Tuesday, 23 August 2005


Sorry folks, blog-very-lite at present; got a few things to deal with. Normal transmission will be resumed ASAP.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Site Poll: Who gives a shit about 'nuclear free'?

As Nick Smith is far and away the most odious politician in the former parliament, for reasons canvassed here numerous times (here's one such time) and as evidenced by the very scientific poll result below, I've added a new poll now to see whether any of you really give a shit about New Zealand being nuclear free. Helen thinks you do. Don is too scared to say otherwise (in public). But do you really give a shit? Or would you rather see some sense applied to the subject? Vote now!

Results of the Previous Poll: Who is the Most odious politician in the present parliament?
Nick Smith, Brat Pack 74 votes
Michael Cullen, Hard Labour 69 votes
Keith Locke, Watermelon 60 votes
Trevor Mallard, Hard Labour 57 votes
Muriel Newman, Association of Compulsion Touters 34 votes
Tony Ryall, Brat Pack 29 votes
Other 10 votes
I love them all 3 votes

Helengrad Libz giving it some

Luke Howison sent me these photos to show what the Wellington Libz have been up to:


Isle of the Dead

'Isle of the Dead,' Arnold Boecklin

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Lange: A reprise

As Lange's death was the news that dominated the week, and as I've been asked many times about my views on his passing, I'm re-posting a link to what I wrote a week ago: The Enigma That Was Lange.

Amidst a sea of sycophancy, to me it still reads well a week after writing it.
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...
Read on here.

Related reading: What exactly took place under the Lange Government? What was the nature of the reforms, and were they as substantial as claimed both by their architects, and their oppononents. The best summation I've seen is Lindsay Perigo's speech for the 1996 Institute for Objectivist Studies Summer Seminar, In the Revolution's Twilight.
With reason and wit, Perigo summarizes New Zealand's market reforms, while countering some U.S. libertarians who believe these reforms represented a veritable revolution. Indeed, Perigo explains how the various reforms have ultimately failed — and describes the philosophical revolution it will take for liberty to succeed.

Saturday, 20 August 2005

Libz TV ads: Who Owns Your Life?

I'm as pleased as punch, as happy as Larry, and as excited as a nun in a soapy bath* to announce that the Libertarianz' opening TV address will be
a) broadcast tonight on TV One, between 7:30 and 8:30; and
b) if you want to avoid all the other dross on over that hour, you can also find it here at the Libz website, along with the Libz cinema ad. (Feel free to send the link far and wide.)

As the ad says, at this election you have just two real choices, Nanny State in at least a dozen different guises, or Libertarianz -- a vote for yourself. Who owns your life? You do. Vote Libz if you want to wrestle it back from Nanny.

NB: The five-second ads will be up there shortly as well (or you can have a look at the rough cuts here).

*Two nuns in the bath. First Nun: "Where's the soap." Second Nun: "It does, doesn't it." (Think about it.)
Tags: Economics Education

Hands up who wants to play Rock, Paper, Saddam

Looks like at least one former dictator wants to give the game a go.

Nothing like laughing at former dictators is there.

[Belated hat tip Berlin Bear.]

Searching for property rights

"A major revamp of the popular Quality Planning website was launched [Thursday] by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs. The website www.qualityplanning.org.nz provides a fast, one-stop shop for people who work with the Resource Management Act."

We know this is all true because Marian said so. And she wouldn't lie, would she now. In truth, the website does offer a comprehensive collation of all the legislation in New Zealand affecting property.

So, just for the hell of it, I searched for the phrase "property rights." The results of the search were not, I'm afraid, very encouraging. Not at all. Just 4 hits, none talking about protection of property rights -- to be fair, this is four more references than appear in the Resource Management Act itself, so we mustn't grumble.

So then I searched for a few other terms and phrases: "Impose" had 75 hits; "restrictions" 52; "confiscation" 2; "seizure" 5; "conviction" 5; "imprisonment" 5; "fines" 34; "levy"14; "penalties" 7; "charges" 79; there were 28 hits for "Waitangi," and finally there were exactly 16 hits for "kaitiakitanga," and 216 for the word "enforcement."

Thanks for the website Marian. I think the nature of this country's planning legislation is now very clear -- all too clear. I'm only pleased there were no hits for the word "jackboot." Need I say again that this country's planning law needs a stake through the heart.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Some sense on tax

Now here's a guy making some sense on tax. :-)

A Friday night drinking game

DPF has a good drinking game for a political Friday night of debates and Campaign Openings. A lot can happen between now and this evening, of course, with pork being flung around with such profligate abandon that you might expect to see Mike King appear soon with some friendly advice on how to cook it all up.

Let's see if John Key can make sense later today of how Cullen has cooked the books...

[REVISED UPDATE: It's now been confirmed that the Libz TV Opening Address will be broadcast ON SATURDAY NIGHT on TV One between 7:30 and 8pm. Tonight is apparently confined to the Big Two parties.]

A conversation on drug policy

A decent copy of the conversation on drug policy with Dr Richard Goode of the Libertarianz and Nandor Tanczos of the Green Party on Russell Brown's 'Wire' is now available. Good listening.
[Hat tip Russell Brown.]

Roll out the pork barrel!

Simon Collins at the Herald has tried to sum up the cost of Labour's promises so far. He's understated the budgeted costs, and also I think well understated some fairly savage social effects of Labour's new 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package -- its plan to make beneficiaries of up to three-quarters of the country's families.
The Labour Party has promised to spend an extra $911 million a year on its election pledges so far...

Yesterday's $438 million a year in extra family support by 2008-09 comes on top of $300 million a year to write off interest on student loans, $81 million for extra cataract, knee and hip operations, $50 million for a rates rebate for low-income home-owners, $25 million for extra community police and $17 million for 5000 new modern apprentices.
Labour is awash with cash, and Simon hasn't even begun to tot up all the spending promises. The student loans bribe has been costed at over a billion dollars by Westpac economist Brendan Donovan -- that on its own outdoes Simon Collins's total figure.

And what of the promise to spend $500 million that was 'found' to be lying around to build more roads (despite Fletcher's CEO pointing out that road-building capacity is at its limit). And what of the Kyoto balls-up, looking like a $1 billion bungle.

These figures are all looking mighty big -- much bigger than Simon's paltry $911 million a year. A rough calculation puts the spend-up so far at about $3.2 billion. This is bribery on a Muldoonist scale, and promised at a time when the 'fiscally prudent' Doctor Cullen has been warning there is "no extra cash to spend," "no money to splurge," "no fat to trim." None at all. Not a bit.

What he didn't mention was the enormous barrel of pork out the back he was planning to roll out and uncork.

And one further cost those figures above don't measure: the 'Welfare for Families 2.0' package announced yesterday will cement in place the existing social structure of the country for a long time to come. If your family is receiving Welfare for Families largesse, and you earn an extra dollar, that dollar will be taxed at up to 95.2%. Who will want to earn that extra dollar? Who could?

As Rodney Hide pointed out, even under Labour's 'Welfare for Families 1.0' package families "can’t improve their lot. Michael Cullen and Steve Maharey have frozen their income... It doesn’t matter how hard you work – you can’t improve your lot. It’s doesn’t matter either if you slack off -- your income stays much the same." As I pointed out of the earlier release of 'Welfare for Families 1.0', this is creating a class system, something to which Labour purports to be opposed. Yesterday's announcement if implemented would calcify New Zealand's class structure forever, the only way up for a New Zealand family will be to uncork another baby.

So who exactly is targeting dumb people then? Labour Party President Mike Williams said of National's TV ads that there just aren't enough dumb people around to be attracted by them. So who the hell is he expecting to be attracted by this outpouring of pork.

This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, your family, or your children are being bribed, and whose future you will be selling out.

Growing up on a benefit

"Seventy-five percent of New Zealand families will have targeted tax relief [through Working for Families]," says Little Steve Maharey on Newstalk ZB. Problem is, 'Working for Families' is not 'tax relief,' it is a benefit. It is welfare. It is a hand-out.

What this means then is that
thanks to this Nanny Government, 3/4 of this country will soon be on the mooch. Nanny is promising to provide, and they expect the voters to reward them accordingly.

As Barry Soper commented of this billion dollar spend-up, "the bung is well and truly out of the pork barrel." If successful, this Government will have used that pork barrel to turn us
in just two terms from a nation of sheeple, to a nation now almost completely sucking off the state tit.

Do you
really want to be a beneficiary? Do you want your children to grow up being beneficiaries? Little Stevie does. Michael does. Helen does.

Do you?

Whose money is it?

With Helen Clark's promise of new election bribes in an attempt to gazump the imminent 'pre-announcement' of the Nats' plan for tax cuts -- and given the almost pathological inability of some bloggers, politicians, commentators and assorted idiots to tell the difference between a handout and being stolen from a little less -- I figured it might be a good time to reflect on whose money it is that is being taxed and given away.

"It's Your Money!" by Fulton Huxtable was published in The Free Radical in 1999, but has become more prescient by the day as the sheeple of this country wake up to whose money it is that this Government is spending, and the Opposition is promising to spend. Whose money is it? Yours of course:

Consider the logical implications of the idea that your money is yours. Money is a repository of the time in your life it takes you to earn it. If your money is yours, then it means the time in your life it takes to earn it is yours. If your life's time is yours, then your life is yours, yours by right and not a single minute of it should be taken from you without your permission.

If your money is yours, then you, not others, have the right to it. If your money is yours, you, not the state, have the right to control its use and disposal. If your money is yours, then you have the right to spend it as you please and no one — not the state or your neighbours — has the right to forcibly direct how your money is spent....

If statists lose their claim to your money, then they will lose their battle to bring you under their control.
If you want to win the battle against statists who seek to deprive you of your rights and freedom, then fight to spread the idea that your money is yours. We need a rising chorus of voices chanting: "It's my money." If we begin to hear this, it will be the best news for freedom that we have seen in decades.
Too true -- and we are hearing it around the traps, aren't we. I just hope that John Key and Don Brash can hear it. I hope, but I expect very little from either. Three packets of chewing gum? Four or five? (Vote here, if you like, and see how much of their own money others think they'll get back from Key.) And as you're listening to Key's "pre-announcement" of how much he plans to spend if you vote for him, might I suggest you have in mind PJ O'Rourke's explanation of where that money comes from that governments promise to spend:

.... all tax revenue is the result of holding a gun to somebody's head. Not paying taxes is against the law. If you don't pay your taxes you'll be fined. If you don't pay the fine you'll be jailed. If you try to escape from jail, you'll be shot. Thus, I - in my role as citizen and voter - am going to shoot you - in your role as taxpayer and ripe suck - if you don't pay your share of the national tab. Therefore, every time the govt spends money on anything, you have to ask yourself, ‘Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?’

Would you?

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Lake Tekapo

'Tekapo,' Chrissie Chisholm.

Shame about the date stamp.

The right to self-defence

Now this I do like: Stephen Franks presenting "a medal to Auckland man Michael Vaimauga, who was arrested for assault after he stopped a burglar breaking into a shop." Good on him.

'The state has no right to punish citizens for defending themselves and their property when the state cannot defend them,' said Mr Franks." Quite true. My concern however with the carefully written policy Mr Franks has written for ACT is that it is silent on the right to use a gun in self-defence. Why is that I wonder? He almost said as much here in his otherwise excellent defence of Paul McIntyre, but held back. Why, I wonder?

My own view on this is that "
all citizens have the right to self-defence and the right to possess the means of self-defence." As I said just the other day, as long as the means of self-defence are disallowed us, we have no right to defend ourselves. We can only hope that a trained kick-boxer might be around to help us out of a jam. Fortunately, Libertarianz recognise this as well.

A 'whiff of Orwell' across NZ schools

Confirmation today that "The Education Ministry will introduce values to the national curriculum, as parents fail to teach them at home." That at least is how The Dominion describes the move by the Ministry to have New Zealand's government schools teach the Ministry's chosen values.

As a good friend of mine said when this was first announced, there's more than a whiff of Orwell about this. Best to effect a complete separation of school and state, for reasons I argue here.

Taxathon jib jabbery

National's new Taxathon TV ad has adopted the style of the Jib Jab satires e-mailed around before the US elections. Remember them? This one, 'I Wish I was in DC,' and this one, 'Your Land'?

The Jib Jab guys also made this ad to make people believe Budweiser is drinkable. That has surely got to be an even more difficult job than making fun of Labour politicians.

What did I think of National's ad? Funny. But funny once. And it does set up expectations about tax that National just aren't going to be able to meet. If Cullen is Wastemaster General for spending just over $50 billion a year, what is Key going to be if he spends just under $50 billion? Wastemaster Minor? It's still an enormous wedge taken out of our pockets every year.

So, funny as it is, personally I preferred the Libz ads, even in rough-cut. But then I would say that, wouldn't I. ;^)

(There's no point in talking about the Labour ad. Yaaawn.)

[UPDATE: The Humphs have screen grabs of the Nats' ads. And the Three Point Turn crowd have some, ahem, early versions of the Lab-Nats' campaign ads. Dont miss them.]


Apparently a game being played by graphic designers back in May was to "design a logo and get it approved without the client realising it's a big spurting penis." See.

Why am I telling you this? Because the game is currently being played in Wellington's Cuba St, using a picture of Rodney Hide's head.

People can be cruel, can't they.

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Raising the flag from space

Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite took this photo of a patriotic corn maze in Colorado. The design depicts the U.S. Marines raising the American Flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima in World
War II. Click the link, and then the photo to enlarge.

[Hat tip Robin T.]

Drug debate on bFM

Here is a very bad recording of the Nandor v Libz drug debate this afternoon on bFM, with Russell Brown as host. [Hat tip Julian Pistorius for the recording.]

Rewarding terror

Hamas leaders view the forced removal of Israeli citizens from their own property as a Hamas victory , and as an endorsement of their tactics of terror.

Says an ebullient Ahmed al-Bahar, a leading Hamas thug in Gaza,
Israel has never been in such a state of retreat and weakness as it is today following more than four years of the intifada. Hamas's heroic attacks exposed the weakness and volatility of the impotent Zionist security establishment. The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream, and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state.
Another spokesman for Hamas terror says of the property eviction that it is ""due to the Palestinian resistance operations. … and we will continue our resistance." Talk about rewarding terrorists. And you'll be as pleased as Cox and Forkum to note that the evictions have brought Hamas leaders together and out of hiding in a bid for control of the Gaza Strip, which puts them in direct conflict with the Palestinian Authority, who have recently been making moves of moderation.

Israel is playing into the hands of Hamas, and in the process is betraying the property rights of its own people and the moderates in the Palestinian Authority. Shame.

Worst investment for a career

Some careers just aren't going to make you rich. CNN Money has the goods on 'Big Jobs That Pay Badly.' Figuring highly on their list are the jobs of architect, chef, and academic research scientist.

"There are some jobs," they say, "you should take only if you really love the work because the investment you make to get the job and the hours you keep aren't necessarily commensurate with what you earn."

Tell me about it. The figures quoted are American, which probably overstates what these careers are worth in New Zealand.

Drug use is not a victimless crime

"Drug use is not a victimless crime" argued a friend recently. Drug users harm themselves and other people too, said my friend; they are all victims.

Well, as I've explained before, yes it is a victimless crime. Drug use may well make of the user a 'victim,' but as long as nobody initates force against another, no crime is involved.

As I explain here, a crime is when somebody does initiates force, or its derivative fraud, against someone else: Cue Card Libertarianism - Force In fact, that's what moral governments are set up for: not to protect us against ourselves, but to offer protection for each of us against the initiation of force by others. This gives us the 'moral space' in which to live our own lives in our own chosen way, as I point out here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Government

Being free gives no guarantee of success. Freedom means we are free to succeed, and also free to fuck up. 'Free to get it right' means you must also be free to make mistakes. And being free means we must take responsibility for our actions and our mistakes, as I argue here: In Dreams Begins Responsibility

So if you want freedom for yourself to win or to fail, then you must accept that same freedom for others too, which means you must accept freedom right across the board. You may disagree with another person's choice of recreational activity, but you are not morally entitled to bring down the weight of government force against them just for that.

Freedom is not something that you can cherry-pick; not something from which you can pick or choose according to your own prejudices; freedom is indivisible: allow a government to take freedom over here, and you have given it the power to also take freedom over there. Pretty soon freedom becomes challenged and tied up in all directions, and big government gets biggerand better at tying us up.

By that standard, any man's battle for his own freedom is our own battle too. So a 'victimless crime' is one in which no force has been initiated against anyone else. If you choose to inflict harm against yourself that's your business. ~If~ you do. Drug use is a victimless crime--the classic textbook example of a victimless crime-- as I say here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Drugs

Further, in the present environment of prohibition, it's no accident that organised crime and petty crime is intertwined, nor that organised crime is heavily involved with providing something that is illegal. It's interesting that people such as Eddie Ellison, former head of the Scotland Yard Drug Squad, says he and many other British policemen have now come to the conclusion that practical policing means that drugs should be made legal. Making them legal, says Eddie and other practical policemen like him, removes drug profits and the control of drug quality from criminals and corrupt policemen, and slashes the costs enormously -- removing the need to steal to pay for drugs, and removing the criminal connection between drug supply and drug use.

Removing drug laws from the books means police can concentrate on protecting you and me from real crimes that ~do~ involve the initiation of force, instead of spending time, energy and effort on people committing 'crimes' only against themselves -- 'crimes' which are never going to stop: If it's not possible to keep drugs out of prison, then how in hell are you going to keep them out of people's home?

Frankly, too many people have a blind spot on this subject. Admit it. You do. Arguing for legalisation of drugs is not an endorsement of using drugs, any more that arguing for freedom of religion is endorsing going to church.

It's simply arguing for freedom.

People will still say, "don't expect me to be happy paying for other people's lifestyle choices." Neither should any of us be made to, and there perhaps is the nub. None of us should be paying for the lifestyle choices of drug users, but nor should we for the lifestyle choices of racing-car drivers, skydivers, alcoholics, left-wing academics, people who eat too many pies or church-goers.

The problem here is not with drug use per se, nor with the misunderstanding of victimless crimes: the problem lies in the ethic and existence of the welfare state, which demands that you do pay for the lifestyle choices of others. When I hear the objectors to drugs call for the demise of the welfare state, I'll know they've understood the issue.

Here's the crux of it all: As long as people are using drugs without initiating force against anyone else and they're taking responsibility for their actions, then what they do is entirely their business. It's not yours. It's not mine. And it's not the business of Jim Anderton or any other Drug Czar either.

If users or suppliers ~do~ initiate force, then they should be convicted for that, and without any bullshit about 'diminished responsibility' either.

But convictions for crimes in which there is no physical coercion is a victimless crime. That ain't hypocrisy, that's the truth of it. Drug use is a victimless crime.

So now let's translate the objection that my friend really has to legalising drugs. She says "Drug use is not a victimless crime," but what she means is "I don't like drugs." Fine. Her business. I don't like Pink Floyd. But I don't demand that anyone write a law about it, nor do I ask for the criminalisation of otherwise law-abiding Pink Floyd users. There are many objections one can make about Pink Floyd users, but making them criminals is not a valid action.

Taking delivery

A proud Phil Pacey of Pacey Trucks in Otahuhu, takes delivery of his Libz billboard. Onya Phil.

Slip me a line of you want one for your front yard. (You can email me at organon at ihug dot co dot nz.) As they say, this offer is for a limited time. Don't miss out. ;^)

Free beer

First the good news: There is one glass of free beer available today at most pubs in New Zealand.

Now the bad news: The beer is DB. Story here in the Herald.

Ending slavery

It has become somewhat fashionable of late to knock Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and to pillory Lincoln himself as some kind of neo-fascist. As Thomas Sowell says sadly, "today we see the spectacle of pygmies sniping at this giant."

Sowell takes to task these pygmies with their ahistorical criticisms :

People who indulge themselves in this kind of self-righteous carping act as if Lincoln was someone who could do whatever he damn well pleased, without regard to the law, the Congress, or the Supreme Court. They might as well criticize him for not discovering a cure for cancer.

Fortunately, there is an excellent new book, titled "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" by Professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College, that sets Lincoln in the context of the world in which he lived.

Once you understand the constraints of that world, and how little room for maneuver Lincoln had, you realize what courage and brilliance it took for him to free the slaves.

Just one fact should give pause to Lincoln's critics today: When Lincoln sat down to write the Emancipation Proclamation, the Supreme Court was still headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, saying a black man had no rights which a white man needed to respect...

Professor Guelzo's book does more than give us some sense of realism about a major event in American history. Perhaps if we come to understand the complexities and constraints of Lincoln's turbulent times, we might not be so quick to seize opportunities to reduce other times -- including our own -- to cartoon-like simplicities that allow us to indulge in cheap self-righteousness when judging those who carry heavy responsibilities.

Perhaps those people that enjoyed this poorly-written smear of Lincoln should give Sowell's points, and Guelzo's book, some much needed thought.

PS: Here's a question for you: How many know who the chap is in the picture above next to Old Abe? Answers on a postcard please.

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.]