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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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5/07/2005

Lord Saatchi gives advice indirectly to Harper

He writes: "The lesson of the campaign we have just fought is that the mere promise of efficiency is not enough to persuade people that you would be an efficient government. Mere anger at the problems of the world we live in is not enough to convince the voters that the Conservative Party is fit to solve them."

The Tories identified the problems of modern Britain well enough, he says. "The thwarted talent, the deplorable failure of Blair's public service reforms, the waste of taxpayers' money, the obscenity of poverty compounded by taxation. But we did not raise the horizons of the British and tell them with sufficient optimism, excitement and passion what 'should be'. This was a tragedy of failed communication and false perception because no Tory politician cares more about 'what should be' than Michael Howard."
the telegraph
I blathered on in the last election about the need for the CPC to offer a positive alternative. I expect the problem will be even more significant in the upcoming election. Beating Dithers is about more than yelling "corruption" hourly.
The mantra of the Thatcher years was: "The best reply to full-blooded socialism is not milk and water socialism, it is genuine Conservatism. We shall do what we have said we will do - set the people free." And so began the 20-year intellectual hegemony of the Conservative Party; triumphantly crowned at the end of the century when its old adversary made the historic announcement that Labour, too, would adopt Conservative economics.
maurice saachi, the telegraph

Warming Censorship....Surely Not

Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming.

A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue.
the telegraph
It is not as if there are not a lot of questions about the validity of the global warming hypothesis. The difficulty is that a scientific establishment, eager to flail the West for its lifestyle, signed on rather too early. Now it has to be somewhat underhanded in order to supress disenters from the orthodoxy.

We will be hearing lots more about the holes in the warming science.

South Park Republican Bingo

Much too much fun. You figure out how to play Southpark Republican Bingo do you call BINGO when the Texas legislature bans suggeestive cheerleading...or do you go with the Alabama legislature's banning books written by homosexuals - or people who, Lord knows, looked at a member of their sex with lust in their heart - or, and let's be kind here, the good folks in the Texas legislature who want to make teaching "intelligent design" part of the biology requirement for those lucky Kansas kids...Wonderful!

The Candain version would, of course, include the brilliant folks at the CPC rolling back SSM and, flash from the past, Stocky and the dinosaur.

Stuffed

Béliveau said he received between $75,000 and $100,000 cash in an envelope in $20 and $100 bills.

But government lawyer Sylvain Lussier challenged Béliveau's story on Friday, saying that if Corriveau had shown up with $100,000 in $20 bills, it would have been far too big a stack to fit in an envelope and would have needed a briefcase.

It would only fit in an envelope if it was all in $100 bills, he said.

Showing a briefcase and an envelope, both stuffed with photocopies of $20 bills, he asked Béliveau to make an effort to remember how the money was carried.

Béliveau replied: "It was an envelope, but one that was pretty thick."
cbc
So I took ten new fives and stacked them. Call it a 1/16 of an inch. $200 in twenties. An inch of twenties would be $3200.00. So government counsel has it right: 100K would be about a yard of twenties.

Of course, if it were hundreds it is $16,000.00 to the inch and more than plausible if we allow an 9x12 envelope...But what about the change? Where are the forensic accountants?

We have to get this cleared up.

Goodbye The Public Interest

In foreign policy, The Public Interest continued to be mute. But I and many of our writers could express our views in Commentary (which, in turn, gave birth to the Committee for the Free World, headed by the then-retired politician Donald Rumsfeld). Commentary was the third of the publications that, along with the Journal and The Public Interest, constituted what the Russians call a troika, a team of three horses pulling a carriage. It is astonishing to think that the combined efforts of these three publications (two with very modest circulations) should have been so consequential-or so it would seem today, to judge by the extraordinary interest displayed throughout the world in neoconservatism.
irving kristol, the public interest
It is very rare for a magazine to actually shape the terrain over which debate occurs. The Public Interest created the hills and vales of neo-conservative thought and, in doing so, created much of the landscape we currently inhabit. It will be missed.

5/06/2005

The Face of Britain

This looks about how one would expect. Labour in the North, the Tories in the Home Counties, the LDP scattered here and there.

This was not a squeaker...Blair won. John Michael Howard is stepping down. George Brown has the choice of supporting Blair for a few years or trying to push him out.

He might look to another Finance Minister for instruction. Pushing is not a grand idea, just ask Dithers.

Ladies and Gentlemen ....Paul Wells

Believe me: if something comes up at Gomery that (a) implicates the prime minister and (b) is the teensiest bit more solid than "The dead guy told me the future ambassador to Denmark told him the ministers said everything would be copacetic" then I'll be as happy as the next guy.
paul wells
As the Prof would say, "Indeed"

More from George Galloway

JP: I'm not trying to badger you, I'm merely trying to ask if you're proud at having driven out of Parliament one of the very few black women there, a woman you accuse of having on her conscience 100,000 people.
GG: Oh well there's no doubt about that one. There's absolutely no doubt that all those New Labour MPs who voted for Mr Blair and Mr Bush's war have on their hands the blood of 100,000 people in Iraq, many of them British soldiers, many of them American soldiers, most of them Iraqis and that's a more important issue than the colour of her skin.
JP: Absolutely, because you then went on to say "including a lot of women who had blacker faces than her"
GG: Absolutely right, absolutely right. So don't try and tell me I should feel guilty about one of the most sensational election results in modern electoral history.
JP: I put it to you Mr Galloway that Nick Raynsford had you to a T when he said you were a "demagogue".
GG: Sorry?
JP: Nick Raynsford. You know who I mean? Nick Raynsford. Labour MP?
GG: No, I don't know who you mean.
the edge of england's sword
A credit to the British Nation.

Outstanding!

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to prohibit the manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn't have copy protection technology known as the "broadcast flag." The regulations, which the FCC created in November 2003, had been intended to limit unauthorized Internet redistribution of over-the-air TV broadcasts.
cnet
fire up the TIVO.

The reason why this is significant is that it is a recognition that the creation of technology trumps the right of broadcasters to limit the sharing of material they put over the public airwaves. Essentially, the FCC wanted to require a bit of "code" to be inserted in any digital broadcast which would tell all compliant devices to turn off any ability to copy or share the material accompanied by the flag.

By denying the FCC's jurisdiction the Court of Appeal affirmed the principle that you can build whatever you want and it is up to the owner of the material to protect that material.

Given the convergence between computers and television this is a critical decision as it will allow the computer business to continue to engineer for its users without having to cripple machines to comply with a digital rights management regime.
"You're out there in the whole world, regulating. Are washing machines next?" asked Judge Harry Edwards. Quipped Judge David Sentelle: "You can't regulate washing machines. You can't rule the world."
cnet

Tick, tick...

For months, a crack team of top forensic accountants in Ottawa and Montreal has been following the Adscam money from the public purse through the elaborate money-laundering schemes of fraud and kickbacks at the heart of the sponsorship scandal. This is no ordinary group of number-crunchers.

Complex scandal

Among its members are some of the key investigators who unraveled the massive and complex financial scandal at Enron Corporation, the giant American energy company that collapsed under billions of dollars of hidden debt and fraud. Sometime in the next few weeks, this squad of sleuthing bean-counters from the firm Kroll Lindquist & Avey will present the Gomery inquiry with the results of its Adscam investigation.

If successful, the accountants will answer the most contentious of all sponsorship questions: Who ended up with all the money?

So far, the Gomery commission has heard testimony that an elaborate web of kickbacks and fraudulent invoices siphoned millions of dollars from the federal sponsorship program into the coffers of Liberal Party operatives. What we don't know -- and the forensic super-snoops will likely tell us -- is what happened to all the loot after the Liberal bagmen got it.

Was it a political slush fund to pay for Liberal election campaigns in Quebec? Or did the cash just stay in the bank accounts of the Grit bagmen, a fraud on a fraud? Did some of the loot perhaps find its way to others in high places? If so, who got the money, and who else knew about it?

The answers could further rock the Liberal Party, and have a profound effect on the timing and outcome of the next federal election. So far, the accounting firm is keeping its findings under tight wraps.

But sources elsewhere tell us the investigators have pieced together literally tens of thousands of pages of financial records, everything from personal bank accounts to phone bills of companies and key players in the Adscam mess.

The result, we are told, is pure political dynamite.
ottawa sun, greg weston
BOOM!

The Anti-Science Left

Over at No More Shall I Roam, Jonathan Dursi, writes a rather ill informed piece on "The Anti-Science Right".

It appears that Dursi takes it to be anti-scientific to question the prevailing orthodoxies of the Left's favorite scientists and whatever crack pot theory they have managed to get the great and the good of the NGOs to subscribe to this month.

He cites my posts, here on the broken hockey stick of Kyoto, on global dimming here. The claim being,

Newly ascendant are those right wing technophiles who are big fans of science and technology, but when any science result conflicts with their ideology, they simply reject it and attack those scientists who dare to make such claims.
The religious fervour with which the Left embraces the ineffective, expensive and vastly inefficient canticles of Kyoto means that they cannot possibly allow for the least hint of scepticism regarding its shakey scientific foundations. Which will mean chaps like Dursi will have to cover their ears and sing "La, la, la" as loudly as possible in order to avoid the head exploding implications of a new Science article summarized in this press release. Here's what Tim Worstall writes about the paper at TechCentralStation,
Commenting on the report, one of the authors states:
"The atmosphere is heated from the bottom up, and more solar energy at the surface means we might finally see the increases in temperature that we expected to see with global greenhouse warming,"
Which is a comment that can be taken two ways. One is that here is a solution to the rather uncomfortable problem that all of our models get the actual amount of warming wrong, which might be unkindly described as clutching at straws; the other is that the paper is a useful reminder that the science is not, contrary to perceived opinion, settled yet.

Before I get swamped by screams of outrage, by those calling me a greenhouse denialist, please, get a grip. It is quite obvious that there is a thing called the greenhouse effect, the differences between Venus, Mars and Earth are the only evidence one needs for that contention. I've said before and will no doubt have to say it again, I'm broadly of the Lomborg persuasion, that there is a general change in the climate going on, that humans are at least partially responsible for it and the important thing is to find out exactly what is going on and then work out how to deal with it. Papers like this add another level of complexity to this process, but do not obviate the need for such a process, rather they reinforce the notion that we should indeed be doing what we are, researching the problem as best we can.
Pace Mr. Dursi, what is anti-scientific is the willingness to take as settled science matters about which there is a great deal more to know. And what is dangerous about this anti-scientism is the tendency to make policy for the real world based on as yet largely untested, much less proven, scientific theory.

5/05/2005

Blair and the English Election

Tony Blair has won his third straight majority, albeit a reduced one.

The tenor of the campaign and the resulting Parliament may well be indicated by the election of George Galloway. Galloway was famously on Saddam Hussein's payroll and has been elected in a largely Muslim riding. A rather subtle man Galloway...

He [Blair]lost at least one loyal MP, Labour's Oona King, solely to Iraq. She was beaten by George Galloway, a radical expelled from the Labour party for attacking Blair over the war, in an east London seat with a large Muslim population.

"All the people you killed, all the lies you told, have come back to haunt you," Galloway told Blair in his victory speech.

"The best thing the Labour party could do is sack you."
reuters
blair has indicated that this third term will be his last and, with weasels like Galloway having been elected, I can't say I blame him.

5/04/2005

al-Libbi...

Western intelligence agencies regard al-Libbi as commander of the terror network’s day-to-day operations, and the one who runs its terror cells abroad, including recruits in Britain. British intelligence agents will be allowed to question al-Libbi.

Al-Libbi, 28, is also believed to be among the handful of al-Qaeda operatives likely to know the whereabouts of bin Laden.

Pakistani intelligence chiefs and CIA agents said to have taken part in his capture were angry that word of his arrest leaked out before they had a chance to move against others in the group.
times of london
Interesting that al-Libbi attained such seniority at such a young age. Now the issue is to crack the SOB and get on to bin Laden.

Going down....

"If we form government we would get the most popular elements of that budget into a Conservative budget," Solberg said.

One Liberal MP said his party sees the budget as their best chance of surviving the election.

"That's the only strategy we have," said the MP.

"If (Conservatives) talk about ethics, we'll turn it around and say, 'Was it ethical to defeat a budget that spoke about health care, the environment and seniors?'

"If we're going to go down, we might as well go down on the budget."
canada.com
The Liberals can count. They are aware that they are going to be defeated at some point in the next couple of weeks. It is really only a question of when.

Now, they are trying to run the argument that if they go the Budget - replete with NDP bribes - will go too. This is supposed to scare Canadians.

Which is hogwash because the week after the Tories take power they will be in a position to introduce a Budget of their own which can, if they determine it is a good idea, incorporate such elements of the Liberal Budget as seem reasonable.

The scent of desperation is becoming a stench...

Fickle Finger of Guite

Chuck Guite's testimony is out.

He fingers Martin in a rather round about way,

When he was still finance minister, Paul Martin was one of three cabinet ministers who intervened to make sure that a Toronto ad agency wouldn't lose its lucrative government contracts if it was to be sold to a foreign conglomerate, the Gomery inquiry has been told.

The startling claim linking the prime minister to the Adscam scandal was made at the inquiry headed by Mr. Justice John Gomery by Chuck Guité, the former head of the federal sponsorship program.
globe and mail
Scott Reid out of the PMO denies this categorically. Of course Guite is under oath and Reid is a PR guy; but no matter.

This does not look good for Martin but it is not, in my view, a smoking gun. Basically Martin seems to have been indicating that, prima facie a change in ownership of an ad agency would not disquality it from government lolly.

The real Martin action is likely at Earnscliffe.

Needless to say there is a whole lot of rather nasty stuff in the Guite testimony and Andrew Coyne is rooting it out as well as noting Canadian media reaction.

Markets work

For all of the chat about how expensive implementing Kyoto - which will do little or nothing to actually reduce world wide carbon emissions in anycase - the one thing which people never seem to mention is price. We have goofy Rick Mercer yapping about the 1 tonne challenge but no politician is willing to double the price of gasoline. But, if you really want to encourage conservation doubling that price is about what it will take. And, hey, consumers will respond....

Sales of Toyota's Prius, the most popular gas-electric hybrid car on the market, nearly tripled compared with April of last year, to 11,345.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. sales were down slightly, while DaimlerChrysler AG showed a nearly 9-percent gain. Leading Japanese and Korean automakers, however, posted big double-digit increases.

Industrywide, passenger car sales were up 11 percent in April, while light truck sales rose only 1.3 percent. SUVs, particularly large ones like the Ford Expedition and GMC Yukon, seemed to be hardest hit. With a 28-gallon tank, it can cost $60 or more to fill up an Expedition.
consumer affairs.com
Consumers do indeed respond to price signals.

Now, the interesting question is whether or not the US car companies will also respond or if they will keep making cars which no one wants to buy because they are too expensive to run...History, in the form of the near bankruptcy of the big car makers during the early 1970's oil shock does not make me very hopeful.

5/03/2005

Waiting for Gomery

Norman Spector points to Random Notes which gives what may be the real reason Dithers wants us all to wait til Gomery releases his final report, looking at the Kreaver Inquiry into tainted blood as a similar case,

The whole process took more than four years. So what are the prospects for similar legal interventions by named parties to derail the conventional view that Gomery will report this year, with an election held by March 2006?
random notes

5/02/2005

Mr. K takes his shot

From the littered desk of Andrew Coyne here is the conclusion of a Kinsella memo re Earnscliffe consulting....Mr. Dither's consultancy of choice and home to David Herle, Liberal spinmeister.

I am gung ho on calling an election forthwith; but this potentially links Dithers to the whole pattern of behaviour leading to Gomery. It needs to be played out and a week or two may be enough to demonstrate Martin was up to his elbows in much. Not Quebec muck, Ottawa muck.

5/01/2005

Housing Bubble blog

How silly are Vancouver housing prices? So silly they have their own blog: check out Vancouver Housing Market Blog. Well written with asute analysis.

The 800 SF 2-bedroom condo is standard fare in downtown Vancouver. Most of the new towers that have been erected in Yaletown and Coal Harbour have 2 bedrooms in the 750-820 SF range. In 2003, the best of these were going for around $300K by my recollection.

Today I saw one for $518K, at 1239 West Georgia on the 23rd floor. Here is the listing. Here is the floorplan.

Wow.

Similar things rent for around $1700. Condo fee is $222, property taxes are likely $125 per month. Add on another $50 for insurance and that means you clear $1300 net. This makes the annual yield 1300*12 / 518K = 3.0%. The P/E is 33.2.

This looks like a very nice building with great amenities. Moreover, you've likely got a great view from the 23rd floor. Still, you're living in an 800SF box for $500K plus; one you could rent for a lot less.
Madness!