Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Objectivism for fun & non-profit – Wikipedia founder explains

A while back I posted a presentation by BB&T banker John Allison in which he explained how his bank uses Objectivist values to make enormous profits.  (Watch here if you haven’t seen it before, or watch it again, but with a pen and paper this time to take notes. :-)  )

Anyway, by way of “contrast,” here’s a snippet of an interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales – with whom I used to engage on the old Atlantis email list back in the early days of email – addressing how Objectivist philosophy guides his non-profit work.

If you think those two views represent a contradiction, then you really haven’t understood much about Objectivism.  Watch and see why.

"Have you no shame? Have you no decency?"

For two weeks we've heard and seen all sorts of fatuous bullshit emanating from the United Nations Building in New York, yet if the bullshit itself wasn't enough to turn your stomach -- much of it emanating from dictators and thugs for whom enslaving their own people is the normal order of their day -- overnight we've seen why the whole United Nations project is a threat to peace and a threat to the whole western world: because the United Nations talks peace but rewards violence, just as any body replete with the world’s biggest thugs would have to do.

It talks peace but rewards violence -- and as any parent can tell you, it doesn't matter what you say to a bully, what matters is what you do. Bullies don’t care about fine words, what they understand is fighting back.

So what happened overnight? I'll answer that in a moment, but first let's go back a couple of days - and I do that because the story I’m going to help recount shows the whole failure of the UN in microcosm.

A couple of days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stared the gathered UN delegates in the face, and asked them a challenging question: "Have you no shame? Have you no decency?" (I posted a link to that speech, a great speech, in my Monday morning ramble. And I’ll post it here again just because it’s so damn good.)

"Have you no shame? Have you no decency?" He asked that question, he had to ask that question, because at that same podium just the day before the UN played host to a dictator who’d just stolen an election and killed his own people who protested at the theft, a man who used the lion’s share of his own time at the podium to deny the murder of six million human beings at the hands of the Nazis -- and with a few noble exceptions who walked out (which I’m happy to say included NZ’s delegation), the delegates sat there in that hall and lapped up all the hatred. 

The man was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he’s now working on a nuclear programme.

A nuclear programme Mahmoud himself has indicated could be used to wipe out many of the surviving descendants of those the Nazis murdered – to wipe them off the map.

A nuclear programme initiated by a regime that that jails bloggers for "insulting" the regime and leaves them to die in prison; stones homosexuals to death; that supports, trains and supplies terrorist organisations in Lebanon and Iraq and beyond.

A nuclear programme that the west has treated with denial (what nuclear programme?)and hand-wringing (something should be done! but peacefully!) and now, according to the latest reports, with “sanctions” -- which Team Obama says will dissuade Tehran from getting a nuke, an announcement that follows hard on the heels of announcing his nuclear-free fantasy world.

Sanctions, you say! Because “sanctions” worked so well to bring down Castro. And Saddam. And to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme. Thugs and dictators who the UN didn’t just do nothing to disarm, but instead gave them a podium from which to preach and resolutions with which to protect them.

"Have you no shame? Have you no decency?"

Netanyahu challenged the delegates to see the Iranian leadership for what it is. He challenged them too over Gaza.

For years, Arab and Middle-Eastern countries have berated Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, but refused entry for Palestinian refugees to their own countries. They prefer to hate Israel rather than help their neighbours – hatred which the UN has supported. And for years, the United Nations has stood by in silence while aggressor after aggressor has attacked Israel, and stood up in condemnation only when Israel has fought back to defend its very life.

The United Nations stood by with its eyes closed while Iran armed Hezbollah guerrillas with rockets, which they poured into Israel from the North over the heads of mute UN observers.

It stood in silence for years as Palestinians smuggled Iranian-supplied rockets into Gaza, and said nothing as Palestinian guerrillas (backed by their government) fired the rockets into Israel from bases located in schools, in hospitals, in mosques, and from the middle of densely packed housing.

And what happened overnight?

Here’s what happened. The United Nations issued a report declaring that in defending itself against these cowardly attacks from Gaza, Israel "committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity."

"Have they no shame? Have they no decency?" Have they learned nothing?

The United Nations talks peace but it rewards violence; it talks peace, but plays host to murderous thugs; it talks peace but it rewards aggressors, and condemns those who act in self-defence.

No wonder the world is drowning in a sea of blood. Moral equivalence, the ethic on which the UN is based, rewards force used in aggression and condemns force used in self-defence.

Moral equivalence is immoral disarmament.

No wonder the aggressors are smiling.

Queens wharf stage one winners: it’s not the public [updated]

The five first stage winners of the two-week Queen’s Wharf design competition are announced this morning – my own entry wasn’t amongst them, and neither were any that I’d picked in my summary here a few weeks back – and nor were any that are likely to set the world alight. If there’s a winner here, it’s not going be the public.

Just to remind you, the competition was intended to select a design for a new cruise terminal and a “Party Central” for the Rugby World Cup an beyond.

The designs selected to go forward to Stage 2 of the competition are as follows (click on the links to view a PDF):
Design number 024 - Andrius Gedgaudas, Architect, Shanghai China.
Design number 046 - Den Aitken, Pete Griffins and Hamish Foote, Field Landscape Architecture, Auckland.
Design number 170 - David Gibbs and Aaron Sills, Construkt / SVB, Auckland.
Design number 195 - John Coop, Tasman Studio, Auckland.
Design number 216 - Simon Williams, Williams Architects Ltd, Auckland.

(These five designs were selected by, wait for it, Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee, ARC Chairman Mike Lee and Auckland City Mayor John Banks, “assisted by” the chief executives of the Ministry of Economic Development, Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council, and – as professional advisers – Prof. John Hunt, Ian Athfield, Rebecca Skidmore, Jillian de Beer and Graeme McIndoe.)

In total they represent a collection of sheds and seats and shipping containers – in a prime spot at one of the world’s best harbours – that (with the exception of #216 which at least has an overbridge to get them there) are somehow supposed to attract pedestrians from Queen St through a bus plaza, across two busy streets and out to their barren windswept plazas. Sheesh.

Which all rather reminds me of a quote I stumbled across today that you can consider as you view these schemes:

“A bold architectural statement turns a public building into a landmark, but it is in the details where the architect becomes the real storyteller.”
- Curtis W. Fentress

Have any of these here got either of those qualities right?






UPDATE: More blather on this here at the Herald, who repeat the claims of the council’s press release that

    “All five were chosen for their ability to strike the right balance between meeting the need for a great public space, act as a major celebration during the Cup and provide a world-class cruise ship terminal.
    “Other ideas include using the historic pattern of the wharf, major open space across the width of the northern end, a harbour pool within the perimeter of the wharf and simple sculptural forms for the cruise ship terminal.”

In answer to the trolls – and a lesson in courtesy

A troll wants to know what happened to the money donated to the Darnton v Clark court case that was left over after Helen changed the law to extricate herself from it.  To find out the answer to this burning question, (well, “burning” to the troll anyway) I didn’t spam the question every ten minutes on every active thread here at NOT PC (which is what our troll did, one of the reasons my comments here are still under moderation).  Instead I just emailed Bernard Darnton, something anyone with a computer and a connection could have done. And he replied:

“The leftovers from the DvC donations were donated to the Free Speech Coalition’s anti-EFA campaign.”

So there’s your answer. If you really wanted it, all you had to do was ask politely (remember politeness?)

And it’s a shame the Free Speech Coalition’s money’s been all used up, because it’s looking like we’re going to need to get active again against National’s EFA-Lite.

Must have, can have


If you’ve been meaning to buy books from the Mises Store, then now’s your chance.  In honour of the 128th birthday of Ludwig Von Mises, one of the twentieth-century’s most successful economists in terms of his explanatory power – explaining all the economic disasters of the last hundred years well before they happened* – the Mises Store is offering 15% off, for the next two days only.

So rattle your dags and improve your economic education. If you’re new to it all, then you’ll probably want to start with something off these two lists:

And if that’s all beyond your budget even at 15% off, then take advantage of the huge collection of free books on PDF, which includes pretty much every essential book in the canon of Austrian economics. Use the store (or my ‘recommended reading list’) as a guide, download them to your computer and you’ve got the makings of your own portable economics library!

*PS: If you want to test that claim, the books you need are Socialism, The Causes of the Economic Crisis, Planning for Freedom, The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle, and The Theory of Money & Credit, which between them (and in advance) explained the disaster of fiat money, the German hyperinflation, the economic crash of the thirties, the post-war bureaucratisation of the west, the stagflation of the seventies, the collapse of socialist Eastern Europe in the late eighties, and the results (which we’re all now ‘enjoying’) of Alan Greenspan putting rocket fuel into the US economy. Or read Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism to see where and when and why he said it all.

Fill your boots up!

‘Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train’ – Claude Monet


One of a whole series in and around the same Parisian railway station, in which he aimed to capture through the whole series of vignettes (rather than in one grand composition for which these might have served as a study) the vitality of these new “secular cathedrals” that then symbolised the modern world – a place where Monet could treat the smoke from the grimy locomotives, for example,  the same way a Constable of an earlier era might have treated a pastoral cloud formation.

But a Constable would never have cut off the legs of his foreground figures like that.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Susan Ryder wakes up to daylight saving.

susanryder You can always rely on a politician to both meddle and bugger things up. And United Future’s Peter Dunne fits that bill even more than most.

This is a whinge about daylight saving. Not daylight saving per se, I hasten to add, because I love the concept, but a whinge about the starting time. In a nutshell, it’s too early.

I can remember when daylight saving, as we know it, started. There was a trial period over the summer of 1974/5 when I was a marching girl … now there’s an image for you! Marching was a huge summer sport for girls, with competitions held every weekend in centres all around the country. It was loads of fun with the added bonus of visiting all the Wanganuis and Waipuks along the way. Try to contain yourselves, please.

There were three age-related grades: Midgets (under 13), Juniors (13-15) and Seniors (16+). We were still in the Midgets that summer, ie just kids. Lots of free time in between required routines meant keeping a close eye on watches. Whenever Wendy, a team member, was asked the time, she would always respond with “ten past two, daylight saving time which drove me nuts.

“It’s just ten past two!” I would reply tersely. “You don’t have to say ‘daylight saving time’ Wendy. It’s just the time!”

She would shrug it off and do it all again the next time she was asked. She never understood why it irritated me so – and I could never understand why she didn’t realise that the phrase was redundant. Poor old Wendy; stupidity drove me crazy even then.  :-)

change-clock-2-3am But daylight saving didn’t start in 1974. A quick check with the Department of Internal Affairs shows that the idea was first mooted in this country in 1895 and raised again in 1909; the second occasion by Sir Thomas Sidney MP, who was in favour of putting clocks forward by an hour during summer to extract the additional daylight. His Member’s Bill was unsuccessful but he was persistent, reintroducing it annually until it was finally passed into law via the Summer Time Act of 1927. Sidney’s assertion that “there will be a saving in the consumption of artificial light” was prophetic. Given the current climate, it’s a wonder he hasn’t been dubbed the Father of the Green movement or some such wetness … but I digress.

There was a year or two of fluffing around with dates, resulting in the extension of a half-hour period to make the New Zealand Summer Time officially 12 hours in advance of GMT. This seasonal adjustment occurred until 1941 when the Summer Time period was extended by emergency regulations to cover the whole year, the change being made permanent in 1946 by the Standard Time Act.

Fast-forward to 1974 when the fun began all over again. Sensibly, the start date was late October when the weather started to warm up and the days lengthen. Stupidly, the end date was early March when the weather was still warm and the days long.

The fluffing around with dates has continued unabated ever since. The nadir occurred a few years ago when daylight saving started so bloody early that parts of the country were still under frost. Even the spring lambs refused to make an appearance and stayed put. And in spite of the seasons having changed over the last decade or so with regard to starting and finishing later, the daylight saving period was still ending prematurely in mid-March.

Peter Dunne and the bureaucrats leapt into action and, who’d have thought it, got it wrong again. Two years ago the government announced that it had extended the daylight saving period from 24 to 27 weeks. In translation, it now means that it sensibly ends in early April, but – stupidly – still starts, too early, in September.

Look, here’s the thing. At this time of year the mornings have just started to lighten when we’re unnecessarily plunged back into darkness for another month; while it’s still too cool to really exploit the longer evenings.

Wouldn’t the logical course of action see Labour Weekend as the obvious start date?

  1. It occurs at the end of October when the mornings are naturally lighter and the evening temperatures are better akin to outdoor activities (than September).
  1. The long holiday weekend would give everybody the extra day to deal with the ‘jet lag’.
  1. Everybody would know from one year to the next when daylight saving was due to start.
  1. It would bring us into line – near enough, anyway – with the timing of the Australian states that employ it.

Or would that make too much sense?

Unfortunately, when it comes to Peter Dunne and the bureaucrats, I suspect the answer is yes.

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

‘Under the Birches’ – Theodore Rousseau, 1842


Part of the Barbizon school of French painters, and known as "le grand refusé" for the frequency with which his work was rejected by the fashionable salons of the day, Rousseau’s beguilingly simple realism captures the quotidian realities of life rather than its romantic extremities – but his treatment of light is quite superb, leading many these days to cite Rousseau (no relation to the other famous Rousseaus) as a precursor to the much later impressionists.

The National Gallery of Australia has a wee spiel on Rousseau and this work you might find entertaining.

Monday, 28 September 2009

National to reintroduce EFA-lite [updated]

Remember the protests over Labour’s Electoral Finance Act? Remember the wriggling by Greens and Labour supporters attempting to justify this outrageous assault on free speech? Remember the campaigns against it by the Free Speech Coalition and John Boscawen?  Remember all the heroes? Remember the subsequent abolition of the Act by National and the apology by Phil Goff – and the promise that National would eventually dream up something better with which to replace it?

Remember it well, because it was all for naught.  As Lindsay Perigo points out at SOLO, the National Socialists Sell Out Again!

The National-led Government's draft proposals for legislation to replace the vicious Electoral Finance Act make one wonder why National bothered keeping its much-vaunted promise to repeal that Act, since what is proposed by Justice Minister Simon Power is in many instances indistinguishable from what was, says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo.

For instance, on state funds for election broadcasting:

The Government is consulting on three options for reform of the broadcasting allocation as follows:

1. Status quo - retain the current broadcasting  allocation regime.
2. Moderate reform - allowing broadcasting funds to be spent in any media, and not just radio and television.
3. Significant reform - allowing broadcasting funds to be spent for any purpose, and not just election advertising.

On donations:

Retain the regime governing donations to constituency candidates and political parties that was developed as part of the Electoral Finance Act 2007, and now forms part of the Electoral Act 1993.

On campaign spending limits:

Increase expenditure limits for constituency candidates and political parties (last increased in 1995), and periodically adjust limits for inflation.

On political ads:

Require promoter’s name and full street address and suburb which is either a residential address, or is where the promoter can usually be contacted during the day (cannot be a PO Box).

On campaigning by third parties:

The Government is consulting on two options for regulation of parallel campaigners:
1.     Proportionate regulation  - this option will establish campaign expenditure limits and thresholds over which the parallel campaigner must register with the Electoral Commission - unlike the Electoral Finance Act 2007, however, the scheme is weighted in favour of freedom of expression, and is simple and easy to comply with.
        The Government is therefore requesting further submissions on how the scheme could uphold freedom of expression, be simple and easy to comply with.
2.     Status quo - this option could be subject to possible modification, such as restriction of parallel campaigning to New Zealand individuals and groups.

On radio and television advertising by third parties:

The Government is consulting on two options:
1. Allow parallel campaigners to advertise on radio and television, provided that they are subject to a system of proportionate regulation (the first option proposed for the overall regulation of parallel campaigners).
2. Retain the current prohibition.

On whether you'll be fined $100,000 for exercising your right to free speech:

The new stand-alone electoral agency will be tasked with publishing guidance on electoral finance rules and providing advisory opinions on whether publications amount to an election advertisement.

Penalties for electoral finance offences were increased significantly by the Electoral Finance Act 2007, as were the time limits for prosecution of serious electoral finance offences.
[The Government would] retain the offences and penalties regime and time limits that were developed as part of the Electoral Finance Act 2007 and now forms part of the Electoral Act 1993.

"This is all contemptible," says Perigo. "Sell-out Simon asks how the scheme could better uphold freedom of expression, be simple and easy to comply with. Well, here’s something simple, Simon. Just repair to Section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act, which upholds 'the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.'

"No restrictions on who may fund whom (publicly or privately), who may campaign for whom, who may advertise for whom and with whom—and no taxpayer money to anyone. That's freedom of expression, Simon, and it's darned simple and easy to comply with.

"For precisely that reason, one fears, the National Socialists will do the opposite and proceed with this reprehensible resuscitation of the very Act they so recently dumped. This would be sufficient reason to dump them," Perigo concludes.

Your democracy is still under attack, this time by the people who said they were going to protect it.  Which is the biggest betrayal, do you think?killthebill

UPDATE: By way of contrast, David Farrar – a chief promoter of the Kill the Bill campaign- says of Simon’s EFA-Lite, “Overall it is a good document. . . .”  Apparently it’s only bad when Labour promotes such things.

Meanwhile, Marty G. at The Standard is at least more principled.  He was for Labour’s assault on free speech, and he’s for this one as well. Says Mart “At first blush, Power appears to have done a reasonable job and he’s done it by largely keeping the EFA intact.”  Our evaluation of the latter is the same – it’s the former on which we disagree.

A Monday Morning Ramble: Welcome to a new week!

Been a busy weekend for Geelong supporters.  So busy I forgot to post your regular Friday Ramble on Friday – so here you go with Friday’s news on Monday – the news and sites I’ve liked over the last week.

  • Roman Polanski finally gets locked up -- 32 years after being found guilty. 
    Can’t say I’m too sympathetic myself.  He only admitted he was “wrong” three years ago.
    But if you’re at all inclined to be sympathetic to his “plight,” then read the reports and the March, 1977 Grand Jury Testimony of Polanski's victim.

  • What would a rational Objectivist society look like? 1-stop shopping for Principles Of A Free Society:  Add it to your bookmarks now.

  • PrinciplesOfAFreeSociety: What makes a society free? What does it mean for an individual to be free?
  • The only UN speech this week that was worth a damn? It was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling the gathered thugs, dictators and power-lusters how much Ahmadinejad is worth – and what a disgrace the UN is for hosting that species of vermin.  Watch hm on PJTV from 1:40.
    (And the full speech here: )

  • At the Explaining Postmodernism page, Chapter Five of my book is now available online. The chapter traces the evolution of socialism from classical Marxism in the mid-nineteenth century through the post-World War II crisis of socialism that helped set the stage for postmodernism.
    Chapter Five: The Crisis of Socialism [pdf]
  • "The Twentieth-Century Collapse of Reason": Chapter 3 of Stephen Hicks’s  Explaining Postmodernism is now online:
    ”This chapter covers Martin Heidegger’s integration of the two main lines of Continental philosophy, the origins and eventual collapse of Logical Positivism, and the resulting mid-20th-century epistemological void that enabled postmodernism.”
    Chapter Three: The Twentieth-Century Collapse of Reason [pdf]

  • The Cats get the cream. Just thought you’d like to know.  :-)
  • While I was otherwise engaged over the weekend, two blogs took exception at me banning the Rodbeater’s rantings from this one --- something they’ve only noticed months after the event. Adolf gets angry here lecturing me on “blog etiquette,” and again here .  Poor chap, you’d think there’d be more important things to do over the weekend?!  And the Rodbeater does his best to sound lucid here. Wonder how long that ruse will last . . .
  • CafeHayek: "Part of Keynes is compelling. What is not so compelling is the idea that consumption creates growth." There’s lots more error well summarised here.

  • Tom Woods' book 'Meltdown' is "the single best analysis of the current recession out there." Sure is, Every rational home deserves a copy.
  • The latest Objectivist Round Up is here! Don't miss it!

  • Bernanke is wrong again, says Peter Schiff ! The US economy is getting worse, not better ...

  • NoodleFood Link-O-Rama

  • "The Counter-Enlightenment Attack on Reason": Chapter Two of Stephen Hicks’s Explaining Postmodernism now online:
    “This chapter traces the decline of epistemology from Kant’s “Copernican Revolution” to the dominance of speculation and irrationalism in the nineteenth-century, setting the stage for the collapse of reason in the twentieth century, which is the subject of Chapter Three.”
    Chapter Two: The Counter-Enlightenment Attack on Reason [pdf]

  • "Glibertarian—a portmanteau of glib and libertarian, a person who affects libertarianism when it’s convenient." And who’s its prime exponent?

  • Very good piece here on VSM by Mr Farrar. Read it.
  • Why do some people find dating "traumatic?" Dustin Wax draws an entertaining analogy between dating and life.

  • Who needs zoning laws? Well, no-one -- apart from busybody planners justifying their jobs.
  • More ideas on making planners unemployed:
    How Zoning Rules Would Work in A Free Society.
  • A Dream House for the Masses?  We almost had such a thing once: and they’re still scattered all across NZ’s city fringes -- brought to you by Arts and Crafts out of capitalism.
    Read A Dream House for the Masses
  • Everyone now gets their news from Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert – and that might be all the world’s news they get.  Has the rise of political humour been altogether healthy?
    Read The Jay Leno Show and the rise of political humor

  • Tired of government bailing out banks? Get ready for this: officials may soon ask banks to bail out the government

  • Inflation os on the way back.Free market economists debate the prospects ...:

  • Zambesi founder says maybe the media ought to report on scientists with as much fervor as they do fashion.

  • Great quote: “I love doing it. Every building is like a person. Single and unrepeatable.”

  • "Seize the moment. Remember all those...on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."~ Erma Bombeck
  • Fascinating meditation on social media. Should the MySpace mess scare Twitter? [Fascinating!]
  • In Foreign Affairs Obama's now delivering "Change you can scarcely believe in"

  • Stephen Hicks interviews Tim Sandefur on political versus market entrepreneurs:
    Interview with Timothy Sandefur

  • Free Speech still under attack, says Yaron Brook.

  • Great quote from Craig Biddle: “Capitalism is the only social system that makes moral (ie self-interested) action legal.”

  • A new cry for a new century: No blood for carbon!
  • Read Australian PM Kevin Rudd's uncensored f***ing speech to Copenhagen -- a Joe Hidebrand exclusive.  (And read some of the po-faced comments!)

  • Peter Schiff: "What we've got now is not stimulus, but sedative."

  • US's real economic crisis is not in its past, but in its future, says Peter Schiff.

  • Awful and unintended consequences: sex offender registration legislation coupled with expansive definitions of 'sex offender' = disaster.

  • Full "Free to Choose" Milton Friedman series now online – set your bookmarks and settle down to watch the TV series that inspired a generation of capitalists.

  • "Kiwi house prices now only 1.4% below their peak of November 2007." And people are saying that like it’s a good thing!  Yes, we really have learned nothing.

  • Jim Treacher does the long overdue rewrite the sad sack Midnight Oil song:
    "The time has come
    To say dumb's dumb
    To stop this crap
    Our ears are numb
    The time has come
    A joke's a joke
    Now we're onto you
    So shut it, bloke
  • How can we put up with warmist dreaming?
    How can we see when his skull's so gleaming . . .

  • Fascism in America, Part XXXVIII: "Fed plans to approve banking salaries"

  • On the 40th anniversary of the Internet, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC tells the story of the effect it is having on our society as seen through the eyes of the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.
    Watch: We Live In Public – Trailer
  • Stephen Hicks wonders whether The Fountainhead's Gordon Prescott Heidegger's disciple? Just posted at my site:
    The Fountainhead’s Gordon Prescott—Heidegger’s disciple?

  • Re-reading David McGregor’s "In Gold We Trust" report reminds me how volatile the current economic situation is:
  • This isn’t an economic crisis; it’s not a financial crisis – this we’re living through now is a monetary crisis. Tom Woods links to four different solutions to how to return the worlds economies to gold.
    How to Return to Gold

  • Pondering Objectivist successes & plans to literally change the world, it dawns on TheRationalCapitalist that we could win this thing . . .
    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Socialism
  • And finally, two songs I can’t get out my head.  Listen from 4:19 when it comes alive, and you’ll be bitten too . . .
  • And speaking about being bitten (with apologies to Georges Bizet)


    PS: Can’t resist posting this – the lat five minutes of the Grand Final, from when scores were tied at 67-67 (just skip past the ads at 1:17):

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    Saturday, 26 September 2009

    AFL Grand Final Week Countdown. It’s Finals Day!

    0,5001,6976421,00 It’s Finals Day in the AFL ‘Nuff said.  Eight hours from now Geelong and St Kilda square off in what’s going to be a cracker of a contest between two teams running hotter than any two teams have run before. There’s not much more to be said --- but still plenty of places to go for all that last-minute analysis if you want more.

    And wherever you are in the world, you’ve got no excuse for not tuning in to watch the most anticipated Grand Final in years. To find out when and where it’s on at your place, head to the official AFL website and hit the “TV & RADIO” link (yeah, it’s a  bit hard to locate but do persevere), and then the “International Viewing Guide” button.  And just to make it easy for you (with “Week 4” meaning Week 4 of the Finals series) . . .

    AFL-NZ This for the UK:
    And this for the U.S.:
    AFL-USA As for me, I’ll be down in Manurewa watching the game at the old Mountford Park clubhouse on Dr. Pickering Avenue – and you’re more than welcome to join me. Main game starts on the big screen at 4pm, with a curtain raiser out on the park at 1pm between North Shore’s Tigers and the Manurewa Raiders.

    Oh, and by the way, the pre-match betting is all going Geelong’s way , but I suspect the game itself is going to be be  a whole lot closer.  It’s going to be a cracker!

    Go the Cats!

    Friday, 25 September 2009

    Beer O’Clock: Hail to the Chief!

    george_washington  When George Washington retired from the Presidency after two terms and, like Cincinattus before him, went back to his plough – setting a two-term precedent for future Presidents unbroken until FDR’s four-term power-grab one-hundred and sixty years later – it wasn’t just time behind the plough and his wife’s great cooking he had in his mind’s eye.

    You see, George wasn’t just a great general, a great statesman and a great man – he was also one of history’s great drinkers.  The BarAmerica blog has the lowdown:

    mount-gay-rum-holiday-egg-nog     “Records show that the father of [America] especially enjoyed a cocktail of sorts known as 'flip,' a drink made from beer, rum, cream, sugar, and eggs. As a general, he was sure to keep his soldiers content and supplied with plenty of fresh beer. As a politician, he reportedly once publicly gave away 75 gallons of free rum to reward the voters that elected him to Virginia's House of Burgesses.”

    And unlike what might happen today with such a gift, this was after his election, not before.  And out of his own money, not that of his electors.

        “As a homebrewer too, he was known to cook-up up a batch or two of stout on occasion. Washington was certainly was not alone among the founding fathers as a lover of spirits; he wrote that after the constitution had been framed, "the business being closed, the members adjourned to the City Tavern."
        It's no surprise to us here at BarAmerica that alongside rugged individualism and a passionate commitment to freedom and free trade, enjoyment of strong drink was, and remains to this day, an integral part of America's proud national heritage.”

    Unfortunately however, there was another legacy too that Washington  left drinkers. Persuaded by his Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to tax whiskey to pay off the National Debt – although Hamilton confided to friends he’d proposed it “more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue" – Washington imposed a tax an all distillers, including a larger tax on all small distillers which at the time included himself.  The tax was all but uncollectible however, inspiring not “social discipline” but the Whiskey Rebellion, a tradition of bootleg corn liquor in Kentucky in Tennessee, and (although this particular impost failed to take hold and was eventually abandoned) the beginning of a tradition of “sin taxes” that continues today.

    And after it was all over Washington was said to have voiced the opinion that the rebellion had at least roused Americans once again to resist the tyranny of a nanny government – the same resistance they showed in the era of Prohibition, when Americans began “drinking on principle” in the face of government efforts to stop them.

    Something to think about as today’s wowsers (bit by nannying bit) seek to reduce our our own alcoholic pursuit of happiness.

    Have a great weekend despite them – or even especially to spite them.


    Key on Letterman

    For American readers bemused at the appearance of what looked like John Boy Walton on your normal evening broadcast of The Late Show last night, that was in fact (and I hang my head in shame as I say this) New Zealand’s Prime Minister.

    TVNZ has a rundown of the appearance, which included Key presenting David Letterman with an Indy-500 champion Scott Dixon t-shirt (yep, folks, not all NZers are as bumbling as Bret McKenzie and John Boy), and Key’s recitation of this top ten list.

    John Key's top 10 reasons for visiting New Zealand are:
    10. Auckland airport now has Cinnabon (a chain of American baked goods stores and kiosks)
    9. We have the loosest slot machines in the Pacific rim
    8. It's only a convenient 20 hour flight away
    7. It's like England, without the attitude
    6. Leno's on at 9 o'clock
    5. Get the whanau together, stay in a bach, crack open the chilly bin and slap on your jandals
    4. Visit in the next 30 days and I'll pick you up at the airport
    3. 70% of our energy is generated through renewable sources - they don't all have to be jokes
    2. We drive on the left side of the road, like the British and Lindsay Lohan
    1. Unlike most of the world, we still like Americans.

    Jokers, clowns and psychos. Just another day at the UN then. [updated]

    Muammar Qaffafi’s insane rant at the UN, which included the suggestion that swine flu was “a tool of destruction engineered in U.S. laboratories,” and questions about Israeli and U.S. government involvement in the Kennedy assassination, made me think of this classic 1982 cartoon from the book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.  Things have changed a little since 1982 , but – especially in the rants of Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro and Qaddafi – and (what's worse) the speech of Barack Obama -- not much.  Except perhaps that America’s president



    The U.N. is Fundamentally Flawed – AYN RAND CENTER
        WASHINGTON, September 24, 2009--Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s recent 90-minute tirade, and the anti-semitic ranting of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both at the United Nations general assembly, are yet two more reminders of what’s fundamentally wrong with the United Nations.
        “The fundamental feature of the U.N. is its policy of opening membership non-judgmentally to all nations--whether free or oppressive, peaceful or belligerent,” says Elan Journo, a fellow with the Ayn Rand Center.
        “The U.N.'s policy of neutrality accomplishes precisely the opposite of its putative effect; it actually protects and bolsters vicious regimes. . .

    Bye-bye Bradford [update 3]

    How disappointing it is to hear that Sue Bradford is leaving Parliament in October to go “back to the grassroots,” a decision that all New Zealand families should celebrate.

    Disappointing?  Hell no. It’s worth celebrating! With both her and Cindy Kiro gone from power, your children are safer now than they were yesterday – unless of course they end up at her Kotare indoctrination centre, which I imagine is the sort of thing she means by “grass roots.” (Here’s part two of Trevor Loudon’s info on the place.)

    So shall we try to say something nice about her now she’s going?

    Nah.  Every single thing she’s done has been an attack on your freedom. There’s nothing to respect in that.

    She joined the Green Party to further her own Maoist agenda, assisting in the “reverse  take-over” of the Greens by the Alliance party’s fellow travellers – the party was was “ripe for taking over” she said (read Phil U.’s account here at Update 3 of Bradford and Catherine Delahunty, fresh from Matt McCarten’s NLP) -- and New Zealand’s electorate was ripe for the Greenwash she and her comrades were able to peddle after that take over.

    Her legacy is not just her anti-smacking attack on New Zealand’s parents, but the hijack of environmentalism by the ‘watermelon’ politicians of that party, and their cementing in of that ruse.

    Sadly however, her resignation doesn’t denude the Greens of MPs since there’s another loser like her in the wings, a Mr David Clendon, who’s been feeding from the RMA trough all his career -- with a CV which has him morphing from “Resource Consultant” to lecturer in the RMA, ie., from parasite to brainwasher.

    Choice, huh.  “What really motivated me” to stand for the luddites said the really unmotivating Clendon at the Greens conference last year, is "the ability the Greens have, and I think it's unique, to be able to identify complex problems and to see solutions." What’s unique about the Greens, of course, is nothing more than their combination of authoritarianism and  ludditery – with a a caucus composed almost entirely of the intellectual remnants of the Socialist Workers’ Party they’re little more than a bunch of  authoritarians with a marketing wing – a problem that Clendon’s CV would indicate won’t be changing with his induction.

    So farewell then, Sue Bradford.  Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

    And if you’re concerned that there’s no-one left in Parliament now to really despise, then don’t forget you’ve still got Keith Locke.  And Nick Smith.

    UPDATE 1Farrar looks at the personal politics:

    “It’s basically because she lost the co-leadership election to Metiria Turei. Things are obviously not that happy in the Green camp. More later. “

    UPDATE 2: From Home Paddock:

    Kathryn Ryan interviewed RadioNZ National’s  chief reporter Jane Patterson who said the decision was prompted by Bradford’s loss of the contest for co-leadership to Metiria Turei. The interview will be online here soon  is now online here.

    UPDATE 3: “Now is the chance to get out the Green broom and sweep the Red dust out of the party,” says a Greens supporter over at the Frog Blog resignation thread.  He’s right, you know.

    LIBERTARIAN SUS: A weekend in Wellington

    Susan Ryder spent last weekend in Wellington – and it was so good she’s only now put finger to keyboard to tell you about it.

    There are few places more glorious on a good day than Wellington. And there are few places more atrocious on a bad day.

    Luckily, I struck the former last Saturday night when I was persuaded to take my two nephews and their best mate to the test at the Cake Tin with their other aunt, who flew in from Sydney for the occasion. It was her bright idea to shout them for this year’s birthday presents, with a night at a four-star hotel thrown in for good measure. Even though they’re well-behaved, she didn’t want to be solely responsible for three pre-teens in a big crowd which is how I came to be there, too.

    And sometimes, the planets just all seem to line up beautifully.

    We arrived early in the afternoon to watch our elder nephew’s Kapiti team, of which he was captain, beat Hutt (2-0) for the Wellington primary boys’ hockey title at the National Hockey Stadium in Newtown, before bursting with pride at his terrific acceptance speech at the trophy presentation – and grinning to ourselves that few in the NRL could have matched it, let alone done better. That’s the groovy thing about being an aunty or uncle: you can go on about your niece and nephew’s successes in a manner that parents never can.

    I’d never been to the Wellington Stadium before, so I was excited to be finally doing so. Everything was terrific: its location, the organisation, the staff and the facilities. Even the weather was perfect with not a breath of wind.

    It’s an easy 20 minute walk from downtown through the train station where all staff we encountered were polite, friendly and helpful. They were particularly good with the kids, who were all proudly decked out in their supporters’ gear.

    My little nephew’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he spotted Luke McAlister wandering along Lambton Quay, much to the disgust of the two older 12 year olds who, in walking ahead of us for reasons of essential coolness, were too busy being cool and missed him … and then double-bogeyed in missing Andrew Mulligan from Prime TV’s The Crowd Goes Wild after the game, whom they also like. Sometimes you really can be too cool for the room …

    We were surrounded by great people all out for a great time and the atmosphere was fantastic. My sister immediately started chatting with two old chaps from Napier who were already on a high from watching Hawkes Bay thrash Otago that afternoon. The three of them discovered a shared dislike for a number of individuals including referee Wayne Barnes and Chris Rattue who writes for the New Zealand Herald, so got along famously in their mutual non-admiration society – so much so that when Cory Jane crossed the line she was startled to be offered a swig from their hip flask. “Go on, dear! You picked it; you deserve it!” to which she thought “Oh, what the hell!” and took a slug. So much for the bag search for illicit alcohol that takes place on the way in, age and experience being way too smart!

    The kids took it upon themselves to lead the chanting in our section; their efforts praised and applauded generously by the good-natured folk around us. They were beside themselves when they spotted a brave lone Aussie decked out in green and gold sitting near them and gloried in persecuting him ruthlessly. How the poor bugger got out with his sanity, let alone both eyes intact in his proximity to their exuberant flag-waving remains a mystery, but he was a good sport throughout. I suspect that his being very drunk was a great comfort in that respect and Lord knows there was little his team was doing with which to be thrilled.

    I can’t comment on the food selection as we’d been warned of its general expense, so fed the kids earlier at the nearest fast food outlet which, unsurprisingly, was Macs that turned out to be feeding half the test crowd as well. We’re not cheap; far from it; but boys invariably have stomachs without a memory and besides, they were easily bought off with promises of room service later that evening, the prospect of which generated much excitement and discussion as to menu choices. When the hotly-anticipated moment arrived though, there was some expressed disappointment that the lady didn’t announce “room service” and wheel it in like they do on films …

    The house-bar and pay-TV channels were firmly off-limits, but the obsession with food continued with breakfast the next morning and the varied selection thereof. “Hey! There are six different cereals!” and “I’m having bacon AND sausages!” It’s great to see things through kids’ eyes again and rediscover – and enjoy - the little things in life … such as a good pork sausage!

    Even the man at the train station in helping me with information for the stunningly scenic coastal trip up to Paraparaumu couldn’t have been more courteous and helpful.

    It’s a shame the capital is home to so many bureaucrats. Because there really are few places more glorious on a good day than Wellington.

    * * Susan’s column appear here at NOT PC every Tuesday – except
    when she’s getting over a great weekend.  :-) * *

    AFL Grand Final Week Countdown. Finals Day Minus 2: The Stars!

    Two days to go to Grand Final, and here’s another update you won’t be getting from the brain-addled,  local sports media – the only mention I’ve seen of AFL in Grand Final Week was the news that some dickhead punched Hawthorn star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin in the toilet of a Perth restaurant.

    Hardly the stuff of legend when the most eagerly anticipated finals of all time is now just two sleeps away. That should be the story you’re hearing from your talking heads:  that two teams playing some of the best footy ever seen on an oval are about to go head to head to make history.  Two days to go, and both teams will be trying to think about it like it’s just another game – and neither team will be succeeding. It doesn’t get bigger than a Grand Final – and it’s unlikely to ever get bigger than this one.

    Geelong have transformed the game with their high speed, high skill rapid passing game over the last three years. St Kilda this year won twenty-odd games straight playing footy that was beautiful to watch, demolishing almost all before them. Their one meeting this season ended up in a one-goal victory for the Saints in a game that could have gone either way. But the Cats had men out injured that day – and on Saturday they’re all back.

    Who gets to lift the trophy will depend crucially on how these two play: St Kilda captain and centre-half/full forward Nick Riewoldt (left, below), and Geelong’s Brownlow medal winner Gary Ablett, Jr – seen here evading Sydney’s Adam Goodes.

    St Kilda player Nick Riewoldt heads deep into attack with a long kick. West Coast defeated St Kilda at Telstra Dome, AFL Round 21, 24 August 2007. Image: Derrick den Hollander GALL_CATS_SS1_wideweb__470x296,0

    For their respective teams to win, they each need to fire. That’s a necessary condition for victory. Which means the men tagging them have it all to do.  The Cats’ Harry Taylor will likely line up on Riewoldt; who gets to tag Ablett is anyone’s guess, but it’s probably the Saints’ Clint Jones.  Jones has the most thankless task in footy.

    If his man gets away and Geelong can start playing their high-risk, ‘full-speed through the centre corridor’ footy, then the Saints are going to have a game on their hands – no matter how much “Saints Footy” they put together.  But if they do then the Cats will need to kick their goals – that’s what lost them (okay, us) the final last year against Hawthorn. And to kick them they (okay, we) are going to have to navigate St Kilda’s tighter-than-a-duck’s-arse zone defence, and kick straighter than they have been.

    I reckon they’re gonna do it, and in just two days time will be lifting the trophy for the second time in three years. Go the Cats!

    Thursday, 24 September 2009

    Haere Ra, Howard!

    Lindsay Perigo farewells Howard Morrison, NZ’s Outstanding Beige Entertainer.

    “Hurrah! We’re round the corner at last!”

    From the learned MacDoctor comes what looks to me like  more wisdom on this “the-recession-is-over” nonsense than you’d see in an idiocy of economists (“idiocy” is the collective noun for economists, right?):

        “Economists are bouncing up and down with glee saying that the recession is over. I view all of this buoyancy with a great deal of skepticism, not it the least because few economists seemed to be able to predict the derivatives disaster that brought us to this pass. It would be nice if they are right, but the MacDoctor observes that the words “dead”, “cat” and “bounce” could be applicable here.
        “One of the hallmarks of the depression was that people kept thinking it was all over – and then things took a turn for the worst again. I am no economist, as I have repeatedly said, but it does not seem to me that the amount of correction that has taken place so far is anywhere near as large as the amount of imbalance that needed to be corrected. This is purely a subjective gut feel, but this just feels like the eye of the storm brought to you courtesy of Obama-nomics, Gordo-splurge and Ruddistribution. . . “

    Sound about dead right to me.  And reminds me of a well-known cartoon from 1935 showing Prime Minister Forbes and Finance Minister Coates …

    Coates_Corner And remember, New Zealand was one who emerged first from the Great Depression.

    The letter for this quarter is ‘W’ – which describes the shape of the charts economists draw to show where things are going (and we’re only at the bottom of the first trough). 

    You see, despite what you’ve heard, it’s the recession itself in which recovery actually happens, or is supposed to – the time when losing propositions are reined in, the malinvestments liquidated, cost structures rationalised, and resources entrepreneurially redistributed to more profitable pastures.

    But none of that can happen successfully when the Stimulunacy of Obama-nomics, Gordo-splurge and Ruddistribution has been doing all it can to stop it happening.

    No, the letter for some time to come is ‘W.’

    A troll

    We’ve unfortunately been invaded by the Rodbeater Troll virus this morning, so to fend off the deluge of abject drivel with which Mr Russell Fletcher of Tauranga has been trying to flood the comments sections here, I’m temporarily turning on moderation – which means, I’m afraid, that your comments will sometimes take a while to appear (depending on how long it takes me to see them and okay them), but when they do appear they will at least be published in threads unpolluted by Mr Fletcher’s abject stupidity.

    Don’t blame me, blame the troll.

    And rest assured that as long as you’re concise and on topic, then your comments will be welcomed. But grandstanding bone-headery won’t be.

    NOT PJ: Unwanted penetration

    There’s a lot of filth on the internet, notes Bernard Darnton. For example, government plans on how best to spend your money.

    _BernardDarnton Lower unemployment and higher wages have been promised by governments for years. Now Communications Minister Steven Joyce is promising lower pings and more frags.

    If you’re among the 99 percent of people who can’t tell a ping from a frag you might not be sure what you’ll get out of the government’s Broadband Investment Initiative. You’ll have even less of a clue if you read the MBA-speak blather about “competitive advantage” in “innovation and global reach.”

    For those who aren’t geeks or management consultants, this all means that the government will be laying new internet connections to your house. Actually, what the government is paying for is “dark fibre,” which is the internet equivalent of a pub with no beer. It’s like a party political broadcast with all of the bullshit removed.

    Once the government has built the pub, the private sector will provide the beer.

    “Fibre to the home” will provide “ultra-fast” broadband to the doorsteps of 75% of New Zealanders. It will supposedly provide all sorts of benefits for productivity and research for those of you who conduct cutting-edge bioinformatics research in your garage.

    Thought not. Perhaps people want streaming video in their garages for other reasons. Build it and they will come.

    And all of this will be provided via an ultra-fast connection to my wallet.

    One thing we should be thankful for is that New Zealand’s scheme is less grandiose than stimulus plans overseas. Australia is spending four times as much per capita on broadband but then they have a lot more empty desert to provide “global reach” to. The United States is spending an unknown amount on broadband on the theory that if they print money fast enough no one will spot that it’s no longer worth anything.

    The American plan involves expanding broadband networks so that the denizens of Appalachia can download The Jerry Springer Show in high definition on demand. The trouble is they don’t want to.  A recent Pew Internet survey shows that only four percent of Americans lack broadband because they can’t get it. The report suggests that putting in new connections is a waste of money and that improving the speed and reliability of existing connections is far more valuable. In other words: never mind the penetration; feel the bandwidth.

    But even our comparatively modest and less poorly thought out plan has its flaws. The main one being that when the government spends $1.5 billion on something that’s $1.5 billion-with-a-B that’s not being spent on something else. And, given that people aren’t voluntarily paying hundreds of extra dollars each for broadband internet, that “something else” is probably more valuable than what the government will be dishing up.

    Undoubtedly some sectors will benefit. The “cabinet-ministers-in-hard-hats photo opportunity” sector will boom.

    Technology cheerleaders like Rod Drury think that broadband is a silver bullet. He thinks that with faster internet hordes of “knowledge workers” will descend on New Zealand to take a 50% salary cut because there are no mountain bikes in California. State subsidised internet connections will surely help out Drury’s software-as-a-service business venture and perhaps many like it. Surely, then, if the idea is such a sure-fire winner, Drury – a man of not insubstantial means – could pay for his own internet connection.

    If it was such a stunning investment you wouldn’t need to steal the money to pay for it.

    * * Read Bernard Darnton’s column here every Thursday * *

    AFL Grand Final Week Countdown. Finals Day Minus 3: The Thrills!

    Okay, it’s now just three days to go until AFL Grand Final Day – played on the last Saturday of very September at Melbourne’s great Cathedral of Sport called the MCG.

    image002 Around 100,000 punters are likely to show up for the spectacle. They always do. 

    Unlike the other codes,  crowd numbers at AFL games are always high – even for bottom of the table clashes between local clubs it’s not unusual to see 40-50,000 show up. 

    Samoa v NZ And over the course of a season, around seven million fans show up to yell their teams home.

    AFL clubs get more people to their training nights during the finals month than NRL clubs get to their games. And around the world it’s fastest growing team sport with competitions in 16 countries ( including  New Zealand), and internationals being played regularly between Pacific (left), European and North American countries ( a few of which I’ve played in myself). So why do more people show up for AFL games than any other? Simple: because they’re so frigging exciting to watch live.

    Every game is a four-act drama of tension and excitement.  Each player spends all of those quarters trying to dominate his opponent, both mentally and physically. They take no quarter. Some players run nearly two-thirds of a marathon during a match – that’s running flat out – before heading out back to throw up from exhaustion. 

    These guys are fit, they’re fast, they’re agile – and they have to be thinking on their feet all the time.

    No wonder crowds get passionate – this is the strongest hardest, highest, fastest game on the planet:

    They watch it for the goals.

    They watch it for marks  that make All Black Cory Jane’s effort against the Wallabies look like a schoolboy’s.

    They watch it for the big hits.

    They watch it for the skill and agility.

    They watch it for the tradition – this is one of the oldest codes of football on the planet.

    And mostly, they watch it because it’s so damn thrilling!

    Aussie Rules?  I’d like to see that.  :-)

    Keep an eye out tomorrow night, when I’ll tell you about some the game’s great players.