Monday, 8 May 2006

S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane church - Borromini

Borromini's S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane church, Rome, 1665-67 -- a masterpiece of Baroque architecture where light, texture, rhythm and vertical emphasis help give the building movement and delight; and the various motifs, intersecting spaces, unarticulated corners and undulating wall help to 'dematerialise' the enclosing exterior wall.
TAGS: Architecture

Health and education 'still mired in a Marxist swamp'

Modern-day Marxists would rather have 'fairness' and a shambles than 'injustice' and a good system delivering quality health and education. That's the thrust of the criticism made by UK-based and NZ-raised philosopher Jamie Whyte about apologists for Britain's shambolic National Health System who accept that the system is flawed, but who still calim that it is 'just' since all who use it suffer equally from its inefficiencies.

In short, he says,
When it comes to dealing with healthcare and education costs, we are still mired in a Marxist swamp.
For 'we', read all countries with centralised, state-delivered schools and hospitals. Read his whole argument here.
LINKS: You want fairness, you pay up - Jamie Whyte, Times Online
[Hat tip Marcus Bachler]
TAGS: Health, Education, Politics-UK

Where's Rosa Parks when you need her?

It's delicious when the politically correct are at loggerheads with the politically correct. Judith Collins's and Anne Tolley's refusal to sit at the back for a powhiri to celebrate the opening of a CYFS facility has brought all of the PC suspects out of the thickets to defend the blatant sexism they would normally find indefensible.

"The women's behaviour was 'a disgraceful display'" said Labour MP Georgina Beyer, who apparently objects to anyone having the temerity to criticise what clearly needs criticising -- as does the overly-sensitive kaumatua who "scolded" and abused his female guests for daring to take a seat at the front. What a nonsense. Why shouldn't blatant nonsense be rejected, and protested? What makes Maori protocal immune from criticism? Would Georgina have told Rosa Parks to get to the back of the bus if there was a 'culturally safe' sing-song going on up front? Impose whatever rules you like in your own house, but don't have them forced on others in taxpaid facilities.

There is no reason in any case that particular cultural practices should be immune to criticism. As Thomas Sowell argues in his book Conquests & Cultures:
Cultures are not museum-pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives. The judgment that matters it not the judgment of observers and theorists, but the judgment implicit in millions of individual decisions to retain or abandon particular cultural practices, decisions made by those who personally benefit or who personally pay the price of inefficiency and obsolescence. That price is not always paid in money but may range from inconveniences to death.
Here's the most ludicrous defence of the idea that women should sit at the back of the room so as not to insult the terminally sensitive: "It's not denigrating women, it's protecting them." That's like saying being forced to wear a burqa makes you sexy, isn't it?

At least Collins and Tolley had the gumption to walk out, rather than sitting there blubbing as Helen Clark did in similar circumstances at Waitangi a few years ago. Will Collins be holding hands with Hone Harawira's mum next time she goes to a powhiri?
LINKS: Quotes from Conquests & Cultures - Thomas Sowell
Capitalism is colour-blind - Not PC
Female MP defends breach of marae protocol - Stuff
TAGS: Politics-NZ, Maoritanga, Multiculturalism, Political_Correctness, Racism, Sexism

Hidden meaning

Saw French arthouse thriller Hidden (a.k.a. Caché) last night at the Rialto, and apparently I'm amongst the two-thirds of people who've seen it and who "completely missed the crucial piece of visual information" in the last scene -- and the many more who did see it but like me still don't have a clue what it means. See discussion here, for example, and here. (Warning, contains spoilers.)

Call me stupid, but I still don't know whodunnit and why. But I sure want to. If anyone can just slip me the answer, I'd be most grateful.
LINKS: Update: Caché's meaning - Left Behinds
Caché - Wikipedia
Official Caché website - Sony Classics
TAGS: Films

AFL not libertarian?

Some of you questioned my claim on Friday that AFL is the world's most libertarian sport, and even suggested that "this argument is not particularly serious"! For shame, gentlemen! Would I joke about something like this? :-)

Not only is my claim entirely serious, it's not the size of the rule book alone that makes the argument. As I tried to argue in 2001:
In February, I went to the Aussie Rules at Wellington Stadium, and it was a fantastic spectacle with the Brisbane Lions running over recent champions the Adelaide Crows. We saw high marks, running football, precision kicking - and one or two great shirtfronts. Parked outside was a Ford Falcon painted up by local clubs with the slogan: 'Aussie Rules! What Rules?'

Now, to most people's surprise Australian Football DOES have rules - simple rules based on the principle of keeping the game going, and which don't encourage umpires to grandstand. (In fact, most Australians would be hard pressed to name an AFL umpire. They refer to them simply as: 'white maggots'.)

Aussie Rules' rules are actually quite simple - as they need to be for Australians to follow them - and are designed around three basic principles: to keep the game going, to protect the guy going for the ball, and to stop anyone initiating force against anyone else (while anybody's looking). And they work very well; in fact, in a two-hour game of footy, you have two hours of footy.

The rulebook is barely 30 A6 pages, with almost two thirds of that detailing how tribunals, national bodies, and ground marking are done. The guts of it is the 'Spirit of the Laws' which is barely fifty words. Simple rules for a fascinating game. The book is small enough to stick in your pocket - so that even white maggots and Collingwood fans have no excuse for not knowing the rules.

I draw four pretty simple conclusions from this: the fewer stoppages, the better the game; protection of individuals is a good basis for keeping things flowing; the fewer interventions from maggots the better; and, all else being equal, simple is usually best.

Someone observed once that the Ten Commandments was supposedly written on one piece of stone, the US Constitution on ten pages of parchment, but that European Union regulations on bananas are smeared across four volumes - and no one, not even the bureaucrats - and especially not the banana growers - can understand them. We're not much better here in this country, with about 4000 pages of new regulations introduced by our trigger-happy parliamentarians every year. We're going wrong, and it's time to stop it.

Good law, I suggest, is not pages and pages of empty verbage, but is clear, and terse, and based around simple, easily understandable, objective principles. Simple principles that recognise each individual's right to live and to act for his own sake, and that stop anyone initiating force against any other individual. Something like this...
Read on here. And read here for a report on how rugby is trying to reduce its own rulebook to make the game better, faster and more understandable for everyone. Summary of the proposed 'Stellenbosch' rules here and here. Said Rod MacQueen about the proposals after a week of trial games with the proposed new rules in use, "The ultimate aim of these experimental laws is to allow for more creativity by the players and this week there were encouraging signs such as clarity of decision-making, less confusion among players at the breakdown and reduced law subjectivity."
LINKS: Rugby rules no more! - Peter Cresswell, The Free Radical (Feb, 2001)
Trialling laws mortals can understand - Rugby Heaven
The proposed law changes - Planet Rugby
A look at the new laws - SA Rugby.Com
Rugby law reform project underway - IRB
TAGS: Sport, Libertarianism

A favourite NZ dozen

It's NZ Music Month and a few bloggers have already posted their worst NZ 'pop' songs -- naturally Tim Finn deservedly over-achieves on most lists -- so as I've no wish to follow the herd and I've already posted a 'ten-most-overrated' list, instead of a 'worst ten' here's a favourite dozen:
  • Gun Hungry -- Luke Hurley
  • Billy Bold -- Graham Brazier
  • Gutter Black -- Hello Sailor
  • Don't Catch Fire -- Toy Love
  • Squeeze -- Toy Love
  • Crush - Tall Dwarfs
  • GMT -- Hello Sailor
  • True Love -- Scavengers
  • Taking the Weight Off -- Penknife Glides
  • Not a Victim -- Chris Knox
  • Saturday Night Stay at Home - Suburban Reptiles
  • The Jinx - Swingers
Special mention, a few special non-pop NZ musical moments:So what have I forgotten?
TAGS: Music, New_Zealand

Saturday, 6 May 2006

Ralph Jester House - Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright's house for Ralph Jester was designed for a site on California's Pacific coast, but unfortunately never built. IIT have a virtual recreation of the house here -- just hover over the various tags and pictures to uncover all sorts of goodies. (Works best in IE.) You owe it to yourself to have a look.

TAGS: Architecture

Friday, 5 May 2006

AFL live tonight on Sky!

Great news for NZ-based fans of AFL, the world's most libertarian sport, and tonight especially for fans of Geelong and the Demons, the two oldest clubs in football. The press release from the NZAFL explains it all:

The New Zealand AFL (NZAFL), in conjunction with its corporate partners is delighted to announce that SKY TV will be showing “live” AFL on its programming in New Zealand.

Our great game will be televised on SKY Sport 3 on Friday evenings. The telecast will commence at 9.30pm. The first match is this Friday (5th May –tonight) between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. The match will be replayed on Saturday afternoon in the 2.30pm timeslot on SKY Sport 2.

SKY TV will continue to screen the one-hour “Highlights” package on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on SKY Sport 2. NZAFL CEO Rob Malone said “This is a very positive step in the continued growth and awareness of Australian Rules in New Zealand, as our priority has always been to provide regular AFL games on NZ TV to value add and underpin our Aussie Rules delivery programs in the school system and community competitions throughout NZ”.

“I would like to extend the NZAFL’s appreciation to Murray Jackson (CEO Genesis Energy) for his support of this significant initiative. AFL will now be shown on average, 8 hours per week with the Friday night “live” game allocated a timeslot not always afforded to the Sydney market”.
I know which Drinking Room I'll be in this evening . . . :-)
Match preview, Geelong Cats v Melbourne Demons - AFL.Com
Three key 'ins' for Cats - Geelong Football Club
TAGS: Sport, Libertarianism

Beer O'Clock - Galbraith's Grafton Porter

This week's 'Beer O'Clock post is from guest author Stu, from the illustrious Real Beer site.

The labouring people, porters etc. experienced its wholesomeness and utility, they assumed to themselves the use thereof, from whence it was called Porter...
- 'Obadiah Poundage', London 1760

Hardworking men, such as myself, must go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy a thirst. Whether it's the leafy height of summer or the gray barren depths of an Auckland winter, Galbraith's Grafton Porter satisfies even the most insatiable thirst.

This inky dark ale, historically made as nourishing drink for the working classes, has a soft palate of dark chocolate and roasted malt, followed by a gentle hop smack in the bittersweet finish. It is indeed so good that it often becomes the central reason for me making a trip to Auckland (I pretend I've got work to accomplish or friends to visit). The judges of BrewNZ whole-heartedly agree, having awarded it a gold medal and judging it the best in class, amongst extremely strong competition, in the Stouts/Porters section of the 2005 competition.

Available on traditional handpump or in takeaway flagons, and only from its brewpub birthplace at Galbraith's Ale House, this dark ale is just as good a summer evening sipper as it is a winter draught excluder. Lucky Aucklanders get yourself down there and enjoy one of the best made ales in the land. If you're scared off by the bar room black hole that is Porter, then Galbraith's also has one of the most varied selections of beer in Auckland and is second-to-none as a great place for eating, drinking and chatting with good friends.

Slainte mhath
LINKS: Real Beer
TAGS: Beer_&_Elsewhere

Housing the moochers

Here's a question for those of you that follow mathematical economics: How much do government subsidies support the housing market?

Lindsay Mitchell has some figures showing how much is mooched by mortage- and rent-payers -- $62 a week on average -- and how many are mooching: 245,800 'clients' -- which with one 'client' per home amounts to nearly a quarter of New Zealand's housing stock housing people who mooch off other people to help pay their rent or their mortgage. One in four. Frightening. (And that's in addition to the two-thirds of New Zealanders on the mooch via Working 'Welfare for Families.')

So my question to all you readers with your economics equations at your fingertips and your fingers a-twitch over your calculators is this: What would removing the Accomodation Supplement do to housing prices? What does it to rental levels? And just how much does the Accomodation Supplement act as a direct subsidy to landlords?

Feel free to post your answers below.
LINKS: You might be paying your next-door neighbour's mortgage - Lindsay Mitchell
TAGS: Economics, Politics-NZ, Welfare

Telecom: Who leaked? Who cares.

With the unerring inability that has marked his career in politics since it began, Bill English goes searching for red herrings once again while the big fish all around elude him. Sadly, too many others have joined him angling for herrings while sharks are chewing up NZ's largest company.

Who leaked? Who cares.

While even his party's IT spokesman Maurice Wimpianson realises the nationalisation of Telecom's network is a property rights disaster -- the major issue here! -- Sideshow Bill thinks the big issue is 'the leak!' "This is a billion dollar leak," says an idiotic English, ignoring that the announced nationalisation has destroyed a billion dollars of Telecom's value, not the leak -- it is the act of vandalism against Telecom that destroyed one billion dollars, not the advance warning of it.

"Someone senior in the Government, a politician or an official, set out on a path of economic and political sabotage," Mr English told reporters. What an abject moron. This seeker of the irrelevant, this parliamentary apostle of wetness, suggests somehow that the whistle-blower did something immoral.

They didn't. What was 'sabotage' was Cunliffe's announcement -- what is immoral is the nationalisation. What was neither of the above was the advance warning of theft which the leak represents.

Whoever the whistle-blower was, whoever divulged Cabinet's plan to nationalise Telecom's network, did exactly the right thing. What the whistle-blower did was warn a victim of burglary what he overheard the burglars planning to do to them. It was a moral act.

No wonder its worth has escaped Bill English.

NOTE: Liberty Scott has summarised here the main reactions to the announced nationalisation of Telecom's network.

UPDATE 1: Here's the headline I should have used, from a blogger who'd make a better sub-editor than I: 'When Leaks are Followed by Drips.'

UPDATE 2: It doesn't get any better for Telecom now, does it (see lunchtime chart at right). The loss of value since Wednesday afternon is now $1.7 billion. While some of the sell-off is due to Telecom's own troubles (with AAPT for example), as Tyndall Investment's James Lindsay observes, "the company's results are ``completely overshadowed'' by the government's decision May 3 to give rivals more access to Telecom's network." So Labour's attack on Telecom now amounts to an act of vandalism that has destroyed over a billion-and-a-half dollars in just a day-and-a-half of selling.
LINKS: Cabinet document leak to Telecom "economic and political sabotage": opposition - The Techsploder
The bilion dollar leak - NZ Herald
National and ACT show some principle - Liberty Scott
TAGS: Politics-National, Politics-NZ, Property_Rights

Energy: Crisis? What crisis?

Anyone who wonders about the value of blogs need only look to George Reisman to see how the blog phenomenon has made an intelligent and perceptive writer into an enormously prolific one.

Reismans thoughts today are on energy, the apparent lack of it, and the solution to the reported long-term lack of it. As usual, his thoughts cut through the nonsense. The "solution to the energy crisis [a crisis with "no solution" according to the New York Times] is so blindingly obvious," he says.
The solution is: allow the oil companies to drill for oil—in Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of California, on all the land mass of the United States now set aside as “wild-life preserves” and “wilderness” areas. Allow the construction of new atomic power plants! Stop interfering with the strip mining of coal! Stop interfering with the construction of refineries, pipelines, and harbor facilities necessary to the supply of oil and natural gas! This will increase the supply and reduce the demand for oil (this last because substitutes for it will be more readily available). All this can be summed up in very few words: Politicians and environmentalists, get the hell out of the way!

Instead, we are told that the oil companies are responsible for the scarcity of oil and its high price and should be punished for it. No! The truth is that the environmentalists and the politicians who support them are responsible.
This is not an energy crisis, it is a political crisis -- one equivalent to NZ's but on a larger scale. On one side are those trying to produce; on the other those trying to stop them; and on the sidelines are cheerleaders for the latter who are blaming the former for the problem. Put that way, perhaps the real crisis is one of incipient blindness, and a lack of reason...
LINKS: Today’s New York Times’ Headline: “Energy Crisis: Many Paths but No Solutions” - George Reisman's blog
TAGS: Energy, Economics, Politics, Environment

Robie House - Frank Lloyd Wright

From the Chicago of 1906 comes Frank Lloyd Wright's house for the Robie family. (As it is today, here). Plans here. Living room section showing environmental appurtenances here.

TAGS: Architecture

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Performancing for Firefox

  I've just installed Performance 1.2 as a means by which to post to Blogger without losing posts. This is a test post.  Easy so far.

LINKS: Performancing for Firefox handbook - Performancing.Com

TAGS: Blog

Stop. Or not.

You want to stop smoking? Then just stop. Don't sue. Don't whimper. Don't whine. Don't bleat that you're addicted. So what. You started, so just take responsibility for yourself and stop. If you want help, give the Llama's method a crack.

And if you don't want to stop, then don't. Take responsibility for that choice too; just don't blame other people for choices that you make.
LINKS: Another way to stop smoking - Spitting Llama
TAGS: Health, Politics

Destroying value

The story in two charts (Telecom on the ASX left, and on the NZSX, right; click to enlarge). As Bernard says in comments below, "It usually takes the Government a week to waste a billion dollars. This act of vandalism against Telecom has destroyed a billion dollars of value in just a few minutes."

Ruth asks, "I wonder who is buying TEL though? Wouldn't be the Cullen Fund, would it?" Good question. Something's keeping the price 'up.'

LINKS: Basic 5-day chart for TEL.NZ - Yahoo Finance
Basic 5-day chart for TEL.AX - Yahoo Finance
$1.1 billion wiped off Telecom's value as shares plunge - NZ Herald (10:45am)

TAGS: New_Zealand, Economics, Politics-NZ, Property_Rights

Burying John Kenneth Galbraith

George Reisman comes to bury the recently-deceased John Kenneth Galbraith, not to praise him, and he does it with a republication of his 1961 publication, 'Galbraith's Modern Brand of Feudalism' -- a thorough burial. Concludes Reisman:
One must wonder if what Galbraith is really advocating is not simply state power as an end in itself and individual deprivation both as an end in itself and as a means of demonstrating the power of the state. The possible suffering which such a man may inflict on the American people, once having achieved a position of power or influence, is unspeakable. For he seems to combine the mentality of a dictator with a total contempt for the individual.
LINK: Galbraith's neo-feudalism - George Reisman's blog

TAGS: Economics, History-Twentieth_Century, Obituary

Don't steal ideas!

Intellectual property is as real as real property, and intellectual property rights just as important, and just as much under attack -- and from some odd quarters.

Greg Perkins at Noodle Food answers several libertarian critics of intellectual property rights. Long, but well worth it.

LINKS: Don't steal this article - Greg Perkins, Noodle Food

TAGS: Property, Property_Rights, Economics, Libertarianism, Objectivism

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Annette Presley: The face of theft

Everyone wonders why people keep voting for thieving governments, but at the same time everyone wants a piece of someone else.

Moochers put their hands out for Welfare for Families, and justify it with a chuckle; students put their hands out for grants and interest-free loans, and justify their mooching by invoking 'the public good'; nosy neighbours claim the right to dictate what can and can't go on over their fence, and give impetus to envy-ridden laws like the RMA; and moochers and petty chisellers like Annette Bloody Presley (left) celebrate the just-announced nationalisation of a portion of NZ's largest company, and justify the theft by calling it 'unbundling.'

Let's call it what it is. It's theft. It's nationalisation -- just as I said right here back in February:
What "local loop unbundling" really means is this: nationalising Telecom's telephone lines because other telecommunications companies can't be arsed building their own, and the RMA makes it all but impossible to do so if the will were there in any case -- which it isn't. In a word, it is theft.
As Rodney Hide said today following Cunliffe's announcement of Telecom's 'unbundling':
This decision is not about allowing competition, it's about government forcing a private company to open their network to competitors. Labour has absolutely no respect for private property rights. Instead of creating an alternative network, a group of companies have pressured Ministers to let them leech off Telecom's lines... This sends a chilling message to any company wishing to invest in infrastructure - Government will regulate and control you, unless you do what politicians say.
The nationalisation of Telecom's lines has been long-signalled, and will no doubt be widely celebrated by all those who want to get their hands on something that isn't theirs, and don't care about the power they give government by granting their support. All government wants is cheerleaders for its meddling. All the cheearleaders want is their own chance at someone else wealth. The moochers and the looters need each other to survive. 'The goverment that robs Peter to pay Paul will always get the enthusiastic support of Paul' is a truism that is too frequently forgotten; it is entirely appropriate to invoke it here this evening.

Take Presley for instance. Instead of building up her own network or investing in Telecom shares in order to have a legitimate say in theirs, Annette Presley and others like her have been given the chance at something they haven't earned by a Government that doesn't care whose property they steal to do it.

You may disagree with how the assets that becameTelecom were originally sold, but sold they were, and today's Telecom bears only the slightest resemblance to the small, frail, flightless former SOE that first came blinking into the light with the sale of parts of the government's creaking Post and Telegraph department. That sale created a number of property rights that this present Government -- with the enthusiastic support of moochers like Presley -- has now declared it intends to strip.

Larry Williams put to her tonight on his Drivetime show Rodney Hide's perfectly correct point that this represents a violation of Telecom's property rights. Presley's response: "Bullshit." Turns out she wouldn't know a property right from a prostitute, and apparently wouldn't care who acts as her pimp.

What opinion have I formed of Annette Presley then? A publicity-seeker and a receiver of stolen goods. A cheerleader for nationalisation; a poster tart for theft. How might she feel if someone broke into her home some day and 'unbundled' everything she's worked for? Shame on her.

UPDATE 1: LibertyScott has an earlier post on Annette Presley, the entrepreneurial second-hander. I should stress, she's being picked on here because she's representative of so many New Zealanders who complain about government on the one hand but are happy to mooch when it suits them; who complain about growth in government, but who want to get the government's gun out on their behalf when it suits them. DPF is another example, and I'm very heartened to see commenters taking him to task for his typical Tory inconsistency. As one commenter puts it:
When is a Socialist government not a Socialist government? When David Farrar gets cheaper broadband out of them. I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above, this is confiscation of privately owned property no matter how you look at it.
It sure is. Trust a National Socialist to embrace it.

UPDATE 2: Telecom shares drop 7% in Australia, following unbundling ... - TCM.Net:
Although the New Zealand Exchange closed before the media conference took place, trading continued in Telecom shares on the Australian exchange. Tony Connolly from First NZ Capital says Telecom took quite a hit, closing down 33 cents, about seven percent, at A$4.43.

He expects Telecom shares to be sharply weaker tomorrow...
No kidding.

UPDATE 3: "Unbundling is theft," agree Business Roundtable chief executive Roger Kerr, Federated Farmers telecommunications spokesman Hugh Ritchie, National Party communications and IT spokesman Maurice Williamson (who would have thunk it!), and around the blogs LibertyScott, the Whig, Michael Ellis and Lindsay Mitchell. Cheerleaders for theft abound: this Herald article summarises the celebrations of those whose hands the preceeds of this theft will fall into. I'll let you hunt out all the other disgraceful apologists yourself. And Computer World has a summary of the package, and what happens next.

LINKS: Government to unbundle Telecom's local loop - NBR
Rodney Slates Labour's Disgraceful Destruction of Telecom's Property Rights - New Zeal
Stealing Telecom's property with weasel words - Peter Cresswell
The entrepreneurial second-hander - LibertyScott
Getting out the smoking gun - Peter Cresswell
Telecom decision 'bad for business, bad for farmers' - NZ Herald
Rocky time for Telecom's shares says National - Newstalk ZB
Theft of property rights to benefit overseas multinational - LibertyScott
Unbundling is theft - The Whig
Don't steal - the Government hates competitors - Michael Ellis
It's the means you've got to watch - Lindsay Mitchell
Internet rivals break out champagne - NZ Herald
Unbundle - Computer World
Unbundling timeline: what happens next - Computer World

TAGS: Property_Rights, Politics, History, New Zealand, Politics-NZ, Politics-National

Another Auckland bridge, another 'b' word

It's been a week of nonsense from Auckland councillors, and it still keeps coming.

Following on from proposals to enact literal highway robbery on Auckland's motorists and those just passing through, and the helpful suggestion by the chairman of Auckland's transport committee to demolish Auckland's Harbour bridge ("past its use-by date" says the twit) and the same twit's earlier claim that cars are "eating" Auckland, we learn today that "cars [are] to be banned from Grafton Bridge" -- at the time of its completion in 1910 (see pictures at bottom) the biggest span reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world.

Of course that was when Auckland's city fathers thought big. Not any more.

Not content with having destroyed the visual appeal of the bridge a few years back with Soviet-era safety screens (left) that make crossing Grafton Bridge on foot somewhat like crossing Checkpoint Charlie instead of the occasion it had become with the removal of the wire suicide screens (above), the council now want to destroy it as a vehicle amenity. "This is one of the initiatives to improve public transport," said Mayor Mother Hubbard. You can certainly see why his friends call him 'Dick.'

LINKS: Cars to be banned from Grafton Bridge - NZ Herald

Auckland Economics Urban_Design,

Climate science - both sceptics and septics online

Following the launch of NZ's Climate Science Coalition earlier this week, bFM have two related bCasts online, the first interview with Owen McShane the group's convenor, who explains (or tries to) the motivation for the group being formed and where it sees its role, and argues that misinterpretations, misunderstandings and bad science have led to the false ideas of human-caused doomsday, and that the "scientific issues are settled."

The second interview is with Greenpeace's Vanessa Atkinson explaining how McShane and Co are fascist running-dog corporate mouthpieces in the pockets of US Republican paymasters, who are simply intent on "stirring up confusion" -- a perfect example af actual argumentum ad hominem leaving the argument unaddressed.

And note too that the Climate Science Coalition's website is now online with a wealth of material.

LINKS: Noelle McCarthy & Owen McShane - bFM
The Green Desk - Greenpeace - bFM
Augie Auer explains why he backs Climate Science Coalition - TCM.Net
NZ global warming sceptics coalesce - Not PC
Climate Science Coalition website

Environment, Global_Warming, Politics-NZ

What have you got to hide?

Hell, if microchipping dogs is so easy and so good and will fix everything from rabies to domestic violence, let's all get 'em, eh?

What have you got to hide?

UPDATE: Note from Libertarian Sus on this, who [gasp] agrees with Jeanette Fitzsimons:
But this issue is really about state identification .. nothing more, nothing less. Starting with dogs under the guise of it preventing people from being attacked - which, of course, is ludicrous... For once I offer a bouquet to the Greens in their opposition to this proposal. On this matter, Jeanette Fitzsimons happens to be correct.
A shame however that Fitzsimons has been persuaded to recant, at least far as exempting farm dogs.

LINKS: Privacy cartoons by Chris Slane
More on microchipping - Libertarianz Sus

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Cartoons

Making the most of fallacies

Cafe Hayek turns ad hominem back on the opponents of free trade. Neatly done. And then fails to resit the temptation to turn tu quoque round on the US Government. Why resist? [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

LINKS: A rerun: Who can speak about trade? - Cafe Hayek
Fuel for thought - Cafe Hayek
Logical fallacy: Tu quoque - Fallacy Files
Distinguishing ad hominem from all the other stuff - Not PC

TAGS: Economics, Philosophy

Giving fat fascists bad ideas

From the ridiculous to the ridiculous, without nary a hint of the sublime. 'Nationalise McDonalds!' is the cry from 'The Tomahawk Kid.' And from the archives comes Bernard Darnton's 1999 classic 'Achtung Fatso!' -- so persuasive it set Sue Kedgley on her campaign for a fat tax.

UPDATE 1: D'you think Sue might ever contemplate that better food being offered by competitors and Jamie Oliver's campaign of persuasion for better school lunches have between them had more to do with improving English diets (and helping to close at least 25 UK McDonalds due to slumping sales) than any number of bans?

UPDATE 2: The Scotsman and the London-based International Policy Network have taken against the Scottish adoption of amtismoking wowserism. "London-based think-tank the International Policy Network has become so concerned about the issue that it has set up a health promotion unit to campaign for less Draconian measures across Britain as a whole," reports The Scotsman.
Nobody disagrees that many Scots might benefit from being healthier. But history is littered with examples of the damage done to liberty and freedom when politicians think they know with absolute certainty what is good for us.
Too right.

LINKS: Nationalise McDonalds - Tomahawk Kid
Achtung Fatso! (excerpts) - PI Show, Free Radical
The health bandwagon - Scotsman on Sunday
'Nanny state' targets barriers to healthy life - The Scotsman
Health Project - International Policy Network

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Health, Humour

A move for G-Man Inc.

Poor old G-Man's been upset for a while at being included in the 'Compulsion Touters' section of the blogroll, so I've put him out of his misery. He's been moved. To the 'Off the Planet' section*.

*Actually, I lie: he's gone to the 'Libz & Elsewhere' section. Let me know of any egregious backsliding. ;^)

LINKS: Random impertinent questions - G-Man

TAGS: Blog

Consultation fatigue

Whangarei people are apparently sick of council intervention in their lives, and perhaps have realised that since most 'consultation' simply ignores the views of those consulted that 'consultation' is simply another word for time-wasting. "Consulation fatigue" is what Whangarei councill officers are calling the present spate of poor attendance at meetings called to 'consult' over the latest District Plan -- meetings at which council officers generally outnumber residents.

Perhaps people are getting the message that most 'consultation' is simply a smokescreen, a sop to patronise and eventually ignore the views of those who have strong opinions to the measures proposed?

TAGS: RMA, Bureaucracy, New_Zealand

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TAGS: Blog

Millau Viaduct - Michel Virlogeux & Norman Foster

The world's tallest bridge, an unusual enough accolade: the cable-stayed Millau Viaduct by British Architect Norman Foster, opened in 2004, spanning the Tarn River in France's southwest.

LINKS: Millau Viaduct - Nicolas Janberg's Stucturae
Millau Viaduct - Wikipedia

TAGS: Architecture

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Doves for War in Darfur

Marching yesterday for American military action in Darfur, Sudan, were many people who have previously marched (and voted) against American military action in Iraq including George Clooney, Al Sharpton and three members of the US Congress who voted against the liberation of Iraq.

Hypocrisy? Well, the New York Sun editorial writer is one who thinks so:

They want military action now to oppose a genocidal regime in Sudan and to protect its victims. Yet they opposed military action in Iraq to oust a regime, in that of Saddam Hussein, that had engaged in ethnic cleansing of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites and had rained scud missiles on Israeli cities.

Why for instance does a march opposing intervention in Iraq attract hundreds of thousands, one in support of intervention in Darfur tens of thousands, while as The Sun notes “a rally against the Iranian president’s vow to wipe Israel off the map attracted but a few hundred participants.”

As the Sun editorial says, “We do not mean to suggest that this hypocrisy poisons the cause of Darfur.” And it certainly doesn’t. But it does raise the genuine issue of when military action is justified, and when it isn’t – and why some people are violently opposed to it in one instance, and virulently for it the next

Kosovo, Kuwait, Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, the Solomons … taken together in recent years these military campaigns togther pose the question of when exactly military intervention is justified, and different people have appeared on different sides of the question for different campaigns. Keith Locke for instance was strongly, even aggressively supportive of military intervention in Timor and recently in Aceh, but violently opposed to intervention elsewhere. On Darfur at present he is silent, although as expected the ‘Just Peace’ newsletter co-produced by Locke and fellow Greens called last April, for both the US and UN to ‘Intervene to Save Darfur,’ saying “The U.S., for its part, has invested nowhere near the efforts that its acknowledgment of genocide last September should dictate.”

‘Give Peace a Chance’ then? Or ‘Give War a Chance’? Sometimes people are singing John Lennon’s song, and sometimes PJ O’Rourke’s – and sometimes oddly enough these are the very same people. There’s a mystery here, isn’t there?

So when then is military intervention in another country justified? Frankly, as Ayn Rand said, any free country has the right to liberate a slave pen, but that doesn’t mean every country has the duty to do so. Writing in 1964 she argued:

“Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent ‘rights’ of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

A country’s military is properly constituted only to defend and protect the lives, liberties and rights of its own citizens, not to take humanitarian action in defence of everyone in every other country in every corner of the globe. If that weren’t so, one would have an endless check to keep picking up, and be engaged in constant intervention, and almost always “at the price of self-sacrifice.”

No, action by one country’s military in defence of another country’s citizens can only be justified if carried out in defence of the lives and freedoms of its own citizens, in other words as “a matter of its own self-interest.”

On this basis then, military action in WWII against both Nazis and Japanese for example was entirely justified by all who took part, since the threat posed by both regimes was potentially destructive of the freedom of the entire planet. Equally, and on this same basis, military action against those who support, harbour or offer succour to terrorists is justified by all those whom the terrorists target -- which means the entire Western world.

But would any military intervention in Darfur be justified on this basis, in a place marked by twenty-two years of uninterrupted conflict? Was intervention in either the Solomons or Timor justified on this basis? Sadly, it probably wouldn’t be – but that shouldn’t stop those who wish to intervene regardless heading off as private mercenaries to do what they can – and I’d be happy to pay for airline tickets for both George Clooney and Keith Locke, just as long as they were one-way.

But the question posed at the outset still remains. Why do you think that those on the left side of the aisle generally support military intervention when it’s not in the selfish interests of the intervenees, but are usually opposed to it when it is? Is it perhaps because they value sacrifice as an end in itself?

And if so, why do they call themselves peace lovers?

LINKS: Darfur Double StandardNew York Sun
Crisis in Darfur – Human Rights Watch
Just Peace #78 – NZ Greens
Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer – PJ O’Rourke, Amazon
The Roots of War (excerpt) – Ayn Rand
War. What is it good for? – Peter Cresswell, Solo Passion

TAGS: War, History, History-Twentieth_Century, Socialism, Politics-World

Machan attacks Galbraith's obit writers about the 'l' word

Tibor Machan takes issue with many of yesterday's obituaries of John Keneth Galbraith, including mine. "None of the obituaries made any mention of Galbraith the socialist. Instead every one I read called him a liberal. Why?" asks Tibor, who explains that modern liberals are those for whom
it became kosher to say that someone who wants the government to steal from Peter to enable Paul to get rid of his headache or buy a home is, well, a liberal, a supporter of a certain sort of liberty or freedom, very different from what used to be meant by “liberal.” All sorts of statists jumped at the chance to call themselves liberals henceforth, thus eschewing the dirty word “socialist” which came to be associated with dictatorial regimes such as the Soviet Union.

...these liberals, including Galbraith, advocated massive government intervention into the lives of citizens, with the delusional belief in how pure of heart and bright of mind politicians and bureaucrats are, in comparison to you and me and the rest of us simple and mean blokes doing work in markets. Not one of the obituaries, however, pointed this out about Galbraith but made him out to be a grand champion of human liberty, an unqualified liberal!
Well, at least that lets my own obituary out of Tibor's firing line. Read on here.

LINKS: Galbraith's obituary distortions - Tibor Machan, SOLO Passion
Death of big-government liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith - Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Economics, History-Twentieth_Century, Obituary, Socialism

Bastards TVNZ has met

Murray McCully accuses TVNZ's former top brass of exhibiting "a culture of corporate contempt" towards Parliament and in doing do shows why he himself deserves every bit of contempt flung his own way. (Is there any reason this three-time loser is taken seriously except as a means to keep his partner Jane Clifton on side?)

Is there any reason why Parliament does not deserve a "culture of corporate contempt" to be directed its way by the entirety of corporate New Zealand, and not just TVNZ?

And as far as TVNZ goes, is it not true that the select committe inquiry was a "circus" as charged in emails between former TVNZ heads Ian Fraser and Craig Boyce? That TVNZ "is just a plaything for the politicians" as described? Can anyone really deny that the select committe inquiry into TVNZ "was always going to be a useless exercise,": as former CEO Ian Fraser said on the eve of his appearance, "now it's likely to be toxic as well." Wasn't he right about that?

In fact, is there any reason at all that the two former heads of TVNZ shouldn't feel utter contempt for Parliament's meddling ministrations over TVNZ's charter, and the various grandstanding MPs and spineless fools, including both the vapid McCully and the overbearingly arrogant chairman Shane Jones, before whom Ian Fraser and Craig Boyce were expected to crawl.
In one email, Mr Boyce states, with reference to the select committee, 'these bastards are our enemy.'
Blind Freddy could see that those bastards were their enemy. Only an idiot (or Murray McCully -- which is to say the same thing) could fail to see that chairman Shane Jones for one is both a bastard and an enemy of both Boyce and Fraser -- and for that matter most of corporate New Zealand. These gentlemen were clearly seen by Jones as his first leg up the parliamentary greasy pole, and as he outlined to a Radio New Zealand interviewer last night he has taken great pleasure in what he sees as consigning them both to history while vaulting himself up the pole for doing do. The man is a nasty piece of work. One to watch.

Contempt for bastards like Jones and the parliamentary process that puts any businessmen at the mercy of such low-lifes is entirely deserved. The disappointment would be if there weren't widespread contempt for belligerent scum like Jones, or if the culture of corporate contempt for Parliament was less widespread than it really should be.

As for McCully, it sometimes seems obvious why he's lost three elections as a row as a strategist, but he really has no need to make it as obvious as he does.

LINKS: Ex-TVNZ chairman called MPs the 'enemy' - Stuff
Full text of the TVNZ emails - NBR
Sack McCully - Not PC

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Politics-Labour

May Day 2006: Another day of remembrance

Aside from one strike and a handful of school students marching up Queen St after being bussed in by their teachers for the occasion, few New Zealanders and even fewer New Zealand workers remember May Day as they once did. Good.

Today's marching was more about teaching youngsters to value the radical past and to try and foment some sort of radically collectivist future than it was about commemorating labour's heroes. Just as Radical Youth is more about getting failed lefties like John Minto and Matt McCarten access to impressionable high school students with their toxic ideology than it is about Youth Rates, so yesterday's muted May Day celebrations were really more about the rest of us celebrating that the streets remained un-filled with militant mobs demanding wealth at others' expense, as May Days past once were.

Nonetheless, those who take today's apathetic communists for granted should themselves use May Day as a day of commemoration - a commemoration of communism's dead, and socialism's poor and downtrodden. Catallarchy's 2006 commemoration is here, with last year's thoughts here. Lest we forget:

The modern celebration of May Day began as a working class holiday in the late 19th century. It was the culmination of a struggle of the common man for better working conditions and a demand for greater dignity. In the 20th century, various governments gave their official endorsement to the holiday with celebrations consisting of displays of military and political might. With trumpets blaring, tanks rolled through public squares and square-jawed soldiers marched in lockstep, saluting flags while the Premier reveled in the exhibition of power.

Such parades were largely a facade that hid a harsh underlying reality. While the regimes played up an image of strength and vigor to the outside world, the societies they ruled over were decaying on the inside. And the same power on display in the parades was used in carte blanche fashion to create terror, repression, brutality, and crimes against humanity. The unfortunate irony is that the common man bore the brunt of the hardship. The victims of these totalitarian states were privy to human nature at its darkest depths.

The story of their struggle has not yet been told in all its starkness. Today, we at Catallarchy try to tell a small part of their story.
Read on for the full 2006 commemoration. And here for the 2005 commemoration.

LINKS: May Day 2006: A day of remembrance - Catallarchy
May Day 2005: A day of remembrance - Catallarchy
Who is Radical Youth?
- New Zeal
Haymarket riot
- Wikipedia

TAGS: History-Twentieth_Century, Politics-NZ, Socialism

Empire State - 75 years young

Happy birthday Empire State Building, seventy-five years young today , and once again New York's tallest building.

LINKS: Empire State Building celebrates 75 years - VOA News
Photos by Lewis Wicks Hines: The construction of the Empire State Building, 1930-31 - NY Public Library

TAGS: Architecture,

Monday, 1 May 2006

Happy Meal meddlers backtrack?

Sue Kedgley and National's Jackie Blue appear to be backtracking from their earlier calls to ban -- or at least "give serious consideration" to banning -- McDonalds toys and McDonalds Happy Meals, and even Helen Clark felt the need to observe that "getting rid of kids' fast food deals such as McDonald's Happy Meals is not the way to fight child obesity."

Several email correspondents lambasted both Blue and Kedgley for their busy-bodying, to which Kedgley replied (punctuated just as she sent it; as one wag said she seems to want to ban the use of apostrophes as well):
Please dont believe everything you read in the papers. I said to a reporter it was something the inquiry into obesity might look at ..end of story. I cant ban anything, we live in a democracy and we need a majority of MPs to vote for an ything.
So 'majority rules' is apparently okay with Sue, then. In another response she told a correspondent:
Well you shouldn't fall for a media beat up. All I said was that these were the sort of issues the select committee would be looking at. And he managed to twist it into me calling for a ban.
To be fair, most of Kedgley's headlines come from "calling for a ban," so when a reporter is presented with fat, food, Sue Kedgely and "something the inquiry into obesity might look at" the word "ban" would naturally spring to mind.

Meanwhile, Jackie Blue responded on behalf of the Nats:
Thank you for your feedback. In the article. [sic] I was quoted as being 'open minded' about this issue and hoped that the committee could make recommendations that would turn our obesity epidemic around (whatever they might be). What wasn't reported in the article was that I said that National's position would have to be discussed at caucus and I understand that Tony Ryall has made a statement to a TV station today that National does not support banning of happy meals and toys etc. I hope that reassures you.
It doesn't. "Whatever they might be." sounds ominous, doesn't it, and Blue sounds so open-minded that anything could walk in -- and maybe already has. And has anyone actually seen Ryall's reported attempt to rescue Blue? I haven't seen anything from Vile Ryall since last Sunday, and certainly nothing on this subject. Methinks she's wriggling.

LINKS: Fat-fight MP plans Happy Meal ban - Sunday Star Times
Happy Meal ban unlikely to succeed - Newstalk ZB

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Health, Politics-Greens, Politics-National