Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Catlins Sunset

Catlins Sunset, by Chrissie Chisholm.

Nandor v Libz on bFM

Tomorrow afternoon on bFM's 'The Wire,' Russell Brown, Nandor Tanczos and Dr Richard Goode will be discussing Libertarianz's cannabis policy -- released today -- the Libz drug policies in general, and the various wrong, hallucinatory, and frankly bizarre utterances on the subject by Peter Dunce's Benighted Future Party.

People outside Auckland can listen in here.

[UPDATE: Readers and comments-people might wish to read my earlier Cue Card Libertarianism -- Drugs piece in order to confirm that, yes, we do mean it and yes, legalisation is both practical and principled.]

A pre-announcement of National's Tax announcement

DPF has announced the announcement (and also the pre-announcement) of National's tax announcement. If you know what I mean.

"National's tax policy,' he says, "is going to be released in Auckland on Monday (22 August)," but not before a "pre-announcement" this Friday of what to expect.

Get those sharpened pencils ready for a good fisking -- this announcement will quite possibly be the most crucial day of Election 2005. So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements.


Podcast takes free speech destroyers to task

Julian Pistorius has a podcast, or Libcast, which takes both Blitzkrieg Bop and the didgeridoo to Peter Dunne's poke at free speech last week in his bid to get in front of TV3's cameras, and a comment on the legion of free speech destroyers appearing in his wake.

Listen in here to NZBFree.

Students walking for democracy

I wrote a few weeks back about how a committed organisation of students has been fomenting democratic revolution across Eastern Europe and successfully liberating their countries. Unlike our own students here in NZ who, the latest Listener points out, still live at home with their parents in large numbers, these youngsters are getting off their arses and fighting for their freedom. And they've been winning.

President of American organisation Students for Global Democracy (SGD) Charlie Szrom is part of that network, and has written me seeking support for student organisation Zubr in Belarus and their BELL Campaign to remove "the last dictator in Europe, a man named Alexander Lukashenka," and support also for SGD activists in Nepal, Burma, Azerbaijan, Iraq and the Ukraine.

"[To] highlight the crisis of democracy in Belarus, give moral support to dissidents there, and to raise funds for pro-democracy activities" in Belarus and elsewhere Charlie and the SGD is organising a Worldwide Walk for Democracy this October, and they want your help.

If you want to help Charlie and the people of Belarus by organising a Walk in your city and taking part in the international SGD video-conference then you can drop Charlie a line at studentsforglobaldemocracy@gmail.com, or at least put an SGD button on your site like I have.

It's the least you can do really.

Clearing out property in Gaza

See, here's why I can never get so all-fired excited about supporting Israel as a haven of freedom.

Yes, Israel is in many respects a beacon of freedom and individualism amidst a sea of tribal dictator-worship, but the Israeli state still has a tendency to view its own citizens much as a feudal lord once viewed his serfs.

In clearing people out of their own homes in Gaza at gunpoint Sharon's Government is just ignoring property rights and the title deeds of Israeli citizens, and frankly is just doing what Mugabe is doing several thousand miles further south. At least former PM Netanyahu resigned in protest at this blatant outrage, a heavy-handed treatment of individuals and their property that makes them nothing less than vassals of the Israeli state.

Cox and Forkum (whose cartoon that is above) have background here, and here.

What's forgotten in this talk of a Gaza Strip "occupied"by Israel is that the Strip was taken in a defensive war fought against Arab nations that continue to reject Israel's very existence, and kept as a defensive measure against further attacks by same. As a strategic move, I agree with Daniel Pipes that giving it away sucks:
Given that about 80% of Palestinian Arabs continue to reject Israel's very existence, signs of Israeli weakness, such as the forthcoming Gaza withdrawal, will instead inspire heightened Palestinian irredentism. Absorbing their new gift without gratitude, Palestinian Arabs will focus on those territories Israelis have not evacuated... The retreat will inspire not comity but a new rejectionist exhilaration, a greater frenzy of anti-Zionist anger, and a surge in anti-Israel violence.
Giving it away sucks. And bulldozing the property of Israel's citizens in order to make this strategic blunder sucks big time.

Eco's latest

I'm as eager to get my teeth into Umberto Eco's latest as so many others were to get into the latest Harry Potter.

Eco writes with what Jose Louis Borges calls both "algebra and fire" -- in love with learning and with language, Eco constructs his many-layered stories with the ingenuity of a crossword puzzle. A professor of semiotics in his day job, Eco does sometimes make me wonder if academics simply have too much time on their hands, but if all post-modernists were as witty and sharp as Eco, I could easily be seduced.

What a ride he takes the reader on. What a labyrinth. I can't wait to try and decode this one.

Monday, 15 August 2005

Four Last Songs: Jesse Norman

Not a piece of visual art tonight, but instead an aural wonder. Norman's rich, warm voice caresses Richard Strauss's songs of wistful longing, and (if you get the CD version) makes a wonder of Wagner's aching love songs. Sheer, unabashed beauty.

Velcro gloves alert

Ahem. An Australian with an Irish name has been charged with having sexual relations with a rabbit, animal cruelty, bestiality and drug offences following the deaths of 17 rabbits and a guinea pig. (I swear I am not making this up.)

Australian newspapers have insisted on describing Brendan Francis McMahon, 36, financier of North Sydney as "New Zealand-born" but as these are the same newspapers that have recently taken to including the Ashes results on page 19, inside column, we know how much we can trust them.

The Sydney Morning Herald may use a headline of 'NZ Bachelor on Rabbit Sex Charge' in order to take the heat off Irishmen and Australians, but I can still remember:
1) The Donegal pub owner who was arrested of running a brothel in a house behind the pub. The house contained six sheep.
2) This song (one verse of which is below) which was inordinately popular in Australian pubs in London some years ago:
How much is that hamster in the window?
How much is that masking tape?
My last hamster had
A nasty accident.
I do hope this hamster don't break.
Never trust an Australian. Especially with your pet. ;^)

Support for property rights

When property rights are regularly under attack both here in New Zealand and around the world, it's a pleasure for once to support a move in a direction that protects property rights rather than violating them. Gordon Copeland's Private Members Bill to add property rights to New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act is such a move, and my submission in support on behalf of Libertarianz can be found here.

(To hear my short expression of support click here. To read my earlier expression of support, click here.)

The enigma of David Lange

All 100 NZ political bloggers have offered their own tributes to David Lange. For once I'm going to bow to pressure and do the traditional thing and offer some of my own memories.

For me, Lange was a huge disappointment.

I first met him at my school prize-giving at which David Lange MP was speaking as the old-boy-made-good, and I was required to shake his hand and get a gong. He'd just delivered a speech in which he informed all of us that 'computers were going to make us all redundant' so we'd 'better get used to being out of work,' so as I'd immediately concluded he was an idiot I wasn't too fussed at getting anything from him.

Neither was I too excited at hearing him deliver that same silly speech three times that year at different events around the local traps. Too me he seemed a buffoon, however good his oratary.

Now for once here I'm going to agree with Willie Jackson. Even if I thought little either of him (or of Rugby League), as a Mangere boy myself I have to confess it was a blast having Kiwi league reps living down one end of the road and the Prime Minister at the other.

It was fun too seeing Lange out and about in Mangere, eschewing the usual Prime Ministerial airs and graces, driving himself around, doing his own shopping and blustering away over my friend's fence (my friend, for his sins, lived just next door to the Lange family).

I didn't vote for Lange on the only chance I got -- as I recall I was one of twelve in Mangere that voted New Zealand Party in 1984 -- but I can't have been the only non-Lange voter to have been thrilled to see a Prime Minister announced on the stage of the local flea pit. Lange himself observed that last time he'd been on the stage of the Mangere Metro he'd been playing a block of cheese, which is where he ended up as Prime Minister really, and some of us reflected to ourselves that on a normal Saturday night at the Metro there would probably have been a Bruce Lee double feature playing, not the public crowning of the country's political leader.

A Bruce Lee double feature could easily be the metaphor for that Lange government. After the Polish shipyard of the Muldoon years, almost any other government would have been an improvement, and the Lange government certainly was. But what began as revelation ended only as sad disappointment. Enter the Dragon, then exit stage left, pursued by assorted demons.

Lange's wit and oratory saw him as salesman for the necessary reforms undertaken by his government, but it was never clear that Lange himself understood what he was selling. He himself delivered Tomorrow's Schools and any number of completed crosswords, but to me his call for a cup of tea came when he woke up and realised for the first time what was going on under his stewardship.

What had been going on was mostly to the good, but not to Dave once he realised what was afoot.

At that time I worked for two years pumping gas at a service station just outside Wellington's government centre at Tinakori Rd, and those were the two years in which the public service was devastated by the reforms of the Lange Government.  "Devastated' if course being the word used by the public "servants" who weer feeling the cold wind of reality up their arse.

I have to tell you personally that it was thrilling having all those bureaucrats drive in on the way home to Wadestown and share with me that they'd just been sacked. I tried each time to express disappointment for them... at least on the outside. But, I confess, it was difficult.

If Lange had really understood what his ministers were doing I would have been a fan, but his intelligence was never really directed at analysing and understanding issues. How easily for example was he -- and indeed the whole NZ left -- diverted by the nuclear ships sideshow.

The adulation and international attention for his egregious anti-ANZUS stand saw Lange blossom, but as his wit and one-liners increased his grip on the realities of NZ political life did the opposite.

In the end it seems to me he was still the fat boy who needed to crack jokes and play the fool in order to be liked, and that was where his energy and intelligence became largely directed. He was in the end a disappointment because he never seemed to grow beyond that. As he said himself in his valedictory speech,
I have developed that Greek model of the fool: the person who, in mocking self-deprecation, can challenge conventions and orders - get away with mocking his mates, actually, without being regarded as a complete traitor - and may sometimes be able to get to the truth of a matter.
"Sometimes" was too few times. His biography by all accounts reflects this as well: long on bitterness and acerbic observations on his colleagues; short on analysis and reflection and real understanding. 

That was in the end perhaps his tragedy, that he never grew beyond his childhood demons, and his need to be liked above all else. 

And so did the man eventually became servant to the boy.

[UPDATE: A different sort of eulogy from The Age today, questioning the Lange foreign policy legacy. Hat tip to Che Tibby, who choked in his corn flakes as he read it, so you know it must be good.]

NZ win MCG final!

Playing at the MCG on Saturday, New Zealand have won the 2005 Australian Football International Cup, beating a strong Papua New Guinea team for the first time ever to bring home an eighteen point win and the trophy.

The New Zealand Falcons beat the USA to earn their place in the final -- PNG beat Ireland to get there -- and the Falcons led for every quarter in a low-scoring game. The win leaves them unbeaten in the tournament, and makes amends for being beaten by Ireland in the semifinals three years ago. The win was capped off with the announcement that five New Zealand players were included in the 2005 Australian Football International Cup All Stars Team.

Well done guys. I wish I'd been there to cheer you on.

[UPDATE: The full game report can be found here.]

Sunday, 14 August 2005

Libz on top

One of the most popular and always the most crowded billboard site in the Epsom electorate is at the Greenlane-Great South Road corner. Fortunately, Libertarianz contrive to come out on top, and Neanderton is deservedly down with the garbage. :-)

See if you can spot my leg amidst the falsework behind the signs. She's like a jungle back there, mate.

Books for a 21 year old

What four books might you recommend to a twenty-one year old boy with a brain but few if any passions; an interest in science and how the world works, but little enthusiasm for really investigating it; and a reading ability that allows him to consume lots of reading matter, but of a type that is mostly of little substance and no challenge.

I hit on the following list:
  • Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead opens up a world in which great passions are played out on a broad stage. More than one person has found that this book has given them a reason to live -- this scene on its own for many readers gives the inspiration it itself describes. Great for readers old and young, especially as an antidote to today's fashionable cynicism and too-cool-to-move languor.
  • It might be better to introduce the more analytical young twenty-one year old to Rand's Atlas Shrugged. "Might be" because Atlas touches the parts other novels don't even acknowledge, and explains how all those parts fit together to make the world move ... or not. An analytical brain looking for or needing inspiration should eat this up, as they will the adventure story that keeps building and rebuilding on itself. Magnificent fuel for a young fire needing a spark.
  • Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon was recommended to me when I was just a teenager, and although I didn't read it until much later it would have fitted the teenaged me like a glove, as it should any youngster with even a passing interest in politics and idealism. This perfectly crafted novel proves, as Nat Hentoff famously described it, "that dishonest means irredeemably corrupt all ends, no matter how noble." And that doesn't just describe the Stalinism of the story, as we older ones soon come to realise.
  • If science fiction is already your youngster's bag, then Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love should be their introduction to adult science fiction. The long life of protagonist Lazarus Long and the struggle to give the old Lazarus meaning in that life allow Heinlein to muse rhapsodically on themes of life, death and sex, and what it all means for each of us.
So there you have it. Don't buy that twenty-one year old a book or CD voucher (they'd only waste it). Buy them something to introduce them to the life of an adult, and to show them it's all worth it.

Hangover food

Sunday morning coming down, as the song goes. What's the perfect Sunday morning hangover food for you?

For me, here's the top two contenders:
  • Scrambled eggs with hash browns and mushrooms, and whole wheat toast on the side -- Vogels is good; home made is best; spread with plenty of Vegemite (Marmite just doesn't work). The eggs should be free range with a minimum of milk in the mix, and fried in plenty of butter; well peppered works for me. Hot black coffee and orange juice to wash it down

    All the necessary hangover cures there in one hit, and timing the preparation of the feast itself helps to kick the brain back into life. The aim when eating is to ensure that the toast and eggs are finished simultaneously, an exercise that may be as much effort as the brain is capable of on some hazy Sundays.

  • Pancakes made with buttermilk, with bananas, cream and real maple syrup. I like to eat mine in a stack, with alternating toppings on each. Mmmm.
I feel better already. This morning's pancakes helped. :-)

Stone walls do not a prison make...

T O A L T H E A.
From Prison.

WHEN Love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my Gates ;
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the Grates ;
When I lye tangled in her haire
And fettered to her eye ;
The Gods that wanton in the Aire,
Know no such Liberty.

When flowing Cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our carelesse heads with Roses bound,
Our hearts with Loyall Flames ;
When thirsty griefe in Wine we steepe,
When Healths and draughts go free,
Fishes that tipple in the Deepe,
Know no such Libertie.

When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetnes, Mercy, Majesty,
And glories of my KING ;
When I shall voyce aloud, how Good
He is, how Great should be ;
Enlarged Winds that curle the Flood,
Know no such Liberty.

Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage ;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage ;
If I have freedome in my Love,
And in my soule am free ;
Angels alone that sore above,
Injoy such Liberty.

Friday, 12 August 2005

Schofferhofer O'Clock

It's just about Beer O'Clock, and thoughts are turning to one or two of these: A German Weizen bier. Sadly, it may not be what I end up with, but as the song sort of says, if you can't drink the one you love ...

We're safe. For now.

Mark Twain once offered the warning, "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."

NZ's legislature was officially dissolved at 11am yesterday morning. There are photos here to prove it. So as of yesterday we're safe. For a bit.

Until then, watch for low-flying politicians and protect your babies from their kisses, and keep your hand on your wallet. It's your money they're promising to spend.

Free speech goes so easily

Here's an example of how government control increases incrementally.

As most of you know, the High Court yesterday took it upon itself to command a private broadcaster to include two politicians on a programme belonging to that broadcaster. The politicians' reactions to the decision ranged from the "Oh, well" to the smug. The public reaction to this dictatorial legedermain ranged, for the most part, from "Oh, well" through to "Oh, what?"

Here was a blatant violation by a court, acting at the behest of two politicians, of a broadcaster's right to its own private property (its programme, network and broadcast spectrum), and to its right to free speech across that network. And in response to this violation the public barely gave a shrug. Such is the way new violations are welcomed day after day. With a shrug. Such is the way liberty yields, and government authority gains ground.

To the credit of some commentators, bloggers and broadcasters, there was at least some resistance. Most bloggers, to their credit, realised the significance of the decision and were opposed. No Right Turn was one who seemed happy at the court's bullying, however, calling it "good for democracy" while still trying to straddle the issue by agreeing the bullying "is a prima facie violation of [the broadcaster's right to free expression." There's clarity for you.

The Herald reasoned the judge's focus should have been "the freedom of the media to cover political events as they see fit, and the right of private companies to make their own decisions about their operations." Quite right. Tim Pankhurst of the Media Freedom Committee called it "a dangerous precedent for the democratic process when judges are allowed to dictate which politicians should be included in specific programmes.” Bernard Darnton of the Libertarianz, who some were saying should perhaps have joined in the application to the courts, replied that "Libertarianz... is taking a moral stand by setting aside narrow self-interest, as in the long run, we are all better off with a free press." Quite true.

And TV3 itself, fearful of the precedent this has created, has announced it will be fighting this ruling. Thank goodness for that. "[TV3's Mark] Jennings told the Herald after the decision was announced that it was the first time judges had "decided our editorial policy for us. You'd have to think 'what's next? Where does it stop?'"

Where indeed.

Where it will probably stop is with people like the vacuous announcer on the Breakfast Show at Radio Live this morning who can't tell the difference between a dictator and someone who pays her wages, and wants to be told by someone else what to do in her job. Bernard Darnton had just repeated his assertion that "state direction of the media through the courts is something that would not be out of place in countries such as Zimbabwe. These politicians have criticised the regime in Zimbabwe, but are now demanding that totalitarian policies be implemented here."

Her response: "If we let private broadcasters choose who they have on then aren't we replacing one dictator with another?"

Galt save us from vacuous idiots who would give up their liberty so easily.

Are you part of the resistance?

After last night's political gormfest I felt like joining some sort of resistance organisation against thieving, bland and dishonest schmucks.

Fortunately, this morning I found myself twice blessed: once because I'm already a member of a resistance organisation opposed to precisely that form of thieving, bland and dishonest schmuckery so heavily in evidence on my TV screen last night. Twice, because Chaos Theory sent me to a site to find my inner Nazi, and I found that I was actually and warmly Welcomed to the Resistance instead (Der Widenstand) by my quiz results. Apparently, I'm 30% brainwashworthy, 27% antitolerant, and 42% blindly patriotic. So there you go.

I laughed so much I then found I needed to find my humour style. Apparently I'm The Ham, just like Will Smith (which is odd when you think about it since I hate Will Smith). My humour style is
Clean, Spontaneous and Light, and it's 47% dark, 42% spontaneous, 36% vulgar -- fuck that -- which just shows what happens when you don't answer all those stupid questions about American films you either hate or don't know. That'll learn me, I thought, as I began throwing out my George Carlin and Monty Python tapes.

So you see what I would have missed then if I'd been stuck up a pole last night, or out at ante-natal classes, or up at Mangonui talking about ocean fishing. At least I've been reminded first-hand once again why I'm part of the resistance. How about you lot?

The Conqueror Worm

To complete the evening begun earlier with a theatre-stage of shysters, and to salute the evident hero of the evening, herewith a lyric poem by Edgar Alan Poe... there was once a time when things of moment and majesty were discussed... now we have instead the worm [UPDATE, The Retardometer], who can now do all our talking for us...

Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Cartoon courtesy Pritchett Cartoons

Thursday, 11 August 2005

What have we learned today about our elected representatives

So what have we all learned today, so far, if we were awake enough to notice?

We've all learned that Jim Neanderton, Peter Dunce and Winston Peters have between them not the slightest shred of respect for the principle of free speech, nor for the distinction between public and private property. These entities literally make my skin crawl.

I've learned where most of Neanderton's Auckland Alliance Retards have gone: to the Greens. As one former Retard told me today, "The Greens have the same policies as the Alliance used to." And so they do. Hard-core authoritarian.

What else have we learned. We've learned, courtesy of Aaron, that like his former colleague Ms Awatere-Huata Rodney Hide doesn't give a shit about spending the taxpayers money on himself when he thinks he deserves it. The little fat fuck, this overweight 'perk-buster' who once claimed to defend the taxpayer, is getting you lot to pay for his Epsom election brochures. If Dunce and Peters and Neanderton make my skin crawl, Rodney makes my very bowels revolt at his dishonesty. "We'll keep National honest," he whines... the fat fuck wouldn't know honesty if it leapt up and bit him in the scrotum. Remember how the IRD gets that money, Rodney? Remember Ian Mutton? How quickly the dead are forgotten by those who once claimed to be their defenders.

We know too that Helen Clark has today pledged 250 more policemen after the election, but it took the proximity of a close election to bring such a pledge about, and she's still claiming that crime in New Zealand is dropping. Tell that to those people that no longer bother reporting break-ins, burglaries and theft because the police can't be bothered with that 'minor' stuff any more. Tell that too to Peter Bentley and Susan Couch, and the families of Michael Choy, Marcus Doig, Beverley Bouma, Iraena Asher and countless others whom the police, corrections department and injustice system have failed in recent years.

What else do we know? We know too that day after day, today included, Don Brash is travelling around the country whipping up apathy and promising, nay pleading with us to believe , that National has no secret agenda and
no significant policy differences to Labour -- that in reality they are just Labour-lite -- Labour perhaps in pinstripes, and with just a hint of blue. The sad thing is, as I've said before, there is no secret agenda, and they really are just Labour-lite. Today he's been pleading that National's health policy is really not very radical at all. Unfortunately, I believe him.

So Parliament has been dissolved today. And with entities like these above employed there, perhaps it were best for all of us it were never ever re-opened. Here's hoping for a long hiatus. Perhaps the coalition talks might take three months this time instead of just the nine weeks it took them all last time? In any case, I'm really going to struggle to watch the Leaders Debate tonight without throwing something at the screen and having my blood pressure go through the roof. Perhaps I'll go re-read my copy of Parliament of Whores and see if makes me feel any more well disposed to the thieves, liars and charlatans being compulsorily exposed on our TV screens tonight.

In other news, we've also learned today from Fletcher Building chief executive Ralph Water that whatever extra spending on roads that the various entities promise, it won't make a blind bit of difference to the number of roads being built at present, since their just aren't enough skilled people in the country to build any more than we are now. We're at capacity with what few skilled workers we still have. There you go.

And we've also just
officially learned, if you didn't know it already unofficially, that Brent Todd was one of the so-called sports celebrities alleged to have been involved with the so-called white collar drug ring, although his lawyer says he "never bought, sold or supplied drugs." Hmmm.

Now don't say I never keep you up to date.

The US face of moderate Muslims

Moderate Muslims are okay, right? The moderate face of Muslim apologetics in the US is the Council on American-Islamic relations, CAIR.

As Robert Bidinotto notes, "If you watch TV or read newspapers, you've probably already encountered CAIR. Every time some Islamist militant or terrorist provokes public demands for the U. S. to respond more forcefully against Muslim fundamentalism, CAIR spokesmen pop up all over the airwaves to denounce 'anti-Muslim bigotry.'"

Now Bidinotto has persuaded Middle-Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes to check CAIR's moderat credentials, and those credentials look awfully tarnished when help up to to Pipes's scrutiny. 'Council on American-Islamic Relations: The Benign Public Face of America's 'Wahhabi Lobby' is the report Pipes produced, showing in Bidinotto's words that:
At best, CAIR is the biggest, best-organized group of excuse-makers and apologists for Islam's Wahhabi wing in America. At worst, some of its representatives are far more sinister and unsavory than that. See for yourself: the special report by Pipes and Chadha is the most comprehensive effort yet to unveil these characters and their machinations.
I commend it to your attention. It's an eleven page PDF, so you can print it out and read it at your leisure. You might reflect after reading Pipes's report that with 'moderates' such as those he identifies, who on earth would need enemies.

Message to Jim: Keep the duct tape on

That's kinder advice than he gets at Blogging It Real. As they say in the trade these days, Bennyasena rips Jim Anderton a news arsehole.

"Can someone please inform fuck-knuckle Jim Anderton and his mates what progressive actually means," asks friend Bennyasena, and then he does.

It's good reading. Especially if you're not a fan of busybodies.

Wednesday, 10 August 2005

PC's Art for the Night

Well, it's not exactly the art you've come to expect this time of an evening, but ... (insert obvious jokes here).

Useful phrases for travelling in Iran

Thank you for showing me your marvellous gun.

I am delighted to accept your kind invitation to lie down on the floor with my arms above my head with my legs apart.

I agree with everything you have ever
said and thought in your whole life.

If you will do me the kindness of not harming my genital appendages I will gladly reciprocate by betraying my country in public.

It is exceptionally kind of you to allow me to travel in the trunk of your car.

I will tell you the names and addresses of many American spies travelling as reporters.

Whatever you say.

The red blindfold would be lovely excellency.

The water soaked breadcrumbs are delicious thank you. I must have the recipe.

[Pinched wholesale from here.]

MMP at work in Epsom

How do you think Rodney would feel about this sign going up around the Epsom electorate?

After all, he's said about his own somewhat similar signs "all the billboard does is explain MMP and that it is no more misleading than National using pictures of Helen Clark. He says his advice is that the billboard fits within the law." Further, "He would be okay with another party using the ACT logo depending on how it was used. The important thing is to explain MMP and what we need to do to get a change of government and the National Party can't do it on its own."

So there you go.

Question is, how would decent, upstanding Libz voters feel about seeing that logo on their otherwise good-looking billboards. And the colours just don't really work, do they? Still, I do hear a rumour a few might be appearing around the Epsom electorate ...

[UPDATE: Feel free to save and print out an A1 PDF of this bilbboard, available here.]

Hide v Worthless on Radio Live

Rodney Hide is on with Richard Worthless on Radio Live's morning show, being interviewed by Louise Wallace.

Rodney once again sounds delusional about his chances in Epsom, while Worthless keeps making the point that ACT need to stand on their own feet, not all over those of other parties, and that letting ACT have a seat out of charity would be simple malinvestment.

Traffic jams

I love a quote that makes you see things differently in the space of just one sentence. This by Andrew Galambos does just that:
A traffic jam is a collision between free enterprise and socialism. Free enterprise produces automobiles faster than socialism can build roads and road capacity.

More sweatshops please

As news of the famine in Niger emerges, some African economists are blaming foreign aid for the problems, or at least for the lack of incentive to solve the problems that are evident.

"When aid money keeps coming, all our policy-makers do is strategize on how to get more," said [James Shikwati] the Kenya-based director of the Inter Region Economic Network, an African think tank.

"They forget about getting their own people working to solve these very basic problems. In Africa, we look to outsiders to solve our problems, making the victim not take responsibility to change."

Moving the aid can be nightmare in itself. Africa's good roads are few, and often pass through the front lines of civil wars. But Shikwati notes an additional problem: Even African countries that have food to spare can't easily share it because tariffs on agricultural products within sub-Saharan Africa average as high as 33 percent, compared with 12 percent on similar products imported from Europe.

"It doesn't make sense when they can't even allow their neighbors to feed them. They have to wait for others in Europe or Asia to help," he said. "We don't have any excuses in Africa. We can't blame nature. We have to tell our leadership to open up and get people producing food."

Meanwhile Arnold Kling at Econlog suggests what the third world needs is more sweatshops. He's a few weeks behind. :-)

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks.]

Discovery is back...

...and what a spectacular photo. Re-entry started at 400,000 feet, at several times the speed of sound, aiming at a small handkerchief called Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave desert.

NASA reports complete success.

[Photo from the Herald.]

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Charlotte Corday

Having posted the Death of Marat here some days ago I really do need to post its 'companion piece,' Charlotte Corday by Paul Jacques Aimé Baudry, painted 1858.

Corday was Marat's murderer. Wikipedia gives the reason for his murder. For those not familiar with the story of 'The Terror' Marat was a butcher. His murder deserved.

Note the change in styles between the two paintings, and the claustrophobia and disorder of this one, painted half-a-century later than the earlier one.

Police tasers: Good for them, good for us

New Zealand's Police Force are considering the use of Tasers "to 'induce compliance' without substantial risk to the offender, police or the public." At the same time New Zealand's public will still be barred from possessing Tasers, pepper spray or even Mace to protect themselves from criminals.

The argument against New Zealanders being allowed to defend themselves with these simple self-defence tools just doesn't stack up. It used to be argued by the police that we shouldn't need to defend ourselves since the police would be there quickly enough to do it for us.

George Hawkins fixed that line of argument.

It is also claimed that a person with pepper spray for example might have it taken away and then turned around on them -- but presumably if one has felt the need to draw on such a device the situation is already serious, and at least by drawing it you've given yourself a chance you wouldn't have had otherwise. And whose right is it to make the decision of how you defend yourself anyway? Yours? Or Philip Alpers's and Helen Clark's?

Perhaps the main practical reason to allow ownership of such things is to discourage criminal attack by letting criminals know that people do have such things about their person, and they can't expect an easy ride if they do try and attack someone who looks otherwise defenceless.

Imagine if pizza delivery companies for example let it be known that their delivery staff were armed with one of these devices and trained to use them in their own defence. Perhaps then the mother of murdered pizza deliver man Michael Choy would not still be grieving today. And as I asked here a few months ago, what's a woman to do when they have been banned from using such simple devices as Tasers, mace and pepper sprays. These devices are perfect for people that can't rely on their own strength or the skill of a martial art to protect them.

This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of life and death: specifically of our own life and the right to defend it. If the police should be able to defend themselves, then so should we. And as author Carl Hiassen says to those who might object to the police using such things, "it's still safer for people to be shooting at each other with Tasers than with Glocks."

Picture Credit

Dunne desperate for the worm

Peter Dunne says on Newstalk ZB he will be exploring "a range of legal avenues" to get himself on to TV3's leaders' debate on Thursday. He's clearly avoiding all logical avenues, heading straight into the illogical in his desperation for airtime and a repeat of the hit he got from 'the worm' in 2002.

TV3 have chosen leaders only from the six parties that ranked highest in the latest TV3 political poll, and Dunne is upset at his exclusion. TV3's Marks Jennings has defended the decision as one that "reflects commmercial reality," and no doubt Dunne's Black Belt in Boring was a help in making that decision. Dunne's present lack of logic will probably confirm Jennings in his decison.

Public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of all political party leaders being able to put their view, moans Dunne with neither proof nor sound reasoning. Even if true, I doubt that anybody really wants to see all twenty political party leaders on TV on Thursday night, so some form of exclusion is necessary. Frankly, I think Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton should be there, but I'm realistic enough to know that's not going to happen this election. Dunne's realism as to his own worth-- or self-insight as the psychiatrists say -- is not nearly as strong.

"I've come across no one yet that supports TV3's decision," continues Dunne's tantrum. Well, here's one person at least: me. I think they've made a sound decision, and I look forward to your return to well-deserved irrelevance. (Feel free to add your name below.)

Lord knows what the good people of Ohariu see in this tosser. Personally, if I were they I'd be voting for Colin Cross.

NZ on an unbeaten run

New Zealand might have lost the rugby, and the cricket is clearly immoral, so the unbeaten run of the New Zealand Falcons in the International Cup of Australian Football in Melbourne is very timely, and, as AFL is clearly the world's most libertarian sport, highly moral and worth your support. :-)

NZ's Falcons under the captaincy of Andrew Congalton have now beaten Great Britain (photo of the game right), Spain and now Japan in their last three games, and are on track to meet favourites Ireland in the final to be played at the MCG on Saturday.

Before getting to the final however they face their biggest challenge in the semifinals against either the athletic PNG, or a resurgent USA, and they must beat Samoa in the last of their pool games. The semifinals will probably be the first time the Falcons face any real pressure, but with Ireland going down to the USA, NZ now top the ladder with a huge percentage, and are being given the favourites tag.

Watch this space...

[UPDATE: After beating Samoa in their final pool match 98-27, the NZ Falcons are now through to Thursday's semi against the USA.]

Zims lose twice over

After all the furore over NZ's cricketers going to Zimbabwe, at the close of the First Test (won inside two days by NZ in a canter) it is apparent the tour is not just wrong morally, but a complete failure as any kind of meaningful sporting contest.

Zimbabwe's plummeting fortunes in world cricket mirror their plummeting fortunes politically, socially, individually, agriculturally and economically -- and the responsibility for all these can be sheeted home to Robert Mugabe, Thug.

Cricinfo sums up the cricketing mood, suggesting
the time has come for a change of tack and a rethink about what is being achieved by ploughing on regardless. Nobody benefited from this [cricketing] massacre, and the pitiful attendance showed that even the locals have tired of such wretched fare. This was a match of interest to nobody but the statisticians.
So why did they bother going?

Monday, 8 August 2005

Salginatobel Bridge

A friend commented over the weekend that I had only posted a few bridges here in my 'evening art works.' I should say to void confusion with a debate going on elsewhere that unlike architecture, bridges are not art; but the slender, spare concrete bridges of Robert Maillart are beautiful constructions.

Salginatobel Bridge in Switzerland (completed in 1930) is perhaps his masterpiece.

Save what squadrons?

National's policy on the defence of New Zealand (announced 4pm Friday just as everyone was heading home) appears to mirror Labour's: "maintain current levels of [derisory] spending"; "we live in a benign defence environment" "God Defend New Zealand because nobody else will" etc., etc., ad nauseum.

No airforce strike capability; no nuclear ships; no firm promises beyond a "comprehensive review."

It's not quite true to say you're better off with Labour, but with limp-wristed policy like this you're hardly any worse off. Frankly, on defence as in so much else there's damn-all difference between the two main parties. As the election date gets ever closer they begin to look more and more like Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.

I do know one party that does recognise that New Zealand is worth defending...

The price of European Union freedom

The price of Lithuanians joining the free and open society of the European Union is enormous increases in excise taxes on fuel and tobacco.

Points out Giedrius Kadziauskas of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute:
This will come as part of Lithuania's commitment to the European Union to raise its excise duties in order to reach the EU's minimum levels by 2009. But this minimal level is not minimal at all for Lithuania and other new E.U. members, where standards of living are not expected to rise to the E.U. average for another 15 to 30 years... Meanwhile, smuggling is growing in Lithuania, which is responsible for guarding 902 kilometers of the EU's external border. Every single rise in excise duties signals to smugglers that the ranks of their potential customers are swelling and that they have an opportunity to mark up prices of their goods.
The price of the EU's style of heavily-taxed and heavily-regulated 'freedom' may be too much for poverty-sticken Lithuanians to bear. They're not alone in that.

Bloodless scholasticism ahoy!

Camille Paglia is pissed off that women were absent in what Will Wilkinson calls the "BBC's ridiculous philosopher popularity contest" that some of you may have noticed a few weeks ago. I was fairly pissed off myself to see Karl Marx top the poll, but the selection from which to choose wasn't too great.

"I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves," argues Paglia, before taking wing:
Today's lack of major female philosophers is not due to lack of talent but to the collapse of philosophy. Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre. This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity. The web mimics human neurology, and it is fundamentally altering young people's brains. The web, for good or ill, is instantaneous. Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry. Today's philosophers are now antiquarians.
Wilkinson contends contra Paglia that, far from collapsing, "philosophy as traditionally practiced is at its high water mark." However, he says,
I agree that academic philosophy is insufficiently engaged with the public, and could hold a more privileged place in the fragmented popular consciousness. And I think this is due to straightforward institutional reasons. Academia as it is presently constituted does reward a kind of bloodless scholasticism. One reason I decided to drop out of academia was that I thought direct engagement with current policy debates and cultural concerns would make me a better philosopher. Greats like Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill, Marx were not academics, but men involved in thinking through the practical political matters of their day.
Quite true. In the words of poll winner Karl Marx, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it" (a great pity however that he himself had so misinterpreted the world before he attempted to have it changed.) Ralph Waldo Emerson made a related point many decades ago in an address which got him banned from Harvard in which he castigated the chattering classes of the day, those second-handed ivory tower-dwellers
who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm ... who values[s] books as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul.
What meek young men will find in their libraries today is rather different to the great men to which Emerson referred however. What they will find instead is moral and intellectual pygmies of the likes of "radical pragmatist" and ethical relativist Richard Rorty. Tibor Machan takes Rorty and his ilk to task over at SOLO:
The greatest minds in the Western philosophical tradition, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Spinoza all held that, while it is difficult, human beings can learn of some basic truths. At the very least they held out hope that this could be done, especially in the realms of ethics and politics. The American Founders shared a similar perspective, which is why they declared themselves in support of the inalienable individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But today, probably more so than ever before, the dominant idea in most universities is that no basic truths about ethics and politics can be identified...

The practical implication of the view that Richard Rorty (and other relativists) expound is that the positions of the terrorists and of the victims of terrorism are basically indistinguishable as to their merit or worth. In the grand scheme of things, as best as we can tell, the two are on the same footing—or, to put it another way, neither has any better footing.

Machan suggests that in these troubled times it is little wonder philosophers such as Rorty spend so little time writing op-eds and engaging with the world, and so much time talking nonsense to each other. "They ought to remain silent in less troubling times as well," contends Tibor.

Amen to that.

Sunday, 7 August 2005

Libz TV ads -- rough cuts ready

It's been a busy few days. Reviewing the script for Libz's TV ads and signing up new Libz members at AUT on Thursday, campaigning in Cambridge and recording two radio shows in Hamilton, and last night organising a 'charity pub crawl' for next weekend around downtown Auckland. Phew.

Here's a sneak preview of the rough cut of the Libz TV ads: Opening address zipped here; assorted five second ads zipped here. Enjoy - and don't tell them I've let you have a look; keep it under your hat. :-)

(NOTE: The compression used to post these means the sound is a bit munted. You'll need a player with MPEG4 capability, whatever that means. Winamp works for me.)

PC is contemptible

Oooh look, I'm contemptible.

[UPDATE: Not just comtemptible, I'm a "smug Objectivist twat." Little old me! I'm shocked -- shocked I tell you.]

Saturday, 6 August 2005

The Party was at Kelly Browne's place

The Freedom party at Kelly Browne's Bar last night was a smoking success...from what I remember. :-)

Julian has the details. I have the background. Cheers.

120 good uses for gaffer tape

Things we'd like to see more often:

Now if anyone can just find 119 more rolls of gaffer tape...

Nationalists and Turia declare intentions

Tariana Turia's Maori Party has finally seen the release of substantive policy, and as expected it makes for interesting reading. The Herald has obtained a copy of the "Maori Party Policy Areas: candidate policy information pack" which for the first time clarifies Maori Party policy for those of us outside their policy committee and candidate list, and confirms that their policy is to be racist, separatist and stridently nationalist.

At the same time the National Front's national director, one Sid Wilson, has announced there will be NF candidates in the 2008 election running on a platform "promoting independent natinal sovereignty for New Zealand." Perhaps Turia's Maori Party and Wilson's bigotted thugs could form a coalition, as they do seem to have much in common. Separatism and virulent nationalism seem to be cool with both.

Turia's party policy, which the Herald reports a "spokeswoman" is at pains to distance the party from -- these are "talkling points only" she says -- includes planks making it compulsory for bureaucrats to learn Maori, compulsory for schoolchildren to learn "matauranga Maori," compulsory for property owners to consult "iwi and hapu authorities" when they wish to do anything on their land; a polcy platform that calls for energy rationing, the establishment of a "Maori council for immigration," and the prohibit of foreign tauiwi from buying freehold land.

It is a policy platform for the stone age, an age in which one senses Mrs Turia and her fellow separatists would be right at home.

Friday, 5 August 2005

Party at Kelly Browne's place

Bar Manager Dean Risi has announced that Kelly Browne's bar in Cambridge has its re-opening party tonight after being closed for what the wowsers called "flouting the law," ie., allowing people the freedom to choose for themselves on Dean's property. Specifically, Dean allowed people to smoke in his bar, in contravention to Nanny's anti-smoking law that says what you do on your property is Nanny's business not yours.

Libertarianz Hamilton West candidate Tim Wikiriwhi will be there tonight along with other Libz activists (including Julian Pistorius and myself) to give Dean Risi a Light of Liberty award for standing up to the wowsers, and to join in the party at Kelly Browne's.

What the wowsers such as Smokefree Coalition director Leigh Sturgiss don't understand is that the issue of smoking in bars is a simple issue of property rights and choice, and a confusion between public and private. You should be able to do on your own property what you wish; if others don't like that, they are free to choose to go elsewhere. A bar is not public property, it is private property over which the bar owners' and manager's legitimate property rights shoud be protected by law, not violated.

I salute Dean Risi here, and I look forward to doing so again tonight in person.

Militant Islam is the enemy

James Gribble has a confused post that becomes good halfway down, where he comments on a mooted "slogan change from 'Global War on Terrorism' (GWOT) to 'Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism' (GSAVE)."

As he says, it woudl be pathetic if true.
A cosmetic change like this will do nothing. A fundamental change is in order.
It's war within Islam. A battle for the soul of Islam. It is not 'terrorism' (which is merely a tactic of the weak - a form of asymmetrical warfare) . It's all about ISLAMIC EXTREMISM [or Militant Islam], an interpretation of the religion which inspires a cult of death. It doesn't matter if its Sunni (as it often is) extremism or Shi'ite extremism (say Hezbollah or Sadr in Iraq) - what matters is that it's Islamic. Daniel Pipes nails it...
Read James's post and follow his links here.

Property theft belies Treaty

Seven families whose land was stolen from them by the government want it back. (Herald story here.)

Their land on the Te Atatatu Peninsula was taken nearly fifty years ago under the Public Works Act for a deep water port that never happened, and when it never happened the land was never returned to its owners but given instead to the council to make a park out of it. The Public Works Act is of course the same act under which Transpower is seeking to force its powerlines and pylons over the land of Waikato farmers; the act of theft is almost identical to the theft of Maori land in Raglan which was taken during the war, never returned, and turned instead into a golf course by the local council.

The Raglan golf course was eventually returned; so too should the land in Te Atatu.

I've long maintained that when injustices such as these have taken place that the Treaty of Waitingi is both unnecessary and unhelpful. If proveable injustice has taken place, then no matter the race of those involved the mainstream courts should deal with it. If there is no injustice there is nothing to be done. Furthermore, the mainstream courts are, as far as our laws go, mostly colour-blind -- this cannot be said of the racist Waitangi Tribunal. If theft has taken place, the colour of the victim is irrelevant, as is the Treaty.

The Treaty itself is now irrelevant, divisive, and a meal ticket for those riding its gravy train. It is also insufficiently comprehensive to be a true founding document of a country, and should be replaced with a constitution that is.

"There won't be huge enthusiasm among elected members of the council to see a strategic open space for the city passed out of council's ownership," Waitakere City Council's legal services manager Denis Sheard said yesterday. Their never is much enthusiasm when a criminal is told to return stolen goods, but the reluctance of the thief to return what's been stolen is irrelevant.

I wish the claimants well in getting back their land. Those who feel likewise and who still favour big government might reflect on an observation of Isabel Paterson's, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away. Big government is not the solution, it is the problem.

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Philosophy in the real world

If you've ever wanted to see why dumb-arse philosophers are deservedly ignored by most people in the real world, go and have a look at Richard arguing with himself about whether or not he should open his parachute when he goes sky-diving.

No wonder most philosophy students and the people who 'teach' them aren't taken seriously by anybody in the real world.

As they say in philosophy departments, "logic has nothing to do with reality." Only in the arid reality occupied by university philosophy departments, that is.

Philosophy, Who Needs It? Well, as Ayn Rand argued, you do. But not this sort of nonsense.

Brash's secret agenda: I wish

'Is Don Brash a radical?' asked the Greens' Frogblog recently. Yes!!! trumpets in answer a thousand Labour billboards, press releases, PM press conferences and activists and candidates out on the hustings. Brash is, in the words of 'neutral' journalist John Campbell, "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

It must be true because so many people are saying it, right?

"National are social anarchists," said Russell Fairbrother in parliament yesterday. "Radical policy change is what is on offer from National," says Madame Helen. A Brash government would be "preparing for privatisation" everything from the beaches to the government's high country land to all of its schools, hospitals, and energy trusts -- so say respectively various iwi, the twitterers at Forest and Bird, and the Dullard who is beginning to quack as the election date draws ever closer (and Bwash the wadical no doubt begins to haunt his dreams). The nuclear ships ban would, under Brash, be "gone by lunchtime"; Brash would have NZ troops in Iraq; Brash is having his policy written for him in Washington... Blimey, the man starts to sound like some sort of a libertarian legend!
Bloggers and their commenters are even more hyperbolic, clearly having been leaked Brash's "secret agenda," to which only they at present enjoy access. Joy at the Frogblog is concerned at his plans to "squash worker protection," and his RMA plans that are "slash and burn and bulldoze." Paul at Just Left is all over the park in fright at the prospect of a Brash government: "If this guy was 'commander in chief' at the time of the ILLEGAL invasion, he would have sent Kiwis to war and most possibly their death... Kiwi's home in bodybags vs Doonegate"! And good old Left Wing Nutter Millsy is so scared he wants to see concerted action to stop the election of a Brash government, "even if it means industrial paralysis...breaking the law ... and blood on the streets" to do so. Ooh er!

That's a lot of hatred to have engendered, and a big radical agenda for a quiet Presbyterian like Brash to accomplish... and sadly none of that agenda is true. I for one wish much of it were true. Brash is a social liberal and an honest conservative, but by his own admission he's not a libertarian, and unlike the Libertarianz (who do openly advocate much of the above, particularly the wholesale privatisation), radical reform of the kind that Labour are suggesting so hysterically is the secret Brash agenda is not even on National's radar screen, and I say that with sincere regret.

Brash himself denies in interviews being anything other than Labour-lite; their RMA proposals, are, in their own architect's words, just window dressing; the beaches they've promised to nationalise, not privatise; and privatisation, even of Kiwibank, TVNZ and Air New Zealand has been ruled out. So where the hell is the radicalism when you really want it?

It sure as hell ain't in the National caucus room, whatever the Labour Party and its various mouthpieces might have you believe.

Mallard and Smith: Odious and repellent

I'm gratified to see from the site poll to date that Nick Smith rates as odiously with others as he does with me.

It's not just his unprincipled bleating about the RMA and what he actually proposes to fix it, ie., nothing; it's that this is the same approach he takes to everything.

Take for example the forced training regime imposed on early childhood education teachers, first by Nick Smith when he was Minister, and thence ratcheted up further by Trevor Mallard when he took up the ministerial reins. I suggested when introduced this regime would be a disaster, and so they have been -- unless that is your aim was to limit choice, close down private centres, drive experienced teachers from the industry, and achieve complete state control over a once-independent sector.

If that was the aim, then the policy introduced by Smith and followed through by Mallard is a great success.

You can see why I'm pleased with the poll results so far. What a repellent pair.

'Free Competition' at gunpoint

    Most western countries have laws against 'anti-competitive behaviour,' and most people think those laws are there to protect consumers. Think again. "As Microsoft's current troubles in Europe show, that ain't necessarily so." So says a review at TechCentralStation of a new book, 'The Abolition of Antitrust,' that argues cogently those laws should go.
    The book is at its most effective when the authors distinguish clearly between force and voluntary action and when they tell horror stories about antitrust. Exhibit A of the latter is the DuPont cellophane story. The book's editor, philosopher Gary Hull, tells of clear-eyed DuPont chemists perfecting cellophane in the 1920s and creative marketers marketing it in the 1930s, revolutionizing the sale of bread, cake and other items. By 1940, a national poll found that Americans' most cherished words were, in order, "mother," "memory," and "cellophane." Then came antitrust. The government charged that DuPont had "monopolized" the cellophane market. Most antitrust texts point out that the government lost the case. But Hull points out something that I had never read in 35 years of reading about antitrust: DuPont helped assure its "victory" by canceling its expansion plans and actually building a cellophane plant for a competitor, Olin Industries.
    We have our own version of Antitrust here in New Zealand policed by the Commerce Commission, who keep a beady eye on what they call anti-competitive practices. They don't unfortunately include themselves in the list of those on whom they keep that beady eye affixed. Every large-ish merger, acquisition or takeover in New Zealand has to be approved by the bureaucrats at the Communist Commission before legal approval for businessmen to act on their own judgement can be given.  
    Remember the long, long delays in disapproving Air New Zealand's various bids for approval to sell its shares to first Singapore Airlines and thence Qantas, before the taxpayer was forced by the politicians to stump up nearly a billion dollars to bail it out? Blame the Communist Commission, a creation of the Douglas/Lange Labour Government.
    If anyone is looking at making tax savings, they could do a lot worse than to add the Communist Commission to their list. Promoting 'free competition' at gunpoint is not just uncivilised, unethical and unsuccessful, it's also illogical.
Exhibition Hall, Rome, Pier Luigi Nervi. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Freedom flyers

Duncan Bayne has a bunch of freedom flyers, posters and T-shirt shit for you to drop in, print out, and turn on to.

There's a small sample over there on the right.

Onya Duncan.

Questioning a curmudgeon

Q: Will a National-led minority Government be fundamentally different to the present Labour-led variety?
A: No. On every fundamental point of policy, you could hardly slide a sheet of blue policy paper between their respective positions. See.

Q: So why does everyone get so excited when National goes up in the polls?
A: Because after six years of her bossing around the sheeple, a lot of people have had enough of Madame Helen.

Q: But voting her out won't fundamentally change anything policy-wise?
A: No, it won't. People generally vote to get governments out, rather than to put new governments in. That doesn't stop new governments thinking they have a 'mandate' of course. And it doesn't stop people exciting themselves over the prospect of seeing new faces in the same old offices, even if they are doing pretty much the same old things.

Q: You don 't sound very excited at the prospect yourself .
A: Well spotted youngster.

Cartoon by Richard McGrail, courtesy The Free Radical
[NOTE: Clicking onthe cartoon will open a legible versi0n thereof. :-) ]

Go Susan

Another heroic exception to my, ahem, rant about lawyers emerged yesterday. Brian Henry is suing the Department of Corrections for $2 million on behalf of Susan Couch, only survivor of the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA killings. Susan Couch (right) is a survivor in every important sense, but her life has been ruined by a piece of scum who was "out of jail on parole when the robbery happened and had more than 100 previous convictions." Couch and Henry -- and I would expect most of the rest of New Zealand -- hold the Corrections Department responsible for William Bell being out on the streets able to kill when he should have been behind bars. I hope she cleans up.

Last night on 'Close Up' when asked how she could afford to sue when she is clearly impecunious and unable to work as a result of the beating she received, Couch turned to her lawyer who just smiled and said she has nothing to pay; that he was doing this for her without fee.

Mr Henry, you are a hero.

The 'mind' of a shoebomber

The Times this morning takes you inside the mind, such as it is, of shoebomber Richard Reid, who has sent a letter of self-justification to The Firm magazine at the invitation of one of the magazine's journalists.

Reid, recruited by Abu Hamza Al Masri, the now jailed Imam of the Finsbury Park mosque,

described his anger at what he perceived as American oppression against Muslims across the world... before launching an attack on the immorality and "self-fulfilment" of Western society which he understood as a threat to Islam.

"All this is in the name of freedom and democracy... But the reality is that the freedom that they’re talking about is nothing other than forcing the Muslims to accept laws that legalise homosexuality, fornication, adultery etc."

"In any western city you can see the ill effect that allowing the promotion of self fulfillment has had. Teenage girls constantly find themselves responsible of bringing up children whose fathers take little or no responsibility for them," the letter said...

Reid, who wrote the letter before the war began in Iraq, showed no remorse for his attempted attack, and said it was the responsibility of "the West" to curb its aggression against Muslims. Reid also stressed that civilians were as guilty as their governments for the crimes committed against Islam.
There you go then. It' s your fault he tried to blow up a plane. And the people on that plane just had it coming: probably fornicators anyway.

'Big 5' Personality quiz

A quiz for you here that will tell you the five dimensions of your personality, or at least that's what it says over here on the box. This is a quiz of which its creators thinks very highly.

My score:
Extroversion: 82 (high)
Agreeableness: 73 (high)
Conscientiousness: 31 (average)
Emotional stability: 66 (average)
Openness: 99 (high)

What does all that mean? It means I wasted ten minutes on another stoopid internet quiz. No wonder I'm not considered conscientious enough. :-)

[Hat tip SOLO]

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

The beers are on ACT, but only if you're young enough

Now here's some on-campus political activism I like, from -- oddly enough -- Act on Campus:
Today Auckland ACT on Campus held a protest against Matt Robson's bill to raise the drinking age. ACT on Campus shouted a keg, but only for those who could prove they are 18 or 19. Besides the amusement of seeing how many people have learner licences, we did this to make a serious point. The ACT Party wants 18 and 19 year olds to be able to make their own decisions, including being able to drink. ACT on Campus helped them drink in a more direct way.

We made the point that it is ridiculous for people who work and study hard, pay tax, vote, can have sex and be sent to jail or war; can't even buy a beer. It's a double standard on responsibility.
Guess they're not all bed-wetters and suit-wearers in ACT then. Shame they haven't yet worked out that ACT isn't a freedom party. Still, that question will be moot in just 45 days, 21 hours and 46 minutes. I'm sure more than a few Libz on Campus types pointed out to them what a real freedom party looks like, and then went on to help them to finish off that beer keg.

Good stuff everyone. :-)

[UPDATE: Somebody's bitten. Aaron Bhatnagar, no doubt with memories of Palmers vouchers in mind, is wowserly suggesting the boys have commited an offence! Aaron wears a suit, and these days he wears it to bed.]

Betting on Iraq

A website called BetOnIraq.com points out that
Iraq's chances of thriving are much better than most of the media would have us believe... After years of trade sanctions, and rampant counterfeiting, the Iraqi Dinar has plummeted from its pre-Gulf War value of over USD$3, to mere fractions of one US cent. What was once the equivalent of more than $82,500, can now be purchased for around $50. Can Iraq's economy achieve, in a free market, what it once achieved under a brutal dictatorship?.
Fancy betting on Iraq's future? Then think about buying some dinars.

Car crash calls for knee-jerk Leviathan

A tragic crash in Hastings (picture right) has highlighted why this country oozes bad law. Author Robert Higgs in his book Crisis and Leviathan suggested that big government has an ever-expanding 'ratchet-like' growth, with that growth fed by various crises.

Higgs was talking about large-scale crises such as wars, depressions and other disasters, during which Leviathan government grows and never shrinks back . Here in New Zealand, we do it differently. A tragic car crash, for example, is enough to prompt knee-jerk calls that "the guvamint should do something about it," and talkback shows are awash with schemes for raising the licensing age; for compulsory third-party insurance; for P-plates, L-plates and R-plates; for restricting the cc rating of cars for young drivers; and for locking teens up at night and fitting them with chastity belts.

Expect to see a stampede of party pledges from aspiring politicians seeking to stroke this disaffection, and a stream of bad, nannying law to eventually emerge, and self-responsibility to diminish.

It's often said that hard cases make bad law. It's also true that knee-jerk law written in an atmosphere of emotion is bad law, and bad law almost always feeds Leviathan. Talkback callers demanding "the guvamint should do something" might like to reflect on two points: First, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again; and second, when you're wondering who is responsible for the growth of Nanny Government, the answer is you.