October 28, 2011

Peter Foster suggests a rewritten plot for the Atlas Shrugged movie

Filed under: Economics, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:38

Peter Foster reviews the Atlas Shrugged movie:

The movie is set in today’s not-too-distant future, but has kept Dagny in railroads and Hank in metals by positing a massive oil crisis due to the implosion of the Middle East. The Dow at 4,000 we can believe, but oil at $37.50 a gallon? At that price, a Chevy Volt might actually not be such a bad deal. Domestic oil is once again king (despite being utterly unaffordable) but is being carried by train. Whatever happened to pipelines?

None of this makes much sense. Perhaps the plot should have been left as a future-of-the-past, like, say, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, or it should have been thoroughly reformulated to reflect statism’s new threats. How’s this for a rewrite? Dagny now runs a pipeline company trying to build a huge new system for a form of oil previously uneconomic but now made available by wonderful advances in capitalist technology. Let’s say this oil is located in Alberta and her line is to go to the U.S. refineries of the Gulf Coast, to replace imports from dictatorships.

Hank is still in the steel industry but his new wonder metal is now to be used to build a cheaper, stronger and safer type of pipe. However, he is opposed not by other steel or pipe makers, but by a pack of meretricious, politically-savvy environmental NGOs. These organizations are fronted by naive chanting muddle heads, who have no idea where their rich lifestyles originate, and backed by capitalist foundations (the irony!) that have been hijacked by socialists, and by CEOs either too cowardly or stupid to say no (or by those who seek to take advantage of government handouts to produce throwback technologies). These NGOs claim that the oil is “dirty” and destroying the climate and that Hank Rearden’s new and better steel in unsafe, and threatens aquifers and environmentally sensitive areas. Their hysterical claims are eagerly swallowed by a gullible liberal media. Meanwhile politicians, despite high unemployment, are prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of jobs because they, too, are cowed by the ENGOs, and in any case attracted by the unparalleled power prospects of aspiring to control the weather.

I know this is all a bit far fetched, but we are talking a movie plot here.

RCN may get nuclear submarines

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:47

A report by the CBC on what may or may not have been a casual remark by Defence Minister Peter MacKay:

CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs.

The four second-hand subs Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government bought from the British navy in 1998 for $750 million were portrayed at the time as the military bargain of the century.

Instead, they have spent almost all of their time in naval repair yards, submerging Canadian taxpayers in an ocean of bills now totalling more than $1 billion and counting.

[. . .]

High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do.

The deal of the century turned out pretty badly for the Royal Canadian Navy. Let’s hope that the next submarine deal won’t be quite as bad.

Update: At least Lorne Gunter can get some cheap laffs from our dehydrated subs:

Boy did the Brits ever see us coming in 1998 when the Chretien Liberals pulled up to Honest Nigel’s Used Submarine Shop looking to buy four underwater patrol boats. The quartet they sold us for the unbelievably low price of just $750 million have been up on blocks in our front yard almost ever since, with weeds growing out the portholes. I expect Canadian Pickers to come along anytime now and offer us $2,000 for the set, take it or leave it.

[. . .]

Let’s face it, the Limeys sold us lemons. If the Liberals had just agreed from the start to buy new nuclear subs, Canada would have spent about the same money ($3 billion), but we would have had subs we could have been using for the past 10 years already, with another 30 years to go. Now by the time we get our British diesel subs fixed, they will be 30 years old and have only about 10 years of serviceable life remaining. Moreover, they still won’t be able to sail under the North Pole and patrol the Arctic because they need air to feed their engines and no aspirated sub can stay underwater for the 14-21 days it takes to sail under the Polar icepack.

This is not unlike the Liberals decision in the same era to cancel the EH-101 helicopter contract. Breaking the deal signed by the Mulroney Tories in the early 1990s cost taxpayers $500 million, on top of which we had to buy new helicopters anyway. Pretty much the same helicopter at pretty much the same price.

“The ultimate measure of this institution’s value [is] the elevation of human dignity and liberty for all their citizens”

Filed under: Asia, Cancon, Government, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:32

Stephen Harper made a speech yesterday that expressed a lovely sentiment. It’s not clear if the other heads of government attending the meeting will be quite as taken with it:

­ If the Commonwealth continues to ignore member countries that violate human rights and ignore the rule of law and democratic principles, the 60-year-old organization will fade into irrelevance, Commonwealth leaders meeting here are being told.

It¹s a message Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper strongly endorses but one which is expected to produce divisions at the biennial summit of Commonwealth Heads of Government. The summit got underway Friday morning in a ceremony presided over by Queen Elizabeth II.

“The ultimate measure of this institution’s value going forward will remain the commitment asked of member governments to the elevation of human dignity and liberty for all their citizens,” Harper said in a speech here Thursday after arriving from Ottawa. “In the next few days, it is my strong hope, that the Commonwealth shall reaffirm, and reinvigorate, this great purpose.”

Member countries are typically loathe to point fingers at the laggards in the 54-country Commonwealth when it comes to human rights and democracy but not Harper.

He has already singled out Sri Lanka’s government for sharp criticism over Sri Lanka¹s failure to investigate what a United Nations panel called “credible allegations” that the Sri Lankan army committed war crimes as that country’s 25-year-old civil war was drawing to a close in 2009.

Royal succession rule change

Filed under: Australia, Britain, Cancon, History, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:20

Dedicated republicans, feel free to skip this item. Thanks to an agreement among the heads of government meeting at the Commonwealth meeting in Australia, the line of succession to the throne will now treat women equally:

Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws.

The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia.

It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would take precedence over younger brothers.

The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted.

Under the old succession laws, dating back more than 300 years, the heir to the throne is the first-born son of the monarch. Only when there are no sons, as in the case of the Queen’s father George VI, does the crown pass to the eldest daughter.

Malthus provides “cover” for racism

Filed under: Books, History, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:02

Tim Black explores why Thomas Malthus’ ideas have never been more popular than they are today:

Lisping, reclusive and reviled by the working class of his day, the Reverend Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) — the man behind the idea that the ‘lower orders of society’ breed too quickly — would probably be surprised by his current popularity. Because that’s what he is today: popular. Commentators, activists and academics positively fall over themselves in the rush to say, ‘you know what, that Malthus had a point. There are too many people and, what’s more, they are consuming far too much.’

Earlier this summer, a columnist for Time magazine was in no doubt as to the pastor’s relevance. The global population is ‘ever larger, ever hungrier’, he noted, ‘food prices are near historic highs’ and ‘every report of drought or flooding raises fears of global shortages’. ‘Taking a look around us today’, he continued, ‘it would be easy to conclude that Malthus was prescient’. Writing in the British weekly, the New Statesman, wildlife lover Sir David Attenborough was similarly convinced: ‘The fundamental truth that Malthus proclaimed remains the truth: there cannot be more people on this Earth than can be fed.’ Not to be outdone, the liberal-left’s favourite broadsheet, the Guardian, also suggested that Malthus may have been right after all: ‘[His] arguments were part of the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and they have validity in the natural world. On the savannah, in the rainforests, and across the tundra, animal populations explode when times are good, and crash when food reserves are exhausted. Is homo sapiens an exception?’ The melancholy tone whispered its answer in the negative. Writing in the New York Times, Paul Krugman was less coy: ‘Malthus was right!’ shouted the headline.

Given the encomia that are currently coming the way of Malthus you may well wonder what exactly it was that he was meant to be right about. To find the answer to this it is worth actually taking a look at the work, first published in 1798, on which his supposed prescience is based: An Essay on the Principle of Population. It makes for surprising reading.

The F-35 project “just seems like it’s slowly unravelling”

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

The latest in a long series of warnings about the spendy-and-getting-spendier-every-day F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project:

The Conservative government’s controversial F-35 jet fighter project, plagued by delays, cost overruns and now economic turmoil in Europe, is at growing risk of being sharply curtailed or shelved — the defence minister’s protestations notwithstanding.

“It just seems like it’s slowly unravelling,” said an industry insider who specializes in aircraft procurement. “It’s a mess.”

Peter MacKay has doggedly championed the Royal Canadian Air Force plan to purchase 65 “fifth-generation” Lockheed Martin Lightning stealth fighters to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s. Last week MacKay sought, with only limited success, to deflect reports that the first batch of planes built by Lockheed will be incapable of communicating in Canada’s far North.

This minister has a knack for projecting blithe confidence. But in this instance he is increasingly offside with other members of the cabinet and with the Prime Minister’s Office, sources familiar with the situation say.

“They expected a whole bunch of kudos for doing (the F-35),” said one. “They believed this was win-win, industrially, that everybody would be happy it has kind of crept in that it just ain’t so.”

Powered by WordPress