Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression

Here's a wee bit of poetry written for Libertarianz by Graham Brazier a few years back, somewhat appropriate for this era of apathy and rampant killjoyism:
Coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression

As we head for the abyss in our brand new automobile
Cellphone to the ear, a shirt that reads “no fear”
I have only one last wish, one last impression
give me coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression

Regardless of your hairstyle, and the clothing that you dress in
give us coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression

And if the dailies read correctly, and we believe all that we read
indeed the time has come for fear, be very scared indeed
So I feel the wind ablowing from the new depression
Give me coffee cigarettes and freedom from oppression

So now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep
And should I die before I wake
My last request and no mistake
Give me coffee, cigarettes and freedom from oppression.

© B.Bold Music, 2000

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Beer O’Clock – Winter Warmers

Winter beer advice below from the ever SOBA Neil from Real Beer (and some dark beer advice here from PC).

Just as it makes sense for a café menu to change from light summer salads and rolls to hearty soups and stews when the weather turns cold, it is sensible for brewers to produce richer, darker warming beers when the temperature drops.

Indeed, winter beers, or “winter warmers” as they are sometimes known, are usually dark, strong and often spicy and are a well established part of brewing.

Their growing popularity in New Zealand sees this edition of Beer O’Clock look at the winter offerings from three big brewers.

The first out was the Speight’s Fireside Ale. It is not being bottled, but it is now available on tap at Speight’s Ale House’s all around the nation. It is described as a limited release Strong Winter Warmer (5.5% alcohol by volume).

It does not seem to exist on the Speight’s website at all. I found the (limited) information above on the website for the Bealey’s Ale House in Christchurch. Personally, I came across this beer quite by accident at my local Speight’s Ale House on the mean streets of Thorndon, Wellington.

I saw the sign outside proclaiming “Fireside Ale” and so I popped in an asked what kind of beer it was. The staff member looked delightfully blank, paused and said “probably easiest if you just tasted it” and poured me a free sample. Outstanding!

Currently pouring in the 19 Monteith’s concept bars and available in bottles from 2 July, Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is a retooled version of their popular 2003 Doppelbock specialty release. Now 6%, Monteith’s are predicting strong sales.

The Doppelbock is a six malt brew using a blend of five dark malts (Munich, Vienna, Crystal, Amber and Chocolate) together with Pilsner malt. Monteith’s say it is moderately hopped with local varieties of the German Hallertauer hop and I certainly think it is encouraging to see a big brewery talking about ingredients rather than brand images.

Next off the rank is Mac’s limited release Log Burner Winter Ale, launching next week at a “centrally heated” launch party. I’m expecting this beer will be available at Mac’s bars round the nation but is unlikely to appear in bottles any time soon. I’m looking forward to trying it.

All three beers give you a perfect reason to head out to a cozy pub and settle in with a good winter warmer.

Cheers, Neil

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There goes the neighbourhood

It may be Gordon Brown's dream home, but Downing Street is in a seedier area than folk imagine. In a council house just over the back fence lives an extended family run by a grumpy old woman who keeps a pack of fierce dogs. Her husband makes racist comments and a local shopkeeper says he murdered his son's girlfriend – but the police do nothing. Most of their kids have broken marriages, and their grandchildren are always out clubbing. They all live off the state, and every day the papers are full of their excesses. Who'd want to live near Buckingham Palace?
[Pinched from Shades of Grey, who pinched it from the Adam Smith Institute]

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Exxon shrugs

Oil companies Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips have told Hugo Chavez to go stuff his oil fields (actually their oil fields that Saint Hugo has nationalised), "signaling their departure from one of the world's largest oil deposits." They've taken their drilling rigs, their technical support, their ingenuity and their prodigious ability to produce oil elsewhere.

Good on them for refusing to sanction Chavez's theft.

UPDATE 1: News you couldn't make up from another irrational collectivist hell-hole: Oil rich Iran is rationing petrol, and irrational Iranians are responding by torching petrol stations! Story here. Talk about 'just burning' to get to the front of the queue!

But the country is awash with oil, so why is it rationing petrol, you ask? Two reasons:
  1. Because petrol in Iran is heavily subsidised to keep the price down (it's about 11 US cents a litre, if you can get it). And when prices are set well below market rates, well, I'll let your twelve-year-old (or a would-be Iranian petrol purchaser) explain to you what happens to demand, and to supply, and just how long the queues get. Shame no twelve-year-olds were around to explain it to Ahmedinejad.
  2. Iran is short of petrol. For years the world's fourth-largest exporter of oil has been importing petrol ! It has to import the stuff because it lacks refining capacity. It lacks refining capacity now because back in 1951 when the Iranian parliament under Mohammed Mossadegh nationalised the oil industry (taking what western oil companies had produced on those empty desert sands and stealing the new-found riches for themselves) the oil refiners either left or were expelled, and the would-be builders of new refineries haven't wanted to risk money building many more. Who would? Iranian Oil Minister Vaziri-Hamaneh conceded recently that the "oil refining industry" of the country -- that is, Iran's Ministry of Petroleum -- urgently needs a 15-billion-dollar investment for its development, and the Iranian oil industry itself needs "93 billion dollars in foreign investments and more than 43 billion dollars in domestic resources by 2014 to boost oil and gas output." In other words, the Iranian government has the begging bowl out because few rational investors want to be seen throwing away their own money, and the Iranian government is spending its ill-gotten oil money on arming the Middle East.
Such is the ongoing history of nationalised industries, and has been ever since this unique form of theft was invented, an ongoing lurch from penury to poverty. So it goes.

UPDATE 2: News from Moscow, from Novosti [hat tip Trevor Loudon]
MOSCOW, June 27 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will arrive in the Russian capital Wednesday. Russian experts said contracts on supplies of new armaments to Venezuela could be signed during the visit... The value of the contracts, depending on the final size of the order, is estimated at $1-2 billion, the paper said, citing its own sources in the defense industry... Venezuela is the world's second-largest importer of Russian military hardware after Algeria. In 2005-2006, it ordered $3.4 billion worth of hardware and weaponry from Russia, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters, and 100,000 AK-103 Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan grocery stores are no longer stocking basic food stuffs.

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BZP ban violates first law of street economics

Ban things, and you create a black market. It's the first law of street economics. It's so simple even gangsters know it.

Sadly, it's not simple enough for politicians .

Ban drugs, whatever the drug, whatever the reason, and the people who celebrate loudest are the dealers. Every time an American president declares a War on Drugs (TM), cocaine suppliers in Medellin celebrate because their prices go through the roof. Every time an American president bombs Medellin and takes out a supplier, the other dealers in Medelling celebrate because they have one less competitor ... and their prices go through the roof.

With Jim Neanderton's announcement today of a "ban" on BZP-based party pills, honest suppliers of party pills will be lamenting, but dishonest suppliers won't be. Those bastards will be rubbing their hands with glee: Neanderton has just restricted their competition, and given those who remain in the business a license to print dirty money. Neanderton has made himself their benefactor. Here's why:
  • Prohibition doesn't get drugs off the street. The government can't even get rid of drugs in the controlled environment of a prison, so they certainly can't get rid of them from the relative freedom of our streets -- and in trying to get rid if them they only succeed in curtailing that freedom in the process.
  • Outlawing drugs doesn't make them go away; it simply puts them in the hands of outlaws, and in the hands of the soft targets on whom the outlaws focus.
  • Prohibition limits demand a little, but it limits supply a lot -- as every economics student knows, this pushes up prices a lot, and gives remaining dealers a profit on a plate.
  • Prohibition means people don't stop consuming drugs they just change the drugs they're consuming. BZP-based party pills are safer than both alcohol and tobacco. The drugs party pill users will replace them with won't be.
  • Prohibition makes buyers less interested in quality, and more interested in "the high"; it makes dealers less interested in quality and safety, and more interested in making as much as they can to make up for the risk. Hence Milton Friedman's Iron Law of Prohibition: "Prohibition encourages dealers to produce and provide the stronger, more harmful product. If you are a drug dealer in Hackney, you can use the kilo of cocaine you own to sell to casual coke users who will snort it and come back a month later – or you can microwave it into crack, which is far more addictive, and you will have your customer coming back for more in a few hours. Prohibition encourages you to produce and provide the more harmful drug."
  • Prohibition puts the quality and safety of the drugs your children are consuming (your children are the dealers' soft targets) in the hands of criminals and corrupt police. These people don't care who their consumers are, or what they're consuming.
The people celebrating the most at the announcement that BZP based party pills are being banned will be the dealers. They've just been guaranteed an enormous profit, and Jim Neanderton has ensured that the quality and safety of the drugs people will still consume are in the hands of scum.

You'd think he would learn from history, that prohibition achieves precisely the opposite result to that intended. (Yes, it's our old friend the Law of Unintended Consequences yet again.)

Prohibition: Learning from history

As always, The Onion makes learning from history easy by making the lesson itself so blindingly obvious. (Click on the page to read.)
The Onion - 18th Amendment

You'd think the message would be sufficiently obvious enough even for the likes of Jacqui Dean and Jim Neanderton, wouldn't you? The message is simple enough even for the likes of them:

Never has.

UPDATE: Lindsay Perigo gives "Adolph Anderton" some more to think about:
SOLO Press Release:
It's Not Your Body, Adolf Anderton!

The Socialist Republic of Aotearoa-New Zealand's descent into full-blown tyranny, fresh from its straitjacketing of journalists, cameramen and photographers covering proceedings in the Republic's Reichstag, accelerated further today with the announcement by Associate Health Minister Adolf Anderton that BZP, the active ingredient in party pills, will be made illegal from next year...

"What people put in their own bodies is their own affair. The ingestion of truly harmful substances should be a matter of rational dissuasion, not criminal sanction. Herr Anderton, however, is interested only in indulging his own congenital control-freakery to ensure that everyone is as miserable as he is. He ought to get out more, though it's understandable that no one invites him anywhere.

"I would urge Adolf's physician to place him on a course of Euphoria, to counter his natural misery hormones," Perigo concludes.
Read the full press release here.

UPDATE 2: Mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Julian Pistorius is: "This is bullshit. Let's organise a protest march in Auckland and Wellington, before the bill goes ahead. Who's with me? If you want to help, join this group:
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fightbzpprohibition/ "
Who's with him? How mad are you?

UPDATE 3: Says Lindsay Mitchell, "It's richly ironic that at a time when worries about gang culture are foremost the government has gifted them party pills. And let's not forget who nagged them into it."

UPDATE 4: Jameson has an obvious point that needs making: This is less about well thought-out policy, and more about Anderton trying to assuage his own guilt
[Anderton] abjectly failed as a father to rationally dissuade his own daughter from becoming a drug addict, and I imagine he's still suffering the guilt of her eventual suicide. Once again, a politician’s own inadequacies have become our problem that needs to be fixed. Totalitarian cunt.
That won't stop him becomeing guilty twice over when former party pill consumers prohibited from their relatively harmless pleasure turn instead to something more harmful. Let him add what Russell Brown points out to his guilt trip:
Party people will not suddenly start going to bed early. Some might soldier on with alcohol as a social lubricant, others will seek illegal drugs. Patterns of methamphetamine use may change, with P -- smoked methamphetamine -- retaining its social stigma, but snorting seen (with some justification) as a less risky means of consumption.
Well done Jim.

UPDATE 5: Liberty Scott weighs on on the side of the angels:
You Don't Own Your Body, the Government Does: Jim Anderton's proud announcement, like big daddy telling off all the children - that it's good for them and they wont be allowed party pills anymore, is utterly sickening. It is immoral and it wont work. You see the point to me is simple.

I own my body because I am an adult. As a result of that, I have the right to ingest whatever the hell I like.I hope the families and friends of those who get ruined because the quality of BZP plummets and becomes more poisonous, or those who fear admitting to doctors they take it for fear of being prosecuted, or those prosecuted for the crime of putting something into their own bodies, go and thank Anderton, Jacqui Dean and the other fascists against personal freedom for repeating a failed policy. Can't the likes of them (and the MPs who will support it like the robots they are) leave peaceful people alone?
UPDATE 6:As do the Greens: Prohibition is Not the Answer - Metiria Turei

UPDATE 7: Blair Anderson, the chap who brought out Ex-Scotland Yard drug boss Eddie Ellison to talk sense a couple of years ago, says Anderton Should be Embarrased:
Elevating BZP into an illicit drug rather than improve a legally regulated regime abrogates his own duty 'of care'. Passing control to criminal networks looses not only controlled manufacture and distribution chains, it entrenches failure. The guy is an idiot, and those who serve under him are afflicted by his moral hysteria.
He has a lenthy post highlighting "our erroneous ABC drug classifications system" that is worth reading. The graph below from the Lancet, relating a Mean Harm Rating to summarises just one part of the folly of the ABC system. Do you see the nonsense that drug policy caused by moral panic has become?
RELATED: Victimless Crimes, Politics-NZ

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Libertarian hottie" for First Lady

I might rethink my opinion on Ron Paul for US President.

Despite him being a complete flake on the threat from totalitarian Islamists (his policy consists of being nice to them in the hope they go away), these videos by "libertarian hottie" Rachel Mills have changed my mind.

As she says, it's great that everyone thinks her ideas about Ron are really hot, but doesn't she have a great chest too. I can't argue with that.

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No comments on Left Turn

Idiot/Savant has given up on on comments at his No Right Turn blog, joining a slew of others who've shut down feedback. I/S blames "an influx of trolls, who have established a toxic and abusive atmosphere and progressively drowned out those commenters who actually have something interesting to say." The last straw seems to have been this thread. "Some of you," he says, "may be unhappy with this decision. I'll simply point out that this is my blog, and that if you don't like the way I run it (or what I say on it), you are perfectly free to start your own."

Fair enough; it's entirely his decision -- even if it does remove one of the most useful parts of blogging, which is the ability to be apprised of and to correct mistakes (something demonstrated on that very thread that offended him). For myself, it's worth recalling that free speech doesn't require that you provide your attackers with a microphone, and I have to say that in the main I've been very lucky with my commenters here. Most of you do need a lot of work, though. :-)

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There are people who laugh at Fiji...

* A ban on election year advertising by anyone other than politicians, something we might call speech rationing, is expected to be put before parliament shortly.

* A ban on using material from "official" parliamentary telecasts to "satirise, ridicule or denigrate" the denizens of parliament is expected to be voted in this afternoon.

* Meanwhile, the police want the power to fingerprint people without the need to arrest or lay charges against them [hat tip KG].

And there are people who laugh at what's happening in Fiji!

NB: You don't need to look to Fiji to get outraged at heavy-handed authoritarianism; but Stephen Franks suggests you might look for better law to a recent decision by the US Supreme Court, which "has just held unconstitutional aspects of campaign finance laws restricting third party-funded television ads close to elections." Do you think we could learn something from both?

UPDATE: Whale Oil quotes barrister and media law lecturer Steven Price saying it was difficult to see how the proposed restrictions on election advertising "can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society [a reference from the Bill of Rights Act] ... I'm also astonished to see that it doesn't permit the use of material for election campaigning." Says Oil,
So, for example, if the Prime Minister could be shown to have lied in the House, and there is sure to be plenty of that footage available, the Opposition couldn't use footage of that in its election campaign.

Yep, this is supression of freedom of expression for sure. Bloggers must unite and show the pollies what a bunch of cocks they are.

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Tony

Tony Blair has gone.

British Labour will be happy -- with Blair gone they can now have less Bush, less Cherie, less Iraq, more government, more spending and more Brussells (which means much more government and much more spending). UK Tories will be happy -- Brown is not a patch on Blair for either presentation or principle (although they are faced with the problems that with Blair gone, Cameron will now have no one to emulate). There's no doubt that the legacy of Blair will cast a long shadow over both of them, though less so perhaps than Thatcher's still does.

Liberty Scott has a fair summary of the positives and negatives of the Blair years with which I largely concur. Here's some snippets from a few months back giving my own assessment , one from the archives, beginning with this observation:
Tony Blair is an odd combination of two characters from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead: principled bu pragmatic Gail Wynand and Peter Keating, the man with a second-hand soul. Like Keating (and like Clinton), Blair sought to be all things to all people, pursuing a compromising "Third Way" policy. Like Wynand, however, what brought him down was his one semi-principled act: his support for the Iraq War, an act that could not be made consistent with his overall character and history.
And:
Blair stole what once made the Tories worth anything at all, and it's clear they still don't want it back.
And:
Blair is unashamedly willing to confront those who oppose him and argue out of principle.
And:
"Mr Blair said the struggle facing the world today was not just about security. It was also "a struggle about values and modernity, whether to be at ease with it or enraged at it." It certainly is. Remarkable to hear that from a politician.
In the end, he reformed the British Labour Party, expelling (hopefully for good) the Trotskyites and Bolsheviks with which it was then infested, making it once again electable. For Britain, he largely preserved the results of the Thatcher Revolution -- something the Tories were not going to do. And as he said last night, he did as Prime Minister "what he thought was right" rather than just what was expedient -- something few politicians can say.

But after ten years in power? He first came to prominence as shadow Home Secretary with his promise to be "tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime." He wasn't. Instead he was tough on gun control (leading to an explosion of armed crime) and tough on Big Brother intrusions such as email invasion and the proposed introduction of ID cards. And he leaves power with the 'cash for honours' scandal ringing in his ears -- a scandal mirroring in many respects Labour's pledge card scandal here at home -- and with his egregious Stern Report and the ignominious capitulation of himself and 15 marines in the Gulf still ringing in some of ours.

So his legacy is mixed -- both Gail Wynand and Peter Keating. Sadly, it was the principled part of the Wynand half for which he became least popular, not the second-handedness of the Peter Keating. But fear not fans of second-handers, Peter Keating is still alive and well in British politics: he's now leading the Tories.

Cartoon by Cox and Forkum.

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Eureka Tower - Fender Katsalidis, Architects


I hear that Melbourne's Eureka Tower opens today.

Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, and located on Melbourne's South Bank, it's the Southern Hemisphere's tallest building, and the world's tallest residential tower.

I would love to have been involved with a project like that, and to experience The Edge.

Some facts about the tower.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

America's Cup: 2-1!

2-1! A fantastic result, only matched by the great coverage and superb commentary.

And whoever hired old Russell Coutts to commentate for TVNZ on the America's Cup has earned their salary. It's a masterstroke. There's no one who knows more about everything there is to know, no one who's won the cup as many times as Russell and who knows these teams as he does. It's as good as it was having John Hart and Grant Fox commenting on the last Rugby World Cup -- you just know that whatever they say you can take to the bank.

I suspect that those bitching about Coutts and the decision to give Coutts the commentary chair are the same blackhearted harridans bitching a few days backs about Fay and Richwhite. Envy -- hatred of success for being success -- really is an ugly emotion, isn't it.

UPDATE: Radio Sport have just suggested that Coutts has other commitments, and last night was his last commentary for TVNZ in this cup. James Spithill is said to be his replacement.

Speculation too, including from Coutts himself, that Coutts will be some place in the next America's Cup. Where would you like that place to be?

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Satire, ridicule and denigration all richly deserved by both politicians and press gallery

Former press gallery journalist Lindsay Perigo is outraged at the supine noises emerging from the Parliamentary Press Gallery at the "the new rules to govern the extended telecasting of Parliament from next month: the use of material for 'satire, ridicule or denigration' will be banned. Transgressors could be thrown in jail." Says Perigo in disgust:
Press Gallery Chairman Vernon Small, a wimpish, whining pommie commie sympathetic to the Clark Government, has made whimpering noises in lieu of a kick-ass protest. The Press Gallery as a whole is comprised of leftie lickspittles whose only objection to the Clark Government is that it's not Stalinist enough. With these new rules, that objection no longer stands—and it's to the abiding disgrace of the other parties that their MPs on the Standing Orders Committee have acquiesced to this outrage. Among the media, only TV3 has risen above its usual socialist predilections and fearlessly ridiculed politicians in response to the Standing Orders Committee's fatwa.

Politicians with a conscience, journalists with integrity, and members of the public with an awareness of the sacred status of freedom of speech must rise up in unison against this cross-party commitment to fascism.
Read it here: Lindsay Perigo: NZ's Politicians - United in Fascism.

UPDATE 1: I like Whale Oil's reaction to this news:
Never fear, this blogger will stand up and continually use Satire, Ridicule and Denigration of MP's and I will use any footage that I can get my hands on. In fact I am setting up a video server for just such a purpose.
If there was ever a corruption* of MPs so richly deserving of Satire, Ridicule and Denigration then it's this lot.

UPDATE 2: "We need protection," say MPs. There's no one who deserves it less, and nothing as chilling for free speech as a parliament that demands it. Remember that this is the same parliament that has seriously discussed rationing free speech over election periods, of banning "third party" criticism of politicians in election year! They really mean it! This parliament is still headed by the same government that has created "an atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming pretty hazardous." Do we want to see people jailed for offending these corrupt morons?

UPDATE 3: Good on the Dominion's Tracy Watkins:
THIS PICTURE IS BANNED: MPs think we should not be allowed to show you one half of this picture because it "may not be representative" of what was actually happening at the time.
Should Tracy and her editor be jailed for publishing this on the front page?

UPDATE 4: Make sure you visit the Herald website and vote on their poll on this. [Scroll down to the right]. Early days, but so far the results are very encouraging.
- - - - -
* A "corruption" is the collective noun for MPs.

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Two millennia of European antisemitism explained -- and more!

The Holocaust is such a grotesque events in human affairs that it seems to defy reasonable analysis. How to understand killing on that scale, with intent, with that hatred. How could such hatred be possible?

Reading Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's superbly argued book Hitler's Willing Executioners, he points out in a nutshell the genesis of nearly two millennia of European anti-Semitism from which that genocide sprang. Yes, that pun there is intentional: "European anti-Semitism," he points out, "is a corollary of Christianity."
From the earliest days of Christianity's consolidation of its hold over the Roman Empire, its leaders preached against Jews, employing explicit, powerfully worded, emotionally charged condemnations. The psychological and theological need impelling Christians to differentiate themselves from the bearers of the religion from which their own had broken off was born anew with each generation, because as long as Jews rejected the revelation of Jesus, they unwittingly challenged the Christians' certitude in that revelation.

If the Jews, the people of God, shunned the messiah that God had promised them, then something was awry. Either the Messiah was false, or the people had gone profoundly astray, perhaps tempted by the Devil himself. Or Christians could not countenance contemplation of the former, so they opted heart and soul for the latter: The Jews were religiously wayward in a world where religion and the moral order were conterminous, and where deviation from it was a grievous transgression. [...]

Bernard Glassman, a historian of Christian attitudes towards Jews, writes:
The clerics believed that if Christianity was indeed the true faith and its followers were were the new Israel, then Judaism had to be discredited in the eyes of the faithful. In medieval sermons, plays, and religious literature, the Jews were often portrayed as adversaries of the church who from the time of of the Crucifixion threatened good Christians.
Thus the Jews can to represent much that was antithetical to the moral order of the Christian world.
I think that's as unanswerable a point today as it was when I first read it several years ago, and indeed the point is reinforced for us by the various pronouncements throughout those two millennia by Christian thinkers such as Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas and Peter the Venerable of Cluny, all of whom viewed anti-Semitism as an essential part of their Christian faith; the fourth century comments of John Chysostom, "a pivotal Church Father," will serve here to stand for all of them: that the Jewish faith is a direct and ongoing challenge to the Christian faith, and therefore may not be allowed to survive. Said Chrysostom,
Where Christ-killers gather, the cross is ridiculed, God blasphemed, the father unacknowledged, the son insulted, the grace of the Spirit rejected... If the Jewish rites are holy and venerable, our way of life must be false. But if our way of life is true, as indeed it is, theirs is fraudulent. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. far from it! For they lead one to Christ. I am speaking of their present impiety and madness.
Notes Goldhagen of this "early example of the Christian world's essential relationship to Jews," it illustrates that Christian hostility towards Jews is not merely one of "unflattering stereotypes and prejudices," but one irrevocably "interwoven into the constitution of the moral order of the Christian cosmos and society."

Now, this thoroughgoing almost metaphysical hatred can be seen in one other obvious place in today's modern world, and it seems to me that Goldhagen's point throws a profound light too on our present-day troubles; on a world in which Christians, Jews and atheists alike are under threat from murderous Islamic totalitarians inspired by a hatred born of a similar source.

Can't you just see the same nasty, hate-filled corollary in action over Islam's double dismissal of both Judaism (for whom both Islam and Judaism share the pre-Jesus prophets) and of what they see as the 'Christian' west (who in their minds have embraced a prophet as a messiah, and who have rejected the true, later prophet Mohammed) ? It's as insane as the hatred that impelled two millennia of anti-Semitism, and it derives from a similar source.

As Christopher Hitchens affirms in the subtitle of his new book, religion really does poison everything! Seems you either take your religious nonsense seriously and as a consequence hate everyone who has a different imaginary friend to you, or you take your religion with a grain of salt and keep your head down when the hatred starts flying -- and in two millennia it still hasn't. Or better still you can reject the whole field as the hate-filled superstitious nonsense that it is, and seek your answers here on earth.

It's what a rational man would do.

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'Elusive', by sculptor Bill Mack


Elusive, by sculptor Bill Mack. See more of Bill's sculpture (and buy it) at the Quent Cordair Gallery.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Death to Rushdie!" says religion of peace.

Just in case you were in any doub about this after Salman Rushdie's knighthood, Islamic totalitarians have confirmed that they still want him dead. Speaking on behalf of the "religion of peace,"
A high-level Iranian cleric said Friday that the religious edict calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked, and he warned Britain was defying the Islamic world by granting the author knighthood.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reminded worshippers of the 1989 fatwa during a sermon at Tehran University, aired live on state radio. Thousands of worshippers chanted "Death to the English."
Death to all those who offend the religion of peace! Nick Provenzo says it better than I can:
The continued existence of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is more than just a threat against one man and his publisher; it is a threat against a fundamental tenant our civilization, which is that each individual is free to express himself and his ideas without fear of threats or physical coercion. That Iran's clerics continue to attack the very cornerstone of our civilization reveals yet again that Iran itself continues to be uncivilized. No one had the right to coercively edit Salman Rushdie or any citizen of the West. No government cleric had the right to call for any free man's murder...

Rather than continue to sit idly by while Iran's clerics boast of their savage edict, it's high time that the West respond in kind.
UPDATE: Watch Christopher Hitchens on BBC's Question Time programme, magnificent once again in defending -- defending? nay, praising to the skies -- the decision to knight Rushdie. And the inimitable Cox and Forkum have their say below... [Hat tip Jameson for the link, and the cartoon]

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Totalitarianism isn't cool . . .

. . . no matter how many bubble-headed Hollywood celebrities think it is.


The picture above shows Cameron Diaz* swanning through Peru, a country that was ripped apart by communist terrorists, wearing a fucking Chairman Mao bag round her scrawny damn neck! The picture at right shows her laughing. One would hope the two things are not connected, since as Peruvian human rights activist Pablo Rojas explains:
[the bag] alludes to a concept that did so much damage to Peru, that brought about so many victims. I don't think she should have used that bag where the followers of that ideology did so much damage.
Says the Independent on Sunday, this is like "wandering up to the Wailing Wall with a swastika printed on your handbag." Would you do that, Cameron? You'd say "what was she thinking," except thinking is the last thing anyone's doing when they wander anywhere with a totalitarian talisman hanging around their neck. Dimwit Diaz, by the way, is "one of the eco-friendly stars offering advice on how to live responsibly in a new publication called The Green Book, out in the US this week." [Hat tip Jameson]

Message to dumb blondes and dimwits who think commy chic and totalitarian tat is cool -- who think hanging out in the Lenin Bar with your Che T-shirts and your Mao bags is hip: You're not "cool." You're just glorifying totalitarians and making yourself look as stupid as you are. You wouldn't wear a Hitler shirt, would you?

_ _ _ _ _
* She's an actress, apparently. That is to say, she's famous for appearing in films.

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Censored. Not!

Oops!
Online Dating

Apparently I get the "No one under 17 admitted rating" because there's too much fucking going on around here (5x too much) some dominatrix action (2x) and even the occasional stab (1x). No worries; I always do say that libertarianism is for consenting adults. :-)

Find out your blog rating if the Censor's Office was watching, and see how you'd be censored. [Hat tip Lucyna].

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FREE RADICAL #75 - The Right of Revolution: In Praise of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

With Free Radical #76 in the works and Fiji still in the news -- and real questions now beginning to be asked about just what's going on -- it seems appropriate to post the article from Free Radical #75 over which Tim Wikiriwhi left the Libertarianz. It becomes more prescient by the day -- and as you can see, when he's not waving his Bible about Tim become much more sane. (And you can check out all this blog's coverage of Fiji here.)

The Right of Revolution: In Praise of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
by Tim Wikiriwhi



The latest coup in Fiji by Commodore Frank Bainimarama has highlighted for me the corruption of so-called “indigenous rights,” a recipe for division which is pedalled around the globe by the corrupt socialists of the UN. Four coups in twenty years is hardly a good look, but the instability is itself a product of racist laws that makes instability inevitable.



Bainimarama’s coup is the complete opposite of the previous three coups, each of which attempted to establish absolutely the UN’s apartheid agenda for indigenous rights. Whereas Rabuka and Speight were acting to cement the racist laws that raised indigenous Fijians over other Fijians, Bainimarama is a defender of the principle of equality.


Bainimarama said he was compelled to act against the government because corruption had flourished under Qarase, whom he himself appointed after the 2000 coup, and because of proposed laws that would grant pardons to plotters in a 2000 coup and hand lucrative land rights to indigenous Fijians at the expense of the large ethnic Indian minority.

"Qarase betrayed our trust when he went back to team up with the very people who caused the political instability of 2000," Bainimarama said. The new electoral system he pledged to implement would ensure that all votes cast were equal, and the present race-based election system abolished. This requires indigenous Fijians to vote for Fijian candidates, ethnic Indians for Indian candidates, and others for a third group of candidates. “We want to rid the constitution of provisions that facilitate and exacerbate the politics of race”, Bainimarama confirmed at the outset.



In seeking to put a permanent end to the racist Fijian electoral system and to permanently abolish laws that grant favouritism to indigenous racists, he is in my estimation worthy of praise and support reserved for the greatest benefactors of mankind.



Apathy and submission to injustice via political delusions

A basic principle of justice is that all law should be colour-blind; that everyone, regardless of race, should be equal before the law. We here in New Zealand have however grown soft on inequality. That this is true can not only be shown by the complete lack of protest against the blatant apartheid of the Waitangi Tribunal, of the many, many race-based policies still on the books in New Zealand.



This is an indictment against ourselves and our country, and a measure of our complacency and foolishness. So many people in so many places around the globe have been deceived into thinking that “the rule of democracy” is synonymous with “the rule of law”; that democracy is a safeguard of freedom. It is nothing of the sort.



Democracy is simply a counting of heads regardless of content. True liberty exists only when the inalienable rights of all individuals, regardless of race or colour, are put beyond the vote. Belief in the ‘democracy fallacy’ is so prevalent however that when a democracy is overthrown, even a racist democracy such as Fiji’s undeniably was, many immediately say that the perpetrators are dangerous criminals!



The reality is that democracy can be as unjust as an absolute monarchy, and it is just as immoral for a parliament to grant legal favouritism upon the grounds of race as it is for a king to do so, no matter how many people might vote for it!



The rule of law means the rule of principles of justice especially of the principle of equality before the law – equality for all, regardless of race! The democratic “mandate of the majority” is a valid way of choosing who should be in government, but not a valid way of justifying how they govern, or what laws they pass, nor an automatic justification of any law proposed by a democratic Parliament! Democracy is not synonymous with freedom.



Totalitarian democrats dread the spread of Bainimarama’s ideals

What the Clark regime are scared of is this: the simple realisation that a racist democracy not unlike the one they themselves are running has been overthrown, and overthrown in the name of overturning that entrenched and legalised racism. They can do nothing else but condemn Bainimarama!



The right of revolution

Let me state the fact that the principle of equality is no light or transient cause. What motivates me to support Bainimarama is exactly the same principle as motivated the American Declaration of Independence.



We must all be aware of the maxim of Edmund Burke: “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” If you are in a position of power to stop a great injustice, but do not exercise that power, does your inaction not amount to complicity? Any man of virtue in Bainimarama’s position would be obliged to make the same choice: That is either do nothing and allow the evil of apartheid injustice to go unchecked, or to act and put an end to it!



According to Lockeian principles, it is not unjust to overthrow a tyrant. Any good man has the right to stop the enemies of mankind by the law of nature, just as they have the right to kill any savage beast. We have the natural right to defend our lives and property. It is not a crime but a righteous necessity to overthrow a corrupt government.



The limits of political power and the supremacy of justice

While many people understand that the principle of equality before the law means you cannot have one law for blacks or browns and another for whites, few people appreciate the fullness of its limiting power over government whatsoever its form. This same principle guarantees absolute equal freedom for all: It means a president, a king, or an indigenous native has no more rights than the lowliest citizen or the most recent immigrant.



Equality before the law means you cannot have a state religion. It means you cannot have an official culture. It means you cannot have one law for the rich and another for the poor. It means you cannot grant any favouritism whatsoever!



The tyranny of the mob under demagogues

How many people really want true equality? Not many! Most would rather have some say over their neighbour’s rights and liberties than enjoy their own – they would rather have an absolute, unlimited democracy – one in which nothing has been put beyond the vote – if it allows them to somehow bully their neighbour, or to gain preference for their own. There are plenty of demagogues willing to crush minorities and to ride the waves of bigotry into power, and plenty of people around the world ready to applaud the bigots.



The proper constitutional context of the conventions of democracy

The power of voting is more critical when the government has tyrannical powers.

When government is kept in check by a just libertarian constitution – when the government has been limited to protecting the rights of the individual, and the elected government is barred from totalitarianism or unlimited majority rule – then the power to vote away the rights and liberties of minorities is of much less consequence (and remember that the smallest minority is the individual, whose rights a just government is sworn to uphold).



In such a system, what the US Founding Fathers described as a constitutional republic, no matter what religion or culture is in the majority or who is voted into office, the government cannot pass discriminatory laws nor usurp greater powers at the expense of the rights and liberties of the population.


The fact that nations like Fiji and New Zealand don’t have such constitutional restraints means that the right to vote is itself looked upon as the primary safeguard against corruption, and the notion of taking away an elected government by force sends dread trough the Mobocracy -- yet that liberation will be met with jubilation by the liberated minorities who have borne the brunt of democratic injustice.



The limits of representative government and the power of consent

It must be remembered that the right to vote is not a license to create a tyranny of the mob. The right to vote in a representative government is subordinate to the principles of justice. The mandate of the majority can never legitimately override the principle of equality before the Law. The principle of the consent of the governed is itself subordinate to the principle of equality before the law.



The principle of equality is the only condition of justice whereby everyone can be justly expected to grant consent, so this principle becomes an absolute justification for any form of government that is constitutionally founded upon it. Those who refuse to consent to equality and instead desire an unjust form of rule, whether they represent either a majority or minority, can rightfully be ignored and even suppressed (meaning: they halted from unjust revolution):

  • It is just to impose equality upon an unwilling/barbarous population by force to keep their prejudice in check.
  • It is just to crush socialist uprisings.
  • It is just to overthrow racist democracies.
  • It is just to hunt down religious terror groups who seek religious tyranny.
  • It is just to go to war to liberate a slave pen, and to occupy foreign lands wherein the threat of ideological evil dwells.

The justice of all these things hinges on the principle of equality. Equality before the law is the standard by which to judge the validity of all law and government.



This ultimate truth is founded upon our God-given equal rights, rights that exist as inalienable absolutes irrespective of laws and governments. Fiji is technically in a state of civil war, and has been since it instituted racist government long ago, at which point it went to war against those citizens whose rights it overthrew. In overturning a racist government and in suppressing racist mob uprisings, I submit that Bainimarama is acting under this principle of justice. He must take care how he goes about this difficult task.



The current confrontation with the Great Council of Chiefs was inevitable, since it was this corrupt political body that was behind the Rabuka and Speight coups, and behind the apartheid system of favouritism for indigenous Fijians. He must divest these tribal chiefs of their corrupt powers that perverted the democracy of Fiji into an apartheid system. The best thing the chiefs can do is support a new constitution in which all Fijians, regardless of race, are recognised as being equal before the law.



The responsibility for government rests with the people

“Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” This is the great fear of any nation, and no doubt is a reason many fear the power of Bainimarama. I wonder why these same fearful souls are not leading a revolution against Helen Clark and Her Own Absolute Democracy!



How much evil will these frightened souls suffer before they rise up against her? Even in Western civilisations, millions are dying each year as a direct result of socialism, yet no one acts against it because democracy has turned them into spineless slaves. Ultimately absolute tyrants everywhere prosper because the population is too scared to overthrow them. They prefer the safety of slavery to the risk of dying for freedom. Mugabe will continue to tyrannise Zimbabweans until the people say enough is enough. Putin will continue to suppress Russian protest until the people say enough is enough. Their tyranny will continue until those sufficiently brave and staunch enough for freedom run into the seat of power and oust these tyrants!



The limits of tyrants are set by the resistance of their citizens. All would-be tyrants must fear the wrath of freedom-loving people! Dictatorships can only stand where the people choose submission over revolution.
The price of liberty is indeed eternal vigilance.



Who ought to engage in such revolution? Every enlightened individual who refuses to submit to tyranny. New Zealanders need to sort out their own apartheid systems of state before they tell Commodore Bainimarama to surrender to the racists of Fiji!



Tim Wikiriwhi is a Hamilton engineer, and a self-described Independent Libertarian.

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Eve - Cody Swanson, 2006

The winner of last year's Art Renewal Center's "purchase prize," this is Eve by sculptor Cody Swanson.

You can just tell what this lady is thinking about . . .

Entries for this year's scholarship awards close soon just closed. Sorry.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Blatant Clark-worship front and centre on the Herald website

Spot the blatant Clark-worship front and centre on the Herald website:

Kiwisaver and 'growth'

Kiwisaver has been sold as being good for savers (on which the jury is still out, and likely to be so for some time), and it's also been sold as being (somehow) good for the economy. People like the Herald's John Boy Armstrong, whose economic acumen is clearly as lacking as his political, leaped into print earlier this month suggesting this whole farrago will be good for the New Zealand economy.
KiwiSaver should reinforce Labour's economic management credentials [says Armstrong, stretching his own]. The boost in household savings and the surge in investment capital should drive the kind of growth needed to substantially lift personal incomes – and, in the process, lift New Zealand up those dismal OECD rankings with which National currently flays Labour.
The best one-word response to this drivel comes from Roger Kerr: "Really?" Wherefrom this newfound "surge" in investment capital of which Armstrong speaks, and Cullen presumably expects? As Roger Kerr points out in 'Will KiwiSaver Boost Economic Growth?', "Mr Armstrong is clearly thinking of a link between domestic savings, investment and growth," but New Zealand already has access to a whole "vast international pool of capital for investment at a price that is set in world markets."
KiwiSaver cannot stimulate investment by reducing the world cost of capital. If it increased domestic savings, firms would simply use less foreign savings.

Moreover, much of any additional saving would not be invested in New Zealand. In the interests of prudent diversification, fund managers are likely to place more than 50 percent of the inflows offshore, as the New Zealand Superannuation Fund does. Domestically, they will have to put most of their equity funds into listed companies. The diversion of savings from other vehicles into KiwiSaver might reduce local funding for sectors like small business and farming. These are amongst the most innovative and productive in the economy....

Even if the funds going into KiwiSaver translated fully into additional investment and were manna from heaven, the impact on GDP would be small... The contribution of KiwiSaver to GDP is thus looking very small at best, and could easily be negative, having regard to deadweight losses and distortionary effects on savings and investment decisions. Its contribution is clearly negative compared with equivalent tax reductions.

So not for the first time, both Cullen and Armstrong emerge looking less than credible. And again, and not for the first time, it's necessary to make the point that all the government programmes in the world can't boost productivity -- the only thing they can do help is to get the hell out of the way.

And on the issue of encouraging savings, the basic point to make is this: if you truly want NZers to save, then stop taking so much of their hard-earned money.

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We already have a capital gains tax, you pillocks.

Tax Houdini Cactus Kate points out something overlooked by politicians, political and business journalists, and even Reserve Bank wonks. These know-nothings "don't know what they are bloody talking about," she says, "as New Zealand does not need a special housing capital gains tax. The legislation already provides for one." She's right, you know. On all points.

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No Nanny please, say pro-Nanny ninnies

Invented by the late Bernard Levin and arguably introduced to New Zealand by Lindsay Perigo, Nanny State the term and Nanny State the embodiment of "soft fascism" are both flourishing. "Nanny State: Beat the Bitch Back" said Lindsay Perigo recently in a piece on Muriel Newman's site that was sent to all the papers as an Op Ed. In an ever-so spooky coincidence, the Sunday Star Slime -- the tabloid that only looks like a broadsheet-- decides to publish instead their own wussy apologia for Nanny: 'It's Time to Scrap the Term Nanny State,' they simper [hat tip Zen Tiger].

Frankly, my dears, I do give a damn: At a time when Nanny State has Gone Berserk, it's time to bury her, not to sing her praises.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dark beer taste-off: And the winner is . . .

With two of the most important recent sporting contests happening late last night, the question was how best to spend the time before they both kicked off. The obvious answer in our house was to add a third contest by performing a dark beer taste test in front of a classic film noir -- a fine pastime on a winter's evening.

Set before my favourite taste tester -- me -- were a champion line up derived from the local Glengarry's, most of which were included in the recent Consumer magazine taste test: Monteith's Black, Speight's Dark, Guinness (from the can), Moa Noir, Speight's Porter, Emerson's Organic Oatmeal Stout, Mac's Black, Cooper's Best Extra Stout, and of course a pen and a piece of notepaper for writing about them all that you could now wring out and use to sedate a small animal.

I won't keep you in suspense for too long: from last to first, the list above reflects the order in which our expert ranked them.

Monteith's Black beer poured a good crisp brown in the glass with a very neat head, and a lightish nose - maybe too light for a dark beer. It's taste is pleasant but overly fizzed, and overall it just lacks gumption in the glass.

I've found the Dark a good session beer on many an occasion, but compared to the others it looked like 'pop' in the glass, with a head that quickly disappeared and a nose that was barely a nose at all. Its fairly full and faintly biscuity flavour leaves a slightly clinical aftertaste, and a slight odour of cleaning products (it has the effect as if a table has just been wiped down after a hefty session.)

Drinking Guinness in New Zealand labours under the problem that Guinness tastes best from the tap, and that the Guinness brewed under license in New Zealand for pouring out of those taps isn't a patch on the British or Irish-brewed drop. The problem is said to be that New Zealand's water is too clean, or at least too lime-free, making the local liquid bitterer than its more favourable forbear, and giving it for some reason just a hint of a metallic taste. The second problem is that the liquid in Irish-brewed cans just doesn't travel well. It looks good in the glass (though without that classic 'Jerry Collins' look), has a great nose, but compared to the top-ranking drops in this test (and to rosy memories of drops consumed long ago and far away) it just seems a little thin and disappointing. Kilkenny or Murphy's are really the two to drink locally for your Celtic cred.

The Moa was a disappointment. Great packaging and a high price, but while pleasant the beer inside the package just doesn't merit the expense. Presents well, good nose, good taste, smooth velvety finish, but while everything's "good" with the Moa it's just not "great." "Could do better" is what I've got written on my beer-stained bit of paper among many other things which are now illegible.

So that leaves the Porter, Emerson's Oatmeal, the Black Mac, and the Coopers Best Extra Stout. The latter two were head and shoulders above all the others and were difficult to separate -- indeed the separation was only possible after extensive sampling, a job for which your indefatigable taste tester was prepared to sacrifice himself -- whereas the Porter and the Emerson's were clearly better than all others but these two.

The Porter is like the Moa in that it has everything it needs to have, but just not in the same quantities or in quite the same degree of delight that both the Black Mac and the Coopers have. The Emerson's is a superb winter beer with a clean finish and definite hint of good morning porridge; a few points were lost for a head that looked good but didn't last, and a flavour that wasn't full enough to stand up to the other combinations. (I suspect that the subtleties of both the Moa and the Emerson's Oatmeal would be better enjoyed on their own, without the stronger flavours of competitors to overpower them).

So to our two close finishers. Both Macs and Coopers look superb in the glass: big head, beautiful deep mahogany colours, huge malty nose (with a slight hint of molasses in the Coopers); it took much serious tasting to establish the winner, and (let's be serious about this) the tasting was all pleasure. Rich, full, smoky tastes, and in both cases an aftertaste that said things like "pick me" and "open another" and "who cares how many metres ahead that dumb Swiss boat is" -- these subliminal messages in fact became more pronounced as evening became morning and as our yacht began looking like it was going backwards.

In the end it was the Coopers Best Extra Stout by a nose from the Mac's. Everything about the Australian was just a shade better than the local boy. The price ratio is a fair measure of the superiority: $16.20 for a six-pack of the Coopers as against $13 for the Mac.

(And I have to report too that very late in the evening a bottle of Founders Long Black was also put to the test, but beyond something on my beerstained bit of paper saying something like "f97&wq#@rhqvc" and the distinct memory of it rating somewhere in the night's top five, I can I'm afraid report no more.)

A decent taste test then, leaving our expert ideally focussed to enjoy the two sporting spectacles on which so much was riding. Sport, dark beer, Rodney So'oialo and Glengarry's bank manager were definitely the winners on the night.

Oh, and what of the film noir I hear you ask? I'm happy to report that it too was a winner: a classic French heist movie, Rififi, from which Quentin Tarantino stole much to make Reservoir Dogs. Don't let that association put you off: Rififi was as artful and crisp as Dogs wasn't. A superbly dark accompaniment to an evening of dark beer and all black sport.

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