Saturday, 28 February 2009

A better metaphor for our lives

Fuck Atlas shrugging. Catchy title, stupid metaphor.

Would a book entitled "Sisyphus said 'screw this' and went off to play Halo" sell?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Well done, National...

Government kills pay-equity inquiries:

The Government has axed two investigations aimed at improving the pay of women as it tries to save money by controlling public sector salaries.

The inquiries were aimed at female social workers at Child, Youth and Family, who are paid 9.5 per cent less than their male colleagues, and at inequities in the pay of mainly female school support workers.

Now, I also think we can save a bit more money if we pay Maori workers with muskets and whiskey, and perhaps import Chinese guestworkers for about ten cents a day.

Update - the text of Brian Easton's talk (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Brian Easton's talk to "Drinking Liberally" can be found here - Part 1 and Part 2.

I STRONGLY recommend it for anyone interested in the economics of the current problem, whether Kiwi or otherwise. Part 1 is on world economics, part 2 NZ.

Reaction to the talk may be found here and here.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Seems our Tourist Information Agency is doing a good job...

Swiped SHAMELESSLY from the Wellingtonista:

As noizyboy says, the translation may not be entirely accurate.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A good summation of how we got here...

From Bruce Meredith, _NZ Business_ (Feb 09, p.70):

"There is only one place money comes from. Customers.

"The financial markets are not where the money comes from. At best, these markets are enablers - at its core, a simple concept and structure - as long as everyone involved both understands and knows how to play the game.

"Where the wheels fall off is when players in that market either fail or refuse to grasp that concept and set out with one, single minded objective, to use money to make money. Where money is not just the enabler, but is also the product and the result.

"That is when greed and avarice emerge.

"It has happened before in the history of the capitalist model and it will happen again. And it sure as heck is happening now.

"Business has become a dirty word. Capitalism has become a dirty word. profit has become a dirty word. Not because any of those concepts are, in themselves, flawed. Rather, because of in the way a relatively small number of greed possessed fat cats play the game. Their objective is always simple - to make money irrespective of the cost to, or effect on, anyone else.

"When that happens, eventually the model will crash and the little guy ends up paying the price. The assembly line worker at General Motors, the despatch clerk at Fisher & Paykel, the first time home buyer who has to find a significantly greater deposit, putting the purchase of a house out of their reach for the foreseeable future.

"The fat cats don't pay. They board their Gulfstream corporate jets and head to Washington to plead poverty and seek taxpayer handouts. And the most galling and unjust element of this whole sorry saga is that these effects have little or nothing to do with the trading performance of business as a whole. It is not poor business trading performance that has caused what we are currently experiencing. It is nothing more than the effects of spectacular greed and avarice on the part of those who are supposed to be the enablers of business performance - the money men - whether they be retail bankers, investment bankers, finance companies or money market traders. These are the men (and women) who must carry the can for this spectacular global economic mess."

Or, as the Front Lawn said many years ago:

Can you believe this place?
Well can you?
They're making money out of money here,
They're making buildings out of glass.
Their kids look like they stepped out of fashion magazines,
But none of it's going to last.

A thought for anyone having to deal with someone who wants to tell them about Jesus,,,

Have you ever thought how much "Messiah" sounds like "Mary Sue"?

Something to consider the next time a god-botherer wants to inform you how awesome Christ is, and how He likes this and that, but hates the other...

Thursday, 12 February 2009

And all the roads are jammed up with credit...

I went to a lecture from Brian Easton today, one of NZ's leading (orthodox) economists.

Oh fuck.

There are two problems in general with the world economy - the recession and the credit crisis.

We're better positioned than most for a recession, thanks to a grasping Scottish tightwad who was running our Treasury for years. Importantly, our banks don't seem to have any toxic assets such as those besetting the American (and to some extent Australian) systems. Our finance companies had some; they died. They were unnecessary to our larger economy. Sucks for the investors, but that's what investing means.

However, NZ's unusual position makes the credit problem very very real, our options are limited, and the important decisions are out of our hands. There's a word which was floated which I don't even want to repeat out loud in a wider forum.

On the plus side, I now know what to look for in global economic news.

The new Ambassador to Ankh Morpork...

Terry Prachett has been knighted.

Might I propose "Vert, a Luggage proper salient" for the coat of arms?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

On cautioning against euphoria

Remember all the joy about Obama being such a change?


Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit

The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn't changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

This is not going to please civil libertarians and human rights activists who had hoped the Obama administration would allow the lawsuit to proceed.

That seems pretty much uncontestable. The Obama Administration just blew the first test on civil rights. Charitably, they've got too much going on and they've been captured in this policy area by the intelligence community which would be embarrassed to have their dirty laundry aired further in public.

There are two things that are going to be more nausating than the oh-so-predictable backbiting and snark on the liberal blogs about this - the crowing on the wingnut blogs, and the whole American torture policy itself.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Oh crap...

We are fucked now. Forget the recession/depression, this is the worst news you may hear all month.

Millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane have apparently begun leaking from the seabed beneath wide areas of the Arctic Ocean, the British Independent reported on September 23.

Scientists on board the research ship Yakov Smirnitsky recently finished taking precise measurements of methane along Russia’s entire northern coastline. Conducted under the International Siberian Shelf Study 2008, the research revealed methane concentrations as much as 100 times background levels, with the largest anomalies tens of thousands of square kilometers in extent.

“We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below”, researcher Dr Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University told the British Independent in an email. “It is obvious that the source is the seabed.”

In some places, the gas was evidently bubbling from the sea floor in volumes too great to be dissolved by the surrounding water. Echo-soundings detected “methane chimneys” reaching all the way to the surface.

Positive feedback cycle reached. Kyoto was way too little, way too late.

We're screwed. Time to hunker down and start considering national NZ survival in the face of a world losing, say, half its population.

Monday, 2 February 2009

On comparisons between Presidents

With the current US President, the mark of the true insider is having his email address.

With the last US President, the mark of the true insider was to have him calling you some stupid name like "Turd Blossom".

Says it all, really.