538 says US murder rate up 25% in last two years

Jeff Asher at 538 writes:

Murder almost certainly increased substantially in the U.S. in 2016, one year after it rose at its fastest pace in a quarter century.

The government won’t release official 2016 crime statistics for another nine months. But data from individual police departments indicates that murder rose in most of the country’s biggest cities in 2016, in some cases dramatically. Because a large share of murders take place in big cities, a substantial increase there means that the country’s overall murder total almost certainly rose as well.1

Using a combination of official police data and local media reports, I was able to collect murder counts through at least November 2016 for 73 of the 83 U.S. cities with populations above 250,000, and partial data for all but one of the rest.2 The counts are preliminary and could be subject to change before they are submitted to the FBI for inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report that will be published in September.

This year’s rise appears slightly smaller than last year’s dramatic increase. The big cities experienced roughly a 11.3 percent increase in murder in 2016, which is down from the same group’s 14.8 percent increase from 2014 to 2015. Still, the figures suggest that big cities have seen murder rise by more than a quarter in just two years, likely the biggest two-year increase since 1989 to 1991.

Crime and homicides specifically has generally trended down for some decades. This two year reversal looks to be significant.

So does Oxfam think wealth should be confiscated?

Stuff reports:

Two New Zealanders are worth the same as the poorest 30 per cent of the adult Kiwi population, Oxfam research says.

Research also says the richest one per cent of New Zealanders own one fifth of the nation’s wealth, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the country’s wealth.

The findings are included in a study of inequality in a global Oxfam report to be released on Monday and it cites the two wealthiest Kiwis, Richard Chandler and Graeme Hart.

So what?

Does Oxfam think it is terrible Chandler and Hart are wealthy?

Oxfam would have you think wealth is finite and if Chandler and Hart have all this wealth, then they have stolen it from the poorest 30% who don’t have much. Oxfam is basically a socialist campaigning organisation.

Chandler has made almost all of his money overseas. So how does a NZer being successful overseas harm people in New Zealand?

Maybe Oxfam thinks we should do what has failed in every country that has tried it and confiscate wealth (not income) and redistribute it. So take the $13 billion Chandler and Hart have and give it to the poorest 1.5 million New Zealanders. They would then each have $10,000 wealth – hardly life changing.

Plus of course it would never happen. Hart and Chandler can choose where to be domiciled and sure won’t be any place that listens to Oxfam.

Peters gets more desperate

Stuff reports:

Peters said he did not want a Government review.

“We’re not interested in anything other than to ensure that advice that you’ve got that you can go in is in fact followed. The only people that can do that is the Government. They’ve got to do what they promised to do. Not line up behind excuses.”

So Peters is saying that no matter what the advice or the risk if, nothing is acceptable except entering the mine. What a callous disgusting stand to take.

He said he wasn’t motivated by garnering votes in an election year. 

Yeah right.

Yule to seek Tukituki nomination for National

Stuff reports:

Hastings’ mayor Lawrence Yule turning his attention to national politics.

On Friday he announced he was planning to seek the National Party’s nomination for the Tukituki electorate, after 15 years as mayor or Hastings. 

He is also the president of Local Government New Zealand.

Craig Foss, who currently holds the seat for National, announced in December he would be retiring from politics. 

A large number of locals, along with members of the National Party had encouraged him to run, he said. 

“I did not expect Craig Foss to resign, now I have to deal with that opportunity. I have been pretty humbled by the number of people who have approached me to stand.  I think I can make a difference in Wellington, for the people of Tukituki, and for the National Party,” he said. 

Yule will not make a decision on whether he will stand down as mayor until the National Party decide who the candidate is in February. 

“If the National Party and its members want and choose me as their candidate then subsequent decisions will be required and I intend to involve fellow councillors in these.”  

“Until that point I will be saying very little more while the selection process is underway.” 

In 2016, Yule led the district through the gastro outbreak which saw 5000 locals struck down with campylobacter after drinking water became contaminated. 

Despite the crisis, he was re-elected mayor in last year’s local body elections with a lead of more than 3000 votes over his closet rival Guy Wellwood.

Labour’s Anna Lorck has a high profile and I expect Tukituki will be a hard fought contest. If Lawrence Yule is National’s candidate that will help National’s chances of keeping the seat.

Should there be a limit on how many goes to get a drivers licence?

Stuff reports:

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s latest figures show one Kiwi driver took 13 attempts to pass their full driver’s licence test.

Almost 10,000 people who received their full driver’s licence in 2016 had failed at least once, four of them failed ten or more times. 

The additional amount paid by people to re-sit their test, not including their first attempt, was at least $739,106. The person who took 13 attempts forked out about $820 in order to get their full licence.

Should there be a limit on how many goes to get a licence? If someone failed 12 times and finally did well enough, are they really a safe driver? Would you want a surgeon operating on you who had failed medical school 12 times before passing?

However you almost need a licence to be able to function in many parts of society, so probably unfair to limit the number of times you can sit. What I would do though is make all drivers resit the test every five to ten years. Just because you passed once at age 18 doesn’t mean you are a safe and competent driver for the next 45 years or so.

5 post-Trump rule changes

Ronald Klain at Politico writes about how five golden rules of politics have changed post-Trump. They are:

  1. Old Rule: Never explain
    New Rule: Always arm allies with an explanation
  2. Old Rule: Apologize and move on
    New Rule: Never apologize and double down
  3. Old Rule: Get your facts straight before you comment
    New Rule: Go with your gut, quickly
  4. Old Rule: Don’t feud with people who buy ink by the barrel
    New Rule: You can score points by going to war with the media
  5. Old Rule: Drive a consistent message, consistently
    New Rule: Adapt constantly, disorient your opponents and the media

Not sure the new rules will work for everyone, but they certainly did for Trump.

EU talks up NZ free trade deal

The Herald reports:

European Union leaders have talked up the prospects of a free trade agreement, saying it would send a strong political signal as protectionism takes hold elsewhere. They have even suggested it could be completed within three years.

Bill English arrived in Brussels today on his first official overseas trip as Prime Minister.

After meeting English, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said they expected formal negotiations for the long-awaited free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand to begin soon.

Tusk said it would further strengthen relations and made an apparent reference to the election of US President Donald Trump, the Brexit vote in the UK and the rise of Marine Le Pen’s Front National party in the looming presidential elections in France.

“Such an agreement would not only boost sustainable economic growth, investment and job creation on both sides, it would also send a strong political signal of economic openness and trade at a time of protectionist pressures are on the rise not only on our own continent but also round the world.”

Juncker also said he was “very eager” to conclude a trade agreement, but pointed to “difficulties” within the EU and globally.

“At least we are hopeful we will be able to make the progress we need. There are remaining difficulties, but we will solve these problems, like others, because New Zealand is a very strong ally of the European Union and we want to continue in that vein.

Despite that, Juncker was optimistic a New Zealand-EU deal could be finalised in three years – half the time it usually took and less than a third of the 10 years it took for Canada. He said it usually took between 5-10 years.

That would be amazing if it could be done in three years.

Argy Bargy Part 6: Doing Nacion Argentina 2017

By Senor John Stringer – formerly “coNZervative” (and perhaps again).

The largest dinosaur ever known, found in the 1970s, is the massive Titanosaur Argentinosaurus Huinculensis, at 96.4 metric tons (106.3 short tons) and 39.7 m (130 ft) long.

South America is known for its dinosaurs so we had to visit Buenos Aries’ Bernadino Rovadavia Natural Sciences Museum that has an awesome collection. One of my childhood dreams was to visit the Le Brea tar pits after reading about them in a magazine; so I made a bee-line there on my first ever trip to LA (amazing place). Thus Rovadavia while in BA. (I’ve never understood why we don’t have better dinosaur displays in NZ – we could easily trade facsimiles of our unique moa skeletons for dinosaur skeletons from other museums ??).

Above: Sabre-Tooth Tigers (Smilodons) cavort outside the entrance to the Bernadino Rovadavia Natural Sciences Museum. Known in numbers at the Le Brea tar pits in LA these large lion-tigers (Napoleon Dynamite’s Ligers?) clearly roamed much of the Americas before going extinct along with the other mega fauna of these continents.

A huge Redback climbs out of a window at the entrance way opposite the Smilodons.

The BA museum is not that well lit and some of the displays are a bit nineteenth-century however their collection rivals Te Papa or Canterbury Museum (our best regional museum in my view alongside Waiouru Army and the Auckland War Museum). BA will cost you $40 pesos ($3.61 NZ). There is no cafeteria and it is very hot inside with no air-conditioning so take a water bottle.

Great collection for study but some halls need curation – a bit nineteenth-century.

A cave bear; many of the displays are really well articulated such as this raptor.

This was weird a Cyclops lamb perhaps a hoax or a real mutant: there is one in formaldehyde either to extend the hoax or prove it was a real deformity.

Below: Only one of the six images below is a ‘dinosaur’ – can you tell which one?  

DINOSAUR? Left to right clockwise: Seal; Hippo; Hippo; Dinosaur; Equus (horse). The latter died out in the Americas only to be reintroduced by the Spanish and taken up by select tribes of Plains Indians; the short Siberian pony was almost extinct on those Steppes too but a collector had some and now wild herds have been re-established on the Mongolian Steppe.

A dinosaur foot?  Nope – elephant!

There was actually a real “taniwha.”

Some of the dinosaurs were truly gargantuan.

Some old guy checking out a “ground sloth.” Personally I don’t think they inhabited the ground – too easy as prey (built for climbing not running) and their feet don’t suit walking; I believe they lived most of their lives up in the titanic prehistoric trees like sloth do today and just ate and crapped up there safe from predators. Beware below of golden rain.

In the central dinosaur hall is this very cool sand pit with buried dinosaur bones that kids can ‘excavate’ as budding archaeologists.

The mammals in the museum are beautifully displayed and there are some great animations such as the leopard and hyena wrestling with a dead warthog; the leopard in a tree the hyena pulling from the ground.

Below: I really liked this display that shows the birds of Buenos Aries with a photographic backdrop. The bird dioramas at the Canterbury Museum and its famous bird hall are painted so I’m not sure which I prefer photos or painted backdrops.

Plenty or creepy crawlies and this majestic Condor the largest wingspan of any bird and famous to Argentina.

Humans appear amidst the prehistoric animals and there is this great diorama that equals those of the Moa Hunter and archaic Maori dioramas at the Canterbury Museum.

The museum is great and cheap and well worth a look. I recommend you go on the weekend as ringing it are these 200-300 crap stalls selling everything from an old fencing hat to a dried armadillo to a stuffed duck.

Next Post: FINAL thoughts ~ J.



Dom Post on Waitangi

The DP editorial:

Bill English is right to turn down the invitation to go to Waitangi for Waitangi Day. It is not acceptable to ask the country’s leader to such an event and then ban him from speaking.

This is a simple matter of good manners as well as fundamental democratic rights.

Of course.

Sad to see Andrew Little so desperate to score points that he declares he will attend even if not allowed to speak.

Trump appoints a Kennedy

USA Today reports:

President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and skeptic of vaccines, to chair a presidential commission on vaccine safety, Kennedy said Tuesday.

The two have questioned whether vaccines cause autism, a claim consistently debunked by medical professionals across the board.

The commission will be designed “to make sure we have scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects,” Kennedy told reporters after the meeting with Trump.

Oh dear. One vaccine skeptic appoints another to head up a commission to decide if they are safe.

As much as I enjoy seeing the celebrities in the US have meltdowns about a Trump presidency, this reminds me that he has many appalling beliefs and policies.

Corbyn wants pay caps

The Guardian reports:

Jeremy Corbyn has promised Labour would introduce a maximum wage for executives at companies with government contracts, but backed away from proposing the nationwide pay cap he had mooted hours earlier in broadcast interviews.

Kicking off a long-planned relaunch, the Labour leader said companies would have to stop executives earning more than 20 times the wage of their lowest paid worker if they wanted to bid for public sector work, which he calculated would set a salary limit at about £350,000.

But the pledge, made in an afternoon speech, did not go as far as Corbyn had in morning interviews where he said he would like there to be ““some kind of high earnings cap, quite honestly” and suggested it could cover star footballers as well as highly paid CEOs.

If only some other country had tried this – having the Government set the pay rates of all employees, so no one is too unequal.

Wasn’t there some country that did try this? It was quite well known up until around 1990. Had an abbreviation.

Fake news from the Washington Post

Glenn Greenwald writes:

In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

Too little too late.

The second story on the electric grid turned out to be far worse than I realized when I wrote about it on Saturday, when it became clear that there was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid” as the Post had claimed. In addition to the editor’s note, the Russia-hacked-our-electric-grid story now has a full-scale retraction in the form of a separate article admitting that “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility” and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop.

But while these debacles are embarrassing for the paper, they are also richly rewarding. That’s because journalists — including those at the Post — aggressively hype and promote the original, sensationalistic false stories, ensuring that they go viral, generating massive traffic for the Post (the paper’s executive editor, Marty Baron, recently boasted about how profitable the paper has become).

After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.

So when people decry fake news, worth remembering it sometimes comes from mainstream media sources. In fact it is due to growing distrust in traditional media, that fake news has exploited an opening.

Argy Bargy Part 5: Doing Nacion Argentina 2017

By Senor John Stringer formerly “coNZervative” (and perhaps again).

Today we decided to do the biggest flea market in Buenos Aries -the outdoor markets in Recolata.  This is right next to the famous cemetery so you could combine both and make a day trip of both. To get there catch a cab. This will cost you about 40-70 Arg pesos ie $2-5 US dollars (1/15). It’s dirt cheap; so don’t worry about grabbing cabs anywhere. A radio cab (fitted with radio) will cost an additional $14 pesos (ie 93c US).

There are about 150-200 outdoor booths selling mainly crafts. I even find a guy selling wargames models. There is art and food and jewelry. I buy some original Argentinian art (three small pictures) signed by the artist. These cost me about $8 each – excellent value. There is no bargaining as such in BA; the price is the price (as in NZ) but at markets you can always negotiate and I am offered a nice discount to buy two and further when I negotiate for three.

Below: older Argentinian men shooting the breeze together – I like the man dressed as a South American dictator or Mafia boss. A famous tango dancer and flamenco guitarist is playing under an ancient rubber tree (about 250 years old) which has those horizontal branches which the municipality has creatively propped up with sculptures such as this metal Hercules (below).

Below: old cobblestones around the market and one of the 250 year old rubber trees that provide much needed shade as BA gets really hot and under which people busk Tango and Flamenco.

There is lots of food and mobile lemonade stands with real fruit and tango fills the air. It is incredibly (burning) hot so I recommend a good hat and sunglasses are a must. Wear loose cotton or you’ll be overwhelmed on hot days. Below some of the Frida Kahlo cacophony at the market – a very popular cultural meme.

Above: where ever you go in the world graffiti seems the same. And here are what the Argentinian police look like.  We went in to a Mall and were constantly asked for money or pitched scams every few metres – which was a pest – and this mall area is patrolled by police. You will also get approached to exchange money at good rates but this is illegal so don’t accept – the money may be counterfeit. I recommend you use your hotel (at approx. 15/1 US) as we noticed long queues at the ‘bureau de change’ booths in public (ie at the malls).

Over all we were not taken with the food in Argy; lots of plain burgers and chips but Argentinians do take a herbal tea. These are served in an ornate hollowed out gourd and sipped through a silver straw implement with various ornate filters at the bottom (like a hookah). We had never seen this before. Note the prices $400 pesos ie $26.6 US approx.

Below: more Argentine architecture and a pirate restaurant we eat at on our last night at which I try not to order the #1 one blackboard special.

Tomorrow: South America is known for its dinosaurs and I’ll post on those as we visit Bernadino Rovadavia Natural Sciences Museum. ~ J.


Lee seeks Maungakiekie

The Herald reports:

An Auckland councillor who has politics “in her bones” has put her hand up to replace Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Centre-right councillor Denise Lee (formerly Krum) told the Herald she will seek the National Party nomination for the Auckland electorate.

The selection process is expected to be outlined in the next couple weeks.

Lee was elected in October for her second term as the Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor.

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff included her in his “Cabinet” as deputy chair on the planning committee that has responsibility for issues including housing and transport.

The 46-year-old said Lotu-Iiga’s announcement in December that he would not seek re-election came as a surprise.

“The timing is not ideal. Had I known that Sam was going to announce this I would have been more than likely to not have run for council.”

I think it is a different scenario when a vacancy for a parliamentary seat comes up as a surprise, and a Councillor decides to go for it, and when they seek a term on Council at the very same time as seeking a nomination for Parliament. Basically you can’t control the timing sometimes.

Whoever National selects, they will face a tough fight against Labour candidate Priyanka Radhakrishnan, a policy analyst and advisor for the party, who has previously worked for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

I expect Maungakiekie to be a very close race and the quality of the candidates will count.

Roof sentenced to death

The Herald reports:

Dylann Roof was sentenced to death today for killing nine black church members during Bible study in a racially motivated attack, the first person to face execution for federal hate crime convictions.

A jury deliberated his sentence for about three hours, capping a trial in which Roof did not fight for his life or show any remorse. At the beginning of the trial, he addressed jurors directly, insisting that he wasn’t mentally ill, but he never asked them for forgiveness or mercy, or explained the crime.

Surprised it took that long.

Roof told FBI agents when they arrested him a day after the June 17, 2015, slayings that he wanted the shootings to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war. Instead, the slayings had a unifying effect, as South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse for the first time in more than 50 years and other states followed suit, taking down Confederate banners and monuments. Roof had posed with the flag in photos.

So it backfired, which is the only good thing out of this.

Ardern vs Genter

Stuff reports:

List MP Jacinda Ardern will be Labour’s candidate in the Mt Albert by-election after her name was the only one put forward for nomination.

Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton said on Thursday Ardern, who has previously contested the Auckland Central electorate, would be confirmed as the Mt Albert candidate by local Labour Party members at a meeting on January 22. 

Julie Anne Genter has been selected for the Greens so will be a race between Ardern and Genter. But I have no doubt Ardern will be elected and serve for many decades as the MP for Mt Albert.

As I have previously predicted she will become Labour Party Leader one day – possibly sooner rather than later.

Neutral research?

The Herald reports:

New research has found babies are safe to sleep in a Maori flax-woven bassinet that was behind a Government policy U-turn last year.

Babies sleeping in the wahakura, or its $100 plastic sister the pepi-pod, are “relatively safe when compared with bassinets”, a joint study between the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic has found.

The research, which was recently published in leading scientific journal Pediatrics, concluded there were no significant differences in risk for infants sleeping in wahakura and that the pods came with advantages, including an increase in sustained breastfeeding.

I have no issue with the pods. They sound sensible and my feeling last year was that the Ministry of Health was being “perfect is the enemy of good” in opposing them.

However one paragraph in this story made me wonder:

Co-author of the research and wahakura founder, Tipene-Leach, said the study was a “major accomplishment”.

Doesn’t having the co-author of the research being the founder of the pods, rather fall short of best practice?

Why the Trump dossier is almost certainly fake

I think the Trump dossier is fake, as in none of the specifics in there actually happened. Why do I think that? Several reasons.

  1. The dossier is almost cartoonishly perfect. It fits every conspiracy theory and prejudice about Trump – controlled by Putin, sexual deviant, hates Obama etc etc. I recall when Dotcom released his fake letter from Warner Brothers than Dim Post said it seemed like a cartoonish caricature.
  2. Not a single detail in it has been verified, while to the contrary at least one major detail has been proven false (a Trump adviser has never been to Prague)
  3. The dossier says Russia has been cultivating and getting blackmail on Trump for five years. If so, they are the most politically astute people in the world because five years ago or even two years ago no one thought Trump would be a credible candidate let alone President. Putin is a genius if he saw five years ago what no one else saw.
  4. If there really was a top secret operation which had managed to gather blackmail on the President-Elect of the United States, it wouldn’t be something is so widely known and gossiped about that a former British spy would hear about it from sources. This would be the most highly guarded operation in history.
  5. The former British spy (Christopher Steele) is generally well regarded but he may have fallen subject to Trump Derangement Syndrone and just willing to believe anything he hears, no matter how outlandish. Nothing he has in the dossier has any verification – it is all third hand gossip. Another explanation is that somone in Russia fed him false information on purpose so what has happened would occur – ie Steele got played.
  6. The media have a history of falling for fake documents, when the subject is a Republican. Dan Rather got effectively sacked after his show ran forged memos alleging George W Bush had pulled in favours to avoid Vietnam War service. The memos were an obvious fake (the typeface used did not even exist during the Vietnam War) but many in the media were so keen to get dirt they suspended disbelief.

The irony of all this, is Trump is strengthened (unless somehow it is true) in my view. He has the perfect excuse to go to war even more with the media, and have sympathy on his side. He could well sue Buzzfeed and almost beyond doubt would win – they admitted themselves they knew parts of it had been proven false when they published it.

Of course there is a limit to the sympathy you have for Trump as he has pushed fake news himself. But two wrongs do not make a right, and the so called Trump dossier is as laughable as the Obama birth certificate story – both without a shred of evidence.

Praise for an aspiring Labour candidate

Andrea Black is a chartered accountant who has worked at both IRD and Treasury as a policy analyst.  She blogs on Deborah Russell who is seeking Labour’s nomination for New Lynn:

Let’s talk about tax.

Or more particularly let’s talk about one of our own. Deborah Russell – tax academic  – who has recently put herself forward to become the Labour MP for New Lynn following David Cunliffe’s resignation from Parliament.

I first met Deborah in early 2005 when she joined Inland Revenue policy. Before she started there was discussion of her two unusual features. She had a PhD and – at that time – didn’t know anything about tax.

A month or two later  I was at meeting which Deborah and her manager attended. I can’t remember the point of that meeting but in it Deborah had to give a short outline of what she was working on – an FBT issue I think. In her two minutes she suscinctly and crisply nailed the point of the FBT rules, the current problem that needed fixing and the technical solution. Now tax peeps we all know how hard it is strip away the detail and simply convey the key messages and Deborah – ‘who didn’t know anything about tax’ – was doing that from almost the first day she started working in tax.

I also particularly remember the blissed out look on her manager’s face while she was talking. He couldn’t believe his luck. He had won the pools with her.

She became a well regarded member of the division as much for her intelligence and work rate as her good humour and willingness to help her colleagues – professionally as well as personally. All while she was the mother of quite young children herself. She had a number of unglamorous projects including creating a tax expenditure for bloodstock which would stick in the craw of any tax person – but she got on with it and made sure it was done properly.

In 2014 following a stint in Adelaide and having moved to Massey where she teaches incipient CAs tax (bless you) she stood for Labour in the safe National seat of Rangitikei. Again an unglamorous job but a necessary one for the Labour Party.

In the last year or two she has become the media’s go to person when they want sensible comment on tax. Impressively even though she is a Labour Party activist she has always been able to explain the issues in clear politically neutral way. Just like she did in that first meeting in 2005.

I know Deborah also and think she would be an excellent MP, even if I disagree on some policies with her. If Labour wants a candidate who would be a good MP and even better Minister, they should select Deborah. They need candidates with credibility on economic and business policy issues such as tax.

Argy Bargy Part 4: Doing Nacion Argentina 2017

By Senor John Stringer formerly “coNZervative” (and perhaps again).

The Tango was invented in southern Buenos Aries as a passionate folk dance of the poorer people. That is disputed, a bit like where the pavlova came from. It was considered immoral and disregarded but much later the French (cabaret I think) picked it up and it was anointed by the Argentinian elites. It was danced for the first time in a respectable facility on the famous 9th July Avenue. It instantly became respectable if riské – a universal truth that if the rich appropriate something it becomes ‘cool:’ (cigarettes; Andy Warhol; flappers; taking drugs; top hats; powdered wigs; pantalooms; beards). You can see this passion and vibrancy for life -as in dance- everywhere in Buenos Aries: the architecture, the colours, gesticulation in cafes and on street corners.

Below; typical street bars and cafes celebrating Tango; and the way Portanes (citizens of Buenos Aries) tattoo themselves (we go for Polynesian black or blue swirls)  I found this human art quite interesting as it is more Scythian than Polynesian with which we are familiar.

Above: you do see these electric colours in Buenos Aries everywhere but generally Portenas (people of the port) dress down and are very casual whereas Brazil is all about fashion and facelifts. Love the colours of the buildings which is like the Greeks in Santorini or women’s attire in Nigeria. Bright and cheerful and embracing of life and colour.

I mentioned earlier cultural gaudiness (ancient Greece and the Puerta Madero suburb of old Buenos Aries). Here are some more images of this unique indigenous architecture made up of gathered materials and what could be got at hand thus the eclectic mix of colours that then became a thing.

Below: the beguiling cobblestone streets and colour of San Telmo and La Bocha are suburbs of the historic old south the working class strongholds of Buenos Aries. Think peeling stucco enriched by the culture of African slaves who came in through the port followed by later Italian immigrants in the 1880s.  It remains one of the poorest districts but has a thriving art scene (I recommend a stroll around El Caminito street) but beware the Tango escorts who will pop a hat on your head and take a photo and you’re then expected to pay. While we’re on that also resist the street beggars who in BA have children with them; they may get you to hold their baby or child while they pick pocket your wallet or bag.

I was very taken with the street art and murals everywhere in BA; the one above commemorates some historic fire I think or the fire service. Their murals are often three dimensional as in El Caminito where lurid paper mache sculptures leer down at you from balconies or from shop doorways or carved in high relief as above. Below is a while district faced by these murals and you can see some of the three dimensional figures as well. The folk art traditions of BA are rich and unpretentious and so far unencumbered by Globalist influences.

One of the things that interests me when travelling is what police cars and taxis look like and what security guards are dressed like: here is a police car and their taxis are small black sedans with a canary yellow roof (so a blend of London and NY cab). The Police look like black storm troopers.

In the image above (right) you can glimpse the famous BA crome flower sculpture in the Plaza Nacionas Unidas the Floralis Generica. This opens and closes (when it works – so Argentinian). That is a good segue to my surprise of BA – the vibrancy and depth of their arts.

We spent an amazing day at two BA art galleries: The Malba and the Musee National de Bellas Artes and I recommend you visit both (the latter is by far the best).

The Malba is in Palermo (the embassy district) and costs to enter and is contemporary art. The MNdBArtes is a short walk down the Plazas of Uruguay and Chile to Recoleta and is free. The latter has an AMAZING art collection and I mean WOW.  Because you can walk between the two galleries this is a good trip and there are lovely cheap street side cafes in between opposite the Law faculty which is half way between.

Above: Palermo the embassy district; and right the intimidating university Law faculty (university is free in BA and you can study anything) between the two art galleries which as far as architecture goes would cheer National Socialists (an ugly monolith). Looks like the NY Post Office.

If DPF is interested perhaps I’ll showcase some of the amazing art we discovered at the free Musee National de Bellas Artes as a separate series of posts – so far the highlight of this trip for me – but Tomorrow we’re off to the markets in Recolata (the biggest flea market in BA).

Below: the Musee National de Bellas Artes. Me with Frida Kahlo (in whose home Trotsky was murdered with a pick axe; and no that’s not a kakapo or kakariki). And with Jackson Polluck (you like my matching shirt?)  ~ J.