Thursday, August 27, 2009

We own the news

Teddy Kennedy's dead. On the other hand, I've bought a new couch that I'm enjoying. Enormously.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Yuletide Thought

A marvellous letter to USA Today written by Cafe Hayek contributor, Don Boudreaux:

Even more predictable than the post-Thanksgiving appearance of shopping-mall Santas is the inability of pundits at this time of year to say or to write "commercialism" without prefixing to it the word "crass" - as we encounter in your pages today in Tom Krattenmaker's "The real meaning of Christmas."

I challenge this notion. Commerce is peaceful. It involves sellers working hard and taking risks to bring to market goods and services that consumers want to buy. No one forces anyone to do anything; all is voluntary.

What truly is crass is politics - that sorry spectacle of power-seeking ego-maniacs who, when not pronouncing platitudes, are promising to help group A by picking the pockets of group B. While commerce is honest, politics is duplicitous. While commerce is peaceful, politics inevitably pits citizen against citizen. Far more enlightened and ethical behavior is on display during any one day in a shopping mall than the most intrepid observer will find in a century on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Merry Christmas!

(H/t Samizdata)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Howard's End

Unsurprisingly, John Howard and his conservative coalition lost Saturday's federal election in Australia heavily. It also looks like Howard will lose his seat - a sitting Prime Minister has only ever lost his seat once in Australian political history. On a personal level, his passing is somewhat of a melancholy event for me. I first started taking a strong interest in politics from the age of about 13. Howard was elected when I was 15, so for many years he has been a political figure of very close scrutiny and interest for me. Thus, the "end of an era" aspect is a little sad, and I think that despite the kind of doublespeak people in his former position often need to talk in order to Keep Everyone Happy - or at least keep the minimum amount of balls in the air - he is quite a decent and humane man. He genuinely had the "common touch"; not in the charming, polished, stage-managed way that impresses the media and the elite. He was less of a "gather a media entourage and head to the nearest working class pub to have a sham beer'n'bellylaugh with some rough men in singlets" type - ringing up a late night radio station talk show after he'd clearly had a few too many beverages was more his style. His uncontrived ordinariness, often verging on folksy, is a rare commodity amongst politicians of his seniority - and it is something I will miss.

Having said all of that, we should not get too sentimental about his defeat. John Howard and his party are no friends of small-government types like myself. Many of his party's major reforms, whilst bearing objectives which most in my camp would consider a step in the right direction, were implemented with a liberally (pardon the pun) spread layer of added regulation. Consider the tax code which, after eleven years of ongoing "reforms", stands as an epic bureaucratic tome defying compliance. Or the recent industrial relations changes, which somehow made a fiendishly complicated system even more so.

Certainly, Howard can accurately claim that Australia became richer and more economically stable whilst he was in office. Nevertheless, he and his team should be remembered as big-government conservatives, and Australia is more prosperous today in spite of his government's efforts, rather than because of them. My only regret is that his successor is likely to be even more meddlesome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Evil Empire

No, not that Evil Empire - the other one!

God, there are some fucking stupid people out there.

(Found on this Samizdata thread)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What Is Wrong With These People?

It's a segment teaching children not to be cruel to animals, featuring a leading character from the show cruelly manhandling and tormenting animals - whilst the background laughter of children is heard in response to his despicable antics.

The more aspects I see of the society in Gaza, the more I understand the Israeli desire to quarantine it.

(Via LGF)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Obama Unravels

Fresh from his humbling at the hands of Hillary Clinton and following on from a statement indicating his willingness to invade Pakistan, Barack Obama ladles on credence to the increasingly ubiquitous assertion that he's inexperienced:
I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance...involving civilians. Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table.
Desperately wrong answer to (what should be) a deal-breaking question, Mr Obama. Sure, waving the threat of one's nuclear weapons capacity around like a pair of chopsticks in a cheap Chinese restaurant is not sensible, because it ultimately reduces that capacity's deterrent value - which is the only practical reason why a sane nation would field a nuclear arsenal in this world of other nations who also possess The Bomb. A wise leader does not even refer to his country's nuclear weapons capacity, because the widespread knowledge of that capacity speaks for itself more effectively than any politician could ever hope to.

Conversely, it is sheer lunacy for a US President (or hopeful) to declare that he will never press the button, because such statements completely undermine the deterrent value of these weapons. Mr Obama, if you are not running on a platform of nuclear disarmament, you never take the nuclear option off the table. Ever. You made a most elementary strategic blunder - you are not a suitable candidate for the role of U.S. Commander-in-Chief.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I Can't Read Comments!

Hello, dear reader(s). I see a few comments accumulating in some of my recent threads. This is really annoying, cos I want to know what you're saying, but I can't read your learned musings due to the fact that Blogspot blogs are inaccessible in China! I'm not sure if I should switch on comment moderation so that I can read comments. What do you think? Leave an answer in comments.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

If Global Warming Is Real, It Is Now Inevitable

I am currently in Beijing, which is up there amongst the most polluted cities in the world. Beijing's summer days are characterised by heavy cloud cover, which traps the unsightly gaseous consequences of China's lightning-fast growth. The sun usually becomes discernable at around 4pm, when a golden-brown orb peers timidly through the haze. Being more acquainted with the brilliant Australian sun, for a split-second I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at when I first saw its rather diminished Chinese incarnation.

In such circumstances, I have been thinking a lot about the "carbon footprint" of countries in the economic vanguard of the developing world - countries like China and India. Firstly, I should mention that l classify myself as a "global warming skeptic", due to the evangelical, anti-science and frequently absurd rhetoric that typifies global warming activists of all stripes. I am not a complete denialist - I have not written off the theory of anthropogenic global warming entirely. I simply believe there is an awful lot we do not yet know, and it is rash to be making grand predictions about impending weather-related catastrophes, and demanding action based on such flawed predictions. If, however, I was to reconsider my position and embrace the concept of AGW, I would still not champion the Kyoto Protocol or any other effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The fact is that if AGW is a genuine phenomenon, it is inevitable. There is absolutely no point in the rich world winding back its CO2 output, because China, India and the rest of the developing world will replace any first world CO2 reductions several times over. Despite the occasionally placatory noises about limiting CO2 emissions heard from the likes of the Chinese central government, the fact is that the Chinese, the Indians, the Russians, the Brazilians, nor anyone else from the developing world will ever stymy their nations' opportunity to develop by hobbling their industrial output via significant CO2 emissions controls. Nor are the leaders of these countries likely to do anything to incur the wrath of their citizens by curtailing their perfectly reasonable aspirations to own motorcars, motorcycles, air conditioners and enjoy the convenience of air travel - all enormous direct or indirect sources of CO2 emissions. If significant CO2 reduction could be achieved with minimal economic and social cost, then perhaps the developing world would cooperate. However, large-scale CO2 reduction is an extremely expensive and socially disruptive exercise, and this reality will persist for several decades.

And it is too late to roll back the clock - too many people in the developing world have tasted the fruits of development, and quite legitimately demand more. Those governing the aspirational billions are far more likely to be influenced by them than An Inconvenient Truth. Global CO2 emissions are going to continue to grow for many years, there is no doubt about it. The "global warmenists", as the mighty Tim Blair calls them, need to re-evaluate their positions, because what they propose at present is simply an exercise in developed-world wealth destruction on an epic scale. Those insisting on such a state of affairs appear little short of anti-human luddites, as detractors of the green movement have long asserted. Bjørn Lomborg is spot on - any resources allocated towards the AGW issue should be directed towards researching crisis management and developing an appropriate disaster-relief capacity under the circumstances of rapid climate change, even if only as an insurance policy. And the absolute last thing we in the developed world should be doing is hampering the wealth-creating organs of our societies in a futile effort to cut CO2 emissions. If AGW is truly the looming catastrophe that many predict, we need to be as wealthy as possible to plan and make provisions for its impending consequences, and thus deal with them when they start to unfold.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gravity Is Not Their Friend

Iiiiieeeee!!!! My eyes!

(Via a decent blog cursed with perhaps the blogosphere's most moronic commentariat, Little Green Footballs)

Friday, July 20, 2007



Now you know how I won this perty lady over.