Saturday, 22 August 2009

Smacking is not beating [updated]

Turns out the overwhelming majority of voters, 87.6%, didn't agree with those who insisted the majority ofparents just want the freedom to beat their children.

Smacking is not beating.  It never was.  And people, those who count anyway, are intelligent enough not to buy the spin that it is.

They are also too intelligent not to buy the spin from an out-of-the-country Mr Key that this is a law change that needs to be changed back. Time to listen, John Boy. Time to listen.


  • The Best Headline I’ve seen on the result is from Home Paddock:

Which part of no don’t you understand?

  • Best spin is by Sue Bradford:

Bradford says result inconclusive

  • And the Best One-Liner is from Andy Moore, who asks at his Facebook page:

Should smacking Sue Bradford as part of good democracy be a criminal offence in NZ?


Friday, 21 August 2009

Beer O’Clock: Bring back morning drinking!

A “guest post” here in our regular Beer O’Clock slot by Mises.Org’s Jeffrey Tucker, who sings in praise of a glorious yet under-enjoyed tradition – one that would no doubt give a certain other Geoffrey heart palpitations. Perhaps you should send him a copy?

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act that it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one's breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine product. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting the public humiliation.

I was reminded of this tradition recently when a friend - a brilliant and productive young composer and musicologist who has to remain nameless - partook in his favorite breakfast, which he does every day insofar as it is possible. The food part is simple: a chocolate cake donut, with or without icing. The drink part: a pint of Guinness Stout. The method: dip the donut in the stout and chomp it down. It is the adult version of the child's milk and cookies trick.


It turns out that in the sweep of history, when water was not always safe and orange juice rarely accessible, this practice of morning drinking was the norm for all classes in society, and remained so for the upper classes far into the modern age. We forget that coffee and tea are relatively modern by comparison. In the middle ages, the typical British breakfast always included a mug of ale or wine.

In the South today, the tradition seems to bypass the middle class completely and last only among the truly well-formed working class blacks and upper class white aristocrats. A maintenance man I knew would never touch the "government's liquor" but he would never start a day without a nice swig of his favorite moonshine.

I tried it once and it took two days for my lips to feel normal again! But he managed it quite well, worked hard, and had a great life.

Also, I know a delightfully old-world Southern gentlemen who lives in an antebellum house and studies Holy Scripture every morning, the original Greek and Hebrew, and does this before he ever picks up the newspaper. His theory is that mornings are not for rushing around but rather contemplation of higher things.

One day I came during these early hours just for quick visit, and he invited me in.

"Would you like a cup of coffee, Jeffrey?" he asked.

"Yes sir, I would, thank you," I said.

Then he paused and said, with an impossibly charming flash in his eyes:

"Would you like some bourbon in that coffee?"

Well, of course I would! And so it was done.

Today most breakfast drinking takes place on airplanes. Why? Because we are surrounded by people we are not likely to see again, and so we feel a sense of freedom from artificial social impositions. If you think about it, once the silly taboo against breakfast drinking is crushed, many possibilities present themselves.

If you ask people their favorite breakfast drinks, and press the issue, you eventually find that in addition to the ones above, these are the best beloved.

bloody-mary The Bloody Mary: It is made from a jigger and a half of Vodka, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, 3 jiggers of tomato juice, pepper, some lemon juice, salt, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

The Mimosa: champagne and orange juice to taste. But actually you can add champagne to any fruit juice and create an amazingly festive break of day. It's unclear precisely what makes the difference, but I have a theory that it is just the popping of the champagne cork first thing in the morning. You can try this at home. Wake up late, shower, and then pull out and open a chilled bottle. The action alone creates a bigger rush than you can get from any evening martini.

Both of these drinks today are called "Doghair Drinks" as in the old saying that one should eat a bit of the hair of the tail of dog that bit you. Strange saying but it refers to the idea that one should have a bit more of the same drink of which you drank too much the night before, all toward the goal of curing the hangover.

Do you see what is happening here? The breakfast drink is being snuck in under the label of medicine as a way of evading the social taboo against liquor before noon. That's just silly. You don't need an excuse, particularly not a medicinal one. You can have a bloody mary or a mimosa anytime!

Along the same lines there is rum and 7-up, rum and apple cider, and this interesting one just called "The Breakfast Drink": jigger Vodka, jigger Peach Schnapps, cup of Orange Juice, 2 jiggers raspberry Liqueur, ½ cup of Collins mix. Fascinating!

For all the wonders and complications of that latter suggestion, I still can't get past the simplicity and clarity of my favorite of all time: a small glass of port wine.

port Maybe it is an age thing. I like the idea of the Guinness, the courage it takes to drink moonshine, the fussiness that comes with a mimosa, the bold stroke of the Bloody Mary, and the sheer decadence associated with "the Breakfast Drink" but somehow the clarity and stability of the glass of port - which recalls the glory of Colonial America - seems just right and just what is needed to join the movement to smash this ridiculous taboo against morning drinking.

A final note on a frequent objection: morning drinking diminishes one's productivity during the day. This is true, of course, but particularly for adults who process liquor more slowly. This underscores a point that cannot be emphasized enough: like smoking, morning drinking is particularly suited for the young, meaning under the age of 25. Their systems are robust and can handle it better. Don't waste your youth: it is up to you to bring back the breakfast drink!

* * Jeffrey Tucker is the editor of Mises.Org. * *

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Where’s your evidence, Brian? [updated]

BrayingOddwords As readers will know  I’m hardly a defender of this government, mostly because of its timidity in saying or doing anything that’s worth a damn, but neither am I partial to people talking utter nonsense.

And for months now this government’s opponents both on blog and in parliament have been talking nonsense about this government’s “hidden free-market agenda ” about its plans to “gut the welfare state,” about its plot to sell off all of Auckland’s Councils’ assets – talking about these plans, plots and agendas as if everyone knows them to be true.

Now I for one would be awfully happy if any of this were true – hell, when even Cuba can implement limited privatisation you’d think it might get some consideration here at home – but there’s frankly no evidence for any of it, and no sign at all that any of its true.

A pack of politicians less interested in anything radical hasn’t been seen since Britain’s John Major went to the polls on a policy platform of a hotline for stray road cones and a new complaints department for the NHS.

Anyway, the latest media maven raising this fantastical free-market spectre is pro-Labour luminary and former Prime-Ministerial adviser Brian Edwards, who peddled all three myths to his blog readers on Wednesday – myths that were picked up and peddled further by his followers

Eager to find evidence that I’d grievously misjudged that nice but dimwitted Mr Key, I asked each of the blog writers who recycled Edwards’s claim to give me the evidence for it, just as I’ve done before.  And lust like when I’ve asked before, neither had anything to offer, not even a reply. 

So I asked Mr Edwards himself to justify his claims with anything approaching evidence, and he admitted eventually that he was entirely out of it – that, quite frankly, he has no more evidence for any of these claims than your religionist has for his god.  That, like the religionist sitting waiting for the rapture, or Pirate Jenny for her ship, he’s basically just sitting there waiting for the black freighter of privatisation to come floating in – and he has absolute faith that it will.  Faith, but not even a shred of evidence.

What a sad place for an atheist like Brian to be. 

So why not help poor Brian out.  Do you have any evidence of National’s radical free-market agenda? Do you have any evidence of these supposed plans for privatisations and asset sales?  Because if you have you should throw what you have up on stage and help your man out.  And if you haven’t, you should – like Brian – just stop telling porkies.  Either throw it up or shut up.

UPDATE: I do like Rob Hosking’s comment in the Edwards thread at Dim Post:

1. Its not so long ago the line from Labour was that Key was the secret idealogue and English was the moderate pragmatist. There has been a flip over since because people seem to like Key. But one of them has to be a secret, hidden combination of Pinochet, Richardson, Thatcher and Vlad the Impaler. Apparently.
2. Lange/Douglas parallel? So all Labour has to do is wait until the second term?  This is like singing old songs from your childhood to comfort you (no, wait....).  If Edwards is offering this sort of advice to Labour, and they're taking it, they're (a) paying him far too much and (b) in very big trouble. If English is an ideologue I'm a small patch of flat ground just outside Ngatea.  There are only two idealogues sitting in National seats:  one is now Speaker and the other one is a minister outside Cabinet in charge of leaky homes.

And if those two are what passes for free-market ideologues in the National caucus, then Galt help us.

“Just Say 'No!' to Apartheid!” [update 2]

Rodney Hide has got a lot of flak for telling National privately what Tau Henare chose to say publicly – that he’s prepared to hold fast to at least one ACT policy with which he went into the election.

Oddly however, it’s not Tau who’s in trouble for leaking, but Rodney who’s in trouble for grandstanding.  (Not really sure how you grandstand when it’s somebody else letting your cat out of the bag, but there you go.)

Anyway, in a parliament where election promises are forgotten before the new government has even been sworn in, for staying true to one principle in the ACT Party manifesto – the principle of One Law For All – Rodney has my congratulations.  And for everyone else claiming that it’s the person insisting on colour-blind councils who’s playing the race card – yes, I’m looking at you Tau Henare and Tariana Turia and Sues Kedgely and Bradford, and sundry partial bloggers – Lindsay Perigo has a message for you all.  It’s this: Just Say 'No!' to Apartheid!

    The fact that Green MPs Sue Kedgley and Sue Bradford are demanding Rodney Hide's resignation over separate Maori representation on the proposed Auckland super-council is a pretty good indication that Mr Hide is right, says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo.
Mr Hide is threatening to resign as Local Government Minister if the National-led government does an about-face and approves separate representation.
"Judging by the weasel-words emanating from Prime Minister John Key's office, it seems the government is wavering," says Perigo. "National is supposed to be abolishing the separate Maori seats in Parliament. It would be unconscionable to allow such apartheid atlocal government level.
"The two socialist Sues are urging Mr Hide to resign regardless. These serial Nanny Statists are terrified that Mr Hide will let the fresh air of freedom into New Zealand's Town Halls. What this totalitarian twosome tout as 'local democracy' is simply a ruse by which their ilk get to ban everything they disapprove of.
"Mr Hide is to be congratulated on taking a principled stand. Maori are as capable as anyone else of standing on merit in local body elections. To say in this day and age that they require guaranteed separate representation is outrageously, patronisingly, racist. Maori Party leader Tariana Turia should be ashamed of herself for promoting such redneckery.
"The only reason Mr Hide should be made to resign are his shirts and ties and shaven head, which frighten horses, children and the elderly," Perigo concludes.

And finally, to those who are suggesting that John Key should take Rodney’s offer and award him the D.C.M., may I suggest you consider that while election promises are for National no more than something to say in November and forget about at the first Budget, National was once nonetheless enormously popular for that very policy, One Law For All, for which Rodney is now under fire.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a National Party with Bill English as second-in-command were now to sack the Minister of Local Government for espousing the very policy that rescued National from the near-oblivion into which that same Bill English once plunged it,

UPDATE 1: You want to see someone playing the race card, Tariana?  Then look no further than the US of A, where you can be an “official poll watcher” who carries a night stick and issues threats to voters at the entrance to a polling place, just as long as you’re a member of both the Democratic Party and the “New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.”  As far as Obama’s Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perelliis concerned, ‘dem threats is alright with us jez as long as you is black. Read the story here: Now THIS is what a racist Administration looks like.

UPDATE 2:   Eric Crampton suggests that having separate Maori seats would end up reducing Maori influence rather than increasing it.  I think he’s offering that as a reason not to include Apartheid seats, rather than the reverse.

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The ‘Friday Morning Ramble’ excuse factory [updated]

No ramble this week I’m afraid because I’m out of time.

But if you want to enjoy what you’ve been getting here the past few Fridays, head over to my Twitter page for a fine old bunch o’ links to take you through the weekend.

And if you want to check out the links live, as they’re posted, then all you need to do is to lose your Twitter inhibitions and subscribe to my Twitter feed.

UPDATE:  Readers might care to check out and compare the conservative commentators posted here yesterday with this weeks contribution by Objectivist bloggists, conveniently rounded up for you in this week’s Objectivist Blog Roundup at the Rule of Reason blog. To my eye, there’s no question that it’s the Objectivist blogs that go deeper, and see further.

I’m looking forward to checking them all out myself, and here’s the first five that caught my eye:

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"The Bull Market" – Théodore Géricault , 1817



Better known for his Raft of the Medusa, ‘The Bull Market’ shows that young Théodore Géricault had a sense of humour, albeit a strange one, as well as a strong sense of tragedy.

And this is a strange painting.  It is a painting betwixt the classical and romantic periods, with elements of each used to set each other off.

The classical severity of the landscape and surrounds is both the setting and the contrast for a scene of slaughter.  (Much like the confines of Wall Street recently, really.)

Within these rational confines [says one colourful analysis], a volcano of animal energies erupts with the violence of a prison outbreak. . . But throughout, a rigorous structural discipline is imposed upon these welling forces of violence and sexual energy. . . of raging but straitjacketed passions.
Like Picasso, who would also use such richly evocative motifs as bulls and minotaur, Géricault creates a symbolic narrative of human versus animal passions rich enough to rejuvenate the myths and legends of the past.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Testing the new additions to the blogroll [updated]

Curious to see the most recent liberal and conservative output from the chaps and chapesses just added to my blogroll?  Michael Moeller reckons this first lot “these conservative intellectuals,” are “openly attacking collectivism and arguing for free markets and the individual's right to his own life--making clear and well-reasoned historical connections. They are also arguing for American self-interest in foreign policy.” So here’s a recent selection, with my comments:

  • City Journal: Wild Randomness - “Traditional economics has failed to grasp the complexity and dynamism of financial markets.”
    NOT PC’s comment: True, but I’m not sure the re-regulation proposed here is anything i can agree with.
  • Theodore Dalrymple: Is There a ‘Right’ to Health Care? - “If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Spot on.  Is there a right to health care?  No, there isn’t.  It’s encouraging that a conservative can see that, and defend it.
  • Theodore Dalrymple (again): Tracking the troublemakers - “The government, apparently, is thinking of installing closed circuit television cameras in the homes of the 20,000 worst behaved families, or rather households, in Britain, so that they are under surveillance twenty-four hours a day.
    I have a better idea, in fact a far better idea: instead of the 20,000 households, government ministers should themselves be under twenty-four hour video surveillance.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Great idea!
  • Burton Folsom: Incentives Matter - “What have been the criticisms [historically of socialized medicine]? First, socialized medicine is unconstitutional; second, it is very expensive; third, it creates perverse incentives. . .  It was surprising to see President Obama using incentives to defend his program . . . [but] critics of universal health care, higher taxes, an increased welfare state, cap and trade, and the stimulus package need to accept this challenge and study how federal interference changes incentives and produces unintended consequences.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Revealing, don’t you think, that President Zero hasn’t even attempted to counter the first two objections.
  • Nicole Gelinas: “Too Big to Fail” Must Die - “If we continue to subsidize irresponsible risk-taking, we’ll just get more of it.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Can’t disagree with that.
  • Jonah Goldberg: Why ‘Obamacare’ Is Failing -  “To listen to the White House and its supporters in and out of the media, you would think that opposition to “Obamacare” is the hobgoblin of a few small minds on the right. Racists, fascists, Neanderthals, the whole Star Wars cantina of bogeymen and cranks stand opposed to much-needed reform. . . . It’s funny how these supposed champions of the Enlightenment can’t grasp that people can disagree with them for honest reasons.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Spot on again.
  • Daniel Hannan: The Middle Ages were far from dark - “Most of us have a vague idea that the Middle Ages were a time of darkness and superstition. . . In fact … the era was far from ignorant.. .  [and it will] not quite do to portray the Church as hostile to free enquiry.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Revisionist religious drivel replete with straw men and red herrings. And some people say that British conservatives are immune from this religio-drivel!
  • Victor Davis Hanson: Our Ongoing Catharsis - “After just eight months, the President is at a 50/50 cross-roads in the polls. The once hope-and-change exuberance has dissipated…
    What Happened?
    The public was mad at Bush for deficit spending, and yet Obama baited-and-switched and gave them much more of it. Americans perhaps were tired of ‘smoke ‘em out’ and ‘bring it on’ machismo, and then got off-the-teleprompter incoherence of the ‘inflate your tires’ type. Voters wanted Martin Luther King, Jr., and are hearing more an Al Sharpton. Wall Street greed continues, but the remedy for its excess instead falls on our family doctor, real estate broker, and accountant, and all the others who are demonized for making over $250,000 a year. Some believed Nancy Pelosi & Co. were genuine supporters of protest, and critics of government privilege—and only now learned that it was only liberal protest and Republican privilege she and her cohort praised and slurred. We wanted kinder, gentler servants, and instead got a Hillary snapping and gnashing in the Congo, Timothy Geithner swearing in profanity-laced diatribes at bank regulators, and Biden’s lunacy.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Can’t argue with a word of that, can you?
  • Quin Hillyer: Quin Hillyer on Fascist Parallels -  Quin Hilyer explains the similarities between the policies of today’s U.S. Federal Government and that of Mussolini in 1920's Italy.
    NOT PC’s comment: A parallel of which too few people seem aware.
  • Roger Kimball: Channeling your inner Goldstein: Obama’s Renewable Two-Minute Hate Fest - “In his inaugural address in January, Barack Obama promised to put ‘an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.’  I hope you’ve noticed how free from petty grievances, false promises, recriminations, and worn out dogmas public discourse has been since that glorious new dawn, 20 January 2009. . .The president's frequent use of scapegoats is a tactic straight from 1984.”
    NOT PC’s comment: There is of course another famous demagogue famously given to using scapegoats for political capital – but to cite that example would violate Godwin’s Law.
  • Heather MacDonald: Ricci and the Skills Gap - What leads to unequal results between blacks and whites isn’t racism.
  • PJ O'Rourke (at Cato): The Problem is Politics - “Well, I wish I had better news for you, but the barbarians are at the gates. We are besieged by pagans—savage, brutish worshippers of big government. Theirs is not even a golden calf. They’ve abandoned the Gold Standard. They worship the taxing and spending of a fiat god, all the more dangerous for being both false and imaginary.
    Now, we thought Ronald Reagan, our Charles Martel, had stopped the pillaging hordes of Jimmy Carter at the Battle of Poitiers—also known as the 1980 election. Even the heathen slime Bill Clinton said, “The era of big government is over.” We thought we’d won.
    We were wrong. They’re back. And they want to sacrifice us and all our worldly goods on the blood drenched altar of politics.”
    NOT PC’s comment: And that’s just the humour.  You should wait until he starts on the serious stuff.  Sadly, however, he’s by no means prolific online.
  • PJ O'Rourke (at The Weekly Standard): What If Writing Were Like TV? - “And now a word from our sponsor . . . “
    NOT PC’s comment: Not prolific, but hilarious.
  • Powerline: What Happened to the Antiwar Movement? - “This really is a phenomenon that deserves more attention. It is widely believed that Republicans were defeated in 2008 because George Bush was unpopular, and that Bush was unpopular because of the Iraq war. So how does it happen that Barack Obama continues our involvement in Iraq at the same level that had been planned by the Bush administration and increases our forces in Afghanistan, with hardly a peep from the formerly-antiwar left?
    NOT PC’s comment: A good question with a revealing answer.  One that Cindy Sheehan really, really wants to know.
  • Quadrant: Greening the children by Ben-Peter Terpstra - “It’s disturbing how, after years of Orwellian lies, the radical environmentalist is portrayed as an objective scientist. . .
  • Leighton Smith: Carbon Dioxide irrelevant in climate debate says MIT Scientist - “August 18, 7:39 AM Portland Civil Rights Examiner Dianna Cotter In a study sure to ruffle the feathers of the Global Warming cabal, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has published a paper which proves that IPCC models are overstating by 6 times, the relevance of CO2 in Earth’s Atmosphere.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Top-ranking radio host links to rational commentary shock!
  • Thomas Sowell: Whose Medical Decisions? - “The current "health care" bill threatens to take life-and-death decisions out of the hands of individuals and their doctors, transferring those decisions to Washington bureaucrats. People are taking that personally— as they should. Your life and death, and that of your loved ones, is as personal as it gets. . . As for a ‘death panel,’ no politician would ever use that phrase when trying to get a piece of legislation passed. . . But when you select people like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel to give "independent" guidance, you have already chosen a policy through your choice of advisors, who simply provide political cover. The net result can be exactly the same as if those providing that guidance were openly called ‘death panels’.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Sowell on the money, as he so often is.
  • Mark Steyn: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death Panels  “. . . but you can't have both. On the matter of McCarthy vs the Editors, I'm with Andy. I think Sarah Palin's "death panel" coinage clarified the stakes and resonated in a way that "rationing" and other lingo never quite did. She launched it, and she made it stick. So it was politically effective. But I'm also with Mrs. Palin on the substance. . .”
    NOT PC’s comment: You can trust always trust Sowell on the facts and almost always on the analysis.  And when Steyn gets those right you can trust him too. When he does.
  • Walter Williams: Politics and Blacks - “Blacks hold high offices and dominate the political arena in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and other cities. Yet these are the very cities with the nation's most rotten schools, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates, weak family structure and other forms of social pathology. I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems. What I am saying is that the solution to most of the major problems that confront many black people won't be found in the political arena and by electing more blacks to high office. In fact, politicians tend to be hostile to some of the solutions to problems many blacks face such as school choice as a means to strengthen education, the elimination of oppressive licensing restrictions for various occupations, and supportive of job-destroying labor legislation such as minimum wage laws.
    The bottom line is there is very little evidence anywhere on the planet that political power is a necessary condition for economic power.”
    NOT PC’s comment: The man’s a legend. Walter Williams should be on every rational freedom-lover’s blogroll.

That’s the conservatives – the better sort.  And here’s two three of the new “liberal" candidates:

  • Gary Hart: Obama's First 100 Days and the Politics of Transformation - “Last June I urged then-candidate Barack Obama to use his presidency to transform the country for the 21st century world, not simply to repair the damage to our economy, foreign policy, and defenses done by the Bush administration. By that standard, his first three months have been a remarkable success. Using stimulus investments, President Obama is repairing an aging infrastructure, investing in education, stimulating new technologies and inventions, and starting us toward the post-carbon economy. Instead of trying to prop up a failing 20th century economy, he is investing in the new model. . . [Rahm] Emanuel is right: crises are too important to waste and the Obama administration is using the many crises it inherited not to go backward but to launch into the new century--finally”
    NOT PC’s comment: The guy’s a name-dropping Obama-worshipper and an economic ignoramus.  I doubt he’ll be making it anywhere near my blogroll.
  • Nat Hentoff: I am finally scared of a White House administration - “I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Impeccable liberal credentials, and always insightful jazz commentary over the years – and he’s on the right side of this one.
  • UPDATE: Camille Paglia: Can Palin ever come back? - “A closer look at the words of Obama, Depeche Mode and U2. Plus: Why do straight actresses make the best lesbo porn?”
    NOT PC’s comment: Well, the lesbo porn sounds like fun . . .

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Rambling Tweets

Just so you know, I’ve started posting at Twitter some of those links that I’ve taken to posting on Fridays as a regular Ramble.

So if you want to read them as I post them, instead of just once a week on Fridays, then all you need to do is to lose your Twitter inhibitions and subscribe to my Twitter feed.


From Van Gogh to Guernica . . . in sand

From Van Gogh to Guernica and beyond, Ukranian girl Kseniya Simonoval shows what an expressive medium sand can be.  Yes, sand, set to music.

This Ukrainian sand artist proves that reality TV's got talent, says the Guardian.

Watch all eight minutes . . . and don’t mention Rolf Harris.  [Hat tip Samizdata]

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Wowsers still on parade

That unbridled wowser Geoffrey bloody Palmer wants to put the boot into drinkers.  Again.  He now wants to ban “being drunk in a public place.”  Well, that would certainly have changed the 1984 election, that’s for sure.

I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about his attacks on enjoying yourself – here it is here, and there’s a lot of it – and here’s a practical objection to his latest bout of inveterate nannying -- I’ll just say again that he has a face that desperately needs punching.

And if you say that’s an initiation of force, then I’ll simply point out that he started it by putting the boot into us.

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NOT PJ: Done Like a Dog Dinner

Bernard Darnton delivers this week’s dispatch from the war on terriers.

_BernardDarnton In a week where it was confirmed that the sentence for killing a family member is 150 hours community service as long as you’re particularly bewildered, the biggest story in the news was that journalistic cliché “Man bites dog.”

Or rather man barbeques and eats dog. Auckland man Paea Taufa had a pet Staffordshire Terrier that was becoming a nuisance. He hit it on the head with a hammer then slit its throat, roasted it in the umu, and had it for dinner. Which led to the number one question on everyone’s mind: Should barbequing a dog as part of a good Tongan cook-up be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

All sorts of people were predictably horrified. “Animal lovers” were “appalled” and demanded a law change.

Auckland Mayor John Banks suggests that the dog roaster should be “educated” rather than prosecuted. Which is very generous of him, given that what Mr Taufa did isn’t illegal. “Educating” (i.e. incessantly nagging) people is second only to banning things in the nanny statist’s arsenal of illiberalism.

But why is a eating a dog different from eating a pig? My pasta alla carbonara last night had sliced up bits of dead pig in it. Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians might find that distasteful but it doesn’t generate outrage. Pasta allo cane, however, and it would have been a different story.

But why? Some would claim that it’s OK to eat dumb animals but that we shouldn’t consume the smart ones. Presumably this is why we’ve built a nation on notoriously dumb sheep carcasses but no-one outside the Congo would consider chowing down on a chimpanzee.

A pig is an intelligent, inquisitive animal that has the misfortune to taste great. The only thing better than bacon is bacon-wrapped bacon. Dogs, on the other hand, are a bit dim. (People say “loyal,” but there’s a fine line between loyal and dim.) By this measure we should be munching on mastiffs and letting Piglet curl up in front of the fire.

Perhaps, then, the opposite is true. Dogs are safe pets because they’re less of a threat. If Farmer Jones had turned Napoleon and Snowball into crackling he’d still be running Manor Farm.

Is it a general prohibition on eating pets? A couple of weeks ago on Gordon Ramsey’s Cookalong (a show known at our place as The ‘C’ Word), guest-irritant Johnny Vegas regaled his audience with a rant about his father cooking his pet rabbit. The intention was comedy, not tragedy.

Our countryside is full of small children bottle-feeding pet lambs until the day the stock truck arrives and they’re turned into little ovine treasure troves. The eating of pets per se doesn’t generate much upset.

The problem isn’t genetic distance because humans are more closely related to rabbits than we are to dogs. Dogs aren’t endangered, which seems to be the problem with whale meat. Mr Taufa’s dog was a Staffordshire terrier so cuteness isn’t a factor.

There’s something special about dog meat. It’s there to a lesser extent with horse meat too and it’s not quite rational. If it’s OK to eat sheep, deer, pigs, and rabbits I can’t see any good reason that it’s not OK to eat cats, dogs, and horses.

Vegetarianism makes sense. Broad carnivorism makes sense. Reacting with horror and anger at the consumption of a dog while digesting a ground up cow is absurd.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *


Conservatives on the blogroll! [update 3]

I’ve been persuaded by Jeff Perren and Michael Moeller that the age of Bill Buckley is dead, thank God, so perhaps I should cut some of the modern conservatives a little more slack, specifically conservatives (and conservative outfits) like these ones listed here who Jeff reckons are given an undeservedly bad rap by Objectivists like me:

So based on Jeff’s recommendation I’m adding them to my blogroll in a new ‘Conservatives -The Better Sort’ section (or in some cases I’ve simply moved them there from their existing spots on the blogroll), and I’ll read them regularly (or more regularly) to see if Jeff is right. And I would also add these three books below recommended by Michael Moeller to my reading list . . . if I weren’t already one-third of the way through Folsom’s mostly excellent overview of FDR’s mostly dreadful New Deal.

Why not join me in checking them all out.

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The Apotheosis of War - Vasily Vereshchagin, 1871


In memory of Rob Hamill’s brother – and in indictment of the butchers who killed him, and of the whole nation who they slaughtered.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Quote of the day: Conservative or Liberal?

"We don't really care whether you call yourself conservative or liberal. What we care about is whether you defend or undermine individual rights."
……………………………….- Father and son duo Linn & Ari Armstrong
………………………………….in their article ‘Are you a conservative or a liberal?

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Lawyers and “experts” defend the venality of “experts” and lawyers

Lawyers and “experts” have come out swinging against a report suggesting a cartel of “experts” and lawyers has been fleecing owners of leaky houses. [Hat tip David Slack]

Lawyer Paul Grimshaw for one was just telling Radio Live that his own law firm is virtually a charity organisation when it comes to “helping out” home-owners – help that the Price Waterhouse report shows actually comes with a usurious price tag for all of us.

Who would have thunk it, eh.  Rent-seekers seeking to protect their rorts.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: On ‘P,’ GST & music not being free

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines . . .

1. Gyms fight to keep music playingLocal fitness clubs are worried that copyright charges may rise on music used at aerobics lessons and other classes. The owners of the intellectual property rights to the music have experienced a significant drop in sales due to the increase in illegal downloading of music, and this is their response.
    To me, the issue is simple enough. First question, who owns the rights to the music? This seems fairly well settled: the Phonographic Performances Company of Australia holds the copyright. Second question, what contractual arrangement did PPCA have with the fitness clubs? It appears the fitness centres have been getting a very cheap or even free ride up until now, and will shortly be paying market rates. If the fee is too high for them, they will need to source music from elsewhere or come up with some other plan to keep customers coming through the doors.
    Those who lack the imagination and drive to make the necessary changes may, as Fitness NZ CEO Richard Beddie claims, go under. However, no business is guaranteed a free ride forever, and the music industry is hurting too as a result of file-sharing piracy.

2. Higher GST proposed to shift tax focus from incomes – Yes, we need income tax relief; no, we do not need an increase in GST which disproportionately hurts the poorer in our community.
    A review of the tax system by a working group has suggested raising GST to 15%, or even 20%, in order to raise “economic efficiency” – i.e. to make the theft of individual wealth harder to avoid.
    The committee acknowledges some “fairness issues”, and says “compensation” for those on lower incomes should be included in any new system. Somehow this whole package of increased wealth redistribution is called tax reform.
    Note there is no hint at reducing income tax rates; rather leave them at their current extortionate rates, and ratchet up GST instead. Other advisors to John Key advocate throwing in a Capital Gains Tax for good measure. God, how I love this free market pro-capitalist National Government.

3. PM’s advisor recommends P Precursor drug ban – In the tradition of all good prohibitionists, John Key’s Science Czar Peter Gluckman has recommended banning the sale of tablets containing pseudoephedrine in an effort to stop people using it to manufacture methamphetamine. Does he really think the demand for P will suddenly evaporate if pseudoephedrine supply is driven underground? Does he have no knowledge of how markets work – that if someone tries to put a finger in the dike, another hole will appear somewhere else?
    As in physics, for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, it will not be the reaction that Peter Gluckman and John Key want.
    As the Libertarianz Party and others have been banging on about for years, the way to get the recreational substance market out of the hands of criminals and gangs, and to eliminate the demand for dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine (and thereby to reduce the harm its use is having on our community) is to approach drug use from a health angle rather than a legal one. Legalise all drugs now.
    Portugal legalized possession of all drugs several years ago. The net effect has been slightly less drug use after an initial rise, and more people seeking help for problems related to substance use and abuse. John Key and the Czar seem more interested in punishing New Zealanders for their vices.       

4. Lib Dems demand curbs on spying - from the BBC website comes news that even the left-wing Liberal Democrats are becoming uncomfortable about the scope and depth of violations of individual privacy in the Surveillance State, where there is now said to be a CCTV camera for every seven Britons. About 1500 requests a day are made – up 40% on three years ago - so that the state can spy on its citizens by prying into e-mails and telephone records. There is even an Interception of Communication Commissioner. How creepy is that?
    Borough Councils are spying on their rubbish collector employees and checking which dogs are fouling the footpaths. Some cameras even have loudspeakers mounted next to them so that orders can be barked out if, for instance, people drop rubbish on the street. One in every 78 people in Britain is being spied on. In communist East Germany this figure was nine in ten - one in ten people was a Stasi agent, spying on the other nine! Clearly, Britain is not yet another German Democratic Republic, but the trends are worrying. How much more will the British people tolerate before there is serious resistance to these egregious attacks on freedom by Gordon Brown’s increasingly totalitarian government? A once proud nation is dying as we watch.
    As someone opined on Samizdata a few days ago, George Orwell’s book 1984 was meant to serve as a warning, not a blueprint.

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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Another day, another series of assaults on freedom [update 4]

Buried deep within the National Party's constitution are espousals of support for "maximum freedom" and "the avoidance of unnecessary controls." You wouldn't know it from yesterday's performance: It was another day, another series of trial balloons for bigger government.

In the face of a statistical blip in the road toll, the National-led Government floated the idea of cracking down even further on your driving freedom. On the back of last weeks ban on hand-held mobile phones, this week it wants a  rise in the age at which you can get a drivers license; a reduction in driving speeds; and an even lower limit on the amount of alcohol in a driver's blood – zero, if you’re under twenty.

You can point out that drunken drivers in accidents are overwhelmingly over the existing limit anyway, so reducing the alcohol limit is going to have no measurable result -- you can make these sort of factual objections -- but of course you'd be wasting your breath.  You'd be wasting your breath because the fix is already in, and the leviathan of big nanny government is already on the march.  A few sober factual objections won’t be enough to stop it – never has.

Anyway, that was just the new controls a National minister was talking about yesterday afternoon. In the morning, anther National minister was floating the idea of new taxes! Plus ça change, plus ca même chose.

In the face of rising deficits and reduced revenue -- facts which were well known before the election -- we're even further from the tax cuts that were their flagship policy. Instead of tax cuts -- which were promised before the election and which would leave more money in the pockets of those who produced it -- instead of keeping their promises and maximising freedom -- instead of tax cuts they're suggesting tax hikes. Specifically, a hike in the Government Slavery Tax. And specifically too, a new tax on home-owners.

Instead of cuts in government spending, which would be the responsible thing to do in the face of falling revenues -- and would be as easy as abolishing useless agencies like the Families Commission and the Ministries of Maori and Island and Women's Affairs -- instead of the things a responsible government would do, this government instead wants to go back and even reverse their election promises.

Instead of helping New Zealanders struggling to pay their bills – instead of slashing their own costs, and even cutting GST, which would help everyone in the country – instead of helping them it wants to kick them in the teeth.

And instead of moves that would actually help New Zealander home-owners and even expand their freedom -- instead of reining in the town planners who restrict the supply of land, the fractional-reserve money-manufacturing process that created out of thin air all the credit that fuelled the credit-created housing bubble, and the Reserve Bank governor (whose expansion of the money supply underpinned it) -- instead of any of these sensible expansions of freedom and removals of unnecessary controls, this government floats the frankly farcical idea of a Capital Gains Tax which, they say, will reduce future housing bubbles.

How? Somehow.

No sign they’re even aware of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary from all those housing markets overseas in which the existence of a Crapital Gains Tax did precisely nothing to puncture the credit-created bubble. No talk at all of removing taxes on savings, or even introducing the likes of America’s 401(k) or the UK’s ISES.  Once again, it’s clear that neither evidence to the contrary nor ideas for even marginally more freedom aren't important when you've got a new tax or a new control to introduce.

"Maximum freedom" and "the avoidance of unnecessary controls"?  Don’t make me laugh.  They've only been in power barely eight months, but already it's obvious this is a government whose never seen a tax they don't like, a control they wouldn’t advance, or a spending cut they'd like to ignore.

It’s ironic that Labour’s lap bloggers are getting increasingly shrill because, if they closed their eyes and listened only to what’s being said instead of who’s saying it, they’d realise this is a government hardly any different to their own.

Big government still has friends in high places. It’s freedom that’s an orphan.

UPDATE 1: Meanwhile, the increasingly idiotic Adolf at No Minister reckons these further incursions on freedom will somehow lead to more freedom, not less. Looks like mental scotoma to me.

UPDATE 2: Even if you concede that it’s the government’s job to reduce the road toll, which is arguable, observe that every measure proposed in the government’s report reduces freedom rather than expanding it.

That’s no accident, and nor is it even necessary.  Consider for example the idea that restricted drivers who cause an accident, i.e.,who actually demonstrate they’re a threat, are restricted for maybe another year from gaining a full licence.  Or the idea of “Naked Streets,” stripping NZ roads of most street signs, getting drivers to focus on the movements of drivers around them, rather than focusing on those signs – an idea already saving lives in the US, UK, the Netherlands and Sweden.

But like I say above, you can talk until you’re blue in the face about ideas like these, because the primary thrust here is not so much for better road safety as it is for even more government.

UPDATE 3: If you really want to stop the property bubble and encourage saving – I mean, if you genuinely did -- then how about some good honest deflation.  Time to stop inflating and start learning to love deflation:

    Deflation is good news for savers, who get richer just by hanging on to their cash. And it is beneficial for consumers, who get cheaper prices. It is usually good for workers as well, as they can generally hold the value of their wages, even while prices fall.
    There are winners and losers, just as there are from most economic developments. The important point is that the people who lose are more powerful than the people who gain. That might explain why we hear about the dangers of deflation, and not about its advantages. It still doesn’t make them right.
    There is no threat from deflation. It may even be desirable if it encourages a balance between saving and consumption, and discourages governments and banks [and home-owners flush from their paper profits] from taking on debt.

But of course this wouldn’t work either, since it diminishes government’s power rather than expands it . . .

UPDATE 4: Lindsay Mitchell has 12 compelling arguments against raising the driving age, including statistical, geopolitical and semiotic evidence.  Naturally, despite their persuasive power none of these arguments will be accepted by the powers that be, since none of them serve to expand the power of the state.

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Sign off, John

Oddly, while the story Lucy Lawless and Keisha Castle-Hughes accosting people to publicise Greenpeace’s plan for industrial penury led last night’s news, the defeat of Kevin Krudd’s kneecap-and-trade scheme in their Senate barely made a ripple in the local news.

Odd don’t you think, because as Robert Tracinski and Tom Minchin explain . . .

    . .  . in a potential preview for America [and what should be a heads up to New Zealand], the Australian Senate has just defeated that country's version of cap-and-trade by a vote of 42-30. Most of the overseas coverage of this event, however, has missed the most interesting feature of the defeat. The BBC report, for example, claims that the bill was blocked because "opposition senators...feared the legislation would harm the country's mining sector."
    In fact, the bill was defeated because there is now serious disagreement in Australia on the very existence of human-caused global warming. . .

Odd that you don’t hear much about that in your mainstream news here either, don’t you think?

    In a previous article [says Tracinski], we have already described this "intellectual climate change" in Australia's global warming debate, and arguably no one is more responsible for the shift in opinion than University of Adelaide geologist Ian Plimer, whose new book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science is an authoritative scientific refutation of the claims of human-caused global warming.

Follow this link to read  excerpts from Professor Plimer's responses in Tracinski’s interview with him last week, including  his advice to politicians who are asked to make judgments on the science of global warming,:

    Plimer urges them "to understand that all science is contentious, where there is one theory there is a competing theory, and that as a legislator one must look to keeping maximum gainful employment of the electorate."
    As for his advice to those who don't buy the global warming hysteria, he urges them to "Continually pester your politicians...write letters to the editor and start a groundswell of opinion. This needs to start like a guerilla war in rural, smokestack, and mining areas and to be brought into the cities, where there are queues lining up to make a fortune on cap-and-trade activities."
    He concludes: "A tax on thin air is what we are being asked to approve."

Time to sign off permanently on your Emissions Tax Scam, John.  Just tell Keisha and her mates that a tax on thin air is the last thing we need right now.  Tell them again to go back to acting.  Or just tell them and your ministerial colleagues agitating for their new pet tax to go to hell.

You’d be following the very best advice.

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The Crystal City – Frank Lloyd Wright






Featured here before, yes, but The Washington Post has just recently featured what the Prairie Mod blog calls “one of the most famous missed architectural opportunities of the 20th century”: Frank Lloyd Wright's 1940 design for America's capital which he named Crystal Heights (or Crystal City) – a project killed by town planners.

Read all about it here.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A profound moral dilemma!

Annie Fox has a moral dilemma for you:

    You have been given six months to live unless a suitable liver can be found. You are a strange blood type and five months have past - no suitable donor is found - the clock keeps ticking.
    Finally in Wellington a particularly bureaucratic civil servant sticks his head too deeply into the trough, inhales and starts choking. He staggers around his sea-view office until, blinded by his own short-sightedness, he trips over the his latest economic-strangulation legislation and tangles himself in his own red tape. An ambulance is called but he dies a slow, painful death on the way to the hospital, where they find his donor card and harvest his organs - a perfect match has been found.
    So here’s you dilemma: Do you accept his liver?

A dilemma indeed!

Freedom for me . . . but I’m not so sure about ye

HL Mencken used to say that a puritan is someone possessed of the all-pervasive fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

Mencken would have noticed lots of puritans about today, huh, some of them possessing legislative power.

There’s even a strain of “libertarian puritans” – or to be more precise, puritans who would like to be freedom-lovers but who just can’t fully rein in their fears about other people. They support freedom for this, and freedom for this . . . but there’s no way they can support freedom for that

That is to say: they are consenting adults who can support the freedoms that they do agree with – like drinking wine, choosing their own lightbulbs, and being generally free from coercion and electoral abuse --  but not the freedoms they disagree with – like the freedom that other consenting adults would like to keep their own money, to use their own cell phones in their own cars, to drive fast, to carry a firearm in self-defence, or to put into their own body what (and who) they like. 

That’s a lot harder for some to support, but freedom is only freedom if it’s  freedom across the board. Real freedom, you see, is indivisible.  Whereas for the puritan,  freedom is “Freedom for me, but not for thee!”

However freedom, real freedom, means allowing other people to do things that you disagree with, without calling for laws to stop them. 

It means allowing other people to do things that offend you, without insisting they be locked up for it.

It means supporting the freedom for people to do things you would never do, knowing however that as long as they aren’t initiating force or fraud against someone else then it’s their right to do what they will – just as long as they take responsibility for what they do.

Sure, there are people who will make mistakes;  but allowing the freedom to fail means making possible the freedom to succeed.  There are people who will stuff up; but allowing the freedom to get things wrong means making possible the freedom to get things right.  Real freedom means taking ownership of our successes, and of the things we do that suck. Real freedom means making the world safe for reason; which means making it possible for some to be stupid. There it is.

My freedom ends where your nose begins, and vice versa. And the flip side of freedom is responsibility.  Without both, you have neither.  But if you’re arguing for both, then you’ll succeed. As PJ O’Rourke says there is only one basic human right, and that is the right to do as you damn well please.  And with that there is only one human duty: the duty to take the consequences.

It strikes me however that there are many people who recognise and value freedom in their own area of interest, but they still blanch when it comes to recognising freedom across the board – for the freedom for other people to do things that they don’t like, either because they’re not yet fully comfortable in their support for fully-fledged freedom, or because the welfare state makes them take responsibility for those other people.

My advice to them is to lose their freedom inhibitions.  To recognise that the effect of banning folly is simply to fill the world with fools.  To understand that arguing for freedom on every issue pushes back the forces of greyness on a broad front – even when it’s freedom for something we wouldn’t do ourselves – whereas arguing that some freedoms should be limited only ends up making the grey ones hungry to take more.

Freedom for ye is also freedom for me, if we’re arguing for freedom across the board.  So bring on the drugs and fast cars.  For ye, if not necessarily for me.

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Some Tuesday funnies

Your regular Tuesday columnist Susan Ryder is away from her computer this week enjoying herself shamelessly – but she hasn’t forgotten you completely, campers.  Here’s a few funnies she sent through for your amusement.

* * * * *

    The NSW Government and the NSW Greens were presenting to the NSW farmers a proposal for controlling the dingo population.
    It seemed that after years of the farmers using the tried and true methods of shooting and/or trapping the predators, the tree-huggers had come up with a more ‘humane’ solution.  They proposed that the animals be captured alive.  The males would then be castrated and let loose again; therefore the population would be controlled.
    This was actually proposed at a meeting of the NSW Farmers and Graziers Association by the NSW Government and the NSW Greens.   The NSWFGA members thought about this amazing idea for a couple of minutes.  Finally, one of the old boys in the back of the conference room stood up, tipped his hat back and said:
    “Son, I don't think you understand our problem.  Those dingos ain't shaggin' our sheep.  They're eatin' 'em!”

* * * * *

What I Want in a Man, Original List (age 21):
1. Handsome
2. Charming
3. Financially successful
4. A caring listener
5. Witty
6. In good shape
7. Dresses with style
8. Appreciates finer thing
9. Full of thoughtful surprises
10. An imaginative, romantic lover
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 32)
1. Nice looking
2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
4. Listens more than talks
5. Laughs at my jokes
6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
7. Owns at least one tie
8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
10. Seeks romance at least once a week
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 42)
1. Not too ugly
2. Doesn't drive off until I'm in the car
3. Works steady - splurges on dinner out occasionally
4. Nods head when I'm talking
5. Usually remembers punch lines of jokes
6. Is in good enough shape to rearrange the furniture
7. Wears a shirt that covers his stomach
8. Knows not to buy champagne with screw-top lids
9. Remembers to put the toilet seat down
10. Shaves on most weekends
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 52)
1. Keeps hair in nose and ears trimmed
2. Doesn't belch or scratch in public
3. Doesn't borrow money too often
4. Doesn't nod off to sleep when I'm venting
5. Doesn't retell the same joke too many times
6. Is in good enough shape to get off couch on weekends
7. Usually wears matching socks and fresh underwear
8. Appreciates a good TV dinner
9. Remembers your name on occasion
10. Shaves some weekends
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 62)
1. Doesn't scare small children
2. Remembers where bathroom is
3. Doesn't require much money for upkeep
4. Only snores lightly when asleep
5. Remembers why he's laughing
6. Is in good enough shape to stand up by himself
7. Usually wears some clothes
8. Likes soft foods
9. Remembers where he left his teeth
10. Remembers that it's the weekend
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 72)
1. Breathing
2. Doesn't miss the toilet.

* * * * *

A few words for Real Men about Real Women
(from Bruce Feirstein's Real Men Don't Eat Quiche):

  • Real Women don't drive as well as you do
  • Real Women have no past -- that they tell you about
  • Real Women will indulge your wildest sexual fantasies -- and then throw in a few of their own
  • Real Women always have orgasms, but say it's only because of you
  • Real Women do not believe in palimony
  • Real Women can work a manual gear change
  • Real Women don't major in sociology
  • Real Women grow their own nails
  • Real Women shave their legs
  • Real Women are louder in bed than most men
  • Real Women are not afraid to eat quiche
What today's Real Man looks for in a woman:
  • Personality
  • Intelligence
  • Kindness
  • Sense of humour and a good job
  • Sincerity
  • Sympathy
  • Understanding
  • Sweetness
  • A good sense of doubles tennis
  • And the ability to fill in a good insert for Tax Form B
Qualities the Old-Style Real Man looked for in a woman":
  • Trust funds
  • Big breasts

* * * * *

Susan Ryder’s column appears at NOT PC every Tuesday, even when she doesn’t.

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Lightfall – Michael Wilkinson


Michael Wilkinson is a contemporary sculptor who works, unusually, in acrylic – producing work the likes of which has literally never been seen before. Head over to The Girly Objectivist’s Art, Love and Philosophy blog for an enthusiastic appreciation of Wilkinson’s work. As she says,

Because of the reflections one sees in the acrylic, depending on the angle you're looking at, it really is necessary to see these works in person to fully appreciate them. Be sure to head over to his website here to check out the rest of his work and to find a gallery near you where you can view his work in person!

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Monday, 17 August 2009

Quote of the Day: On the English family

Good to see that the art of passionately arguing for things you don’t believe in has been passed on down the generations in the English family.”
……………………………. - Blair Mulholland at Kiwiblog, commenting on the victory of Bill English’s daughter in a debating competition. Her team was affirming the topic,  "That citizens initiated referenda should be binding on government."


The curse of nonsense

Isn’t it disappointing that it’s only now he’s out of office that former Labour Minister of Education Trevor Mallard has realised the importance of One Law for All? "It would have been prison if they weren’t Maori," says Trevor of the decision by Justice Simon France not to jail the family who tortured and killed their niece Janet Moses

I’m not entirely sure he’s right, however.  When Pastor Luke Lee killed a parishioner in January 2000 for trying to rid her of some indeterminate Korean demons, he was jailed initially, true, but then released on appeal, citing “the freedom of religion.”  [Story here at the Canterbury Atheist.]

It’s true that the “makutu” defence on which Justice France let them off has been used – and accepted – before, despite Dr Ranginui Walker insisting in 1997 that makutu is now a “non-issue” in Maoridom, and warning that the justice system had to be very wary of what he called the “cultural re- invention” of “makutu."

That warning came after a man was found not guilty by Justice Morris of pushing a crucifix up a young woman’s nose and into her brain  – not guilty, said Morris, because he “accepted unreservedly” that the man thought he was under a Maori curse at the time.

And what did former Minister of Education Mallard, or any of his colleagues, say at the time about this rampant Political Correctness in the courtroom?   To paraphrase Lindsay Perigo, “Absolutely zilch, zero, nothing. They were too busy advocating it for the classroom!”

As my colleague Robert White said as the time, if he (White) was Attorney General then he would have seen to it that Justice Morris would have swiftly become Inmate Morris. Inmate France would certainly deserve to join him. And frankly, when we have witchdoctery used as an excuse for crime that’s bad enough, but when the learned gentleman of the Bench explicitly throw objectivity out the judicial window, then it’s time to take defensive action.

Absurdity is not a racial thing, it’s worldwide.  The whole idea of exorcism itself was hardly a Maori invention – it was the invention of religious zealots eager to exercise their own inner demons.

As Voltaire observed three centuries ago, those who believe absurdities are apt to commit atrocities. He’s still right. It is not the job of the courts to debunk and to neuter the absurdities – that is the job of reason and sound philosophy. But it is the job of an objective court system to neuter those who do commit atrocities, whatever the reasons they commit them.

We urgently need to have objectivity brought back into the courts, back from the dustbin of judicial neglect.

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Gluckman versus science [update 2]

Professor Peter Gluckman, a world-ranked paediatrics researcher, has hit out at scientists in another field, calling them the equivalent of AIDS-deniers.

As a non-active non-climate researcher himself, and on the back of just one month of being schooled up by warmist zealots on the science of “climate change,” he told an audience over the weekend that “there are some scientists, although few of these are active climate researchers, who dispute the generally held [warmist] conclusions" – suggesting that if they’re not active climate researchers they should shut themselves up or be tarred with the brush of AIDS-denial.

I suggest that as a non-climate researcher himself he should either listen to his own advice, lest he be tarred as someone who’s been captured by zealots in the cause of warmistry.

Or perhaps he could complete his short semester of climate change education by giving active New Zealand climate scientists like Professor Bob Carter and Chris de Freitas a call to hear the science he obviously hasn’t about.  I’m sure they’d take his call, even if he didn’t apologise for the insult.

UPDATE 1: If the warming of the late 20th Century had not come to an end, what kind of catastrophe were we headed for? asks the Objectivist Individualist. Answer, says “Australia's best-known academic geologist” Ian Plimer in his best-selling book Heaven and Earth, is apparently one similar to the Medieval and Roman Warmings. And exactly how “catastrophic” was that?

    The Medieval Warming period from 900 to 1300 was a period of great human advances in Europe, China, and Angkor Wat in southeast Asia. Humans generally prospered and were able to more easily feed and cloth themselves. As a result, they had enough time and resources to be able to undertake the building of cities, great cathedrals, and the start of universities throughout Europe. Europe started importing goods from China and the East Indies via the Orient. The Orient itself prospered with renewed agriculture, trade, and the establishment of institutions of learning. This period was warmer than the late 20th Century period. . .
    There was a great expansion in trade. People could produce more than was needed for subsistence and were able to trade the excess. The warm period was accompanied by fewer storms and intense winds were less common than during the Dark Ages. Note that this is contrary to the claims of many Global Warming Alarmists today. . .

Read the whole extract from Plimer’s book here.

UPDATE 2: New observations of Jupiter’s moon Titan (similar to Earth but with a methane cycle instead of a water cycle) find that the weather on the planet isn’t acting anywhere like the way computer models say it should be. From the Egoist Blog:

"The models predicted that the equatorial region should be very dry and should not support cloud formation," said astronomer Henry Roe of Lowell Observatory in Arizona. "But this episode created clouds over both the equator and the south pole. We don't know what set off that sequence, but something gave a pretty good kick to the atmosphere."
Reality does not slavishly obey the computer "models"?? Who'd a thunk?
Here's some words of wisdom more scientists need to grasp:
"We really need to keep observing Titan in detail for many more years in order to get a true understanding of how its seasons change," Roe said.
On earth as it is in heaven, forever and ever, amen.


Lost the game, but won the fight

There was a fight at the rugby over the weekend.  But there’s been “a fight at the rugby” for decades.  It’s nothing new, as former players Steve Watt and Andy Dalton (who will be disciplining the players) would no doubt tell you if they weren’t muzzling their comments for the sake of propriety – and as other players of a former era could tell you, the newly knighted Colin Meads didn’t get to the top of the pile just for his ability to run with the ball in hand.

So how about all those wringing their hands stop mouthing off about how horrible it all is and just get over it, just like the players’ bruises will.  It’s not a sign that society is collapsing into a black hole; rugby has been that way all its life.  Anyone remember the ‘99 call’?

For the record, it sounds like it was Kelston who lost the game, but won the fight.  This time.

NB: Who says “it’s never part of the game.”  These are physical games played at fever pitch, so of course you’re going to get conflict.  And unlike soccer, where there’s not even physicality in the game to keep everyone excited, the fights are on the pitch not off it.  Ever watched Origin?  Or AFL?  Here’s some great scenes from the MCG earlier this year (it gets good about two minutes in).

And here’s Australia and Ireland playing ‘Combination Rules’ – a combination of AFL and Gaelic.  There’s a ball there somewhere, honest.

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