Saturday morning ramble - #23
- "The nine most terrifying words in the English language," observed Ronald Reagan, are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help'." When Christchurch businessman Dave Henderson was set upon by government, in the form of the IRD, he resolved to fight back. He not only fought back; with the help of Rodney Hide he fought and he won and he changed the thuggish, overbearing culture endemic to the Infernal Revenue System. And then he bought their building. The whole story is now on film, and ready for release in early November. The website for the film is here: 'Here to Help.' Check it out.
- John Boy visits Porirua market. Nobody wants to talk to him. Poor John.
- "It seems that every generation has its Shylock," says Yaron Brook -- "a despised financier blamed for the economic problems of his day. A couple of decades ago it was Michael Milken and his “junk” bonds. Today it is the mortgage bankers who, over the past few years, lent billions of dollars to home buyers." See The Morality of Money-Lending: A Short History to understand why the scapegoating of moneylenders is "is unjust but not new."
- "Saving banks. Ruining money." Not just the recent reaction to the worldwide credit crunch, but a reaction most governments across history have made when they've been able to meddle with the currency. "The bank was saved but the money was ruined." So says William Gouge (1796-1863), one of the best political economists of the American 19th century. He is speaking of the panic of 1819, but his sentence could sum up the whole thesis of his marvelous book, A Short History of Money & Banking, now back in print, and reviewed here.
"Imagine an egalitarian world in which all food is organic and local, the air is free of industrial pollution, and vigorous physical exertion is guaranteed. Sound idyllic?"
But hold on… Life expectancy is 30 at most; many children die at or soon after birth; life is constantly lived on the edge of starvation; there are no doctors or dentists or modern toilets. If it is egalitarian it is because everyone is dirt poor, and there is no industrial pollution because there are no factories. Food is organic because there are no pesticides or high technology farming methods. As a result, producing food means long hours of back-breaking physical work which may end up yielding little. There is – or at least was – such a place. It is called the past.Daniel Ben-Ami explains "why we must tackle the critics of economic growth, and finish off the war against scarcity." See: Towards an Age of Abundance - Sp!ked.
- I bet you didn't know that Google Earth has a flight simulator. I didn't either until now, but it does, and it's great. Marco has all the necessary instructions.
- Carbon trading is fatuous, unfortunate, and unfortunately almost upon us. Says Nicole Gelinas:
Carbon trading, the increasingly accepted answer to global warming, will cost far more than we’re being told.See: An Inconvenient Solution - Nicole Gelinas.
- How does your ethical philosophy compare to the efforts of the great (and not-so-great) thinkers? Find out here at The Ethical Philosophy Quiz.
- Why would today's political activist want to read Brad Thompson's Antislavery Political Writings? Lin Zinser explains why you'd be foolish not to:
If you want to understand how abolitionists brought slavery to the forefront of American thought in less than 10 years; if you want to study how a good, moral political movement changed the world in 30 years; if you want to get involved in political action today, but you want to do it in a principled, moral way -- this is the book to read, understand and study.
- But what about the roads? How many times is that question asked of libertarian political activists! Qwertz takes on the question again for all of the so called 'natural monopolies' that theorists insist can only be taken care of by government. He insists that public safety requires that governments not be allowed anywhere near the controls of infrastructure at all. The Road to Ruin, he says, is paved with intervention.
- Frustrated with postmodern nonsense? With pomo-wanking, with slippery "discourse" about the certainty of uncertainty, of militant agnosticism and armchair multiculturalism? Then check out Stephen Hicks' interview on The Postmodern Assault on Reason.
- The most succinct explanation yet given by Frank Bainimarama for his coup is contained in his recent speech to the UN. Read it and decide for yourself whether his demonisation is deserved. As he says, "the international community needs to understand the full context of the Fiji situation." Crucial to understanding that context, about which you'll rarely if ever heard expressed in either Australian or NZ media, is that:
Fiji started its journey as a young nation on a rather shaky foundation, with a race-based Constitution, one which rigidly compartmentalised our communities. The "democracy" that came to be practised in Fiji was marked by divisive, adversarial, inward-looking, raced-based politics. The legacy of leadership, at both community and national levels, was a fractured nation.
- Read how one art show in 1913 changed the word for ever. Paul Soderbergh issues a "storm warning" to today's art world challenging the notions presented in that 1913 show.
- More on 'Atlas Month' -- the fiftieth 'birthday of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged: The real significance of 'Atlas,' says Robert Tracinski, is that it is the only novel in all literature to come to grips with the most significant event of the last two-hundred years. "She was the first thinker and artist to fully grasp the meaning of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution and to give them expression both in literature and in philosophy." That artistic vision was so revolutionary, and so benevolent, most critics are still unable to understand it to this day. See: The Historic Significance of Atlas Shrugged - Robert Tracinski.
- It seems if you bash businessmen, you'll always have the support of the morons in the press gallery, as this disgraceful puff piece in praise of Clayton Cosgrove demonstrates.
He calls a spade a spade - and then uses it to pummel his opponents with it. I sat through a press conference with Cosgrove earlier this year as he trotted out line after line about how he was going to drag “land sharks” kicking and screaming into the spotlight and “drop the hammer” on them. Seriously. The media loved it. He has been equally tough against dodgy builders and developers...Never underestimate how much the media likes a thug.
- NBR points out why the NZ dollar remains popular with the "carry trade." No amount of Reserve Bank wriggling is going to change that.
- With the exception of a Boobs on Bikes post which still gets hits from people who have apparently never seen breasts before, the post with the highest reader-to-word ratio ever on Not PC debuted this week. With just twenty-eight words and readers totalling over 1100 and still counting that makes about four readers per word. Go figure. Who would have thought a debate about Cate Blanchett's waste products was so interesting.
- I see that the former minister for rhyming slang John Banks has announced he is flatly opposed to multi-storey buildings on Auckland's future Tank Farm precinct, and that Banks supporters think this anti-development appeasement is a good thing.
The tank farm precinct offers an ideal opportunity for an intensely urban harbour-side precinct unique in New Zealand. What we're more likely to see however is another bloody suburban tract infesting downtown, mandated by council's time-servers and by political appeasers like John Wanks.
Just another reason to bin your voting form. Don't vote, it only encourages bastards like this.
Or if you really do insist on voting, then you could follow the advice of a friend: just vote for those bastards who haven't already had their feet under the table.
- Here's the essay by Robert Bidinotto that won him a 2007 Folio "Eddie" Gold Award for Editorial Excellence: entitled Up From Conservatism, it simply explains the intellectual chaos so characteristic of conservatives.
- Not that socialists are immune to intellectual chaos either. If "income equality" is one of their primary goals, asks Pommygranate, "then why does Freedom (free trade, capitalism, deregulated markets) correlate so perfectly with Social and Income Equality?" Time for some people to check their premises, it seems.
- Businessmen and entrepreneurs worldwide deliver the goods and services that keep us alive and flourishing.
Intellectuals who study the free society have, in the fields of economics and politics, a good understanding of what makes this possible,says Stephen Hicks: individualism. It's time to turn this same spotlight on ethics, says Hicks, the head of Rockford College's Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. For too long, he says, the conduct of business has been viewed by mainstream theorists as either amoral or immoral. Following Ayn Rand, Hicks makes a strong case for business activity as a moral act. See his essay 'Ayn Rand and Contemporary Business Ethics.' [26 pages, PDF]
- Lisa Van Damme says about her school: "I have often been told that, when asked what was special about their VanDamme Academy education, graduates say, "We always understood why we were learning what we were learning." She explains how that process starts from the very first day in teaching history, and grammar, and literature.
- Have a look at what passes for modern architecture in Britain: Landmark Houses by top British architects invited "to speculate on the architectural poetics and ecological considerations for the design of a 'landmark house'" within the context of a rural site in the Cotswolds.
- It's worth noting that building on a rural site in Britain -- let alone building anything inventive -- is next to impossible, and has been for a very, very long time. I remember, for example, former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice (and collaborator on his plans for Baghdad) Nezam Kazan telling me that it was pointless even trying to produce cretive architecture for the English countryside since the English countryside had long since been turned into a museum by planners. James Woudhuysen at Sp!ked argues that the worldwide housing affordability crisis means this presumption to urban containment and rural mediocrity should be urgently overturned.
If New Labour is serious about making homes more affordable, then it should allow members of the public to buy land and build homes where they please,he argues -- a point that the writers of NZ's uber-restrictive District Plans need to take to heart as well. See: This Land is Our Land - Sp!ked.
- Since Al Bore was offered the opportunity (in person) to facilitate serious debate on the underlying science of global climate change, 1 year, 9 months, 1 day, 21 hours, 52 minutes, and 37 seconds have elapsed. He's still dodging. In this YouTube mash-up, DemandDebate.Com shows why the Goracle might be so reluctant.
- "What is it about climate change that attract's charlatans?" asks The Australian's Janet Albrechtsen, and why do the serious claims for catastrophe bear no relationship to the cuddly cures proposed by politicians? "They tell us breezily we can have it all, no worries. Where is the probing, sceptical media when these sorts of porkies are told?"
- A fabulous resource you might want to bookmark as ammunition against the charlatans is The Anti "Man-Made" Global Warming Resource. The most comprehensive bunch o' links on this topic on the planet.
- If you've had trouble keeping up with the ongoing investigation of the surface stations that are responsible for producing the temperature record, Anthony Watts slide show here is a great introduction to the standards adopted when the phrase "good enough for government work" is your guide.
- Environmental hysteria is nothing new, of course. Amy Kaleita and Gregory Forbes hav produced a comprehensive guide of several centuries of hysteria, from how we're going to kill all the animals; how we're all going to freeze to death; how we're going to cook ourselves; how we're going to turn the planet into a starving wasteland; how we're all going to overcrowd the earth ... there's nothing new when it comes to hysteria. See Hysteria's History: Environmental Alarmism in Context. [30 pages, PDF]
- You'll often hear it expressed that "environmentalism is a religion." Not so, corrects blogger Noumenal Self. "Environmentalism is NOT a Religion," he says.
[Environmentalism] is a manifestly naturalistic philosophy, concerned with the status of the natural world (for better or for worse). This is my chief objection. Perhaps there are ways in which environmentalism is like religion. But it is not literally a religion, and this has important implications... Understanding why environmentalism is not a religion helps to understand why the threat it poses will be relatively short-term... Frankly, I think that the "environmentalism is a religion" charge originated among the religious, particularly those on the right, who saw environmentalism as a competitor.
- More on the 'Religion in America' debate. Christopher Hitchens points out to those who refuse to take the point that America's founders were skeptics about religion. "It is quite astonishing," he says, "how irreligious the Founders actually were." He cites the founding fathers' famous constitutional 'wall of separation' between church and state, and concludes: In a time when the chief declared enemy of the American experiment is theocratic fanaticism, we should stand together and demand, "Mr Jefferson: Build Up That Wall!"
- Hitchens fans will enjoy his one-hour talk at Google's headquarters on why God is not great, and how religion poisons everything. You Tube has the somewhat smug vid: Authors@Google: Christopher Hitchens.
- An interesting aspect of the 'Religion in America' debate is pointed out by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph: God Takes Back Seat on Campaign Trail says the Telegraph. Facinating.
- And finally, a question that's plagued anyone who's ever spent any time on the internet: just how much are those nice women paid to do all those delightful things that regularly appear in pictures set to my inbox? Kink.Com has the list of rates for all the diverse atrocities it's possible for consenting adults to be photographed doing. If you'd like to get rich by doing what you enjoy, then "training of female bondage slaves by male dom" looks to be the most lucrative.
Labels: Al Gore, Architecture, Art, Atlas Shrugged, Education, Ethics, Films, Frank Lloyd Wright, Free Trade, Games Auckland, Global Warming, Grammar, Objectivism, Politics, Politics-NZ, Ramble, Religion, Sex, Socialism, Sports, Sprawl, United Nations, Urban Design, Writing