web analytics
The Standard

Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, April 21st, 2013 - 9 comments
Categories: interweb - Tags:

My regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: Vienna 1913, politics in our genes, burying Thatcher and failed economic theories.

A quirky one to start: a look at Vienna 1913 – when Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky, Tito and Freud all lived within about a couple of miles from soon-to-be-assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The BBC also looks at a study showing that some of our politics may be genetically determined.

The Guardian, meanwhile has people wanting Thatcherites to admit the suffering caused by their idol, and Thatcherism to be buried, not just Thatcher. With the irony of so much public money being spent on the funeral of the cheerleader of small government goes the trouble caused by it being in the month benefits are slashed and tax cuts handed to the rich.

Far from saving Britain, Thatcher’s government delivered rampant inequality, social breakdown, disastrous financial deregulation, pulverising deindustrialisation and mass unemployment. A North Sea oil bonanza was frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy and a swollen benefits bill as public services were run down, child poverty escalated and social mobility ground to a halt.

But for all that, her apologists insist, Thatcher did what was necessary to turn Britain’s economy round. But she didn’t. Growth during the 1980s, at 2.4%, was exactly the same as during the turbulent 1970s and lower again in the post-Thatcher 1990s, at 2.2% — while in the corporatist 1960s it averaged over 3%.

And despite claims of a Thatcher “productivity miracle”, productivity growth was also higher in the 60s (and it’s gone into reverse under Cameron). What her government did do was redistribute growth from the poor to the rich, driving up profits and slashing employees’ share of national income through her assault on trade unions.

Conservative Finance Minister George Osborne, fresh from crying for Thatcher but not the 2.65 million unemployed on his watch, is now having the IMF and all intellectual support for his austerity cut.  The Guardian continues coverage of the failure of Treasury’s favourite paper demanding cuts for growth.  They also show up the failure of “tax competition” – how it penalises the poor and costs states without any perceivable reward (except for the owners of multi-nationals).  Growth seems to have no correlation to tax-take either.

And the Guardian looks at the deafness of another Tory idealogue, Education Minister Michael Gove, as he disdains the advice of experts and calls for longer school hours and a much-criticised curriculum.

Over in the US there’s a look at how the NRA is more powerful than money, the president and 90% of US public opinion.  And also a fact check of the dodgy stats the NRA uses to justify its case.

Mother Jones also looks at our addiction to Nitrogen fertilisers – as in the explosion at West, Texas – and it’s implications.

excess nitrogen that seeps into streams and eventually into the Mississippi River, feeding a massive annual algae bloom that blots out sea life;emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon; and the destruction of organic matter in soil. […] the US fertilizer industry increasingly relies on cheap natural gas extracted by fracking

Meaning the fossil fuel industry has gained a powerful ally.

To finish on a brighter note: An excellent video of Steve Jones, geneticist, who fears the phrase “the gene for X”, and wants to see the effort of the Human Genome Project repeated (& expanded) into a Human Social Project to find out what makes us and society tick, and expand on our knowledge of how a more equal society works better for all of us etc.

Life expectancy has been going up 6 hours a day every day since 1900, and all that is due to changes in the environment, none of that is due to changes in genes. [..] Many people think that if we can read DNA it could tell us when we are going to die. But we already know that from just a few questions: How old are you? Are you male or female? Do you smoke? Do you have a history of inherited diseases? Are you obese? But the biggest question is: What’s your zipcode. The difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest zipcodes in a city like Glasgow is an astonishing 28 years. And zipcodes have nothing to do with genes. [..]

The answer is that we don’t change the way we are, we change the way we live.

9 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. rosy 1

    “A quirky one to start: a look at Vienna 1913 – when Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky, Tito and Freud “
    Ah – missed Lenin

    In January 1913 alone, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky (the latter two being regulars) were patrons of the [Cafe Central].

    Apparently the intelligentsia that met in Cafe Central used to shout across the room to each other in the midst of their political arguments, arguing about who would start a war. By 1918 the city was ‘Red Vienna’ when the Social Democrats came into power for the first time. As far as I know, except for the years of the war and post-war occupation, it’s been a ‘red Vienna’ ever since. It’s definitely the place for a political hobbyist like me to be for a while.

    Anyway, from the BBC link:

    Frederic Morton imagines Hitler haranguing his fellow lodgers “on morality, racial purity, the German mission and Slav treachery, on Jews, Jesuits, and Freemasons”.

    “His forelock would toss, his [paint]-stained hands shred the air, his voice rise to an operatic pitch. Then, just as suddenly as he had started, he would stop. He would gather his things together with an imperious clatter, [and] stalk off to his cubicle.”

    Morton also forgot Hitler’s persecution of homosexuals. Meanwhile, Freud lived on Berggasse, which is also the location of Cafe Berg, our much-loved local cafe. 85 steps from our front door (counted one night on the way home when we were talking about how very many cafes and restaurants were in the vicinity). I went there for lunch on Thursday and said a quiet Prost! to the passing of NZ’s gay marriage law. Cafe Berg has been catering to the gay, lesbian and transgender community for the past 17 years. There couldn’t be a more appropriate location for this cafe and its associated bookshop – Ol’ Hits would be turning in his grave, Freud might just give a puzzled smile, I’d like to think.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    Growth seems to have no correlation to tax-take either.

    Well, over the last few decades what’s happened is that higher taxes on the well off correlates with more growth. Not that I’m a fan of growth you understand.

  3. Cafe Central in ‘Red Vienna’ really is a great setting for a political play that thrashes out the arguments about genetic and social determination of politics.
    With Freud as the interlocutor we have a distinguished lineup on both sides.
    I put Freud in the middle since his theory lends itself to both genetic (libido) and social (repression) interpretations.
    And I count Stalin as on the side of Hitler, since for him ‘blood’ and ‘nationality’ was a powerful influence in shaping one’s ‘fatherland’ in stark opposition to Lenin and Trotsky.
    In fact around the time (1913) Lenin took Stalin to task for his position on the national question.
    Stalin was sent to Vienna to write an article on the National Question. What is a nation? etc.
    Lenin didn’t like the results. Stalin thought nationalism was based on ‘national character’ a psychological concept he borrowed from Otto Bauer (a native Viennese). He thought there was little room for nationalities to merge and that revolutionaries had to bury these differences into common class struggle.
    These differences would have lead to public rows but probably not across the cafe in the hearing of Hitler.
    On his death bed in 1922 Lenin again took Stalin to task for this Georgian chauvinism. Trotsky called Stalin’s regime in 1935 ‘fascist’ living off the backs of the workers.
    The climax of any Cafe Central exchange would be between Hitler, Stalin and Trotsky over the Stalin-Hitler pact, since the former certainly raised the threat posed by Trotsky in his conversations with Stalin.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/09/ussr-war.htm

    • ghostrider888 3.1

      enjoyable read red

    • rosy 3.2

      Yes, a great read and you’re correct, RR. It’s the perfect setting for a political play (not these days – it’s full of tourists who come for the architecture not the political history).

      The climax of any Cafe Central exchange would be between Hitler, Stalin and Trotsky over the Stalin-Hitler pact, since the former certainly raised the threat posed by Trotsky in his conversations with Stalin

      It’s no wonder Trotsky was pursued to his death for showing the contradiction, hypocrisy and ultimately the horror of the H-S stance. There could be a fast forward to present day U.S/U.K state capitalism as foretold by Hugo Urbahns and Bruno R. (Thanks for the thought-provoking link, I’ve just spent a full morning on my political education).

      In Vienna back then, half the population was immigrant, as a full third still is today. I wonder how that would play out in the nationalist-fatherland narrative. It could turn the political play into a political farce.

      I’d like to get Alphonse Mucha in there somehow, he also was in Vienna for awhile, albeit a few decades earlier – another nationalist, but this time for his annexed Bohemia. His art fits the Cafe Central architecture. He eventually died after being denounced for his art (in particular, his Slav Epic depicting the history of the Czech and Slavic people) and interrogation by the Gestap0, in Prague in 1939.

  4. ghostrider888 4

    coincidentally, the prime role played by environment (nurture) is echoed in karols thread of comments.

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    a beautifully composed post BUNJI

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bullying contributes to Auckland being stripped of ICU training
    Complaints of bullying and harassment by supervisors which have contributed to Auckland’s critical care department losing its training accreditation are further evidence of the appalling culture at executive level, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The department had its accreditation… ...
    17 hours ago
  • Broadband failure sucks up more cash
    The Commerce Committee has blocked an inquiry into the $300 million rural broadband initiative (RBI) despite mounting evidence it’s a massive policy failure and waste of money, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran. “The Government is about to spend an… ...
    1 day ago
  • TISA – Another secret trade deal you may never have heard of
      This post first appeared on The Daily Blog You’ve probably heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) by now and the widespread concerns around it but what about the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) also being currently negotiated by… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 days ago
  • Health chickens coming home to roost as Dunedin loses right to train doctor...
    News today that Dunedin Hospital has lost orthopaedic training accreditation is a major blow and proves the Government’s prevarication is having devastating consequences, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Losing orthopaedic advanced training is serious. There is a knock on… ...
    3 days ago
  • $74,000 quarterly rise shows crisis out of control
    New figures out today showing Auckland house prices have spiked by a massive $74,000 in the past quarter is further evidence the city’s housing crisis has spiralled out of control, Labour’s “In spite of constant announcements and photo opportunities from… ...
    3 days ago
  • Democracy for Nauru now
    Murray McCully must send the strongest possible message to the Nauruan Government that New Zealand does not condone its actions given the disturbing developments there, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “Right now we are seeing Nauru stripped of… ...
    3 days ago
  • Recovery needs more than a rebrand
    Today’s announcement of new governance arrangements for Canterbury seems to be nothing more than a fresh coat of paint on the same old approach, says Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “The Canterbury Recovery has been too slow, with… ...
    3 days ago
  • Copper decision a victory for status quo, not Kiwi households
    New Zealanders hoping for cheaper copper broadband will be disappointed by the Commerce Commission’s latest decision in the long running saga to determine the price of copper, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “In an apparent attempt to appease everyone,… ...
    3 days ago
  • It’s time for hard decisions in the Bay
     The Ruataniwha dam project is turning into a huge white elephant as the economics fail to stack up, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.  “Ruataniwha simply doesn’t make economic sense when you look at other major irrigation schemes around the… ...
    3 days ago
  • More testing won’t lift student achievement
    Hekia Parata’s latest plan to subject school students to even more testing and assessment won’t do anything to lift the educational achievement of the kids who are struggling, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “New Zealand school students are already… ...
    3 days ago
  • Bad week for NZ economy gets worse
    The bad news for the New Zealand economy got worse this morning with the 8th successive drop in dairy prices at this morning’s global dairy auction, again exposing the absence of any Plan B from the National Government, Labour’s Finance… ...
    3 days ago
  • System failing to protect women and children from family violence
    Last week we called for mandatory child safety investigations in domestic violence cases. This came after the coronial inquiry into the deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone and the verdict in the trial of the west Auckland boys charged with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Backers banking on social bonds cash?
    The Government is refusing to say what the $29 million it has set aside for its controversial social bonds programme is for, raising suspicions it is an upfront payment to the project backers, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A… ...
    3 days ago
  • Plastic Free July
    Today is the start of Plastic Free July. Since its inception in Perth, Western Australia four years ago, more and more people and organisations from around the world have joined the call to refuse single use plastic products. Nearly all… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    3 days ago
  • State house sell off Bill gives extraordinary powers
    The Government is about to give Ministers extraordinary powers to take direct personal control of selling state houses, exempting Ministers from normal legal requirements and leaving the sale process wide open for corruption, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The… ...
    3 days ago
  • Cash for charter schools, mould for state schools
    At a time when state schools are struggling in old, cold, mouldy buildings and can barely make ends meet, the National Government is shovelling cash at charter schools which aren’t even spending the funding on kids’ education, Labour’s Education spokesperson… ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand needs a wise response to climate change
    Today in Parliament I got to hear from a group of New Zealanders who are concerned for the future of our country. Called Wise Response, the group is a broad coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers, artists, sportspeople and others who… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 days ago
  • No alternative as waste scheme trashed
    Nick Smith must explain how he is going to prevent contamination of New Zealand’s ground and water with liquid and hazardous waste after scrapping the only monitoring scheme and offering no replacement, says Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Megan Woods. “From today,… ...
    4 days ago
  • Flawed system rates death traps as safe
    ACC Minister Nikki Kaye needs to come clean about what really lies behind the reclassification of 18 vehicles in her new motor vehicle registration system introduced today, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. "New Zealanders deserve the truth about the… ...
    4 days ago
  • Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo
     Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.  “It’s not good enough that after two years of… ...
    4 days ago
  • New twist in state house sell-off saga
    The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government fees will hit charities hard
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams. “National’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Four out of ten for Simon’s Bridges
    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    5 days ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    5 days ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    5 days ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    5 days ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    6 days ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    6 days ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    1 week ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    1 week ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    1 week ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    1 week ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    1 week ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    1 week ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere