Friday, 9 March 2007

Beer O’Clock – A flower from Scotland

Beer O'Clock madness here in St Patrick's week from an obviously deluded misplaced Scotsman, who claims to write for RealBeer.Co.NZ - Ed.

I know it is my imagination but I am sure I can hear the distant call of bagpipes on the Wellington wind. There is Six Nations rugby on this weekend which always gets me a bit patriotic and misty-eyed about the land of my birth: Scotland. They are playing Ireland at some ungodly hour of the weekend and I’m sure it will be the greatest comeback since Culloden [it should be pointed out that Scotland lost at Culloden, beginning a sporting tradition that continues to this day - Ed.].

Unsurprisingly and with the Beer O’Clock deadline looming, today’s topic is Scottish beer. Now, I don’t actually drink a great deal of beer from Scotland. Traditionally, Scots have favoured much darker, hearty, warming ales which are only lightly hopped. My preferences on the other hand are more towards much hoppier beers.

Some beer writers of the English persuasion
have insinuated that Scottish beers did not use many hops because they were expensive to import. This is as foul a calumny as the claim that the Scots didn't built Hadrian’s Wall to keep out the English. (With neighbours like that, who wouldn't?)

There is a Scottish beer newly arrived in New Zealand which bucks the malty trend though. Hoppy India Pale Ales are becoming more popular with Scottish brewers and consumers, and Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA is now on the shelves of many supermarkets and stores.

Twisted Thistle is a fine, well hopped, modern IPA. It pours a hazy copper-orange with a lovely herbal, grassy, piney nose. The body is full enough to support a bitter-dry finish.

The perfect pint when defending your “wee bit hill and glen…”

Cheers, Neil.

LINKS: Belhaven
Society for Beer Advocates (SOBA)

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Bainimarama: Hero or villain?

More in sadness than joy, I have to report that Tim Wikiriwhi, the tireless Libertarianz spokesman to deregulate Maori Affairs, has resigned his post and resigned the party.

His resignation disappoints me greatly; the reason is the different estimate that he and other Libz place on The Coup of Commodore Bainamarama. Tim thinks the coup should be praised, and Bainimarama hailed as (in Tim's words) a "hero of equality and justice." His reasons for thinking so were as unclear to me then as they are now, but may be deduced from his Open Letter to Commodore Bainimarama -- Tim's first press release as an "independent libertarian".

I say "deduced" because his reasons for thinking the Commodore worthy of support are to me still unclear. A "hero of equality and justice" is to me a figure like Thomas Jefferson, or Frederick Douglass, or William Lloyd Garrison ... it would need an awful lot of evidence that would convince me that the Commodore fits into that pantheon -- and the censorship, beatings and even murders instituted in Fiji since the coup don't speak highly of his chances of being so elevated.

Tim argues that "Bainamarama is determined to make Fiji a nation where indigenous racism has no political stranglehold" and this as "one of the greatest political statements for Equality before the law by any world leader this century."
Bainamara’s intension to abolish the Fijian racist electoral system and have one electoral roll for all can only be described as the highest of political Ideas, and should he be successful, he deserves to go down in history as the greatest benefactor of Fiji!
I'm still not so sure. The censorship, beatings and murders do tend to suggest otherwise -- but since the MSM reporting from Fiji has been almost entirely lacklustre one has few facts on which to base a judgement. As I've said several times, I'm still here to be persuaded; if his heroism is so certain, then the reasons for being so certain about it and the facts to back it up should be easy to explain and simple to lay out -- but I've yet to see a full explanation, or those facts.

If anyone has such facts or can state clearly the reasons for supporting the Commodore, I'd be more than happy to see them. The best I can offer as ammunition for either side are these few relevant highlights that appeared recently:
  • NBR editor Nevil Gibson suggests, "The Bainimarama coup is widely viewed as progressive because it has a credible finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and is seen as reversing Fiji’s trend toward more race-based policies. Time magazine has this largely complimentary profile." Excerpt:
    Bainimarama says entrenched corruption, race-based policies that favored the 51% of Fiji's population who are indigenous, and runaway crime drove his intervention. He rejects [Alexander] Downer's suggestion that he has acquired a taste for power as "the height of insensitivity and arrogance," saying he didn't want to be Prime Minister, and accepted the position only at the urging of his military council. "I hate this job," he says, "but it has to be done. And we are going to stay until we complete this business." How long that will take is anyone's guess... "I have told my troops that power corrupts only if you abuse the authority given to you," he says. "I am continually telling my people, 'This is the line. You can't cross this line. It doesn't do us any good.' "
  • The blog Intelligentsiya has become a key site in reporting the Bainimarama regime's activities and abuses every time it does "cross the line," and (reports Idiot/Savant) the military is hunting for them for it, "accusing them of 'portraying a negative image of the Interim Government' - which is apparently a crime in the New Fiji." The bloggers describe themselves as
    Free. Fair. Fearless. Intelligentsiya is made up of Fiji Islanders who are libertarians in their own way and who cherish the free flow of news, ideas and information and will peacefully resist any attempts by the country's military rulers to stifle free speech. intelligentsiya will also bear witness, report and discuss human rights abuses by the authorities.
Whatever the case, it looks to be a blog to keep track of. And I'd be happy to hear your own views or information.

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"Inveterate disappointment"

I received an email overnight quite taking me to task for giving poor Rodney's speech a hard time yesterday. My correspondent was mystified at my dismissal of it, and I was accused of "snarling hatred." Me! Snarling hatred!

Let me tell my correspondent, if they're reading this, that my feeling toward the ACT Party is not so much hatred as "inveterate disappointment." It's an emotion I've felt ever since that party was set up and issued these founding principles:
  • Individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities.
  • The proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities.
Now let me hasten to add that I have no problem with those principles; far from it. They're fine words -- just as you'd expect when they were written by Libertarianz founder Ian Fraser, just before he left the ACT party in disgust and disappointment.

My own disappointment lies in the fact that the ACT Party clearly feels they're no more than fine words; they have a problem with putting the party's principles into party policy -- which was the very reason that the man who wrote those principles left the ACT Party and founded Libertarianz.

They are, let me repeat, fine principles -- but they are principles from which the ACT Party with all its many resources and many, many fine people has been retreating ever since they were first written down. Right from those early days it's been one step forward, and three more back. The party that should have shouted those principles from the rooftops, who should have lived the values they claimed to stand for, instead became enmired in politics in the very worst sense of the word while the principles went by the board -- and anyone perusing the party's policies could be forgiven now for being befogged as before as to where those principles have gone. Certainly not into policy, or yesterday's speech.

Hence my disappointment. I had seen signs that perhaps, with the very survival of his party at stake, this year might be different. This speech yesterday "setting the scene for ACT for the year" shows that I was wrong. Hence my bitter disappointment. I gave a brief example of what the ACT leader might have said about the issues he canvassed, based on the very principles his party claims to uphold, a small sample of which was at once more principled and inspiring and full of fire than Rodney's uninspired platitudes. Neither fire nor brimstone was evident in that.

There is one thing however to be grateful for. Thankfully, if that speech really does signal the year ahead that Rodney is planning, then it's safe to say that the ACT Party will self-destruct this year out of sheer boredom.

NZ Politics, PC on the ACT Party

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Pierre de Wiessant - Auguste Rodin

The character Pierre, from Rodin's evocative Burghers of Calais ensemble sculpture, which I was considering using for the latest Free Radical cover until we discovered the perfectly suited image you now see.

But Pierre de Wiessant is a great figure in his own right, one of Rodin's finest in my view, and part of a piece of intense nobility, and powerful human drama -- and doesn't that hand just say so much?
The Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais) is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1888. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.

The story goes that England's Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, laid siege to Calais and Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip failed to lift the siege and starvation eventually forced the city to parlay for surrender. Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out almost naked and wearing nooses around their necks and be carrying the keys to the city and castle...
NB: MOMA has a great booklet discussing the Burghers. Definitely worth a read.

RELATED POSTS ON: Art, Sculpture

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Hide speech. Let's play 'Spot the Platitude'

I turned with excitement and expectation to Rodney Hide's lunchtime speech, a speech Rodney himself had excitedly called "an important speech to set the scene for ACT for the year." Oh dear. Rodney appears to have been drinking from the same trough as John Boy Key, and swallowed the same platitudes: thuthtainability -- "don't dream it, be it" -- we need to make "tough choices" -- "we need to be "smart greens" -- we need to avoid frightening the horses. "Let's play Spot the Platitude' with Rodders, shall we:
  • We can be the proud, prosperous, confident, caring country we all yearn for. We just need to dream it, believe it, work for it.
  • ACT's job this year is to spell out how High Performance Government can be achieved. That's what I will be doing in a series of speeches through the year.
  • It's not good enough to be 'green'. We need to be 'Smart Green'. That means acknowledging and working with the uncertainties of climate change and climate change policy. Let's be clear - climate change is happening...
  • ...we should be smart greens. On the forestry front, it's easy. We should respect people's property - and get the incentives right. That means allowing forest owners to keep the carbon credits that are due to the trees they own.
  • Anything that we can do to reduce our dependence on oil has to be good for the country - and co-incidentally helps us with climate change concerns.
  • ACT will continue to speak out on the stupidities of government. But we want to do more than that. We want to lift our country's ambitions for what we can achieve and set out what we must do to become the greatest country in the world.
  • High Performance Government requires much greater oversight of laws and regulations before they are passed. We also need to regularly review all laws and regulations to keep tabs on their effects and their cost. That's what my Regulatory Responsibility Bill - which is now before Parliament - does...
  • We also need a proper contract where the government that takes our money provides a service in return. Right now there's nothing. We pay and pay and pay, but instead of receiving the services we pay for - like healthcare, education and infrastructure - we're made to wait. My colleague, Heather Roy, calls it "the waiting list society".
  • Managing a business, being part of a family or running a Government department means making tough choices...
Oh God, the inanity -- it burns! If this is the "speech to set the scene for ACT for the year," then it's going to be a very dull year indeed for ACT supporters.

UPDATE 1: To objections that Rodney is simply "talking in language that people can understand," I say he's talking without really saying very much. Here's an example of the sort of thing Rodney might have said, and from the pen of a mild-mannered philosophy professor:
Just as it is possible to know that freeing those held in slavery is better all around than keeping them enslaved -- and that not perpetrating the Holocaust is better than doing so -- in less dramatic matters, too, it is possible to know that certain policies are superior to others. It is the contention of those who champion a free society that implementing the principles of the right to private property on the broadest possible scope would have worked out for better as far as our environmental woes are concerned. And as with those more Draconian evils, so with this one, it is better late than never! Thus the best approach to environmental issues is to privatize—that is how responsible environmental management is encouraged...
Now wouldn't that have been a call to arms! Instead, we have this vapid, insipid uninspiring nonsense: "We need to be 'Smart Green'. That means acknowledging and working with the uncertainties of climate change and climate change policy." Bleeecchhh!

UPDATE 2: Vigesimal Pundit has drawn my attention to Rodney's use of "We."
Rodney Hide's recent speech is full of lines like 'We need to,' or 'We should.' I often get confused when politicians call on other politicians to do something that it isn't in their interests.
Fifty-one times the word "we" is used. "We" should do this; "we" must dream the other; "we" were once great; "we" can be again. It's not at all clear which "we" refers to all New Zealanders, which to other politicians, which to the ACT party ("we" can be great again!) -- and which to the "Royal We" -- but after fifty-odd usages in what must have been a ten to fifteen minute speech, it must have been somwhat tiresome for those attending, if not more than a wee bit confusing.

LINK: Environmentalism without government - Tibor Machan, Mises Institute

RELATED POSTS ON: NZ Politics, Sustainability, PC on the ACT Party

Do they have prayer meetings in jail?

If the latest Christian Heritage Party campaigner does end up behind bars for murdering his Mum, then as Dave at Big News relates it will make the CHP "the only party that stood for Parliament in 2002 that has most of its employees in jail."

Quite some achievement.

It's International Women's Day...

International Women's Day is an ideal opportunity to honour international women, don't you think -- you know, real women, women who make you feel like this:

* * * * *
So let's see, who makes you feel that way? Sophia Loren?Katarina Witt?Maureen O'Hara?Hedy Lamarr?Soprano Anna Moffo?Claudia Cardinale?Gina Lollabrigida?Elle McPherson?
Rita Hayworth?Ursula Andress?Isabelle Adjani?Or, perhaps, Diana Rigg...

No, there's no contemporary airheads in this list -- I prefer real women, not braindead stick insects. How 'bout you?
[Hat tip Weekend Women by Kim du Toit]

Marsden B not to be

When the Marsden B power station was given a consent under the Resource Management Act in September 2005, it was a consent so encumbered with conditions it was essentially the consent you get when you don't really get a consent -- a consent for 35 years, and with a world record 160 conditions attached. The Northland Regional Council boasted of their work: "the restrictions are some of the toughest ever imposed in Australasia," and they said that like it was a good thing. So what plans now eighteen months later? Is Marsden B to be, or not to be? NBR has the answer:
Plans for a controversial coal fired power station at Marsden Point have been scrapped... The decision follows intense opposition from environmentalists and warnings from the Government it would face carbon based costs when the plant was finished. Although the Green Party congratulated Mighty River on "seeing the light", National [energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee] said the cancellation was partly a result of the "policy uncertainty" created by the government.
Surprise, surprise. This is a power station project mugged by economic reality -- or more accurately, political reality, which is to say, unreality. Strangled by the twin fictions of global warming and the need for carbon charges to fight it (and all the uncertainty around these charges), and choked to death by the environmental straitjacket of the Resource Management Act (and Gerry Brownlee might like to ask his National Party colleagues which government introduced that piece of work).

Author Ayn Rand once observed that when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know that your culture is doomed. Are we there yet?

Well, in terms of power production we're already there. The Electricity Networks Association (ENA) warned several squelched projects ago that their principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. Warned Alan Jenkins from the ENA two years ago,
It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word... hydro is suddenly becoming too hard... what's left? ...we can't do everything on windpower.
No, we can't. Solar, wind and microgrids won't cut it, at least not as long as every project from little to large gets caught up in the maw of the RMA. Nine years ago I argued:
The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol (signed by Simon Upton earlier this year), promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure like power stations and industrial plants. Auckland's [1998] power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us," said Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell today.
Industry is the country's lifeblood, and if there's no power, there is no industry. Everyone's got an energy strategy: What we're short of is energy! So where's the power gonna come from?

UPDATE: George Reisman points out that the effect of global warming is already upon us -- that is, the legislative effect of the faith in global warming is already upon us, as our imminent power shortage makes clear enough. As Reisman says, Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is.

UPDATE 2: John Howard echoes the words of the ENA's Alan Jenkins:
Let's be realistic. You can only run power stations in a modern Western economy on fossil fuel, or, in time, nuclear power."\
LINKS: Marsden Point power station plan scrapped - NBR
No Power - Not PC (July, 2005)

Energy, RMA, Environment, Common Law, Global_Warming

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Bollard exacerbating the boom he's trying to bust

Where's the sense in strangling producers and exporters in pursuit of a goal that is, at the very least, highly questionable. In one hour from now, Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard is expected to announce a further rise in the Official Cash Rate -- in other words, he's going to whack up interest rates. He's going to whack them up because he's "fighting inflation," specifically rising house prices, and this is the only way he knows to fight it.

He's fighting a losing battle. He's losing it because of a myth, and because of a mis-integration.

The myth is that "inflation" consists of rising prices. It isn't, or at least not exactly. As Milton Friedman was fond of pointing out, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” -- or to put it another way, "inflation" is specifically a measure of the expansion of the money supply. This is something of which Alan Bollard seems wholly ignorant -- he's still labouring under the idea that it's rising prices, for which the expansion of the quantity of money is generally the cause.

Inflation (understood in terms of an increase in the quantity of money) enters the economic system in the form of new loans, driving up prices first in those markets in which this credit expansion has taken place.

Ask yourself which market is rising above all others at present? If you answered, "the one Bollard is trying to squelch," then you get the prize.

Now, on to his mis-integration: The thinking, if one can call it that, behind Bollard's raising interest rates is the traditional one that a lowering of interest rates creates a credit expansion (credit becomes cheaper, you see), and by contrast raising interest rates reduces credit expansion. This is considered a general rule of economics, one which Bollard follows assiduously. He is nothing if not a man who follows his textbooks.

He doesn't however appear to have looked around at the New Zealand situation, which is rather different to his textbooks. In the textbooks, credit expansion comes in the main from a large central bank -- in the US, that's 'The Fed.' However here in Godzone, being a rather small (but perfectly formed) country, things are different. In New Zealand, foreign investment has a far greater effect on credit expansion than it does in many other markets: raise New Zealand interest rates above international rates, and you attract a flood of investment -- or to flip that coin, an expansion of credit. Hence the housing boom. New credit and new foreign buyers and investors in the NZ housing market help drive up housing prices -- and each time Bollard whacks up interest rates, he invites more foreign buyers and investors into the NZ market.

But in one hour from now he's going to whack them up anyway.

Bollard doesn't seem to have realised that his own nostrums may have exacerbated the very boom he is trying to squelch -- strangling producers in the process as the interest rates they are paying to expand their businesses go up -- strangling exporters in the process as the New Zealand dollar rises again on the back of the increased foreign investment in New Zealand -- and leaving him looking, not for the first time, like an economic wizard without a wand.

UPDATE 1: The dumbarse has whacked them up, exactly as predicted. Sigh.

UPDATE 2: Here's NBR on the dumbarse and his dumbarse meddling:
Today’s hiking of the Official Cash Rate by a quarter basis point to 7.5 percent will further drive the New Zealand dollar above its fair market value and damage the productive sector of the economy... the chances of the interest rate increase were helped by the [recent] depreciation of the currency: a falling currency stokes inflation though higher import charges, especially for fuels...

The housing market has been surprisingly resilient, with January sales 19 per cent higher year on year and the median time to sell a house was unchanged at 38 days. The economy is showing signs of accelerating in growth.

The RBNZ has shown some tendency to blame society for its exuberance, but it does not cease its own money creation. M2 has been rowing at about 12 per cent a year for some time, and this is a factor in inflationary expectations and a culture of consumption.

Today’s OCR decision will inflict great damage on the productive economy. The rise in interest rates will depress and discourage demand. It will encourage capital inflows, and a high dollar (which until this month was the “best performing” currency)... This is a structural impediment: it encourages imports and is a disincentive to exports...

New Zealand’s benchmark interest rates are 2 percentage points above the US and 6 per cent more than Japan. The governor is doing his best to make New Zealand the most favoured factor in the Japanese carry trade.
LINKS: Cue Card Libertarianism: Banking - Not PC
More myths about inflation - Not PC
What Reserve Banks do to our money - Not PC

PLUS CA CHANGE: Questions, rhetorical and otherwise, about Reserve Bank meddling - Not PC (Dec., 2005)

Economics, Housing, NZ Politics

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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Helping out

If you were making up a list of New Zealand's hardest-working journalists you'd have... er, a very short list. But at its head would probably be Russell Brown. His face, his voice and his writing sometimes seems to be almost everywhere, which is probably because it is.

Love him or hate him, you have to admire his work ethic.

Which is just one reason to give some thought to a fundraising initiative to help out Russell and his family in a time of need. Advocates for voluntary charity and a good time should give it some consideration. Read some more background, and details of the fundraising bash here.

Free Radical 74: Sneak preview

Yep, it's nearly here ... and here's a shot of the fantastic cover for Free Radical issue 74.

Far be it from me to boast, but I'd say this has to be close to the best yet.

If all goes well, you should see this hitting your letterboxes early next week.

So as I said the other day, now's the time to subscribe (0r re-subscribe, or buy a subscription for a friend) to make sure you don't miss out!

After all, you won't read anything like this anywhere else.

The Free Radical: 74 Blows for Freedom, and still going strong!


"But is it art?"

The famous Mackintosh 'ladder' chair by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, left, and there's one in the location for which they were designed, at Hill House, Glasgow, right. (1903)

An ornamental bank teller's grille by architect Louis Sullivan below left, and the bank for which the ornament was designed, below right. (1908)

QUESTION: Is the chair, on its own, art? Is the ornamental grille art?

They're both very nice -- exceptional, in my estimation -- but is there enough in them on their own to be that "shortcut to our most deeply-held premises" which is the defining characteristic of art, particularly good art? Is their sufficient scope in a chair or an example of ornament to perform that role? Or are these things somewhat like a good and well-crafted phrase in a poem, or a peculiarly apt metaphor in a short story, or a telling chapter in a novel: things we can sometimes enjoy in their own right as well -- particularly if we know they came from and are part of the same theme as a major work -- but which we nonetheless know are part of an art work?

In other words, is it true to say that the ensemble is art -- the sum of all the parts -- but not the parts themselves, however attractive?

As they say in Glasgow, "What say you, Jimmy?" (My own answer, if you haven't guessed already, is of course suggested in the questions, but I've sketched it out a little more here and here.)

Oh, and the New York Times has a very brief piece on Sullivan's beautiful series of banks. And antiquarian Eric Knowles does the job for Hill House.

RELATED POSTS ON: Art, Architecture

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Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Sydney storm

Sydney: When it's hot, it's damned hot. When it rains it buckets down and whole suburbs flood. And when the lightning comes, all hell breaks loose. Auckland has drizzle and "slightly cloudy" -- Sydney has real man's weather.

I pinched this from Callum's fantastic set of Sydney under lightning pics. You can just hear the crack of the ozone, can't you.

"The morality tale of the decade"

Well, this looks interesting: a new film to air on British television on Thursday. 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' claims to be nothing less than: "The morality tale of the decade." Says the Global Warming Hysteria blog [hat tip Thrutch]:
The Great Global Warming Swindle - backed by eminent scientists will - will be the first major TV expose of the GW hoax.

The programme will see a series of respected scientists attack the "propaganda" that they claim is killing the world’s poor. Even the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, is shown, claiming African countries should be encouraged to burn more CO2.

Director Martin Durkin says: "You can see the problems with the science of global warming, but people just don’t believe you – it’s taken ten years to get this commissioned.

"I think it will go down in history as the first chapter in a new era of the relationship between scientists and society. Legitimate scientists – people with qualifications – are the bad guys. It is a big story that is going to cause controversy.
I wonder if Al Gore will ask for a copy? Perhaps you can ask someone in the UK to tape it for John Key, and Helen Clark?

More here at AntiGreen.Com. Info, trailer and the Global Warming Quiz at the UK Channel 4 site.

RELATED: Global Warming

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REPORTS: It wasn't our fault ... we're not to blame

Two reports issued overnight had me reaching for my dictionary to check my spelling of 'whitewash.'
  • The Parole board's decision to release killer Graham Burton on parole was "a reasonable and responsible decision," says the report, issued by the Parole Board.
  • The information given to the Parole Board by Corrections Department was "generally adequate," says the report issued by the Corrections Department.
Both reports found that all guidelines had been followed.

"We're vindicated," says the chairman of the Parole Board. It wasn't our fault, says the Correction Board.

Do you spot the problem here? One man was killed after a violent four-day rampage, just six months after this killer had been released from prison ... and no one is to blame.

I don't believe any human being in the country was concerned that the "guidelines" might not have been followed -- I have no doubt the jobsworths in Corrections and on the Parole Board would have covered their arses properly -- what people are concerned with are the guidelines that allowed this to happen.

That no-one involved sees anything wrong with what they've done, or nothing that requires any more than impotent hand wringing ... that perhaps is the final tragedy in this already tragic story, and a lesson for us all. With bureaucrats, it's always all care and no responsibility - and the 'care' is only for their own sorry arse.

UPDATE: Leighton Smith is interviewing the co-author of the report on the Parole Board as I type this. Burton he said, had been exhibiting "positive behaviour" in prison since at least 2004. Well that's okay then. (Newstalk ZB should have the audio for the interview up here soon.)

Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition

A fragment of stained glass from Frank Lloyd Wright's Coonley House playhouse, from 1903 -- and one of my own favourites -- currently part of a Chicago exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture, textiles and glass. Says the curator,
The design philosophy of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was actually much more than that – it was a philosophy of living.
Wright believed that if a person created an environment that was beautiful, it would enrich and nourish the lives of the people who lived in it.
His influence extended beyond architecture, encompassing [landscape[, furniture, textiles, paint and wallpaper. He wanted all of those elements to harmonize with a building’s architecture.
RELATED: Architecture

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Monday, 5 March 2007

Jeremy Clarkson's thought for the day

Jeremy Clarkson's thought for the day:
You have to remember that trade unionists and antinuclear campaigners didn’t go away. They just morphed into eco-mentalists because they realised that global warming was a better weapon than striking, or doing lesbionics for mother Russia in Berkshire. [Hat tip Marcus]


Sunday Star Drek

Has the Sunday Star Times anything going for it?

This is the 'newspaper' that in recent times splashed spectacularly across its front page the stories of Tariana Turia's bugging by the SIS (she wasn't), loudly compared Don Brash to racist Pauline Hanson (he isn't), and broke the news that conspiracy specialist Ian Wishart was about to publish [gasp] 'news' about Helen Clark's husband (he didn't). None of these 'scoops' were out of character, and nor did the editor seem at all chastened by the fact that her front page and the truth apparently dwelt in different counties.

The lesson seems to be that if it's in the Sunday Star Times, particularly anywhere near the front page, then don't believe a word.

Yesterday's Focus puff piece (seemingly written and photographed by Clint Rickards' press agent) was just another piece of drek to add to the pile, and almost the only part of last weekend's offering that didn't get a well deserved going over by Paul at The Fundy Post, who seems to have the same opinion of the back pages of the rag as I do about the front [Hat tip Russell].

That the SST's editor considers Michael Laws' opinion as worth publishing is just one more reason to read something else, anything else, on a Sunday.

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The next 'Free Radical' magazine: Out soon!

I've been working hard on putting the finishing touches to the next Free Radical magazine, out very shortly.

It's going to be packed with reasoned argument, searing analysis, leaked billboards -- and the same wholesale slaughter of sacred cows you've come to expect and enjoy here at Not PC, only moreso! You do not want to miss out.

To ensure you get this latest Free Radical in your letter box in good time, you'll need to subscribe (or renew your subscription) at the SOLO store NOW! Click here to subscribe, to renew, or to get up to date with an online back issue.

The Free Radical: Politics, Economics and Life as if Freedom Mattered.
In your mail box shortly...

[PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: No Pink Tories were harmed in the making of this magazine. Not physically, anyway.]

Shipton, Schollum and Rickards - the incorruptibles?

Those who rely on the incorruptibility of policemen in their arguments for more controls might like to give some thought to the character of Messrs Shipton, Schollum and Rickards.

Sue Bradford wants to give police discretionary power over parents with her 'don't-worry-the-police-won't-prosecute' anti-smacking bill. Advocates for the War on Drugs dismiss the idea that police will be corrupted by prosecution of prohibition.

Both parties might like to thinks about Messrs Shipton, Schollum and Rickards when they make their claims.

These were young men at the time of the acts recounted and admitted to in recent trials, whose jobs and uniforms gave them power over the young, the weak and those who were easily intimidated -- and like man young men in such a situation, they were tempted by it. Whatever these three were like when they entered that environment, they were worse once they had. In Schollum and Shipton were two men who seemed to recognise no other power but their own -- the young, the weak and the easily intimidated they saw as their oyster. In Rickards was a man who went undercover in the war on drugs, and like so many like him who did so, he 'went native' (he is not the only one; former head of Scotland Yard's drug squad Eddie Ellison used to point out that no policemen in his drug squad could remain uncorrupted for longer than two years, such is the environment of prohibition).

These were young men who saw themselves above the law they had sworn to uphold; rather than serving the law, they apparently saw the law as serving their pleasure. These are the sort of young men to whom Sue wants to give more discretionary power.

Do you really want to give young men in the police force the temptation of even more discretionary power? Don't you really think it's odd that Sue Bradford does?

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Science versus faith

Science versus faith? Well, there is a difference, isn't there.

Hat tip, Noodle Food.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Theology for Today

From whence do religionists get their morality? I ask this morning because although the answer seems obvious, and starts with a 'B,' some thought and a little Dawkins suggests otherwise.

If you truly think the answer does start with a big fat 'B,' then Richard Dawkins has something for you to consider. In his book The God Delusion he argues that it can't be from the Bible since as we've seen here over recent weeks so much of Biblical morality is bloodthirsty drek; modern Christians don't buy it all; they pick and choose, says Dawkins, they "contextualise" the obvious into something other than the obviously bloodthirsty (and thank goodness they do, lest we return to a time when yesterday's Christian would have been indistinguishable from today's Islamofascist).

He points out that no modern Christian or Jew would (thank goodness and reason) be likely to follow the Old Testament moral examples of Abraham (Genesis) and Jephthah (Judges) who both were willing to offer their children as human sacrifices to please God. Nor are they likely to share the morals of Lot (Genesis, here and here) and a Levite priest (Judges), who when demanded by a mob to hand over their male guests to sodomise, offered up their own daughters for rape instead. Dawkins notes:
…we do not as matter of fact derive our morals from scripture. Or, if we do, we pick and choose among the scriptures for the nice bits and reject the nasty. But then we must have some independent criterion for deciding which are the moral bits: a criterion which, wherever it comes from, cannot come from scripture itself and is presumably available to all of us whether we are religious or not.
An interesting thought, don't you think? If Christians are prepared to throw out the unreasonable from their big fat Book, then which for them comes first? Reason, or the Book? And if so, then why don't they go full speed with the former and abandon the latter altogether?

And from whence do your morals come? If, like me, your answer is: by reason from this earth, then may goodness and reason follow you all the days of your life.

Have a happy Sunday.

LINKS: Family values - Skeptics Annotated Bible
Cruelty and violence - Skeptics Annotated Bible
Cartoon from Russell's Teapot
Morality without God? - Not PC
Is-Ought? Not a problem - Not PC

RELATED POSTS ON: Religion, Ethics