Monday, 10 July 2006

New offshore advertising from WINZ:

"With only 280,300 New Zealanders taking welfare payments instead of working, and just $1 billion more spent on welfare payments to working people, it's clear the bottom to the well hasn't yet been found," said a WINZ spokesthing. "There's always room for more."

TAGS: Welfare, Budget & Taxation, Politics-NZ, Humour


Did anybody watch the final of the World Penalty Kick Championships?

Did anyone ever really seriously suggest that as a model for finding the winner of the Rugby World Cup?

TAGS: Sport

Timetable for Darnton v Clark

The timetable for events in the matter of Darnton v Helen Clark is set out on the Darnton vs Clark site.

Today's post sets out what happens next, and who is representing the Labour Party (hint: it's the same QC who represented Helen Clark against John Yelash, and who advised her to sue Bill English over his 'paintergate' comments).

Meanwhile, for those who were asking, David Farrar has the timetable for the events at issue -- when the Labour Party were told the pledge card was electoral spending; how soon before the election they agreed and committed to their inclusion in election spending; how soon after the election they cynically withdrew their commitment -- all part of his series of archived posts on Labour's over-spending.

And look out soon for some colourful banners you can install on your site to show support for Bernard Darnton's action against Helen Clark. You've already donated; you will soon be able to fly the flag as well.

LINKS: What happens next? - Darnton vs Clark
The timeline - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)
Archived posts on Labour's over-spending - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)
Donations - Darnton vs Clark

TAGS: Darnton v Clark, Politics-NZ

Intellectual ammunition for the weekend - the Libz conference

If you're looking for intellectual ammunition this weekend, then the place to find it is the Libertarianz Tenth Birthday Conference at the Auckland Airport Centra.

Party time for Libz members starts at 9:30am. Open afternoon sessions are available to all.
Speakers include:
  • Leader Bernard Darnton on Darnton v Clark -- here's your chance to ask him what's going on!
  • Lindsay Perigo on Libertarianz - a ten year party
  • Russell Watkins on The Voluntary City Project
  • Nik Haden on property rights - when governments attack
  • Julian Pistorius, on technology, the internet, privacay and freedom
  • Richard Goode, on NZ's drug policies
  • Peter Cresswell on property rights and common law
All these speakers, plus much more, including the Great Debate chaired by yours truly, 'That peaceful people should be able to pass borders freely.' Come and be entertained, enlightened and challenged.

Live blogging of the conference is planned (just like last year), but not yet confirmed. Much better to be there. Don't miss out. Register today!

LINKS: Libz conference 2006

TAGS: Libz

I can see your house from here

Google Earth's satellite must have recently visited Auckland, since it now boasts improved photos over the City of Sails. Here's my house.

TAGS: Auckland, Geek_Stuff

Saturday, 8 July 2006

Architecture "well-disposed toward life"

Some marvellously life-affirming writing from Friedrich Nietzsche, giving his impressions on the city of Genoa, the home city of Christopher Columbus who did more than anyone to "place a new world beside the old one," and also of Renzo Piano and Nicoló Paganini:
Genoa.—For a long while now I have been looking at this city, at its villas and pleasure gardens and the far-flung periphery of its inhabited heights and slopes. In the end I must say: I see faces that belong to past generations; this region is studded with the images of bold and autocratic human beings.

They have lived and wished to live on: that is what they are telling me with their houses, built and adorned to last for centuries and not for a fleeting hour; they were well-disposed toward life, however ill-disposed they often may have been toward themselves.

I keep seeing the builders, their eyes resting on everything near and far that they have built, and also on the city, the sea, and the contours of the mountains, and there is violence and conquest in their eyes. All this they want to fit into their plan and ultimately make their possession by making it part of their plan.

This whole region is overgrown with this magnificent, insatiable selfishness of the lust for possessions and spoils; and even as these people refused to recognize any boundaries in distant lands and, thirsting for what was new, placed a new world beside the old one, each rebelled against each at home, too, and found a way to express his superiority and to lay between himself and his neighbor his personal infinity. Each once more conquered his homeland for himself by overwhelming it with his architectural ideas and refashioning it into a house that was a feast for his eyes.
TAGS: Architecture, Philosophy

Beer O’Clock: Limburg Pilsener

Beer O'Clock Saturday today from Neil Miller at Real Beer.

As a man of the people, this week I thought I would profile a beer that is a bit more readily available to loyal readers than some of the recent Beer O’Clock offerings.

In doing so, I will have to forgo making any more jokes about the French. Apart from observing how different soccer is from war: In soccer, the Italians and good defenders and the French are known for their attacking flair… Oh – that will be the French Embassy on line two again.

Time to move on to the beer: Limburg Pilsener.

This fine beverage hails from the Hawke’s Bay (Hastings actually but you can understand why it would prefer Hawke’s Bay). The Limburg Pilsener is produced in the Bay by noted brewer Chris O’Leary.

Affectionately nicknamed “Father O’Leary” for his ability to take brewers' confessions, Chris is a highly decorated New Zealand brewer who produces a range of high quality European inspired beers.

The brewery name of “Limburg” is taken from a Dutch province which borders Belgium and Germany. It reflects that European influence. Limburg also gets heavy tank traffic a couple of times a century…

As an occasional consumer of craft beer myself, Chris O’Leary’s friendship and rivalry with Richard Emerson is just fantastic as they continually push each other to produce better and better beers.

This is one of them. It is a classical Czech style pilsener which was first made as a festive brew for BrewNZ’s Celebration of Hops in 2004. It proved so popular it has evolved into a permanent part of the range and is widely available.

The brewer uses German Pils malt (a big juicy malt) and Czech Saaz hops to ensure authenticity.

The nose is dry, grassy and spicy while the beer has the classic Pilsener balance between a juicy sweet malt middle and a crisp clean finish. Chris says this is “a classic, dry, crisp pilsener with a big focus on drinkability for a broader appeal. This is a beer we are really proud of.”

Rightly so. I named this beer my eighth best New Zealand beer of 2005. I described it as “simple yet beautiful – a lot like the brewer really.” He is just starting to live that down…

Cheers Neil

LINKS: Limburg
What People think of Limburg Pilsener - Rate Beer

TAGS: Beer & Elsewhere

Thursday, 6 July 2006


I'm off to Thames on business shortly, and I'm unlikely to be near an internet connection tomorrow long enough to blog, or even -- horrors! -- to post a Beer O'Clock review tomorrow. Maybe Saturday. Try and stay dry until then.

I can try and make up for that crime at least by reminding you in the meantime that beer is better than wine for your health, but a good dry martini isn't too bad either. I don't think I'll find too many dry martinis in Thames, but at least you can join me in vicariously enjoying Tom Beard's impeccable review of the dry gin martinis on offer in Wellington's various establishments, and if you're in our capital city you might even be lucky enough to try one. Just stay away from the Gibbon's Bar.

LINKS: Beer is better than wine - Real Beer
The weather may be wet, but my martini's still dry - WellUrban

TAGS: Beer & Elsewhere, Wellington

Stem cell hope for paralysed people

ABC NEWS: Stem cells regrow damaged nerves in rats: US study
Stem cells taken from mouse embryos have helped paralyzed rats move again, U.S. researchers said on Monday. The study was the best evidence so far that controversial embryonic stem cells might be used to treat people with spinal cord and other traumatic injuries, the researchers said...

"This work is a remarkable advance that can help us understand how stem cells might be used to treat injuries and disease and begin to fulfill their great promise," said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study.

As Craig at Objective Standard says, "It's good to play God."

LINKS: Stem cells regrow damaged nerves in rats: US study - ABC News
Of mice and men - Objective Standard

TAGS: Health, Science, Heroes, Ethics

The New York Times: An alien publication

The New York Times has got right up George Reisman's nose again, with a bunch of "pathetic articles" on America's Indepence Day that serve only as "a further demonstration of that newspaper’s hostility to the fundamental values on which the United States was built. "

Hostility, collectivism and rewriting of history is he says "all The Times has to offer on the day dedicated to the celebration of America’s existence."
It is an alien publication, dedicated to collectivism and the worship of the State, to principles the opposite of those on which the United States was founded. Over the years, it has been the champion of Stalin, of Mao, and of Castro, and more recently, of the reincarnation of socialism known as environmentalism. One cannot expect it to be the champion of Washington and Jefferson and of the United States. And it certainly is not.
Once again from Reisman, great reading. I unreservedly recommend it.

LINK: No Fourth of July celebration at the NY Times/Pravda - George Reisman, SOLO

TAGS: Politics-US, Privatisation

The school run. WHY?

Aren't the roads quiet when parents aren't dropping off and picking up their little darlings from school? Isn't it great getting around the city as if it was designed for that to happen?

But can someone please tell me why parents have to pick up and drop off their little darlings at school? Do they need their hands held? Are they helpless? Hopeless? Despite scare stories all over the news, there are no more scary people around today than there were twenty or thirty years ago, so is this just another examples of today's obsession with removing risk from children's lives?

There's no better way of encouraging independence, it seems to me, than having children make their own way to and from school and hopefully have adventures on the way. And there's no better way of keeping them helplessly dependent than by babying them, even into their teenage years. You want maturity and independence in your kids? Then stop holding their bloody hands and let them experience the world for themselves.

So why do parents do it? Road-builders, moral philosophers and pedagogues want to know -- and I confess that I'm pretty curious too.

TAGS: Education, New_Zealand

Some Darnton v Clark reaction

Good to see even grudging acknowledgement of Bernard Darnton's case against Helen Clark and 48 Labour MPs for misappropriation of public moneys in pursuit of her election victory.
  • The Grey Lynn Labour Party office Russell Brown at Public Address brings it up only to make the point (as did I rather noisily before the election) that "Act also used tax dollars on a number of publications (including one a week out from the election) that really did look a bit like election advertising." I'm not sure however why this is relevant to a case being taken by the Libz leader against Labour, or why this is the only comment on Darnton v Clark that Russell cares to make, but strange things happen around Grey Lynn that the rest of us don't always understand.
  • Jordan, of course, the Leaderene's online voice, has yet to publicly notice it's going on. Perhaps he too is feeling "rather snippy" about it all? How dare someone point out the misappropriation of half-a-million dollars of public money in order to win an election!
  • Andrew Falloon has noticed, and while he's right behind it, he thinks Bernard has no "chance in hell" because "the laws surrounding election spending are, at best, quite grey." Well, being an ACT board member perhaps he has to say that, but given that the Electoral Commission clearly told the Labour Party before the election that the pledge cards were definitely election spending -- just as they had been in 2002 -- then there's little room for doubt that this money was clearly mis-used. (Remember, the case isn't about breaching the Electoral Act, it's about using money for one purpose -- electioneering -- that was appropriated by Parliament for another: to fund the PM's office.)
And do keep an eye on the Darnton v Clark site: I understand there should be banners up there soon that you can take away and fly on your own site to show your support.
This isn't going away.

[Thanks to the good folk at Generation XY for the image: go there and see if you can dream up a better caption.]

Darnton v Clark, Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Politics-ACT

'Predators' head this way

HERALD: Foreign predators continue to eye New Zealand

What a strange view of business investment is evinced by that headline. It's not a flock of vampire bats or a plague of locusts heading this way, it's a bunch of cashed-up investors looking to spend money, "making New Zealand business owners offers they can't refuse." Bringing capital to New Zealand -- like this is a bad thing?

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Economics

Front door republicrats

Veritas et Venustas has a political 'front door test':

If your front door opens onto a sidewalk, you're probably a Democrat.

If your front door is more than 25' from your street, you're probably a Republican.

And if your front door opens into a hallway, like mine? Does that perhaps make you a Libertarian? We can always hope so.

LINK: Front door test - Veritas et Venustas

TAGS: Politics, Architecture

Waking up to red tape

After the euphoria of 4th of July celebrations, one wakes up to today's cold reality. Cartoon by Richard McGrail, courtesy of The Free Radical.

TAGS: Cartoons, Humour, Politics

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

The llama died?

Spitting Llama has gone! Anyone know why or where?

NCEA: Stick a fork in its ass, it's done

NZ HERALD: NCEA cuts students' drive to learn, says report

Who would have thought it? Introduce a system that cuts up knowledge, removes context from information, and ignores system-building and the hierarchy of knowledge ... and you find students don't learn and don't want to learn? Amazing. Who would have thought it?

The report's authors found:
  • the NCEA encouraged a "minimalist approach", with many students lacking the motivation to do more than the bare minimum to pass.
  • two-thirds of students' feedback criticised the National Certificate of Educational Achievement as having a negative influence on the motivation to learn.
  • design flaws were a disincentive for "high achievers and all students" to want to achieve.
  • there was little motivation to aim for "merit" or "excellence" when these credits carried no extra value.
  • students perceived the system as "illogical and unfair."
And is any of this really surprising? When is it time to say of NCEA, "Stick a fork in its ass, it's done"? When is it time to say of the NCEA's promoters: "You've had your time. Go!" The NCEA has been a disaster for learning, as was obvious from the day the bureaucrats devised it and Lockwood Smith introduced it. Gum-chewing insolence and cynically amoral ignorance are cultivated in the state's factory schools, and you lot are paying for that to happen, and you deliver your children there every morning so they can get more of it. Why do you put up with it? We rightly revile child molestors of the body -- so why aren't child molestors of the mind equally reviled?

"Steve Benson, senior manager of learning policy frameworks at the ministry, said more students than in the past were leaving school with higher qualifications." What an idiot. And PPTA president, Debbie Te Whaiti says the research "shows the system is a fundamentally sound approach to qualifications," it's just that "more work is needed to refine the qualifications system." What a disgusting, excuse-making pair of melon-farmers. With functional illiteracy climbing, it's clear to everyone but Steve and his inbred chums that higher qualifications are worth less now than they ever were, thanks largely to Steve and Debbie and their chums and the politicians that give them power over children's lives.

"Education Minister Steve Maharey admitted there were concerns and promised to resolve them." Getting the Mahareys and the Lockwood Smiths away from the schools altogether would be a start, now wouldn't it? I have no doubt that any twelve parents taken at random could do a better job of education than either of those two jerks, and any number of bureaucrats employed at the Ministry and NZQA. Why not remove schools from government control altogether and simply hand them over to the parents and teachers presently there to run them as they see fit? Do you really think the result would be any worse than we presently see?

  1. Do you think the Herald's picture is intentionally flawed? Did you spot it? Did the Herald?
  2. Did you notice that dance is now a recognised NCEA subject, meaning that "secondary school students will now be able to dance their way to university"? TVNZ report here. Chair of the PPTA Principals Council, Arthur Graves, says the changes that make this possible "show there are no longer narrow boundaries to what is considered valid learning." Do you really want this man in charge of your children?

LINKS: NCEA cuts students' drive to learn - NZ Herald
PPTA says NCEA needs refining - Radio NZ
Dance approved for NCEA - TVNZ

TAGS: Education, Politics-NZ

Still a chance to protest at people walking all over your land

If you haven't yet made a submission on the Government's proposals to let people walk all over your land, Julian has spotted that the deadline for submissions has been extended to 28 July. You can find details here, and Julian's own arguments here (which the Northern Advocate picked up and published). I'm sure he'd be only too happy for you to plagiarise. He concludes:
From the documents and the meetings, you can see that they have already decided that there should be a national "access agency" with suspiciously wide capabilities. I am afraid that it will either become another huge, ineffectual, bureaucratic money-waster (which in some respects would be the best outcome for it) or worse, like DOC it may become a powerful lobby group that will use your tax money against you and threaten your hard-won property rights.

I urge you to send in a submission. The more noise you make about this issue, the clearer the following message will be sent to the government: "Hands-off our property rights!"
LINKS: Have your say about walking over other people's property walking access in the outdoors - Walking Access Consultation Panel
Public Access: Have your say - it's your property you're after - Not PC

TAGS: Property_Rights, Politics-NZ

"...our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour."

So pledged the Founding Fathers.

And, they meant it.The fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence had everything to lose. They were professional men. Wealthy men. Landowners. Many with close ties to Britain. Many with families dear to them. Young like Edward Rutledge, 26, or older like Ben Franklin, 70.

And, they knew full-well, as they inked their names on the burlap, that they were signing their own death warrants. Their actions—their very thoughts—were seditious and punishable by execution.

Yet, they signed.

They signed because the Declaration was about more than colonial self-governance. It was properly about the moral cause, the right, of individual prerogative. The right to live free from the unwarranted jurisdiction of the state, the church, or your neighbour. The right to live for yourself, to strike out in pursuit of your own happiness, to be unfettered by the whim of a monarch or the majority rule of a community.

The Founding Fathers stood up for this and much more. These were great men who created the greatest civilisation the world has ever witnessed. They made a pledge to each other and to themselves. And, they kept it.

Happy 230th birthday, America!

[Blatantly and unashamedly stolen from SOLO. Thanks Ross.]

TAGS: Politics-US, History, Constitution,

Fictional expletives

After I posted those office euphemisms the other day a friend sent me a Wikipedia page full of fictional expletives, that is: "expletives invented by writers of fiction ... to add nuance to the fictional cultures in their work, and sometimes as a [way of getting around] censorship."

  • Barbra Streisand - from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut where Cartman unleashes a string of profanities to activate his V-chip and attack Saddam Hussein. This is also commonly used by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh as a euphemism for a different sort of B. S.
  • Belgium - from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the galaxy except one, where they don't know what it means."
  • Dingo Kidneys - also from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy [there's a pattern here, isn't there], as in "Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best- selling book Well That About Wraps It Up For God."
  • feed the tree - From Larry Niven's novels The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring, meaning to defecate, vomit or speak nonsense. "Feed it to the tree!" means "that's a load of crap."
  • frick - from Austin Powers; also similarly used by Elliot (Sarah Chalke) in Scrubs (TV series)'; censor-bypassing version of "fuck"; Elliot is extremely uncomfortable with cursing, but uses extended variations on the word for emphasis. ("Holy Frick on a Stick!")
  • horse hockey - from M*A*S*H, a Colonel Potter-ism, substitute for "bullshit."
  • kark - from Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil; same meaning as "shit"; the protagonist is "so rich he karks on a gold pot."
  • melon farmer(s) - Director Alex Cox used this to provide a TV-friendly alternative to motherfucker(s) when asked to provide an alternative dub for mainstream broadcasting. The term has been adopted by a British censorship-watch website.
  • Nixon - used in books by Kinky Friedman, meaning a bowel movement. "The cat had taken a Nixon in my shoe."
  • Potter Stewart - from Robert Anton Wilson's Schr√∂dinger's Cat trilogy; same meaning as "fuck". Is a derogatory reference to the Supreme Court justice of the same name.
  • taxation - from L. Neil Smith's Probability Broach books in which a Libertarian alternate history follows the American revolution.
  • yarbles or yarblockos - from Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange;Nadsat slang for testicles.
Now isn't this exactly the sort of reason blogs were invented? To communicate this sort of trot? Well, maybe one of them -- sedition might be the other.

LINKS: List of fictional expletives - Wikipedia
The new office lexicon - Not PC
Nadsat - Wikipedia

TAGS: Humour, Books

Throwing out Brad's Wright furniture

Proof that Angelina has no taste, and that Brad Pitt is just pussy-whipped:
Angelina has insisted that he gets rid of most of the designer furniture from their Malibu home, including Frank Lloyd Wright side chairs and a Rene Herbst desk - and anything he bought together with Jennifer.
Anyone who wants their partner to get rid of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture needs their head read. Which, of course, she does.

Just another reason she couldn't play Dagny Taggart in the film of Atlas Shrugged, and he couldn't play John Galt.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate says this is proof that"despite all her tree hugging save the world, socialist, adopt-an-orphan antics of late that I put down to being up the duff and slightly insane with it, Angelina is a female fantastically fantastic example of being fantastic." Phew. I think she likes her. But then Cactus wouldn't know good architecture from a hole in her panties.

TAGS: Films, Architecture

Ka mate ka mate FIAT, FIAT

PLANET RUGBY: New Zealanders are up in arms over a television commercial in Italy which shows black-clad Italian women doing a Haka...

Are they really? Unless both I and the news media have missed it, the only New Zealanders who've said they're upset are a bunch of wallies from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture who said it "could be seen as culturally insensitive" and who just need to get over themselves, the chap who wrote the All Blacks' new haka (who was touting for this gig) and some commenters at the Herald site who were invited to have a good whinge.

A storm in a B-cup really. Have a look at the ad if you haven't already seen it. Personally, I'd have preferred a bit of opera. Having had a FIAT myself (FIAT as we know stands for Fix It Again, Tony), the haka looks too much like the sort of carrying on FIAT-owners get up to on the mornings when their car won't start.

TAGS: Sport, Political_Correctness, Humour, Sexism

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

July 4th: When freedom's anthem is heard around the world

Bernard Darnton's legal challenge to Helen Clark is intended as a reminder to all politicians in this country that they are not above the law, and that even in our present parlous state their are still some constitutional impediments to absolute rule.

It was thinking such as this, after all, that inspired the American War of Independence and the writing of the Declaration of Indepence that is celebrated today on July 4th. The message of the Fourth is an international one.

Springing from the same intellectual roots as was the 1688 Bill of Rights -- and nourished by the thoughts of John Locke that stood behind that landmark document -- Thomas Jefferson and his fellows declared themselves in rebellion against the British King who had enacted (they charged), a long string of usurpations and abuses against the colonists, which the Declararation went on to enumerate, and the colonists went on to remedy.

As John Locke had declared the right of rebellion in such circumstances, so Jefferson and his fellows claimed that right for themselves, and so began the American Revolution.

It was called a Revolution because -- like the wheel from which the term comes -- these revolutionaries were seeking not just to overthrow bad government, but to return again to good government. Their aim was to put Government by Right back in the saddle from whence it had turned.

Where Locke's 1688 Bill of Rights and the Glorious Revolution it accompanied brought Constitutional Monarchy to England, so the American Revolution and the Declaration and Constitution that accompanied it brought a Constitutional Republic to the United States. As constitutional scholar David Mayer affirms, the result was a Republic, not a Democracy -- a republic in which the Government was chained up constitutionally to act as the guardian of its citizens' rights and liberties, rather than left unleashed to savage them.

Said Thomas Jefferson in the last letter he was to write, reflecting fifty years later on the Declaration of Independence and the July 4 celebrations that commemorate its signing:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
Amen. And let those thoughts be heard around the world! For as one commentator said on this day last year, July 4th is not just a National Day for Americans because the Declaration of Independence really is "freedom's anthem heard around the world":
Whenever you hear news of people fighting for democracy, pause and give thanks for the Declaration of Independence. I am thankful every day that by blind luck I was born in this country. I want the whole world to have the comforts and the opportunities that have so enriched my life. When they tear down a wall in Berlin, when an oppressed group is granted a right in Latin America, when a business is allowed to exist in China, a protest is allowed in a former Soviet satellite, a woman attends a school in Afghanistan or a purple forefinger is raised in Iraq, I think to myself, “the world may not know all the lyrics, but they are definitely singing our song.”
And he's right. America was the nation of the Enlightenment, and her Declaration crystallised the political achievement of the Enlightenment: the development of the concept of rights. With the exception of just a few words*, the words could not be bettered today (although some of us have tried):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

A wonderful, wonderful anthem to freedom that rings down through the years. If only the real meaning of those words could be heard and undeerstood. As David Mayer says:
To really celebrate Independence Day, Americans must rededicate themselves to the principles of 1776, and particularly to the absolute importance of individual rights – not the pseudo-rights imagined by proponents of the welfare state, but the genuine rights (properly understood) of individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must also rededicate ourselves to the Declaration’s standard for the legitimacy of government – a government that is limited to the safeguarding of these rights, not to their destruction – and, with this, an acceptance of the principle that outside this sphere of legitimacy, individuals have the freedom (and the responsibility) of governing themselves.
If Americans are to use this day to re-dedicate themselves to the principles of 1776 as Mayer invites, then non-Americans might use it to take up Thomas Jefferson's challenge "to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded [us] to bind [ourselves], and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

New Zealand Libertarianz have provided such an opportunity with Bernard Darnton's reminder to NZ parliamentarians of the constitutional chains that do exist even in New Zealand, and they have provided it too with a Constitution for New Freeland -- a document intended as the full-fledged constitutional chain that the US Constitution promised to be but finally wasn't.

On this day, and at this time, I commend them to your attention, and I invite your own dedication to the principles of 1776 in your own chosen way. They are after all principles worthy of clasping to your bosom.

* * * * *
* I said above: "With the exception of just a few words, the words could not be bettered today." The main improvements needed would be to remedy the omission of property rights, of God's 'creation' of rights, and of the 'self-evidence' of rights. It seems churlish to carp, but as errors these are serious ones.

LINKS: Declaration of Independence - Hypertext Edition
A Republic, not a Democracy - David Mayer
The meaning of Independence Day - David Mayer
Constitution for New Freeland - Libertarianz
Darnton Vs Clark

Politics-US, History, Constitution,
Darnton V Clark

Yes, it's July 4!

It's July 4th, American Indepence Day (at least it is here in NZ) and I'll be posting later today some celebratory pieces that will hopefully help to explain why American Independence Day is something we should all celebrate.

In the meantime, read this: To hate America is to hate mankind. [Hat tip Julian Pistorius]

LINK: To hate America is to hate mankind - Daily Telegraph

TAGS: Politics-US, History

TVNZ's professional Maori

Elliot has spotted the token Maori at TVNZ: Hone Edwards. Professional Maori. A 'Kaihautu.' Job description: "Traditionally, a Kaihautu is the person in the waka who calls the paddlers to order, steering the vessel in the right direction."

Perhaps that's how you spell 'con man' in Maori?

I wonder how he fills his day?

LINK: More fawning cringe -- this time at TVNZ - Elliot Who?

TAGS: Racism, Political_Correctness, Politics-NZ

Cardiganned councillors get out the red armband over recycling

Three English councils have brought or are bringing in fines for offending the prevailing public religion improper recycling: £1000 fines! -- that's $3,300! For putting your pizza box in the wrong bloody container! One of those councils, Barnet, has already announced that it will be "gathering evidence against two households for not recycling, in preparation for court action."

LibertyScott gives his opinion along with his report, "this approach by councils is simply fascist." Yes, it is. A big Sieg Heil to Barnet council, and to its confreres Harrow and Bromley .

From Not PC a few weeks ago: "PJ O'Rourke points out that when used items have real value -- Ferraris for example -- they don't need to be 'recycled,' they get sold. 'Recycled' is what happens to stuff with no value, or with so little value only a government regulation can make enough people care." And to make people care enough, these councils have apparently decided, you have to scare the fiscal bejesus out of them.

Meanwhile, NZ councils are scaring the fiscal bejesus out of residents with huge rate rises yet again to pay for "PC nuttiness."

LINKS: Latest green fascism: compulsory recycling - LibertyScott
North London residents face hefty fines in compulsory recycling scheme - GMTV
London borough turns to compulsory recycling - MRW
Recycling - Not PC
Rates rise 8pc to pay for "PC nuttiness" - NZ Herald

TAGS: Environment, Politics-UK, Politics-NZ

Ethical philosophy quiz

I've tried the Ethical Philosophy Selector Page, with the following results:

My top five ethical philosophers (according to a silly quiz):
1. John Stuart Mill (huh!)
2. Aristotle (yes!)
3. Aquinas (hmmm.)
4. Ayn Rand (yes!)
5. Epicureans :-).

Bottom five for me includes Kant and Nietzsche, and strangely William of Ockham.

How did you go? [Hat tip Philosophy et Cetera]

LINKS: Ethical Philosophy Selector Page - SelectSmart.Com

TAGS: Quizzes, Philosophy

A message from our sponsors

And now, a message from our sponsors: Sex sells.

First, check out what some are calling the best commercial ever made -- an ad for Lynx that is apparently only going to be shown once, but that a bloke could really watch for hours [Hat tip Craig Ceely]

Then, see what use a good advertising director and Russian model Inna Zobova can make of The Stranglers's song 'Hanging Around': UK Wonderbra ad (4.2MB); better quality French wonderbra ad (3.5MB). [Hat tip Stranglenet]

UPDATE: I join Whinging in New Zealand (who admits he spent yesterday objectifying random women) in hanging my head in shame for posting these.

LINKS: Possibly the greatest TV advert ever made? - Dave's Adventure into Boredom
UK Wonderbra ad - Stranglenet
French wonderbra ad - Stranglenet
Danger: Women objectified here - Whinging in New Zealand

Music, Humour, Sex

Evening snow at Mt Hira - Ando Hiroshige

One of a series of eight Japanese wood-block prints by the Master, Hiroshige (1797-1858), known as 'Eight Views of Biwa.'


Monday, 3 July 2006

'Sustainable' cities are unaffordable cities

Here's something to ponder. Below are two charts comparing certain aspects of several cities.

The first is a chart prepared to compare the 'sustainability' in 2005 of twenty different US cities -- in other words, the level of wetness adopted by city planners, and the extent to which land-use restrictions are imposed and property rights ignored. (The methodology is outlined here. The rankings for 2006 are here.)

The second chart (below) compares the affordability of several of the world's cities, with 'severely unaffordable' cities at the top and affordable cities at the bottom. (Affordability is given as a multiplier of that city's average income.)

Just by comparing the two charts you'll see an obvious trend: cities ranking highly in one chart generally rank rather highly in the other chart as well. In other words, cities that are highly 'sustainable' also tend to be highly unaffordable -- no surprise when 'sustainability' usually takes the form of restricting the supply of housing in some way. Examining the figures for the top ten 'sustainable' cities only confirms this:

1. Portland (29th Most Unaffordable US City, with a Multiplier of 4.2 times the average income, making it seriously unaffordable.)
2. San Francisco (5th Most Unaffordable US City, with a Multiplier of 9.3 times the average income, making it severely unaffordable!)
3. Seattle (18th, 5.3 - severely unaffordable)
4. Chicago (23rd, 4.9 - seriously unaffordable)
5. Oakland (not measured)
6. New York City (7th, 7.9 - severely unaffordable)
7. Boston (15th, 6.1, severely unaffordable)
8. Philadelpia ( 32nd, 3.9, moderately unaffordable)
9. Denver ( 19th, 4.0, moderately unaffordable)
10. Minneapolis (30th, 3.5, moderately unaffordable)

So many of the the 'most sustainable' cities are also amongst the most unaffordable. Being dripping wet costs money, and it seems that first-home buyers are the ones forced to meet that cost the most. Turns out too that the 'least sustainable' cities by the wetness standard generally rank amongst the less severely unaffordable places in which to buy a home:

40. Tulsa (8th most affordable city in the US, 2.6 - affordable)
41. Arlington (not measured)
42. Nashville (26th most affordable, 3.3 - moderately unaffordable)
43. Detroit (24th most affordable, 3.1 - moderately unaffordable)
44. Memphis (26th, 3.2 - moderately unaffordable)
45. Indianapolis (4th most affordable, 2.4 - affordable)
46. Fort Worth (not measured)
47. Mesa (not measured)
48. Virginia Beach (xxth, 4.0 - moderately unaffordable)
49. Oklahoma City (10th most affordable, 2.7 - affordable)
50. Columbus (20th most affordable, 2.9 - affordable)

Only Kansas City (18th) and the Lone Star State's Austin (14th) register both in the top-twenty dripping wetUS cities and the list of US cities that are affordable. Clearly there are other factors at play as well, but denying there is some correlation between restricting the supply of land and of development, and the resulting cost of supplying land and housing is like trying to deny the passing of the seasons.

You can argue all you like about the benefits of 'sustainability,' but the extent that 'sustainability' is imposed on cities by restricting the supply of land and housing appears to be the extent to which that city is made unaffordable to first-home buyers.

It would be interesting to try such a correlation across New Zealand's cities, except for two things: the first is that all New Zealand cities have essentially the same restrictive land-use policies so there's little variability to measure; the second is that, as a consequence of those restrictive land-use policies, all major New Zealand cities rank in the 'severely unaffordable' category.

LINKS: 2006 SustainLane US City rankings - SustainLane
2nd annual international housing affordability survey, 2006 - report at
'NZ housing affordability in crisis' says report - Not PC (Jan, 2006)

TAGS: Urban_Design, RMA

Darnton v Clark on the media

The good news is that Bernard Darnon did get some media coverage for the news that he's taking the Prime Minister to court.

The bad news is that the coverage has been so sparse, and so grudging. Most media outlets would just rather not report this. TV3 for example, who were offered an exclusive on Thursday night, went with the the other news of the day instead -- which included the goings on in Gaza -- and left Campbell to fill his programme with the astonishing news of how to run your car on raw sewage. Clearly far more important than news that the PM is being taken to court to justify half-a-million dollars of election overspending with misappropriated money.

Radio New Zealand was one of the few organisations to buck the trend by actually interviewing Bernard, but the bad news here is that the interview was with what seemed a bunch of morons and retarded clowns, and his co-interviewee Stephen Franks was given more time to speak than Bernard. (You can listen to this interview online here; it begins about six minutes in.)

Reaction around the blogosphere has been relatively good -- and donations from bloggers have been welcomingly high, for which I know Bernard is very grateful. But here too there have been some odd omissions: people who on the face of it you might have thought should be favourably disposed to such a case who have yet to declare any interest. I guess, once again, it's time to check one's premises.

UPDATE: Barry Soper told Larry Willams on Newstalk ZB this evening that the question of Mr Darnton's legal action against her was put to Helen at today's post-cabinet press conference, to which her response was "rather snippy." "She was refusing to be drawn on that," said Soper, saying "that's a matter for her lawyers to handle." Audio here of Soper's comments.

LINKS: Bernard Darnton interviewed by 'The Panel' - Radio NZ
Darnton Vs Clark - supporters' website

TAGS: Darnton v Clark, Politics-NZ, Politics-ACT

The new office lexicon

Red Letter has posted a complete A-Z of office slang -- the sort of list that's invaluable to those of us who don't work in a 'cube farm.' Samples:
Adminisphere - The rarified organizational layers above the rank and file that makes decisions that are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant.

Crop dusting - Surreptitiously farting while passing thru a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust; leads to PRAIRIE DOGGING…..

Graybar Land - The place you go while you’re staring at a computer that’s processing something very slowly (while you watch the gray bar creep across the screen). “That CAD rendering put me in graybar land for like an hour.”

Ohnosecond - That minuscule fraction of time during which you realize you’ve just made a terrible error.

Percussive Maintenance - The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

Prairie Dogging - When something loud happens in a cube farm, causing heads to pop up over the walls trying to see what’s going on.

Seagull Manager - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits over everything and then leaves.
TAGS: Humour

What's wrong with pleasure?

When is pleasure-seeking not hedonism? Why do so many think pleasure is irrational? Dr. Michael Hurd briefly answers both questions here.

LINK: In defence of pleasure - Dr. Michael Hurd, CapMag

TAGS: Ethics, Objectivism

Where's global warming when you need it?

Coldest May for ten years. Coldest June since 1972. Where's that global warming when you need it, eh?

LINK: Coldest June since 1972, with more snow set for holidays - NZ Herald
Cold May, cool science - Not PC (June 5, 2006)

TAGS: Global_Warming

Saturday, 1 July 2006

INTERVIEW: Islam: Religion of peace?

Here's some intelligent weekend listening for you. Listen, download, or podcast the latest PRODOS Worldwide interview from the SOLID VOX (tm) Network:

An interview with SORGE DIAZ of

Islam is often presented as "The Religion of Peace."

If it really is that, why do terrorist groups (eg. Hamas), theocrats (eg. Ahmadenijad), Muslim scholars (both currently and over the centuries) quote The Koran and the Hadith to justify their very NON peaceful and intolerant positions?

Do all the above represent, a distortion of a "proud religion" as President George W Bush has stated? Or are they a correct application of The Koran and Hadith?

SORGE DIAZ, the creator of the blog argues that Islam is, at its very core a dangerous Religion of Violence.

That Mohammed's life exemplified the repression and murder of non-believers. That Islam utterly rejects any separation of Mosque and State. That what is meant by "Peace" in Islam is not liberty, but submission to coercive Islamic rule.

An interesting issue that comes up during this interview is the significance of the Iranian President's letter to President George W Bush in which he invites the US President to convert to Islam. This is the protocol established by Mohammad to issue a Declaration of War.
LINK: Islam: The religion of peace. Or not? - Prodos Worldwide

TAGS: Religion, War, Objectivism, Philosophy

Markets don't fail, economists do -- just as Plato did

The debate about market failure (below) has beome a philosophical one, although its protagonists may not see it that way. One commenter avers that 'market failure' isn't an anti-concept at all, instead it's an 'ideal' by which economists measure actual markets. Just like "perfectly competitive markets" which he says, "are just a benchmark model that one shouldn't expect to hold in the real world."

An interesting point, but a destructive one -- just like the philosophy from which his contention springs (on that, more a little later). Like the concept of 'market failure,' which has no referents in reality but which is supposed nonetheless to perform a sort of heuristic function, neither does the doctrine of 'perfectly competitive markets' have any refererents in reality. None at all. Explains George Reisman:
No one has ever defined “pure and perfect competition”—the procedure is merely to present a list of conditions which it requires...

To summarize these conditions: uniform products offered by all the sellers in the same industry, perfect knowledge, quantitative insignificance of each seller, no fear of retaliation by competitors in response to one’s actions, constant changes in price, and perfect ease of investment and disinvestment...
Perfect competition, thus defined, probably does not exist, never has existed, and never can exist. . . . Actual competition always departs, to a greater or lesser degree, from the ideal of perfection. Perfect competition is thus a mere concept, a standard by which to measure the varying degrees of imperfection that characterize the actual markets in which goods are bought and sold.
So neither concept actually exists -- neither 'market failure' nor 'perfectly competitive markets' -- yet both concepts are used to damn real markets by those who quite naturally do look for real referents for such terms. That's why they're anti-concepts: their use serves to destroy real concepts which (like all real concepts) do have real referents. As George Reisman expains,
The doctrine of “pure and perfect competition” marks the almost total severance of economic thought from reality. It is the dead end of the attempt to defend capitalism on a collectivist base.
And so it is. It is also fuel for those who seek to shackle and to damn markets. The non-existence of 'market failure' and 'perfectly competitive markets,' which don't exist in the real world, are the anti-matter to real markets and to real businessmen who do.

If markets don't work in the ideal manner prescribed in their heuristic manner by this collectivist variety of economist, then so much the worse for markets say the regulators, who haven't hesitated to regulate, to shackle and to jail businessmen (who resolutely refuse to fit the economists' models and just keep on producing in the real world instead); and who continue to espouse the need for ongoing regulation in order to make the 'imperfect' markets fit the ideal dreamed up for them by ivory tower economists and utopian collectivists.

The doctrine of pure and perfect competion is called by George Reisman "platonic competition," since these destructive 'ideals' are a pure and perfect example of the Platonic "ideal of perfection" which draws from non-existence to serve as the "standard" for judging existence.

Reisman's two-part article on the subject make 'perfect' and very timely reading, and it does help to prove the contention that those who disregard philsophy are destined to be frequently bitten by it.

LINK: Platonic competition, Part I - George Reisman's blog
Platonic Competition, Part II - George Reisman's blog

TAGS: Economics, Philosophy, Objectivism

Friday, 30 June 2006

Hirsi Ali rejection topples Dutch Government

NEW YORK TIMES: Dispute Over Minister Topples Dutch Government NIJMEGEN, the Netherlands, June 29 — The center-right government collapsed Thursday after one of its coalition partners failed to force the country's controversial immigration minister to resign over her handling of a prominent critic of fundamentalist Islam. The three-party coalition government came undone after six weeks of political infighting over the way the minister, Rita Verdonk, treated Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant and a member of Parliament who is widely known for her outspoken stance against certain Islamic practices. The smallest party in the governing coalition party said that if Ms. Verdonk, who oversees the country's strict immigration regulations, would not quit, the party would. Late Thursday evening, the party, D66, carried through on its threats and dropped out of the government.

Good. Bloody. Job. (Detailed story here.)

Beer O'Clock: Hofbrau Munchen 'Maibock'

Beer O'Clock comes to you once again courtesy of the fine chaps at Real Beer -- who I'm happy to say are now running boutique beer tours around Wellington. Just the job for an involuntary long weekend. This week, Stu steps up to the bar:

The World Cup has had me, like many others, thinking a bit about Germany.

Germans are up there with the biggest drinkers in the world; take from that whatever you will but they certainly have a fantastic choice of beer to drink. Rather than drink the same old red can of bland alcopop all year, Germans seem to have a beautiful and quite distinct beer for all the different seasons (though, ironically, the have the ghastly Budweiser for their World Cup).

In late winter and early spring they release their bock beers: strong malty, and usually dark coloured, nutritional lagers that have been brewed and lagered through the winter. By the time they've been drinking these bocks for a month or so they feel like something different and so they roll out the paler, and more assertively hopped maibock.

I'd seen Hofbrau Munchen range around the supermarket shelves for a couple of months but thought it was probably a bland tasting over-marketed lager (possibly even equine filtered, like many of the beers in supermarkets seem to be). When my less cynical half brought the Maibock home I got an extremely pleasant surprise.

Pouring a vibrant copper and lightly carbonated, this bock has a mild nose of pale and lightly toasted malts with a subtle spicy hop presence (lager yeasts, for those who don't know, are usually supposed to showcase the beers ingredients rather than themselves). Mostly sweet in the mouth but with a lovely balance brought about by the light bitterness of continental hops and dry nature of the toasty malt.

On tap at The Malthouse the Maibock is even better: the stylish earthenware stein (sadly, without the traditional German barmaid) reveals a far fresher, big biscuity malt aroma. You may well find it unusual but it is certainly most delicious, and far too easy to drink for it's hefty 7.2%.

Put on your best pair of lederhosen and get on down to The Malthouse now. Otherwise pick some up at your local New World or good bottle store and drink it in the safety of your own home (where you can wear whatever you like).

LINKS: German beer styles
Boutique beer tasting tour -
Wild about Wellington

TAGS: Beer_&_Elsewhere, Wellington

'We' didn't do it

Here's one reason I haven't mentioned the Kahui twins. Marc Alexander gives a convenient example of the point:
We know the story. Only the names and superficial details have changed. Lillybing. James Whakaruru. There are too many. These are names that should shame us. Shame us into action. Shame us into weeping. And now we have the Kahui twins.
Do you see it? Can you spot it: What's with the 'we' white man? Why should I be shamed? I didn't do it. I didn't kill them. Did you? Did Marc? Of course not. Any action provoked by such a poorly conceived starting point is going to do less good than its promoters might like, and will probably only do more harm.

Who is responsible is not you or me. It's the person or person who did kill them. That's who's responsible. Not society; not 'we'; not 'us': just the murderer(s). These aren't 'our' kids; they were the Kahuis, and that's who's responsible -- no one else. Just them, or the people that the law finds responsible.

Helengrad, 1688.

A bit of history this morning just to remind you what the 1688 Bill of Rights is all about. Article IV of the Bill is one of the crucial legs that Bernard Darnton is relying on in his suit of Helen Clark.

One of the great, and perhaps most often overlooked, documents in political history is the 1688 Bill of Rights. It followed the all too frequently forgotten Glorious Revolution of 1688 -- when English nobles effected a peaceful revolution to eject a King who had forgotten that he ruled only through the consent of the governed -- and it followed a revolution in political thought that was intended to put the citizens in the saddle instead of the monarchs, who tended too often to ride their citizenry with whip and spurs. The revolution in thought was summed up by Thomas Jefferson:
All eyes are opened or opening to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.
The Bill of Rights ranks up there with the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution as one of the four foremost documents in the history of liberty, and all four derive from that same political tradition. The Glorious Revolution and the passing of the 1688 Bill of Rights (sometimes called the 1689 Bill of Rights for obscure reasons I won't bother you with) were the first events to give voice to the ideas of John Locke, so well developed in his Two Treatises of Government and developed further a century later in the American Revolution and those two historical US documents that sprang from it.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 gave effect to Locke's argument that a ruler or a government has power only by the consent of the governed, and, when a government or ruler is in revolt against a people, then the people have the right to overthrow the ruler. That argument was put into effect in England that year to eject the absolutist King James, and put in place the constitutionally limited William of Orange.

The constitutional limits were put in place by that Bill of Rights. The idea was that it was the ruler's job to protect the legimate rights of the citizens: the Bill of Rights was intended to chain him up to do that and no more. The result was a Constitutional Monarchy, somewhat imperfect it's true, but the protections of the Bill do still remain in law -- as Helen Clark is now learning.

The Bill is simple, and clear, and terse -- so unlike modern legislation in that regard as well. You can read the whole thing here in just ten minutes. Ten minutes to read; but a mountain of thought to understand its subtleties.

LINKS: Darnton Vs Clark
1688 Bill of Rights

History, Politics, Libertarianism, Darnton Vs Clark