Saturday, September 02, 2006

Life in a "backwater"

Anne and I got into my 1963 Humber Super Snipe yesterday morning and motored down to the seaside for brunch. We took sandwiches with us and got takeaway coffee from a cafe close to our destination. When we got there, the park had a few people wandering around but the picnic shelter where we sat down was uninhabited. So we sat there in perfect peace and quiet and had our brunch looking out to sea across Moreton Bay. And there were no "minorities" to trouble us.

The English used to "motor" to salubrious places once too but from what I hear these days, all that they now do is crawl along in traffic jams. I encountered no traffic jams or holdups at all and we drove through some quite nice green countryside on the way -- so if any English person had been with us it would have seemed to them like a trip back in time.

We did stop at a liquor barn on the way to pick up some choice Tokay. The liquer Tokay that Australian vintners produce is lightyears ahead of the rough red that Hungarian vintners make out of the same grape. Australian liquer Muscat is remarkably good too -- so, if you are a drinker of fortified wines, scrap the Port and go for Australian Muscats and Tokays. It will be a definite step up.

Today is the first anniversary of Anne and I meeting so we are going to celebrate by going to the smorgasbord at the Hilton. The Brisbane Hilton does an impeccable smorgasbord with lots of seafood -- of which Australians are usually very fond. They seem to do the best Sydney rock oysters in town -- large and succulent. If you have never eaten raw Sydney rock oysters, you haven't lived. I know of no other oyster remotely as good.

It is so nice not to live in a "vibrant" place.



Iran wins: "So, what now? Iran has defied the United Nations order to stop its most controversial nuclear work. It looks as if there will be a fudge by the European Union, dragging the US along behind. At yesterday's deadline, which was supposed to be the climax of this long-running stand-off, Europeans blinked first. Germany and Italy, in particular, have taken the view that more talks would be preferable to sanctions, even at the cost of blurring the force of the UN Security Council demand. That has played into the hands of Russia and China, who never much wanted sanctions. It has left the US, Britain, and France, who favoured an immediate move to sanctions, frustrated on the sidelines."

Australian PM unapologetic about the need for migrant assimilation: "Mr Howard sparked controversy yesterday by saying on talk-back radio a small group of Muslim migrants had refused to accept their adopted country's values and had not learned English. The Prime Minister said today he had no reason to apologise or water down those remarks. "There's a small section of the Islamic population which is unwilling to integrate," he said. "And I have said, generally, all migrants ... they have to integrate, and that means speaking English as quickly as possible, it means embracing Australian values and it also means making sure that no matter what the culture of the country from which they come might have been, Australia requires women to be treated fairly and equally and in the same fashion as men. "And if any migrants that come into this country have a different view, they better get rid of that view very quickly. "I don't retreat in any way from that."

Sweden no better for the poor: "In the USA the poor get 39% of the US median income and in Finland (and Sweden) the poor get 38% of the US median income. It's not worth quibbling over 1% so let's take it as read that the poor in America have exactly the same standard of living as the poor in Finland (and Sweden). Which is really a rather revealing number don't you think? All those punitive tax rates, all that redistribution, that blessed egalitarianism, the flatter distribution of income, leads to a change in the living standards of the poor of precisely ... nothing."

Albion's wayward children: "There is, to be sure, a very 'special relationship' that exists between England and America. Usually undefined, this relationship is essentially characterized by warm and collaborative ties between the two countries -- in the diplomatic, military, economic and political spheres. But there is also a deep cultural affinity between the two countries -- one that is, too often, left unexamined. Many people only see the linguistic expression of America's cultural bond with Britain -- the fact that we speak the same language. But there are 'fundamental customs and values that form the core of English-speaking cultures' according to a website inspired by The Anglosphere Challenge by James C. Bennett."

FEMA was the biggest disaster in New Orleans: "FEMA's failure was that it employed a command and control approach -- central planning -- as the basis for organizing relief activities. This compounded disaster with disaster, because the great weakness of central planning is its inability to respond quickly and adapt to changes and unforeseen circumstances. No centralized authority, no matter how well-intentioned its employees and well-functioning its internal operations, can overcome this problem. How could any one agency go about coordinating thousands of people with different needs with thousands of people who have supplies that could help them? FEMA's model required both the demands for relief and offers of supply to be communicated first to the agency for approval. Private individuals and local governments that attempted to bring in their own supplies quickly found that FEMA would not allow it."

Wal-Mart and Toddler economics: "Whether we handle WalMart and the attendant issues as intelligent adults, capable of reasoning, or we do so as whining three-year-olds with all the attendant knowledge of incentives, utopian wishes and economic consequences such a three-year-old might possess is, indeed, one of the important questions facing the country. At the heart of Klein's cluster of concerns is an entirely valid, even admirable, concern. He wishes the low paid to be paid more and to have better benefits to go with that higher pay. However, like a three-year-old, he's not quite capable of seeing what the consequences of such a wish would actually be."

Strange silence: "For the national media, higher gas prices at the pump are always deserving of banner headlines and sob stories about how tough it is for families to make ends meet. But reductions in gas prices are invariably a snoozer. So that's why the latest data on gasoline prices falling comfortably below $3.00 a gallon in most markets has been mostly ignored. AAA reported an average price of $2.84 -- which, in the wake of prices as high as $3.29 a gallon at many service stations, is a blessed relief. Lower gas prices act like an economy-wide tax cut"



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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