Saturday, 12 August 2006

Retro parenting abuses

On this bucolic and sun-shining Saturday, I want to recommend to you three pieces from Cactus Kate on the tortures New Zealand parents inflicted on their children in days gone by. She has performed a valuable historical duty in documenting these abuses.

Retro Parenting Part 1 - The Piano
Retro Parenting Part 2 - 80's Junior Tennis
Retro Parenting Part 3 - My Child is Going to be a Lawyer

RELATED: New Zealand, Humour

A treasure trove of audio books!

Wow! I'm not a big listener myself of audio books, but I know many people who love them. If so then Learn Out Loud have a deal for you: a free download of Ayn Rand's early novella Anthem, their free audiobook for August.

And oddly enough, I found it when looking for George Reisman's Mises Lectures (which are also free).

Fill your boots up. There's loads more free stuff there too if you look from every possible field of endeavour, from Thomas Paine to Karl Marx to Shakespeare to Richard Feynman to Michael Dell to bridge-builder Robert Maillart to Tom Wolfe to Martin Luther King ...

Wow! This is a treasure trove!

LINKS: Anthem audiobook - Learn Out Loud
Free audio and video resources - Learn Out Loud

RELATED: Free Stuff, Books, Objectivism, Philosophy, Science, Art, Economics, History, Education


Fomenting free market revolution from the unlikeliest base

Wall Street Journal has a piece on the Mises Institute and its quiet achievements, and what the hell it's doing in Alabama of all places. As the author himself says, "Growing up next door in Georgia, I never thought of Alabama as a beacon of intellect." Who would? However:
The Mises Institute counts free-marketers from more than 30 states and at least 23 countries among its faculty. Its students' homes are equally far-flung: Poland, Peru, Argentina, Canada, France and China this summer alone. "Every one of them is an idealist in a very courageous way," Mr. Tucker said." A lot of people think it's silly to be an idealist these days. But Mises always taught that ideas are the only weapons we have against despotism.

For years, socialist European governments deemed those weapon-ideas dangerous. Intellectual dissidents had to leave the Continent to learn and reimport the ideas that classical liberals like Mises and Hayek -- and, going further back, Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Jean-Baptiste Say, et al. -- exported to America in the first place.

The dispersal of Europeans from Mises and other U.S. institutions is having an effect. Free-market think tanks are at last emerging in such traditionally statist places as Belgium, France and Romania. "It's a little funny, I think," said Alberto Mingardi, an Italian free-marketer who has visited the Mises Institute twice. "It's a little funny, I think," said Alberto Mingardi, an Italian free-marketer who has visited the Mises Institute twice. "How can you even imagine meeting somebody in Europe who knows about the Auburn [Alabama] Tigers?"
Read on here.

And do visit the Mises Institute online, and check out all the amazing online resources: online books and e-texts (an enormous and invaluable resource -- an easy way to get books you'd otherwise never see in NZ ... and they're free!), Mises Radio, Mises blog, Austrian Study Guide ....

And check out my own favourite Misesian, George Reisman at his own blog. His latest is on Free Market Science versus Government Science. Great reading.

LINKS: 'Von Mises Finds a Sweet Home in Alabama' - Wall Street Journal.
Mises Institute website
Free market science vs. government science - George Reisman's blog

RELATED: Economics, Politics, Free Stuff, Books

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Darnton V Clark: Breaking the seal

When you're out on a beer-drinking session your first visit to the smallest room is sometimes called 'breaking the seal,' and for obvious reasons: once the 'seal' is broken the floodgates almost literally have been opened.

Audrey Young in the Herald has now 'broken the seal' on the Darnton V Clark case with her report today on the state of play regarding Labour's taxpayer-funded election spending. For the first time now in the MSM, Bernard Darnton's case is given serious treatment, and its place within the present furore laid out, including the disquieting news that "any retrospective legislation proposed by Dr Cullen is likely to cover any negative outcome from that case as well" -- a clear signal surely that what Labour did was illegal, and they know it.
[Darnton's] statement claims there was no statutory authority for the service to pay the $446,000 for the pledge card.
The appropriation to fund the card stated that party and member support was to be used to support the leader's office, research operations, whips' office and members' parliamentary operations. The card did not fit that definition, the claim argues.

Auckland lawyer Alan Dormer, acting for Mr Darnton, said that while the Solicitor-General's opinion was slightly different from his own case it was "very comforting" ...
Mr Dormer said it would be possible to draft legislation to deny his client his day in court.
"Have we really sunk so low that we are going to have political parties ripping off the system and then passing legislation about it just to stop the High Court looking at it."
National is the only party known to oppose the legislation at this stage. Leader Don Brash has been on the case all week but he stepped up his language yesterday.
"Labour has been pinged for something like half a million dollars and the bastards don't want to pay it back," Dr Brash said on Gore's Hokonui Gold radio station yesterday.
"Helen Clark says 'Oh, the rules weren't clear. Let's pass a law making what is illegal legal.' Robert Mugabe [Zimbabwe's president] would have been proud of her."
So the seal has been broken. And unlike the deathless Rodney Hide who insisted this morning that parliamentary parties should be able to campaign for office using taxpayers' money (as his party did in extremis last election), The Don is on the side of the angels with his recent comments.

UPDATE: Bernard Darnton comments on Cullen's intention to derail the court action against Helen Clark with retrospective, ie., backward-looking legislation:
That which we call a steaming pile of horseshit
By any other word would smell as foul...

Separation of powers is another constitutional nicety that Labour can do without. Don’t like a Court decision? A swift bit of legislation and it never happened. Can anyone say “Foreshore and Seabed”? Of course, separation of powers is designed to prevent corruption. Since Labour ministers can do no wrong it is clearly unnecessary.
LINKS: Labour shifts the goalposts - NZ Herald
Darnton V Clark website
What's in a name? - Darnton V Clark

RELATED: Darnton V Clark, Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour

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Friday, 11 August 2006

Beer O'Clock: Cooper's

Due to popular demand (i.e. one anonymous comment), this week Stu from Real Beer has been tasting some of the offerings from the Western Isle ...

Much like the brewing industry in New Zealand and the rest of the world, Australian brewing is dominated by a few multinational giants that specialise more in marketing brands than making great beer. Not at Cooper's Brewery in Adelaide however. Cooper's are one of Australia's leading lights, and definitely the oldest, in a slowly growing surge against that tide.

Much has been made of Cooper's steadfast independence, especially after Lion Nathan failed attempt to purchase the company during the last financial year. The greatest positive of this failed attempt for me was the retention of one of the best "house yeasts" in Australasia, if not the world. The same Cooper's yeast has been used for around a hundred years and has evolved characteristics that are completely unique to their beers. A buy-out could well have seen a move in brewing operations and the loss of that unique yeast.

Cooper's beers have a distinctive round label that most of you would have seen. The Sparkling Pale Ale (red label) and Best Extra Stout (yellow label) are deservedly famous, but I often find myself drinking a couple of the lesser-known family members.

Bright yellow gold, when poured off the yeast, the Original Pale Ale (green label) is crisp and displays some subtle lime and stonefruit characteristics on the nose. In the mouth it's dry and pithy with a grassy bitterness that cleanses the palate nicely. With the yeast it's muddy gold, slightly fruitier and more rounded on both the nose and the palate. With or without the yeast it's a lovely drop - your choice.

Pouring a deep chestnut colour, with brief light tan foam, the Dark Ale (brown label) exhibits lovely cocoa and coffee notes on the nose before unveiling a whiff of cinnamon and that stonefruit yeast character. It's softer in the mouth, than it's pale brother, but is still quite dry and clean. It's very light bitterness makes it a good drinker for those who are not used to beers that are a little left (or right) of the mainstream. I've only recently discovered the Dark Ale and think it's one of the best examples of a mild ale on this side of the world.

Both beers can be drunk all year 'round and suit any occasion from barbeque to black-tie events. The Original Pale Ale is widely available in supermarkets and bottle stores, while the Dark Ale is a worthy reward for the keenest beerhunters. All Cooper's ales are re-fermented in the bottle (hence the yeast sediment) and as such remain very drinkable for a couple of years. They even contain a "best after" date instead of the usual "best before."

It's best for us that they keep on brewing...

Slainte mhath Stu

LINKS: Ratebeer opinions on Cooper's beers
Cooper's Brewery

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Party stooges defending Pledge Card corruption

A friend has pointed out that of all the letters in today's Herald on Labour's misappropriation of taxpayers' money to pay for their Pledge Card, only one supported the government. The author was one Graham Hill.

Who's he? Just the spouse of Joan Caulfield (who had 5 children to former husband Jim Neanderton) and who is currently electorate secretary to the MP for Mt Albert.

Surprise ! Surprise!

Is there anyone genuinely in support of this corruption? Or just Graham and Joan and other party stooges.

As my friend Bernard Darnton says, the money appropriated for the Prime Minister's Office is for the running of the office, not to run for that office, and the Prime Minister was told exactly that before the election by the the Electoral Commission. There never was any "confusion." Quite simply, the Labour Party chose to lie to the Electoral Commission then, and to the public now.

Roll on Darnton v Clark.

UPDATE 1: The normally mild-mannered David Farrar lets 'em have it in two posts today:

1. 'Legalised Theft':
The Auditor-General and Solictor-General find that Labour's $446,000 pledge cards are electioneering (wow what a surprise), so what is Labour's response? Not to pay it back, no. But to propose state funding of political parties, so they can do it again in future, without challenge.
2. 'Labour to legislate to over-rule Auditor-General':

I never thought I would read this in NZ. Michael Cullen plans to introduce legislation so that Labour do not have to pay back the $446,000 pledge card which has been deemed election advertising by almost every competent authority in the land, such as:

* Chief Electoral Officer
* Electoral Commission
* Secretary of Justice
* Auditor-General
* Solicitor-General

NZPA quotes Dr Cullen as saying on National Radio today that Parliament may have to "validate the expenditure".

If this is not corruption, what is?

... It's ironic. You buy the election by deliberating over-spending. And then you use your continuance in office to amend the law to validate what you did.
And Bernard Darnton doesn't hold back either:

Having been caught up to their elbows in the till by the draft Auditor-General’s report, what is Labour’s predictable response?

Caught illegally taking public money to pay for their electioneering, is their response to admit fault, pay back the stolen money and promise not to do it again? No; it’s to change the law to make their pilfering legal.

If this isn't corruption, then what is? I can imagine Robert Mugabe is taking notes.

UPDATE 2: Joan Caulfield's name corrected.

"Corruption" - Just Left (Jordan Carter, Labour Party apologist)
Darnton Vs Clark website

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton v Clark


Airline bombing plot latest front in war

Congratulations to the British security forces, assisted by their colleagues in Pakistani intelligence, who foiled the latest sally in the war on western civilisation -- a plot that if successful would have killed more than were killed on September 11, 2001. Yes, we are at war, and have been since at least that day: at war with Islamic Totalitarianism. We might wish it were otherwise, but about that there is no question.

Note that those arrested overnight are not poverty-stricken have-nothings fighting for their physical survival, but comfortable middle-class people who have chosen to kill us in the name of the ideological hegemony of dhimmitude.

And there are people who say that ideas aren't evil. As Voltaire used to say, those who believe absurdities commit atrocities. This time at least, they were foiled. That's the good news.

UPDATE 1: I have to say, I agree with this [American] letter to the editor one-hundred percent:
Dear Editor:

If termites are weakening a home's foundation, what do we do? We call the exterminator and eliminate the problem. If armed robbers are at our doors trying to break their way in, what do we do? We defend ourselves to the best of our abilities until the authorities arrive to eliminate the threat.

If Islamic totalitarians come close to murdering hundreds of people by mixing common household materials to blow up airplanes, what do we do? Apparently, we stop carrying liquids and gels in our carry-on luggage.

What should we do? We should insist that our government eliminate the real source of the problem decisively and quickly. Islamic totalitarian groups such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, and the countries supporting them such as Iran and Syria, are hell-bent on attacking Americans [and other Westerners]. They will not stop unless we make it impossible for them to function or regroup. Their infrastructure and support networks have to be permanently disabled as quickly as possible in whatever way our military recommends. A drawn-out, five-year "War on Terror" where we help build roads, plants and hospitals in the Middle East only strengthens the resolve of our enemies.

And they'll keep trying to blow up planes in the meantime.

Debi Ghate
Anybody care to cogently disagree with that?

UPDATE 2: "If we're at war," comes the question, "then at war with whom exactly?"

"President Bush said the arrests are a 'stark reminder' that the U.S. is 'at war with Islamic fascists.' " Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein give a more focussed answer:
The group that threatens us with terrorism—the group of which Al Qaeda is but one terrorist faction—is a militant, religious, ideological movement best designated as “Islamic Totalitarianism.”

The Islamic Totalitarian movement, which enjoys widespread and growing support throughout the Arab–Islamic world, encompasses those who believe that all must live in total subjugation to the dogmas of Islam and who conclude that jihad (“holy war”) must be waged against those who refuse to do so.

Islamic Totalitarians regard the freedom, prosperity, and pursuit of worldly happiness animating the West (and especially America and Israel) as the height of depravity. They seek to eradicate Western Culture, first in the Middle East and then in the West itself, with the ultimate aim of bringing about the worldwide triumph of Islam.

This goal is achievable, adherents of the movement believe, because the West is a “paper tiger” that can be brought to its knees by sufficiently devoted Islamic warriors.

Given that the enemy ... is primarily ideological, what, if anything, can our government’s guns do to defeat it?
Read on here at The Objective Standard: ' 'Just War Theory' vs. American Self-Defence.'

LINK: Foiled transatlantic bomb plot 'was ready to go' - Times Online
London Airline Bombing Plot News (updated 4:05 pm ET)
- Counterterrorism Blog
How terrorists could have made a 'liquid bomb'
- Daily Telegraph
Just War Theory' vs. American Self-Defence - The Objective Standard

RELATED: War, Politics-World, Religion

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Which blogs do you visit regularly?

I'm curious to know which other blogs you visit regularly. Which blogs do you regularly visit to feel fully informed, fully entertained, or to have your thoughts provoked?

Which three or four, say, would you try and visit either every day, or every time you log on?

And do you visit them through your browser, or through a news-reader? (Don't worry if you don't know what a news-reader is. If you're curious you can go here and find out.)

Let me know below, if you'd be so kind. (And I know that many of you have problems logging on to comment, so feel free to make your comment anonymous if it's the only way to post it.) I really am curious.

RELATED: Blog, Geek Stuff

Climate change... or sewer pipe?

The other day I watched Hutt City mayor David Ogden on Breakfast TV blaming "climate change" for the landslip in Kelson [as I blogged here]. But what's this:
Meanwhile, geologist Grant Dellow, of crown research institute GNS, said a cracked, slowly leaking [council] sewer pipe might have caused the Kelson slip...

Mr Dellow and Earthquake Commission assessors were among several experts to inspect the site yesterday. He believed a sewer pipe from one of the suburb's main lines might have cracked earlier this month, leaking water into the infill land...

Mr Dellow said the Kelson slip was the first in the area since 1997, when land was washed away about 500 metres from the present site.
And from the Herald:
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences geologist Grant Dellow said the Kelson housing area was a "cut and fill" subdivision, done probably in the 1960s or 1970s when geotechnical practices were not as stringent as they are now.
So is this another global warming myth de-bunked then? As Owen McShane suggested here the other day, 'climate change' is having an effect: that is, the belief in climate change is having an effect. Expect this incident, for example, to have an effect on council District Plans for some time to come, despite the suggestion that it was drainage, not climate change that caused it.

RELATED: Building, Global Warming, Politics-NZ

Hill House - Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The drawing room of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 'Hill House' outside Glasgow. Dating from 1902, Mackintosh's work brought British architecture into the modern world.

RELATED: Architecture

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Thursday, 10 August 2006

Annette Presley: The face of ...

A friend told me I missed a beaut interview with our Annette on Mark Sainsbury's show the other night. But the editor hasn't. Check out this hilarious spoof intervew with her. As the man said, it's "seriously evil, but funny like hell." Snort!

A good thing she doesn't care what people think of her, eh?

LINK: Annette Presley interview spoof - Juha Saarinen [Hat tip Lindsay and David. Ta.]

Telecom, Humour


Vector: Attack of the bureaucrat

What is there to say about the decision by the Communist Commission to tell Vector who and who they can charge that hasn't already been said? Vector's shareholders have already spoken, selling it off just as Telecom was sold off after an earlier dramatically-spun announcement of government meddling. "One analyst said the commission's decision was a "kick in the guts" for the New Zealand sharemarket." Which means for all New Zealand businesses.

Libz Energy spokesman Greg Balle has also spoken, saying this morning at 'Scoop' most of what needs to be said [watch out for some odd HTML]

Something is very wrong with the electricity infrastructure in New Zealand. We have the Commerce Commission deciding to intervene in the supposedly free market to dictate pricing, costing and any other thing it deems necessary to providing cheap power to the people. Comparing state intervention in electricity with centrally-planned Communist Russia, Balle reminds us: "The last time this stunt was pulled, the people ended up largely without power, shivering in the dark."

"Tick off the bureaucratic errors to date," Balle says, and then goes on to do so. Go and have a read.

And why does the Communist Commission's Head Commissar Paula Bloody Rebstock insist on meddling? As I've said before, "Most western countries have laws against 'anti-competitive behaviour,' and most people think those laws are there to protect consumers. Think again." Last year, for example, on the subject of Telecom, former Libertarianz leader Russell Watkins said:
The only thing that needs to be regulated is the government, the only price that needs fixing and reducing is government spending, the best savings for the consumer will come when the government abolishes outfits like the interfering Communist Commission—and many more government departments besides.
Quite right. What empowers Rebstock and her fellow Commissars is the ridiculous idea of 'antitrust' - the idea that governments need to enforce 'pure and perfect competition' in order to preserve a 'free' market. As I said on that topic last year:
Nothing could better summarise the underlying anti-success motif of Antitrust laws and the motives of the meddling arseholes who infest our own local Communist Commerce Commission (who most recently announced they would be 'reviewing' Fairfax's purchase of TradeMe with a view to throwing a spanner into it). More on this in the book 'The Abolition of Antitrust' (reviewed here) and the Antitrust is Anti-competitive page of Capitalism.Org.
Does anything more need to be said? Then George Reisman has probably already said it: the model that Rebstock wish to impose is a floating, 'Platonic,' idea of competition that bears no relation to the real world. Vector's shareholders are the first to realise that. Vector's consumers will be the next.

UPDATE: There's one more thing to be said, and it's been said at Ruth's: "More shareholder wealth destroyed. Airports will be next. Shareholders seem way more upset about this than Telecom, too. Witness this late night, drunken rant from an outraged shareholder..." Read on for that rant, and for a graphic depiction of The Destruction of Wealth by Bureaucrat.

First they came for Telecom. Then they came for Vector...

LINK: Electricity regulations crippling industry - Greg Balle, Libertarianz, Scoop
Vector reels at commission plan - Stuff

Free competition at gunpoint - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Antitrust is anti-competitive - Capitalism.Org

'Pure and perfect competition' - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Platonic Competition (Part 1) - George Reisman's blog
Platonic Competition (Part 2) - George Reisman's blog

RELATED: Economics, Politics-NZ, Libz

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What have you been searching online?

Russell Brown's been browsing the online internet searches of half-a-million people, and he's pulled out a few plums to titillate. Sample:

User 6760296, a 14 year-old, tells quite a sweet story: from "what a girlfriend should do" and "rulebook for dating" to "how to change my password on myspace" then "ways a 14 year old can earn money" and "can 14 year olds mystery shop" and, optimistically, "get paid to look at peoples myspace". We eventually find out what the job hunting is in aid of: "cheap ipods".

A long string of searches for Biblical topics from account 1347872 is twice interrupted by a little spate of searching for "breasts" and "small breasts". (The collision of God and - sometimes quite deviant - sexual themes actually seems to be a common characteristic of the search histories. Go figure.)

Thinks he's invading people's privacy? Well, AOL don't: it's their logs he's been browsing. "Earlier this week," explains Russell, "some people at America Online did something blindingly stupid... In a misguided attempt to reach out to the research community, AOL placed a big chunk of its customers' data online."

Oh dear. So what do you have to confess about your search habits?

LINK: Contender: Worst mistake ever - Hard News (Russell Brown)

RELATED: Geek Stuff, Blog


Irony down on the farm

What's the definition of irony?

From the fifties until the early eighties the goverment's Marginal Lands Board paid farmers to break in marginal lands to bring more land into production.

Now, a quarter of a century later, if a recent fad gets traction a Marginal Lands Board is again on the cards, but this time it would be paying farmers to retire marginal lands, to take them out of production!

You think that's ironic?

Some of you still think that governments know what they're doing. That is the real irony.

LINK: Farmers concerned by land retirement plan - Newstalk ZB
Brain slippage - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Global Warming, Environment

Popular posts, popular searches

These are the top dozen most popular posts at the minute here at 'Not PC':
Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
San Marcos Water Gardens - Frank Lloyd Wright
Moral equivalence inducement to war
Trusting media reports of carnage
"The young man hoped he would not have to die..."
Will & the 'warrior gene'
Break-up songs
Beirut blogger
Ewen-Street is not on the environmental main highway
What's behind the news in 'Pallywood'?
Brain slippage
Unbuilt Piha Project - Organon Architecture, 1996
Currently popular issues here at 'Not PC':
Global Warming
Darnton v Clark
And these are the currently high-ranking searches landing here (and the pages I think they were after):
new scientist easter island
beirut blogger
victa horta art nouveau
break up songs
newcastle sweden nightclub
peter rabbit tank killer pics
been killed by palestinians and 763 palestinian children have been killed by israelis, 1,084 israeli
peter cresswell power pylons
iraqi dollar
not pc blog
production economics define art science discuss
annette presley nz
is simon poelman jewish
broadacre city
charles upham vc
"Is Simon Poelman Jewish"? What kind of question is that?

TAGS: Blog

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Sandstorm over North Africa and the Canary Islands

I do love these pics of Earth from space.


Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Death in Cuba

Liberty Scott's back on deck with an Obituary for one of Castro's minions. Just thought you should know.


What's behind the news in 'Pallywood'?

In war, as they say, the first casualty is truth. In asymmetric war, in which the media itself plays such a large part, it's important that those like us who have to rely on media reports for our coverage of conflicts undertand how some of those reports are put together.

Here's an example, a link that Warwick sent me (thanks Warwick) to a news piece on the conflict in Palestine and an analysis of that piece -- an eighteen-minute look at 'Pallywood' and how raw footage in the 'combat zone' has been stitched together to make news out of ... well, you judge out of what. Pallywood: "staged news filmed in real time against the backdrop of a complex conflict we all think we know."

As they also say, don't belief half of what you see, and none of what you read. Why does this matter? As the purveyors of asymmetric warfare understand, "One picture can be worth a thousand weapons."

LINK: Pallywood - You Tube
First Casualty - Cox and Forkum

RELATED: War, Politics-World, Israel


Will & the 'warrior gene'

“It’s in their genes.” A researcher has found what he called a “warrior gene” that appears more often in Maori than non-Maori (about twice as often apparently) that makes them, he says, susceptible to addiction, aggression and other generally bad things.

Before all the headline writers get too excited about that finding, let me say two things.

The first is to be aware that such a gene isn’t necessarily bad: such an obsessive gene may have helped Polynesian explorers conquer the Pacific in the first place.

The second point is to heed the warning of the researcher himself not to read too much into this. As he says, there are many factors that influence behaviour, and this is just one.

And he’s right, isn’t he. Whatever our genes say about us, it’s far from all they say about us. In the age-old argument as to whether it is genes or environment that ‘create us,’ what is infinitely more important is to realise that genes and environment are only half the actual picture. The other half of the picture – the one about which we can do something ourselves -- is the faculty that helps make us distinctively human: Free will. The choices we make to do the things we do.

Tibor Machan has a useful way of seeing how these three things co-relate: nature and nurture (in other words genes and environment) give us our personality, the things about which we as adult human beings can do nothing about. But character is what we make of this. Character is what we choose to do to make ourselves. Character, the thing that makes the us in each of us, is made possible by the faculty of free will.

We might have genes that make us potentially great at tennis or golf, at painting or at music, at intellectual pursuits or sporting endeavour – what is critical however is what we ourselves choose to do about those potentials, what we do to either make the most of them, or ignore them.

“Man,” as Ayn Rand affirmed, “is a being of self-made soul.” We are each given our own ingredients, and by the choices we make with what we’re given we go on to make ourselves. That’s what it is to be a human being, and it's on those things that we should really judge each other.

Going back to where we started then, and if we choose to take this research about ‘warrior genes’ at face value, we can see that all in all it’s an interesting little story but, as the researcher himself says, it’s only a very small part of the picture. Unless, that is, we choose to make something more of it than it deserves. I suspect we all have genes that make us susceptible to certain behaviours, both good and bad. What’s infinitely more important is what we choose to do about that.

LINK: Once were warriors: gene linked to maori violence - Sydney Morning Herald
Nature v nurture - character is all - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

Science, Ethics, Philosophy, Racism, Maoritanga

Brain slippage

The big news this morning on local networks is minor landslips in Lower Hutt that will see some home-owners losing their homes, and some insurance companies helping to put them into new ones. Big and very sad news for those involved to be sure, but nothing we haven’t seen before you would think, and like previous slips nothing that can't be put right with a little hard work and forethought.

Somehow, however, these minor landslips seem to have triggered an ‘unhinged’ gene in some locals. The mayor for instance. “Climate change!” asserted Hutt City mayor David Ogden as the reason for the slip. “More rain than we’ve ever seen ever before,” he said [I paraphrase only a little]. “Climate change and weather bombs are to blame. Rain, disease, pestilence, famine and death.” [Okay, I might have just overdone the paraphrasing a little.]

The four horsemen of the climate change apocalypse and “greedy developers” who want to build on hills. Between them they’ve got poor Mayor Ogden in a perfect wee storm.

Not exactly a burst of sanity from Old Oggie then.

Last time I saw Wellington, aside from Te Aro and the Hutt Valley river plain -- which have their own problems -- the place looked to be full of hills. Does he really suggest that everyone huddle together beside the Hutt River in risk-free government-provided housing? And if this is the worst Mayor Ogden has seen has he never heard of Abbotsford? Or Aberfan? Or Ruahihi? Or Ongarue? Or the 1976 storm that "caused widespread landslides in Wellington City and the Hutt Valley." Of Paraparumu in 1936? Or Waihi in1846 -- a lanslide that killed 60 people?

All tragic slips, along with many, many more floods and tragic slips that happened long before the currently fashionable harbinger of pestilence and disaster called ‘climate change’ appeared on the scene (although we all knew back then that an ice age was on the way, didn’t we).

And have recent slips in Eastbourne and the Hutt really launched a movement to put a stop to building on hills altogether? Has the ‘unhinged gene’ spread more widely? As Breakfast TV news breathlessly followed each crack as it appeared this morning in that Upper Hutt backyard, the journalist on site – who looked barely old enough to have opinions of her own – told us that there had been a recent protest march in Wellington calling for an end to building on hills.

Is that really true? Have the 'there-ought-to-be-a-law-against-it' and 'the-gummints-got-to-do-something-about-it' brigades really protested about this!?

Lord help us. If that report is true – and we all know how reliable media reports are – are there really people who think that risk can be totally removed from life? Are there really people who don’t understand the idea of choice, and about taking responsibility for those choices, and measures to minimise the risks?

And maybe, too, about getting a little perspective on things.

UPDATE: My politico-geography corrected (thanks Michael for correcting my own brain slippage). New links added.

LINK: Google news links on Kelson - Google

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Global Warming

Wikipedia birthday meme

DPF and Krimsonlake have a Wikipedia meme that I'm belatedly picking up on. Instructions (which I've flouted):
  1. Go to Wikipedia
  2. In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
  3. List five events that happened on your birthday
  4. List two important birthdays and one death
  5. One holiday or observance (if any)
Great events:

My only reason for supporting the Monarchy would be if Charlie's birthday became one. Until then, all I have is a Roman festival: The Equorum Probatio.

TAGS: Blog, Nonsense, History

Ewen-Street is not on the environmental main highway

Is the reportedly lazy and ineffective Green MP Ian Ewen-Street going to National a sign of anything? Anything at all?

I haven't commented before because, frankly, it just seems so trivial -- apart Mr and Mrs Ewen-Street, I thought, who really cares -- but many people are reading an awful lot into this move.

Is it a sign, as some commentators and Don Brash have said, that National are "serious about the environment"? Or a sign that National is a broad church, encompassing both the lazy and ineffective Ewen-Street and the similarly qualified Tau Henare? Or perhaps a sign as Jeanette Fitzsimons indicated that Ewen-Street was always a Tory anyway? Or something else -- or even, perhaps, nothing at all?

For mine it's something else. It's not so much that "National are serious about the environment," but as DPF said: "It is incredibly frustrating that the hard left have captured so much of the environmental brand, and this should help correct that perception." That's it, really: This is all about perception, not about substance. The 'centre-right' would like to massage the perception; expect the substance to barely change.

Ewen-Street is hardly someone upon which to base any substance in any case -- and the frightening news of the lazy but anti-GE Green (Ewen-Street) and the man who called the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation" (Nick Smith) writing National's environmental policy between them is not something from which to expect anything substantially less wet or less 'left' environmentally than what the Nats already have.

The hard left have captured the so much of the environmental brand for a very good reason: Because almost the entire political spectrum, including the self-described 'centre-right,' have accepted the nostrum that environmental protection requires hard left command-and-control measures to be effective.

But it doesn't. That view is just mistaken.

When the non-hard-left parts of the political spectrum begin to realise that secure property rights do in fact provide the best means for environmental protection (and at the same time for the protection of freedom), then we might be on the road to seeing something new. Something of substance. Something like that which is happening in the States, where alumni of property-rights-promoters like PERC have been getting their feet under the policy table. That would be the right road down which to travel.

But Ian Ewen-Street is not on that road. And neither is Nick Smith or National.

How about you?


RELATED: Environment, Politics-National, Property Rights, Common Law

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"The young man hoped he would not have to die..."

What do you think of when you see this photograph?

For me, I think of a wonderful passage from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, or, strictly speaking, the beginning of a wonderful passage:

The leaves streamed down, trembling in the sun. They were not green; only a few, scattered through the torrent, stood out in single drops of a green so bright and pure that it hurt the eyes; the rest were not a color, but a light, the substance of fire on metal, living sparks without edges. And it looked as if the forest were a spread of light boiling slowly to produce this color, this green rising in small bubbles, the condensed essence of spring. The trees met, bending over the road, and the spots of sun on the ground moved with the shifting of the branches, like a conscious caress. The young man hoped he would not have to die.

Not if the earth could look like this, he thought. Not if he could hear the hope and promise like a voice, with leaves, tree trunks and rocks instead of words. But he knew that the earth looked like this only because he had seen no sign of men for hours; he was alone, riding his bicycle down a forgotten trail through the hills of Pennsylvania where he had never been before, where he could feel the fresh wonder of an untouched world...

You can read the whole passage here. And after reading it, see if this architectural project reminds you of anything.

(And yes, the photo is of China, not Pennsylvania -- don't be so literal. And yes, there are buildings in it, but dimly lit, as if through a curtain promisingly...)

LINKS: Ayn Rand's Monadnock - Monadnock.Net
The Fountainhead page - Objectivism Reference Centre
The Fountainhead - Amazon.Com
San Marcos Water Gardens - Frank Lloyd Wright - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED: Architecture, Art, Books, Objectivism, Philosophy

Pic Credit: Gary Friedman. Thanks Gary.

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Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Israeli military at forefront of architectural theory

From that little-known conjunction of deconstructionist architectural theory and military strategy comes this revealing paper: Israeli Military Using Post-Structuralism as 'Operational Theory.'

Says Eyal Weizman in the paper, delivered at a recent conference ‘Beyond Bio-politics’ at City University, New York:
The Israeli Defence Forces have been heavily influenced by contemporary philosophy, highlighting the fact that there is considerable overlap among theoretical texts deemed essential by military academies and architectural schools.

The attack conducted by units of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the city of Nablus in April 2002 was described by its commander, Brigadier-General Aviv Kokhavi, as ‘inverse geometry’, which he explained as ‘the reorganization of the urban syntax by means of a series of micro-tactical actions’...

I asked Naveh [a retired Brigadier-General, directs the Operational Theory Research Institute] why [French post-structuralists] Deleuze and Guattari were so popular with the Israeli military. He replied that ‘several of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaux became instrumental for us […] allowing us to explain contemporary situations in a way that we could not have otherwise. It problematized our own paradigms. Most important was the distinction they have pointed out between the concepts of “smooth” and “striated” space [which accordingly reflect] the organizational concepts of the “war machine” and the “state apparatus”. In the IDF we now often use the term “to smooth out space” when we want to refer to operation in a space as if it had no borders.
I'm pretty sure this is satire, but then how would you know? Most 'post-structuralist architectural theory' sounds like bullshit anyway.

LINK: Israeli Military Using Post-Structuralism as 'Operational Theory' - Infoshop News

TAGS: Architecture, Philosophy, Postmodernism, Nonsense, Humour


Wipe out the RotoVegas crims?

I haven't commented on this so far, but I really can't believe this is still causing such debate in the Commentariat. I'm referring to the question of whether or not to ban repeat criminals from the Rotorua town centre.

Isn't the flavour of this similar to other questions that have people tangled up in knots? Should we ban smoking in bars? Should club members be allowed to blackball new members? Should employers be forced to adopt racial quotas? Should we be allowed to separate Muslim from non-Muslim bathers on Italian beaches?

The answer to all these questions is the same: "Who's this 'we,' white man?"

That is: "Who owns the bar?" "Who owns the club?" "Whose place of business is this?" "Who owns the beach?" That's right, the way to cut this Gordian knot is with property rights. If this was a Rotorua shop we were talking about, or a Rotorua shopping mall, 'we' would (or should) have no say in whom the shop- or mall-owner wishes to ban from his property. It's the same with beach and bar and business and bordello: He who has the property makes the rules.

The reason you and I are still discussing this is that downtown RotoVegas is owned by the 'public,' ie., by nobody, so that rules on behaviour downtown can only be those implemented by the council and enforced by the police and objected to by 'snivel libertarians' with the cry of "Big Brother!" (To which I can only say, "Oh, Brother!")

Enact or recognise property rights in the RotoVegas CBD however -- for example, by granting shop-owners property rights in the 'public' areas of the town, just as they might have as part of a body corporate in a mall -- and you'll see that as those with a legitimate property right they can make whatever rules or policies they like consistent with their need to make a dollar.

Just another example of how private property de-politicises so called thorny issues.

Of course, another way of solving the problem is to actually lock up real repeat criminals (instead of people like Tim Selwyn), but I'm no more optimistic on that score than I am on this one.

LINK: 5 women, 111 convictions - Sunday Star-Times
Sun, sea and sharia on women-only Italian beach - Guardian [Hat tip Relative Humility]

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Property Rights

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Unbuilt Piha Project - Organon Architecture, 1996

Just another unbuilt project from the files of Organon Architecture, this one for a spectacularly wild setting above Piha Beach.

Sketch above. Sketch plans at left.

TAGS: Architecture, Auckland

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Monday, 7 August 2006

Trusting media reports of carnage

Every asymmetric war is fought through the media, and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict is no exception. You would think journalists themselves would know that, and be careful not be used. You would think too that reports of tragedy and carnage would be treated as carefully as absolutely possible.

It appears they're not so careful.

Jihad Watch has been playing spot the difference with the Reuters photos below. Which one do you think is real? Why has Reuters been tinkering with their photos, and what does it say for their claims of objectivity? Jihad Watch asks and answers the questions.

And speaking of journalistic objectivity and being used, EU Referendum fisks the famous photo of the Qana tragedy. Make up your own mind who's using whom. And be careful what you read.

LINKS: Reuters admits doctoring photo, kills doctored version - Jihad Watch
Reuters doctoring photos to make Israel look bad? - Jihad Watch (Sun Aug 6)
Qana - the director's cut - EU Referendum

RELATED: Israel, Politics-World

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Hottest on record?

Man it's hot in the Northern Hemisphere. Heatwaves all across Europe and the US. I bet you'd have no problem picking when the hottest summer on record in the US was, right?

Yes, that's right. 1930.

Seventy-six years ago. Long before the words "man-made," "global" and "warming" got glued together and began scaring Al Gore. In fact, just a decade before heavy industrialisation really kicked in and temperatures began their long decline to 1975. Story here.

And the hottest recorded days on the planet ever? When do you think they were?

Anybody saying either 1913 or 1922 gets a prize. July, 1913 in Death Valley, California, and September, 1922 in Aziziyah, Libya. Story here. Man, global warming back then sure was a dreadful thing.

LINKS: A bit of history for global warmers: Look at 1930 - CNSNews
Science question of the week - Goddard Space Flight Center
Hat tip:
Bidinotto Blog

Global Warming, Environment


Pledge Card spending under Auditor-General's scrutiny

You've probably already seen the Sunday Star story that has all parliamentary parties in a spin:
Election ad spending was illegal, report finds

Political parties could be forced to pay back thousands of taxpayer dollars after a confidential legal report found the money was illegally spent on advertising during the election campaign.

The finding seems highly likely to have repercussions for Labour's controversial $446,000 "pledge card" and brochure spend, which triggered a complaint to police.

Prime Minister Helen Clark's adviser Heather Simpson narrowly escaped prosecution over the pledge cards when police found prima facie evidence that a case could be made against her. However, they decided it would be unfair to single her out because other parties also used parliamentary funds for advertising.

The pledge cards, paid for out of parliamentary services money, would have taken Labour over its spending limit had they had been included as election expenses...

It's no surprise that all parliamentary parties are bleating about this report, since all those parties have been found to have used taxpayers' money to help buy their way back into parliament. Money allocated by Parliamentary Services to run their offices was used instead to run for office. That money should be paid back. It wasn't theirs to spend on chasing votes.

That all parliamentary parties did the same thing shows the total disregard right across the spectrum for the people who pay their wages, and is no excuse for misappropriating public monies -- and as Irene Chapple is surely aware, that was not the reason police decided not to prosecute Heather Simpson. David Farrar outlines in 'The Free Radical' what the reasons were, all of which I'm sure Chapple is aware of.

And I'm sure she's also aware of Bernard Darnton's impending court action against Helen Clark for her overspending on the Pledge Card, so why she chose not to include that in this story is another mystery.

Yes, the Pledge Cards would have taken Labour over its spending limit had they been included as election expenses. As David Farrar's Election Spending Archives make clear, Labour knew that before the election that they should have been included in their election spending because the Electoral Commission confirmed that in writing to the Labour Party. In fact the Electoral Commission only backed off just before the election when the Labour Party promised the Electoral Commission they would be included, only resiling on this cynical promise after the election.

Unlike her lawyers in the related case of Darnton v Clark, Helen Clark has responded to the report -- which she claims nonetheless not to have read -- by saying that the Auditor-General is changing the rules of the game after the final whistle has been blown.

That is a lie.

Labour knew the rules of the game all the way through. The Electoral Commission told them the Pledge Card spending must be included. They responded by lying about their intentions. And they're lying now to try and avert the mess their original lying has brought them.

I look foward to those lies being exposed in court sometime not too far away. Keep watching DarntonVsClark for progress.

UPDATE: Pledge Card litigant Bernard Darnton has issued a press release on the AG's report:
Lower Hutt businessman and Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton today accused Helen Clark of lying to the public over her comments on the Auditor-General's report on election advertising.
Read it all at Scoop: Clark's Pledge Card Lies

LINKS: DarntonVsClark website
Election Spending Archives - Kiwiblog (David Farrar), temporarily offline
Free Radical 71: The Stolen Election

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton_V_Clark

PIC CREDIT: Labour's real seven-point pledge card - Dave Gee

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