament a couple of weeks ago, boasting about “his” achievements as Prime Minister:

We have grown for eight of the last nine quarters, we will be back in surplus by 2014-15, our debt is one quarter of the OECD average, we have interest rates at a 45-year low, unemployment is starting to fall, we have created 45,000 jobs, … we are likely to create 170,000 jobs in the next 4 years, we have reformed the Resource Management Act, and, by the way, we are on track to win the Rugby World Cup.

More lies.  More bullshit. More hyperbolic nonsense.

  • “We have grown for eight of the last nine quarters…” Any “growth” has only been in inflated figures—and even those show any “growth” as virtually a statistical anomaly. The claim is a nonsense.
  • “…we will be back in surplus by 2014-15…” Any “surplus” expected in 2014-15 is expected only by Treasury, and only on their delusions of world economic recovery and local economic “growth” of over three percent a year for the next several years. Do you see any of that coming? The claim is a fiction.
  • “…our debt is one quarter of the OECD average…”   Government debt is now $28.5 billion and growing, thanks solely to Bill English’s continued over-spending.  This rapid and worrying rise in government debt was cited by both Fitch and Standard and Poors in their downgrade. Moreover, the OECD includes the UK, USA, Japan, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece … being just “average” in this company would be a very disturbing place to be indeed. The claim is irrelevant, at best.
  • “…we have interest rates at a 45-year low…” Interest rates have been set at a 45-year low by every central bank in the world because the world is in the middle of a 75-year historical world financial crisis, brought about by those same central banks. This is not an achievement, it is an admission. Of failure.
  • “…unemployment is starting to fall…” Really? Since the official unemployment rate rocketed up to between six and seven percent, virtually doubling under his Premiership, the adult rate has remained virtually static—figures helped, perhaps, by the more than 100,000 New Zealanders who left under his watch for Australia, with the rate of departure increasing in recent months. Meanwhile, a quarter of young people are now out of work and likely to remain so for some time, and nearly one-third of a million New Zealanders have been on a benefit for nine out the last nine quarters, with no sign of that falling either. Key’s claim is a joke. A disgraceful joke.
  • “…we have created 45,000 jobs…”  There were just over 2.2 million New Zealanders in work when the Key G0vernment came to office. There are now just over 2.2 million New Zealanders in work. 2.2 million minus 2.2 million equals …
  • “…we are likely to create 170,000 jobs in the next 4 years…”  More flatulent fiction.
  • “…we have reformed the Resource Management Act…”  The Act was “reformed” not to free up land to help make housing more affordable, nor to give power and property rights back to property owners, but to give more power to planners and make life easier for the government’s road-building machine. In other words, not to help you or I, but themselves. The claim is a lie.
  • “…we are on track to win the Rugby World Cup…” We? Is he next in line behind Stephen Donald?

His boasting is a litany of orchestrated ooze.

The fact is John Key lies.  He twists. He wriggles.

He’s a flake and a faker.

Why does he lie? Simple answer: if reality is only your side then there’s no need to fake it.

You only need to lie when reality is not going your way.

And once you start lying, there’s no way again that anyone else can trust you.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, Steven Joyce lies too. [Don’t just trust Gareth, you can check the logs.]

Q: So how can you tell when a politician is lying.
A: Their lips are moving.

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“Down with evil corporations!” [update 2]

An image doing the rounds which hardly needs any further comment.

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It is truly the Gimme Generation.

[HT Jeffrey Tucker]

UPDATE 1Pictures here from the Philadephia “Occupy Wall Street” protest, needing virtually no comment either.

UPDATE 2: Commentary coming, nonetheless, as the American left begins to embrace the Occupy Wall Street movement as its Anti-Capitatalist Moment.

    The politics of the Occupy Wall Street moment are deadly poisonous [says Steven Kates] but potentially as effective as any political scam in history. The Republicans may have shoveled an insane amount of money into the banks in 2008 but the Democrats are taking that money back with interest by painting those self same banks as the blackest of villains from
whom Americans can only be saved by voting Democrat.
    And the thing about banks is that there is not a citizen in a hundred who could tell you what the banks do. I have an
article up on Quadrant Online where I try to explain at least some of it. How much even bankers understand their role in a market system you may have to wonder..
    The speed of descent into a socialised economic mess is astounding. That 60s generation I am part of has completed its march through the institutions and the result is devastation, morally and intellectually, to go along with the economic wreckage they have left behind for which only worse is to come.

Nonetheless, there is hope from some of today’s generation:

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Worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever”–Governor [updated]

The Governor of the Bank of England says the world is facing the worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever.” A crisis, he says, calling for more printing of more paper money to buy more government bonds.

So he’s got things half right.

The worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s (“if not ever”) is not a crisis of capitalism, says Detlev Schlicter. It is “the second crisis of socialism.” And printing more bits of fiat money, more bits of coloured paper, won’t solve it.

UPDATE:  “Why does the behavior of the Greek government have anything to do with taxpayers in Germany? Why did the original Maastricht Treaty have rules about fiscal policy as part of the criteria for monetary union? The answer is that the euro is a fiat currency… Germany, Slovakia, and the other frugal countries were only in this mess because the euro was a fiat currency. Had it been backed 100 percent by a commodity such as gold, then the Greek government's debts would be irrelevant to outsiders.” – Robert Murphy, “Fiat Money and the Euro Crisis

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Cool stairs

There’s more than one way to build a staircase—not that our local regulators would know about that. (Their motto: “One way and one way only. And do as you’re told.)  Anyway, the Curbly blog has what it calls “ten architecturally wondrous staircases,” only a few of which quite meet the description (though they’re pretty cool) and only three of which would be legal in New Zealand. Possibly.

Here’s my favourite few, with a couple of other additions:

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More stairs at StairPorn.Org.

PS: Can you pick which one was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?

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Monday, October 10, 2011

The battle of the coaches [updated]

After a great weekend of rugby action, what has emerged as the remaining four contenders for World Cup glory are four teams, three of which are coached by New Zealanders.

Henry v Deans v Gatland.

May the best coach win?

UPDATE: I hereby and most humbly apologise for making an idle Stephen Donald reference last week.

I should have touched wood.

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