Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's going to be a good night. :-) Posted by Picasa

Being nice

I've been accosted with a meme -- the blogging equivalent of a chain letter.

Apparently antibiotics can't cure it, which is the case with all viruses, so homeopathic catharsis is the only thing for it. The 'Respectful Disagreement Meme' requires of me that I name three people with whom I frequently disagree, and say something nice about them. Hmmm.

1) First cab of the block is a Sicilian from Brooklyn. Chris Sciabarra PhD, PhD, PhD favours extensive footnotes over forceful prose and chairs over buildings, and while his musical taste is generally excecrable -- current 'Song of the Day' on his site is 'Boogie Nights' for Freud's sake!! -- he can write the hind leg off a very big donkey.

2) Second cab off the rank, which in my estimation should be moving very fast in a direction away from me, is Doctor Fred Seddon, a man whose project to reconcile David Hume, Plato, Ayn Rand and Immanuel Kant sets me off like finger nails down a blackboard, but who ... sheesh .. do I really have to say something nice about all three people here?

3) I don't think I've ever heard Tony Benn say anything with which I've agreed, although I did admire him stepping down from being Lord Tony Benn several years ago, and he does have a black belt in boring, but now that he's like a sort of more statesmanlike JimAnderton -- relatively harmless, utterly ineffectual, and almost the last representative of an extinct species -- he's like a household pet you quite like having around just to feel sorry for.

So who am I going to tag with this virus? Anyone that wants to pick up the infection and run with it, that's who. Pick up thy pens and write. Or use a keyboard if you must. :-P

[UPDATE: Chris Sciabarra has tried to say nice things about me here. Great footnotes too. Dr Fred tried to say nice things about me in an e-mail. I doubt however that I'm on Tony Benn's mailing list, and I know I'm not on Jim Anderton's.]

Liberty and Reason

New blogs being added to my blogroll this morning:
  • 'Liberty and Reason,' a blog by a German libertarian. He's talking today about Climate Change and its Consequences.
  • The Thoughtful Libertarian, by American libertarian Stephen Druckenmiller -- and I can just hear many of you laughing that Americans understand neither irony nor oxymorons. He has a surprising libertarian conclusion this morning on the issue of gay marriage.
  • The Walrus, a blog from musician and American Objectivist Tom Rowland.
Enjoy!

Friday, July 01, 2005

'Before Night Falls'

If you're reading this now and you've put down the glass for the night, I've had a hot tip that the film 'Before Night Falls' on TV3 at 11:30pm tonight is worth a peek. Miss Liberty reviews it here. [Thanks Robin.]

The Real Head of British Intelligence


It's not Alastair Campbell, that's for sure.

Best this week here at Not PC

Best of the week on Not PC. All this and great art and cartoons too!

Nothing 'great' about Tax Debate
I saw nothing great at all about last night's Great Tax Debate on TVNZ. A lot of people bickering about how they would spend someone else's money…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/nothing-great-about-tax-debate.html

Lions win the spin
London's 'Independent' newspaper questions the spin-doctoring of the Lions Tour…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/lions-win-spin.html

Hostage hunts down arseholes
News in of the Swede held hostage in Iraq for 47 days who has "hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one…"
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/hostage-hunts-down-arseholes.html

Batman Shrugged
I'm not a fan of Batman, but I do like a good camp movie review. Quoth a Boston Indymedia reviewer of the new Batman movie: "What if Ayn Rand and Mussolini got together to write a Hollywood movie?
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/batman-shrugged.html

Brian O'Driscoll: Whinging Pom
When the test match finished on Saturday night my friends and I turned to each other and said, "What could Tony Blair's spin doctor possibly do to explain away that comprehensive thrashing?"--or words to that effect…. What he apparently decided to do was to turn Brian O'Driscoll from a felled Paddy into a whinging Pom…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/brian-odriscoll-whinging-pom.html

Live-8 losers
Like Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s Live-8 is more to do with making you and Bob Geldof and Bono feel better about themselves than it is about effecting real help...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/live-8-losers.html

Bulldozing homes--and this is not Zimbabwe
The Supreme Court's agreement that people can be thrown out of their homes so that a shopping mall and a research centre for Pfizer can be built in New London, Connecticut has opened the floodgates…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/bulldozing-homes-and-this-is-not.html

Fed Farmers win property rights battle. War still ongoing
I was just going to blog on Jim Sutton's temporary, pre-election backdown on screwing farmers' property rights over the access issue when I found that Julian Pistorius had already said what I wanted to say…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/fed-farmers-win-property-rights-battle.html

Evicting the Justices opposed to property rights
News that one US libertarian is seeking to use the Supreme Court's new anti-property-rights ruling-- which allows the eviction of people from their own houses so that other people can build shopping malls and marinas over them -- to evict one of the Supreme Court justices that handed down the decision in order to build a hotel…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/evicting-justices-opposed-to-property.html

African debt relief on bFM, and elsewhere
Just got back from bFM and a very enjoyable interview with Simon Pound covering the counter-intuitiveness of African debt relief and Bob Geldof's Live Aid and Live-8 phenomena. Where did the "fooking money" go from the first Bob-Fest, and how is the latest feel-good frolic any different?
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/debt-relief-on-bfm-and-elsewhere.html

School sucks
Tibor Machan wonders why so many kids at so many schools seem so sick:
“The varieties of Attention Deficit Disorders in records boggle the mind, even as many of us have managed to pass through the system reasonably unscathed. Or have we? There are those who do not buy into this medical approach to assessing the problems with contemporary education. I am one of them…”
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/school-sucks.html

Education: £1 billion. "No impact."
Does just throwing money at education buy success? Um, no it doesn't…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/education-1-billion-no-impact.html

Govt bullying another school
The Ministry of Education has a new victim…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/govt-bullying-another-school.html

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Population
Rises most rapidly in areas least able to sustain it –- unfree, pre-industrial, semi-feudal, collectivist societies hostile to capital formulation and investment, where children are treated as a substitute for it…
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/06/cue-card-libertarianism-population.html

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Top ten searches to July 1st

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mile High Tower featuring large in this week’s top searches. Bishop Brian’s supporters still visiting to find out there heroes favourite tunes. And I do love getting tenth on Yahoo for calling Irishman Brian O’Driscoll a whinging pom. :-)

  1. frank lloyd wright mile high tower sketch (8th)
  2. brandens valliant (not on front page)
  3. mile high tower wright (1st on Yahoo)
  4. from libertarianism to welfarism (1st on Yahoo)
  5. tim wikiriwhi (7th)
  6. violent overthrow” penn & teller (4th)
  7. big mac index 2005 (2nd on Yahoo)
  8. bishop brian tamaki (10th)
  9. lord denning elephant definition (not on front page)
  10. brian o'driscoll (10th on Yahoo)

Other searches of note include "rush limbaugh owen mcshane kyoto," "fascism freedom tower," "what is the implication in the cognition of individual who does not have nursery room?" and "druglord2."

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Nothing 'great' about Tax Debate

I saw nothing great at all about last night's Great Tax Debate on TVNZ. A lot of people bickering about how they would spend someone else's money, and demands from some morons that their money be taken from them by someone else because they themselves don't have the brains they were born with.

The only one who made any sense was the young chap subtitled bizarrely as 'Wrote a Letter to the Editor' who made a similar point to mine above, though much more politely and with a quote from Alan Greenspan*, only to see his well-made point totally ignored by the studio bickerers more interested in picking over the bones of other people's money.

And I noticed Roger Kerr might have 'gone Austrian,' saying inflation is a monetary phenomenon caused by the reserve bank. Quite right too.

[UPDATE 1: If you want to see the bickering again, or you missed it the first time around and want to look into the eyes of those who think your money is their's to dispose of, TVNZ has the whole sad, sorry show on their site, here.]
*[UPDATE 2: The young chap's name is Fraser Hungerford -- a 'christian surfer' apparently! -- and Greenspan's quote is this: "Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes." It comes from his essay 'Gold and Economic Freedom.'

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Debt relief on bFM and elsewhere

Just got back from bFM and a very enjoyable interview with Simon Pound covering the counter-intuitiveness of African debt relief and Bob Geldof's Live Aid and Live-8 phenomena. Where did the "fooking money" go from the first Bob-Fest, and how is the latest feel-good frolic any different?

Julian Pistorius has very kindly put up an MP3 of the interview (thanks Julian). And the BBC's Radio 3 had a similar (but much, much more intellectual) debate this morning on the subject of altruism in general and the Make Poverty History campaign in particular. Contributors include evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Ayn Rand Institute fellow Onkhar Gate. Listen here, and read details here.

Some useful links to this and related subjects:
Live-8 losers, Not PC
Altruism: It's about us, not them, Not PC
Think before you bomb, Daniel Wolf, Spectator
How Band Aid came unstuck on reality of relief, Daniel Wolf, Scotsman
Cruel to be Kind, Daniel Rieff, Guardian
Debt Sentencing, Cox and Forkum
Capitalism is the cure for Africa's problems, Andrew Bernstein
They know it's Christmas but are they actually helping?, Samizdata
Africa must learn the boring stuff, Mark Steyn
The private sector, political elites and underdevelopment in Sub-Saharan Africa, Moeletsi Mbeki
Reuters Live-8 site
Bono's DATA site
Geldof's Live 8 site
Make Poverty History site
World Bank Debt site

Batman Shrugged

I'm not a fan of Batman, but I do like a good camp movie review. Quoth a Boston Indymedia reviewer of the new Batman movie: "What if Ayn Rand and Mussolini got together to write a Hollywood movie? The result would look something very like Batman Begins--the new blockbuster prequel to the Batman screen franchise." Ooh er!

I think that means he doesn't like it. No bother. Robert Bidinotto did, and he loves even more the sniffy, wowserish review from the Boston Indymedia, self-proclaimed "Media Outlet for Radical, Accurate and Passionate Tellings of Truth":
You're absolutely right about one thing, fella — this Batman is the antithesis of your entire sick, parasitical, eat-the-rich, blame-the-victim-not-the-criminal, sacrifice-the-individual-to-the-collective-gang view of human nature and society. In the form of a mythic pop hero, Batman Begins presents a heroic, self-assertive and unapologetic view of human potential, individual self-responsibility and larger-than-life entrepreneurship. Batman is a fantasy archetype of heroic American individualism. So stick it in your ear, pal.
So there. Sounds like just the sort of movie the Libertarianz should be supporting. And it turns out we are. :-)

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Hostage hunts down arseholes

Noodle Food has the story of
  • the Swede held hostage in Iraq for 47 days whao has "hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one". Ulf Hjertstrom told reporters, "I have now put some people to work to find these bastards,...I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one."
  • Australian Douglas Wood, who had the temerity to call his Iraqi captors "arseholes" after they let him go. Editor of 'The Age' Andrew Jaspan simpered "The issue really is largely, speaking as I understand it, he was treated well there. He says he was fed every day, and as such to turn around and use that kind of language I think is just insensitive." Clearly Jaspan wanted to be noticed too, so I'll do that now: "Arsehole!"

School sucks

Tibor Machan wonders why so many kids at so many schools seem so sick:
The varieties of Attention Deficit Disorders in records boggle the mind, even as many of us have managed to pass through the system reasonably unscathed. Or have we? There are those who do not buy into this medical approach to assessing the problems with contemporary education. I am one of them.
He sure is. Tibor doesn't think the problem is medical, so much as political. What do you expect, he asks, when you force the incredible diverse student population of today into a one-size-fits-all coercive model of education? Here's one example just yesterday. You try and force these young, impressionable, diversely shaped pegs into one-size-fits-everything holes, and then wonder why you need to start feeding them Ritalin. Who exactly are the idiots here?
So, upon doing so such students are declared sick, suffering from ADD of whatever, then plugged full of some drugs or sent for counseling or therapy, instead of the much-more-reasonable conclusion that they are being totally miseducated, mismatched to the system in place. It’s like beating someone to a pulp and then complaining that he is sick—what else do you expect? Whose fault is this? Is their malady natural or artificially induced?
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Future in Our Hands


Photo by Brett Holverstott of Stuart Mark Feldman's sculpture group, The Future In Our Hands. Review of the landmark sculpture by Michael Newberry here. "It is a brilliant achievement," says Newberry, "not only in the sense that it is a realization of the artist's ecstatic vision, but it also holds the exalted place of being an innovative work in the history of art."
[Hat tip once again to Stephen Hicks.]

Updating my comments system

As one commenter said here recently, if it ain't broke don't fix it. So I have. That is, I haven't. :-)

That is, I've found a way to have trackback and the previously not-broke comments system. I'll find out one day I'm sure why trackback is so essential, and meanwhile I'll persist with Blogger comments and Haloscan trackback. If you're interested, here's where I found the hacks to do what I had no idea how to do myself.

I do have an archive somewhere of the comments submitted over the last day, and I'll try and repost them on the new system shortly so they're not lost. I do value your comments, you know, even when I disagree with them. :-)

[UPDATE: Comments transferred from Haloscan to Blogger.]

PC on bFM Wire tomorrow

I'll be appearing on tomorrow's Wire on bFM to discuss the 'Live-8' phenomenon' that I discussed here yesterday. Listen up either on 95FM in Auckland, or use this live stream here at about 12:50pm.

Lions win the spin

London's 'Independent' newspaper questions the spin-doctoring of the Lions Tour and Graham Henry's reaction to it, and discusses some of the 'rules of engagement' set by chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

Fed Farmers win property rights battle. War still ongoing

I was just going to blog on Jim Sutton's temporary, pre-election backdown on screwing farmers' property rights over the access issue when I found that Julian Pistorius had already said what I wanted to say. There's the division of labour for you. :-)

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Govt bullying another school

The Ministry of Education has a new victim: Al Madinah school in Mangere, convicted of "prioritising religion at the expense of the curriculum and segregating staff and students according to gender." Herald story here.

Now these values are not mine -- although they are it seems those of Bill English -- but they are the values of those parents who have chosen this school for their children. Some parents have certainly
decided it's not for them and they've withdrawn their children, but those who have stayed are apparently pleased with their own decision. Whose business is it to make that choice for them?

The busybodies have decided it's their's. Al Madinah is penalised for not fitting the state's model. The ministry has its own propaganda for schools to peddle, and has no time for that of another culture.

The problem is that the factory school system has as its chief criteria for success pleasing a bureaucrat, rather than pleasing the parents whose children attend the factory schools. When the values of the parents are significantly different to those of the bureaucrat -- or of the ministry, or of the minister -- then the bureucrat will always win, and diversity and choice is the loser.

Is this really what we want?

Evicting the Justices opposed to property rights

News that one US libertarian is seeking to use the Supreme Court's new anti-property-rights ruling-- which allows the eviction of people from their own houses so that other people can build shopping malls and marinas over them -- to evict one of the Supreme Court justices that handed down the decision in order to build a hotel. News here.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

[The project's proposer] indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
Hat tip Berend.]

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Stake and CHiPs


Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy of The Free Radical.

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Population

Rises most rapidly in areas least able to sustain it –- unfree, pre-industrial, semi-feudal, collectivist societies hostile to capital formulation and investment, where children are treated as a substitute for it.

When awakening to the problem, regimes in such areas tend to deal with it in the manner most familiar to them: by coercion –- making sterilisation and abortion compulsory; limiting the permissible number of children couples may have; and in some extreme cases the encouragement of famine. Such methods are both wrong in principle and ineffectual –- and ultimately unnecessary –- in practice. For where technology is not permitted to support and sanitise life, nature is a far more potent destroyer of it than man-made prohibitions: the Malthusian spectre of plagues and famine becomes reality.

The real solution as always, is freedom and the rule of law – limited government; the protection of property rights; the freedom and enforcement of contracts; stability of and equality before the law -- which, by giving free rein to entrepeneurs, industrialists and inventors vastly increases the power of the earth to sustain life in increasing numbers. It also incidentally allows women to choose careers other than child-rearing, and entails the right to contracept by any means of one’s choice.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Haloscan added

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. Which adds trackback (a good thing apparently) but unfortunately seems to mean that all past comments have been deleted.

Bugger. :-/

Feel free to add all your past insults, insights and comments in the appropriate places. And don't cheat -- they are archived somewhere.

Award for authentic New Urbanism

An Alabama town has just pipped Stepford, Connecticut for a prestigious award as the 'Most Authentic' community in America. Report here.

A triumph of the 'new urbanism' town planning philosophy, the town of Mt Laurel, Alabama "hearkens to an earlier, simpler era that exists purely in the minds of its residents ... [and] takes pride in being one of only three towns in Alabama designed by someone who slept with Hitler."

Live-8 losers

Reports are emerging that at least some of Bob Geldof's Live-8 concerts are struggling for financial support. Reason magazine notes,
Live8's German organizer, Marek Lieberberg, admitted to 'The Independent on Saturday' that the July 2 concert "has failed to attract the support of politicians or business sponsors" in Germany. According to the British paper, "the lack of support meant the rock bands appearing at the event risked having to pay" for the million-euro show themselves.
What a pity (this by the way is irony). As I've noted here before, Geldof's previous excursion into global feel-good-ism probably did more harm than good, feeding the oppressors who manufactured famine rather than those he sought to help. David Rieff now makes a similar point; writing in Prospect Magazine he argues,
The millions donated to Ethiopia in 1985 thanks to Live Aid were supposed to go towards relieving a natural disaster. In reality, donors became participants in a civil war. Many lives were saved, but even more may have been lost in Live Aid's unwitting support of a Stalinist-style resettlement project ... The standard argument is that to do nothing is to acquiesce in whatever horror is unfolding, from Saddam Hussein's Iraq to the mass killings in present-day Darfur.... Yet an alternative case can be made: in the global altruism business it is, indeed, sometimes better not to do anything at all.
Geldof's bleeding heart offers the lesson that if it's the thought that counts, then you should at least make sure your thought is a good one. And here's a good thought: If you want to help the victims of bad governance -- which presently describes most of Africa -- then don't give the bad governments money, think first about what better government looks like. (And here's a clue: if it looks anything like Mengistu, Mugabe or Jospeh Stalin it' s not good at all.) But thinking thoughts like this is much too much skull sweat to demand of an aging pop star in need of a career transfusion; a much harder job by far than strumming a guitar and mouthing off like a sanctimonious cretin.

And being a sanctimonious cretin never harmed anyone's musical or political career, as the careers of Grateful Dead, Bono and Kofi Annan all attest. In fact, as PJ O'Rourke observes,
The principle feature of contemporary American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things -- war and hunger and date rape -- liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. People who care a lot are naturally superior to we who don't care any more than we have to. By virtue of this superiority the caring have a moral right to lead the nation. It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.
Like Live Aid, Live-8 is more to do with making you and Bob Geldof and Bono feel better about themselves than it is about effecting real help. Think about it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

'El Canal' by Capuletti Posted by Hello

Property Wrongs

Bulldozing homes--and this is not Zimbabwe

The Supreme Court's agreement that people can be thrown out of their homes so that a shopping mall and a research centre for Pfizer can be built in New London, Connecticut has opened the floodgates. The white-shoed big-noters of Freeport, Texas have just declared this is the "last little piece of the puzzle" allowing them to throw people out of their homes so they can build a marina.

Sit back and watch the announcements tumble in, and realise that bulldozing people's homes for 'the public good' is not just something done in Zimbabwe.

Here's a further round-up of news and commentary on the original decision from Yahoo News, from David M. Brown, Edward Hudgins, George Will, Don Boudreaux, Tyler Cowen, and my own post on the matter, and a number of posts by Todd Zywicki and others at The Volokh Conspiracy.

And if you'd prefer not to sit back but to fight back, check out the The Castle Coalition, a project of The Institute for Justice.

[Hat tip SOLO and Stephen Hicks.]

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Education: £1 billion. "No impact."

Does just throwing money at education buy success? Um, no it doesn't. The British have just found that "the government’s £1 billion campaign to raise literacy and numeracy standards in primary schools has failed to have any impact on GCSE results."

There's a lesson there if anyone cares to take it.


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'Sheesh' to single-sex schools

If you've forgotten why no-one voted for Billy-Boy English last election, let National Party hack David Farrar remind you this morning. David has looked over the weekend's weekend's exciting National Party conference for you and pulled down the highlights, which this morning is this: Billy-Boy has looked at the wreck that is the state's education system (much of it the work of his own colleagues) and decided the solution is ... the establishment of "more single-sex schools."

Bill English: going straight to the heart of irrelevance. 'And he had graphs and everything,' splutters an impressed DPF. Sheesh.

Brian O'Driscoll: Whinging Pom

When the test match finished on Saturday night my friends and I turned to each other and said, "What could Tony Blair's spin doctor possibly do to explain away that comprehensive thrashing?"--or words to that effect.

What he apparently decided to do to take the heat off the worst Lions coach since Barnum and Bailey's lion-tamer was eaten was to turn Brian O'Driscoll from a felled Paddy into a whinging Pom. 'They hurt me,' whinged Brian, who then mentioned Tana Umaga, crying and his mother in the same sentence.

This year Brian could have won the Grand Slam for Ireland, and then captained the Lions to a series win against the All Blacks. He would have gone down in history as a hero. Instead, the Irish choked, his Lions side was completely outclassed, and he'll be remembered now only for mewling and pewking about a tackle that only he and Clive ever saw.

As Tana said a year or so ago, "We're not playing tiddlywinks here."
[UPDATE: A link here to a video of the ruck in which O'Driscoll was injured.]