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Harry gets two gongs & a deafening silence

I was pleased to get a nomination for best blog post of 2007 (run by Online Opinion and Troppo) with a widely-criticised piece on Australia’s treatment of Md. Haneef. Methinks the leftist loonie critics do protest too much. This post is my first serious chance to win a logie. I thank my family, God and […]

Road pricing that reduces welfare

This piece from Parapundit discusses an empirical study by Peter Swan and Michael Belzer which suggests that privatising roads can lead to traffic diversions which worsen external costs.

The general argument is one I have commented on before. Pricing on some roads – for example on major highways alone – can lead to traffic diversion […]

What does cholesterol have to do with it?

Gary Taubes disputes the connection between saturated fats and heart disease and the connection between lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing heart disease.

Because medical authorities have always approached the cholesterol hypothesis as a public health issue, rather than as a scientific one, we’re repeatedly reminded that it shouldn’t be questioned. Heart attacks kill hundreds of […]

Classical music blogs & sites

Courtesy of Saturday’s AFR (the gist is here) I learned of Alex Ross’s classical music blog ‘The Rest is Noise’ – the title is also that of his first book, which provides a guide to classical music of the twentieth century. He claims there has been a revival of interest in classical music has been […]

Health & the power of suggestion

We know that the placebo effect is of importance in helping to cure people of diseases and illnesses – eating that worthless little pill that you believe can resolve your problems might do so. For that matter being married or going to church promotes your health also.

A related issue is whether joining a ‘support […]

Tuna sushi, tinned tuna & fish oils

I like sushi and am a particular fan of bluefin tuna.

An admittedly non-random sample in New York suggests that 25% of this stuff is contaminated with dangerous levels of the extremely toxic liquid metal, mercury. Apparently the red tuna sushi I enjoy most should not be consumed more than once every 3 weeks.


US & Australian economies

This is a simple story about current US events. Lulled by continuing, uninterrupted prosperity US citizens spent too much – the last 10 years have been a credit-driven spending frenzy. Now it is payback time and because many asset prices (housing and stocks) remain high the potential for a severe prolonged contraction is there.

If […]

The Kiterunner

I watched The Kiterunner movie last night with mixed emotions. It was a film that provided an intriguing account of children caught up in Afghanistan’s conflicts. But it is essentially American sentimentality and an overdone account of good-versus-evil.

Spoiler: The next para outlines the plot.

The Kiterunner is the story of a sooky, intellectual Afghan […]

Death of the Bully

I am saddened by the death of The Bulletin. The current issue will be its last.

The Bulletin has been published in Australia since 1880 but its circulation now of 57,030 is well down on from over 100,000 in the 1990s and it is apparently no longer financially viable.

It originally published works by Henry […]

Obesity & carbohydrates – Atkins was right

Gary Taubes has an article in NewScientist discrediting current theories of obesity (eat less, exercise more) and (again) endorsing the ideas of Robert Atkins. These ideas I have strongly supported in the face of opposition for many years.

There is considerable evidence that the obesity epidemic is caused by a hormonal phenomenon, specifically by […]

Share market jitters

As global share markets moved sharply lower yesterday (a fall of 7.1% in the all ods), Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan moved to reassure investors. After hearing Wayne I slept easier last night. Moreover the market obviously responded well to the sage words of the Labor Party’s economics guru – it bounced backed 4.3% today.

Swan’s […]

Stereo advice from FXH

Partly in response to my earlier stereo system bleg, Francis Xavier Holden has put his shoulder to the wheel and delivered the first of a series of advice posts on how to buy a stereo system at modest cost. Worth a look, here.

Quite independently FXH offers a hilarious ‘concept song’ that will ring inner […]


Overfishing comes and goes in the press as a global catastrophe. We should make sure it sticks around since this global problem steadily worsens. This NYT editorial points out that illegal fishing is irreversibly destroying many of the world’s fisheries.

The Europeans have wiped out their local fisheries and are now destroying those of Africa. […]

The case for strengthening laws on illicit drugs

An oldie but definitely a goodie. This argument by Theodore Dalrymple* provides a cogent philosophical and legal case against legalising illicit drugs.

A newie but also a goodie. Despite the psychological (psychosis, addiction) and physical damage (lungs and lung cancer) cannabis is known to cause a rearguard group of drug industry leeches are setting to […]

Caricaturing Australia Day

The Age is pre-celebrating next Saturday, 26th January – Australia Day – in its usual asinine, hateful way with two entirely negative commentaries on the occasion.

According to these commenters there is nothing much to celebrate – we Aussies are a rotten lot and those who do celebrate are jingoistic, racist and drunken slobs who […]

1001 albums to listen to before you die

I am reading 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die edited by Robert Dimery. It attempts the impossible task of selecting the best popular – mainly rock – albums since the mid-1950s – there is an equivalent effort for classical music. It has been criticised as a pointless attempt to ‘list’ modern musical culture […]

International tax competition

This silly video clip by Daniel Mitchell argues the case for unregulated tax competition between nations. The idea is that the lowest rates of company and personal income tax are best so globalisation which forces high tax countries to cut their taxes to levels of low tax countries to avoid job and investment losses must […]

Economists with three hands

I missed this NYT article by Tyler Cowen when it first appeared – it is a gem.

Economists often know much less than they pretend to know. On the one hand, but on the other hand and, alternatively……

Recent data from china suggests average real incomes there have been greatly exaggerated. Moreover, 300 million earn […]

Performance pay for teachers

Iain Hall has a post on the case for merit pay among teachers. Its seems 2/3 of teachers Australia-wide believe schools are having problems retaining staff and, of those, 70% believe that paying extra to those with additional qualifications and those who are most competent would stem the tide. The sample included about 1/3 of […]

Compensating the unemployed?

The NYT has a stern neoclassical defence of free trade (by Stephen Landsberg) with outsourcing. Landsberg is clearly discussing US-Chinese trade from the US viewpoint. The gist is that just as we should not feel morally obliged to compensate a restaurant owner when we shop for food at a cheaper McDonalds store so too the […]