Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009 [update 2]

It’s now eight years  to the day since barbarians flew planes loaded with people into two soaring symbols of western freedom with around 5,000 souls inside.  The resulting cataclysm still hangs over this century like a gaping wound. In the words of Christopher Hitchens,

“from Afghanistan the holy order was given to annex two famous achievements of modernism -- the high-rise building and the jet aircraft -- and use them for immolation and human sacrifice... Faith-based fanatics could not design anything as useful or as beautiful as a skyscraper or a passenger aircraft. But, continuing their long history of plagiarism, they could borrow and steal these things and use them as a negation.”

Eight years after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – the only comparable event in modern history – Japan had already been reduced to rubble and begun its rebuilding into the peaceful modern powerhouse into which it was transformed.

Yet eight years on after the brutal slaughter of thousands of innocent people the buildings the barbarians destroyed are still un-replaced, the chief planners and perpetrators of the outrage remain on the loose, and the pursuit of those leading barbarians is greeted with cries that the west itself is the aggressor.

How much has the world changed since 1941.

To be fair, the pursuit itself is so flawed as to be almost completely off-mission.  Sure, there are problems in just finding the bastards who planned this – unlike the bastards who bombed Pearl Harbor, it’s not possible to find them on a map.   But it’s not like there isn’t a rough idea. 

War was declared on the west eight years ago. That it’s still going isn’t for lack of firepower on the west’s behalf, it’s an almost complete lack of moral fibre.  A refusal to believe that it’s a war that we’re in, and a politically-correct misdirection of effort into a war on on a tactic instead of against the actual barbarians responsible for the outrage – a hand-wringing, faith-based unwillingness to identify the enemy.

It should not bave been a “war on terror” in which the west was engaged these last eight years.  In the same way that the Second World War was a war against Nazism and Shintoism, this was should have been a war on Islamic Totalitarianism – a war waged explicitly against this hydra, and with the full moral authority that this was a war of self-defence – a war of civilisation against the barbarians who attacked it. 

It should have been a war in which it was recognised that there is “No Substitute for Victory.”  It has never been that war, which is why it still dribbles on eight years after the outrage that finally brought the enemy to the world’s attention. 

The errors made by George W in waging his “war against a tactic” (and in the wrong place) are now being repeated by his successor, President Zero.  America’s Commander-in-Chief said recently,

“I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory’,” said Obama, “because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.”

But, you know, when Emperor Hirohito was made to come down and surrender to MacArthur that was the beginning of the end for the medieval warrior spirit of Shinto, and also the beginning of the beginning for the peaceful success of the modern-day Japanese who -- liberated from their medieval past -- gave the whole world a lesson in how ragingly successful the peaceful pursuit of prosperity can be.

It took another six years after World War II was concluded to subdue and modify Japan, and put it on a path to peace and prosperity : Six years and the destruction of Shintoism as an ethical code.   It took seven years to reconstruct Germany and to destroy the bacillus of Nazism – two jobs selfishly important to every anyone who valued a peaceful world after decades of strife and war.  Just as selfishly important now would be a haven of secular peace in the ravaged Middle East or Near East.

Mind you, these jobs were done by people  and was done by people who knew what they were doing.

Now, eight years after the horrors of September 11, 2001, we discover that today’s leaders know nothing.  We discover they were coasting on the knowledge of previous generations, without being able even to apply the lessons learned.

What should have been a day to commemorate the fallen is instead, therefore, a day to berate those who have betrayed them.

In their honour then I offer my thoughts above, such as they are, and this small memento of triumph: architect Minoru Yamasaki in front of his greatest achievement: New York’s World Trade Center.  In every sense they were the symbol of the very best of modern civilisation.  And that’s why they had to die.

UPDATE: Now the clocks have rolled around in the US, there’s more good commentary appearing online from my sort of people:

  • Four Important Articles for this God-Awful Date
    “End States Who Sponsor Terrorism” by Leonard Peikoff “Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein The “Forward Strategy” for Failure by Yaron Brook and Elan Journo “No Substitute for Victory”: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John David Lewis.
  • “America fights a self-crippled war on terror” – Elan Journo
  • Mark Steyn:
    No dynamic culture can stand still, so we shouldn't be surprised that fewer and fewer people, from the president down, find it harder and harder to remember quite what "the day that changed the world" was all about. Nevertheless, there is unfinished business — starting with that hole in the ground in lower Manhattan.
  • Ralph Peters:

        Eight years ago today, our homeland was attacked by fanatical Muslims inspired by Saudi Arabian bigotry. Three thousand American citizens and residents died.
        We resolved that we, the People, would never forget. Then we forgot.
        We've learned nothing.
        Instead of cracking down on Islamist extremism, we've excused it.
        Instead of killing terrorists, we free them.
        Instead of relentlessly hunting Islamist madmen, we seek to appease them.
        Instead of acknowledging that radical Islam is the problem, we elected a president who blames America, whose idea of freedom is the right for women to suffer in silence behind a veil -- and who counts among his mentors and friends those who damn our country or believe that our own government staged the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

UPDATE 2: An email purporting to contain a short piece by one Emanuel Tanay is doing the rounds.  In fact, the  piece is by Paul E. Marek, a second-generation Canadian, whose grandparents fled Czechoslovakia just prior to the Nazi takeover. He wrote the following article in February of 2006 to explain why the peaceful majority is irrelevant.

As he says about the deluded young girl on the right,  “She misses the point: Her job is to prevent the fanatics from hijacking her faith.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Why The Peaceful Majority Is Irrelevant
By Paul E. Marek

    I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.
    “Very few people were true Nazis” he said, “but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”
    We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority” and it is cowed and extraneous.
    Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The Average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a war mongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of Killing that included the systematic killing of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet. And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving.”
    History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

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Beer O’Clock: The American Beer Revolution

From Reason Online:

    In 1980, there were fewer than 50 breweries in the United States. Today, over 1,400 craft breweries help the U.S. produce more styles of beer than anywhere else in the world.  A new Reason.tv video explores the history of beer in America and shows how deregulation paved the way for the recent American beer revolution.
    European immigrants brought beer to America, building breweries wherever they settled. By 1870, there were more than 4,000 breweries in the U.S. But in 1920, prohibition decimated the industry. When prohibition ended, home brewing was still a crime punishable by five years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
    In 1979, consumer choice and freedom finally returned when the unlikely figure of President Jimmy Carter signed a law allowing individuals to brew small batches of beer at home. Innovative home brewers became entrepreneurs and opened craft breweries across the country. The craft brewing industry generated over $6 billion in sales and produced over 8.5 million barrels of beer in 2008.
    “The American Revolutionaries were beer drinkers who fought for a free society,” says Reason.tv editor Nick Gillespie. “Here’s to freedom, choice and great American beer.”

Nick insists that last is not an oxymoron. And here’s some evidence to back him up: Best Beer in America 2009 – not to mention some pretty cool graphics.

Watch Beer: An American Revolution right here:

 

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Your regular Friday ramble

Okay, it’s Friday so you know what to expect.  Here’s a ramble round the ‘best of the net’ this week courtesy of my Twitter feed, (where you can subscribe to the feed – it costs you nothing – and you can get all this freedom news first.)
  • Penn&Teller call Bullshit! on the Vatican: "The Vatican is the Catholic Las Vegas. We're going to rip the gilded roof off & explore the rats and Ratsingers.” Watch quickly, before the Catholic League realise you’re enjoying it:  
    http://tinyurl.com/lfsclq
  • Is Trevor Loudon the first New Zealand blogger to claim a “scalp” of a US presidential appointee, and to be quoted in the US Congress?  Congratulations Trevor:
    Watch New Zeal Quoted in US Congress.
  • oBomba 4 blog Why is Trevor being quoted?  Because Obama has dropped an unexpected ideological atomic bomb on America, and Americans are fighting back, that’s why.
  • Rational Jenn goes  myth-busting on Ayn Rand and her views on children and motherhood, which are nothing like as “soul-killing” you’ve heard.
    http://bit.ly/axOlJ
  • It is still not your tree. Labour MPs say despite minor if long overdue changes to give you back ownership of your trees that they want to take it off you again.
    http://bit.ly/ohuUE
  • Looks like National will be supporting ACT’s member’s bill on Voluntary Student Membership.  As Peter McCaffrey says, “better get your submissions ready.  It’s about to go down!”
  • Which American president is described here? He campaigned almost exclusively against the failures of the previous administration. He promised to cut the burgeoning deficits of the previous administration and balance the budget, only to increase them to unprecedented levels and unbalance the whole world. Upon election he immediately forged ahead with remaking policy by creating all kinds of centralized agencies, including the nationalization of multiple industries. He surrounded himself with collectivist radicals.  He used his personal charm and gregarious nature to court favorable news coverage and loyalty from the media.
    Can you guess who?  It’s almost certainly not who you were thinking.
    Read The Obamanous Parallels.
  • Which country has the most nose jobs (per-capita)? The answer will surprise you. http://tr.im/yhFi
  • Hot on the heels of Beervana, Paul Walker asks an important question: “Do the rankings that come out of such shows really tell us much about the quality of the beers?” This is the stuff we need to know!
  • Paul Litterick has A heartbreaking poem of staggering genius at the Fundy Post:
  • Why is poetry so awful these days?
    I only ask because
    I was listening to Jenny Bornholdt on
    Nine to Noon and thought to myself
    "This is crap."
    I blame the Montana Book Awards . . .
  • A friend says, “I have watched a few Bill Whittle videos on pjtv.com before, all very good. The one released two days ago is a very good one titled "A Tale of Two Revolutions: The War of Ideas & the Tragedy of the Unconstrained Vision" is worth a look.”  Check it out:
    http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=video&video-id=2403
  • How’s this for a great commercial – and the very best way for a horror film to end:
  • "100 years ago the American "public sector" was around10% of economy. By 1940's it was over one-quarter. Soon it will be on half.  Time for some Jeffersonian rebellion, perhaps?
     http://tinyurl.com/mztaj5
  • Economic mythbuster Eric Crampton points to a new “biscuit harm index” calculated for the UK. (Turns out that many Brits “injure” themselves while eating biscuits.)  Wonders Eric, “Perhaps BERL could use this data to produce a biscuit harm index showing the social costs that could be avoided if only biscuits didn't exist.”
  • And welfare mythbuster Lindsay Mitchell slams the expensive and frankly unaffordable tax-paid extension of paid parental leave. (There’s no money for police ammunition, but . . .) 
    http://tinyurl.com/nks7fa
  • The subtext subtly woven through the ObaMessiah’s innocuous blandishments to captive American  schoolchildren declares: I own you. Or rather, the state owns you.
    http://tinyurl.com/n9r255
  • Uh oh: Buffett is selling stocks. Don't know why the NYT's buried that fact in 1,500 words....
    http://bit.ly/18nsvN
  • "Why Do Women Have Sex?" Not quite the reasons you’d have predicted:
    http://bit.ly/54TJD.
  • Madeleine reviews this week’s Boscawen, McCoskrie, Evans, Baldock meeting.
    ttp://tinyurl.com/kwvluy
  • Wall Street Journal   slams NZ for capitulating to "green PR gone wild.”  “NZ's cap-and-trade rationale is a bunch of hot air," says the world’s most important business opinion leader.  (And there are still people who say we “must” endure a carbon-rationed economy to keep our place as a respected trading nation!  Did I say people?  I meant politicians.)
    http://tinyurl.com/mdwj2f
  • "-ism will cure every ill of the body politic." A short film from 1946 that offers an amusing reminder of what made America great, & what came along and buggered it all up.
    http://tinyurl.com/mebphe
  • The future price of gold will be as much about politics as it is economics. It was always so.
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/3269...
  • It's a different sort of healthcare system: It's much more market-oriented than the US. It's India, and it works!
    http://tinyurl.com/l478la
  • Just for once, Michael Moore is right about businessmen.
    http://tinyurl.com/lp2mje
  • The war on government welfare is more and more difficult to wage -- because the enemy is less and less distinct.
    http://tinyurl.com/nfpymh
  • "Adam Smith would not be optimistic in today's economic world."
    http://tinyurl.com/lgvt6x
  • Obama is committing the same economic mistakes made during the Great Depression, says a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.
    http://tinyurl.com/mgpygn
  • “‘If we demand a proof for everything, he [Aristotle] had said, ‘we shall never be able to prove anything, since we shall not have a starting point for any proof. Certain things are obviously true and do not require proof.’
    ‘Prove it,’ his nephew Callisthenes had said. Aristotle was glad Callisthenes had gone off with Alexander. He was not sorry to learn he’d been killed.”
    Read Roderick Fitts on The Justification for Induction--Or Lack of It.  Good stuff.
  • The great petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt famously said that “Oil is found in the minds of men.”  Read this great tribute to the men of the mind who discover it - and reflect on what this means for the “scarcity” of resources and for theories of intellectual property: Tribute to Tiber: “Oil is Found in the Minds of Men”.
  • Some thoughts here on blog comments from a man I respect who’s far more ‘slash-and-burn’ with irrational chaff than I am.  Read: Sanction of the Victim.
  • "The US spends tomorrow's money today. We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow... Guess which one’s getting richer.
    http://tinyurl.com/mmzs3a
  • Message from Ludwig von Mises that many Misesians at his eponymous institute need to learn:
    ”Without copyright protection, creators have to bear the costs of production while the benefits go to others.”
    http://tinyurl.com/lz5d4e
  • There's an American Beer Revolution going on! More on this later . . .
     http://bit.ly/75NuW
  • "The Ethics of the Financial Crisis" just posted at Stephen Hicks's site: http://www.stephenhicks.org
  • Justice demands killers serve out full sentences. To mention killers without first mentioning victims is an affront to the innocent.
    http://tinyurl.com/mtbd5n
  • Message to people whinging about banks’ profits:  If you don’t like banks making money, then don’t borrow any.
    http://www.sunlive.co.nz/83...
  • The headline says: 'Survey: few students understand basic finance.' Fact is, most journalists don't either. Or economists.
    http://tinyurl.com/mpubwf
  • The scientific mind, according to Aristotle:
    http://www.stephenhicks.org
  • Simon Jenkins: "The war on drugs is immoral idiocy. We need the courage of Argentina."
    http://tinyurl.com/nel3hd
  • Jon Voight: Don't let Obama fool you with his Alinsky methods. Get the book 'Rules for Radicals' by Saul Alinsky.
    http://tinyurl.com/ny2bv3
  • Obama is not Jimmy Carter, so don't you go thinking that a few bad poll ratings are going to bother him. He’s not looking at political suicide – he’s still got all that Stimulus money to bribe you with when he needs to.
     http://tinyurl.com/kuh4q6
  • Great Glenn Beck interview with former communist radical David Horowitz on today’s Obama-Saul Alinsky agenda.
    http://tinyurl.com/makgv4
  • Bookend that one with this revealing interview with former KGB Cold Warrior who admits that the KGB sent less on espionage and spying on the west than they did trying to undermine it culturally. The fruits of that programme are now all around us.  No wonder the Kremlin is still laughing.
    Watch Interview with Yuri Bezmenov.
  • Christianity is the basis of western civilisation?  Who the hell are you kidding!
    Read: A christian nation?.
  • Shopping Antics: Why One Wife Now Shops Alone.
    http://bit.ly/LaVFy
  • One more negative of antitrust policy is increased uncertainty & delay for market participants - Jeffrey Miron.
    http://tinyurl.com/mes33ll
  • Why Tax Cows? Methane emissions from livestock is not a big issue.
    http://bit.ly/1ZTAa
  • Bjorn Lomborg: "the least cost-effective way to deal with climate change is carbon taxes."
    http://tinyurl.com/l8j6gy
  • Climate Camp: Spend a week in a tent learning anticapitalism, and you too can help change the weather. Deluded Canutianism for impressionable youngsters.
    http://climatecamp.org.nz
  • US youth unemployment up 1.7% to 25.5% -- just after July's hike in the minimum wage!
    http://bit.ly/2ys4Ks
    http://bit.ly/2ys4Ks
  • Official US unemployment now 9.7%. Real US unemployment: now 16.8%!
    http://tinyurl.com/ma6kdk
  • The "Good" Unemployment News this week: US unemployment figures nearing Great Depression levels. http://bit.ly/3nXBHv
  • “Advocates of land-use controls hold a Utopian vision for which they rush to wield the coercive power of government.”  See, it’s not just me who says this.
    http://tinyurl.com/kvlsym
  • New book from historian John Lewis argues that aggressive military offenses win wars & lasting peace, & defensiveness leads to prolonged carnage. Order your copy today!http://tinyurl.com/nkopjc
And finally, here’s a cute wee joke I pinched off Gus Van Horn that’s been doing the rounds by email:
Subject: AMISH VIRUS

You have just received the Amish Virus. Since we do not have electricity nor computers, you are on the honor system. Please delete all of your files.
Thank thee.
Enjoy your weekend reading,
Peter Cresswell
PS: All those who know and love Annie Fox, you need to read her latest update.

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Architectural Mini-Tutorial: Breaking the box, part 1

Look at how all three methods described above are used in the two deceptively simple plans below to suggest larger space than there is, and to link the spaces within to the landscape outside (you should be able to click on them to enlarge them).

Wright-JacobsHouse  Hornby 2 Main Floor Plan

I hope this has helped you to see more clearly how architectural space is about more than just laying out wee boxes.  :-)

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

“Leave Us the Hell Alone!”

Do you like your day job?  I do.  My day job is designing people’s houses – or as I like to call it, building people’s dreams.  How could you not like that?

You know what I don’t like most about my job?  I don’t like all the nannying bastards who get the hell in the way of my clients’ dreams, and my working day.

Days spent trying to get a flower instead of a weed out of the system. Days wasted trawling through gobs of rules to produce truckloads of paperwork for bureaucrats who can’t understand it when they see it -- and when they do see it they decide that they’ve got their own rules anyway, so they want more.  Days spent arguing on the phone with delicious bastards absolutely disinterested in anything getting done, telling me yesterday’s paperwork is no good because the bastard has changed his mind about what’s required. (I have several broken phones as testament to how these conversations went.)

People often ask me why I spend so much time on blogging and on activism.  I’ll tell you why. It’s because this stuff gets so far up my nose that if I didn’t try to beat the bastards back somehow I’d go postal. Who the hell wouldn’t?

Do you ever feel like that?  Mad as hell and not going to take it any more?  Feel like yelling “Leave us the hell alone!” Then read this tremendous rant from someone who has.

You might call it A Day in the Life of a Subject:

    “This morning I woke up on my "don't remove the tag" mattress, walked through my building code compliant house, used the federally compliant toilet, dressed the kids and drove them to their "state certified" charter school where they'll eat a state approved lunch.
    “I got back in my state registered, emissions compliant, insured (by state requirement) car and drove the legal speed limit back to the house. I then walked through my Scottsdale code compliant yard (no weeds in our "desert" landscaping")into the house, drank pasteurized (USDA required) juice, and ate cereal processed in an inspected facility with milk from an USDA compliant dairy. I then took my FDA approved prescription pills (from a licensed pharmacy of course) and played with the state-licensed dogs. . .”

Read on here. [Hat tip Crusader Rabbit] It’s a rant for everyone who’s ever been pissed off by Nanny.

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Steven Joyce: Nanny [updated]

There are people who had high hopes for Steven Joyce when he entered government.  He’d been a successful entrepreneur, he’d grown his own radio network, people who knew him told me he’d said things that indicated he knew something about freedom.

But then he got into government and the power went to his head. He’s enjoying spending a billion or two of your money laying a cable being broadband czar.  He’s enjoying spending eight or nine billion of your money bowling homes and laying asphalt being the roads capo. And in his spare time, he’s quite enjoying being this government’s nanny.

He wants to stop you using your cellphone in your car.

He wants to stop you driving if you’re what he considers to be “too young.”

And now he wants to stop you driving even if you can hold your drink better than he can.

Steven Joyce can’t drink three-quarters of a bottle of wine in ninety minutes, and he doesn’t care if you can – over dinner last night he decided he wants to pass a law to ban you.

Frankly, I think he should have spent more time when he was at Massey at the Barbie-Grog.  It might have been better for his liver – and our freedom.

It’s time for zero tolerance for nannies.

UPDATE: David Farrar says, “I see this going the same way as the cellphone debate – a kneejerk reaction with little proof it will actually make a difference to crash statistics.”  He has figures.

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NOT PJ: Dear Taleban, Enjoy This [updated]

This week Bernard Darnton carries on up the Khyber.

_BernardDarnton In this week’s edition of Fusspot Watch: the Afghan election has been marred by soft drink advertising.

Three New Zealand soldiers (below) are in trouble after sending home photographs of themselves posing next to a 2,000 lb bomb emblazoned with a Demon Drink sticker and the message “Dear Taleban, enjoy this.” Dr Paul Buchanan, on-again-off-again political science lecturer at Auckland University, has claimed that this stunt was irresponsible because it “might lead to reprisals from Taleban fighters.” Because dropping a thousand kilograms of high explosives on someone’s head can annoy him but a snarky remark and a bumper sticker can really send him over the edge.

Were there academics wandering round during World War II warning people not to sing songs about the cardinality of Hitler’s testicles because the Nazis might turn aggressive?

What’s unfortunate about this incident is that it’s not just a bit of innocent fun; it’s some marketing bollocks for an energy drink. A few days ago there was a story about someone putting a traffic cone on top of the Sky Tower. Now, if that was something two pissed blokes had managed one Friday night I would be impressed. Some inauthentic marketing exercise for a product I can’t remember? I’ll need several cans of that over-caffeinated fizz just to stay awake.

Those most likely to be shocked or – worse – disappointed about all this are those who don’t think we should be in Afghanistan in the first place. The Keith Locke types, who would hand Afghanistan back to the Taleban in a breath. Keith Locke’s ideas on good governance shouldn’t be given much credence. He called the Khmer Rouge’s coming to power in Cambodia “a victory for humanity.” With humanity whittled down by two million souls under his erstwhile hero, he admitted his mistake. Backing murderous thugs once might be bad luck. Twice is starting to look like bad judgement.

There are others all too willing to criticise Western excursions in the middle east and central Asia, too. Robert Fisk, for example, isn’t nearly as bat-shit crazy as Keith Locke. He is an erudite and knowledgeable man who has seen all manner of atrocities and is rightly horrified by them. But he’s a pacifist and regards all war-makers as morally equivalent. The problem with pacifism is that it allows the first person who has an axe and wants to grind it to take over the world.

In many ways, America is its own worst enemy in Afghanistan. Because they haven’t decided whether they’d prefer to win the war on terror or the war on drugs, they’re burning the crops of Afghan opium farmers. “Hearts and minds” didn’t guarantee victory in South Vietnam but the Afghan locals will be tempted to continue their tradition of handing foreigners their arses on plates if those foreigners insist on destroying the country’s biggest export earner.

There probably won’t be a day when America and her allies can shoot the last Taleban soldier and declare victory. Stephen Franks recently suggested that allied troops are on a policing mission, that “the SAS are no more likely to ‘win’ [in Afghanistan] than our Police are to ‘win’ in Manukau,” but that it’s still an honourable and important task.

America’s (and New Zealand’s) job in Afghanistan isn’t to hold a ticker tape parade through Kandahar; it’s to make sure there is no repeat of 9/11. If, on the eighth anniversary of those attacks, all we’ve got to worry about is our soldiers’ larking about and sending rude notes to their enemies, then those soldiers are doing a pretty good job.

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

UPDATE: Paul Buchanan and the Greens’s Frog Blogger respond in the comments on behalf of himself and Keith Locke respectively.

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Organic Architecture, by SARNO ARCHITETTI

Turn down your sound (unless you like Gloria Estefan) but do check out 4 minutes 16 seconds of often beautiful organic architecture by Italian architects Carlo and Carmine Sarno, who run the international Archittetura Organica organisation. (Head here to see the video in better proportions.)

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Beatles for Sale

In honour of the digitally re-re-remastered Beatles back catalogue going on sale today (not the first time they’ve been remastered, but by all accounts the best of them), here’s my top few from the fab four:

  1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  2. And My Bird Can Sing
  3. Taxman
  4. I Am the Walrus
  5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  6. Across the Universe (the ‘Wildlife’ version)
  7. Strawberry Fields Forever
  8. I Wanna Be Your Man
  9. Norwegian Wood
  10. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
  11. I Should Have Known Better
  12. Let it Be (the one without Phil Spector’s strings and choirs)

Top albums:

  1. White Album
  2. Revolver
  3. Abbey Road
  4. Rubber Soul
  5. Past Masters

What’s yours?

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Gangs, gold and government immigration goons

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

Click here to read more ... >>

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No money for ammo . . . [update 2]

No money for police ammo and weapons training, but $50million for a cycle way.

No money for police ammo and weapons training, but $12.7million for a new climate 'super' computer to give wrong answers even faster than before.

Do you think this shows the correct priorities?

A government’s proper job is not to build cycle-ways or to forecast the weather – even if it could do either well. It’s to protect individual rights.  If it can’t do that then it should stand down.  If the top level of the police force can’t do that, they should announce that properly or stand down, instead of playing silly buggers with the government and with the public who pay their wages.

This is the same police force that insists that when confronted by an armed madman you should avoid “confrontation” and ring the police instead – and who, when people have rightly chosen to defend themselves instead of waiting for the Keystone cops to arrive, have pursued actions against them through the courts for the crime of taking their lives more seriously than the promises of a force more concerned with “protecting perimeters” than the people being shot at.

The same police force who last week were telling whoever wanted to listen that they’re going to have to sell police houses to meet their budgets.

So this latest “threat” by a cash strapped police force may simply be brinkmanship to attract more funding – just as last week’s threat was.  But it’s going to give cold comfort to people whose lives are on the line with a gun in their face, and who are told that they aren’t allowed to defend themselves because a trained policeman is on the way.

UPDATE 1: No money for ammo, but enough for a whole new bureaucracy.

No money for weapons training, but plenty for surveys like this.

No money to defend New Zealanders, but $300 million plus change to “keep them warm.”

UPDATE 2:  As Oswald says,

“Your average plod couldn't shoot his way out of a wet paper bag as it is. The last thing they need is reduced training”!

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Rubbish? Art? But I repeat myself! [update 2]

PoseurLooksAtCrap When I read that a pile of rubbish by “artist” Dane Mitchell was awarded Waikato’s biggest art prize, my mind went back several years ago when I was at architecture school (and I can tell you now that those weren’t the days).  The students were always gathered together on the first day back for the new year to receive news, advice and the usual karakia.  And they were warned: don’t leave your work out in the studio overnight unlabelled, because the cleaners will think it’s rubbish and throw it out.

So even back then in the mists of time, rubbish was being confused for art.

Fact is, it goes back to Marcel Duchamp, who around ninety years ago dragged a urinal out of a demolition yard and into a gallery and invited viewers to (metaphorically) piss on art.  Profound don’t you think? 

Duchamp’s pissoir (pictured right) certainly changed art permanently, but not for the good.

What Duchamp and the frauds who followed him had done was to leap into the intellectual vacuum of the age to redefine what their profession thought they were doing, and the intellectuals of the time and since have been too vacuous to properly challenge them.

The definition of art used by the nihilists (a nihilism about which Duchamp and his colleagues were explicit) was that “art” is simply whatever an artist elects to call “art.”  And if you ask what makes an artist then, you’ll find that you’ve already started playing the artist’s game – because at the moment Duchamp installed his pissoir, the purpose of art had changed from producing something of beauty or a depiction of the world as the artist saw it, but to challenging the viewer. Épater le bourgeoisie!

So you see, the minute you react, they’ve got you (you disgusting bourgeois!).  And you have reacted, which is what they were after (quel success!).  So while Mr Mitchell will be pissing himself at how he’s put one over on everyone, Ms Huddleston and her fellow judges will be made up by the astonished reaction around the country to an art prize being given to a pile of rubbish.

But, I still hear you asking, how the hell can an artist get away with declaring his pile of rubbish to be “Art.”  Enter here the manifesto.  As Tom Wolfe pointed out in The Painted Word, the reality of “modern” and “post-modern” art is not in the actual object or work itself: it’s in the manifesto and in the reaction to it.  Let me say that again: the art is not the junk on the ground; it’s in the “theorising” that accompanies it, without which the pile of junk would be just that.

In recent years prize-winning local and international art works have included semen-stained blankets, an empty room with a  light bulb and a switch, piles of bricks, a toilet that brays like a donkey, and a man with hot dogs up his arse.  All of these have won prizes and accolades (the stained blankets were, I kid you not, described by NBR’s art editor John Daly-Peoples as “haunting, powerful and provocative.” And the man with hot dogs in his rectum, viewers were told, “tapped into both public metaphors and personal history.” True stories.)  But the real art, as Tom Wolfe’s point makes plain, was not in the bricks or the and the artistic experience for the viewer was not in their contemplation:  It consisted of the bullshit used by the artist to con the gallery into installing it, the manifesto, and your reaction to the bullshit when you stumbled across it.

But this really is just rubbish, isn’t it. Art isn’t just “what an artist does” – and it’s certainly not what any old bullshit artist defines it to be.  Art, real art,  is the technology of the soul – it’s a shortcut to our deepest values.  We respond to it because is resonates with (or betrays) our own emotional assessment of the world. By that standard then, our values -- and those of real artists -- are being desperately betrayed every day in every public gallery in the country. 

And so are the sponsors, ratepayers and taxpayers who pay for it all.

UPDATE 1:  Sayeth the competition organisers:

"There will always be people who love things and those who hate them. The bottom line is we always insure [sic] the judge we select has an excellent reputation."

Respondeth in a nutshell Jeff Perren:

“That says it all. Subjectivism, moral relativism, backed by an argument from authority.”

UPDATE 2The Opinionated Mummy has a new fairy tale you need to read, based on a true story:  The Emperor’s Artist’s New Rubbish.

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Quote of the Day: On “rightists”

Since, today, there are no clear definitions of political terms, I use the word “rightist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of individual freedom and capitalism—and the word “leftist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of government controls and socialism.
As to the middle or ‘center,’ I take it to mean ‘zero,’ i.e., no dominant position, i.e., a pendulum swinging from side to side, moment by moment.”

……………………………………………………………..- Ayn Rand

It describes the centrists in the government to a ‘t,’ don’t you think?

And if you go by the standard she uses, there very very few “rightists” around – as the so-called “rightists” who inhabit the Kiwiblog comments thickets might demonstrate—a result that Rand (who wrote the above in 1971) predicted, saying in the paragraph that followed,

    “For about half a century [and remember that this process accelerated after 1971], the intellectuals, most of whom are leftist, have been struggling to achieve a spatial situation which is geometrically impossible: a political field consisting of a middle and a left-of-middle, with no right-of-middle. They came close to succeeding. Their success was made possible by the non-philosophical attitude of most rightists, who surrendered the intellect to the leftists, accepted their basic premises, and mouthed empty slogans in answer to deadly political principles—or: who accepted a wholesaler's warehouse of tainted meat, then haggled over the price and cut of the chops at the corner grocery store.
    “This permitted the intellectuals to play the game of ‘window dressing,’ i.e., to preach political tolerance or impartiality and to practice it, on suitable occasions, by featuring the weakest, most befuddled champion of capitalism as a representative of the right. (Which led people to the conclusion: ‘If this is the best that can be said for the right, then the leftist position must be true.’)

Still going on, isn’t it.

PS: For the record, I still describe myself as neither right nor left, whatever label Tim Selwyn gives me.  And that’s partly because of the very intellectual bankruptcy of the right that Rand describes so well.

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Auckland Art Gallery Extension

AucklandArtGallery001

I’m not sure the old ‘modern’ wing of the Auckland Art Gallery had to go – I’ve enjoyed visiting it since I was a kid – as Tony Watkins says it was “without doubt the best architecture ever designed by the Auckland City Council” – and I’m not really sure that ratepayers really need to be hit with a bill for $90 million (plus cock-ups) for its replacement, but Sydney-based FJMT Architects and Auckland-based Archimedia have come up with a pretty good replacement. (Although it’s a bit short of quality images to show you.)

I’ve always thought that a new gallery on that site would pretty much design itself – opening up the street and the gallery to the park above, and this pretty much does that.  Pretty much. I like the idea of the “tree forms”  opening up the look and bringing light and park down to the street and into the gallery, but unfortunately they’ve been considerably “toned down” since the original design. So it’s less striking than it should be, and there’s little relationship to the remaining gallery building, but at least there’s none of the masturbation usually associated with new galleries.

Check out the video tour of Auckland’s coming new art space.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cool machine of the day: Archimedes’ Screw [updated]

Water doesn’t flow uphill, you say?  It does with the Archimedes’ Screw – invented by Archimedes well over 2000 years ago, and still in wide use today all over the developed and the developing world for everything from irrigating fields to gathering crops to draining Dutch dykes (insert obvious jokes here).  So simple yet so ingenious – and so helpful.

 

One of the first examplea of man’s mind applied to production making the world a better place.  Where the animal adapts himself to nature, man adapts nature to himself – making water run uphill was one of the first and most deceptively simple moves down that road.

NB: More on Archimedes’ Screw here at Wikipedia.

UPDATE: The Ancient Greeks were “the inventors of the modern world” in more ways than just culture, philosophy and art.  In science and technology too they were remarkably advanced – a natural consequence of the Pagan Greek’s “this-world” focus.

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The science is not settled

Politicians relying on scientists’ climate models to back up their warnings about what “will” happen if “we” don’t act should be aware of a sentence buried on page 805 of the IPCC’s last, 2007,  wad of documents on global warming -- a proviso about the efficacy of the climate models on which the politicians are relying. Says the IPCC:

“The set of available models may share fundamental inadequacies, the effects of which cannot be quantified.”
- IPCC, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 805

Naturally, that sentence never made the executive summary of the last report. So naturally, the politicians never read it.  Nevertheless, as more and more scientists and science writers see a whole decade of temperatures refusing to rise in accord with the models’ predictions, they are starting to wonder just how fundamental these inadequacies are. Houston Chronicle science writer and former card-carrying warmist Eric Berger is one:

    “It seems pretty clear that the models forecast a steady upward trend in global temperatures as long as carbon dioxide levels rise. (Which they have). Yet according to satellite and surface temperature measurements the global average temperature has essentially remained flat for the last 12 years. This strikes me as somewhat curious.”

Sure is. As Texas A&M professor of Atmospheric Sciences & Oceanography Gerald North points out, “There are pitifully few ways to test climate models.”  The only sure way of course is with reality – and on that test, as Berger summarises, they’ve failed:

    “But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the world: hurricane activity on the global scale is near historical lows. And the Earth seems to have, at least temporarily, stopped warming.
    “This, despite the fact that some of the country’s leading climate scientists say there is unequivocally a link between major hurricanes and climate change. And despite the fact that other leading climate scientists predicted 2009 or 2010 will go down as the warmest year in recorded history. Either prediction, if true, would be alarming.
    “Yet both of these predictions seem, at the present moment, to be off.”

Off?  Well off.  German climate scientists are now saying we could be about to enter “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”  And their colleagues are saying it might take “more time, maybe a decade” before they know why.

“For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled,” points out Berger.  Time for the science reporters to point out that it’s not – and for the politicians who read them to listen.

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The problems with the Mises Institute

Let me take a moment to give you a brief public notice.  Since I regularly recommend that readers head to the Mises Institute for rational writing in economics, I need to also let you know that I have serious reservations about their non-economic writing.

That is to say that when the economists of the Mises Institute write about economics, using the insights of the Austrian tradition of economics, there are few better – as last year’s much-needed Bailout Reader should demonstrate. When the Institute’s economists write outside their field however, they are universally awful. Specifically, they are awful on intellectual property, on foreign policy, on religion, on anarchy, and on how the South will rise again.  (On morning drinking, of course, they’re fundamentally sound.)

And they’re not just awful: their writings on these subjects are in opposition to Ludwig von Mises’s own writings on these subjects – or the first four subjects, anyway.  So as a “Mises Institute” it’s only on economics (and morning drinking) they can be taken seriously on “what Mises would have said.”

Just thought you should know. In my view, for all their heroic work in resuscitating the economic thoughts and writing of Ludwig von Mises and his colleagues in the Austrian tradition, the Mises Institute should more accurately be re-named the Rothbard Institute, with all that implies.

And for those still confused about Mises’s own views on intellectual property (which includes his followers at the Mises Institute), Mises’s translator, editor, and bibliographer Bettina Bien Greaves summarises here. Short story: “Without copyright protection, musicians, authors, and composers are in the position of having to bear all the costs of production while the benefits go to others.”

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LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Hello Nanny. Got a light?

"Not the Nanny State Government.” Really? asks Susan Ryder.

susanryder I have many indulgences. Some are more expensive than others and some will never be discussed in this column. However some don’t cost much at all, which means I get to enjoy those ones a lot.

Spring has arrived bang on time in my part of the world with stunningly gorgeous weather; the sort of weather that makes you glad that you’re alive and kicking. Last weekend was just perfect so I spent much of it out and about, which is how I came to be at one of my favourite cafés last Sunday morning where our story opens.

One of life’s simplest pleasures is enjoying a leisurely drink in the sun while reading in a pleasant spot. I seldom buy newspapers or magazines; I’ve always preferred books. But I reserve the right to browse through New Zealand Home & Garden over coffee at the hairdresser’s. And when alone in a café I’ll often pick up the paper and have a look, if only to ruefully be reminded as to the pink hue of most journalists. But every so often there is something worth reading and being Fathers’ Day, I thought there might be one or two good stories related to that.

Wrong. Instead, I copped a finger-wagging from the Accident Compensation Corporation on behalf of all the DIY-Dads who’ve suffered accidental injuries over the past year. “These handymen are costing hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills by putting up wobbly scaffolds, touching live wires and shooting themselves in the hands and feet with nail guns”, said ACC injury prevention team leader Ceri Davies. “If you are going to paint the house, make sure you have the equipment. You don't have to fall very far to have a life-changing accident." I can see why Mr Davies works for the government. He’s a bloody genius.

Numbers were spat out that were “higher than the road toll.” I held my breath and read on expecting the worst. I wasn’t disappointed. Evidently, the Bruces and Trevs are all set to be “targeted during safety week” in a campaign that started yesterday. It would seem that this Nanny State government has again forgotten that it’s not supposed to be a Nanny State government. I know that’s true because they told me they wouldn’t be back at the last election.

So I spurned the rest of the paper and tootled off.

Back in the car I struck the radio news bulletin and the first story was a suggestion for “the best Fathers’ Day present of them all”: a PSA check for prostate cancer. “Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad! We were all set to shout you a chainsaw, but the ACC said that you might hurt yourself, so have we got a surprise for you!!”

It will come as no surprise that the news report emanated from a press release from a medical organisation. So don’t be surprised to find them lobbying government next a la the subsidised insulation rort that is currently providing a windfall for that industry. There are few as smugly self-important as the corporate-welfare crusaders.

Which neatly brings me to the next part of this tale, (albeit somewhat Tarantinoesque in nature, hopping back to Friday night now, as we are). Hang in there; there is a point and I’m getting to it.

For many years I have not worked on Fridays; as such, it’s my favourite day to go the movies, which is right up there in my “Top Five” things to do on any given day. As noted once before in some long-forgotten rant, I go during the day when there is hardly anyone there. I sit right up the front in the middle so that I’m nearly in the film. (On four occasions I have been the only patron which is a near-perfect experience, but I digress).

After the film – (The Young Victoria: highly recommended, even from this non-monarchist, with the talented Emily Blunt and a wonderful supporting cast; gorgeously romantic and worth seeing for the costumes, let alone the political intrigue of the age) – I caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages, that evolved into my staying to dinner.

Knowing that they voted National last year in order to oust the despised Clark government, I asked their current opinion of Guy Smiley. “Okay”, said Dan (not his real name).

“What’s alright about it?” I asked. “There’s no real difference; fewer lesbians, I suppose, but that’s about it. The size of government has barely changed.”

“Pragmatically, I think it’s smart that he hasn’t made any radical changes to date”, said Dan.

“But that doesn’t make sense”, I said. “Private sector jobs are disappearing every day. Who’s supposed to pay for it all?”

It’ll take too long to relay the conversation verbatim, but essentially Dan – in the private sector himself – thought that cutting government hard would result in massive numbers joining the dole queues; that he’d rather things chugged along largely unchanged whilst the economy was in the doldrums. He also thought it was sensible to guarantee banking investments right now, too, so that people didn’t have to worry about losing their savings on top of everything else. The “creation” of business as in the home insulation subsidisation was a short-term programme that would last a year or two and disappear, he admitted, but would at least provide some business in the interim.

I stared at him in disbelief, knowing him to be a general supporter of the free market and someone who recognises that true economic growth evolves from increased investment and productivity, as opposed to increased consumption.

I struggled with myself for a second before abandoning all pretence of rising above it. I pointed out the insanity of market interference and the Law of Unintended Consequences; that the investment game includes risk that sometimes doesn’t pay off; that subsidisation was a form of market distortion that results in producing more of what’s not wanted as per the US auto industry; that corporate welfare was just as immoral as social welfare and that Margaret Thatcher was correct when she said that the problem with socialism was that you eventually run out of other people’s money. “Well, you’re right about that” he said.

We had a great evening and I love Dan and Rachel (not her real name either) to bits. Like many, they work hard and are naturally concerned about their family’s future. But when will the penny drop that there is a connection between lobbying corporates and the latest ACC ad campaign? That socialism – of any stripe – doesn’t right wrongs and that it’s worth remembering just what it is that paves the road to hell.

In short, that the Nanny State doesn’t start with shower pressure and end with light bulbs.

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column here at NOT PC every Tuesday * *

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Russia Tower – Foster + Partners

russia_tower_fosters_oct07_3 
Look what Norman Foster and Associates has designed for the skies over Moscow -- a building that at 610m with 118 floors is intended to be Europe’s tallest. 

And this, below, is its peak.  Isn’t it amazing what you can do with concrete and steel and double-glazing?

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Machine of the day: Boulton & Watt steam engine

It might not look like much, but this is the invention and the machine that that powered the Industrial Revolution and made the modern world. 

James Watt didn’t invent the steam engine – even the Ancient Greeks had a primitive steam engine – but he and his entrepreneurial partner Matthew Boulton did invent what was necessary for it to power industry, including radically increased fuel efficiency and power, and producing the output by rotation rather than by reciprocating motion. 

The oldest surviving rotative engine was built by Boulton and Watt in 1785 for the London Brewery of Samuel Whitbread to drive the malt crushing mill.  It’s now preserved in Sydney in the Power House Museum.

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To MMP or not to? [updated]

John Boy has launched a counter-strike to assuage resentment at his refusing to listen to last month’s referendum on smacking by announcing a binding referendum on MMP.

Some years overdue and not an election promise [oops, yes it was], but a welcome promise nonetheless. MMP has delivered Winston Peters, the Greens and Alamein Kopu, and along with them the abandonment of principle, the rise of propagrandstanding, and (since they always slither back in on the list) the inability to vote any particular bastard out.

Not a lot to cheer about there then – although MMP did slow some of the bastards down for some of the time.  And, mind you, what we had before did deliver Muldoon: so don’t  go thinking a change in the voting system is a panacea for the few checks and balances NZ’s politicians have as a restraint.

So as someone once said, or should have, “The idea that a change in the system by which your dictators are elected will change you from slave to subject is like hoping that a change in your swimwear will alter the tides.”

What’s more important than changing the voting system would be putting our most fundamental rights and freedoms beyond the vote altogether.  That would be something to really get excited about.

UPDATE: By the way, if you’d like to understand the vehement knee-jerk opposition to electoral change of the more collectivist political commentators around the traps, then you need to understand why they were so vehemently in support of MMP in the first place – and why Rod Donald was the prime mover in its introduction. Simply put, it’s because the left has a history of using the ‘leverage of democracy’ to make the tail wag a dog who doesn’t realise what’s going on.

Observe for instance how (with the help of compulsory student unionism) a small group of vocal collectivists on a student body can so easily take over the wallets of a larger group, and then claim to speak on their behalf?

Observe for another instance how a small group of militant Liverpudlians who called themselves the Militant Tendency began the take-over by vote-packing of local Labour Party electoral committees and then the Labour Party in Liverpool – and eventually, in 1983, with the Militant tail of each committee wagging the dog’s bodies to which they were delegates, The Tendency under Derek Hatton took over the the city and led it down a hole blacker and deeper than Arthur Scargill’s members’ mines.  (It was to expel the Militant Tendency and their allies from UK Labour that Tony Blair courageously took on the Clause 4 battle – and it’s for this principled stand more than even his alliance with George W. that he’s still reviled by the Trotsky lovers.)

That same process – of leveraging the votes of a few into becoming the voice of many – was used as well by Sue Bradford and her Maoist and Marxist colleagues to effect a reverse take-over of the Green Party after it left the Alliance, long before the genuine sandal-wearers even realised what was going on. (And you thought it was just coincidence there were so many former NLP, SWL and Socialist Action types in positions of power in the Green Party, and wondered why so few of their MPs have a genuine environmental background.  Head over and read Phil U.’s account here at Update 3 of Bradford and Catherine Delahunty, fresh from McCarten’s NLP, rejoining the Greens and declaring “the party is ripe for taking over.”)

And having achieved that, when Rod Donald et al kicked off the campaign for MMP in New Zealand, the collectivists were ready, willing and hoping for precisely the same effect on New Zealand’s body politic as they’re just had on the Greens and Derek Hatton had on Liverpool – for a small group of politically committed collectivists to use the leverage of MMP to wag the whole body politic.

Didn’t they do well.

Now do you understand their vehement opposition to any attempt to overthrow that system now?

Now do you see why they’re playing the “elected dictatorship” and “we’re-going-to-be-ruled-by-old-white-men” cards?

Do you think John Key is ready for a battle on a scale that Tony Blair faced when he faced down Militant Tendency and their allies to overturn Clause 4?  Are you?  Because that’s what you’re going to get.

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No Maori seats for Auckland

It was good to see from last week’s announcement that even in the process of setting up a decidedly un-super local government for Auckland  last last week, there were at least no racist seats on the menu.

Thank goodness for small blessings.  Seats based on skin colour would enshrine separatism, tribalism and race-based favouritism and would be, as David Round points out, a precursor to the inevitable Balkanisation of New Zealand.

You can still hear the bleating of the Apartheid Party and their more unthinking supporters however, who are still bleating that to fail to provide racist seats is itself racist.  Irony itself is too ironic for these people. 

The Apartheid Party makes three points in its rearguard protest in favour of racial favouritism:

  1. Race-based seats were “a specific recommendation of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.”
  2. Race-based seats would be “consistent with current provisions in the Local Government Act 2002.”
  3. Race-based seats would “uphold the partnership relationship established between Maori and the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi, including the partnership established with the mana whenua of the Auckland region.”

As Muriel Newman points out, none of the three points lasts a minute under scrutiny. First, The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was set up by Labour, long-time friends of race-based law,  to effect the Auckland super state along with the race-based seats it so favoured.  Just because Rodney Hide and John Key are delivering the amalgamated uber-council that Labour wanted, that places no onus on them to make that uber-council a racist one.

Second, if race-based seats would indeed be “consistent with current provisions in [Sandra Lee’s] Local Government Act 2002,” then this just gives one more reason why Sandra Lee’s law should be struck down. Sandra Lee gave councils the “power of general competence” – a power they’ve used to dabble in things they can’t do, and their ratepayers can’t afford. A power Auckland’s new council megalith will wield.  If she also gave the power to deliver race-based seats, then this only makes the repeal of her Local Government Act more urgent, and more necessary.

And third, where exactly is this “partnership” established in the Treaty of Waitangi – except in the imaginations of those who support it?  As Michael Basset says,

“Constant repetition of assertions that Maori have a Treaty of Waitangi right to dedicated seats on the new Auckland Council doesn’t make them correct. It is clear that neither Tuku Morgan nor Len Brown, nor most of the other advocates of separate representation, has read the Treaty.”

Neither the word nor the concept appears in the Treaty’s three spare clauses -- under Article One, the chiefs of New Zealand ceded their sovereignty to Queen Victoria; Article Two created private property rights; and Article Three conferred on Maori the rights and privileges of British subjects, making all New Zealanders equal under the law.  There was nothing in there about “partnership” between state and tribes, and as Muriel Newman notes,

If such a special relationship just applied to Maori, then the Courts would have been responsible for elevating Maori to the status of a ruling class superior to all other citizens. By definition, all other non-Maori New Zealanders would therefore have been relegated to an inferior status as second class citizens. Since that is clearly not the case, any talk of Maori having special partnership status with the Crown is just wishful thinking by Maori separatists.

I have to agree.  Talk about the difficulties of Maori councillors being elected onto council is both irrelevant and (according to historian Michael Bassett) questionable.  I hesitate to use the word “merit” about the sort of self-serving scum who usually end up sitting on council and kicking us around, but if you can’t persuade a truckload of people to vote for you based on your character rather than just the colour of your skin, then I’d suggest it’s not a megaphone you should be using when you call others racist, but a mirror.

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100% success!

GoTheCats I’m feeling pretty chuffed after the first weekend of AFL finals, and not just because my team came home in a close game: I managed to pick all four winners in a weekend of thrilling football.

Adelaide Crows thrashed Essendon, Cats beat Dogs in a close one, Brisbane Lions (the Brians) knocked off Carlton in a thriller, and St Kilda spat out Eddie McGuire’s ’Pies – all as I predicted.

Shame I didn’t share my thoughts with the TAB. 

No mind, here are my predictions for this coming weekend, so you can. Here’s my picks for week two of the finals: Crows to knock out the ’Pies, Dogs to knock out the Lions . . . and Eddie McGuire & Kevin Rudd to console each other over a stiff fruit juice.

Which sets up two cracking preliminary finals for week three.  Keep up with it all here at Real Footy.

AFL-Finals

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Friends working hard

I love seeing what creative friends have been up to.

  • Playwright Vanessa Rhodes has a new play that opened last night at Wellington’s Circa Theatre, ‘Where Are You My Only One,’ billed as “a bittersweet comedy for anyone with a romantic streak: -- an unconventional love story between a secretary from the heart of Moscow with a mother who would try the patience of a saint, and a lonely Waikato farmer whose wife has left him for another bloke.  It looks like a lot of fun:

    • Painter friend Mark Wooller’s been working hard, and it was fun hearing about his new work when he call in on Friday.  Unfortunately, you can’t see any of it at either his blog or his website.  Yet.
    • And Whangarei clay artist Helen Hughes has been busy too, working on a new series of her wonderfully small exuberant dancing figures.  I was lucky to be presented with this one.  (I fear my quick photos don’t do her justice.)

    Hughes-ToDance001

    Hughes-ToDance003

    Hughes-ToDance004 

    I love seeing what creative friends have been up to.

    Oh, and I’ve been working on a couple of things myself – here’s one, for a site in Mt Eden:

    Charlton-DrivewaySketch001

    Charlton-Section - Copy

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