Thursday, April 23, 2015

…if environmentalists’ predictions from the 1970s were correct

By now, if environmentalists’ predictions from the 1970s were correct, as reported in leading media of the time, civilisation should have ended; we can no longer see the sun; freshwater fish should all have suffocated; we will have been wearing gas masks for thirty years and thousands annually will be dying from air pollution; the greatest cataclysm in the history of man, the Great Die-Off,  would have happened, the world  no longer be suitable for human habitation, and  the human race would be approaching extinction;  food and oil ran out fifteen years ago, 80% of all species have perished for ever, and 90% of all rain forests have gone; and, finally, the world was eleven degrees colder than the 70s just fifteen years ago, and is now in the grip of an Ice Age.

Instead, well, we’re still here, and we’re still thankful for all the fish.

And around half of those environmentalists are still making predictions about our survival and everything we love.

And the media are still printing them.

Here are Robert Fripp and Peter Gabriel, with a message from the 70s:

Labels: ,

Inventor(s) of the Day: Two wonderful women and a vaccine

Note to newscasters: not all women want to be or are “victims” in the sense the media make a show of.

Grace Eldering and Pearl Kendrick invented the vaccine against a disease that had been killing up to 6,000 children ever year: Whooping Cough.

Their vaccine now saves around half-a-million lives every year.

Grace Eldering and Pearl Kendrick are heroes. Or heroines, if you prefer.

In any case, I doubt they’d worry about having their hair pulled.

Too busy being fabulous.

[Hat tip The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science]

Labels: , ,

Since hairpulling is news …

… then horoscopes must be headlines.

So here’s your horoscope for the day:

Pic by Zedd

As for me, my star sign is Uranus.

But my horoscope is still the same as yours.

Now, back to the news …

We’re all redundant

On a day when the major piece of news according to alleged news organisations is an alleged case of hair-pulling, is there really any point in analysing the news any more?

Are we bloggers all redundant?

And what about the satirists? Who is thinking about the satirists? What can they do when the headlines are beyond satire?

Won’t someone think of the satirists.

It don’t mean a thing, unless a 102-year-old can swing!

Back when swing was king and the Harlem Renaissance was in full flight, the first music videos were made.  They called them “soundies.”

A visitor to a 102-year-old woman, who used to dance at the Cotton Club, found soundies she’s never seen of herself dancing with the Harlem swing kings. He shows her – and she wants to get out of bed and do it all over again

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

#CountdownToAnzacDay: So who pulled the trigger that started the war? [updated]

So today I had planned to write about the origins of the war that ended peace – ‘'the "seminal catastrophe" of modern times and the calamity from which all other calamities sprang”  -- the war that killed 16 millions and destroyed the health, wealth and material well-being of millions more – that ended empires four empires, bankrupted another, and sowed the seeds for a century of totalitarianism – that destroyed for all time “the pre-World War One world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history.”*

But I’ve decided that I won’t. I might do that next week. If you ask nicely.

It’s easy enough after the fact to see who pulled the trigger. Answer: nearly everyone. The difficult question with them all is why … ?

  • Serbian Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger that killed an Austrian Crown Prince.
  • The German Kaiser pulled the trigger backing Austria-Hungary with a “blank cheque” in how to respond, turning a Balkan conflict into a German-Austrian one.
  • Russian Ambassador to Belgrade M.Hartwig pulls the trigger of support for Serbia, turning it into a Russo-Austrian-German conflict, telling them “After the question of Turkey, it is now the turn of Austria. Serbia will be our best instrument. The day draws near when … Serbia will take back her Bosnia and her Herzegovina.”
  • Austrian Commander in Chief Conrad von Hotzendorf pulled the trigger that, one month later saw his Emperor declare war on Serbia.
  • The Kaiser pulled a safety catch, suggesting Austria-Hungary “halt in Belgrade” then negotiate.
  • It was too late, Conrad having already pulled the trigger beginning Belgrade’s bombardment. (It would take four months more to occupy it, before being thrown out.)
  • The Chairman of the Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Group insists Liberal Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey must tell Russia and France that "Great Britain in no conceivable circumstances will depart from a position of strict neutrality." Grey tells French and German ambassadors in the morning, respectively, “Don't count upon our coming in" and "don't count on our abstention." By afternoon, he has reversed the messages.
  • Winston Churchill pulls the trigger without cabinet approval, sending the Royal Navy on “the exposed eastern channel” to war stations in the Channel and Scapa Flow (meaning the Royal Navy prepared to defend the French coast, on the basis of the undeclared 1905 and 1912 “understanding”s that in time of war the French Navy in return defend the Med).
  • The Liberal Foreign Affairs Group, claiming nine-tenths of  Liberal party support, tells Liberal Prime Minister Asquith they will withdraw their support from the government if Britain goes to war. (Asquith himself estimated around three-quarters of his cabinet and parliamentary Liberal party were “for absolute non-interference at any price,” and in his cabinet only Churchill and Grey wholeheartedly for it.)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov pulled the trigger mobilising Russian troops, and pressuring their ally France to mobilise – turning it into a pan-European conflict.
  • British cabinet pulls the trigger, ordering all British naval, military, and colonial stations into a prearranged “state of readiness” – turning a continental conflict into a potential global conflict
  • New Zealand, Canadian, and Australian Prime Ministers make public promises of expeditionary forces to help the ‘mother country.’ (NZ was the first to make the offer. Australian PM Fisher pledges support “to the last man and the last shilling.”)
  • The French cabinet pull the trigger ordering French troops to take up position ten kilometres from the French-German border.
  • German Commander-in-Chief Helmuth von Moltke pulls the trigger with a telegram proclaiming “imminent danger of war, which will probably be followed within forty-eight hours by mobilisation. This inevitably means war. We expect from Austria immediate active participation in the war against Russia."
  • The Austro-Hungarian Emperor pulls the trigger mobilising Austro-Hungarian troops against Russia.
  • The Kaiser pulls a safety catch, asking France and Britain where they would stand in a Russo-German war?
  • Conrad pulls the trigger declaring war against Russia.
  • Sir Edward Grey asks France and Germany if they will respect Belgian neutrality. German Foreign Minister Gottlieb von Jagow says he can’t say; British Ambassador in France says French government will. 

Are you keeping up?

  • Belgium rejects the offer of a bigger British trigger, declares its neutrality and begins to mobilise.
  • French General Joffre pulls the trigger mobilising French troops.
  • The Kaiser pulls the trigger mobilising German troops, who begin invading Luxembourg, and declares war on Russia.
  • Churchill pulls the trigger mobilising the Royal Navy, after cabinet rejection of mobilisation.
  • Grey rejects the Belgian ambassador’s request for a British “guarantee” that “if Germany violates the neutrality of Belgium, we [Britain] would certainly assist Belgium.”
  • British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey pulls a trigger suggesting British neutrality if German does not attack France.
  • In response, the Kaiser pulls a safety catch withdrawing troops from Luxembourg.
  • Grey reneges.
  • The British cabinet pulls a trigger, announcing that even if Germany invades Belgium to attack France then the British Expeditionary Force will not be sent to the continent.
  • The Kaiser pulls the trigger again, sending Moltke into France and Belgium.
  • Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Prime Minister pull triggers mobilising “expeditionary forces.”
  • Several British Liberal cabinet members pull the trigger, threatening resignation if Britain goes to war; Churchill pulls the trigger eliciting support from Conservative opposition who might join the cabinet to replace them.
  • The Kaiser pulls a safety catch, notifying London Germany was willing if Britain would pledge itself to neutrality, to agree that its fleet would not attack the Northern coast of France.
  • All this time, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey was massaging his own trigger, leaving no-one until the last minute (including his own cabinet and Prime Minister) any idea how he might use it. In the end, it was his speech to the House of Commons that pulled the final trigger, turning the continental conflict into a global war…

  • The only cogent voice in opposition was that of minority Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald…

So we can see who?  Barely. None of whom achieved their aims; each of whom, by their decision, ensuring only the destruction of everything they claimed to support.

The question remains why were all those important triggers pulled?

Why did a small Balkan disagreement in a place few had heard of set off a global conflagration that would end with the destruction of the known world, and an eruption of further wars.

Why were triggers pulled by leaders, many of whom knew that by doing so they would unleash their own destruction?

This, today, is not an unimportant question. Before the wars set off by this one, said Austrian author Stefan Zweig, “I saw individual freedom at its zenith, after them I saw liberty at its lowest point in hundreds of years.”

But I won’t be answering the question this week.

Instead, since this is so important, in the centenary year of NZ’s involvement, and since theories about why (and even how) the war started are legion, I’ll point you to three interesting contemporary articles making claims that are worth considering, but with which I don’t wholly agree …

… and remind you of the other  posts in this series already causing angst among the easily challenged:

Until then…

PS: Few dramatised documentaries of events as momentous as this are worth watching. But, if you can get hold of it, the 2014 BBC2 dramatisation of the “July Crisis” called 37 Days is definitely worth the candle. Here’s the trailer:

* Ayn Rand’s fuller description of the world that was destroyed for ever, from her introduction to The Romantic Manifesto:

As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War One world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history … If one has glimpsed that kind of art—& wider: the possibility of that kind of culture-one is unable to be satisfied with anything less. I must emphasise that I am not speaking of concretes, nor of politics, nor of journalistic trivia, but of that period's 'sense of life.' Its art projected an overwhelming sense of intellectual freedom, of depth, i.e., concern with fundamental problems, of demanding standards, of inexhaustible originality, of unlimited possibilities &, above all, of profound respect for man. The existential atmosphere (which was then being destroyed by Europe's philosophical trends & political systems) still held a benevolence that would be incredible to the men of today, i.e., a smiling, confident good will of man to man, & of man to life. … It has been said and written by many commentators that the atmosphere of the Western world before World War I is incommunicable to those who have not lived in that period…It is [certainly] impossible for the young people of today to grasp the reality of man's higher potential & what scale of achievement it had reached in a rational (or semi-rational) culture. But I have seen it. I know that it was real, that it existed, that it is possible. It is that knowledge that I want to hold up to the sight of men—over the brief span of less than a century—before the barbarian curtain descends altogether (if it does) & the last memory of man's greatness vanishes in another Dark Ages.

Labels: , ,

It’s always Earth Day somewhere

Which means it’s always a day to celebrate how fossil fuels make a better earth on which to live.

Labels: , ,

Quote of the day, by Bernard Darnton

If you read The Atlantic article on ISIS a while back, read this too: Der Spiegel has a quite
different story
, claiming that Islamic State is a reconstitution of Iraq's Ba'ath Party.
Meanwhile, on TVNZ's One News, ‘Five-legged lamb becomes internet sensation.’ I shit
you not.
I don't want to judge people's entertainment choices* but can we please be honest and
rename the programme Crap from You Tube at Six?
- Bernard Darnton

*who are we kidding?


PJ O'Rourke on the UK Campaign Trail

It may not be the most important British election in a generation, as claimed, but it just might be the most confusing. What better then than to send in a confused American to explain it all -- and there's none more confused than P.J. O'Rourke.*

Listen in as P. J. gives his take on the British elections.


* …whose very quip this is.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

“Takaharu Tezuka: The best kindergarten you’ve ever seen”

I love Japanese architect Takahura Tezuka’s attitude to designing for children

PS: On the need for some danger, you might want to keep up with Lenore Skenazy at  Free Range Kids.

Labels: ,

Q: So why was the WWI battlefield so calamitous?

On the World War One battlefield there was no room for pluck, for courage, for bravery – none of those values espoused in patriotic commemorations of the war.

There was room for mateship, sure, but with a life expectancy in most units for most of the war of only several weeks at best, this was not an unencumbered blessing.

World War One was the first fully industrial war, bringing with it “a new conception of men as mere units.”[1] Hints of the destructive power of industrialised warfare were clear enough in the carnage of the American Civil War fifty years before. They were clear enough in colonial wars, in which large swathes of native troops could be killed by small numbers with industrial arms. They were written in blood in the first year of war, in which one million men died to achieve none of the war aims of any power, and it became clear to all that whatever anybody might have thought before plunging the world into war, this was going to be a long, long, and very bloody stalemate.

But no-one in authority had wanted to learn the lesson. Not even now that the age of the machine gun had arrived.

Maxim MG08 (Maschinengewehr 08) - Machine Gun. Pic by MilitaryFactory.Com

“WITHOUT HIRAM MAXIM, MUCH of subsequent world history might have been very different. As Hillaire Belloc put it:

“Thank God that we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.”[2]

That was all very well in colonial wars, when the enemy had not, but the strategists among the Great Powers gave no thought to how war would change when all did have the instrument of death. Because good European and Australasian boys died just as well from the muzzle of a machine gun as natives did.

There were those who saw what was coming. One J.F.C. Fuller, for example, known two decades later as a leading theorist of armoured warfare, wrote a paper for the British Staff College

whose main contention was that tactics are based on weapon-power and not on the experience of military history, and that since in 1914 the quick-firing field gun and the machine gun were the two most recent weapons, our tactics should be based on them.[3]

He received a stern dressing down for his temerity.

Russian industrialist Ivan Bloch, for example (also known as Jean de Bloch) wrote hopefully that “‘There will be no war in the future, ‘for it has become impossible, now that it is clear that war means suicide’.”[4] Unfortunately, his warnings, while prescient, were not heard.

Using a wealth of research and a multitude of statistics, he argued that advances in technology, such as more accurate and rapidly firing guns or better explosives, were making it almost impossible for armies to attack well-defended positions. The combination of earth, shovels, and barbed wire allowed defenders to throw up strong defences from which they could lay out a devastating field of fire in the face of their attackers. ‘There will be nothing’, Bloch told [his publisher] Stead, ‘along the whole line of the horizon to show from whence the death-dealing missiles have sped.’ It would, he estimated, require the attacker to have an advantage of at least eight to one to get across the firing zone. Battles would bring massive casualties, ‘on so terrible a scale as to render it impossible to get troops to push the battle to a decisive issue’…. Indeed, in the wars of the future it was unlikely that there ever could be a clear victory. And while the battlefield was a killing ground , privation at home would lead to disorder and ultimately revolution. War, said Bloch, would be ‘a catastrophe which would destroy all existing political institutions’. Bloch did his best to reach decision-makers and the larger public…[5]

Unfortunately he was as unsuccessful as British journalist Norman Angell, who argued that in the modern age of trade  and industrial production, that the idea of achieving wealth by conquest was, as his best-selling book was titled,“The Great Illusion.”

“If the Statesmen of Europe could lay on one side the irrelevant considerations which cloud their minds,” he said, “they would see that the direct cost of acquisition by force must in these circumstances necessarily exceed in value the property acquired.”[6]

Angell threw down a challenge to the widely held view – the great illusion – that war paid. Perhaps conquest had made sense in the past when individual countries subsisted more on what they produced and needed each other less so that a victor could cart off the spoils of war and, for a time at least, enjoy them. Even then it weakened the nation, not least by killing off its best. France was still paying the price for its great triumphs under Louis XIV and Napoleon: ‘As the result of a century of militarism, France is compelled every few years to reduce the standard of physical fitness in order to keep up her military strength so that now even three-feet dwarfs are impressed.’  In the modern age war was futile because the winning power would gain nothing by it. In the economically interdependent world of the twentieth century , even powerful nations needed trading partners and a stable and prosperous world in which to find markets, resources, and places for investment. To plunder defeated enemies and reduce them to penury would only hurt the winners. If, on the other hand, the victor decided to encourage the defeated to prosper and grow, what would have been the point of a war in the first place? Say, Angell offered by way of example, that Germany were to take over Europe. Would Germany then set out to ransack its conquests? 
   ‘But that would be suicidal. Where would her big industrial population find their markets? If she set out
     to develop and enrich the component parts, these would become merely efficient competitors, and
    she need not have undertaken the costliest war of history to arrive at that result. This is the paradox,
     the futility of conquest – the great illusion which the history of our own Empire so well illustrates.’

Angell’s book sold well. But it was not read by anyone making decisions on war.

The lessons of strategy in an industrial age were not learned by professional politicians and diplomats and their monarchs. And the lessons of tactics in the machine age were not learned by professional soldiers.

The former made the war possible. The latter delivered to the world a new kind of war on a wholly different battlefield: deadly stalemate midst the horrors of trench warfare.

Why were the lessons not learned?

When faced with the machine gun and the attendant necessity to rethink all the old orthodoxies about the primacy of the final infantry charge, such soldiers either did not understand the significance of the new weapon at all, or tried to ignore it, dimly aware that it spelled the end of their own conception of war.  It would be almost impossible to over-emphasise the myopic outlook amongst the military leaders of the nineteenth [and early[twentieth] century.
    For them, all the progress of the preceding years merely meant that the standard military weapons, the cannon and the musket, became slightly more efficient.  Ranges were longer, rates of fire quicker, muzzle velocities higher, but basically, for them, nothing had changed. The bayonet push and the cavalry charge were still the determining factors on the battlefield. Even in 1926, Field-Marshall Haig could assert that ‘aeroplanes and tanks … are only accessories to the man and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse … as you have ever done in the past.’[8]

Field-Marshall Douglas Haig was the man who, as senior British commander from 1915 to the end of the war, sent  one-million British soldiers to their deaths – and whose “epic but costly offensives at the Somme (1916) and Passchendaele (1917) have become nearly synonymous with the carnage and futility of First World War battles."[9]

The machine gun, it should have been clear (especially by 1926) was a dire threat to all previous assumptions about the nature of war.  Yet the officer corps of all countries “clung on to their old beliefs in the centrality of man and the decisiveness of personal courage and individual endeavour” – those martial values still extolled at every cenotaph about the war that destroyed them utterly.[10]

In part, the myopia was a reaction to the age itself. “Machines had brought with them industrialisation and the destruction of the social order.” The generals could do little about that, but  they could ensure –or so they surmised—they would not “undermine the old certainties of the battlefield—the glorious charge and the opportunity for individual heroism.”

The machine gun threated to do this. Its phenomenal power could render such charges quite futile. It negated all the old human virtues – pluck, fortitude, patriotism, honour—and made them as nothing in the face of a deadly stream of bullets, a quite unassailable mechanical barrier.  For the old-style gentleman officers such an impersonal yet utterly decisive baulk was unacceptable. So they tried to ignore it.[11]

To paraphrase Ayn Rand, you are free to evade reality; but the troops you command are not free to evade the consequences of reality.

Instead of advancing into glory as charged, their troops advanced instead into that quite unassailable meat grinder called the machine gun.

THE MACHINE GUN WAS was not fired like a hosepipe in the way seen in Hollywood movies. It was even worse than that. The machine guns themselves were set up in protective cover, and set up in partnership to form a series of interlocking cones firing along an advancing line of troops.

The result was a wall of lead into which young human bodies were forced to charge.

As long as ammunition was supplied and barrels kept cool, one well-arranged machine-gun battery could repel (and by repel we mean kill) an army of thousands.

And so they did. Nearly every day for nearly four-and-a-half years.

Francis Derwent Wood | David (Machine Gun Corps Memorial), 1925. Hyde Park Corner, London.
Pic by
Jorge Enrique from Pinterest

THE “NEW CONCEPTION OF man as mere units before the might of the machine guns” had its counterpart in the new age of collectivism the war did so much to usher in – an age in which individuals were as mere units before the might of the state. “Perhaps, concludes author John Ellis,[12]

this new conception of man as mere units before the might of the machine gun was never better expressed than upon [sculptor] Derwent Woods memorial to the Machine Gun Corps [above]. It is a statue of ‘The Boy David’ and still stands at Hyde Park Corner. Its inscription reads:

        Saul hath slain his thousands
        But David his tens of thousands.

This post is part of NOT PC’s #CountdownToAnzacDay. Other posts in the series:

[1] From John Ellis’s The Social History of the Machine Gun, p. 145
[2] Ibid, p. 18
[3] From Bond’s Staff College, p. 291. Ironically, Fuller was unable to attract any British interest in his theories of armoured warfare either; they were instead picked up and used by German generals in the Blitzkriegs of World War Two.
[4] From Margaret MacMillan’s The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War, (Kindle Locations 5077-5078)
[5] Ibid
[6] From Norman Angell’s, The Great Illusion, Kindle version, loc. 4285, 1149.
[7] Quoted in Margaret MacMillan’s The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War, (Kindle Locations 5108-5121)
[8] From John Ellis’s The Social History of the Machine Gun, p. 17.  Haig’s quote comes in his 1926 review of Basil Liddell-Hart’s book The Tanks, found in the 1959 edition at page 234
[9]  From the Canadian War Museum’s website "Canada and the First World War: Sir Douglas Haig"
[10] From John Ellis’s The Social History of the Machine Gun, p. 17
[11] Ibid, p.17
[12] Ibid, p.145

ERRATA: Casualty figure amended from two-million to one-million.

Labels: , , ,

So, what would it take to prove global warming?

Robert Tracinski keeps it simple. There are three main requirements, he says.

1) A clear understanding of the temperature record…. [that is] a long-term temperature record that allows us to isolate what the normal baseline is, so we know what natural variation looks like and we can identify any un-natural, man-made effect.

That would have to be an untampered-with long-term temperature record.

2) A full understanding of the underlying physical mechanisms…. The glibbest thing said by environmentalists—and proof that the person who says it has no understanding of science—is that human-caused global warming is “basic physics” because we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.  Carbon dioxide is a very weak greenhouse gas and there is no theory that claims it can cause runaway warming all on its own. The warmists’ theory requires feedback mechanisms that amplify the effect of carbon dioxide. Without that, there is no human-caused global warming. But those feedback mechanisms are dubious, unproven assumptions…. The immense, untamed complexity of the climate is reflected in the poor performance of computerized climate models, which leads us to our last major hurdle in proving the theory of global warming.

Correlation is not causality. But the models can’t even show correlation! Which leads to …

3) The ability to make forecasting models with a track record of accurate predictions over the very long term….  It’s pretty clear that scientists aren’t any good yet at making global climate forecasts. Current temperatures are at or below the low range of all of the climate models. Nobody predicted the recent 17-year-long temperature plateau. And while they can come up with ad hocexplanations after the fact for why the data don’t match their models, the whole point of a forecast is to be able to get the right answer before the data comes in.
    Given the abysmal record of climate forecasting, we should tell the warmists to go back and make a new set of predictions, then come back to us in 20 or 30 years and tell us how these predictions panned out. Then we’ll talk.

Read the whole piece:  What It Would Take to Prove Global Warming – Robert Tracinski, THE TRACINCKI LETTER


Mt Eden access debate descends into lunacy

Guest post by Stephen Berry

If the idea of banning vehicles from the Mt. Eden summit doesn’t sound crazy enough, then listening to the members of the Maunga Authority discuss the practicalities of such a move verges on total lunacy.

On Monday night the authority members voted unanimously to ban vehicle and cycle access to the top of Mt Eden, but in true political style has now deferred a final decision pending discussion on just how vehicle access can be prevented.”

It has been found that the cost of installing iron gates with electronic key pad or swipe card access will be in excess of $100,000, not including on-going maintenance costs. One option involves the issuing of an access code via a call centre which would change every seven days. Another option would see those with mobility issues being given swipe cards that would cost $20 each.

The banning of vehicles would also require the construction of extra carparks, with the existing ones moved further down the cone, and Puhi Huia Rd reconfigured to hold a completely inadequate 30 vehicles.

When these sorts of conversations are taking place between elected councillors and the racially appointed Tamaki Collective, doesn’t it demonstrate the idea is insane?

North Shore councillor Chris Darby somehow manages to go one step even further into the asylum by being  so “dismayed” by the idea of iron gates he would prefer “moving bollards.”

I am equally dismayed. I’m dismayed that six elected representatives could be so blasé when it comes to spending what will become hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars simply to prevent Aucklanders from enjoying one of the city’s natural treasures!

And through all of this, the ratepayer funded Maunga Authority still does not consult with ratepayers and the chairman of the Authority gutlessly refuses to talk to media.”

A final decision is now expected to be made in May. The elected representatives on the authority are

I suggest you talk to them. And soon.

RELATED: Keep vehicle access to Mt Eden – Berry – VOXY

Stephen Berry is the Leader of Affordable Auckland, and a candidate for Mayor of Auckland and Albany ward, 2016. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


Who wants to buy a Castle?

Josiah Firth added the tower in 1871, making it one of the earliest concrete structures in Australasia.
Josiah Firth’s 1873 tower, the earliest large semi-reinforced concrete
structure in the Southern Hemisphere, now yours for a less-than-paltry sum.

Yes, The Castle is now for sale. Home at various times to one of Auckland and the Waikato’s pioneering businessmen, of NZ’s patron saint of pot, and finally of too many “over-excited people in the tower,” the tower, house and grounds that have seen history over the years are now on the market.

Rumours that martini stains will prove too difficult to remove have been described as “totally unfounded.”


Monday, April 20, 2015

Liberté v sécurité

Pic by Le Journal du Siècle, hat tip Peter Linton


Q: So why were Britain and NZ at war with Turkey at all?

Dave Mann commented on an earlier post, “the times were a muddle of friends becoming foes and vice versa. Nobody could keep up with it.” True enough.

[A]another interesting fact about how Turkey entered the war [says Dave] is the Ottoman Empire was initially no great enemy of Britain and in fact they had contracted to buy two battleships from them before the war. When war broke out [Churchill unilaterally] reneged on the deal saying "sorry chaps but we need them more than you do now." Germany responded by sailing a battleship squadron up the Straits on a state visit and then proceeding into the Black Sea where they shelled some Russian naval installations while falsely flying an Ottoman flag. The flag story might be apocryphal, but the result was that Turkey was drawn into the war on the German side and when the squadron returned to Constantinople the Germans handed over their two battleships to the Sultan saying "Here ya go mate. This will compensate you for the two battleships that the Brits withheld from you!"

The story is not entirely apocryphal, only a little more complicated.

The Kaiser would have liked the gift to have been accepted that way, but for the Turks bore no ill will towards Churchill's seizing of the two battleships under construction; but (under German command) the Goeben and Breslau did bombard the Russian coast in an attempt to draw Turkey into the war, after which the Turkish Cabinet issued a note of apology to Russia.

The reforming Young Turks had replaced the Ottoman monarch and taken control of Turkey in the name of constitutional reform -- placing them closer to British constitutional arrangements than to Cazerist Russia's -- and were in no mind to join either Germany or any alliance that included a Russia with grand designs on Constantinople and former Ottoman territories in the Balkans and Persia.  They wanted to stay out, so much so that at one stage the Goeben and Breslau (sent by the Kaiser as a bribe he hoped would get them on side) were stuck at the Dardanelles between British warships and Turkish forts, not knowing which direction (if any) might offer them safe harbour - and Liman Von Sanders, sent to Turkey as "military adviser" to marshal Turkish troops on Germany's behalf, was sending telegrams home that the anti-German atmosphere in Constantinople made it "almost unbearable for German officer to continue their service there."[1]

The Turks only admitted the two German ships after extracting severe concessions from Germany, the transfer of the ships into Turkish ownership ), and no promise at all to join the war on their side or any other -- prompting Sanders to sling threats of going home, and of duelling with Young Turk leader Enver Pasha.

The Turks expected Goeben and Breslau to stay in port.  The bombardment of the Russian coast Goeben and Breslau was ordered by their disgruntled German commander, forced to fly a Turkish flag after ownership was transferred, under which German sailors were now enlisted in the small Turkish navy under German naval officers wearing fezzes. It happened without casualty, without Russian retaliation, and without Turkish permission.

What swayed Turkey in the end towards Germany was not either battleships or bombardment but, first, the fear (justified in the end) that if the Allies won they would forcibly partition the Ottoman empire and deliver Constantinople to Russia, whereas German wouldn't; and, second, a man called Winston Churchill.

Without reference to his Cabinet, without any declaration of war, and in response to the bombardment which German sailors had carried out and for which the Young Turks had already apologised, Churchill ordered the Royal Navy on the afternoon of 31 October 1914 to "commence hostilities at once against Turkey".[2]

It was by that action and no other that Turkey recognised that they had joined the war against the Allies -- not by any action of their own, but because one Allied politician had decided they should.

But it gets worse.

The place Churchill ordered the British squadron to attack was the Dardanelles -- which as far back as August 1914 Churchill had wanted to force on behalf of Russia.[3]

The cost of the premature attack far outweighed whatever advantages Churchill hoped to gain by it -- , and as an indirect result Anzac forces were sent to die on Turkish beaches that had been signalled by Churchill as needing defence.

Because not only was Turkey now in the war against the British Empire when if had never desired any such thing, but "the Turks and their German military advisers [had now been put] on the alert. From that moment there was no possibility of surprise, and the Turks began to pay special attention to the defence of the Straits" that later on would cost so many lives to abortively try to force. [4]

It was an abortion wrapped in a clusterfuck rolled up in a complete bloody shambles.

This post is part of NOT PC’s #CountdownToAnzacDay. Other posts in the series:

[1] Trumpener, Ottoman Empire, p. 33
[2] Gilbert, Churchill: The Challenge of War, p. 216
[3] "Churchill was very keen on attacking the Dardanelles from a very early stage ... he was very keen to get to Constantinople somehow." Director of Military Operations Calwell, 'Dardanelles Commission: Evidence,' Q.3665. 
[4] See Marder,’s From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol II, pp. 83-5, and Robert Rhodes James’s, Churchill: A Study in Failure, 1900-1939, pp. 63-77

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Q: But what were the ANZACs fighting *for*?

Did you know that Australian and New Zealand soldiers embarking in November 1914 on ships towards Britain thought they would be fighting for Britain on the Western Front, not fighting in Turkey to gift Constantinople to Russia --against whom for decades New Zealanders and Australians had been defending their shores and ships…?

THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANZAC is that the battle at the Dardanelles gave birth to two nations. If that’s true, it is an odd birth, fathered out of failure by way of disaster.

This mythology is in some ways a modern invention, and if true at all applies more to Australia than New Zealand, who much more than we do have made “the anniversary of a botched battle into virtually the country’s national day.”[1]

It’s truly, truly odd.

It’s true that for the first time, outside the few sports played internationally, NZers and Australians could compare themselves on a world stage and begin to identify (if they could) the sorts of national differences that distinguish one group of people from another. But NZers’ similarities with Britons were still greater than any real differences, and NZ’s war began with Prime Minister Massey’s abject declaration to parliament “that, if necessity unfortunately arose, New Zealand was prepared to send her utmost quota of help in support of the Empire,”[2] and at war’s end held even tighter to Britain than at war’s start, remaining for decades (especially by contrast with Australia) “a particularly Anglophile part of the Commonwealth.”[3]

So it’s not really clear why this legend persists.

The publicity poster for Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli tells a tale of the legend’s birth: “’From a place you have never heard of … A story you’ll never forget’ – [it says] a lot about where the Anzac saga had been,” says one author picking up on a frequently overlooked point, “and equally where it would be going.”[4]

Oddly, for a battle that gave birth to two nominally independent nations, it was one hatched, devised, planned and bungled entirely without the input of either, and the participation of the Australian and NZ Army Corps themselves were entirely accidental.

Britain’s war chief Field Marshall Kitchener had declared that Britain could afford neither British troops from the Western Front nor the British navy for escort duties, so when Churchill's plans for a naval breakthrough at the place of legend failed as dismally as naval tacticians had predicted, the fortunate happenstance of colonial troops already en route for the Suez escorted by Japanese warships was seized upon.

The resulting irony (among  many) was that, entirely unknown to anyone when they departed, the ANZAC troops were headed to a place they'd never heard of to deliver a city to a natural foe, escorted there by ships of a navy against whose threat (after Japan's stunning victories in the Russo-Japanese war) Australia and New Zealand had huddled even further beneath Britain's defensive skirts.

Perhaps the final irony in this disaster was that Britain cared nothing for those infant nations’ troops, throwing them away in a campaign of unmitigated disaster whose success, if it had even been possible, would have done nothing to shorten the war, and whose drawn-out failure few wanted to acknowledge.

IT WAS ARGUED BY no less than Lloyd George that knocking the Ottomans out of the war would “knock out Germany’s props” and leave its “soft underbelly” exposed. Nothing, really, could have been further from the truth. The props worked almost entirely the other way – and if it cost thousands of lives on the flat and easily supplied Western Front “to move General Haig’s drinks cabinet closer to Berlin,”[5] then in the distant and mountainous terrain between Constantinople and Berlin there was nothing to offer respite except the mind of 1st Baron Maurice Hankey, who as Secretary of Britain’s War Council “carried all before him [in cabinet] with his persuasive memorandum of 28 December 1914”[6] proposing British, Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian troops occupy Constantinople.

For his part, Churchill, at this early stage of plans being hatched, favoured for a diversion landing troops on an island in the Baltic, for which he received only disdain from cabinet colleagues, but when shown the memo jumped quickly on board, “commenting that he himself had advocated an attack at the Dardanelles two months earlier, but that Kitchener had refused to supply the needed manpower.”[7]

Tragically, and

in retrospect, it seems clear that if the Greek army had marched on Constantinople in early 1915, alongside the British navy, the Ottoman capital would have been defenceless.[8]

It wasn’t to be. Not until a desperate Russian high command pleaded for “a diversionary attack”[9] were plans finally drawn up – but for a naval-only attack: Kitchener refused to make troops available, and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill boasted they would be unnecessary.

SO BEGAN THE BLUNDERING, even as the first of many ironies began piling on. Because the very reason Russia was so beleaguered was an Ottoman attack on the Caucasus that in the end was swiftly repelled in January 1915.

Logically, after crushing the Ottoman invaders that month, the Russians should have told Lord Kitchener that it was no longer necessary for him to launch a diversionary attack on Constantinople in order to relieve it from a Turkish threat that on longer existed. [But this was not how these ‘allies’ operated.]
Thus began the Dardanelles campaign, which was to so alter the fortunes of Churchill and Kitchener, Asquith and Lloyd George, Britain and the Middle East

And, of course, of Australia and New Zealand, and of the many bold, bright-eyed young men in their respective army corps.

In the end, the attempted occupation was decided upon as an altruistic gift to an ally who had shown no sign of earning British trust, the price for the sacrifice to be paid for in the blood of those Australian, New Zealand and British young men and their families.

EVEN WITHOUT THE NEED for a diversion, however, the gift would have meant everything to the backward, autocratic Russian empire for whom the Anzacs were to give their lives.

As an almost landlocked nation Russia had always been desperate for a warm-water port. For virtually the entire 19th century, or at least since Napoleon had passed away, Britain had been manoeuvring in the Mediterranean to keep Russia out, and in the Middle East to keep Russia away from India.

As long as Russia was held at arm’s length, the two aims were mutually reinforcing. The trouble began when the two aims were crossed by in increasingly muddled foreign policy.

Russia’s desperation for a secure warm-water port had always set it on a collision course with the rest of Europe.

From Russia’s point of view it made eminent sense to search for secure warm-water ports but, as Kuropatkin had warned [Czar] Nicholas in 1900, it ran a great risk: ‘However just our attempts to possess the exit to the Black Sea, to acquire an outlet to the Indian Ocean, and to obtain an outlet to the Pacific, these missions touch so deeply on the interests of almost the entire world that in pursuit of them we must be prepared for a struggle with a coalition of Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, China, and Japan.’ Of all Russia’s potential enemies, Britain, with its worldwide empire, seemed to be the most immediately threatening.[11]

During the peace of the 19th century, Russia’s Black Sea ports eventually came into their own commercially. “As Russia became a major exporter, especially in food, the passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles – known collectively at the time as ‘the Straits’ – became particularly vital; 37 per cent of all its exports and 75 per cent of its crucial grain exports were flowing past Constantinople by 1914.”[12]

But as its treaty with France made clear enough, it wanted these ports for military use as well – extracting France’s agreement that Russian interests should predominate at the east end of the Mediterranean.

Also clear enough from many centuries of Russian-Ottoman enmity was that the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, past which Russian grain, war materiel and battleships must pass, was under threat.

This should, of course, have put Russian plans on a direct and very visible collision course with British interests in Egypt, Malta and the Suez Canal that helped form Britain’s naval strategy of keeping The Med as “a British lake,” and the Ottoman Empire as, if not a friend, then at least a fairly benign neighbour. It should have put it on a collision course, but it didn’t, because Britain also wanted Russian kept away from India.

You see how I said things would get muddled?

Because the new 1905 Liberal government and its new Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, saw nothing in this conflict of interests to slow them down.

One of Grey’s first meetings after he took office in December 1905 was with Benckendorff to assure the Russian ambassador that he wanted an agreement with Russia. In May 1906 Sir Arthur Nicolson arrived as British ambassador in St Petersburg with authority from the Cabinet to sort out with Izvolsky the three main irritants in the relationship: Tibet, Persia and Afghanistan. The locals were not, of course, consulted while their fate was decided thousands of miles away. The negotiations were long and tedious as might be expected between two parties, ‘each of which thought the other was a liar and a thief.’[13]

The agreement worked moderately well in fending off Russian aggression on the North-West Frontier.

It worked appallingly in Europe.

The new friendship with Russia was seen by Germany (when combined with the French-Russian treaties) as a threat – Russia, France and Britain forming an “iron ring” it was said that encircled and would eventually strangle them. (Bismarck might have negotiated away the threat; but Germany had no Bismarck’s left, only a child-like Kaiser prone to tantrums.)

And the unlikely friendship was the final link in the powder trail leading from Russia’s agreement to back Serbia that finally ignited in August, 1914.

It was not to be the only foreign-policy bungle from Sir Edward Grey, whose eleven-year tenure in the job offers few chances to transfer blame to others. It was the longest continuous tenure of any person in that office, and it could not have fallen to a less integrated thinker at a time when the world and could not have been more complicated.

His own muddling, and that of his Prime Minister, made all the complications worse.

Because once war began (and I will write later this week about the war’s beginnings) we can draw a straight line from the muddling to the murder on those beaches at the Dardanelles.

ONCE THE PLEADED-FOR “diversionary attack” had begun by naval means, even as the reasons for the diversion had disappeared, Russia saw its chance for someone else to shed blood on their behalf.

Assuming the success of what had begun as an ill-thought-out diversionary attack, in March 1915 Czar Nicholas II demanded that “the Allies turn over Constantinople and the Straits—and all adjacent territories—to Russia.”

[British Foreign Minister] Grey and [his Prime Minister] Asquith, the leaders of the Liberal administration, were ... disposed to make the concession that Britain’s wartime ally required… At the outset of the Ottoman war, the Prime Minister wrote [to his young mistress Venetia Stanley] that ‘Few things wd. give me greater pleasure than to see … Constantinople either become Russian (which I think is its proper destiny) of if that is impossible neutralised…’ In March 1915, when the issue arose, he wrote of Constantinople and the Straits that ‘It has become quite clear that Russia means to incorporate them in her own Empire,’ and added that ‘Personally I have always been & am in favour of Russia’s claim…’
Unbeknown to the rest of the Cabinet [and of course to the Anzac troops who were eventually called upon to carry out his strategy], Sir Edward Grey had already committed the country [i.e., Britain] to eventual Russian control of Constantinople, having made promises along these lines to the Russian government in 1908.His view [not supported by his advisers, nor by anything in Russian history before or since] was that if Russia’s legitimate [sic] aspirations were satisfied at the Straits, she would not press claims in Persia, eastern Europe, or elsewhere.

If the response could be characterised as anything, it would be a catastrophic combination of altruism and wishful thinking.

So less than ten years after Asquith’s musings developed and Grey’s muddled Russian strategy had taken effect, and with Grey still in the saddle, Australian and NZ forces landed in the Dardanelles. The reason for the mission, not that they knew it: to take Constantinople for Russia.

TO BE FAIR TO Churchill, who shoulders a large part of history’s blame for the campaign’s failure, he was initially wary at the idea of a naval-only operation, but he and the Asquith Cabinet were swiftly persuaded by the commander of the British naval squadron off the Dardanelles, Admiral Sackville Carden, who cabled back answering Churchill’s question on the possibility that “while the Dardanelles could not be ‘rushed’—in other words, could not be seized by a single attack—“they might be forced by extended operations with a larger number of ships.”[15] Churchill jumped on board with a decision he himself had finessed, and the decision was just as swiftly made.[16]

Yet even as Admiralty opinion began turning against the idea of a purely naval venture, and British naval warships had begun bombarding the Turkish coast, Kitchener suddenly declared that troops would be used after all: primarily Australian and New Zealand troops who had just arrived in Egypt ready for re-embarkation to Western Europe, who would, in Kitchener’s plan, go in “once the navy’s ships had won the battle of the straits.”[17]

That battle was never won.

Instead, the eight weeks of naval bombardment, beginning February 19, 1915, gave the Turks notice of the attack and time to marshal their defences at the Narrows—as did the newspaper accounts of the expedition’s assembly and embarkation in Egypt, the lights and the military bands of the vast fleet as it headed noisily through the Aegean, and the reports of parliamentary debates about the coming combined operation. Turkish expert Sir Mark Sykes had pointed out to Churchill in late February that “though [Turkish troops] could be routed by a surprise attack, ‘Turks always grow formidable if given time to think.’”[18]

And so they were, behind defences expertly marshalled by one military genius, the German Liman Von Sanders, and led by the man for whom the battle would launch a legend who would become known as Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey out of the ashes of the old Ottoman Empire.[19]

IF YOU THINK THINGS were already muddled enough then hang on to your hats! On 15 March fearful Turkish negotiators met with British officials in European Turkey to discuss leaving the war they never sought in return for the large, but not wounding, sum of four million pounds. This would have delivered everything British strategists had said they wanted to achieve by force of arms, delivered to them not by the blood of thousands but money that would have been spent anyway on the cost of war. “The negotiations failed because the British government felt unable to give assurances that the Ottoman Empire could retain Constantinople—so deeply were the British now committed to satisfying Russian ambitions.”[20]

If it might be doubted why Australian and New Zealand soldiers were ordered to fight and die on Turkish beaches one month later, the reason by now could not be clearer.

Yet if attacking a place that pre-war British military studies had concluded was “too risky to be undertaken”[21] wasn’t already made difficult enough, the commander of the land operation and his manner of appointment made things only more so.

Sir Ian Hamilton was appointed peremptorily on March 12, barely one month before the landings. Telling the War Minister “he knew nothing about Turkey,” he was briefed by the War Office “by showing him a map and a plan of attack borrowed from the Greek General Staff.” Despite the overwhelming strategic importance placed on the attack, and the lives of countless men and women being put in harm’s way, “the War Office had not even taken the time or trouble to work out their own [plan]. General Hamilton was sent out with an inaccurate and out-of-date map and little else to guide him.”[22]

On arrival in the theatre he promptly called off the naval operation, delayed the landings for a further three weeks, and agreed to attack only the European side of the straits. Whereupon, when the landings did finally happen – and for the Australian and NZ forces at Ari Burnu they were at the wrong beach – Hamilton decided at the first sign of opposition to dig in, dooming the expedition to a drawn-out replay of the very Western Front stalemate the campaign had been intended to circumnavigate.

If you feel like resurrecting the phrase “lions led by donkeys,” now might be about the right time.

OF THE BATTLES THEMSELVES AT the Dardanelles, much more is known and very little more needs to be said about the shambles that ensued.

Except perhaps that with Turks dug in on the heights to fire down on Anzac troops entrenched on beaches below, and with no obvious hope for any success in the campaign and the only obvious decision being evacuation, we might wonder why the soldiers were condemned to die there for months?

The answer is that, against limp Cabinet opposition, Churchill and Kitchener refused all requests to withdraw –“Churchill because he was never willing to accept defeat, and Kitchener because he believed it would be a disaster for a British[-led] army to be seen to be defeated by a Middle Eastern one.”[23] Especially after the stain of near-defeat by Boers was still so raw.

So the bloody, murderous shambles on the beaches continued until January, 1916, with no hope at all of success, with the death and destruction in the end of 400,000 young lives.

What must those men have thought when they read of Churchill’s speech to his Dundee constituency in June that “the Allies were only “a few miles from victory” at the Dardanelles, “a victory such as the war had not yet seen.”[24]

It never would.

Instead, it all turned to omnishambles. The only thing in the end about which anyone had anything about which to boast was a successful and well-executed withdrawal.

At least, now, some reason for the whole, sordid shambles might be clearer.

The reason however for commemorating the shambles as the birth of our nation is less so.

This post is part of NOT PC’s #CountdownToAnzacDay. Other posts in the series:


[1] From David Reynolds’s The Long Shadow: The Great War & the Twentieth Century, p. 376, who in his chapter 10 offers perhaps the best explanation for the birth of the mythology.
[2] Quoted in Douglas Newton’s Hell-Bent: Australia's leap into the Great War. Kindle edition, location 1680
[3] From David Reynolds’s The Long Shadow: The Great War & the Twentieth Century, p. 376
[4] Ibid, p. 375
[5] A quip pilfered from Black Adder Goes Forth.
[6] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 127
[7] Ibid, p. 127
[8] Ibid, p. 128
[9] A plea emulated throughout the next war by Stalin, whose constant refrain in the meetings of the “Big Three” was a demand that Roosevelt and Churchill implement “a second front” to relieve the beleaguered Soviets
[10] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 129
[11] From Margaret MacMillan’s book The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War, Kindle edition, location 3496
[12] Ibid, location 3492
[13] Ibid, location 3733
[14] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 138
[15] “As Carden subsequently emphasized in his evidence to the Dardanelles commission, the operative word was ‘might’.” From Robert Rhodes James’s Churchill: A Study in Failure, 19900-1939, p. 66
[16] This may be being more than fair. Robert Rhodes James is one among many in arguing that Churchill cynically manipulated the callow Carden into his opinion, which Churchill himself had maintained without support since at least August 1914. Carden’s undistinguished prior experience was as supervisor of the Malta dockyard, “and one of the [many] puzzles of the operation is why Carden was not replaced when the importance of the naval attack was recognised.” [Rhodes James, p. 65 n. 8] Perhaps because he was so easily manipulated? In any case, at the Dardanelles Commission set up to examine the disaster,  it was seen that authorities cited by Churchill to Carden  as being in total agreement with his opinion were not, and in his own evidence to the Commission,“Churchill agreed that his telegram was framed to provide a favourable answer.” [Dardanelles Commission: Evidence, Q.1264]
[17] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 133
[18] From Martin Gilbert’s Winston S. Churchill: Vol. 3, p. 343
[19] In that sense, Gallipoli represented the birth of three nations, not just two. No wonder the bond at contemporary commemorations at the battlefield is so deep.
[20] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 151
[21] From Martin Gilbert’s Winston S. Churchill: Vol. 3, p. 358
[22] From David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, p. 156
[23] Ibid, p. 158
[24] From Richard Toye’s Churchill’s Empire, p. 133.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Morning Ramble …

The most important single central fact about a free market is
that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.

- Milton Friedman

Quel surprise.  This goes in the file titled ‘Told You So.’
CERA control holds back Christchurch rebuild – 3 NEWS
Christchurch Mayor urged to cut red tape – NEWSTALK ZB

Topical again…
Can you own water? – NOT PC, 2012
Water, water everywhere… – NOT PC, 2012
Undiscovered resources do not constitute wealth – Gary Judd, BREAKING VIEWS, 2012
The Prime Minister is wrong – NOT PC, 2012
Q: What would 'Party X' do about the environment?– A: They’d use it to push privatisation – NOT PC, 2011

Yes, it’s true. But New Zealand has nothing about which to boast.
Why Australia's still the world's most expensive place to live – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“Whether Campbell stays or goes should be irrelevant, because incisive political interviewing on New Zealand television is, at best, as scarce as a Macaya Breast Spot Frog.  So for my kiwi friends…”
Proper political interviews from the UK... – LIBERTY SCOTT


“"We should expect the Reserve Bank to provide in-depth analysis to back its claims around the housing market.  But in a 19 page speech, only five paragraphs are devoted to the ‘housing pressures are a threat to stability’ section." Go read the whole thing. He also hits on whether any tax advantage lies with unleveraged owner-occupiers or those nasty investors.”
Reserve Bank of NZ on Housing – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

“Selling state houses to tenants worked before and it would again today, with consequent social benefits.”
Enrich poor with home ownership – Bob Jones, NZ HERALD

“Environment Minister Nick Smith is floating the idea of splitting the Resource Management in two. One Act would deal with urban planning issues and the other with non urban resource and environmental management.”
Will the RMA be split in two? – KIWIBLOG

A movie featuring a journalist’s interactions with Paul Henry has just been released. Journalist Andrew Goldman finds his life and career fall apart after he meets Paul Henry…
The Desk, The Henry, and business/media collusion – YOUR NZ

“When ‘the common good’ of a society is regarded as something apart from
and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good
of some men takes precedence over the good of others….”
Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

If you want to learn, take notes by hand, not with a laptop. “The problem appears to be that the laptop turns students into stenographers, people who write down everything they hear as quickly as they can. Students who take handwritten notes, however, try to process the material as they are writing it down so that they only have to write down the key ideas. Forcing the brain to extract the most vital information is actually when the learning happens.”
Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop – Alex Tabarrok, MARGINAL REVOLUTION

Was there no-one in sign-off with a shred of decency?
Woolworths agency in hiding after disastrous Anzac advertising campaign – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“From a psephological point of view it is interesting… from a pure who does what with whom equation, it's interesting. However, in terms of the variety of what is on offer, it is more nomenclature than substance…. [and] my suspicion is that there will be another election later this year.”
Most exciting UK election in ages? In one sense... (Part One) – LIBERTY SCOTT

“Once upon a time, it was left to tinpot dictators, ecclesiastical zealots, illiberal judges or scary inquisitors to proclaim a ban, to demand that some publication or custom or subversive phrase be outlawed. In the twenty-first century, however, calls for banning stuff have come down to Earth: now, literally anyone with access to the internet can demand a ban, and many do.”
What's behind the fashion for banning? – Frank Furedi, SPIKED


“In our era of Keynesian economics on steroids, we should ask: How close is current Keynesian practice to original Keynesian theory?”
Can We Blame Keynes for Keynesianism? – Stephen Hicks, EVERY JOE

“... the truly scary numbers were in the details, which revealed unprecedented deterioration.”
China's True Economic Growth Rate: 1.6% – ZERO HEDGE

How economists are misleading the public on climate-change policy.
The Costs of Hysteria – Robert Murphy, F.E.E.

“An examination of the prediction spread from the 90 CMIP5 climate models makes it immediately obvious that the settled science of catastrophic man-made global warming is not at all well-understood.”
Computer Climate Model Incompetence and the Settled Science – OBJECTIVIST INDIVIDUALIST

“The basic ingredients for Hong Kong’s progress were not foreign aid and other handouts from Western nations but instead law and order and a free market.”
The Ticket to Prosperity: Free Markets and Rule of Law – Walter Williams, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

“We live at a time when politicians and bureaucrats only know one public policy: more and bigger government. Yet, there was a time when even those who served in government defended limited and smaller government. One of the greatest of these died a little over one hundred years ago on August 27, 1914, the Austrian economist Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk.”
Eugen Von Bohm-Bawerk: Leading Austrian economist and finance minister of fiscal restraint – Richard Ebeling, COBDEN CENTRE

“On why zoning laws should not exist at all.
”In truth, there is no ‘public interest,’ only the interests of some individuals trumping the interests of others. As surely as Sharia law, much of zoning (perhaps not all) is the enforcement of one set of preferences. And that is incompatible with a nation founded upon the rule of law, not the rule of men.”
Sharia Zoning – Walter Donway, SAVVY STREET

“Creating paper money does not create goods.”
Cargo Cult Economics – CAPITALISM MAGAZINE


“Should this come as a surprise? Countries with no minimum wage have the lowest youth unemployment.”
Minimum Wage and Youth Unemployment – ECONOMIC POLICY JOURNAL

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
The futility of increasing the minimum wage to reduce poverty – Jim Rose, UTOPIA, YOU ARE STANDING IN IT

“There’s an invisible potential to just about everything on earth. For example, mankind has long known that water was good for drinking, irrigation and floating boats. But with time we also discovered that water held a form of energy. Energy is invisible and intangible. Still, you can see what water energy does: e.g. turns wheels, moves ships along a river, turns a turbine for making electricity, etc. A few hundred years ago, mankind learned that water possessed that potential energy. In the 19th Century, water powered mills and factories. Today, river currents turn generators in large hydroelectric dams.
“‘Capital, like energy, is a dormant value. Bringing it to life requires us to go beyond looking at our assets as they are to actively thinking about them as they could be. It requires a process for fixing an asset’s economic potential into a form that can be used to initiate additional production.’”
Capital: It’s All in Your Head – Hernando de Soto, THE POWER OF THE POOR


“‘It angers me to see mobs burning our flags and chanting 'death to Americans',’ Rand Paul, who’s now running for president, is recently quoted as saying. ‘Until we name the enemy, we cannot win the war. The enemy is radical Islam. You cannot get around that.’
“He’s halfway there.”
Rand Paul’s Foreign Policy – Michael Hurd, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

“The democracy export practiced by the U.S. is against the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
Should U.S. Foreign Policy be in Search of Monsters? – Robert Gore, SAVVY STREET

“Candidate after candidate declares for the 2016 presidential election in America. But apparently only ‘career politicians’ need apply.”
America 2016: The Dead-end of “Career Politicians” – Walter Donway, SAVVY STREET

“’The baby boom generation which started with so much promise when it came of age in the 1960s has ended up a colossal failure,’ Stockman wrote. ‘It has turned America into a bloody imperial hegemon aboard and a bankrupt Spy State at home where financialization and the one percent thrive, half the populations lives off the state and real main street prosperity has virtually disappeared from the land.’ … As for Clinton herself, Stockman says she has ‘betrayed all that was right about the baby boomers in the 1960s; and has embraced all the wrong they did during their subsequent years in power.’”
Hillary Clinton: Talking 'Bout Her Failed Generation – David Stockman, via MISH

“Is Clinton Foundation in effect selling American presidency?”
Clinton Foundation to Keep Foreign Donors – WALL STREET JOURNAL


“President Obama said Saturday that partisan wrangling over the nuclear agreement with Iran has gone beyond pale and said the harsh criticism of the deal “needs to stop.”
“Maybe he should tell this to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”
Iran's Ayatollah and America's Obama: Dictators at Heart – CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

“Here’s the thing about agreements. The parties that enter into them have to actually, you know, agree.”
Iran's Supreme Leader Gets to No – Eli Lake, BLOOMBERG

“…a long piece on net neutrality in the latest issue of Reason Magazine entitled, “How to Break the Internet.” It’s part of a special collection of articles and videos dedicated to the proposition “Don’t Tread on My Internet!Reason has put together a great bunch of material, and packaged it in a special retro-designed page that will make you think it’s the 1990s all over again”
Don’t tread on my Internet – Geoffrey Manne,  TRUTH ON THE MARKET
Don't Tread on My Internet – REASON


“One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate’s total philosophy — only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials). It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job… [W]e have to judge him as we judge any work, theory, or product of mixed premises: by his dominant trend.
“A vote for any candidate does not constitute an endorsement of his entire position, not even of his entire political position, only of his basic political principles…
“It is the basic — and, today, the only — issue by which a candidate must be judged: freedom vs. statism.”
How to Judge a Political Candidate? by Ayn Rand – FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUALS

“Here is the right way to think through and argue with others about any proposed government policy, regardless of whether you are a liberal or conservative, Rawlsian, Randian, or Hayekian, consequentialist or deontologist, Christian, Muslim, or atheist.”
How to Think Through and Argue About Public Policies – JOHN P. McCASKEY


“Arguments for government involvement in education are many. They include the views that many parents cannot afford to educate their children, that private philanthropy cannot make up the deficit, that too many parents don’t care enough about education, and more.
“At the same time, government involvement in education has risks…”
Education’s “Public Choice” Dynamic – STEPHEN HICKS

Education’s ‘Public Choice’ Dynamic [click to enlarge]

On Mad Men: “He was so dull and pedestrian that even, from the standpoint of disinterested prurience, his many graphically-portrayed episodes of promiscuity and philandering were yawners… Hamm’s Don Draper invites one to redefine ‘average.’ …  he was so unexceptional a character that he never even left a bad taste in my mouth. He left no taste at all. One couldn’t hate him. How can one hate a nonentity?”
On House of Cards: “About half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy, not a man I admire by any means, confessed he liked Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, popular adventure literature that dramatized good vs. evil. Well into the 21st century a sitting president and a former president have expressed admiration for evil and its triumph. To date, that is the thematic essence of House of Cards.”
Political Cinema – Ed Cline, CAPITALISM MAGAZINE

“[There is a] dangerous little catch phrase which advises you to keep an ‘open mind. ‘This is a very ambiguous term—as demonstrated by a man who once accused a famous politician of having ‘a wide open mind.’ The term is an anti-concept…”
“Open Mind” and “Closed Mind” – FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUALS

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.
- Thomas Jefferson

“If you ask, most people can cite a day, which, to them anyway, changed the world. It may be the start or end of a war; the beginning or end of an administration; a specific piece of legislation; a birth or death; etc. Well, how about April 10, 1790? To patent folks the earth shook, the heavens opened, and history forever altered. This was the day the first version of the U.S. patent act was signed. It was the third Act of Congress…this legislation was specifically singled out by George Washington as legislation that the Congress ought to pass to help the young country get going.”
The Day that Changed the World: April 10, 1790 – I.P. WATCHDOG

“Perhaps the post-mortem assessment on the ‘movement’ ought to begin with the premise that the ‘service’ provided by The Pirate Bay and similar sites is not anything like a foundation for social change. Forget that digital theft of popular media is illegal, immoral, and rude; it’s also far too pedestrian to serve as a catalyst for political action that would effectively contend with a thorny problem like surveillance or ascend such lofty heights as universal education.”
Pirate Movement is Dead, Long Live the Cause? – David Newhoff, THE ILLUSION OF MORE

“People tend to focus on these nice, round numbers when looking at significant points in history. Here, however, we want to have a little fun with numbers and stick up for the little guy in this conversation, the ‘coulda been a contenders’.”
Near Miss Patents: Looking back at almost milestone innovations – I.P. WATCHDOG

“There are widespread complaints today that the “patent system is broken” and that the ‘smart phone wars’ and ‘patent trolls’ are killing innovation. Yet patented innovation has revolutionized our lives — tablet computers, smart phones and antiviral drugs are just a few of these modern marvels. How to make sense of this contradiction? This talk by Adam Mossoff, recording at ARI’s Objectivist Summer Conference 2014, answers that question.”

“Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye, Not uttered by based sale of chapmen’s tongues. So, like, what’s a Like worth anyway?  I mean a Facebook Like.”
Like’s Labour’s Lost – Facebook Advertising – THE ILLUSION OF MORE

“India’s answer to Sherlock Holmes is in the theatres now, and it creates an original niche for itself.”
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy: India’s Answer to Sherlock Holmes – Kurt Keefner, SAVVY STREET

Students, listen up: Up to US$90,000 in prizes to be won, and all you have to do is write an essay on Ayn Rand’s fiction!
Ayn Rand Institute International Essay Contests 2015 for Students - Up to $90,000 in Prizes – OPPORTUNITY DESK

““At the age of thirteen, Ayn Rand decided she was an atheist. Her reason: ‘the concept of God is degrading to man.’ One major form of this degradation is religion’s effect on genuine values, including sacred values…”
Video: Ayn Rand’s Sacred Atheism – Robert Mayhew, REASON V FAITH

Great songs can have simple origins…

Not an easy cover to pull off …

Like gamelan for electric rock orchestra …

PS: So you want to buy a Castle?

Thanks for reading,
Have a great weekend,

PS: Make mine a Liberty Halo … “quite positively a monument of New Zealand Pilsner.”

PPS: Oh, and this week’s actual Public Health Warning …