Over the last two months those of us following the news on the array of international television channels, must have viewed literally hundreds of proclaimed health experts, mainly American. Nearly every one of them has been interviewed against the background of bookshelves.

Books are my main preoccupation. On average I’ve spent about 8 hours every day over the last half century reading.

I read everything and own over 20,000 books in my homes in three countries. I haunt second-hand bookshops, particularly in Britain where I regularly am.

How do I have the time? Easy. First, I don’t own a time-wasting cell-phone. When driving I listen to talking books, mostly fiction. I watch little television other than the news and some sport.

I’ve been in a picture theatre twice in the last 50 years, and so it goes.

In short I know books and I can tell you this with some expertise. That is that at least half of the health experts pitching their lines re the virus on the news channels have pretend background libraries, which I can ascertain at a glance.

There are all sorts of give-aways such as uniformity in size and colour, books lying flat in piles on shelves (which no self-respecting book lover would do) and many other clues.

On that note here’s an amusing tale, although it wasn’t at the time.

In the late 1980s when running a public company I was back and forward regularly between Sydney and Wellington. Additionally, my wife and I were constantly travelling to America and Britain.

We had two young boys and because of our constant absences, two live-in nannies respectively in our Sydney and Wellington homes.

Once, my wife decided to make a solid base in Sydney for a year as the boys needed stability, both going to Possums Pre-school there, an amusing name which has stuck in my memory.

One day I zipped home to New Zealand for a meeting and arrived about 8pm. On arrival I shot into the library to do some work. Sitting there I was overcome with an eerie feeling. It’s a big library in 3 sections and my desk is at one end. The other two sections I left in darkness. As said, I was imbued with a strange sense of something amiss, as if the room was haunted.

So I rose and turned all the lights on. Bloody hell! The bored half-witted Wellington nannie, with nothing to do, had decided to “help me out” by rearranging the library, specifically in book size and colour. It took over a year to put it all back together again.

Even worse, she’d scrubbed a cricket bat clean of writing she perceived as despoiling it. This had been given to me by Jeremy Coney after our victorious 1986 unbeaten test series in England and which Jeremy had all the players sign.

But back to the health “experts”. I have not the slightest doubt that history will record they were all grossly over-stating the concern and were loving their place in the limelight, something hitherto they’d never experienced. The biggest give-away were the American ones “thank you for having me” absurdity at the end of the interviews.

But the economic and social calamity inflicted on the world is more a consequence of lightweight politicians who have failed to show proper judgement in their copy-cat approaches.

Warren Buffett, noted for his buy quality and hold it through thick and thin highly successful investment approach (something I’d worked out years ago), has been selling down wholesale. It’s tough for him as he’s dealing in hundreds of billions of dollars of investment assets, not easily disposed of quickly.

So why this change from a life-time’s investment philosophy which has served him so well? To quote him; “We do not know what happens when you shut down a substantial portion of your society. In 2008 our economic train went off the tracks. But this time we pulled the train off and put it in a siding – and I don’t know of a parallel”.

To that I’d say, Buffett doesn’t know of a parallel in history for the very good reason there isn’t one. What has occurred is abysmal political “leadership” which will have devastating political, social and health consequences.


your final sentence nailed it Bob. What we’ve seen in the ‘ budget’ from ardern and robertson is a great big sticking plaster placed over a festering wound..they’re hoping that speading billions ( of borrowed money) will soothe the 55% or so of poor saps who think-or thought a couple of weeks ago-that labour etc should be the next govt. I strongly suspect their estimation of 9.8% unemployed will be seriously incorrect. I also suspect that they will extend this bullshit ‘ wage subsidy’ long enough so that recipients still won’t be “unemployed”…until after the election. Thats why ardern is frantic not to have the election pushed back, however there surely needs to be a census of some sort before an election can be held? What about the electoral role, are they just going to wing it like they’re winging everything else?

    Agree with every word. We ain’t seen nothing yet. The proverbial will hit the fan when the wage subsidy stops that’s why Comrade Ardern wants to extend it. The government’s handing of this “pandemic” has been catastrophic. They have crippled the economy using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The most galling aspect of this disaster is that it is man-made, as apposed to an Act of God. Billions of dollars created out of nothing and charged out at interest The Babylonian financial system is to be destroyed and billions of borrowed money could be the catalyst. Fasten your seat belts for the wildest ride in history.

I hope you were kind to your nanny. Her intentions were good I’m sure.

    markscreaminggoosearmstrong May 19, 2020 at 10:17 am

    “The road to hell is paved … ” as my Mother used to say. 🙂

    The way to hell (or to tailor it, Andrew Atkin, to your personal philosophy, “bad karma”) is paved with good intentions!

    I mean, the first NZ cricket team to win a test series in England?! Remember it like it was yesterday: Hadlee six wickets in the first innings and Martin Crowe a century and Bruce Edgar, playing his last series before retiring, an 83 in the first test (drawn) at Lords. Also Willie Watson’s test debut as I seem to remember Ewen Chatfield had an injured hand; Paddles ten for the match and a swashbuckling 68 on his English home ground in the second test at Trent Bridge. But he wasn’t the only contributor as the tail hung around in our first innings, including John Bracewell who got a ton, with most of his runs coming from the front-footed cross-bat swot to square leg that was his trademark. Derek Stirling also hit a few boundaries at the end. However, the under-rated performer was Evan Gray who occupied the crease for six hours scoring 50, shoring up an end while the lower-order stroke makers piled on the runs. Now that’s a test innings, and we won by eight wickets I seem to recall; and then the draw in the rain-affected last test at the Oval, but not before John Wright got a century, and Ian Botham, coming back from suspension and early in his opening spell, got two quick wickets (Edgar and Jeff Crowe) to equal, then pass Dennis Lillee’s test wicket record, prompting the incredulous line from Graham Gooch, “Beefy, who writes your scripts?!” And then when England batted Tony Blain on debut for New Zealand dropped at stratospheric-challenging skier off Botham as he bludgeoned his way in quick order to an unbeaten 60. It was that punishment that likely did it for Derek Stirling as a test bowler, as his confidence never recovered, which was a pity as he had promise. And I have a feeling David Gower or Graham Gooch (who got a ton at Lords in the first test) scored centuries in that England innings. But saved by rain did us just fine.

    So, no, some things you don’t forget. Or vandalise. Would rather have my kids raised by CYFS than retain a child minder that…incompetent. I mean, come on, you’ve got to get your priorities right! 😳😂

william witherow May 18, 2020 at 2:40 pm

So what is Buffet doing with the money?

Yes the bookshelves seems to have been a common, even cursory, observation by many. Interesting to see you finally get around to mentioning it.

What a horrific anecdote.

Maybe the health expert had a nanny? Dealt to the library? Bloody goats! But less irritating than the sheep who notice nothing

I too noticed the Nanny syndrome occurring. Especially in the academic set. Funniest has to be the one who had library book wall paper. Almost as if, look I’m and expert, I got books.

I sit here pulling out the odd grey hair in my beard, admiring my brown leather shoes, wondering where my sunglasses are (until I realized I left them on my head) all the time while contemplating what has been written by you Sir Bob and your followers. I certainly haven’t read all the posts, only a few, but I do recall a few pertinent points.

I recall you writing that Labour are going to lose the Election yet Jacinda is now the most popular political leader in a century. You also quoted a Wellington newspaper reporter saying that 400 restaurants were going to close. Neither of these two things will come to pass. In your above post, the reader could interpret from what you’ve written that Warren Buffet is selling off great chunks of various assets at wholesale prices. In fact he is only selling off airline stocks at wholesale prices, which is quite understandable and he also states, never bet against America.

I am a commercial property investor with a good portfolio size and hold you in the highest regard. The commercial property world would certainly be a poorer place without you in in so I thank you very much for all your contributions in the property arena over the years.

To the ‘thanks for having me’ point I recall you thanking the host at the end of your appearances on the beat goes on…
No doubt there is footage online somewhere.

The response to a virus which culls the old, fat and infirm at 1/2 the rate of the flu was never about Health and Saving lives. This whole shebang is about creating a wall of inflation to cover up the looting of the pension schemes world wide by wall street and Inept Governments over the last 30 years. Why else would the solution be to force every into a position where they have zero income for 8 weeks, and are then encouraged to do the ‘decent thing’ and keep their employee’s jobs open to save the country. Then as a sop to the voter conjure up a few hundred zeros in the form of business loans and helicopter cash, and splash the cash on the populace. We all know what happened to the Romans when they clipped the denarius, John Law and the Mississippi bubble, the Weimar Germans tried to print their way to freedom, and Zim’s super successful efforts at making everyone a gazillionaire. So offer them all loans at very low rates, to create the inflation needed to make that pesky unaccounted for state pension fund obligation be achievably met, but only because a loaf of bread now costs $1000 and therefore that $1.5mm obligation is now only $50k in present day dollars. Way more affordable. Those super convenient swaps from the FED are superhandy. Weren’t they so nice to offer Granty them back in December/ January.
But who wins?
What happens when the generational interest rates go from the lowest ever to highest ever? I recall my parents mortgage rates hitting credit card levels at 20%. So what if we get back to half that bad with a $200B national debt? HTF can we service that baby? Will they take a national park or a hydrodam or a dero railroad? Perhaps they’ll take the mineral rights from the Antarctic to cover it? Or maybe we’ll just carry on being debt slaves.

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