How to really stuff up an economy
This week's shout-out must go to the Venezuelan government which has shown us all how not to do things. When prices were high, the government wasted vast sums from the sale of the country's oil on populist social policies to buy support. Much of the rest went on corruption, which is high even by South American standards. Now oil prices are low, there is no money for subsidies and everything is in short supply, including food. The government of President Nicolas Maduro has responded with degrees that have made things worse, accusing the bakery managers of subverting government regulations by refusing make cheap bread and so on. According to a property rights index compiled by the US based The Heritage Foundation, incidentally, Venezuela has the lowest score of all the South American countries. Confiscation of property without compensation is common. No wonder there is no economy outside oil.
One more crisis has gone, but don't tell the academics
Have climate scientists been ranting at you that global food production is threatened by climate change and pollution, and various factors they have been spending research grants to study? Point them in the direction of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation food price index, which has been falling for years. While the monthly index moved up last year, the annual average was still below that of 2015. The peak was around 2010. Now prices in real terms are back where they were in the 1980s. So much for warnings of mass starvation.
Fractious students a US thing?
After reading about the behaviour of students at Middlebury College in the US in preventing Charles Murray from speaking to the point of intimidation and aggression, I wondered why students at Australian universities do not behave just as idiotically. (I had not heard of Murray or his book The Bell Curve before the incident, and have no interest in investigating his views.) Arts students behaving stupidly and aggressively are nothing new. After a few lectures in politics they also think they know stuff, which is a concern. Australian students are no better. Perhaps one difference is that Australia does not have America's diversity of private colleges, occasionally staffed by academics interested in diversity of debate. Instead, higher education down under is mostly about big, state universities filled with academics of the same loony left caste as the activists - the sort of people who try to get former President Bush arrested on war crimes charges during a visit to Australia and so on. That doesn't explain all of the difference but it is a start.
Disgraced in all of Koala Bay
Just up from the country and scratching for a job in journalist Miles Black winds up on the Northern Sydney suburban weekly the Koala Bay Bugle. Jobs in journalism are what you make of them but the office manage hates him, his fellow report detests him and the editor in chief cannot be bothered with the reporters in his charge. All that would be fine by Miles if only the beauteous Anne would notice a dirt-poor reporter from the bush.
Shout out to hated solar bear
A bad guy that this site should salute is stock market analyst Gordon Johnson of Axiom Capital Management Inc. Gordon follows the various green stocks that infest stock markets - companies that build electric cars or own wind farms and the like - and is notable for having a sell recommendations on everything he follows. This is extraordinary in itself as stock market analysts rarely issue sell recommendations. The broking firms they work for do not like it as it drives away client companies, and the client company themselves object strongly. But Gordon not only does it, and advocates short selling (to make money when the price is gong down), he has done so successfully. "Everybody hates me," he says.
Well done Gordon for standing up to the green madness, and scoring for the bad guys.
Academics who are so completely wrong its interesting.
Academics with nutty beliefs which they cling to in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong, such as those convinced that the neo-liberal capitalist system is about to collapse, are nothing new. The all time champion trophy for academic lunacy must go to Sydney and Beatrice Webb and their 1935 two volume study of the Soviet Union entitled Soviet Communism: a new civilisation? As readers will note from the date, this book was produced at the height of the terror, when NKVD firing squads were working overtime, and even ordinary citizens faced the appalling prospect of denouncing someone or themselves being denounced. The Webbs, not strictly academics but with a history of academic achievement including founding the London School of Economics, managed to concluded that Stalin was not a dictator but a good manager. A notorious incident where Stalin organised mass starvation in the Ukraine was dismissed as being invented by capitalists. They later responded to increasing evidence that they had totally misjudged the communist system by taking the question mark out of their book. They are pictured left while in Russia in 1932.
Academics need to watch the TV series Silicon Valley
Further on the post below, by searching on the same site for neoliberal I found an academic at Boston college who, in my opinion, outdoes both me and the academic cited in that post for sheer nuttiness. The article talks about capitalism's complete failure. (Because growth has been slow in recent years? Because Europe's idiotic venture into a single currency has had such appalling problems?) Like all the other comments of this type the article carefully avoids saying what the author would replace capitalism with, only saying basically that various academics are consulting on the matter. Good Luck with that.
As part of the consulting process they should watch the TV series Silicon Valley. Sure capitalism is a messy, dog-eat-dog business, but the people who matter - the workers - want to get rich, and they would vote for it every time. Clink on the link for my commentary on the series.
Me, disagree with academics?
Why is it that I'm always questioning the wisdom of academics? Perhaps it is because some of them, in my considered opinion, hold nutty, fringe beliefs. A case in point is this guy from Melbourne University in Australia who says the neo-liberal capitalist system is tottering on the edge of an abyss. It is? The article has to be read to be believed. The Berlin Wall never fell, and those on the Eastern side of it are still happy to be there. And people count me as eccentric for wanting to clear Darth Vader's name.
So that raises an interesting question was Vader a neo-liberal?
Stargate self harm
I have decided that my life is too even and happy. My mission to clear Darth Vader's name is not attracting sufficient scorn. So why not watch all of the Stargate TV episodes? This includes more than 200 episodes in the main series, Stargate SG-1, then there is Stargate Atlantis (five seasons or more than 100 episodes) and Stargate Universe (two seasons), as well as three direct to DVD SG-1 movies. That's a lot of mind-numbing story lines and fake violence. English-speaking Mongolians on a different planet that agree to emancipate their women? Sigh!
Why choose that method of self-harm? Self-flagellation seems dull and repetitive, albeit less psychologically damaging, and self-immolation too drastic. I will report further.
Saluting the world's grumpiest boss
In celebrating all that is grumpy in this world, this site should note the passing of former oil industry executive Edward Mike Davis, who has been proclaimed as the world's grumpiest boss. Among other, notable achievements, Davis banned all birthday celebrations in his office, along with all other celebrations or levity of any kind, and directed staff not to speak to him, in particular not to say good morning to him. If he wanted to communicate, he would speak to them first. Wonderful stuff. His obituary, which includes some of his memos, can be read in the New York Times.
How not to communicate
So the aliens in the film Arrival travel umpteen hundred light years using ultra-advanced technology, only to hang around being cryptic until earth people learn enough of their language to ask what they are doing in this part of the galaxy. Then the translations are so vague as to almost start a war. Hey, aliens what about a clear mission statement - we are here because - communicated so that it can be understood by us less-advanced types? At least old-style fictional aliens use to blow stuff up - now that was a clear message.
AI in film Passengers was just baggage
It is difficult to believe that the AI on the star ship shown in this film was so dumb that it did not know the ship was in serious trouble? Even My PC knows when its in trouble and would report to Microsoft if I let it. (Switch off and switch back on again always works, although you may lose serious game or writing time.) The in-ship AI was about as bright as a 1980s PC, which is difficult to believe..
Good guys who lost
Darth Vader, the Resources Development Administration (the bad company in the 2002 film Avatar), Scrooge (converted rather than lost), Sauron and Blofeld (James Bond's nemesis) to name a few of those unfairly maligned. A list connecting to a few articles is on the site. A free e-book exploring the likely real story of Darth Vader will be released soon.
Good guys who are bad
James Bond repeatedly breaks the law, He murders people without even the sanction of his own employers, although the murders would be completely illegal no matter what MI6 thought should happen. Indiana Jones repeatedly wrecks priceless ancient monuments all in the name of saving himself from evil people, and removes artifacts from sites for sale. Luke Skywalker was a rebel who damaged Imperial property and murdered Imperial personnel. Something should be done.