Tuesday, 15 November 2005


If you're wondering why there's a "Subscribe Me!" button up there on the right-hand sidebar, it's so you can get your daily 'Not PC' fix by email in the form of a daily digest. Ideal for those readers who, um, well, I don't know... prefer email to browsing the web?... whose computers are so primitive they can't handle the browsers needed to read the blogging software?.. who want to make sure they've got a record of 'Not PC' for history, or litigation.

Whatever your reason, if you want the service, there it is.

From intervention to freedom, in several easy steps.

How do you get from the mixed economy which we presently 'enjoy' -- that is, the 'hampered market' economy in which capitalism is shackled by regulation, intervention and meddling -- to a truly free market in which governments butt out, as they should?

Tibor Machan, writing at SOLO today, suggests that
the progression from a messy mixed economy in the direction of a free one is highly unlikely to come about by way of a sudden leap. Indeed, that is very likely never going to happen, because people are very unlikely to get on board the train to liberty all at once, with equal conviction and commitment. To believe otherwise is to perpetuate that very widespread mistake best captured in the motto, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
For my own part, I've long maintained that any measure in the direction of freedom is good, just as long as there are no new impositions involved -- and as Tibor suggests, if you adopt this approach you can get people on the train to liberty one carriage at at time. Of course, it doesn't hurt to let people know what the destination looks like, why it's worth the journey, and some of the possible routes for getting there. Nathaniel Branden explains here why the journey is worth it; George Reisman gives a suggested route to take, in plenty of detail.

Linked articles:
The Hampered Market Economy - Ludwig von Mises
Gradualism Revisited - Tibor Machan
Foundations of a Free Society - Nathaniel Branden
Towards the Establishment of Laissez-Faire Capitalism - George Reisman


Just heard the news that a Lamborghini has crashed into a fence in Parnell.

I suspect that many blog readers have a suspicion who the driver probably was, and I'm sure we all hope that Aaron is okay. :-)

Pakistan earthquake

Irfan Khawaja has been keeping track on some of the aftermath of the Pakistani earthquake, in particular some of the oddities or points worth noting amid the tragedy.

For example, in Pakistan Earthquake (6), Irfan recommends a column with,
Some unpalatable but accurate thoughts on the donor response to the Pakistan earthquake from Irfan Husain of the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn (Karachi). Husain's columns are worth bearing in mind as a handy counter-example to the loose talk about the "lack of self-criticism" in the Muslim world. Not that the Muslim world couldn't use more criticism (and more internal critics), but it's worth giving credit where it's due.
And from Pakistan Earthquake (5) come these questions:
[Why is it that] American relief efforts are widely interpreted in conspiratorial terms, whereas Islamists efforts are not so interpreted. Why the double standard? If Americans have ulterior motives in sending help, do Islamists have only pure ones? Bear in mind that Islamists have said that the earthquake was punishment for Pakistan's sins. Why the acquiescent receptivity for so troglodyte a message?
From Pakistan Earthquake (4) comes:
A very informative piece at Slate by Mahnaz Ispahani on the workings of private relief efforts in Pakistan in the wake of the earthquake.
And Pakistan Earthquake (3) points to a Pakistan Daily Times editorial meditating on, first, the TV footage of pain and suffering that was often repeated needlessly and in contradiction to the needs of acccurate reporting -- and these images themselves apparently persuaded local politicians that the relief operation was less coordinated than the reality, and in consequence persuaded them to separate their own efforts from the coordinated relief that had been happening.

Highly recommended.

Eco's mysterious flame

Umberto Eco's latest novel 'The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana' is another delightful and encyclopaedic cornucopia of references, quotes and tempting diversions; this one, like all Eco's novels, almost demanding to be hyperlinked just so you can work out where he's going, and why. It's worth the effort.

Eco's protagonist in 'The Mysterious Flame,' an antiquarian bookseller called Yambo, has lost his personal 'episodal' memory but would still score highly in Mastermind with 'Literature' and 'Mid-Century Italian Comics & Popular Culture' as his two possible specialist subjects; Yambo seeks to rediscover himself through an attic's worth of boxes containing books, cigarette packages, magazines, comics, stamps and other miscellany -- the book includes many of the beautiful and politically incorrect illustrations mentioned in the text.

I say the book almost demands to be hyperlinked, about which Eco is delightfully aware -- in an interview with Village Voice "Eco says he structured Mysterious Flame to mimic the free-associative behavior of electronic navigation" -- and he sets the book in pre-Google 1991, requiring Yambo to rummage through his past instead of Googling it -- but a new Wiki project has taken up the challenge "to create a thorough and accurate set of annotations to Umberto Eco's latest novel," and as always with a Wiki, "anyone is free to add or modify entries."

You can just imagine his eyes twinking at the thought. "Books," he said once, "belong to those kinds of instruments that, once invented, have not been further improved because they are already alright, such as the hammer, the knife, spoon or scissors." But as a professional semiologist, he's not unaware of what his readers might be using Google to do with the signs he's made available in his book, and that's no doubt part of his plan, as the Village Voive interview suggests.

In the Eco-ian universe, books aren't merely stand-alone islands to be traversed in linear fashion; they are nodes in an exponentially expanding extranet. To read one book, you sometimes have to pass through several others, accumulating countless references and subtexts along the way. "We've been reading books in a hypertextual way ever since Homer," Eco says. "We read a page and then we jump, especially when we're rereading it. Think of the Bible. When people read it, they're always jumping here and there, constantly connecting various quotations."
It took sixteen years to produce a published Key to 'The Name of the Rose,'Eco's first novel -- and very welcome it was too. Now we've got the beginnings of a similar project in just six months, and with the wide participation that a Wiki invites. Excellent. Says Eco of his books, "I construct Aristotelian Machines, that allow anyone to see with Words." It doesn't hurt to ask for help in order to see what he's asking you to see.

You can find the Queen Loana Wiki here. And you can find the definitive Eco site here.

UPDATE: Eco's comments from a 1995 interview with 'Vogue' are priceless, and worth repeating:
People always ask me, 'How is it that your novel, which are so difficult, have a certain success?' I am offended by the question. It's as if they asked a woman, 'How can it be that men are interested in you?' Because I am beautiful, of course!" he roars. "To ask such a question insinuates that you are very ugly.

"I myself like easy books that put me to sleep immediately. But the normal reader who does not spend his day fighting with Kant or Hegel feels respected if there is a jujitsu with a novel, a resistance, a seduction. If the book says yes immediately, it is a whore. There is no challenge in seducing a whore." Only as energetic a bibliophile as Eco, it occurs to me, would regard it as the reader's job to seduce the book.


A striking illustration from the Italian 'Corrieriono' from 1936, taken from Umberto Eco's 'Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana'

Monday, 14 November 2005


"He undressed her with his eyes." See how an artist does it in reverse. Beautifully.
[Hat tip Mark]

Nazism = socialism = totalitarianism

I've noticed some bloggers and commentators around the traps that still get upset at claims that the Nazis were socialist. Well, they were. It's true that the National Socialists didn't nationalise the economy's commanding heights; they didn't need to -- as Hitler said, they nationalised people instead. Political correctness at the point of a gun. George Reisman makes the case for Nazism = Socialism in an article here, (which he also delivered as a lecture on video.)
De facto government ownership of the means of production... was logically implied by such fundamental collectivist principles embraced by the Nazis as that the common good comes before the private good and the individual exists as a means to the ends of the State. If the individual is a means to the ends of the State, so too, of course, is his property. Just as he is owned by the State, his property is also owned by the State.
The Mises Economics Blog describes Reisman's thesis thus:
Contrary to myth, Germany was a socialist state, not a capitalist one. And socialism, understood as an economic system based on government ownership of the means of production, positively requires a totalitarian dictatorship. Indeed, the identification of Nazi Germany as a socialist state was one of the many great contributions of Ludwig von Mises.
And here's another claim that might raise a few eyebrows: "In the United States at the present time, we do not have socialism in any form. And we do not have a dictatorship, let alone a totalitarian dictatorship." Read on to find out what Reisman says about the present system in the US, and by implication the rest of the west.

FULL ARTICLE Here is a video of the speech too.

Fiddling while Paris burns

The debates on the French riots continue.

Cox and Forkum have a selection of columns arguing for the point of their cartoon at right (some of which you will have already seen here at 'Not PC').

Arnold Kling argues, rather in the vein of 'The collapse of Europe's 'social market' dream.' "My reaction to the riots," he says, "is to view them as teenage rebellion against the state as parent." It is time he argues to effect a separation of state and family. Paternalism hasn't worked; it's time to look to individualism.

Linked article: Separation of Family & State -- Arnold Kling

How scary is Nandor really?

Is Nandor really so scary? The Whig puts the case for and against. His conclusion: Hysteria Nandor-wise is our fault -- well, your fault.
[It is due to] the disgraceful redneckery in this country that Nandor is seen as the most dangerous of the Green MPs. He's not even that scary. Sue Kedgley wins that prize hands down, with or without makeup. At least Nandor wants to legalise something. All Kedgley has is a list of things she wants banned.
Think about it. And while you're contemplating, imagine what Nandor would be like without the dreads. Don't imagine it: see it. Will has done the artwork. Scary.

Frank Lloyd Wright - house for Ayn Rand

Sadly, never built.

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Media bias

Sick of media bias? Convinced your faves are not getting a fair shake from the media? Then GMan needs YOU! Specifically, he wants your help with contributions to his NZ Media Bias site. Says GMan:
-I am inviting readers to become contributors. If you want log-in rights I'll give them to you (if I can figure out how to do it)
-if you have comments I'll publish them.
-I'm also interested in giving non-partisan critiques on the accuracy of blogs on this site, as well as reporting sloppy journalistic standards here.
You can email him at revolver@paradise.net.nz

On Blogging

Thinking of starting your own blog? Rajesh Setty has a Blogging Starter Checklist for you, most of which I haven't done myself, partly because I have no idea what some of his suggestions actually mean -- what for example is a 'chiclet'? -- and partly because I've already tried and failed on others (I have yet to get my categories to work successfully for example, but I will have another go some day). [Hat tip Robin]

And the Business Opportunities Website has calculated the monetary value of blogs, basing their figures on the recent purchase price of Weblogs Inc. by AOL. See what yours is worth according to their figures.
The Technorati Weblog also scores zero, but it doesn't make this blogger feel any better. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that DPF's is also palpably worthless. :-)

Buy one pollie, get another free?

I notice new things are afoot at the Libertarianz site. There is a merchandise section in the process of being added, at which you can purchase (so far) T-shirts, books and politicians. The politicians may not be the best that money can buy -- and it's uncertain whether they'll remain bought -- but you can be sure everything else will be of the very highest quality.

100,000 at 'Not PC'!

I've just notice that this morning I received my 100,000th hit on this site since starting up back in April with this post - or at least since I worked out what a StatCounter is. Here's the first week's effort: has it got better here since then, or worse? You be the judge.

The 100,000th hit was logged by a visitor from Reston, Virginia, USA, who came here to listen to Lindsay Perigo's classic doco on PC, and to download some terms of political abuse. Clearly a highly discriminating person. I salute you sir/madam/mademoiselle.

Saturday, 12 November 2005

The collapse of Europe's 'social market' dream

Europe's 'social market economy' is in a shambles, argue Frank Gafney and Alex Alexiev from ToThePoint News, and the idea of Europe as any kind of economic and political superpower is just so much wishful thinking.
It took less than a fortnight of rioting in France, and now in several other countries of what Donald Rumsfeld has called "Old Europe," to lay bare the preposterousness of this prospect. Even before Islamists took to the streets of Paris' suburbs, the EU was a house of cards waiting to be toppled or burned down.... On the socioeconomic front, Europeans of all political persuasions have long shared a belief in the virtues of the "social market economy." By this, they meant a modified capitalist system, characterized by considerable state intervention and the fabled "social safety net." It was an arrangement intended to guarantee economic growth and prosperity, on the basis of harmonious labor relations, social cohesion and economic solidarity between the classes. Today, however, the European project is in shambles. Somewhere along the way, its social market model lost steam and became counterproductive to economic growth...
Just as all 'Third Way' 'social market models' will do once they shackle the capitalist goose from which their redistributed wealth is produced. And the 'social market model' with it's 'social safety net' is counterproductive to human growth as well as economic growth, as the burning cars in European streets suggest: the living conditions gifted the people of Europe by their governments (which is what welfare is) -- and allowed to the people who have come to Europe for a better life -- is often appalling, and de-humanising. The 'safety net' has become a hammock, and then a prison in which they're entangled without hope of escape. It seems by all the evidence that the great achievement of European welfarism has been to create an enormous underclass with a seething combination of entitlement and alienation -- at once a poverty of will and of wealth -- and the goverment planned-and-provided suburbs in which the European welfare state houses them has played a part in destroying their humanity. "I would argue," says 'Corbusier' at the Architecture + Morality blog,
that the French underclass has actually more harmful social pathologies than those in the U.S. This is in part contributed by what the French like to call “l’exclusion” , which most often means the denial of immigrants to participate in the economic life of France... Housing projects built in America during the periods of “urban renewal” during the sixties and seventies are small in scope and number compared to similar housing developments, or “cités”, built in France since World War II. As the projects are being demolished here, the French government continues to build more of these cités throughout the country to shelter the continuing influx of immigrants...
The architectural environment of the cités only facilitate criminality through their density, common spaces such as hallways and courtyards, and the utter lack of privacy in favor of shared resources. Thus, the burning of pre-schools, of local stores that service the housing blocks, and the transportation infrastructure within the French cités is being torched at this moment. Dalrymple scapegoats my namesake, Le Corbusier, for the inhumane design of these housing districts... [Accurately, in my opinion - Ed. Our blogger friend 'Corbusier' disagrees however.]

Still I agree with Dalrymple, however, that isolated dense socialist housing blocks are counterproductive in producing civil communities.
Cabrini Green in Chicago has a national reputation of how a socialist housing block can become hell on earth. Now imagine thousands of Cabrini Greens dotted throughout France, and you can come to understand how fragile the shiny glass of French beauty can be shattered.
Oh to be young and poor and living in a government housing project in a stagnant, over-regulated economy. No wonder the European dream is fading as the reality of the 'social market economy' becomes clearer.

How to give a cat a pill

(Yes, you've heard it before, but it's still excellent advice)

1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, have drink to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbour's shed. Get another pill. Open another bottle of scotch. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Have another drink. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Apply whisky compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw Tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologise to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.

13. Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the A&E, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

Friday, 11 November 2005

Which Trainspotting Character Are You?

Specially for Rick, here's my result from another self-important quiz:

Which Trainspotting Character Are You?
And also for Rick:

You Are Scary

You even scare scary people sometimes!

Cause of Rod Donald's death

Taken verbatim from Frogblog:

Rod was killed by Viral Myocarditis.

NZPA reports:

Mr Donald’s partner, Nicola Shirlaw, released the finding by Christchurch pathologist Martin Sage today. “He said in his opinion the cause of death was viral myocarditis,” Ms Shirlaw said in a statement.

“Viral myocarditis is an uncommon but well-recognised cause of sudden death,” he said.

Hopefully the conspiracy theories just beginning to flower can now wither on the vine.

Political Correctness in the home

Oswald Bastable has a good set of PC things to do in the home. No, not really, not unless this piece of advice is PC: "Tampons are not a firearms cleaning aid." More along the same lines here: Political Correctness in the home .

And while you're in the vein, check out Save the Humans' Case Against Santa Claus, and their own subheadings to some of the News of the Week. Sample:

(AP, November 7, 2005) Rioting Threatens France's Tourism Image

Reputation for surrender still holding strong.

Who knows who the least

Cathy's good idea this week is to reveal all those secret friendships and acquaintances you have with other NZ bloggers. DPF has naturally followed suit, and together they look a little like namedroppers compared to my own spartan wee list.

Who on my sidebar do I know personally? Bugger all.

Julian Pistorius, Liberty Scott, beNZylpiperazine, and Duncan Bayne are all good Libertarianz and good friends. Blair from the Mild Greens I met in Christchurch a few years ago when campaigning.

I've had some contact with most of the people in my 'Art & Architecture' section and some of the people in my 'Good People Elsewhere' section, and many are friends, but none are really mainstream NZ bloggers so I won't bore you with them.

Who's left then? I've had a beer or two with David Seymour from Act on Campus; Bob Dey I met through Adrian Chisholm's trial; Crog I've met at various functions; Berlin Bear on various football fields; I'm sure I've had a beer with at least one of the Brain Stab crew; Gman I worked with when I briefly edited The Free Radical to which he (briefly) contributed; Damian Christie when he was pretending to be libertarian; Russell Brown at on 'Off the Wire' show, and Simon Pound on bFM's Wire; and a few others I've met only in my inbox.

Tristan and Xavier from About Town I met for the shortest of times at Judith Tizard's momentary appearance at Forde's Frontbench in the last week of the election campaign; Jordan, Aaron and DPF I 'met' online when NZ Politics was still a going concern; and Graham Watson I met once at the wedding of Mr & Mrs K. Don't remember too much about that but.

And that's pretty much it. Clearly I'm moving in all the wrong circles. Or perhaps, the right ones?

[UPDATE: Corrected a couple of omisssions. Let me know anyone else I've either missed, or should have.]

Lest we forget

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns on the Western Front went silent, and World War I was officially over.Lest we forget.

[Image from Charles Sargeant Jagger's Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London.]

The backlash has started

The Rod Donald backlash has started, and where more appropriately than with The Whig. "Okay," he begins, "the man is buried so gloves off..." Read on, MacDuff.

Enlightening, useful & entertaining

A random but enlightening bunch of links for you this morning (not to mention, entertaining):

Rod Donald's funeral

Radio NZ say they have online all the eulogies from Rod Donald's funeral yesterday, although I'm blessed if I can find them (ah, this seems to be them here). If you can't find them either, you can see TVNZ's archived broadcast of the funeral here, or Scoop's video snippets here.

NZ Tenor awarded laureate

Congratulations to Simon O'Neill on his much-deserved 2005 Arts Foundation Laureate Award, announced this morning.

Simon was raised in Ashburton and now lives in the opera houses of the world. He recently understudied Placido Domingo's Siegmund at the New York 'Met's' Walkure, and 'The Independent' declared of a recent appearance in Susannah that " the best music came from the Irish (sic) tenor Simon O'Neill's splendidly sung Sam."

I'm looking forward to seeing Simon back in New Zealand in March for Parsifal, for which he's singing the title role (and for which I'd better get on with buying a ticket before they're all gone). Appearing on stage with him will be international Wagnerian legend Donald McIntyre in the role of Gurnemanz, himself a 2003 Arts Foundation Icon.

AFL going global

The world's most libertarian sport, Aussie Rules, is now being played in English schools, and the inclusion in PE curricula has received the endorsement of the UK Minister of Sport, Richard Cabon. Channel 9's 'Today' programme has a clip showing how it has worked at one school to inspire renewed interest in sport amongst the youngsters. "It's a man's sport," enthuses one perceptive kid. (Firefox users will need to switch to Explorer to watch the clip.) NZ readers who would like to get Aussie Rules into their school should contact Rob Malone or one of the other NZAFL legends to get a School Clinic organised.

In other footy news, following the success of the New Zealand Falcons in this year's International Cup in Melbourne, a New Zealand Aussie Rules team has been invited to play in the Australian Country Championships in 2006. NZ will be in a pool comprising Queensland, SA, Victoria Districts, an Aboriginal All Stars team, NZ, and Tasmania.

Which Les Mis character are you?

I'm Enjolras!
A person with a cause, I charm everyone around me with my revolutionary ideas (not to mention my natural charisma). Unfortunately, I don't have very good social skills, and my impulsiveness is liable to get me in over my head.

Which Les Miserables Character Are You?
Nothing like a pop quiz to give you the lowdown on yourself. I'd been hoping I might be Javert, but at least I wasn't Thenardier.

The Floor Scrapers -- Caillebotte

Thursday, 10 November 2005

Newsweek's Baby Boomer quiz

Here's a test for old hippies: Newsweek's Baby Boomer Quiz. Fortunately I'm not one, so I scored only 54%. Phew. Test your own 'Boomer knowledge' here. [Hat tip Paula]

Sowell on Paris

Just when you thought it was safe to ignore the warnings blogged here at 'Not PC' the other day -- much as the young Parisian thugs are now ignoring the curfews announced but not enforced -- Thomas Sowell adds his own warning to the mix:
Riots in France: The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris

Like Steyn, Dalrymple and Bidinotto (all linked here in recent days), Sowell points to the failings of multicultural relativism as the culprit:
European countries especially have thrown their doors open to a large influx of Moslem immigrants who have no intention of becoming part of the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate but to recreate their own cultures in those countries. In the name of tolerance, these countries have imported intolerance, of which growing antisemitism in Europe is just one example. In the name of respecting all cultures, Western nations have welcomed people who respect neither the cultures nor the rights of the population among whom they have settled...

There are people who will not stop until they get stopped -- and much of the media, the political classes, and the cultural elites of the West cannot bring themselves to even criticize, much less stop, the dangers or degeneracy among groups viewed sympathetically as underdogs...

Balkanization has been glorified as "diversity" and diversity has become too sacred to defile with anything so gross as hard facts. But reality is not optional. Our survival may in the long run be as menaced by degeneration within -- from many sources and in many ways -- as was that of the Roman Empire.
I encourage you to read Sowell's piece in its entirety, and also the pieces by Steyn, Dalrymple and Bidinotto if you haven't already.


One of the lessons of the Twentieth Century must surely be what Hannah Arendt described as "the banality of evil." In a century ravaged by totalitarian evil, the evildoers themselves can be characterised particularly by their sheer ordinariness: Hitler's dinner-table conversations for example are memorable for little more than their mind-numbing dullness; and describing Adolf Eichmann at his trial, Arendt commented, "The deeds were monstrous, but the doer ... was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous... the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think."

Why am I writing about this today? Because Andrew Bernstein has published a brilliant five-part analysis of evil at CapMag, Villainy: An Analysis of the Nature of Evil, which you all should read. Straight up. (Yes, this will be in the end-of-year exam so make sure you read it all.)

"Evil men hold enormous power in the world," notes Bernstein, "and it is not an exaggeration to say that they threaten our prosperity and our lives." You do need to understand these pricks and the precise form of their destructive power, particularly how these emissaries of destruction and banality acquire their power. That is one of the chief questions Bernstein is attempting to answer, and he begins by defining the nature of evil:
Ayn Rand has shown that the evil is the irrational, willful denial and evasion of the facts of reality. It is the deliberate defiance of the facts and laws of nature, a spitting in the face of existence. Human survival requires rationality, a commitment to discover and act on the full truth. Evil men stand opposed to this – to reality, to the rational, to every value on which human life depends.
As Ayn Rand identified, the nature of evil means it is impotent -- its impotence in part deriving from that inability to think that Arendt identified in Eichmann -- meaning that for evil to survive and flourish, it is by its very nature parasitical on the virtuous, the productive, and the efficacious. For evil to flourish it requires more than what Edmund Burke described -- that good men do nothing; for evil to flourish it requires that good men put their own head in the noose. And history shows they have, in great numbers.

Good people have beaten a path to put themselves in the cause of evil. As Albert Speer reflected many years after putting his own unique skills in the service of Adolf Hitler, both gave something to each other they needed: Speer gave to Hitler his own prodigious productive ability, without which the Nazi war machine would never have been able to destroy so widely and so well; Hitler in return gave to Speer the affirmation Speer's weak soul needed. Where Speer had power in the sphere of reality, Hitler had power in the sphere of the spirit -- at manipulating people he was a certified genius. Hitler did not command reality directly: he collected souls like Speer who did it for him.

Hitler and other evil geniuses were masters at using the ethic of sacrifice for their own ends, withthey themselves being sure to pick up the sacrifices. Find out just how they get away with it, where that ethic comes from, and why it's so wrong, all in Andrew Bernstein's Villainy: An Analysis of the Nature of Evil (Part 1 of 5).

Some interesting readers

You know, it's fun keeping an eye on where blog readers come from. I've noticed some interesting readers here at 'Not PC' recently from some very interesting places -- place that including but are not not limited to (yep, I can keep some secrets) the Universities of Virginia, Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas, Colorado State and California State, Northridge; the Australian Department of Housing, the NZ Ministry of Education, Richmond Public School in Virginia, the German Leibniz-rechenzentrum Der Bayerischen Akademie, Stanford University, Melbourne City Council, Fairfax Australia, Wilson & Horton, Time Warner, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Bloomberg Financial Market, Waikato District Health Board; and my favourites, the Mississippi Naval Research Laboratory and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Hi to all of you. I hope you're enjoying your visit. :-)

And while we're looking at who came here and from where, popular searches landing here recently (in descending order, all Google searches unless otherwise noted) are:
eco fascism (9th at Yahoo)
philippa barriball (not on front page)
che guevara (13th at MSN search)
"o'driscoll" "whinging pom" (6th)
daniel wolf famine spectator (2nd at Yahoo)
paper defending aristophane's Lysistrata (1st at Yahoo)
what constitutes conspiracy to possess cocaine (not on front page)
irshad manji how to contact (17th)
auckland leaky homes and redwood group (3rd)
sizewell b power station (6th at Yahoo)
why is oil so expensive? (2nd at MSN search)
bird flu (not on front page)
globalisation myths (8th at Yahoo)
voucher failure (2nd)
nozick explained (19th)
vienna secession (not on front page)
hello sailor-gutter black our media (2nd)
Bob Mitchell of NASA (5th at Yahoo)
life story Victor Horta (10th at MSN search)

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Seurat: Winter in Paris

Georges Seurat's 'Place de la Concorde, Winter' (1882) seems an appropriate image for the Paris of today.

Closing of 'Intelligent Design' trial

The plaintiff's closing statement from the Intelligent Design trial -- otherwise known as Kitzmiller et al vs. Dover Area School District -- is online in PDF form. The trial lawyer accurately characterises the case as one about the necessary separation of church and state; he begins his conclusion by reminding the court that the US colony "was founded on religious liberty... In his Declaration of Rights, William Penn noted:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can , in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shalll ever be given by law to any religious establishment or modes of worship.
Hear, hear. "In defiance of these principles, which have served this state and this country so well" continued the statement, "this board imposed their religious views on the students in Dover High School." And so they did.

You might like to see my own view of the 'ID debate' itself, Unintelligent Design. You might also like to reflect that if there were a legal separation of state and school just as there is a separation of church and state, then there would be no need for this trial to have ever happened.
[Hat tip About Town]

What kind of blogger are you?

Without any hint of irony -- none at all (not one bit); none:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

(Personally, I was looking for the word 'wannabe' somewhere in the results...)

The New Zealand Way (TM)

I don't know about you, but I'm always uncomfortable when a Government -- any government -- starts coming over all nationalistic. And here in New Zealand, there's something particularly cringe-worthy and embarrassing when governments start talking about what it is to be 'a kiwi' and bang on about Number 8 wire.

So when I first heard yesterday's Speech from the Throne given at the State Opening of Parliament I simply cringed. The god of Number 8 Wire was invoked, 'KiwiSaver' and 'Buy Kiwi' were evident, and the usual platitudes and bromides were in evidence, but on top of all that the phrase , 'The New Zealand Way' (capitals mine) was intoned no less than seven times. Seven! In that sense it is this year's 'Closing the Gaps'TM -- and we all know what happened to that. This though is not simply cringe-worthy, it is a statement of intent. The Speech from the Throne is no hastily-thrown-together thing -- this is a carefully calculated statement of intent, one for which, make no mistake, Government Power and the Government's many cronies and community-workers are already being mustered.

What then, acccording to Her Majesty's Government is The New Zealand WayTM, and what has it got to do with this Government's programme for the next three years? Here are all seven descriptions for you, in order of their use, with my own comments in italics.
  1. "[The New Zealand WayTM] is an approach founded on New Zealanders' creativity and innovation, on valuing both inspiration and aspiration, and on seeing our size and place in the world not as a limitation, but as offering opportunities to succeed."
    That is, we value those who produce and make things happen: ie., we -- the Government -- need you.

  2. "The New Zealand WayTM is much more than the clichés of 'number eight wire' or 'punching above our weight'. It is based on the belief that as a confident, diverse, inclusive Pacific nation, we can work together to find new opportunities and market our best ideas profitably to the world."
    That is, you -- the productive -- need us -- the Government -- in order to prosper in the harsh world beyond our shores. Lone wolves need not apply.

  3. "...an approach founded on a distinctly New Zealand WayTM of working. This approach aims to be inclusive, forward looking, and focused on lifting the aspirations and developing the abilities of all New Zealanders."
    Blah, blah, platitude, platitude... Working for Families... bromide, bromide.

  4. "...one of the most distinctive features of the emerging New Zealand WayTM is our sense of national identity, confidence, and creativity."
    Look for more Government-driven 'debates' about our 'national identitity' -- followed, as Colin James observed, by the New Zealand WayTM coming to be defined oddly enough as 'The Labour Way.'

  5. "The New Zealand WayTM has always been to move forward together, recognising the independence of individuals, while pooling our collective talent for the good of our economy and society."
    That is, you -- the productive -- WILL work with us -- the Government -- in order to prosper. Get the message!? 'You will do what you are told, for the "collective good" of the country. If you do, you'll get a biscuit.'

  6. "Pride in the achievements of all New Zealand communities and peoples must be seen as a cornerstone of The New Zealand WayTM ."
    Note that pride in individual acheivement (Galt forbid!) is not mentioned. 'Out damned spot!'

    And here's the pay-off, they hope

  7. "The election result has given my government the opportunity to build on The New Zealand WayTM of working that has emerged over the last six years."
    That is, 'if this works out, we'll have made New Zealanders ready to accept any Government-mandated silliness, and the New Zealand way really will have become The Labour Way.'
Can anyone explain to me what it distinctively 'New Zealand' about any of this?Does anyone else hear the siren call of an earlier call to arms, one hailing from 1874 when Karl Marx gave his potted summary of collectivism: 'From Each According to His Abilities, to Each According to his needs'! Marx's collectivist fingerprints are all over the New Zealand WayTM, and like Marx's great plan for humanity it deserves the same fate: being deposited in the garbage can of history.

But who is going to sling it there?

The received wisdom from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive may be that we are all collectivists -- or can all be persuaded to be so -- and while that may well be The New Zealand WayTM that has been uppermost in Helengrad these last six years, I would hope that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and many loud voices around New Zealand will be raised against it. It may be that this Parliament may be slow in the sense of little legislation being passed, but with this speech the Clark Government is signalling its intention to use the platform of Government and all its resources as a 'bully pulpit' to change the culture to one that overwhelmingly endorses collectivism. No wonder the shenanigans at TVNZ have been going on. They've been using the schools for years to that end; now they're just preparing to be more open about it.

It remains to be seen whether anyone in Her Majesty's Opposition knows or understands the antidote to this poison: the philosophy of individualism. Rest assured, they will be able find ammunition to that end right here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Cue Card Libertarianism -- Individualism

Individualism is the doctrine that that each human being is sovereign over his own life – that each individual is autonomous in themselves – and as such, no person can become a means to the ends of others. Nothing may be forced on an autonomous individual against his will; if something is desired of you it may only be obtained by your voluntary consent – which you are fully entitled to withhold.

Since individual autonomy is an extension of each person’s ability to think and to choose – that is, of an individual's rational faculty – the upholding of autonomy entails the upholding of reason, and its application in reality. It should go without saying that such an individual recognises this same principle in others.

In establishing what individualism is, it is important to understand very clearly what it is not.

Individualism is not is Subjectivism – doing or thinking what you feel like just because you feel like it. Subjectivism -- or its kissing cousin Hedonism -- is not the hallmark of an individualist, even if you believe as Nietzsche did that your feelings are of a superior strain and entitle you to ride roughshod over others. The individualist lives by his mind, and since he claims the right to do that for himself he respects that same right in others. (The individualist understands that we are not guaranteed success in all our freely-chosen actions: Each of us is free to make our own mistakes; the individualist respects that freedom, but will occasionally exercise the freedom to judge the freely-chosen actions of others.)

Neither is an individualist a Non-conformist simply for the sake of non-conformity (eg., Howard Stern, Madonna, Marilyn Manson et al). "Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist" declared Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not so. Such a person’s behaviour is still driven by others: “Whatever they do, I’ll do the opposite” says the non-conformist. He wants to shock and outrage – others. He wants to be seen as an 'individual' -- as compared to others. Such a person, however well-tattooed and however weighed down with piercings, is still dependent on the judgement of others. A genuinely independent person conforms to the judgement of his own mind. (He does just occasionally however accept advice, and read maps. Being an individualist does not mean being an island.)

Nor is it sufficient to say that each person is an end to himself, while preaching that he must purge his behaviour of every last vestige of personal inclination and do his 'Duty' (we might at this point hear the heels-clicked-together of Immanuel Kant and his Categorical Imperative, or the carved-in-stone moralising of the religious). An individualist pursues those actions he has voluntarily chosen as being in his rational self-interest (about which he may of course be quite wrong), not those imposed upon him as his 'duty'. As PJ O'Rourke put it so well, "There is only one basic right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." (He is also of course quite entitled to reap all benefits should he be proved correct.)

Nor will it do to say, “We should permit the individual to act on his own judgement, since that way, he delivers the best results for society” (see for example John Stuart Mill, et al). Individualists are not Utilitarians. Such a maxim rests on the assumption that society owns the individual, not that he owns himself, and that the degree of latitude he is 'permitted' may be varied at society’s discretion (witness Mill’s many compromises with statism). Individuals acting together voluntarily in their own self-interest are in fact the only way to deliver "the best results for society" -- but this is a consequence, not a primary justification. As Adam Smith said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest."

In summary then, libertarians -- and certainly this libertarian -- would agree with the summary given of the doctrine by Ayn Rand: “Individualism holds that a civilised society, or any form of association, co-operation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights – and that a group as such has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.”

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

Replacing Rod

DPF at Blog Central has a good post explaining why the Greens may need to bring in their national campaign manager Russel Norman (ten on the Green list) instead of Nandor at number seven -- the chief reason being that the Greens' co-leader persons need to be one from each gender.

Doesn't mean they will bring Norman in, of course, but if they don't and --- as one commenter at DPF's suggests -- Nandor, Locke or Bradford take over his position, then "the tragedy for the Greens will be compounded."

Donald didn't die of heart attack

NZPA: Green Party co-leader Rod Donald is not thought to have died of a heart attack.

Mr Donald, 48, was suspected of having suffered a massive coronary overnight Saturday but the party's other co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said last night that was not the case.

"I understand the coroner has confirmed that it was not a heart attack, and that the cause of death is still unclear," she said.

Meanwhile, The Herald reports that "further tests will be conducted to try to establish the cause of death."

State Opening of a slow Parliament

Today sees the State Opening of Parliament (yesterday was the Commission Opening) meaning that the legislature is officially in session from today -- meaning, in Mark Twain's sense, that life, liberty and property are once again unsafe.

Colin James made the point on Breakfast News that this Parliament at least will be a slow one; that any new legislation will take some time to progress through the House. That at least is a blessing.

If you want to watch the State Opening online, you can courtesy of R2. [Hat tip DPF]

Top-down environmentalism unwelcome

As another expensive environmental conference gets under way, this time in London, a new survey shows that the 'top-down' approach to environmental policy-making is not welcomed by Britons. This poll, conducted by the Stockholm Network in association with Populus is the biggest poll on Britons' attitudes towards the environment in over 10 years. Says Dan Lewis, co-author of the poll, "It's my belief that there can be no serious discussion on the environment or energy issues [in Britain] without reference to these findings." According to a report on the poll by 'The Independent' newspaper:
...the politicians are running ahead of British public opinion, according to a new poll... which will make uncomfortable reading for campaigners.

Nearly a third of the 1,003 adults polled - 29 per cent - ranked climate change as less important than terrorism, Third World debt and diseases such as Aids.

Three out of five - 60 per cent - said "the UK has other, more important domestic issues", and more than a third - 35 per cent - believe the problem is being exaggerated by pressure groups. Yet almost 90 per cent had made some contribution towards combating the problem, such as having their home insulated"
There is no reason to suppose that a similar poll conducted here in New Zealand would show anything different. And while it's clear that a poll is no measure of what's true or right, what's interesting here is that the British public at least haven't bought all the nonsense the environmental movement would have liked them to. Some of the poll's highlights:

§ The UK public is clearly concerned about the environment - 94% of people say that protecting the environment is important for the UK.

§ However, the public strongly feels that Government action in tackling threats to the environment is ineffective. Just 8% rate the effectiveness of national governments on this issue and only 11% think that international treaties on the environment, such as Kyoto, are effective.

§ People do not trust the Government's stance on the environment (credibility rating of -15%) and trust scientists more than any other source for information about the state of the environment (credibility rating of +72%).

§ As a result, it is widely felt that the Government's priorities should be elsewhere, namely on providing good public services (33% say this should be the biggest priority for Government), closely followed by protection from criminals and terrorists (31%).

§ Just 10% of respondents believe that protecting the environment should be Government's main focus.

§ The study overwhelmingly shows that people feel actions by businesses are the most effective (40%) way of combating threats to the environment.

§ 73% believe UK businesses should be forced to tackle climate change, although roughly the same amount (62%) believe that environmental protection shouldn't come at the expense of the UK economy.

§ Clearly the public feels there must be a way of empowering businesses to tackle issues such as climate change, without damaging the wider economy.

Other arising issues:

§ People are unwilling to ‘put their money where their mouths are’ when it comes to climate change.

§ While 94% of people say that protecting the environment is important for the UK, the public would sooner donate money to other global causes such as international medical charities and disaster and debt relief funds, rather than to environmental pressure groups.

§ Equally, when people were asked to prioritise how the Government should spend £100bn on global causes, the environment was the second least popular option.

§ Providing medicine for the world’s poor, reducing trade barriers against developing countries and cancelling third world debt were considered to be more important financial priorities for world governments than the environment.

The poll can be viewed and downloaded online at the Stockholm Network's site.

Perigo remembers Rod

Perigo: "Goodbye, Young Donald! I may be damned to hell for saying it, but I shall miss you."

See Rod Donald, Green Convertible?

Rodin -- Eternal Spring

Monday, 7 November 2005

Rod Donald comments

Blog Central has a summary of the MSM's stories on Rod Donald's passing. Frogblog's Condolences Book remains open, and here's a round-up of comments by bloggers (Feel free to add your own in the comments section, and I'll update the list through the day):

Big News: Rod Donald
NZ Pundit: RIP Rod Donald
Aaron Bhatnagar: Rod Donald
Sir Humphrey's: R.I.P.
Rob's Blockead Blog: Rod Donald
Phil Sage: Rod Donald. RIP!
Not PC: Rod Donald dies
GMan: Rod Donald
Random Contributionz: Rod Donald RIP
Whale Oil: Rod Donald dies
Andrew Falloon: Rod Donald
Morph: Rod Donald 1957 - 2005
Ihatesocialism: Rod Donald
Maori Party: Maori Party Statement on Death of Rod Donald
Bloggreen: Rod Donald, friend, colleague, leader, great man
No Right Turn: Rod Donald is dead
Berlin Bear: NZ Greens Co-Leader Passes Away
goNZo: His heart gave out
Philosophically made: A loss to Parliament and New Zealand
Maria von Trapp: nunc dimittis
Silent Running: Some sad news.
The Whig: Rod Donald Has Died
Cathy Odgers: Rod Donald
Fighting Talk - Hamish: Bye Rod
[UPDATE 1: Spanblather: Goodbye to the great Green ginga]
Russell Brown: The Contribution
Jordan Carter: R.I.P. Rod Donald]
[UPDATE 3: LibertyScott: Rod Donald]
[UPDATE 4: Joe Hendren: Rod Donald]
[UPDATE 5: Fighting Talk - Lyndon: Rod Donald]

Wake up Europe!

The rioting in and around Paris has prompted Mark Steyn to issue a warning. As always with Steyn, his message is blunt: Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands.
...the rioters aren't doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They're seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the 'burbs gets you more ''respect'' from Chirac, they'll burn 'em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: ''The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict.'' Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages.
'Brussels Journal' has more comment on Europe's No-Go Areas, and 'The Times' has a summary of France's "burning rage," and Robert Bidinotto reflects on a media showing "desperation to minimize the role that Islamism may be playing in the wave of rioting and vandalism."

This outbreak of nihilism is a sign of some chickens coming home to roost, specifically the chickens of cultural relativism. That is,
...the trendy notion that all cultures are morally equivalent. Western society is no better than any other, the multicult proclaims -- and, in fact, is in many ways far worse: it is racist, imperialist, hegemonic, sexist, etc., etc. On that premise, multiculturalists have for decades tried to appease the world's butchers and barbarians, most recently those who go on nihilistic rampages in the name of Allah. In doing so, these "intellectuals" have only empowered and emboldened the savages...

Tell thugs that they are moral in their aspirations and justified in their grievances, and pretty soon they begin to believe you -- and act accordingly. Appease them when they bomb and behead, and they quickly learn that terrorism works -- and act accordingly. Invite them into your own country while assuring them that they don't have to abandon their doctrines of hatred, and they will accept the invitations -- and act accordingly.
Bidinottto concludes:
Ultimately, the war for civilization is philosophical -- and it is not primarily against Islamists or the proponents of similar death-worshipping doctrines. Without the aid and comfort of Western benefactors and apologists, these backwater barbarians would have no power, prestige, or prospects.

No, the war for civilization first must be waged against the pampered postmodernists of the West -- those poseurs who serve as nihilism's Excuse-Making Industry.

Because multiculturalists are the intellectual enablers of nihilism.
Quite right. And that is the straight-talking that Europe's so-called statesmen need to understand, and to begin using.

Linked articles: Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands, The suicide bombers among us, and Jihad begins in Europe?

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Rod Donald dies


RADIO NEW ZEALAND: Greens co-leader Rod Donald dies

Posted at 2:56pm on 6 Nov 2005

The Green Party co-leader Rod Donald has died suddenly of a suspected heart attack.

A party spokesman says Mr Donald, who was 48, died in his Christchurch home overnight.

[UPDATE: Condolences can be left on Frogblog here.]

Jeez Wayne

Rodney Hide points out that poor Wayne Mapp, PC Eradicator-General, still has no idea who or what he's fighting. "Poor Wayne," points out Rodney, " doesn’t quite know what he’s out to eradicate—and how to do it." Nothing like fighting an intellectual enemy with ignorance and confusion, which is what Wayne's recent pronouncements suggest is his 'strategy.'

To demonstrate the extent of poor Wayne's confusion, there's an interview on GayNZ.com that Rodney has conveniently summarised:
PC: “It’s essentially when minorities try and tell majorities how to think. But I’m clearly going to be doing a bit more work on that”.
Mainstream: “Mainstream is essentially what most people think”.

Is Wayne mainstream? Yes - “my views are essentially in common with most people”.
Social engineering: “is when you essentially change the social fabric of the country in ways that people don’t want”.
Free speech and private property: Wayne’s happy that it’s against the law to run an ad that says, “we’ve got a house to rent but no Maoris can apply,” and likewise a similar reference to gay couples. He agrees with anti-discrimination laws.
Smoking ban: “The only thing I’d raised there was actually the definition of the ‘outside’ and the RSAs,” i.e. it’s fine for the state to use its power to ban smoking on private property.
Mininority vs Majority views: “This is not primarily about minorities and majorities. This is primarily about… the things that really offend against common
As Rodney concludes, "There’s clearly some work to do."

This is not to say that PC is not something that needs eradication -- it clearly exists, and it clearly needs stamping out. But you can't fight bad ideas except with better ideas, and when you're as confused, as uncertain and as flaccid as Wayne Mapp -- 'majority rules, OK!' -- then it's like showing up at a gunfight with just a very small knife.

Look out for the next 'Free Radical,' (out soon) in which Lindsay Perigo (right) interviews Wayne Mapp. That should have some intellectual interest -- on one side of the microphone anyway.

[NB: Those of you still confused about the roots and the effects of PC might like to add these two links to those I've recommended earlier:
Education & the Racist Road to Barbarism, by George Reisman, an insightful critique of the relativist, multicultural mush of political correctness.
Political Correctness Threatens Free Society, by Ed Younkins, a short review of the basics -- hint: it's nothing to do with 'mainstream views' being offended or imposed upon.]

[UPDATE: Finlay McDonald has found a funny bone and revealed Wayne Mapp's A-Z of political correctness.]


Ah... pancakes with bananas and strawberries soaked in Glayva, drenched with cream and drizzled with maple syrup. Mmmmmm.

Add orange juice, freshly ground coffee, good company and the delicious sounds of Debussy's 'Apres Midi d'un Faune,' Carl Nielsen's 'Helios Overture,' and Melodious Thunk playing Duke Ellington, and you realise the world can be a pretty damn fine place to wake up to. Ahhhhhhhh. :-)

I trust you've all had an equally delicious morning.

Saturday, 5 November 2005

Stop Press: Greens against banning something

Crikey! Those apostles of the 'b' word have come out against banning fireworks, and for some very good reasons. Says Rod Donald in 'The Press':
Are you going to ban cars because people have accidents? It gets to the point of the ridiculous. I’m more concerned about young drivers in charge of a one-tonne metal missile than kids letting off crackers.
Good on him. Fireworks have mutated from the noisy, exciting things we threw at each other when I was a kid to culturally-correct things these days that you may only approach wearing an asbestos suit over a Raph Nader-certified hair shirt. And today's fireworks don't even go BANG anymore -- these days they just let out a gentle 'poof.' Bloody sad. No wonder Halloween is taking over. Seee those crackers in that photo up there: they're now illegal. Bloody wowsers and their banning.

Anyway, the Frog's comments on this are equally interesting and sometimes even amusing, and they conclude with a comment that I know will interest some 'Not PC' readers:
While we’re on the subject of Guy Fawkes - check out the trailer for V for Vendetta, based on one of my favourite comics :) .
And BTW, if you want to see some virtual fireworks, you can either tell your significant other where you really were that night you came home late last week, or you can visit Fireworks.Com and upload your favourite picture -- here's my own effort -- or try one of their other virtual bits of fireworks fun. My favourite is the Phantom Fireworks Online, allowing you to let off fireworks over some major American cities.

However you choose to enjoy Guy Fawkes, make sure you DO enjoy it. Let off a few loud explosions for me, if you can.

Pandemic punditry

Further to the post and subsequent discussion below about the possibility of a bird flu pandemic -- and the brief scare in Melburne yesterday when a chap returned from a trip to China with a dose of what now appears to be ordinary flu -- Dr Henry I. Miller at the Hoover Institute has a good short summary of the evidence so far for worrying. Note that the third characteristic is the crucial one and, crucially, the one yet to appear:
During the past several years, an especially virulent strain of avian flu, designated H5N1, has ravaged flocks of domesticated poultry in Asia and spread to migratory birds and (rarely) to humans. Now found from Russia and Japan to Indonesia, it is moving inexorably toward Europe. Since 2003, more than 60 human deaths have been attributed to H5N1. Public health experts and virologists are concerned about the potential of this strain because it already has two of the three characteristics needed to cause a pandemic: It can jump from birds to human, and can produce a severe and often fatal illness. If additional genetic evolution makes H5N1 highly transmissible among humans -- the third characteristic of a pandemic strain -- a devastating world-wide outbreak could become a reality.

Moreover, this is an extraordinarily deadly variant: The mortality rate for persons infected with the existing H5N1 appears to be around 50 percent, whereas the usual annual flu bug kills fewer than one percent.
As I said in the comments below, if you want to keep in touch with the evidence as it appears, here's three such sources of evidence that wil be worth keeping an eye on:
CIDRAP (the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy), the Avian Flu blog maintained by academics at George Mason University, and the collaborative reference site Flu Wiki.


My sister has been attacked by a dog.

Story here from the Northern Advocate. I can pass on whatever comments or messages you would like to make.

'Compassion' & 'Just Music'

Two pieces here tonight from Cordair Fine Arts, 'Compassion' -- a sculpture by Danielle Anjou -- and 'Just Music' -- an oil painting by Theo van Oostrom.

Both pieces are for sale at Cordair Art.