Saturday, January 27, 2007

A weekend ramble: Sex, murder and multiculturalism

It's Saturday, which means offering you a selection of good weekend reading.
  • Fancy a visit to the world's largest sex theme park? Then you'll need to get to South Korea's Cheju Island, which is where you'll find "Love Land," and more of what you see in this rather tame pic at left. Der Spiegel has the story.
    LINK:
    A Phallus garden in "Love Land"

  • What do you do if you're a resident of a small rural town in which the mayor "puts a stop to the centuries-old custom of herding livestock through village," refuses to issue hunters with shooting licences, and causes local drinkers to revolt after he prevented the settlement's only bar from setting out tables on the terrace in summer -- in other words, if your elected employee begins thinking he's your boss? If you're a resident of the small Italian town of Fago, you shoot your mayor. True story.
    Police believe Mr Grima was the victim of a meticulously planned ambush involving at least three perpetrators and, in a move worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, the police are considering the entire population of the village as suspects.
    Read more here. Busybody nanny staters who like to mind everyone else's business might like to reflect that everyone has their breaking point. A harsh judgement? The boys at Pacific Empire don't think so: "Petty tyranny is still tyranny. He might not have ruined an entire country, or executed or tortured dissidents, but his policies were unjust, and he incurred the hatred of all his subjects. I hope the killers are never captured, and that one day tyrannicide will be considered a just defense against a murder charge." LINK: Entire village suspected of mayor's murder - Telegraph-UK.

  • The heroic Ayaan Hirsi Ali (left) is still a lightning rod for many of the worst ills of the modern world, and for many of the arseholes who peddle what makes the world ill. Pascal Bruckner defends her against her latest critics, the apostles of moral equivalence who would make her morally equal to those who murdered her colleague Theo van Gogh, and whose creed of multiculturalism would deny people their chance to breathe free, and would instead chain people to their roots. LINK: Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists? - Pascal Bruckner.

  • Now for some frivolity. Paula has a meme where she compares "twelve words you'd hate for others to apply to you, though you know they fit like a glove," with twelve words you'd use to describe yourself. You know the kind of thing: I am principled, but you are dogmatic. Feel free to use her meme yourself, or to help me compile twelve adjectives to describe myself. LINK: The grapes of meme, and The grapes of meme II - Ultrablog. [UPDATE: Oops. Links fixed.]

  • And now, back to our ruling classes. Insolent Prick has a list showing the "combined backgrounds of Labour's caucus and party list from the last election; their qualifications for office and their careers prior to entering Parliament." These are overwhelmingly not the sort of people who move the world: it is a lists of committee-joiners; a slate virtually overflowing with sanctimony and busybodiness. You will look in vain for anything like running a business, being self-employed, or personally taking (and succeeding with) an entrepreneurial risk, and you might care to ask yourself what attracts people like these to politics... LINK: Real New Zealanders - Insolent Prick. [UPDATE: Cactus Kate says in thirty-three words what it took me nearly a hundred to say:
    You have an actual job, are not a Union organiser and desire the horizontal company of those of the opposite sex, what chance have you got of getting on the Labour Party list?"
    I guess pithiness like that is why the Dom is paying her the big bread.]

  • Lest you have delusions that the bluer side of the aisle is any better, Blair offers further evidence that whatever entrepreneurial ability the Blue Team has, it's pissed away that advanteage in an utter abandonment of principle. The latest case in point: National's refusal to back private property rights -- said to be one of National's "core values" -- specifically, a refusal to back the Maori Party's Bill for the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed legislation, which effectively nationalised the seabed and foreshore. The Bill if passed would would reinstate the right for anyone, regardless of colour, to prove their ownership of specific stretches of foreshore or seabed before a properly constituted court. Blair's letter to John Boy Key is a masterful explication of why, if National is to have any claim to being a party of principle, it must support the Maori Party's Bill. LINK: Unbelievable! - Mulholland Drive.

  • It sometimes takes a while for news to hit the news, but last week the news that houses in New Zealand's cities are amongst the most unaffordable in the western world finally hit the news. The MSM news. Rather than rewrite what I would humbly suggest are several very well put together posts on the subject of why NZ's cities are so goddamn unaffordable, I'll simply relink to some of them now.
    - Some Auckland mayors realise ring-fencing the city is 'unsustainable'
    - Sustainable cities are unaffordable cities
    - Dream of home ownership is just that
    - Decentralisation, and Those Who Oppose It
    - East Germany in East Auckland
    - Sprawl is good
    - Sprawl is good; regulation is not

    - Sprawl has always been good
    - NZ Housing affordability "in crisis" says report
    - Housing un-affordability - denying the obvious
    - Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City

    That's just a small selection from the, ahem, seventy-three posts I've written on this and related subjects. Once you've digested them -- and iff they don't stick in your craw too badly -- then you might like to visit planner Tom Beard's site (especially this post, and this one) to see how risible are his arguments against letting people free to build and live where they wish. Feel free to respond in his comments section. And speaking of risible, feel free to lob some decent intellectual ammunition on this subject in Jordan's direction, since he's clearly short of a few truckloads himself. ;^)

  • "In the wake of PC campus "speech codes," media self-censorship over criticism of Islam (recall the "Muhammad cartoon" and "South Park" controversies), and "campaign finance reform" efforts to forbid certain people from funding political ads with their own money," Robert Bidinotto links to an ugly campaign to silence global warming skeptics.
    As he says, those who still like to associate the word "liberal" with die-hard support for free speech need a reality check. LINK: Weather Channel climate 'expert' calls for decertifying global warming skeptics - Senator Inhofe's blog.

  • "Theory is all." "Integrated ideas are simply meta-narratives." "There is no reality." Post-modern wankers are as stupid as they sound, and Bruce Boyd deservedly takes post-modern-wanker-in-chief Jacques Derrida to task in this highly enjoyable evisceration of the wanker. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks] LINK: Getting it all wrong - The American Scholar.

  • Should you say "nice things" about your competitors? Why not. Good business is like good blogging, argues Garr Reynolds.
    Good bloggers operate from an "abundance mentality" rather than a "scarcity mentality." They are more concerned with being linky than being sticky. Readers trust a blog that happily points them to other cool and useful sites. Likewise, people respect someone who has enough confidence in themselves that they are not afraid to introduce you to others who are perhaps even more talented than themselves.
    Stephen Hicks calls this "positive competition." You might see it as a reflection of the harmony of men's interests in a free, capitalist society. LINK: Love thy competitor (and it wouldn't hurt to say nice things about them either) - Presentation Zen.

  • And finally, a crucial question ... what's your ideal pet? Here's mine:


    Your Ideal Pet is a Big Dog



    You're both energetic, affectionate, and a bit goofy.

    And neither of you seem to mind very slobbery kisses!

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"New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray

[REPOSTED FOLLOWING THIS MORNING'S RELEASE OF THE IPCC SUMMARY FOR POLICYMAKERS]

I don't normally post entire press releases here at
Not PC, but I'm reposting below a press release from Dr Vincent Gray because of its importance and incisiveness on a subject in which statists are looking to warmists to justify an increase in their power. Dr Gray is, in effect, saying, "Now hold on just a moment..." -- PC

NEW REPORT SAYS GLOBAL WARMING IS NEGLIGIBLE, SHORT-LIVED, AND NOW ENDED -- Dr Vincent Gray

The draft “Summary for Policymakers of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been widely leaked to the Press. Its crucial conclusion is as follows:
“It is very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.”
The widely available graph of the globally averaged annual temperature anomalies between 1857 and 2005 shows, for the period since the mid-20th century:
  • No warming between 1950 and 1978.
  • No warming between 1998 and 2005.
  • The only ”observed” warming over the period is from 1978 to 1998, 20 years only, out of the 55 years.
  • The actual warming involved over this short period of 1978 to 1998 was 0.53ºC.
The above statement considers that it is very likely that most of this 0.53ºC was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.

This temperature rise is negligible. None of us would notice if it happened instantly, let alone over 50 years.. It is below the amount considered in the weather forecasts. Yet this small temperature rise over 55 years is routinely blamed for all manner of climate disasters.

The IPCC pronouncement is not a certain one. The term “very likely” is defined as amounting to a probability above 90%. In other words, there is one chance in ten that they are wrong. Also, the probability is based on the opinion (or guess) of “experts” who are financially dependent on an expectation of positive results.

Finally, there has been no “warming” at all since 1998, now eight years. “Global Warming” seems to have come to an end.

This temperature record is quite incompatible with the computer climate models [which are now the only place in which warming exists], so why should we believe their pessimistic forecasts for the future?

It should also be noted that there has been negligible warming in New Zealand since 1950. The mean temperature for 2006 was 0.7ºC below that for 2005. According to the temperature record for Christchurch, there was no warming since 1910, with a maximum temperature in 1917.

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

NB: Comments on this post can be found here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Burns Night Beer O'Clock Special: Scottish Export

Stu from Real Beer gives you some good advice for Burns Weekend...

January 25th was Burns Day, and for someone with a proud Scottish heritage it is pretty much a national day (certainly more so than the official St Andrew's Day). It's certainly a good excuse to come together on the nearest weekend for haggis, Burns's poetry, single malt whisky and bagpipes - and we Scots don't need much prodding to get involved in something like that. One can't (or "canny", as we like to say) drink whisky all day long, so before the prized single malts come out (and the debates rage as to which is the finest) we'll be sure to warm up with some Scottish ales.

Scotland has a brewing history as proud as any other nation, with it's fantastic brewing water and long period of lower malt taxes giving it a great export advantage over it's neighbours. Recent years have seen the same kind of "consolidation" that we've seen in most other nations, and a similar re-emergence of craft brewing. Traditionally ales from Scotland are generally brewed to a similar malt-balanced style and go by names such as "light", "heavy", "export" and "wee heavy" in ascending strengths. They are also commonly known as 60/-, 70/-, 80/-, 90/- (where "/-" means shilling and denotes an old British pricing system that rose alongside the strength of the beer).

In NZ you are unlikely to come across much from the smaller craft breweries, although the wonderful Harviestoun, Orkney and Traquair beers can be found from time to time. We tend to mostly see the major breweries export or wee heavy examples (or the pantomime donkey filtered Tennents Lager).

Two beers I'm partial to pick up when I get the chance are Belhaven's Wee Heavy and Caledonian's 80/-.

Belhaven's Wee Heavy, with it's distinctive lion rampant label, pours a deep ruby red and is malt rich and relatively simple (as is traditional for Scottish-style ales). The beer displays a subtle perfume reminiscent of caramel, dark rum and Christmas cake. These luscious aromas follow through in the clean flavour, which also displays a very lightly warming alcohol note and a lingering sweetness after the lightly bitter finish. It's a kind of beer that most New Zealanders can easily adapt to, due to the low hopping levels, and you find it in a lot of good supermarkets and bottle stores.

Not to take anything away from the very good Belhaven beer, but in my opinion Caledonian's 80/- is even better. (That's their brewery over there on the right.) It's a harder beer to find but will certainly reward the keen hunter. It pours a paler brilliant copper colour and looks a treat with it's creamy white lacing. The delicious malt aroma has underlying hints of marmalade and toasted fruit bread. The flavour is balanced slightly in the favour of malt, again, with roasty grain shades of smoke and wood creeping out from the caramelly base. There are dark fruit undertones in this mostly clean beer and the woody notes invite further drinking by lingering in the finish. Quite complex, perhaps because of the brewery's rare gas-fired copper kettles, and most certainly very sessional (i.e. I think I'll have another one of these, thanks).

Burns day comes at a perfect time for me. Just as the summer is heating up, and the popular hop-fuelled pale ales and lagers are becoming a bit ho-hum, I sit back and refresh my palate with an easy session of mellower, scrumptious Scottish ales. Try some yourself; most people enjoy the fact that they're neither overtly bitter or too fizzy (two things I know that put a lot of folk off "beer").

Have one or two for Robbie Burns this weekend.

Slainte mhath, Stu
LINKS: Scottish beer - Wikipedia
Burn's Night - Wikipedia
SOBA - Society of Beer Advocates

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Saving the planet? Who do you call?

Here's an interesting point made here at CapMag that warmists and environmentalists might want to consider. Environmentalists have said for years that "we" need to create "alternative" forms of energy. But how have "they" gone about creating them?
Well, they support like-minded politicians -- who've invented nothing but obstacles to innovation. They march in protests -- that have created nothing but vandalism. And they rage against capitalism -- the only system by which worthy creations can effectively be financed, marketed and widely distributed... Clearly, a viable, cleaner form of energy (if you buy into the faulty premise that one is needed) will not be created by some snarling rock-hurler, nor some land-confiscating government official, nor some loafer who nests with squirrels.
Innovation cannot be forced, and nor can it be created by political edict. No, if alternative energies are going to emerge, they'll only do so if there's real and genuine demand for them; and if they're going to come from anywhere, they'll come from the same place that all innovations have come from -- from the brain of a creator -- and they'll be produced and distributed by the very profit-oriented capitalist system that too many environmentalists profess to despise, and even while being shackled by controls and regulations dreamed up the loafers and rock-hurlers and government officials.

Ironically, as CapMag summarises, "it's the profit-oriented, productive achiever-types that the 'save the planet' crowd most despise and desire to shackle" who are the ones the 'save the planet' crowd most need.
The men and women who possess the ingenuity, personal ambition, and business acumen that a successful new energy venture would require, environmentalists lob eggs at. Yet it's businesspeople, not "Friends of the Earth," who, by translating scientific discoveries into practical reality, actually advance human life and eliminate pollution.
Give it some thought.

If you're still not convinced by Beer O'Clock-time this afternoon, then ponder the author's concluding thought:
If the planet truly did require ecological salvation (and there's plenty of evidence indicating it doesn't), ask yourself who'd be more apt to achieve a solution: one million bureaucrats or "Earth First!" members compelled by their "love for nature"? Or one creative genius of the caliber of Bill Gates or Henry Ford driven by the profit-motive? You know the answer.
LINK: Environmentalism vs creativity - Wayne Dunn, Capitalism Magazine

RELATED: Environmentalism, Ethics, Politics

Still cold.

The warmist response to NZ's cold summer is summarised by the Greens's Frogblog: "The cold December set the climate change deniers chattering but is not surprising," says the Frog: It's all due to El Nino.

Well, of course that's correct. But it's still a bloody cold summer -- the coldest in sixty years or so.

And isn't it true that the warmists are still chattering about 1998 being "the warmest year ever" (which it wan't, by the way, and after which temperatures have all been downhill)? But wasn't that also due to El Nino -- indeed, the "strongest El Nino on record"? Does that mean the warmists will stop chattering about that now? Any chance at all?

And just for your interest, here's a graph below from the Global Historical Climatology Network dataset for NZ's latitude and longitude (unlike NIWA, GCHN has no political axe to grind) so you can see for yourself the "general warming trend in NZ" that Frogblog is talking about. Does 0.02 degrees/decade sound catastrophic to you?

1880-2005 Temperature Time Series
Latitude Range -90 to -60, Longitude Range 165 to 180
(from the Global Historical Climatology Network dataset)

And if you want to generate your own graphs from your choice of datasets from various sources, from balloons to satellites to land-based stations, then CO2 Science is probably the place to go.

LINKS: El Nino in NZ - Frogblog (Green Party)
There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1988 - Bob Carter, Telegraph (UK)
Links to dataset descriptions - CO2 Science

RELATED: Global Warming

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School photographs...

RELATED: Religion, Cartoons, Humour

Berrymans' lawyer faces court on contempt

I'm told that the lawyer for Keith and Margaret Berryman, Dr Rob Moodie, himself faces two days in the Wellington High Court at the end of January over the issue of contempt, in relation to his release of the Butcher Report. I wish Dr Moodie well. More details at a supporter's website.

You can find background on how action by successive governments has done over the Berrymans at the supporter's website, and in my own posts on the subject.

LINK: NZ Army-built bridge disaster - Supporter's website

RELATED: Berrymans, Politics-NZ

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Answering the Stern gang on global warming

A new report answering one of the warmists' favourite friends is now online.

The Blair Government's 'Stern Review on the Economic Effects of Climate Change' was released in October last year to great fanfare, following which Sir Nicholas was briefly flavour of the months for warmists everywhere -- economic consequences "worse than the Great Depression" shouted the Report; "the economic effects could be as dire as the last two world wars," burbled Helen Clark; The Guardian meanwhile described the author of the report Sir Nicholas Stern as "the first climate change rock star" -- after which fanfare, Gordon Brown invited Sir Nicholas Stern to spend more time with his family.

Bjorn Lomborg, George Reisman and Christopher Monckton were among those who issued significant criticisms of the Stern Report. And now, a substantive report in answer to the Stern Gang has been authored by a team of skeptic scientists and economists, and published in the Journal of World Economics. The team includes Climate Science Coalition scientists Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter, and prominent American skeptic Richard Lindzen. Concludes the report:
Two distinct aspects are relevant here. First, there is the question of whether it can indeed be said, as the Review asserts in its opening sentence, that
The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very
serious global risks, and it demands an urgent global response.
Second, there is the related issue of how far the Stern Review, in the sections that it devotes to them, gives an accurate account of the scientific issues. We consider that the Review is doubly deficient. The scientific evidence for dangerous change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective.... Overall, our conclusion is that the Review is flawed to a degree that makes it unsuitable, if not unwise, for use in setting policy.
The whole 60-page report can be found here. [PDF]

LINKS: The Stern Review: A new critique - World Economic Journal [60-page PDF]
Stern review: The dodgy numbers behind the latest warming scare - Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal
Climate change author quits Treasury after Brown freezes him out - Times
Britain's Stern Review on global warming: It could be environmentalism's swan song - George Reisman
Climate chaos? Don't believe it - Christopher Monckton, Sunday Telegraph
Too Stern a view of climate change - Scientific Alliance (UK) [Word Doc]

RELATED: Politics-UK, Environment, Global Warming

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Sounds awful

What's the worst sound in the world? British acoustic engineer Trevor Cox reckons he has a good idea.
People being sick, squeaky see-saws and screaming babies have been voted some of the worst sounds in the world. Over the past year, more than a million people have been voting on the noises that drive them nuts so researchers can work out what makes them so annoying. People being sick topped the list, with violins being played badly and whoopee cushions also making the top 10. But for kids under the age of 10, the world's worst sound was the dreaded sound of the dentist's drill. Eurgh! [Source: CBBC Newsround]
For me, the worst sound in the world is of a clip-board wielding bureaucrat on the doorstep saying, "I'm from the Government; I'm here to help" -- but I guess that's a different quality of sound, right? Anyway, find out for yourself at Cox's website which sounds you dislike. The Guardian has more.

LINKS: Sick and babies are worst sounds - CBBC Newsround
World's worst sound? - The Guardian
Bad vibes - Sounds101 Research Website

RELATED: Science

Isolde - Aubrey Beardsley


Following on this week's theme of illustrations, tonight I'm posting one of Aubrey Beardley's 1893 series of lithographs based on the story of Tristan and Isolde.

RELATED: Art

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fundies say the darndest things

Stephen Hicks has spotted "a collection of frighteningly hilarious fundamentalist opinions." If they weren't all serious, they sure would be hilarious.

LINK: Top 100 FStDT quotes - FundiesSayTheDarndestThings.Com

RELATED: Religion, Quotes

No broadband for Jenny

Q: What happens to investment when a government threatens to nationalise infrastructure?

A: Investment in infrastructure falls.


If you don't believe me, and you wish to ignore the mountains of international evidence supporting that answer, then ask yourself why Jenny Gibbs and the residents of Remuera, Howick and Paritai Drive are finding it difficult to get broadband. The answer in this morning's Herald is that Telecom is not investing sufficiently in infrastructure in those areas -- and why the hell should it, when that investment is subject to being taken out from under the investors by government edict. As Telstra Australia's CEO Sol Trujillo said in similar circumstances, threatening not to lay the fibre allowing an Australia-wide broadband network: “My duty is to our shareholders — including 1.6m ordinary Australians. I will only invest where I can earn an economic return.”

Unbundling Telecom's property will increase broadband penetration? Don't believe a word of it.

LINK: She's a multi-millionaire and still can't get broadband - NZ Herald
Telstra shrugs? - Not PC (May, 2006)

RELATED:
Telecom, Politics-NZ

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The Australian political quiz

Everyone seems to like a quiz. The quiz du jour around the blogosphere is the Australian political quiz that claims to determines both where you sit on the political spectrum, and which Australisn political parties you are closest to.

You can do the quiz yourself here.

You can see my own results below, but once again these results suggest to me the imbecility of the one-dimensional left-right political spectrum. "Centre-right," "far-right," "centre-left." These very results, plotted for three different variables on a left-right axis, show that for anything substantive the left-right axis is insufficient to describe a complex political position. On the other hand, if you plot a chart with one axis representing Economic Freedom and the other Political Freedom and measure a person's position on the resulting two-dimensional chart, a much more accurate result is obtained. (See left, for example.)

Anyway, on to my own results for this quiz. My party preference (according to the quiz) is:
Liberal 73%, National Party 61%, Labour Party/One Nation 59%, Democrats 53%, and Greens 39%.

And for the three 'left-right' variables:
  • on 'political outlook' my "broad political orientation score is 25.2%, which equates to a ‘Centre Right’ position";
  • on 'economic outlook' my "economic policy score score is 83.2%. This equates to a ‘Far Right’ position";
  • on 'social policy' my "social policy score is 68.8%. This equates to a ‘Right’ position"; and
  • on 'traditional values' my "traditional values score is -67%. This equates to a ‘Left’ position."
Make of that what you will. To me it shows once again that a one-dimensional political spectrum is too simplistic to be any use whatsoever.

LINKS: Australian politics test - The Oz Politics Blog
Cue card libertarianism - political spectrum - Not PC
NZ's political spectrum - Not PC

RELATED: Politics-Australian,
Cue_Card_Libertarianism, Politics, Libertarianism

""In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11th..."

I'll ask you the same question Lindsay Perigo is asking on Radio Live this morning: Do you agree that the west is at war? Said President Bush in yesterday's State of the Union address:
...to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since Nine-Eleven has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented - but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in Nine-Eleven is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a Nation at war.
Do you agree? The history of the last fifty years has been a long, long trail of appeasement, capitulation and death. "In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled... Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite..." Do you agree? If not, why not?

LINKS: Radio Live
Full text of the State of the Union address (Part 2) - Chicago Tribune
Long, long trail of appeasement, capitulation and death - Not PC (Sept 11, 2006)

RELATED: War, Religion, Politics-World, Politics-US

Special treatment

Are we all special? I ask because John Boy Key was saying yesterday at Ratana marae both that Maori are "special," and at the same time that Don Brash's "message" that everyone should be equal before the law "won't be changing," so either we're all special, or else he's just talking nonsense.

In a relaxed speech that began with a short introduction in te reo, Mr Key reiterated his view that the National Party believes Maori have a special place as the Tangata Whenua.

He says the National Party wants to engage in dialog with Maori and develop a relationship that will stand the test of time...

A speech by National's previous leader, Don Brash, on race relations led to some strain between National and Maori, and Mr Key concedes there may be bridges to mend. But he says fundamentally his message won't be changing from Dr Brash's - but the tone may be different.

Those two statements -- one that Maori should be regarded as "special," and the other that everyone should be equal before the law regardless of colour -- are so different that either he thinks we're all stupid, or else he thinks the meaning of words is less important than the "tone" in which those words are said, the 'emotional vibrations' put out with the words.

Either way, he's disgusting.

The most sensible thing said yesterday at Ratana seems to have been said by Tariana Turia. "Maori don't need patronising politicians," Turia is reported to have said. Maori aren't the only ones.

UPDATE: Lindsay Mitchell puts it bluntly: "When government accords one group special status they are by necessity taking from another. There can be no privilege without some corresponding disadvantage. If one individual or group is "special" then others are not." Couldn't say it better myself.

LINK: Political leaders trek to Ratana Church for yearly visit - Radio New Zealand
Key tells Maori they have "special status" - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Hollow Men, Racism, Maoritanga

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Mad Hatter's Tea Party - John Tenniel

Another illustration tonight, this time a classic from Alice in Wonderland: the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, one that many of us can probably remember from childhood.

Illustrations are not art, and nor are they intended to be -- they lack, after all, the scope, depth and integration needed to function as art -- but the best illustrations have more delight than a truck-load of the crap you find infesting today's art galleries.

The function of illustrations is generally not to give us a shortcut to philosophy, as good art will do, but instead to summarise, to condense, to encapsulate a thousand words of a story into a picture that will tell it with all the economy the illustrator can muster. At that, John Tenniel was a master.

LINKS: John Tenniel - Wikipedia
More on value judgements in art - Peter Cresswell (Not PC)

RELATED: Art, Books

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

When bureaucrats attack

When bureaucrats attack, unencumbered by watchdogs, safeguards and legal impediments, and with the full power and anonymity of the law and the bureaucracy behind them, then what's a person to do?

There's a reason we often talk about "faceless bureaucrats": it's because when bureaucrats attack, they do like being faceless. They don't like being exposed publicly. That way, perhaps, they can maintain the illusion to friends and family they're still human beings.

But many of them aren't. Power corrupts, and the near-absolute power delivered to many of them tends to corrupt absolutely. Many faceless bureaucrats have been corrupted by the scads of discretionary power allowed to them under NZ law, and they enjoy abusing that power and hiding behind the law. Many of these faceless bureaucrats are just Jobsworths ("it's more than my job's worth), but many have crossed a crucial line, going beyond any actions that can be called human -- going beyond arsehole into "some kind of urinary tract."

Exposing these pricks is like lifting a rock and watching the bugs scuttle and crawl around. When entrepreneur David Henderson was done over by the IRD, for example, he wrote about and photographed the pricks who had been doing him over. They hated it. And he won. When people tell their story to The Free Radical, outlining how they were done over by bureaucratic scum, they're always advised to name and photograph the pricks responsible. They hate it.

And now, as you would have heard yesterday, when people are allegedly being done over by faceless bureaucrats at CYFS -- removing children without cause; dividing families; placing children in foster care where "care" is the last of the things dispensed -- and a website is created exposing the faceless CYFS bureaucrats alleged to have perpetrated these monstrosities against good New Zealanders without any concern from the supposed watchdogs, instead of investigating the monstrosities the head of CYFS is concentrating his public energies on shutting the website down -- "working 24/7," says Ministry of Social Development CEO Peter Hughes, to have it shut down. (As Bernard Darnton observes, "Given the nature of the Internet, any information that is censored will no doubt just pop up somewhere else.")

They hate it, and they're so used to bullying they think they can bully the anonymous authors instead of confronting the claims. Remember that in libel cases, truth is an absolute defence.

When bureaucrats attack, they do like the anonymity of power; they do like being being faceless, and they really hate being exposed. As Clive Dunn used to say, "They don't like it up 'em." Clearly, the CYFSWatch website has touched a nerve. Has it touched a nerve because there is truth being exposed? Or does CYFS just dislike freedom of speech?

UPDATE 1: Remember that the law and the system offers little opportunity for recourse to people done over by departments such as CYFS. Argues the CYFSWatch website:
With the power to seize children without requiring evidence, the power to prevent parents access to their children without sufficient grounds, and the protection of the Childrens Commissioner, the Ombudsman, and the Ministry of Social Development to act negligently with impunity, it is time to turn the spotlight onto CYFS, a "corporate cult", and hold them accountable for the carnage they cause.
If you remove the possibility of bureaucrats being held accountable in law for their actions, then you leave the people they do over few other options.

UPDATE 2: A fellow libertarian suggests, "a series of webpages for people to post their horror stories of an increasingly authoritarian state run amok with misguided social schemes? It will highlight how state solutions are generally the wrong ones and the danger of putting state power in the weak hands. If nothing else it will be a useful historical record for referencing
the state's stuff-ups." For example:
  • WINZwatch
  • RMAwatch (exposing Regional/District Council abominations)
  • PRISONwatch
  • POLICEwatch
  • ACCwatch
  • IRDwatch
etc...

As my libertarian friend says, "the web is a great tool for free speech, use it or lose it."

UPDATE 3: No Right Turn's Idiot/Savant is on the case with this commentary:

It should come as no surprise that people hate CYFS. Any organisation which separates parents from their children, however justified, is going to attract a fair amount of strong feeling - even if they had a perfect record and their interventions were never based on vicious smears by ex-partners, and never resulted in tragedy. Being composed of fallible human beings, working in often very murky situations and against the backdrop of a society which will not tolerate children being left in reportedly abusive households (which in turn promotes a "better safe than sorry" attitude), CYFS' record is far from perfect - which hardly encourages those they deal with to like them. Apparently, though, people aren't allowed to express this hatred or criticise their actions on the internet. The Ministry of Social Development's response to the CYFSWatch blog, which provides an anonymous platform for people to recount their bad experiences with CYFS, and "names and shames" the social workers involved, is simple: lawyers have been instructed to

do whatever is necessary to get rid of this website

In a democratic society, this response is simply chilling. [It sure is.]

A comparison with the (now departed) RedWatch is appropriate here....
Read I/S's full post here.

UPDATE 4: Following on from yesterday's post, how about a website for PAROLE-BOARDwatch? Case stories of Graeme Burton, Bailey Kurariki and Stephen Anderson could be a good start: their stories, along with the stories of the people who let them out, or who are considering letting them out. Is there any reason the people who choose to put us at risk shouldn't be held accountable for their actions? Shouldn't justice be seen to be done, in full view instead of behind closed doors?

LINKS: CYFSWatch website
CYFS to gag name-and-shame site - Bernard Darnton, Section 14
Ministry will shut down critical website - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Free Speech, Bureaucracy

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Ralston does the business

NZ HERALD: TV news top dog Ralston faces the axe
TVNZ news boss Bill Ralston is being restructured out of his job and is set to be one of the 150 to 200 casualties in a revamp planned for March...
For some years Bill Ralston has been doing to TVNZ News what he did to Metro magazine some years before that.

Can anyone understand why he lasted so long at either? Anyone?

Picture courtesy Generation XY.

"Too dangerous for the neighbourhood"

Here's a charming story about a client's adventures building a house designed by Bruce Goff. My favourite part is when his builders get hauled off to the police station at the behest of a developer who declared our writer's house "too dangerous for the neighbourhood."
The only contractor bold enough to bid on the new house was an old friend, Mike Rothstein, who was building the other two Goff houses. Without Mike, these three houses might never have been built. His carpenters took pride in working on and dreaming about a house they could actually afford...

After work I would go by the house to talk with Mike and Goff about the next day’s work schedule. But something happened one day that finally put a face on who was trying to stop us: a developer I named Ellsworth Toohey after the heavy from The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand’s tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright. I had gone by the site after work as usual, but something was different this time ... where were all the carpenters? I never saw Mike so mad or Goff so perplexed. Mike told me the carpenters were being held at the police station for resisting a court order to stop construction and he left to meet with union officials to get his crew released. Goff just shook his head in disbelief and told me the developer got a court order to halt construction because we didn’t get the developer’s permission on the design.

So, early the next morning...
Read on to see how things worked out.

LINK: Bruce Goff, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a tale of two houses - Paul Searing

RELATED: Architecture, Building

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Popular cities, popular searches

I confess, I do get a buzz out of seeing where Not PC is read. Top ten cities:
  1. Auckland
  2. Wellington
  3. Sydney
  4. Christchurch
  5. Palmerston North
  6. New York
  7. Invercargill, Southland (Invercargill!?)
  8. Brooklyn, NY, USA
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Bangalore, India

Top ten searches landing here yesterday:
  1. mina foley
  2. peter cresswell
  3. broadacre city
  4. bbc man
  5. jonathan pearce samizdata rousseau
  6. heineken mini kegs
  7. evening, fall of day
  8. cleaning inside my monitor
  9. bavinger house
  10. brin page montessori

Hokusai - Illustration from 'Life in Edo'

A beautifully economical illustration by Katsusika Hokusai (1760-1849) , the master of Japanese woodblock prints.

From the 'Hokusai Mangwa' series, in which "he depicts ordinary people’s lives, animals,
plants, landscapes and human figures," much of it with the humour and economy you see here. You can find much of this delightful series at this collector's site.

LINK: Hokusai World

RELATED: Art

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Record year for GE crops!

Nearly a dozen years after commercial release of genetically engineered, "a record number of biotech crops were planted worldwide last year."
Some 10.3 million farmers in 22 countries grew engineered crops on 252 million acres last year, a 13 percent increase over 2005, according to the report. About 9.3 million of those people were considered subsistence farmers...In 1996, the first year genetically modified crops were commercially available, about 4.3 million acres were under cultivation. Now genetically engineered crops are grown throughout the Americas, China and India. Last year, Slovakia became the sixth European Union country to plant genetically engineered crops
In all this time it's still the case that "no illness has been attributed to biotechnology crops." The same cannot be said however of organic crops.

Despite this however, the critics are still not happy: "Critics complained the gains were more of the same: aimed at making corn, soy and cotton crops resistant to weed killers and bugs." Nothing to do with critics and regulators in the US and Europe doing all they can to keep GE crops off the market. These are people who would complain if there house was on fire, and then complain again if someone came along and put it out.  

LINK: Record biotech plantings in 2006 - Associated Press
The hidden dangers in organic foods - Center for Global Food Issues
The costly fraud that is organic food - Dick Taverne, Sense About Science, The Guardian
FDA warned farmers about E. coli last year
- USA Today 

 
RELATED: GE, Environment, Health, Science, Politics-US

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The Parole Board: Lock them up!

"Lock 'em up!" Lindsay Perigo, currently on mornings on Radio Live, says the parole board who let out Graeme Burton should all be locked up for culpability in the subsequent murder of Wainuiomata man Karl Kuchenbecker.

Is there any reason they shouldn't be locked up? Don't they share responsibility for Burton's rampage? Shouldn't they share responsibility for any subsequent damage caused by the prospective release of the murderer of six people in Raurimu? And for the release of the murderer of Stephen Choy?

Don't these bastards know that the justice system is not there just to give them a job? That it's primary job is not rehabilitation for murderers, but protection for the rest of us? Said the son of Henk van Wetering, murdered at Raurimu, "Whose taking responsibility? If these people are let out into society and then they re-offend, the government is failing and has its priorities all wrong," he said. Said the mother of murdered Michael Choy: "she hoped valuable lessons had been learned from the Graeme Burton parole affair." Not if you listened to the parole board weasels on TV's Close Up last night: "We did nothing wrong," the bastards sat there saying.

Lock the bastards up. Make them responsible for their mistakes. And reconstitute the justice system so it protects the innocent from the guilty.

Mercy to the guilty is injustice to the innocent.

UPDATE: You can see potted biographies here of the time-serving scum on the parole board, all of them with long careers sucking off the state tit. Scroll down to the "Non-judicial members" of the board to see those who would truly benefit from some time behind bars.

Perennial state tit-sucker June Jackson (right) is the cow who refused on TV's Close Up last night to feel remorse for Burton's killing of Karl Kuchenbecker. Her own 'career' is illustrative of the entire "non-judicial membership" of the board: former Commissioner for the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission; CEO of the Nga Whare Waatea Marae; former chief executive of the Manukau Urban Mäori Authority. "She has served on several government appointed committees, including the Review of Mäori Trust Boards 1994 and the Prime Ministerial Task Force on Employment Policy 1993... She was awarded a QSM in 1995."

Looks to me like the woman has never had a real job in her life.

LINK: Don't let him out, begs murder victim's mother - NZ Herald
My Dad's killer should not go free, says son - NZ Herald
Radio Live

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Law

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National Socialists have no values

National's newly reinstated spokesman for Ugly Women's Affairs Jacky Blue says she's pleased John Boy Key is trying to outflank Labour on the left -- in her words, I think [National] does need to be more centrist. I think John has already taken away all ambiguity that there was with the previous leadership and I think that's a good thing" --- and at the same time she says, "I know we will be staying true to our National values and core beliefs."

There appears to be a contradiction right there, doesn't there; one that Jacky Blue is perhaps too naive to notice, but Lindsay Mitchell has spotted it: Included in National's core principles are such things as "Individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement, limited government..."
Reinstating a spokesperson role pushing for more resources for a particular group is the antithesis of limiting government. That is exactly how governments get so big. So already National is not "staying true" to their values...
As Lindsay asks, "What exactly does National mean by 'limited government'?" Answer: Nothing at all.

When Jenny Shipley was Prime Minister she declared the Ministry of Ugly Women's Affairs would be abolished "over her dead body." It's a shame we missed our chance back then for such a magnificent two-for-one deal. We could have done to Jenny what she and her party have done to the ideas of individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility and limited government.

LINKS: What does National mean? - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National

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Pablo Picassso - Don Quixote drawing

Pablo Picasso's sassy and inspired drawing of La Mancha's finest, and his faithful squire Sancho Panza. Pablo sure could draw when he wanted to. And Don Quixote sure could dream...

LINK: Don Quixote - Wikipedia

RELATED:
Art

Monday, January 22, 2007

Beer is good. It's true.

Speaking of beer and 'the good', as I was earlier this morning, suggests the question: "Just how good is beer?"

Well, as Shawn McKee at the eDiets site points out, very good.
What if your doctor prescribed you a medicine that could reduce strokes, heart and vascular disease, and the incidence of cataracts and breast cancer cells? You would take it every day, right? Well, you won’t have to see your doctor for this remedy, but you may want to visit your favorite bartender.
Find out exactly how good beer is, and test your own Beer Health IQ with their Healthy, Happy Hour Beer Quiz. [Hat tip Real Beer]

LINKS: Cheers to beer: Amazing benefits - eDiets
Is-ought? Not a problem - Not PC

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere, Health, Ethics

Soprano Mina Foley dies

NZ soprano Mina Foley died over the weekend, aged 77. From Newswire:
She was a protegee of acclaimed singing teacher Dame Sister Mary Leo, whose other pupils included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major. Foley rose to prominence as a singer in 1950 when she gained second place in the Melbourne Sun Aria competition.
As the report says, she went on to perform across New Zealand in sell-out performances, which cemented her place in NZ music history. Unfortunately there are few professional studio recordings of Foley's voice, so the great legacy of Foley's reportedly "bell-like" voice will be in the memories of those who heard her sing live.

RELATED: Music, Obituary, New Zealand

Is-ought? Not a problem.

Those trained in university philosophy departments will frequently wheel out something called the 'Is-Ought' argument as 'proof' that facts are inherently value-free, or (to put it another way), that reality provides no basis from which to formulate a reliable ethics.

It's called the 'Is-Ought' argument because the bloke who invented this remarkable piece of sophism -- a drinker called David Hume -- suggested the fact that the world is this way or that way provides no means of suggesting whether one ought or ought not do something, and thus there is no way -- no way at all -- to put together any sort of rational morality. This is the sort of thing that in university philosophy departments passes for a sophisticated argument.

What's remarkable is that such a fatuous proposition should still have sufficient legs to persuade graduates of philosophy departments over two-hundred years after it was formulated. (You'll probably see some of these types appearing here soon in the comments section.) The 'is-out problem' is a problem only if your mind has been crippled by such a department.

Think, for example, about what the basis for any rational standard of morality would be. The crucial fact about human life that provides such a basis is the conditional nature of life, the fact that living beings daily confront the ever-present alternative of life or death. Act in this way and our life is sustained. Act in that way and it isn't. Life is not automatic; it requires effort to sustain it, and reason to ascertain what leads towards death (which is bad), and what leads towards life (which is good). What standard then provides the basis by which a rational morality judges what one ought to do, or ought not to do? Life itself. Life is the standard. As Ayn Rand observed,
It is only the concept of "Life" that makes the concept of "Value" possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.
If, for example, that glass of brown liquid in front of you is dangerously toxic, then one ought not drink it. That would be bad. If, however, it is a glass of Limburg Czechmate, then all things being equal one ought to consume it -- and with enthusiasm. That would be good.

So much for the 'is-ought problem.' The fact that reality is constituted in a certain way, and that every living being confronts the fundamental existential alternative of life or death is what provides the basic level of guidance as to what one ought or ought not do. To a living being, facts are not inherently value-free, they are value-laden -- and the reality of a Limburg Czechmate demonstrates that some facts can be very desirable indeed. Leonard Peikoff makes the point:
Sunlight, tidal waves, the law of gravity, et al. are not good or bad; they simply are; such facts constitute reality and are thus the basis of all value-judgments. This does not, however, alter the principle that every "is" implies an "ought." The reason is that every fact of reality which we discover has, directly or indirectly, an implication for man's self-preservation and thus for his proper course of action. In relation to the goal of staying alive, the fact demands specific kinds of actions and prohibits others; i.e., it entails a definite set of evaluations.

For instance, sunlight is a fact of metaphysical reality; but once its effects are discovered by man and integrated to his goals, a long series of evaluations follows: the sun is a good thing (an essential of life as we know it); i.e., within the appropriate limits, its light and heat are good, good for us; other things being equal, therefore, we ought to plant our crops in certain locations, build our homes in a certain way (with windows), and so forth; beyond the appropriate limits, however, sunlight is not good (it causes burns or skin cancer); etc. All these evaluations are demanded by the cognitions involved -- if one pursues knowledge in order to guide one's actions. Similarly, tidal waves are bad, even though natural; they are bad for us if we get caught in one, and we ought to do whatever we can to avoid such a fate. Even the knowledge of the law of gravity, which represents a somewhat different kind of example, entails a host of evaluations --among the most obvious of which are: using a parachute in midair is good, and jumping out of a plane without one is bad, bad for a man's life.
But this is (or should be) basic stuff. Unless you're a university philosophy professor (or David Hume) you don't simply sit there looking wide-eyed at the world, acting only on the basis of what appears in front of you on the bar. As Aristotle pointed out, our actions should be goal-directed; if we want the good -- that is, if we want to sustain our lives -- then we need to act with that end firmly in mind. A rational man acts with purpose. We should act in this way or in that way in order to bring into reality certain facts that our (rationally-derived) values tell us are good. Acting in this way is itself good.

And further: we should act not just in order to stay alive. As Aristotle and Rand both point out, the proper human state of life is not just bare survival, it is a state of flourishing. Rand again:
In psychological terms, the issue of man's survival deos not confront his consciousness as an issue of "life or death," but as an issue of "happiness or suffering." Happiness is the successful state of life, suffering is the signal of failure, of death...

Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values...

But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.
Such is the nature of a rational morality. That the world is constituted as it is, means that we ought to recognise the value of a rational morality, and if we wish to achieve happiness we ought to act upon values derived from a rational morality.

What the hell else could be as important?

FURTHER READING: 'The Objectivist Ethics,' by Ayn Rand, in her book
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism.

LINK: Audiobook excerpt from the introduction to
The Virtue of Selfishness.

RELATED: Ethics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Nonsense

Dictators kicking the bucket

The current quarter is a good one for dictator deaths. The lads at Pacific Empire celebrate the high "dictatorial death toll," and like me they look forward to Castro kicking the bucket and adding himself to the list.

They make a good argument for the death penalty for dictators -- "The standard libertarian argument against capital punishment is that government cannot be trusted to implement it without mistakenly executing innocents. This argument does not apply to the death of dictators, whose crimes are in public view, and whose survival is only ensured by controlling an omnipresent state." -- and conclude with a defence of tyrannicide, the assassination of murderous tyrants, and the hope that "that one day tyrannicide will be considered a just defense against a murder charge."

Is there any reason why it shouldn't be?

LINK: Tyrannicide! - Pacific Empire

RELATED: Obituary, Politics-World, History-Modern

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Murder

Homicide rate soars says the Herald, and it certainly seems that way, doesn't it, even if that graph below from the Sensible Sentencing Trust website shows that the homicide rate has "levelled off," albeit at a disgracefully high level:Richard at Benzylpiperazine asks the very reasonable question: Something happened in 1983 with violent crime (and from 1986 to '88 with homicide) that seems to have made a permanent change -- what was that?
What happened in 1983 to precipitate the huge increase in violent offences? It wasn't "P" or party pills. It wasn't Rogernomics and it wasn't global warming. So what was responsible for the sudden surge in violent crime? I have no idea. Do you?
Any ideas? Any sensible ideas?

LINKS: What happened in 1983? - Benzylpiperazine
NZ Crime Statistics - Sensible Sentencing Trust

RELATED: Politics-NZ

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

A random walk through the blogosphere

A ramble this morning through sites and sounds I've been meaning to mention in posts, but haven't yet had a chance.
  • Bernard Darnton confirms that his case against the Clark Government in Darnton V Clark is on the skids, "a victim of Labour’s egregious retrospective legislation." Says Oswald Bastable, at DPF's: "Darnton proved beyond reasonable doubt that the labour government is indeed corrupt and devoid of all moral worth. He won." Well, sort of. Says Bernard:
    My initial premise, when I filed the case in June, was that a constitutionally limited government was not above the law. What this case has done is disprove that. There are no limits. The government is above the law. We are entirely reliant on the character of the people who populate Parliament. And if that thought doesn’t momentarily lower the temperature of your blood, it should.
    And of course the taxpayer still hasn't been paid back the money stolen to buy the bloody election. Apparently, for that, we have to rely on the "honour" of parliamentarians...
    LINK: Case Withdrawn - Darnton V Clark

  • Need an online guitar tuner? Here's just the thing to make sure you're always in tune when strumming (or trying to strum) 'Sweet Jane.' LINK: Online Guitar Tuner.

  • Having a few drinks under a coconut tree on a white sand beach one day, Cactus Kate and a colleague "came up with the conclusion that NZ family trusts were in the main a complete and utter crock of shite." As she says, "It was a quite large call to make for such a pair of novices" -- especially cosidering the number of NZers relying on them as a way to keep the grey ones from the door. Test out her reasoning: The Great NZ Family Trust Sham.

  • Check out that satellite picture of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    On the right you have the relatively developed and reasonably politically stable Dominican Republic, in which property rights are moderately secure and the rule of law is reasonably respected. On the left is Haiti.

    The difference, in short, is not due to geography, but to politics. Notes ecologist Josh Roshenau in Seed Magazine, "Despite its higher consumption of electricity, greater rates of employment, and heavier industry, the Dominican Republic is the nation that has preserved its forests." How 'bout that. More development = More forest cover.

    As PJ O'Rourke once observed, when you can see a political problem from 150 miles up, then you know that it's a serious problem.

    LINK: Political instability threatens rainforests more than industry does - Josh Roshenau, Seed Magazine

  • One of my favourite Auckland urban beach houses has turned from bright and lively into camouflage mode. The formerly delightful and formerly pink art deco house at the east end of Mission Bay is now an unattractive "dung olive green." Bugger. As Mrs Smith says acerbically, "Owners Barry and Diane may have done us all a favour. Auckland has a dire shortage of olive and beige-toned houses..." LINK: Landmark House No Longer in the Pink.

  • Leftists, nationalists and other scum have all sorts of great songs to sing around the fire. How come libertarians don't? New Years Eve around the camp fire we were singing the Marsellaise, the Star Spangled Banner, Billy Bold (a noble exception to the rule), and assorted Irish rebel songs, because there are too few rousing anthems to "how the world is better if there are secure property rights, and people make mutually advantageous contracts, etc., etc." What's the solution? LINK: Leftists always have great songs. Which is a problem.

  • Trevor Loudon concludes his series on Drug Freeland with Part 5: Rebuilding the Welfare Society. Good reading.

  • It seems "controversial" Australian columnist Andrew Bolt would almost turn for new Bond Daniel Craig -- a new Bond for a new age. We've "become too rich, worldly and healthy for the old Bond," says Bolt, "One for the women and the men, who now like them strong, with brains," and his women beautiful, intelligent, and "with the cash to buy the whole damn beach." LINK: Shaken and Stirred - Andrew Bolt

  • And while I'm linking to Andrew Bolt, if you haven't yet read his specatcular demolition job last year of Al Bore's celluloid horror. "Is healthy scepticism and fidelity to facts dead in this country?" If they are, then at least they still exist in Bolt's columns. LINK: Bulled by a Gore - Andrew Bolt

  • Still in Australia, I was sent a link to what I was told is Australia's "only libertarian party," the Liberal Democratic Party. I haven't yet had a chance to check out those credentials myself, so maybe you lot can have a look and let the rest of us know how the LDP stacks up. LINK: Liberal Democratic Party.

  • A "rational Christian" tries to take on Ayn Rand's "non-theistic and self-centered philosophy and arguments against Christian altruism. I am quite familiar with Ayn Rand's philosophy," says the "rational Christian, but the pity is that his critique shows he isn't. Still, it's good to see someone trying. LINK: Rational Christian Answer to Ayn Rand. The crew at Noodle Food offer the briefest of responses. "Ayn Rand's ethics depends upon the theory of evolution"? Um, not exactly.

  • Jason Roth at Save the Humans offers A Little Iraqi Historical Re-Revisionism. Worth a good read.

  • And finally (at least for the moment) Randal O'Toole explodes the much-touted myth by ecologists and planners that Portland, Oregon, is "an example of how good transportation planning can create a city 'where the car is not king'." "Bollocks!" says Randal.
    In fact, Portlanders recently learned that their much-praised transportation plans were really nothing more than a scheme by what local reporters call the "light-rail mafia" to separate taxpayers from their money and enrich themselves. Far from relieving congestion or getting people to stop driving, Portlanders are so angry at the congestion and other problems resulting from the plans that they have repeatedly voted against light rail and other projects.
    LINK: Portland as a Model of Transportation Planning - Randal O'Toole, The Commons Blog
RELATED: Darnton_V_Clark Politics-NZ Music New_Zealand Environment Property_Rights Auckland Libertarianism Welfare Victimless_Crimes Films Global_Warming Politics-Australian Religion Objectivism Politics-World War Urban_Design

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