Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fresh blood?

Labour's likely newcomers in next year's intake includes Andrew Little, Phil Twyford, Grant Robertson, Connor Roberts, Kate Sutton, Clare Curran, Stuart Nash, Paul Chalmers, Don Pryde, Jordan Carter and Hamish McCracken. As Cactus observes:
Oh dear, she's really recruiting in the Primary Schools now.
Meanwhile fresh blood has been spilled on the clean streets of Takapuna outside the Labour Party conference, overshadowing whatever momentum the poor dears hoped to generate from a weekend of speeches. (MSM bloggers Colin and Vernon have the stories.)

It's looking more like the ill-fated Democratic Convention of '68 than it is of one on the eve of an historic fourth term.

UPDATE: Russell Brown offers a measured reflection on the violence and the protests, including some video links.

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How wrong is Al? Let me count the ways

Owen McShane from the Climate Science Coalition answers the question many of you have been asking:
The UK Court has Gored Al Gore – but how many hits?
By now most people are aware of the UK Court's finding against Al Gore's propaganda movie "An Inconvenient Truth". One of the most frequent questions arriving in my mail box is "How many actual 'errors' are there?" Current contenders are 9,11, 16, 18 and 35. How come?

Needless to say, those who are skeptical of Gore's works quote 11, 18, and more recently 35. The alarmists grudgingly acknowledge 9 and 16. The truck driver who brought the case argued there were 18 errors and asked the judge to rule on them. The judge chose to conflate three of them (relating to ice-melt) into one, so reducing the 18 original points to only 16 points. However the 18 original points were there - just reduced to 16 by the merger. The judge then analysed the evidence relating to the 16 points and found that, of the 16, nine were in error. However, if one focused on the original 18 then of course 11 were in error.

Since then (October 18th) Christopher Monckton has written a paper "35 Inconvenient Truths - the Errors in Al Gore's Movie." You can read this report here. So take your pick – 9,11,16, 18, or 35. They are all correct answers to five different questions.
UPDATE: If you include statements in Gore's film that are either one sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or wrong, then as Marlo Lewis argues the number is one-hundred and twenty! Lewis' 'Skeptics Guide to An Inconvenient Truth,' has been updated into an online book, a powerpoint display, and a series of short online videos:
A Skeptics Guide to an Inconvenient Truth - online book
Inconvenient Truths for Al Gore - Videos
Inconvenient Truths for Al Gore - Powerpoint presentation
If you know teachers who are using Gore's film as a 'teaching tool,' as many are unfortunately forced to, then you could do worse than send them Lewis's Powerpoint presentation [ppt] as a counter-balance.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Kyoto earthquake

At $10.5 billion, Japan's Kyoto bill is equivalent to their bill for the huge July 2007 earthquake -- but with a significantly worse economic effect.

Just thought you'd like to know.

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Beer O’Clock – Good News, Bad News

Neil Miller from Realbeer dishes out brickbats and bouquets to two of the countries biggest brewers...

First, the Bad News: Speight’s have apparently decided to discontinue their Pilsner, Pale Ale and Porter. These three beers in their craft range were fine examples of what big breweries could do when they put their expertise to good use and the Speight’s Porter, in particular, was technically a fine drop.

Quite why the craft beers have been discontinued and are now disappearing off the shelves rapidly is unclear. I have heard stories of poor sales, brand confusion or even an infection in the trademark kauri gyles.

I fear it was because the craft beers were hard work to make and less profitable for the company – real ingredients cost real money after all. It is unfortunate that these beers are being quietly dropped at exactly the same time Speight’s is investing heavily in promoting their “Shipping a Speight’s Ale House to London” campaign. Unfortunately, by the time the Speight’s Ale House arrives, there'll be little worth pouring out of the taps.

With the sad demise of the Pilsner and Porter, it is perhaps time to unveil my (unwitting) role in their launch. I have this story from an impeccable source in the liquor industry though I can not obviously verify it entirely.

At one of the first Brew New Zealand beer shows – held in the Victoria University Staff Club, no less – I was an eager young acolyte being schooled by my Beer Mentor Dr Girven.

At the end of the show, the organisers said people should finish their drinks and leave. We carefully manoeuvred ourselves in front of the unguarded Speight’s taps and cunningly continued to fill up our cups behind our backs. I drank the Pilsner, he drank the Porter. We continued to pour until both kegs were finished and we politely took our leave.

Unbeknownst to us, the beer show was apparently a test run for the beers. If they were finished, the beers would be added to the permanent range. So, our surreptitious consumption – which I’m sure everyone noticed – may have played some part in getting these products to market, for five years at least.

And now, the Good News: Kudos for Tui for putting their considerable marketing support in behind the Movember campaign. This includes new billboards (“I can grow one, I just choose not to”) and the new Mo Trimming teams.

Tui says Movember
has afforded Kiwi lads a unique and irreverent way to comfortably communicate and support a charity that addresses a serious health issue for New Zealand males – Prostate Cancer.

Obviously Tui was stoked to be given the nod to partner Movember in 2007 as an official sponsor, building on the previous success of raising awareness and funding. And in more good news, the Tui Brewery Girls are so fired up they've offered their Mo trimming services for the month as the Official Tui Mowing Service -- similar to 'Jim's Mowing' but equipped only with hair trimmers and little in the way of protective clothing.
“Joking aside,"says unusually serious Brand Manager Jarrod Bear, "I believe it is fantastic that the conservatism that surrounds a serious men’s health issue in NZ can be broken down through the innovative, irreverent Movember campaign. And if Tui can add value to this campaign, that is bloody brilliant!”

Movember is huge this year. My inbox has been weighed down with invitations to sponsor guys looking to emulate Tom Selleck or – heaven forbid – Michael Laws. These include noted beer scribe Cam Williamson and hardened Radler drinker Mike Heine. My friend Grant takes every opportunity to grow dodgy facial hair so this charity was made for him. However, I worry that my mate Goldie will spend all month growing his mo… and no one will be able to tell.

Cheers and best of luck lads, Neil

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Theo van Gogh, (1957-2004)

Three years ago today Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh was murdered by jihadist Mohammed Bouyeri for the 'sin' of pointing out that fundamentalist Islam was on the march using "moderate muslims" as a shield and a disguise. Lance Davey commemorates his killing by arguing his cause: But He Was Asking For It! - Lance Davey, SOLO.

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The proper purpose of government

Something to consider -- the proper function of government, and what happens when a government oversteps its rightful bounds:
The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.

But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man's deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.
-Ayn Rand
(Taken from the new online Ayn Rand Lexicon)

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No rooting on Singapore-Sydney route

Isn't asking people not to have sex in Singapore Airlines' new Airbus, newly fitted out with double beds in first class on the Singapore-Sydney route, sort of like a making a public statement that if you want to join the Mile High Club in comfort then 'The Singapore Girl' is the airline to book with?

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Naughty trees

From Tim Blair comes a report of Nature's Cruellest Joke:

The claim: global warming caused the California wildfires.

The reality: California wildfires cause global warming:

In one week, Southern California’s wildfires spewed the same amount of carbon dioxide — the primary global warming gas — as the state’s power plants and vehicles did, scientists figure.
Naughty
trees.

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Watch out, there are feverishly deluded about

Crikey: "The Objectivists are coming"! Stand clear. Warning, warning:
They are not objective at all, and as you're reading the post, don't forget that these extremists have hundreds of supporters in New Zealand. Many of whom who have a lot of money to publicise the cause...
Quick, man the barricades, stand by to repel boarders, splice the mainbrace ....

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DNA abuse

The object of law is to protect individual rights -- in short it's to protect you from me, and me from you. The object of restraining legal force, over which governments have a monopoly, is to restrain law so it actually protects rights, instead of doing them over.

This is not a "balance" of rights, it's a line over which the government should not cross. It's a line of which the National Party are utterly unaware. Involuntarily taking and keeping the DNA of arrested people crosses that line. According to National's website, their proposed policy goes like this:
Take DNA from all convicted criminals.
DNA testing can make a huge contribution to solving crime by helping police target criminals committing most of the crime. At present, we add to the DNA database only samples from those convicted of offences generally attracting sentences of more than seven years. Under National, every person arrested will be DNA tested. If they are convicted, their DNA will be added to the database. If they are not charged or are acquitted, the sample will be destroyed. [Emphasis added.]
As you see, the headline is contradicted somewhat by the small print. You might also note that the policy is supported by the ACT Party, who went into the last election declaring "DNA is the modern fingerprint and should be used in the same way, eg. on arrest if police deem appropriate." These people have no conception of legal restraint. (As MikeE says, another reason to hate the Tories.)

'Not PC' says by all means take the DNA of people who have committed crimes against the individual rights of others and been convicted for it, but by no means should the police be given power to take it and keep it from those who have simply been held or arrested -- not unless they have volunteered permission. That is stepping over the line from protector to abuser -- it is the very reason good law respects the presumption of innocence.

The National Party has had the presumption of innocence doctrine in its sights for some time. Such a long-held cornerstone of liberty against state power should not be overturned so easily, or at all.

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Rudi Giuliani on 'freedom'

The man who would be the next Republican president of the US had this to say about freedom back in 1994:
Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
Discuss. (You might wish to use these Cue Cards in your discussion.)

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Sick Saudi literature infesting British muslims

Islam is a peaceful religion; moderate muslims are in the mainstream; there is no need for mainstream muslims to abjure terrorism and violence ... These easy platitudes are punctured if not overturned by a new report calling into question the teachings of some of Britain's mainstream mosques -- the places that bred the terrorists who killed 52 people in the London bombings of July 7, 2005.

British researchers have been examining the teaching literature found in British mosques, and found that in at least one-quarter (these being "among the best-funded and most dynamic institutions in Muslim Britain -- some of which are held up as mainstream bodies") the literature found was far from what one would expect to be promoted by a "peaceful religion," including writing calling for the murder of apostates, gays and Jews, and the incitement of hatred against all the west stands for. Here's an excerpt from two of the pamphlets found:
  • "And if he apostatises after that, his head should be chopped off, according to the Hadith: 'Whoever changes his religion, kill him'."
    'Fatawa Islamiyah - Islamic Verdicts,' volume 5 (found at the East London Mosque; the London Central Mosque and Islamic Centre, ie., the ‘Regent’s Park Mosque’).
  • "Jihad against a tyrant, oppressors, people of bid'ah, or wrongdoers. This type of Jihad is best done through force if possible, otherwise, by tongue, or else by abhorring their deeds in one's heart."
    'The Islamic Digest of Belief and Jurisprudence' (found at the Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust, West London).
And in a delightful pamphlet called 'Women Who Deserve to go to Hell' (found at the East London Mosque, and the Muslim Education Centre, High Wycombe), there flows forth this 'wisdom':
Some Kinds of Women Who Will Go to Hell
1. The Grumbler … the woman who complains against her husband every now and then is one of Hell.
2. The Woman Who Adorns Herself.
3. The Woman Who Apes Men, Tattoos, Cuts Hair Short and Alters Nature...
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that the majority of this apocalyptic trash is funded by the Saudi regime in support of the Saudi brand of militant Islam, the source and inspiration for jihadism. Concludes the report, "The influence of Saudi Arabia [a western 'ally'] is both powerful and malign."

Read the whole report here: The Hijacking of British Islam: How extremist literature is subverting mosques in the UK. [200-page pdf] [Hat tip Nevil Gibson, NBR]

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Elliot Tower - Gordon Moller


The Elliot Tower apartment building has just received the go ahead from the bureaucrats at the council, and is now all set to begin construction. When completed it will be Auckland's first genuine 200m+ building that isn't just a tower allowed through the height plane but a genuine commercial building, and as you can see (below) while looking like several gigabytes of RAM chip it will help to fill in Auckland's skyline and (hopefully) invite other tall buildings up to meet it.

The picture at left shows the original 'sketch design by ADC Architects which was presented to the Auckland City Council Urban Design panel before the design project was taken over and completed by Gordon Moller (that's his sketch at right).

Gordon Moller, incidentally, is the chair of the Auckland City Council Urban Design Panel.

BTW, there's as much discussion of this project as you can handle over at Skyscraper City, from where I pinched most of these images. (Click on them to enlarge.)

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where are you now, John Boy?

When John Key's gutless, appeasing opportunism allowed the anti-smacking bill to pass into law, he said that if it turned out that the new rules effectively banned light smacking and criminalised the parents, as denied at the time by Sue Bradford and Helen Clark, then he would commit his party to overturning it.

Where's the lying toerag now that parents are being criminalised for light smacking? Just what exactly are his fork-tongued promises worth? Lindsay Perigo isn't the only one who wants to know.

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New ministers, same old failure

Despite a record spending binge in the areas of both health and education, ministers holding these portfolios have once again been either replaced, resigned or returned to the backbench obscurity from whence they came, or in the case of Steve Maharey they've abandoned the job in favour of a cosy sinecure they've spent their last years in power setting up for themselves.

Rather than celebrate the smiling faces of new ministers, maybe we should ask why they're recycled so readily?

Despite the size of these 'sectors' and with all the money the ministers for health and education have to spread around (our money, let's remind ourselves), they haven't got much to show for it, have they, which is why they spend so little time with their feet under the ministerial desk.

Spending in both these portfolio areas is huge and exploding-- health spending has doubled in the last ten years while education spending has ballooned by 7% a year every year for the last ten years -- an enormous spending binge -- but with almost nothing to show for the deluge of taxpayer money beyond inflated public sector prices and emptier taxpayer pockets: all major health indicators for example have either held steady or declined as waiting lists have continued to climb, while all literacy studies show either decreases in functional literacy or only negligible improvements.

Despite the spending binge of previous ministers (and let's remind ourselves again, this was our money they were spending), the results have been appalling. More money, more failure. No wonder the ministers were reshuffled.

But a reshuffle just shuffles the deck chairs on a sinking ship. These are results that neither new minister is going to address, or going to be able to address. The solution for more government failure is not more money or new faces at the helm; to put it bluntly, the solution is less government.

The new ministers have less than a year to paper over the cracks and ensure no new headlines emerge from their bailiwicks before next year's election, and to a politician 'no new headlines' will be the measure of their success. It's not what you or I or the users of the state's die-while-you-wait health system and the state's factory schools would call success, not by a long chalk, but as long as this is the system we have, then that is the way "success" will continue to be measured.

The problem is the system, stupid -- the stupid socialist system that taxes people into poverty while leaving them to die on public hospital waiting lists and their children to grow up illiterate after years in the state's factory schools.


Why do you put up with it?

UPDATE: Outgoing Health minister Pete Hodgson says, "Results show, again, that our health policies are working for the most good for the most people." As Lindsay Mitchell observes, what the the results show is that 26% of NZers surveyed for a Commonwealth Fund International Health Survey considered that "only minor changes" are needed to the country's creaking health 'system' and 56% decided that what is needed is "fundamental change." So, what was that again, Pete?

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When is "direct action" legitimate?

There have been calls for "direct action" to support the "Urawera 17," and fears expressed that the Terrorism Suppression Act "could be applied to legitimate direct-action protesters."

My colleague Tim Wikiriwhi, who was jostled by the unwashed in Saturday's protests in Hamilton, wonders exactly what "direct action" is it for which they are claiming legitimacy? Trespass? Vandalism? Arson? Assault? None of these are justified either morally or legally, and there is already law available to prosecute trespassers, vandals, arsonists and thugs (although rarely used, as we know), without any need to politicise these crimes. Arson is arson, whether committed with matches and firelighters or napalm and petrol bombs.

And let's make something else perfectly clear: there is a vast gulf between genuine civil disobedience and the "direct action" supported by so called peace activists and anarchists and anti-colonialists, and I for one find it instructive that defenders of the arrested seventeen wish to conflate the two. There is an unstated assumption that because the state so often uses force in promoting its values, that this somehow legitimises ragtag unwashed whiners using force to promote their values. It doesn't. Two evils don't whitewash the fallacy. Ayn Rand makes the point:
One does not and cannot "negotiate" with brutality, nor give it the benefit of the doubt. The moral absolute should be: if and when, in any dispute, one side initiates the use of physical force, that side is wrong—and no consideration or discussion of the issues is necessary or appropriate.
Clear enough for you?

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Auckland apartments

According to census figures, say the headlines, there are “thousands of vacant apartments” in the overheated Auckland apartment market.

That's nonsense, says Martin Dunn of City Sales
, a specialist Auckland apartment agent: there are thousands of Auckland City apartments to which census takers had no access, and from which they took no records. Says Dunn
The Census Department have confirmed to me that if they don’t get access they simply tick the “VACANT" box.

Hence the “thousands of vacant apartments in the city”.
Despite the stories of "vendors taking a bath" -- which, argues Dunn, are mostly vendors who have overpaid "off the plans" but find themselves in a bind when they have to actually settle on their purchase -- he says the apartment market is well- rather than over-supplied, and is "strong."

What's your evidence?

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How cats wake us up ...


Click the pic to view, or click here ... [Hat tip Lance]

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Libz welcome reshuffle

Now that the role of Minister for Auckland Issues has been dropped and Judith Tizard's only remaining portfolio is that of Minister for the Prime Minister's Handbag, Bernard Darnton has some congratulations and some advice:
Libz Leader Congratulates Clark for Dropping Auckland Portfolio
"Congratulations are due to Helen Clark today for getting rid of the Auckland Issues portfolio," Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton said today.

"I have no doubt that Aucklanders are perfectly capable of getting on with their own lives without interference from Wellington, and it's great to see the Prime Minister recognise that."

Ever willing to help, Darnton also offered advice on other portfolios that could be abandoned: "With the recognition that Aucklanders can look after themselves we should also let others off the leash too. We could get rid of the portfolios for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Consumer Affairs, Disability Issues, Ethnic Affairs, Maori Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs, Rural Affairs, Veterans' Affairs, Women's Affairs, and Youth Affairs. I look forward to all of these groups being allowed to breath the fresh air of freedom that's been granted to Auckland."
And Libz deputy Dr Richard McGrath welcomes David 'Silent T' to his new post in the health ministry:
New Health Minister: "Socialist Who Can Count"
Libertarianz spokesman Richard McGrath sees little hope for those dependent on the state for their health care, following the appointment of David Cunliffe as Health Minister.

"In his maiden speech to parliament, David Cunliffe described himself as a 'socialist who can count'. Can he count the number of New Zealanders shoved back to their GPs from public hospitals because they have failed to even get an appointment with a specialist? Can he count the number who, taxed into poverty, have died on public hospital surgical waiting lists?"

"This is the man who champions the political system that consigned untold millions of Eastern Europeans to poverty, misery and environmental devastation," said Dr McGrath. "David Cunliffe believes politicians can - and should - control and plan the lives of New Zealanders. When he spoke of the 'dumb hand' of the market in that dripping wet, politically correct tirade, he insulted all New Zealanders. For what is the market but the sum total of the economic decisions of individual people?"

"The Libertarianz Party believes that the less well-off should not be taxed at all, and that people should be left free to plan their health care without having to use the embarrassingly run-down public health system that Labour has been trying to 'fix' for the last eight years."

"It's enough to make you vote Libertarianz!"

And there's even a welcome to the new environment minister ...
Libz call for RMA uppercut from new environment minister
"I look forward to new environment minister Trevor Mallard defending property rights with the same vigour with which he defends his mistress's honour," says Libertarianz environment deregulation spokesman Peter Cresswell, who has now seen twelve years of environment ministers come and go, and property rights protection savaged by each passing minister.

"Speaking of affairs," says Cresswell, "I look forward to a swift and long overdue short-arm uppercut to the Resource Management Act so that New Zealanders can get on with their own affairs without the encumbrance of bureaucratic bullshit and ministerial bullying it empowers.

"Given the crucial importance of property rights in human affairs and to the freedom and prosperity we would all like to enjoy if we could -- and the all-encompassing role of fourteen years of so called environmental legislation in trampling on New Zealanders' property rights -- I'd recommend he begin his new job by committing violence on the RMA instead of other New Zealanders.

"Instead of inserting Heineken bottles in the nether regions of IRB officials, he should drive a stake right through through the heart of the RMA and the bureaucracies it supports, and free up common law methods of environmental and property rights protection to do their job properly."

"If Mallard himself is doing his job properly," concludes Cresswell, "he should get his head around the affront to human affairs that is the Resource Management Act, and deal to with the same aggression he applies to those issues which affront him. If he does, I'll be happy to shout him a bottle of Heineken myself."
Look forward to more congratulations later ...

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Two book reviews

Students at a local school were assigned to read two older books: the first was Titanic, the book of the film, and the second was My Life by Bill Clinton. One student turned in the following book report, with the proposition that they were nearly identical stories! His teacher gave him an A+.

Titanic:.... cost - $29.99
Clinton :..... cost - $29.99

Titanic:..... Over 3 hours to read
Clinton :..... Over 3 hours to read

Titanic:....... The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.
Clinton :..... The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Titanic:..... Jack is a starving artist.
Clinton :..... Bill is a bullshit artist.

Titanic:.... In one scene, Jack enjoys a good cigar.
Clinton :..... Ditto for Bill.

Titanic:..... During the ordeal, Rose's dress gets ruined.
Clinton :..... Ditto for Monica.

Titanic:..... Jack teaches Rose to spit.
Clinton :..... Let's not go there.

Titanic:..... Rose gets to keep her jewelry.
Clinton :.... Monica' s forced to return her gifts.

Titanic:..... Rose remembers Jack for the rest of her life.
Clinton :..... Clinton doesn't remember Jack.

Titanic:..... Rose goes down on a vessel full of seamen.
Clinton :..... Monica...ooh, let's not go there, either.

Titanic:..... Jack surrenders to an icy death.
Clinton :..... Bill goes home to Hilary - basically the same thing.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Backside smacks more outrageous than armed attacks?

David Farrar points out the Greens' enthusiasm for the police coming down hard on parents for the serious crime of smacking a backside, but their outrage when the police investigate minor stuff like alleged firearm and terrorism offences.

Odd, don't you think.

David wonders about Green police priorities. I have to say, I wonder about Green priorities of any sort. It's often thought that the Greens primary interest is the environment, but this is hardly borne out by the interests of their spokesmen and women. Jeanette Fitzsimons aside, few if any of the the Greens' spokesmen or women seem to take any interest at all in the environment, and then only if it offers an opportunity to bash capitalism, industry or enterprise.

I posted a while back the results of a search on the Greens' site that showed their favourite word to be "ban," which appeared 165 times on their site. An overview of Green press releases (using their left column as the subject header) suggests ... well, you see what you think.

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The phony liberal quiz

The Times would like to ask you some questions to ascertain Are You a Phony Liberal?: "Where Do You Stand in the Culture Wars?"

Turns out that I'm "a genuine progressive." How 'bout that! How 'bout you?

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Independence, if you can afford it!

I must confess that when living in London I used to enjoy winding up advocates of Scottish and Welsh Independence by pointing out that Scotland and Wales were both nett parasites -- that neither nation produced enough to be truly independent, both getting far more from the British taxpayer in welfare payments and subsidies than was either produced or extracted from them in the first place. The point was naturally never too popular.

I see David Garrett making a similar point in yesterday's Herald to Tuhoe's would-be advocates for independence:
An independent nation is usually self funding - where is the funding for the Tuhoe nation to come from? Secession would of course mean an immediate end to all welfare payments, funds for schools, subsidies for doctors visits and the free hospital care that we all take for granted...

All of the trappings of Western society - even such mundane items as roofing iron, nails and paint - cost money. There is the possibility of trade or barter, but the market for root crops and Maori handicrafts is likely to be fairly limited.Even if successful trade relationships are established - which is inevitably a long process - it will take a lot of flax ketes to buy even one new set of tyres.
As Garrett says, be careful what you wish for. At the idea of an independent Tuhoe my mind went back to a delicious satire of Lindsay Perigo's a few years back: the declaration of two independent nations in New Zealand, the People's Republic of Aotearoa, which would occupy the North Island and contain the bludgers, the whingers and the products of university Sociology departments and Maoist "consciousness raising" camps, and the Republic of New Freeland which would occupy the South Island and contain free people willing to take responsibility for their own lives. The residents of the latter would no longer be encumbered by funding the welfare cheques of the former, who would be required to make their own way, if they can.
[In the People's Republic of Aotearoa] everyone will be paid the same, & taxed at 50%. Imports will attract a standard 50% tariff, immigration will be confined to people unable to support themselves, & foreign investment will be prohibited. EVERYTHING in the PRA will be either illegal or compulsory. Coffee, tea, red meat, tobacco & alcohol will be added to the list of prohibited substances. All forms of private education will be banned; the guvamint will require all children to be "educated" by it from the age of three. All citizens will be required to learn Maori; after two years the speaking of English will be a punishable offence. All forms of private health care will be banned, & the People's Republic of Aotearoa will become one giant mental asylum rather similar to the present New Zealand, only more so. No one will be permitted to leave.
Meanwhile:
In New Freeland, the guiding principle shall be, each person is the owner of his or her life & may live it as he or she chooses, & will be required to respect the self-ownership of others. Nothing will be illegal except acts that violate the self-ownership of others. There will be no tax, no welfare state, no tariffs, no subsidies, no restrictions on the movement of people in & out of the country, no government-mandated national currency, no government interference in the economy or anything else unless there's an issue of individual rights involved. People will be free to earn - and keep - whatever anyone is prepared to pay them.
Independence? Real political independence only emerges from genuine individual independence.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tories and toryism

Tories never change their spots. Said Tom Paine of the repellent breed in 1776:
"And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave."
And in 1960 Ayn Rand observed:
Today's "conservatives" are futile, impotent and, culturally, dead. They have nothing to offer and can achieve nothing. They can only help to destroy intellectual standards, to disintegrate thought, to discredit capitalism, and to accelerate this country's uncontested collapse into despair and dictatorship.
And now? Nothing really needs to be said, except perhaps to observe the front bench of the National Party...

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Tax cuts aren't inflationary

Are tax cuts inflationary? I say no. I say "Hell, no!" Trained economist Phil Rennie shows unusual acumen for an economist by coming to a firm conclusion on the matter, and excellent sense by agreeing with me. "The important point about tax cuts," he says, "is that they are actually less inflationary than government spending."

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Nutjobs or something more?

So far the arrested seventeen have been charged only under evidence brought under the Arms Act and (I understand) under the Crimes Act, and since name suppression and suppression of the facts has been in action at (we understand) the request of the defendants' lawyers, we've all rather been in the dark as to what is going on.

That vacuum has left plenty of scope for speculation, which plenty of numb nuts have been happy to fill by yelling "racism!" "state oppression!" and "unconditional support!"

Even the often sensible Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn has been seen waving the simpering 'these people wouldn't hurt a fly' flag, suggesting this week for example that defending the seventeen -- "not the sort" of people who strike you as terrorists, he says without hearing the evidence -- is a "core issue of freedom." Without the evidence it's simply impossible to make a judgement about the charges laid so far, and like everyone else I look forward to seeing if there's sufficient evidence to bring charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and just what that evidence is.

I/S appears to offer unconditional support however, saying "Whatever evidence they have, it had better be good - because its very difficult to see what three environmental film-makers, a Palestinian rights campaigner, a stirrer and a nutjob have in common." As it turns out, it's not too difficult at all. All of them for a start are anti-everything nutjobs who hate capitalism, hate industry and hate what civilisation has brought to New Zealand, which in itself isn't a crime, of course, but when it's combined with possession of napalm, molotov cocktails and high powered snipers rifles it should at least make you sit up and pay attention.

And Trevor Loudon suggests what at least one more of those common threads might be: the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Read Trevor's posts on the subject over recent days to see what's already on the record connecting the local anti-colonialists, anti-capitalists and anti-industrialists with the Mexican Zapatista movement, an armed revolutionary group which in 1994 "declared war on the Mexican state."

And keep an eye on the evidence adduced under the Terrorism Suppression Act when it's finally made public, and on who is keeping it suppressed if it isn't.

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Thomas More - Hans Holbein

Master portrait painter Hans Holbein's portrayal of the man lionised in Robert Bolt's masterful Man For All Seasons. [Click to enlarge.]

Diane Durante analyses the painting in this month's 'Objective Standard' - her analysis is chiefly focussed on the choices the artist makes in putting paint to canvas. Why this pose rather that that; these props rather than those; this skin tone rather than that. "What do you mean," I hear you object. "Skin tone!?" Yep, every single line, tone and dot the artist chooses to put on canvas is there because he selected it, she points out. If you're painting me, she says, then "even such ... seemingly minor detail[s] as the way in which you represent my skin will convey significant information to viewers about your estimate of me, my lifestyle, my health, my character." What an artist selects as fundamentally important betrays his view of the subject, and conveys to us, the viewer, his view of the world (and, if that resonates with us, it has the capacity to affect us profoundly).

From this portrait Durante concludes that Holbein saw More as worldly, "self-confident, unostentatiously elegant, and conscientious" -- in other words, someone to admire. Seems to me however from the hunted look Holbein gives him that he also saw him as doomed... Click to enlarge and decide for yourself from the clues the artist gives us.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Safety fast

Only God can make a tree, observed PJ O'Rourke, but only man can drive by one at one-hundred-and-fifty miles per hour. I can't boast that my little MG can do anywhere near that sort of speed, but driving up the North Island on my way back from Saturday's Atlas Celebrations in Wellington with the sun out, the roof down and my foot flat to the floor in company with another classic car owner, I meditated again that New Zealand is a gorgeous country in which to drive fast, and far too beautiful a place to be left to the tribalists, the collectivists and the postmodern wankers.

As Dave Henderson said Saturday night, these islands are our home -- and a truly breathtaking home it is, full of great landscapes, good people and fun-loving machinery like this.

Don't let it go!

UPDATE: Here's a pic of myself and my driving companion leaving Tarawera (shot of accompanying TR6 sadly still unavailable) ...

... and myself and a much better looking companion:


UPDATE 2: BTW, anybody understand the "Safety Fast" reference? I guess not. It used to be the official MG slogan: "Safety Fast! Raise your heartbeat!" Worth raising a glass or two to, huh.

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Knock me down with a feather ...

... Clever Trevor.

Courtesy of Whale Oil.

The 'October' Revolution that wasn't

I missed my regular commemoration of the Bolshevik's 'October Revolution' last week, so let me remind you now that the Bolsheviks were pissweak, murdering liars, and invite you to read last year's explanation of why I say that, and Liberty Scott's recent revival of the commemoration tradition: Ninety Years On - Repent, Apologise and Be Wary.

UPDATE: Some former Octoberists need to apologise, says one former 'Cambridge Bolshevik' in The Times -- and many of course, still embracing the authoritarian urge, are are now warmists ...
"Bolshevism and the Russian revolution may have disintegrated in ruins but the generation that raised its toast in the direction of the Kremlin 40 years ago has triumphed. Leninism has been defeated almost everywhere in the world, but the postwar generation of baby boomers who went so far left in the 1960s now control this country’s leading institutions. Their taste for totalitarian simplicities and weakness for millenarian terrors has been digested into modern feminism, environmentalism and global warming. Many remain absolutely unrepentant about their past because they have been so successful in the present...

Much that I did in my youth can now make me shout aloud with shame; but not much is more mortifying than to think I once toasted mass murderers, torturers and totalitarian despots. How to explain it?
Read on. [Hat tip Marcus]

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Cue Card Libertarianism - Racism

RACISM: Assessing the worth of a person by his skin colour and ancestry. The lowest form of collectivism -- what author Ayn Rand calls a "barnyard" form of collectivism.

Called by its proper name when exercised by a majority or enacted in law as it was in apartheid South Africa, racism is however euphemised as ethnicity when practiced by a minority or when racism is being "politely" smuggled in by multiculturalists under the banner of political correctness.

To judge a person's worth based only his skin colour or his genes is to ignore what makes a person truly human: his mind, and the choices he makes with it. By what he is given by nature, and what he does with that. It is our ability to make choices -- moral choices -- that is part of what makes us distinctly human beings.

The foundation of what it is to be distinctly human is our ability to make choices; fundamentally, our faculty of free will, which consists of our ability to choose to think; that is to switch on what makes us distinctively human: our brains. Defining yourself or others not by things that are consciously chosen but instead by things over which you have no control denies what it is to be distinctively human -- and this is the very evil of racism: that it de-humanises people, and views them as little more than as various kinds of cattle.

This is the very reason Ayn Rand identified racism as the collectivism of the barnyard. It is a method of grouping people on the basis of attributes that deny their humanity.

After centuries of the eruption of racial violence and tribal conflict, this sort of collectivism still unfortunately persists in the Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Centuries, and allows all sorts of bad stuff to proliferate: from the persistent demands of the Turia/Sharples Maori Party for race-based favours; to the soft bigotry of low expectations decried by Walter Williams; to the outright evil of trainloads of human beings poured into the gas chambers and crematoria of Nazi Germany, buried in the mass graves of Bosnia, and bombed by tribalists in places like Iraq and Sudan and Sri Lanka.

When you ask yourself in despair how these horrors of 'ethnic cleansing' and inter-tribal warfare still happen, it starts with the de-humanisation of human beings. As the ultimate denial of what makes us distinctively human, racism is the pre-eminent form of de-humanisation.

Recognition of free will is the enemy of racism. It is also the foundation of a genuine individualism.

Defining oneself by one’s race and tradition -- things over which one has no control -- is utterly incompatible with defining oneself by one’s conscious choices. Deriving pride in one's own achievements rather than just those of one's ancestors -- this is the very essence of individualism.

The point here is that whatever our genes might say about us, it’s far from all they say about us. In the age-old argument as to whether it is genes or environment that ‘create us,’ what is infinitely more important is to realise that genes and environment are only half the actual picture. The other half of the picture – the one about which we can do something ourselves -- is the faculty that helps make us distinctively human: Free will. The choices we make to do the things we do.

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

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

“Man,” as Ayn Rand affirmed, “is a being of self-made soul.” We are each given our own ingredients, and by the choices we make with what we’re given we go on to make ourselves. That’s what it is to be a human being, and it's on those things that we should really judge each other. As Martin Luther King said so resoundingly in the days before his death, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character..." Magnificent!

As anybody who's ever read a newspaper would already know, in the New Zealand of 2007 state-sponsored minority racism is much more of a problem than spontaneous, private majority racism. Sincere opponents of racism must realise that, as with all forms of collectivism, its most potent antidote is individualism.

Individualism is colour blind -- and so should you be, and should the law.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by NZ libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

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Winston right on racist party

It must be election year, because Winston Peters has woken up. And when Winston wakes up, he always begins by playing to his core audience. That doesn't mean he isn't right.

Of course the Maori Party is separatist: separate justice, planning and welfare systems have been core platforms for the Maori Party since its inception. Of course the Maori Party is racist: special political favours doled out by race is and always will be core policy for the Racist Party.

To call the Maori Party separatist is simply to state the obvious: they've been playing the race card since day one, and everyone knows it even if they're too timid to say it.
Mr Peters ... said accused the protesters of marching in support of arrested Tuhoe activist Tame Iti only "because he is brown."

"We once marched against apartheid, now they are marching for it."
It's true, isn't it. And the mainstream parties have no answer to it. When Winston is right -- even if it's only a bid to attract attention -- he can sometimes be right on the money.

UPDATE: Helen Clark insists this morning that the Maori Party is concerned not with apartheid -- as that would entail keeping one race down rather than giving special favour on the basis of race -- and not with race, but with "ethnicity." As I've said before, "ethnicity" is simply an anti-concept used as a euphemism for race:
ETHNICITY: The elevating of one’s racial identity and associated cultural traditions to a position of supreme importance – a racist version of collectivism, under-pinned by post-modernism in philosophy, and still very fashionable in academia...

Defining oneself by one’s race and tradition -- things about which one has no control over -- is utterly incompatible with defining oneself by one’s conscious choices, and deriving pride in one's own achievements rather than just those of one's ancestors -- which is the essence of individualism.

The antidote to the poison race-baiting, race war and all this irrelevant attention paid to the colour of a person's skin is individualism: to judge a person by the actual choices they make, not by who they 'chose' as their grandparents.

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