Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Saving those whales with good hard sense

There's nothing like an argument about whales to make everyone lose their marbles.

One local blogger, for example, has posted various thoughts on morality and animal rights, and on her former membership of Greenpeace, and how that pertains to Greenpeace's opposition to the Japanese whalers presently in the South Seas. 'Go Greenpeace' she says:'Stop the hand-wringing and break out those guns.' (I paraphrase, of course) Unfortunately, she offers no argument for her position, just simple assertion and a quote from Jeremy Bentham, who was himself not even in favour of rights for human beings ("nonsense on stilts" is what the stupid man called the idea).

The simplest short explanation why animals don't have rights is that they don't understand them -- as PJ O'Rourke pointed out you can tell the lion all you like that it's wrong, but he's still going to rip the guts right out of Bambi. And what do you do when that happens? If Bambi has rights, then you have to throw the lion in jail And if animals really do have rights, what happens when you tuck into Daisy the cow? Should you get thrown in jail with the lion? Who's going to tell the lion about your rights?

Fact is, and much as we may wish it otherwise, rights pertain not to animals, but to species that use their conceptual faculty to produce and to plan long range, and who need the protection of law to do so. As far as is presently known, ours is the only species that does so; if whales or any other species want their rights recognised, then let them show up in court and argue for them. It's not like whales don't talk to each other enough -- all that bloody singing that they do all day.

No, much as we may wish it otherwise, animals have rights only by virtue of our ownership over them -- kill my cat and I'll see you in court (and probably outside as well). But kill a stray cat, and all we can do is judge you by what you've done. How we treat animals is one way to judge a person. And maybe, in all the moral indignation about the whales, we forget that New Zealanders ourselves aren't too bad at slaughtering animals for food (as I pointed out the other day). Writing in The Dominion however, former MP Stephen Franks reminds us:
We are lathered in moral indignation about whaling. Yet as a nation we live off the proceeds of slaughtering up to 40 million cuddly young animals a year. Japanese think lambs are impossibly cute.
The Green Party blob objects that Franks "has missed the point. New Zealand has a huge industry in farming sheep. As we all know sheep are generally bred for either their wool or their meat. They are not an endangered animal. Whales on the other hand are."

There are two responses to make here. Minke whales, which the Japanese are hunting, are not endangered. Numbers in the Southern Ocean are in dispute, and are probably not as many as the 760,000 claimed in 1990, but even if much less that is not the sort of order of magnitude one sees if a species is dying out.

But some whales are endangered. True. The second point to make is that perhaps if whales were farmed, they wouldn't be so endangered. I've mentioned this point here many times (just check out some of my posts on Conservation) but developing a property right in whales is perhaps the best way to ensure they don't die out. As a headline describing the work of conservationist and crocodile farmer Dr Graham Webb once summarised: "Eat Them. Skin Them. Save Them." Or, as you might say if you're a Kaikoura whale tourism operator, 'Watch Them, Photograph Them & Save Them.' Pay your money and make your choice, and all that's needed then is a legal and a technological breakthrough, and a change in attitude.

As I say above, there is no case for protection of animals on the basis of their rights, but there is a strong case to be made for the protection of animals based on human rights -- specifically on the real, human property rights of ownership. As Dr Graham Webb has long argued, "The proposition that wildlife conservation can sometimes be enhanced through allowing and even promoting the harvesting of wildlife is a sensitive issue," but it is a necessary one to consider.

There is a very good reason that cows and lambs are not endangered, but kiwis, kakapo and some species of whale are: the value of the former is recognised and protected in law, and that protection is in favour of those to whom the animals are a real tangible value, and who own them. The notion of the 'intrinsic value' of animals is not required since real value is protected, and the bogus notion of 'animal rights' is not needed as real, human property rights are protected. As that headline says, 'Eat Them, Skin Them, Save Them.'

Graham Webb's discussion of the proposition makes the point that recognising a property right in animals makes for 'sustainable conservation' [PDF download]:
...An increasing body of conservationists believe local people should not be treated as the enemy of conservation (Hutton and Dickson 2000). They should be active partners, at the frontline. To achieve and sustain this, they need to receive tangible, sustainable benefits for their efforts. In most cases, the only sustainable way of providing those benefits is through using wildlife for economic gain. That is, conservation through sustainable use (CSU).
Graham's own crocodile park outside Darwin is a great example of one way this can work. The private conservation projects here in NZ and the various Southern African private wildlife parks are other good examples of private 'sustainable conservation' that succeed by eschewing vague ideas of non-existent 'intrinsic values' or of animal rights or of simply wishing we'd all just be nice to God's creatures , and instead by answering the question, "Of value to whom, and for what?" and then proceeding to protect the property rights of those to whom there is a recognised right and a clear value.

And if it's just whales you want to protect, then Zen Tiger has yet another solution. Like Ruth, he's on the side of the whales too, only unlike Ruth he's come up with a viable plan: Eat more McDonalds:

...the last hope for the Whales is MacDonald's. Their plan is to substitute the demand for whale meat with demand for a Big Mac. By all accounts, Japanese youth are increasingly turning away from Whale to Big Macs, so it seems to be working.

We need to speed the process. I suggest two more initiatives:

Read on here to find out how eating more cows can help save the whales.

Linked Articles:
Cue Card Libertarianism - Rights
Opening a whole new can of whales - Not PC
Barbed wire for Kaikoura's whales - Not PC
Eat Them. Skin Them. Save Them.
PDF] Conservation and sustainable use of wildlife — an evolving concept - Dr Graham Webb
My secret flaw - Zen Tiger
More Conservation from Not PC

Superseding the Treaty with something objective called "good law"

Waitangi Day is rushing down upon us, so it's worth re-posting Nick Kim's cartoon demonstrating what the mythical Treaty Principles are doing to our law (cartoon courtesy The Free Radical):

The cartoon also nicely accompanies a discussion about the Treaty in the comments section below following a question from Berlin Bear. As I say there, in my view the Treaty is insufficiently comprehensive to be a founding document of a nation and should be superseded and made an historical nullity by an objectively written constitution. The gravy train has to be derailed, and justice put back in its seat.

When palpable injustices have taken place then the Treaty of Waitingi is both unnecessary and unhelpful. If proveable injustice has taken place, then no matter the race of those involved the mainstream courts can deal with it under the principles established by that objectively written constitution. If there is no injustice, there is nothing that can be or should be done. If there truly is, then it should be dealt with justly, and seen to be dealt with justly. Further, the mainstream courts acting under an objective constition would be and should be colour-blind -- this cannot be said of the racist Waitangi Tribunal. If theft or injustice has truly taken place then the colour of the victim is irrelevant; you don't need the Treaty to repair the injustice. If theft has not taken place then the colour of the claimant is still irrelevant, and the Treaty serves only to obfuscate, and in fact to produce injustice.

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

Linked Articles: Treaty Out, Constitution In - Lindsay Perigo
A Constitution for New Freeland - Libertarianz

Do you have a people?

The announcement by the Stats Department that they will very kindly allow you to declare your ethnicity in the next census as 'New Zealander' has prompted discussion on how you define yourself.

Some people define themselves by what they call 'their people.' Do you have a people? Willie Jackson says he's spent his life looking out for "his people" -- when resigning as a Labour MP Tariana Turia declared "it came down to a question of integrity and I had to act for my people" -- her present Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said in his maiden speech that "the hurt to my people" in being called "haters and wreckers" by Helen Clark was "very deep."

So Willie, Tariana and Pita seem to think they have 'a people,' and they're basing it on their race. They are making a virtue of their skin colour, about which they have no choice, but because of which they demand special 'race-based' favours. Such is the mistaken value of ethnicity:

ETHNICITY: The elevating of one’s racial identity and associated cultural traditions to a position of supreme importance – a racist version of collectivism, under-pinned by post-modernism in philosophy, and still very fashionable in academia.
How about you? Do you have 'a people'? If so, how do you decide who that 'people' is. Think about it for a minute, and while you do, let me ask you a question and offer you a proposition.

Do you choose 'your people' by something you can't do anything about, like your skin colour or the colour of your hair, or by something about which you have some choice. For instance, your kind of people might be tennis players. Or stamp collectors. Or foodies. Or Formula 1 drivers. Or thinkers, achievers, bon vivants, or humourists. All of these various 'persons' have something in common: they have chosen their pursuit, and they could have chosen otherwise. By contrast, defining yourself or others primarily by race, about which none of us can do nothing, takes away an important element of our humanity: our ability to make choices.

What I want to suggest to you is this: that the foundation of what it is to be human is our ability to make choices; fundamentally, our faculty of free will consists of our ability to choose to think, to turn on what makes us distinctively human: our brains. Defining 'your people' not by things that are consciously chosen but instead by things over which you have no control denies what it is to be human -- and this is the very evil of racism: that it de-humanises people, and views them as little more than as various kinds of cattle. This is the very reason Ayn Rand identified racism simply as a "barnyard form of collectivism" -- a grouping of people on the basis of attributes that deny their humanity.

This is the sort of view that still unfortunately persists in the Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Centuries, and which still allows all sorts of bad stuff to proliferate: from the persistent demands of the Turia/Sharples Maori Party for race-based favours; to the soft bigotry of low expectations decried by Walter Williams; to the outright evil of trainloads of human beings poured into the gas chambers and crematoria of Nazi Germany, buried in the mass graves of Bosnia, and bombed in the present mass murders in Iraq. When you ask yourself in depair how these horrors of 'ethnic cleansing' and inter-tribal warfare are able to happen, it starts with the de-humanisation of human beings; racism is the pre-eminent form of de-humanisation.

Recognition of free will is the enemy of racism. It is also the foundation of a genuine individualism.

Defining oneself by one’s race and tradition -- things over which one has no control -- is utterly incompatible with defining oneself by one’s conscious choices. Deriving pride in one's own achievements rather than just those of one's ancestors -- this is the very essence of individualism.

So, do you have a people then? And what exactly will you be writing on your Census form?*

Linked Articles: Cue Card Libertarianism - Ethnicity
Conservative, Liberals & Blacks - Walter Williams
Tragedy in Iraq - Not PC
Cue Card Libertarianism - Individualism

*Yes, that last one is of course a trick question -- as every good libertarian would know. ;^)

'Portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau' - John Singer Sargent

The infamous 'Portrait of Madame X' that scandalised Paris in 1884. Rumour has it that Singer Sargent was a distant relative, but as Lou Reed says, "you can't always trust your Mother."

[UPDATE: Painter Lindsay Mitchell has an explanation of what exactly was considered so scandalous about this painting: Parisians took their art more seriously then than we now do, and apparently the painting was also subtly different then... See Lindsay's 'Spot the difference']

Monday, 16 January 2006

Change of helm at ACT on Campus

Congratulations to Helen Simpson and Andrew Falloon, the new president and vice-president respectively of ACT on Campus. (That's Helen pictured left, celebrating at AoC's weekend conference with an unnamed friend. Naturally enough, Helen is the one on the right.)

I look forward to Helen and Andrew having the courage of what they say are their freedom convictions, and to hear them calling for the Association of Compulsion Touters to expunge all vestiges of compulsion, and to truly represent its stated freedom principles. Given ACT's present reliance on its youth wing for its energy and enthusiasm, there is more power for AoC to move minds within ACT than perhaps they presently realise.

I've suggested more than once five simple policies that need to be changed in order for ACT to fit the bill of a true freedom party...
1) Abolish the RMA. Use the 'A' word! Tell people you want to put a stake through its heart. Start promoting property rights, and common law means to protect them.
2) End the War on Drugs. You tell people you're the party of freedom -- show that you mean it. This would really put the acid on the Green Party authoritarians, and you might even pick up a few of those Green supporters sick of their party's ban-everything wowserism. You don't need to smoke the stuff yourself (most libertarians don't) -- just joining with Milton Friedman in saying 'Legalise Marijuana' might help you feel better about your libertarian credentials, and help you sleep better at night.
3) Privatise, privatise, privatise
. Don't fiddle, tinker or bugger about with 'restructuring' Government departments and state assets: sell, give away or otherwise dispose of them all. Give back the schools and hospitals to those using and running them; recognise the property rights that already inhere in beaches and foreshore and let the government lease back the Beehive to hold cabinet meetings. Call for government to get the hell out of everything it shouldn't be in, and really make the rhetoric of small government really mean something.
4) Abolish the Treaty of Waitangi
and rescind the apartheid-based 'Treaty Principles' that poison too much New Zealand law by their lack of objectivity. Replace the Treaty with a constitution protecting individual rights, regardless of colour.
5) End the DPB.
You've got a candidate advocating it, why not start shouting it from the rooftops!
I look forward to hearing from Helen and Andrew regarding their views on the above.

[UPDATE: Helen has given her views on the Infamous Five above -- no word yet from Andrew, altough I know he's ben visiting. Hi Andrew. And ACT candidate Lindsay Mitchell, who has been campaigning on Point Five for some years has indicated on her blog that's she's also enthusiastically behind Point Two. "It is the job of the state to protect people from each other - not themselves," she says. And so it is.]

Linked Helpful Advice: Question for Act's libertarians

Commenting on the commentators

Deborah Coddington has belatedly discovered blogs and has told the Herald all about it. She finds "Planet Blogger" to be nothing short of "a sad, pathetic sphere..." "I feel genuinely sorry for the blogsite hosts who strive to supply a political service the market obviously wants," she says, before scurrying back to the safety of the MSM, which clearly isn't supplying the market -- or is at least supplying it only very poorly.
This could be a good forum for free discussion. I imagine, however, that the genuine commentators, who use their real names and don't hurl abuse, get fed up and find a life in the real world.
Deborah's sympathy is not something too many bloggers will appreciate, but her bitching about some commenters on some blogs does resonate, even if her understanding of defamation doesn't. (Yes, Deborah, bloggers are subject to the law of defamation as well.) "Illiterate ranters" she calls commenters -- and that's you lot she's talking about, just so you're clear. Being called names herself by some commenters hasn't endeared her to the breed apparently:
What did the pundits say about me on David P Farrar's blogsite? Singling out the most colourful quotes - "anorexic drag queen in high heels", "Boring, Irritable, Testy, Catty, Hateful [spells bitch]", and my favourite - "white trash gold digger".
Poor Deborah. But what is it with some blog commenters anyway? If they're anonymous, they are too frequently rude and unhinged. If they're pseudonymous they're too often too poorly argued. And if they're here at Not PC there's just not too many comments to go around -- at least not so many after the rude and unhinged are deleted. Why Not PC doesn't reap a rich harvest of comments commensurate with the number who read it, I really have no idea - instead, most posts have tumbleweed running through the comments section. I've been told I put people off because I'm "so cold and unfeeling"; because I "use too many big words"; and because, I've been told more than once, I'm "too frightening"! Little old me!

Feel free to leave your own theory below. I promise not to bite. In fact, I won't say anything at all lest I scare you away.

Linked Article: Free rein for illiterate ranters - Deborah Coddington

Explaining Capitalism

Perhaps the most exciting recent book for capitalists released in the last year has been Andrew Bernstein's Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire (reviewed here and here.)

Capitalism Magazine has a brief excerpt up at their site:
A proper understanding of capitalism is sorely lacking among current politicians, intellectuals and even the American people, who generally support it. In order to gain such understanding, it is helpful to start with a true story that reveals the spirit, the sense of life, the emotional stance and outlook that characterizes capitalism. Then it will be possible to comprehend the deeper principles it embodies and the intellectual causes that give rise to it...
Read on here.

Linked Articles: The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire - Review
Release of the 'Capitalist Manifesto' - Not PC
The Capitalist Manifesto - Excerpt

Japanese Garden, Philadelphia

A Japanese House beautifully related to a gorgeous Japanese Garden, and in the unlikely place of Philadelphia. Note the transition space between the inside and outside; the diagonal planning and the gentle, easy relationship between house and garden; the objects placed in foreground and middle ground to help lead the eye out, including paths and bridges to entice you out; the gentle transition from man-made to natural -- including for example the man-made post in the foreground leading the eye out to its more natural forebears in the distance -- it becomes difficult to identify where house finishes and garden begins.

All in all, a beautiful example of just how special is Japanese garden design, and how much it has to teach us -- and how much it has to show us about our houses can relate to the landscape around them.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Cue Card Libertarianism - Harmony of interests

As I said here recently, no man is an island and neither should we be. In a free society, we each gain an incalculable boon from the existence of others. Just some of the benefits of living in a free society are the following:
  • the learning and knowledge we may glean from others -- being able to stand on the shoulders of geniuses underpins all subsequent scientific, technological and artistic advances;
  • the love, friendships and artistic gifts we may share with each other;
  • the 'seed capital' produced from prior production that may be made available to us for our own projects;
  • the abundance of wealth and technological progress made possible by capitalism which makes our existing lives happer, healthier and longer than they would otherwise be.
So what good is sitting alone on your island. "Come hear the music play!"

In a free society, all the many benefits to be gained from others are non-sacrificial ones. Advancement, wealth-production, love and friendship... all derive not from plunder and conquest, but by cooperation and voluntary exchange. By mutual benevolence. As David Kelly explains in his book Unrugged Individualism, "Benevolence is a commitment to achieving the values derivable from life with other people in society, by treating them as potential trading partners, recognizing their humanity, independence, and individuality, and the harmony between their interests and ours." A free society is not do-eat-dog, since we all gain incalculably from all those who are 'winning.'

Benevolence is both the result and the pre-condition of enjoying the fruits of a free society. Robert Le Fevre, for example, in explaining ownership [audio] -- how you acquire it, and why it's to everyone's advantage to respect boundaries -- also explains implicitly the need and result of benevolence in the principle of property ownership. (You might want to compare Le Fevre's presentation to my own on the same subject. Or you might not.)

The field of economics also helps explain the harmony of interests amongst free people. The Law of Comparative Advantage, while somewhat difficult to grasp, is just one side of an economic coin explaining the harmony:
Free people are not a threat to each other. Your neighbour may be bigger, stronger, more efficient, more productive, and even better looking, but it's to the advantage of both of you to keep working at what you do best. (If you didn't do it the other day, and this still sounds screwy, then try the Desert Island Game. It's a good introduction to this important idea.) The law of comparative advantage, first identified by David Ricardo, recognises that no matter how poor you yourself may be at your work, if both you and your neighbour specialise in what you each do best, then at the end of the day you are both better off. The best way, for example, for the Swiss to get grain is not to grow grain, but to make cuckoo clocks and watches so they can trade for grain. And when they do, we're all better off.

If you think the Law of Comparative Advantage seems to make no sense, then don't worry, you're not alone. As PJ O'Rourke writes in his book Eat the Rich, "Todd G. Buchholz, in his book New Ideas from Dead Economists, says 'An insolent natural scientist once asked a famous economist to name one economic rule that isn't either obvious or unimportant.' The reply was 'Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage.'" If you're struggling with the concept, and the game doesn't help explain it, O'Rourke's short explanation is one of the best on record, and undoubtedly the only one using Courtney Love to help explain things.
In a free society there is room for all. The Law of Comparative Advantage explains how the less able contribute to the more able, to the great benefit of both. On the other side of this coin representing the harmony of interests of free people is the Pyramid-of-Ability Principle identified by Ayn Rand -- this principle recognises the enormous contribution made by the more able to the less able:
As George Reisman puts it, the law of comparative advantage explains the "contribution of the cleaning lady to [noted inventor, Thomas] Edison"; by contrast, the Pyramid-of-Ability Principle explains the "contribution of Edison to the cleaning lady." What Edison makes possible for the cleaning lady is much, much more than she coudl have achieved under her own steam. As David Kelly explains: "The men with the greatest minds and talents confer on others much more value than they ever receive in return, no matter how much wealth they acquire, [while] the least able receive much more value than they create."

The concept that integrates this principle is what Ayn Rand called the Pyramid of Human Ability. Rather than the strong exploiting the weak, as popular wisdom would tell you is the case, the 'weak' are far more 'exploitative' of the strong. But the strong are not complaining; they just keep right on producing.

Frederic Hamber explains the reason: it is our minds, not our muscles that are the real source of wealth and progress:
Contrary to the Marxist premise that wealth is created by laborers and "exploited" by those at the top of the pyramid of ability, it is those at the top, the best and the brightest, who increase the value of the labor of those at the bottom. Under capitalism, even a man who has nothing to trade but physical labor gains a huge advantage by leveraging the fruits of minds more creative than his. The labor of a construction worker, for example, is made more productive and valuable by the inventors of the jackhammer and the steam shovel, and by the farsighted entrepreneurs who market and sell such tools to his employer. The work of an office clerk, as another example, is made more efficient by the men who invented copiers and fax machines. By applying human ingenuity to serve men's needs, the result is that physical labor is made less laborious and more productive.
Now, there is one crucial caveat to all this. There is a harmony of human interests in all respects except one: Force! When the gun comes out to force people against their will; to take by force or fraud the fruits of another's production of creative effort; to shackle, by force, the great creators and producers in order to make them milch-cows for the unproductive and the non-creative... when such a situation occurs, then no-one wins, and the 'harmony of human interests' is torn asunder. Such an existence really is the 'dog-eat-dog' situation of popular complaint, in which each of us is potentially a threat to each other. Our minds cannot owrk by compulsion, and if the fruits of productive work are subject to plunder, production will be meagre indeed.

The absence of initiatory force is the very pre-condition of a free society; in the absence of force, we have the opportunity to enjoy the very real fruits of freedom and the harmony of interests enjoyed by free men.

Main linked Articles: Cue Card Libertarianism - 'No man is an island' - Not PC
The gains from trade: understanding comparative advantage - LibertyGuide.Com
Desert Island Game
Ricardo explained by O'Rourke
Pyramid of ability and individual moral worth - Will Thomas
Time to celebrate man's mind - Frederic Hamber
Cue Card Libertarianism - Force - Not PC

Linked Books: Unrugged Individualism - David Kelly
Eat the Rich - PJ O'Rourke

Friday, 13 January 2006

Some thoughts on the harmony of men's interests

Did it ever occur to you... that there is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires — if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical? There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of another — if men understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned cannot be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isn’t.

The businessman who wishes to gain a market by throttling a superior competitor, the worker who wants a share of his employer’s wealth, the artist who envies a rival’s higher talent — they are all wishing facts out of existence, and destruction is the only means of their wish. If they pursue it, they will not achieve a market, a fortune or immortal fame — they will merely destroy production, employment and art. A wish for the irrational is not to be achieved, whether the sacrificial victims are willing or not.

Taken from Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. I couldn't have said it better myself -- but I will keep right on trying.

More: Quotes, Ethics, Objectivism

A joke at the heart of Climate Change

It's hilarious, really, isn't it. Why am I laughing? If you haven't heard already, here's the joke: plants are implicated in the 'global warming problem.' Here's how: Methane is roughly twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping the sun's heat -- it is the third most important greenhouse gas behind water vapour and carbon dioxide -- and a new scientific study has just discovered that "living plants may emit almost a third of the methane entering the Earth's atmosphere. The result has come as a shock to climate scientists." This is a genuinely remarkable result," said Richard Betts of the climate change monitoring organisation the Hadley Centre." [Source, The Guardian]

I swear I am not making this up. Living plants, especially 'deep-rooted' plants such as trees, contribute about one third of the atmospehere's methane, with the Amazon Basin itself responsible for a hefty proportion. Cow farts and rice paddies are largely responsible for the other two thirds. Notes JunkScience.Com (who note also that the potential temperature saving by the year 2050 so far achieved by Kyoto is 0.001412424 °C):
So, in the space of a couple of weeks we've had temperate forests harvesting too much sunlight and warming the globe, high latitude forest trees getting 'skinnier' and absorbing less carbon than guesstimated and now, tropical forests as a source of the much more potent greenhouse gas, methane. Anyone get the feeling wannabe energy rationers are getting really desperate to deny there could be any possible avenue to mitigate warming other than ceding control of energy?

Anyone noticed that, despite the gales of hysteria, the alleged warming of ~0.7 °C over the 20th Century is about the same as the error range on estimated global mean temperature? Anyone noticed that, while atmospheric carbon levels have measurably increased and global temperature has probably increased, crop yields have more than kept pace with human population growth from ~1.7 billion to over 6 billion while hunger has declined? Anyone noticed that during this time developed nations have returned marginal farmlands to forest and wildlife habitat? Anyone figure the global picture may not be quite as bleak as wannabe energy rationers would like to paint it?
Maybe now we might see an end to the environmentalists' call for an Anti-Industrial Revolution. I look forward instead to environmentalists' demands for the following:

Linked Articles: The forgotten methane source - Max Planck Institute
Global warming: Blame the forests - Guardian
The assault on forests as carbon sinks continues - JunkScience.Com

A Valkyrie passes

'It's not over 'til the fat lady sings.' That popular line refers to the earth-shaking final scene of Wagner's four-day opera cycle, 'The Ring,' whose end is signalled in a glorious conflagration set alight by a generously endowed Valkyrie known as Brünnhilde. The soprano playing Brünnhilde needs to be generously endowed because she must be able to spend three days leaping around the scenery while still having the lung-power to be heard all the while above a 120-piece orchestra.

Birgit Nilsson (right) was undoubtedly the loudest Brünnhilde ever heard, and arguably the greatest ever recorded -- she was undoubtedly the Brünnhilde of the twentieth-century. And she has just died. She made the role of Brünnhilde her own and, for her, the fat lady has now sadly sung. Says The Telegraph:
Birgit Nilsson, who has died aged 87, was considered to be the greatest Wagnerian soprano of her day; she had a rock-solid technique and a voice of such soaring, unforced power that it was able to cut through the massed forces of a Wagnerian orchestra with ease, yet a purity of tone which enabled her to switch to the most delicate pianissimo.
I'll be playing Act III of Siegfried today in tribute, particularly 'Heil, dir Sonne!' (Hail to the Sun!) [Listen to the first twenty seconds here]. Farewell Birgit.

'Townhouses in the sky' - Santiago Calatrava

Architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava has unveiled plans for a tower of "townhouses in the sky" for lower Manhattan, immediately adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge -- itself a pretty inspiring piece of work.

Interestingly, the crystalline "townhouses in the sky" barely picks up on their neighbour, the Bridge, at all, whereas Calatrava's project for a new rail terminal at the World Trade Centre site (below) does almost explicitly, and beautifully.

(You can see a QuickTime video of this Twenty-First Century Grand Central at Calatrava's own site. Look for the WTC PATH Terminal, and click on the 'Video' link.)

Linked Article: Calatrava, Sciame proposed tower sculpture for the Seaport

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Careful with that harpoon, Eugene!

Want to jump on to the back of whaling boats and spike their harpoons? The entertaining Generation XY blog has conveniently linked for you a game put together by Greenpeace to give you some practice. And once you've had your fill of all that political correctness, you can get out the Hawaiian Harpoon and do some serious fishing. Sadly, no game as yet apparently to give you practice with sinking whalers by ramming them with a 'can-opener,' or shooting at said rammer with the guns of a Japanese frigate. Until then, visit the XY blokes to get your kicks with the games he has linked.

While we're talking entertaining blogs and insanity, if you've ever been entertained by the certifiably insane unhinged brain-damaged delightfully contrary ravings bayings at the moon opinions of one Oswald Bastable, then you owe it to yourself to give his novel a go (serialised online here). Appropriately enough for a novel about time travel, you have to start reading from the bottom of the page. If it's half as convulsively endearing as Oswald's daily posts, it'll be worth your efforts. I plan to start downloading and printing it out just as soon as I install a new printer cartridge.

And of course I couldn't mention whales, novels and dripping wet political correctness without giving you a link to an online copy of Melville's great novel Moby Dick. "Call me Ishmael..."

[UPDATE: Samizdata contributor James Waterton makes socially responsible whale-meat of the arguments against minke-whaling. "Soft-headed, shallow and emotionally driven," he calls the points raised by Greenpeace's eco-pirates. And you thought I was harsh.]

Links: Whaling Games
Novels - Meddlers in Time, Moby Dick.

Still flowing. Still in the zone.

More information on the concept of Flow - what sportsmen call 'being in the zone,' and what psychologists call a state of being in focused attention (about which I previously wrote here): here's a short interview with Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi (Dr Mike), answering questions on his work with Flow and a few more of its applications, this time for education. Money quote:

Q: Why aren’t teachers creating more of a Flow-like atmosphere in school?
A: First of all, schools are a recent phenomenon. We have had 200,000 generations who grew up without schools and they learned perfectly well. In the last six generations, we developed this method of teaching, which we call school, and it’s a pretty sorry experiment at this point...
This is a subject not just of academic importance. 'A typical day is full of anxiety and boredom,' says Csikszentmihalyi. 'Flow experiences provide the flashes of intense living against this dull background.'
It’s the name we give to the experience that people report when they are completely involved in something, so they forget themselves, forget time. It seems to be the kind of moments when people feel the most alive and their life is the most meaningful. Over the years, I’ve [tried] to see whether it’s possible to transform everyday life — whether in school or family — into something that resembles the state of Flow.
Unlike many psychologists, who view every positive human attribute as somehow a negative -- work hard and you're obviously 'craving the approval denied you in childhood'; become a successful artist and discover that Freud declares that you simply want to mould your own faeces -- Csikszentmihalyi's studies work at "providing further insight on what makes life prosperous and full." His Quality of Life Research Centre was founded with that explicit aim. Amongst the online research papers there is one giving more detail about the concept of Flow, and how it can help transform education for the better.

Linked Articles: Using ‘Flow’ and creativity to motivate learning in school and home
Clapton on Robert Johnson: In the Flow
Student Engagement in High School Classrooms from the Perspective of Flow Theory

Health, wealth & nannying

Popular Mechanics magazine has judged the top fifty inventions of the last half-century, and they're online here. And here's some tables (for the US) showing what such inventions have helped bring about -- historically significant rises in life expectancy across the course of the last century. Stephen Hicks, whose site has these links, describes the dramatic rises simply as "fruits of the Enlightenment."

And just to prove that Stephen regularly has all the links that are fit to print, here too is a meditation on wealth and how to make it -- hint: wage slavery is out; and allow those who make it to keep it -- and "Job seeking advice to start the year off right: Responses in an Interview for a Nanny Position That Will Almost Certainly Sink Your Chances of Getting the Job." Sample response:
I personally favor the French view that it is a mark of cultural sophistication for young children to imbibe wine. And I hate to drink alone.
SuperNanny. Not.

Linked Articles: Top Fifty Inventions,
Actuarial Study (Part V, Results),
How to Make Wealth,
Responses in an Interview for a Nanny Position That Will Almost Certainly Sink Your Chances of Getting the Job

Waiheke Project, Organon Architecture

An unbuilt 1991 project for a ridge overlooking Oneroa. Maybe one day... :-)

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Bloggery & elsewhere

I've just added two blogs: the BioNuclear Bunny -- tagline, "Our future is Biotech and Nuclear. Embrace the change. Embrace the Bunny" -- and local blog Kete Were, which I don't think will be embracing the Bunny any time soon. Say the Kete-ers: "We have Baskets. Of Stuff." Test their claim.

And here's another thing: G-Man is upset because I've demoted him in my blogroll from 'Libz & Elsewhere' to just another Compulsion Touter. My reasoning is that he's clearly a supporter of the Association of Compulsion Touters. He disagrees. What do you think? I guess he is one of the few bloggers out there who at least doesn't have me linked as a Right Wing Blog, which is something to be grateful for I guess, but he was so unfair to poor what's-her-name, wasn't he.

Oh, and if you hadn't already heard, Lindsay Perigo is back on air at Radio Live over the summer. Listen in this week on the nine-to-noon slot. This morning he's interviewing both Tibor Machan and Don Brash. Ring quickly.

Linked Sites: BioNuclear Bunny, Kete Were, GMan Inc., Radio Live

Farewell Tana

2005 was a great ride for All Black fans, and Tana's brilliance was one of the reasons. Farewell Tana. You've given us all some great memories -- shame we can't afford to keep you here.

Opening a whole new can of whales

We eat cows. The Japanese eat whales. The only difference is that cows are privately owned, and whales are much larger. Despite the hand-wringing over the killing and eating of whales , it's no more or less barbaric than the killing and eating of cows.

Here's what really is barbaric: trying to stop whaling by sinking whalers with a 'can opener' -- as the self-appointed Sea Shepherds have done nine times before. Meeting these efforts with defensive force -- as the Japanese whalers have now asked their military to do -- is simple prudence. Good for them. When you're being rammed by a ship with a 'can-opener' attached, being piloted by people intent on sinking you, why wouldn't you defend yourself?

In that context, Jeanette Fitzsimon's call to have a New Zealand frigate sent to protect "the safety of our citizens on the protest ships" is worse than stupid. Much like she is really. Best she stick to marketing her Green Organic Defoliant.

[UPDATE: Robert Winefield's comment below on Green inconsistency is worth highlighting:
The fact that Fitzsimmons wants the RNZN to fight the Japs over a bunch of sodding whales just shows you how idiotic she and her minions are. Do the Greenz not provide the Minister for Disarmament from within their own ranks?

Sure, let Osama and Saddam rape, kill and torture MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN in Iraq and Afghanistan and it's "How dare anyone raise arms against them."

But harm one hair on some blubbery sea-beast... and it's "let's send in the navy!!!"
Idiocy indeed.]

More Conservation that's Not PC

Consider the trees...

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Get rid of Queen St's trees

A storm in a 'tree-cup' going on in Auckland's Queen St over the holidays has had all sorts of people saying all sorts of nonsense -- the politically correct at loggerheads with the politically conservative over the architecturally stupid.

The issue? A "controversial plan to cull exotic trees on Auckland's Queen Street" and to replace them with natives, announced by mayor Dick Hubbard and referred to since by those with the vapours as The Great Tree Massacre. To me, the whole thing is somewhat laughable, but one with an important point.

The bloody trees should never have been there in the first place. Years ago -- some two thousand years, in fact -- Roman poet Virgil declared "God made the country, but man made the town." Poetically accurate, it describes why Queen St should be void of trees. The precincts of the city should be the place wherein man's great works are evident, the transition from country to city being a continuum from nature's great works to man's. As architect Claude Megson argued when the bloody trees were first planted, it was evident the reason was an abject lack of imagination on the part of those planting them -- man's great works being few and far between both in the streetscape of Auckland's main street and the heads of the council's architects, another time-honoured dictum was followed: "When in doubt, plant a tree."

The problem is not whether the trees in Queen St are exotic or native; the problem is that Auckland's city fathers have all the imagination of an anaemic hamster. Take the chainsaw to the trees, I say, and apply some imagination to the streetscape -- and don't plant any more bloody trees in Queen St. Use your head instead.

Things I learned on my holidays, 4

Bonfires are back. New Years Eve on the beach at Whangaumu Bay, Tutukaka, and there were four bonfires, fireworks, lots of revels and lashings of alcohol. Great to see, as were the many bonfires on other beaches right across the horizon, all the way down to the Whangarei Heads.

Meddling busybodies were nowhere to be seen, and nor were any fire permits.

Reviewing Narnia

How do you write a film review?

Dianne Durante gives a Master Class by giving you a 'how-to' of her own The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe review.

Linked Article: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Movie Reviews and How to Write Them

Too-fast growth is bad. Right?

It's probably unfair to pick on Jordan when he's still not returned from holiday, but hey, I never said I was fair. "I'm not fair." OK? Right then, on to the post: As an aside before leaving for his holidays, Jordan mentioned that "the economy is slowing down after five years of, perhaps, too-fast growth." Now that's a pretty common view, and one heard from many voices -- at least one of them emanating from the Reserve Bank. 'Too-fast' growth in productivity causes rapidly rising prices, and has to be stamped down into mediocre growth, or even no growth at all. 'Too-fast' growth is A Bad Thing.

Better no growth at all, says this view, than 'too-fast' growth.

But can it be true? In what sense can economic growth be 'too fast'? How can increased wealth production possibly be A Bad Thing? For RBNZ Governor Alan Bollocks, growth is 'too fast' when it somehow challenges his 0-3% inflation band -- and everyone knows that high economic growth causes inflation, don't they?

Well, they'd be wrong. The 'Philips Curve' and the Keynesian analysis behind it are what supports the 'Economic Growth Causes Inflation' Myth -- and they'd both be wrong.
This curve, now viewed by some as an economic law, was constructed decades ago and asserted that there was a "trade off" between unemployment and inflation -- that high inflation provided lower unemployment and low inflation created higher unemployment. But almost as soon as the Philips Curve became economic orthodoxy, actual experience contradicted it. Inflation coincided with increasing unemployment in the 70's, while falling inflation coincided with reduced unemployment during key periods of the 80's and 90's.

Keep the following in mind: Inflation is a reduction in the purchasing power of a unit of currency. As governments control currencies, they create inflation. Inflation can be observed by tracking changes in currencies relative to precious metals and other currencies. Over time, a currency's decline manifests itself in higher prices for industrial and consumer goods. An economy reacts poorly to the uncertainty and confusion of inflation, which hurts growth, and an economy responds favorably to the stability of low inflation, encouraging economic growth. In either case, an economy reacts to inflation and government currency policy; it cannot create it.
There you go then, and not so difficult to understand. Pity then that we have a Reserve Bank Act predicated upon a Myth. The Myth is made more so by a misunderstanding of what inflation really is; to remind you from above: "Inflation is a reduction in the purchasing power of a unit of currency," brought about by an increase in the money supply. The former is a result of the latter. Prices can rise for many reasons quite apart from monetary inflation; when a price rise is due to supply and demand reasons, it's called a price signal -- stepping on price signals distorts the market. It really is A Bad Thing.

It is only when prices rise due to monetary inflation that it is a problem. To classical economists, inflation is the undue increase in the supply of money above the rates that can be supported by savings. The RBNZ's 'basket' of goods and services by which they measure price inflation is not an accurate reflection of underlying monetary inflation -- a measure of the money supply is.
As long as consumer prices (as measured by the CPI) are not rising, or are rising only modestly, it is assumed that there is no inflation, or only very little inflation. Dr. George Reisman suggests that this is "..akin to saying that so long as someone shows no visible signs of illness, he has no illness - that his illness begins only when its symptoms become unmistakable." He goes on to say that "inflation does not come into existence when prices start rising noticeably, any more than heart disease or cancer come into existence when a person finally has a heart attack or experiences the acute symptoms of cancer. On the contrary, these diseases are already well advanced before their obvious symptoms appear."
'Too-fast' growth causes an increase in wealth, not an increase in inflation. What causes inflation is printing money, and only the central banks of government can do that.

Linked Article: The "Economic Growth Causes Inflation" Myth

Things I learned on holiday, 3.

Lesson number three: bikinis are A Good Thing. A Very Good Thing. Accordingly, and with a hat tip to G-Man, I've assessed just exactly which attributes my own tastes prefer to see in one -- or even out of one. Something behind the eyes is always good too:
Curvy and Naughty
Raw score: 62% Big Breasts, 59% Big Ass, and 40% Cute!

Thanks for taking the T and A and C test! Based on your selections, the results are clear: you show an attraction to larger breasts, larger asses, and sexier composures than others who've taken the test.

Note that you like women overall curvier than average.

My third variable, "cuteness" is a mostly objective
measure of how innocent a given model looked. It's determined by a
combination of a lot of factors: lack of dark eye makeup, facial
expression, posture, etc. If you scored high on that variable, you are
either really nice OR you're into deflowering teens. If you scored low,
you are attracted to raunchier, sexier, women. In your case, your lower than average score suggests you appreciate a sexier, naughtier look. Kudos!

Recommended Celebrities: Supermodel Laetitia Casta and Actress Angelina Jolie.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 72% on tit-size
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 71% on ass-size
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 16% on cuteness
Link: The Tits, Ass, and Cuteness Test

Monday, 9 January 2006

Happy 2006

Oh yeah, Happy New Year everyone. :-))

Anything important I've missed? Any New Year's Resolutions you should tell me about?

Bad news for NZ's economic freedom

The various Economic Freedom Indices are a pretty blunt instrument to my mind -- for some reason they still measure New Zealand, for instance, as a perfect one for property rights, despite the many well-documented abuses inflicted upon NZ's property owners by government's both central and local. However, like all such things, while the precise figures are questionable the trend across several years is important.

The trend for New Zealand's economic freedom is down.

In the latest 2006 Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, Godzone has slipped from the top three just a few short years ago, to its latest possie only just inside the top ten. The trend is down, and we're going down quickly -- we're seeing decreasing freedom here at home, even as many other countries including many former communist-controlled basket-cases find the freedom mojo. Libz leader Bernard Darnton blames Helen and her minions:

"New Zealand has slipped from fifth to ninth on the index and this government seems determined to push us lower," says Darnton. "Helen Clark has mused aloud about what a great example Sweden is. Sweden places 19th on the index—the very bottom of the 'free' category. Presumably we can expect our decline to continue under her guidance."

"Unsurprisingly," notes Darnton, "by far New Zealand's worst performing area is 'Fiscal Burden of Government', i.e. the amount of money the government steals in taxes from its productive citizens. We rank 101st along with economic heavyweights Swaziland, Ghana, and Vietnam."

Not good news to return to, then.

Linked Articles: 2006 Index of Economic Freedom
Report Confirms Libz View - Labour Choking Economic Freedom in NZ

Taming the inflation monster

As you might recall, we ended the year wondering why the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is strangling growth in a bid to keep down the prices of property -- nailing producers and exporters and all the rest of us to a cross of 'price stability' that is itself a mirage. This, says Alan Bollocks and RBNZ supporters, is neccessary to underpin the currency and restrain the infltaion monster. "No!" say RBNZ detractors like myself: in focussing only on 'price stability' you're reversing cause and effect.

Mike Shedlock suggests the worlds various central banks should do three simple things before they do us all a favour and self-destruct. While disagreeing with some of his detailed prescription, the general thrust of his recommendations is worth considering:
Instead of trying to achieve 'price stability' which ... is something that can neither be achieved nor measured , how about shooting for "money supply stability" instead? a.. Central banks should refuse to monetize government spending and trade deficits; b.. Central banks should let the market set interest rates; c.. Central banks should embark on a campaign of tightening reserves requirements over time to rein in fractional reserve lending Life would be so much simpler if Central Banks everywhere would stop trying to micromanage both prices and economic cycles. Quite simply, they are trying to achieve nirvana when nirvana can not possibly be measured, nor can nirvana be achieved in the first place with the policies they have in place. Of course if they stop doing these things, they will cease to be Central Banks in the modern sense, so perhaps they will get the hint and just close shop.
We wish. And as for that graph up top, just see the 'success' the US Central Bank has had in their number one job. Been really useful, huh?

Linked Articles: Inflation monster captured
One graph that says it all

Things we all should have learned by now

Here's something to ponder as you gaily engage in debate: How much do you really need to know in order for your opinion to be an informed one? Not all opinions are equally valid -- uninformed opinion is less equal than most. In the 21st Century, there are some basics that an educated person really should know if they're to be considered educated enough to pound sand, let alone to survive in and comment knowledgably upon the issues that dominate our lives.

A friend has succinctly summed up on another list just what those basics are:
I believe that a well-rounded education includes a knowledge of statistics, a knowledge of the basics of differential and integral calculus, a knowledge of basic molecular biology and evolutionary biology, the basics of physics and chemistry, a reasonable grasp of the basic rules of logic, a reasonable understanding of macro and microeconomics including supply and demand, a basic knowledge of human psychology, a reasonable survey of Western Literature, a basic understanding of the history of Western Civilization, an in-depth understanding of the Constitutional heritage of the United States, a survey of Western philosophy, the ability to read sheet music and some knowledge of our musical heritage and the basics of at least one foreign language.
To that list I might add an understanding of basic ethics and the theory of rights, and a survey of the history of Western art. How does that sound to you?

Sunday, 8 January 2006

What I learned on my holidays, 2.

What else did I learn while I was away? Well, I learned that some bloggers don't even stop for Christmas or for intercontinental travel! Phew. That's dedication for you. I learned too that there is more than one perfect breakfast -- I found another.

This one is a version of fried eggs with what the Americans call Hot Biscuits (scones to you and me) and Gravy. For the biscuits, I used my usual wholemeal scone recipe and added pepper, garlic and more cayenne than normal. For the gravy, I used this recipe to make a beautiful vegetarian gravy (no animals were harmed in the making of this breakfast). Time your pots and pans right, and you have the perfect plate of early Sunday avo pick-me-up. Beeaauutiful.

Accompanied by a long glass of iced tea and Brian Eno's 'Another Green World,' it's another perfect Sunday brunch.

What I learned on my holidays, 1.

What a great holiday. I trust you've all enjoyed my absence.

Amongst my holiday reading was the new Anthony Burgess biography: mentioned is Burgess's enthusiasm for inventing what he called "life-threatening cocktails," and a recipe for one such is included -- with time available and the ingredients to hand, a number of our party felt compelled to try it out. Here, according to Burgess's biographer Andrew Biswell is how to make a pint of Hangman's Blood:
Into a pint glass, doubles of the following are poured: gin, whisky, rum, port and brandy. A small bottle of stout is added and the whole topped up with Champagne....It tastes very smooth, induces a somewhat metaphysical elation, and rarely leaves a hangover.
Rather like a Black Velvet with a depth charge then. And happily, I can report that both promises were fulfilled. The hangovers were all achieved by other means.

Claude Megson: The Norris House

Claude Megson's 1974 'Norris House' was one of his own personal favourites, and a delightful example of the 'two-zoned' house.

And it's for sale...

Saturday, 24 December 2005

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

As my farewell to you all for the year (now, now, don't cry), I've posted links below to some of my own favourite and more reflective posts from the past year so that you don't get 'Not PC' withdrawal over the holiday season. I've tried over the year to be pithy, thought-proving and entertaining -- I've enjoyed writing these pieces, and I'd like to thank all of you who've visited here, enjoyed them and left me feedback about what you've read.

Feel free to print off a few copies of each of these and take them with you to the beach.

Decentralisation, and those who oppose it
The city's expansion is inevitable -- equally inevitable is it's decentralisation. Technology makes it so. Fighting that is like fighting on the side of Canute, only when one fights this inevitability one fights against the will of individuals...
More on Urban_Design
Project: Holiday Home
A holiday home to delight, relax and sleep ten people (plus guests) - compact, yet deceptively spacious. Simple materials used intelligently to make nature more human, and human life more natural...
A fairy tale of a leaky house or two
...And the little people of this fair land did all that they were allowed to do and all that they were told to do, and many houses on many hills were erected in the fashion that BIA determinations and approvals said they were allowed to be and told to be.
Coromandel mining exposes "a clash of values"--Tanczos
So how is such a clash of values to be played out? There are only three options, as I see it. 1) Violent conflict; 2) Politicisation of the issue--the current default position involving picketing, bickering and politicking; 3) Property rights.
Crocodile fatalities expose ethical flaw in environmentalism
The Northern Territory has 'enjoyed' a three-decade ban on hunting crocodiles that has seen their numbers jump from 5,000 to 70,000, crocodiles appearing in the backyards of suburban Darwin, and a corresponding increase in savage and often fatal croc attacks -- and still the absurd ban has been continued. You might say that these people were killed by an idea; a very bad idea...
The miracle of breakfast
There's nothing miraculous about Smith's 'invisible hand,' it is simply the recognition that when each producer trades the fruits of their labour, they each win by that trade.
The "Problem" of Initial Acquisition
...Cohen argues that all the world’s resources were originally "jointly owned" and therefore, like Proudhon, he claims that all property is therefore theft. “Why was its original privatization not a theft of what rightly should (have continued to) be held in common?” he asks...
Property rights - the Northland speech
...Author Ayn Rand once observed that when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know that your culture is doomed. Aren’t we there now?...
Time to put a stake through the heart of the RMA! [PDF]
Four-page PDF article arguing for the Resource Management Act to be scrapped in favour of commonlaw protection of environment and property rights...
More RMA
'You Smell of Goat': A Complete Hiftory of Man According to Hif Divers Delightf
...On such nights, and over the course of those thousands of year of struggle, there was one thought, one goal, that drove these men forwards: the idea of beer...
Libertarian tools, games, quizzes and links
Chris Lewis: Tall Poppy
I'm enormously sad to learn that New Zealand Tennis have finally driven tennis ace Chris Lewis from New Zealand. Chris is a wonderful sportsman and a tremendous human being, and his departure for California leaves me angry at his treatment here...
More Heroes
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.
More Humour
Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger & Hurt
There are parts of oursouls that no rock music will ever reach. If we are to be true to ourselves, we need to search out music that does and let it reach us. What that means is searching out music that has the scope, depth and integration that our lives...
More Music
Live 8 Losers
The bleeding hearts of Geldof anf Bono offer the lesson that if it's the thought that counts, then you should at least make sure your thought is a good one. And here's a good thought: If you want to help the victims of bad governance — which presently describes most of Africa — then don't give the bad governments money...
More Ethics
Some cultures deserved to die out
Not every culture is worth saving or preserving. There are some cultures that deserved to die out -- the Maya were just one, and on this as so much else Jared Diamond's book Collapse has it wrong again. As a tragic loss, they weren't, and Roger Sandall is...
Wananga, waste, and voucher failure
So why exactly was so much taxpayer money so poorly accounted for? I'm glad you asked. It was wasted because Wetere & Sons & Daughters were just cashing in on the latest 'free-market' fad: educational vouchers...
Unintelligent design, Part 3
Was existence itself brought into existence by a Creator? There's no evidence for that claim, and nor is there any need for it. Nor is there any evidence for the claim of there being a Creator...
No power
2005-07-27: "It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word...hydro is suddenly becoming too hard...what's left?...we can't do everything on windpower," says Jenkins. And if there's no power, there's no industry...
More Energy
The enigma of David Lange
...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...
The day the Velvet Revolution began
Adriana at Samizdata remembers the anniversary this week of the Velvet Revolution, the day that communist rule in Czechoslovakia began to crumble...
A Sunday constitutional
...good government is like a guard dog: it's there to protect us from being done over by others. However, if that dog is badly trained and it gets off the chain, we can be badly savaged -- more so sometimes than we would have been without the dog.
Making freedom concrete
So what exactly is it, then? 'Freedom' is not freedom from reality, as is sometimes claimed; it is not freedom to have your own way regardless of the rights of others; it is not a license to ride roughshod over others or their property...
More Rights
Selling the foreshore
...Personally, I think New Zealand's foreshore should have all existing property recognised and protected (no matter what colour the rightful beneficiaries of those rights) before selling what remains to buy secure annuities for New Zealand's pensioners. That's one very easy and very effective way to instantly de-politicise both the foreshore issue and the issue of the impending superannuation blowout...
More Privatisation
Capitalism is colour-blind
...Thomas Sowell points out that the racially-segregated seating Rosa Parks won deserved fame for opposing barely existed in the American South until municipal transit systems operated by the state replaced privately-owned transit systems:
More on Racism
Drug use is not a victimless crime
"I don't like drugs." Fine. Your 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...
More Victimless_Crimes
Political Correctness: A classic documentary now online
time that a classic documentary on Political Correctness was taken out and dusted off: a forty
minute radio documentary put together by Lindsay Perigo and Deborah Coddington

PC, & 'The Great Postmodern Essay Generator'
Hicks's own book, Explaining Postmodernism, might also prove useful, particularly as it points out so well the connection between postmodernism and PC...
We Are All Londoners Today
"We are all Londoners today." Doesn't that describe the way all people with a soul feel this morning? The vibrant, tolerant city of London is today's front line in the battle for those Western values that makes cities across the West the great places they are...
More War
...Politicians only understand one thing at election time: that you voted either for them or against them. If for example you hold your nose and vote Team Blue just to get out Team Red, then Team Blue will see that as a vote for them...
2005-06-04. Here's five things you could try saying that at the moment you're too scared too...
In the interests of balance and fairness, Drone has been trying to come up with six Labour achievements to mark the six years of their rule...
More Politics-Labour
Running the rule over the Nats
John Armstrong runs the rule over the Nats behind Brash, and as those of us who can remember the Nats when they were in power might testify they come up three feet short of a yard...
Rangatiratanga - at whose expense?
Tariana Turia’s Maori Party wants to end Maori dependence on welfare, she says in this week’s Listener. Great. So do I...
Greens losing their freedom mojo
...on the conviction and sentencing of Schapelle Corby, New Zealand's Greens have been studiously silent when all logic surely tells them that -- guilty or innocent -- poor Schapelle is a martyr to the War on Drugs to which their principles should tell...
How would Libz handle coalition?
The thing is, if he had principles he would be fine. How so? Let me explain by pointing out how I would see a Libertarianz caucus of six behaving in parliament. It would be unlike that of any other party, and something only a party of principle could mana

What's a libertarian for?
Reader Justin has politely but firmly asked why some libertarians bother with Libertarianz. "For all your professed admiration for rationality and goal-orientation, you seem to be sorely lacking it...
More Libz
And finally...

I haven't posted as many of these 'introductions to the terms used by libertarians' as I'd planned -- too much other writing to post, I guess -- but be reassured that the material is all there and just waiting to go. In the meantime, here's the two-dozen or so Cue Cards that have already been released to the wild...