The Flogging of Punchinello

Month: July, 2015



Hewson challenged Keating to a debate. Keating said he’d be there with ‘bells on’, and flashed a smile. ‘It’s a great tactic to smile’, I said. ‘You may as well be relaxed,’ he said and flexed his shoulders loose. ‘They don’t know what you’re thinking when you smile, ‘ I said. ‘That’s right,’ he said, ‘they wonder – what’s the cunt thinking?’ ‘that’s right,’ I said. ‘Bad things,’ he said; ‘that’s what I’m thinking. Bad things.’ – Don Watson, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart




“Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory.”
― James Joyce, The Dead

Miracle Grow

“Largeness is a lifelong matter. You grow because you are not content not to. You are like a beaver that chews constantly because if it doesn’t, it’s teeth grow long and lock. You grow because you are a grower; you’re large because you can’t stand to be small.” 
― Wallace Stegner

Address by Mr Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) City Lecture, London, 30 June 2015

In the end, of course, central bank policies can’t restore the situation ex ante. Whatever adjustments economies needed to make, and may still need to make, in respect of financial and/or economic structure from their pre-crisis situation, cannot be avoided.
Those adjustments are ongoing. I am optimistic enough to think that, in due course, they will have advanced sufficiently such that stronger growth, accompanied by less extreme central bank policy settings, could be anticipated. Needless to say, the more other policies, outside of the central bank’s ambit, can contribute to that, the better. That was the point of the pro- growth commitments the G20 Leaders made in Brisbane in November 2014.
It may be quite some time, though, before the central banking modus operandi that we had prior to the crisis is seen again.

Herman hits a deer

“I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.”

-Hermann Hesse

“You’re worth more than a deer or a car. And your car can be fixed. Your neck can’t. Your car? That’s what insurance is for. So don’t swerve. Hit the damn deer.”

-George Hertzner

“All change begins with truth.”


The communist nations, because they lasted so long, had the best jokes. I have a collection of jokes from the DDR, East Germany. President Ronald Reagan made a hobby of collecting Communist jokes, and when he would tell them, listeners found them funny and laughed. I heard him use a few in a speech and I thought they were pretty good, too, so I had to collect them. This is one of the jokes Reagan told.

There is this guy in East Germany, who goes in to buy a Trabant. Trabant, which the East Germans called a “Trabi,” was an East German car and the most common kind in the country. It was not a good car. However, there is a club in Boston, the Trabi Club, and, if you go there, you can actually see what they looked like. From an engineering point of view, they are really brilliant, because one of the goals in building them was to save gas. The car is built completely out of fiberglass so it is a very light vehicle. An extremely strong person could actually lift it. It is an amazing car in certain respects, although it did not run very well and didn’t have a lot of horsepower.

If you wanted to buy a Trabi, you had to walk in to the dealer, which was really the government, and pay for the entire cost of the car up front. They did not believe in loans.

After paying the entire cost of the car, the buyer could then wait perhaps 10 years for the car to be ready.

Let’s say the guy in our story purchases a car for all cash on November 10, 2014.

The dealer says to him, “Okay, come back on November 10, 2024, and you can pick up your car.”

And our customer asks, “But will that be in the morning or will it be in the afternoon?” The dealer says, “What difference does it make? It’s 10 years from now.”
“Well,” the customer says. “The plumber is coming in the morning.” – Murray Stahl in the Contrarian Compendium

A thinking reed

This sheet uses Lake Papyrus (paper containing fibers made from reeds growing in Nishinoko, a lake close to Lake Biwa). From spring through winter, reeds purify lake water, but they need to be cut before they wither each winter. The harvested reeds used in each copy of this publication purified approximately 100 liters of lake water.


Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves

Things you learn along the way

I was a bit late coming back from lunch, which was rare for me. I could not get into the room, partly because the interview had started and the room was crowded with cameras, cables and people. I saw Whitlam afterwards. He was very excited with the way it had gone. He said it was the best television performance he had given in his life.

Later that afternoonWesterway sent me a transcript of the interview. My heart sank. I was alarmed by what I read, particularly the intemperate language. It was the most vehement public condemnation of the Federal Executive it was possible to imagine.He described the Federal Executive as ‘incompetent and irresponsible’ who ‘don’t seem to be able to understand policy’. He described the proposal to refer the matter to the High Court as ‘preposterous’. His king hit was ‘We have only just got rid of the thirty-six faceless men stigma to be faced with the twelve witless men’.There were twelve members on the Federal Executive.He attacked Calwell’s leadership and proclaimed,‘I have been destined to be Leader of the Party for at least a year as soon as there is a ballot for the position’. He asserted that Labor ‘led by me would beat the Coalition’. Pressed to predict the result if Calwell remained as Leader he answered, ‘No comment’.

Things you learn along the way – John Menadue Link