Saturday, April 24, 2010

‘Cold brutality of campaign that changed a nation’

From Paul Moon’s piece in this week’s Herald, ‘Cold brutality of campaign that changed a nation’:

    _quote For the New Zealand public - which had been kept immune from some of the early episodes of fighting by a heavily censored media - Gallipoli was the abrupt moment of realisation of the extent of annihilation the war was capable of inflicting.
    “Ironically, it was the fact that Gallipoli was a defeat that made it such a potent focus of attention for later generations of New Zealanders.
    “The sort of elation that erupts over victories is usually a short-lived thing - a moment in which bursts of jubilation and relief flare, only to grow quickly dim, and then become extinguished altogether.
    “Brooding over defeats, on the other hand - particularly those that are so traumatic for the populations of the suffering countries - not only seems to ingrain the event deeper in the recesses of people's minds, but can sometimes take on a life of its own, making ‘men to live eternally, or, being dead, raise them to life again,’ in the words of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.”

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The three horsemen of non-apocalypse

_Quote The weak in this world can never have peace.”
        - President Haffiz Assad of Syria,
The desire for peace is worthless without the capacity to defend that desire, or the ability to understand what makes it possible.

It is as worthless to desire peace, without arming against those who would destroy you, as it is to wish for peace without any understanding of what would make it possible.  If the four horsemen of apocalypse are to be kept at bay, then both actual and intellectual ammunition will be necessary: if you truly desire peace, you must oppose the roots of war. That’s what this piece is about.

D9-vikingrembrandt112To understand the roots of peace, you must understand that war's greatest opponents are not those whom your schoolteachers might have led you to believe. 

The opponents of peace are legion -- it is because of them that armed defence is necessary; the opponents of war are too few, and far too unsung.

The truth is that across all the pages of history  there have been two fundamental antagonists who have been variously venerated and eviscerated:  the trader culture, and the warrior culture.  Those who survived by trade, and the cultures that supported that; versus those who survived by bloodshed and plunder, and the cultures that survived off their warriors' loot.

See the heroes a culture venerates above all others, and you'll see which kind of culture it is.  The prodicers of wealth, or those who loot it. The men of profits, or the men of plunder. Men who produce value; or the men who looted it. The sellers of ploughshares; or the bearers of swords.  The defenders of wealth, or ther barbarian conquerors.

For all of human history, the culture of the trader has been the bringers of peace and prosperity and civilisation, yet for most of history it has been the warrior who's been most revered, and the values of the trader most derided.

Strange, don’t you think?
Click here to read more ... >>

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“It is well that war is so terrible . . . ”

_quote It is well that war is so terrible, for we should grow too fond of it.”
            - Gen. Robert E. Lee, after the slaughter of Fredericksburg

War is the second-worst thing humans can do to one another—a point made in this pointed speech about the barbaric practice that stained the United States for too long, and the war that ended it.

_quoteAn army is power. Its entire purpose is to coerce others. Now, this kind of power cannot be used carelessly or recklessly. This kind of power can do great harm. We have seen more suffering than any man should ever see. And if there is going to be an end to it,it must be an end that justifies the cost.
    “Now, somewhere out there is the Confederate Army. They claim they are fighting for their independence, for their freedom. Now, I cannot question their integrity. I believe they are wrong,but I cannot question it. But I do question a system that defends its own freedom, while it denies it to others.To an entire race of men.
    “I will admit it … war is a scourge. But so is slavery. It is the systematic coercion of one group of men over another. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world. But that's no excuse for us to tolerate it here—when we find it right before our very eyes, in our own country.
    “As God is my witness, there is no one I hold in my heart dearer than you. But if your life or mine is part of the price to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God's will be done.”
           
            - spoken by the character Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, to his younger brother  
               Thomas, in the movie Gods & Generals

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“Cry ‘Havoc’!”

_quote Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war… ”

- Mark Antony speaking in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar,
presaging Rome’s future after Caesar’s murder

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Caesar crossing the Rubicon

Caesar-Crossing-the-Rubicon ‘Caesar Crossing the Rubicon,’ by Jean Louis Gerome

A piece of poetic prose for Anzac Weekend; from a famous account of Julius Caesar’s seizing of Rome by his soldiery, at the point his coup was made irrevocable—the crossing of the river beyond which Rome’s armies were hitherto forbidden by a long-standing law.

     _quote How swiftly Caesar had surmounted the icy Alps and in his mind conceived immense upheavals, coming war.
    “When he reached the water of the little Rubicon, clearly to the leader through the murky night appeared a mighty image of his country in distress; grief in her face, her white hair streaming from her tower- crowned head. With tresses torn and shoulders bare, she stood before him in sighing, said: ‘Where further do you march? Where do you take my standards warriors? If lawfully you come if as citizens, this far only is allowed.’ 
    “Then trembling struck the leader's limbs, his hair grew stiff and weakness checked his progress, holding his feet at the river's edge. At last he speaks. ‘Oh thunderer… surveying great Rome's walls from the Tarpeian Rock. Oh Phrygian, house gods of lulus, clan and mysteries of Quirinus who was carried off to heaven. Oh, Jupiter of Latium seated in lofty Alba and hearths of Vesta. Oh, Rome, equal to the highest deity, favour my plans! Not with impious weapons do I pursue you. Here am I, Caesar, conqueror of land and sea, your own soldier everywhere now too if I am permitted. The man who makes me your enemy, it is he will be the guilty one.’
     “Then he broke the barriers of war and through the swollen river swiftly took his standards. When Caesar crossed the flood and reached the opposite bank from Hesperia's forbidden fields, he took his stand and said: ‘Here I abandoned peace and desecrated law. Fortune, it is you I follow. Farewell to treaties, from now on war is our judge.’
     “Hail Caesar. We who are about to die salute you.”

            -Chronicle from Marcus Lucanus on Julius Caesar's crossing of the River Rubicon.



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Friday, April 23, 2010

‘Off to the English Civil War’ – Richard Lovelace

A bitter-sweet poem for the start of Anzac Weekend, of a husband going off to war …

‘Off to the English Civil War’

Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To warlike arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I serve
The first foe in the field
And with a sterner faith embrace
The sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou too shalt adore.
I could not love thee, dear, so much
Loved I not honour more.

– Richard Lovelace (1618-1657)



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GUEST POST: Harmless window dressing?

Guest post by Reuben P. Chapple

New Zealand’s recent adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is not binding and lacks an enforcement mechanism. Nonetheless, this document is far from harmless.

The Declaration’s high-sounding phrases on the rights of indigenous people to self-determination, to maintain their own languages and cultures, to protect their natural and cultural heritage, and manage their own affairs, will surely embolden the Maori Sovereignty movement.

All ideas have a pedigree. The ideological underpinning of both the UN Declaration and the Maori Sovereignty movement lies in the early 20th Century writings of Communist revolutionaries Lenin and Stalin on something they called “The National Question.”

Communists specialise in creating social discord to divide an existing society into “oppressor” and “oppressed” groups. They work tirelessly to persuade the supposedly downtrodden that they have a grievance then promise to help them get what they want.

Around 1905, Lenin and Stalin noted that Tsarist Russia consisted not just of ethnic Russians, but upwards of 80 formerly tribal subject peoples, conquered by the Czars over the preceding 500 years and forcibly Russified. To expand the Bolshevik support base, these peoples were promised “the right to manage their own affairs,” “the right to self-determination,” “the right to speak, read, write, use, and be taught in their own language” etc. It is this more than 100 year-old Communist cant that now surfaces in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Click here to read more ... >>

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Ever heard of the Patent Troll?

Hang around the wrong places long enough, and you’ll soon hear the residents decrying what they call “patent trolls,” i.e., serial rent-seekers who prey (they say) on poor business folk.

The truth, however, is that Patent Trolls are a myth, as this pertinent piece portrays.

Hat tip to Dale Holling at the State of Innovation blog, who warns about the unfortunate misuse of “the m-word.”

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‘The Politician’ – William Hogarth

Politician

A politician sits and stares at his Gazette, a pursuit that takes up so much of his small brain capacity he fails to notice the candle is burning a hole in his hat brim.  The headline and story have far more importance than anything going on in the real world.  As the poem associated with it goes,

A politician should (as I have read)
Be furnish’d in the first place with a head…

(Just for the record, the picture is a 1775 engraving by a J.K Sherwin after a 1730s sketch by Hogarth.)

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Farrar’s trial balloon shot down

David Farrar has been caught peddling Bill English’s spin.  Floating a trial balloon for Bill English’s coming Soak-Everyone Budget, he talked up $3.8 billion that is being redirected around the bureaucracies as “savings”, and $1.1 billion of new, additional spending as “fiscal discipline.”

Already so many commenters have seen through that disgracefully cheap spin that Farrar has taken to calling commenters names

But the spin will still continue relentlessly until May, when English’s Budget finally announces how he’s going to soak us all while his government continues to expand its spending.  The hope will be that enough people by then will at least realise this government, its finance minister, and its spin-meisters, are as bereft of any ideas, any principle, or any basic honesty as the last lot.



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Palmer’s pious prohibitions on pleasure [updated]

When he’s not debating me here on copyright, Eric Crampton can be found trying to restrain his anger over the leak of Geoffrey Palmer’s plans to inhibit your drinking.

The Unbridled Wowser (that’s Nanny Palmer, not Eric) wants you to be banned from buying off-licence liquor after 10pm; barred from entering a nightclub after 2pm; prohibited from being in a nightclub at all after 4pm; verboten from buying alcohol if you’re old enough to vote (but not yet old enough to punch Geoffrey properly in the face); and enjoined to cough up twice as much for every drink you take.

Geoffrey the Lemon Sucking Control Freak may have a personal problem with alcohol, or just a problem with those who don’t have any problem with enjoying it, but his problems should not be our problems—and his own values should not be inflicted on those of us who don’t share them.

There’s only one way to say this: ‘Geoffrey, fuck off.” Just leave us the hell alone.

UPDATE: Moe Lane at Redstate.com understand Palmer’s breed perfectly:

    “Look, I understand that the nanny-state Left doesn’t trust its own judgment and ability to make informed decisions, and that’s fine. In fact, I agree with them: I don’t trust their judgment or ability to make informed decisions, either. But why do they insist on trying to interfere with my judgment or ability to make informed decisions? - Aside from them generally being annoying neo-Puritan gloom-magnets, of course.”

[Hat tip Jeff Perren]



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I like my poppies red, but . . .

I have to say, I’m somewhat nonplussed by the opposition to the White Poppies that Wellington “peace” activists plan to sell “just one day before the annual RSA red poppy day street appeal.”

Sure, these are the munters who regularly interrupt ANZAC Day commemorations at Wellington’s Cenotaph with jeering, flag-burning and naked protests—whose pacifist luminaries were somehow found with guns, including a sniper’s rifle, in the ‘Urewera 16’ police raids--but on the issue of the White Poppies I don’t see what the problem is.

I don't agree with them or their argument, and I'm not likely to buy one of their poppies myself, but it seems to me they're perfectly entitled to sell them in whatever market they can.

And I don't buy either the argument that they're competing for the same market. That the white poppies will somehow reduce the sale of red poppies. Why would it?  Last year the Peace Movement poppies earned them just $5000.  That’s hardly competition—even if they were competing for the same market, which they’re not. They’re selling a different-coloured product representing something very different to the red poppy—and no-one who is even moderately awake is likely to mistake the white poppies’ unwashed patchouli-smelling sellers for an old digger selling “the real thing.”

So I’d suggest that those opposed to the sale of the white poppies simply realise that the sale of the white poppies is an example of precisely the sort of freedom the old diggers were fighting for—the freedom to protest—and reflect that the more opposition to them they foment, the more publicity they give them.

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GUEST POST: Ayn Rand on Intellectual Property

Guest Post here by patent attorney Dale B. Halling, from the excellent blog State of Innovation. (I highly recommend a visit.)
* * * *
There seems to be a lot of confusion about Ayn Rand’s position on intellectual property both by her supporters and her detractors.  For instance, the Cato Institute considers it almost a prerequisite to have read Atlas Shrugged to work there.  However their position on patents and copyrights  is in direct contradiction to Ayn Rand’s position.

The following quote from Atlas Shrugged should give you a hint at Ayn Rand’s position on intellectual property:
“Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive he must act and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch––or build a cyclotron––without a knowledge of his aim and the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.”
    -
Rand 1992, p. 1012.
Ayn Rand devotes a whole chapter, Chapter 11, in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal to patents and copyrights.  The first sentence makes her position crystal clear.  “Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.[1]  “What the patent and copyright laws acknowledge is the paramount role of mental effort in the production of material values: these laws protect the mind’s contribution in its purest form: the origination of an idea.”[2]

After pointing out that intellectual property is the source of all property rights, she clarifies the distinction between the idea and the physical embodiment.  “What the patent or copyright protects is not the physical object as such, but the idea that embodies it.  By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that the value is created by the originator of the idea.”[3]  “Thus the law establishes the property right of the mind to that which it has brought into existence.”[4]  She then points out that “patents and copyrights only pertain to the practical application of knowledge, to the creation of a specific object which did not exist in nature.”[5]

Next, she tackles the whole question of whether a patent is privilege (in the modern sense of a gift)[6] or is a right.  According to Rand, the government does not grant a patent, in the sense of a gift, privilege or favor, but recognizes the originator of the idea and protects their rights in the idea.[7]

Rand has a very interesting take on the reason for limited terms of patents and copyrights.  She analogies a patent or copyright to a debt owed to the inventor/author by people that copy the inventor’s invention or author’s book.  Debts are not and cannot be perpetual, so this is why the term of patents and copyrights are limited according to Rand.  I will note that real property rights are actually time limited also.  A person only has a property right in real (personal) property during their lifetime.  How can someone who is not alive own something – this would be a logical absurdity.  However, real property is passed on to the person with the next best title to real property upon a person’s death.  In the case of intellectual property, no one person has better title to intellectual property than anyone else so upon the expiration of its term it becomes free for all mankind to use.  Or as Rand explains, real property “can be left to heirs, but it cannot remain in their effortless possession in perpetuity: the heirs can consume it or must earn its continued possession by their own productive effort.”[8]  In contrast, “Intellectual property cannot be consumed.  If it were held in perpetuity, it would lead to the opposite of the very principle on which it is based: it would lead, not to the earned reward of achievement, but to the unearned support of parasitism.”[9]

Rand seems to anticipate the patent thicket discussion and suggests that this is the reason for shorter terms of patents than copyrights.[10]  She also suggests that it is very difficult to correctly define the limits of a patent boundary.[11]  Here, she is mistaken.  There is no evidence of a patent thicket ever existing on a macroeconomic level, only evidence of people who do not want to compensate an inventor for using their technology.  The boundaries of patents are no more difficult to define than those of copyrights or land before GPS and title insurance.  However, patents will be more useful as the equivalent of title insurance for invention is created.  

I will end this post with a particularly prescient quote from Rand: 
Today, patents are the special target of the collectivists’ attacks . . .[12]
Click here to read more ... >>

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The spirit of copyright and patent laws…”

    _Quote The spirit of copyright and patent laws means to reward labor rather than simply promote the useful arts. For example, one can hold a patent without ever using it, and register a literary work for copy protection without ever publishing it. This suggests that there is an underlying understanding that IP is rewarded because it should be, not simply to make sure that there is more of it around for the public good.”
            - Sonia Arrison, writing in ‘The Legitimacy of Intellectual Property

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Jeff Perren: Danish Workers Strike Over Beer Ban

[Guest Post from Jeff Perren at Shaving Leviathan]

According to the Copenhagen Post,

Brewery Workers Strike Over Beer Ban

Health expert calls it ‘absurd’ that Carlsberg warehouse workers are striking over fewer bottled beers in the refrigerators.

Warehouse workers at Danish brewing giant Carlsberg are striking because management has decided that the employees may no longer have their customary three free bottled beers a day at the workplace, reports Business.dk. Carlsberg has implemented a new workplace alcohol policy that now limits employees to one bottle of beer a day at lunchtime.

If they keep that up, I may actually become sympathetic to unions. It seems eminently more sensible to me than getting riled over retirement benefits. I mean, life is uncertain, so making sure you've got your daily free beer strikes me as much more rational than whether you'll have sufficient funds in old age.

Maybe the Left has something when they claim that in many ways America lags Europe.

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Le Penseur – Auguste Rodin

Le_Penseur
I haven’t posted anything from my favourite sculptor for a long time, so since I came across this great captioned version of ‘The Thinker’ in a thoughtful post over at Ultra Orange, I figured tonight was the night to remedy that.
Enjoy.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADER OF THE ACT PARTY [updated]

An open letter to the Leader of the Act Party from Libertarianz Leader Dr Richard McGrath.

Dear Rodney

Last year I gave a rare bouquet to Helen Clark for shunning the racist and divisive UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To his credit, Phil Goff has stood by his party’s decision to join Australia, Canada and the U.S. in refusing to sign it. John Key, on the other hand, has now ratified a treaty which purports to give “indigenous“ people the right to self-government and unlimited taxpayer handouts.

Rodney, he didn’t even warn you this was coming. He plotted with the Maori Party behind your back. ACT were left out of the equation. How do you feel now?

Article 42 of this bogus Bill of Rights states that the provisions of the Declaration - contrary to what our endlessly grinning Prime Minister says – must be enforced. His government signed it and they are now responsible for “promoting respect and full application” of its provisions.

You were quite rightly “shocked and appalled” at John Key’s support for a racially tainted international treaty which aims to consign common law property rights to the dustbin of history.

John Key claims the Declaration is “symbolic and non-binding.” You know as well as I do that the Maori Party do not regard it as such, and they will want assurances of a secure and ongoing transfer of wealth to pay for a whole new generation of gravy trains.

Rodney, you are right – the National Party has turned its back on its core philosophy; that it claims to champion equal citizenship and opportunity, individual freedom and choice and limited government, but doesn’t walk the talk; that it has swallowed socialism, and promotes it in competition with Labour, the Progressives and the Greens.

Clearly, it has abandoned any pretence to upholding its stated values. It has capitulated to the barbarians. Yet you still support a party whose leader wouldn’t even tell you before he betrayed you. You still keep your party allied with the government of John Key, a man of infinite malleability and flexibility and cant. U-turns are child’s play for John. He could tie himself in knots and never lose his grin.

Just look at the expectations held by Hone Harawira and others following the signing of this Declaration. By staying with this government, you are endorsing all coming demands by racist moochers for undeserved money and power.

Rodney, when you jumped into bed with the Key government did you draw a line in the sand over which you would not tolerate incursion? If so, has this government now stepped over that line, dragging with it a motley flotilla of parasites, all of them hoping to get their sticky paws into the pockets of taxpayers?

Your party was said to represent Consumers and Taxpayers. Mine represents the social system that lifted mankind out of the cave, delivered justice, and provided incentive for consumers and taxpayers to pursue happiness while retaining self-esteem. That system is free-market capitalism.

The Key administration has betrayed the ideals of the free market. They offer lip service to liberty while pandering to the primitive.

For the sake of credibility; for the sake of the ACT Party (which will otherwise be consigned to political oblivion); for the sake of New Zealanders (who will be sucked further into the vortex of racial collectivism); please, in the name of integrity and principle: divorce yourself from these idiots.

The ACT Party has suffered immense damage by aligning itself with National, who is trying to be all things to all possible coalition partners, even if this means outflanking Labour on the left to attract the support of the eco-fascist Greens.   

Just walk away Rodney. Let’s face it—ACT is not even a battered wife; it is a battered mistress, about whom John Key is increasingly embarrassed and ashamed. National and ACT have nothing in common now; National and the Maori Party, on the other hand, were clearly meant for each other—and deserve each other. Do you really want to remain part of a government that increasingly disgusts and alienates New Zealanders, including members of your own party?

Walk away from the savages Rodney, before you throw up. My party will be the first to applaud you if you do.

Richard McGrath
Leader
Libertarianz Party

UPDATE: Former ACT Vice-President Trevor Loudon says “Time to Pull the Plug Rodney.”



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Declaration of “rights” to subsidised separatism [update 3]

My what a brown nose you have
As you may have noticed, the Government you voted for has signed you up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—something Helen Clark herself was opposed to, citing fears it would create “two classes of citizenship and … give indigenous people veto rights over laws made by Parliament.”

But we already have two legal classes of  citizen, don’t we—something confirmed by Doug Graham when, as Minister in Charge of Treaty Capitulations, he told taxpayers, “The sooner we realise there are laws for one and laws for another, the better."

So one law for all is officially dead. Pita Sharples grand-standing announcement merely throws another shovelful of dirt on that particular colour-blind aspiration.
Click here to read more ... >>

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Most-read local blogs

Which are the most-read New Zealand blogs, and what are they all about? If you’ve ever asked that question then Ele Ludemann at the Home Paddock blog has a useful summary and description of the top 20ish blogs or so that should provide some answers. (And if you like to hear rather than read your summaries, you can hear Ele on Jim Mora’s afternoon show here—she starts around 10 minutes in.)



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unhappy hipsters

unhappyhipsters1_1 You’ve seen them everywhere, in architecture magazines on every coffee table in every hipster’s apartment—those sterile, uninhabitable medal-winning places that look like a neutron bomb just hit them.  That lounge.  And which, in those magazines, will usually be found bearing captions along the lines of “In the living room, Adams relaxes on a chair by designer Scot Laughton while Fleming plays banjo,” which was the original caption for the picture below.Catnip Only, the website Unhappy Hipsters has gone and taken those photos out of the magazines, and they’ve added different, more appropriate captions. Like these:
Click here to read more ... >>

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Wishing hard for a scandal

I mentioned Ian Wishard in the post below this one about a beat-up appearing at the Sub-Standard this morning.

As it happens, a classic Wishard beat-up also appeared around the traps this morning, fresh from its appearance in the latest copy of Inwishtigate magazine, where the hero of tin-foil journalism delivers a series of the “astonishing” revelations amounting to little more than the “news” that senior members of the former Labour Cabinet once made the acquaintance of a fourteen-year old boy.

Simply astonishing. Who would have thought.

Like I say, this is classic Wishard.  Once again he delivers not so much as a smoking gun as a cloud of reeking smoke, amongst which readers are invited to set their own fire.



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3 strikes law will . . . do something, says report

The Standard is aghast, “3 strikes law could increase murders – Nats’ secret official advice” screams the headline.

    _quote While they have been telling us that three strikes will reduce serious offending, the Government has been warned by its own officials that its three strikes policy may lead to people being murdered…”

Cue intemperate comments, blood-stained pictures on their front page and a nice public pat on the head by their  hero Mallard.

Murder! Secrets! Suppression!  It almost sounds like Ian Wishard has been let loose in the Sub-Standard’s editorial decision-making process.

Eric Crampton however has let facts intervene with the scare story.  A careful, rather than cursory, examination of the report would have shown … what do you think … that the more accurate headline would have been,

"Three strikes law could have increased murders among third strike offenders had they not changed the proposed legislation back in December, but now there's really nothing to worry about on that front so do carry on...".

Politics, as he says, remains the mind-killer.



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CUE CARD ECONOMICS: Mathematical economics

Open any contemporary economics textbook or journal, and you’ll find the pages inside littered with charts, graphs and mathematical formulae—all of them pretending to a precision that the alleged economists drawing them up simply don’t have.  These people, remember, were so busy in recent years looking at the results of their psuedo-economic equations and hypothetical mathematical models that they didn’t notice that the real economy outside was about to collapse in a way that showed their models to be so much useless garbage. Elaborate castles in the air broken on the incoming tide of reality.

Mathematical economics has several strikes against it underpinning its abject failure to do the job it purported to do.

First off, the formulae themselves are garbage.  They are not derived in the way a physicist or an engineer of materials derives his formulae describing real   scientific and engineering phenomena. Instead, they are merely hypothetical expressions of hypothetical relationships using either hypothetical or already irrelevant data.  And as Henry Hazlitt points out, “the mathematical economists . . . tend to forget that out of a merely hypothetical equation or set of equations they can never pull anything better than a merely hypothetical conclusion.” 

Or to put it more simply: Garbage in, garbage out.
Click here to read more ... >>

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KRIS SAYCE: Goldman Sachs Charged With Fraud [update 2]

_Kris_Sayce_headshot_thumb[2] Kris Sayce from Money Morning Australia reckons the frauds for which Goldman Sachs are being charged are the almost inevitable result of so-called “financial engineers” playing with the counterfeit capital created out of thin air by the banking system…

You may have seen the news reports over the weekend. As the US Securities and Exchange Commission puts it on its own website:
    “SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud.”
This comes as no surprise to your editor. In our opinion the entire banking system – including the central bankers – should be up before the beak on fraud charges.
Click here to read more ... >>

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The Bandini House – Greene & Greene

bandini_house


The brothers Charles & Henry Greene first began work in California, but their first genuine California house came through the 1903 commission from Arturo Bandini, who ordered from them,
“a simple bungalow [as Thomas Heinz describes] that would express the charm of the central courtyard arrangement found in the early adobe structures that represented Bandini’s family roots…
    “The Greenes’ solution was a series of spaces, one-room deep, arranged around three sides of a spacious central court resplendent with trees, flower beds, footpaths and a central pool and fountain lush with sounds of running water.”
Click here to read more ... >>

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Maggie the warmist?

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA 6a00d83451586c69e200e55030d3b58834-800wi The Greens’s Frog Blog linked this morning to a video suggesting (among other things) that the science-trained Margaret Thatcher would deride the views of her former science adviser Christopher Monckton because, unlike him, she was a warmist.

The implication of this, of course, was that being science-trained herself she would clearly repudiate Monckton’s sallies against warmist nonsense.  The evidence presented for this was a number of speeches made by Maggie back in the 80s, before she left office. 

And, since the 2007 film The Great Global Warming Swindle also made much of Thatcher being the prime mover in setting up the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the organisation upon whom the world’s governments now lean so heavily when implementing environmental shackles on their producers, I figured—since the eighties are a long time ago, and an awful lot of carbon has gone under the bridge since then—it would be interesting to see what Thatcher’s views are now.

Fortunately, that is not too difficult since her 2002 book, Statecraft “devotes ten pages to the subject of ‘Hot Air and Global Warming,’ which Iain Murray at the Property & Environment Research Center (PERC) comments on here:

    “Thatcher is quite clear [in her book] that she feels things have gone in the wrong direction since former British ambassador to the United Nations-turned-global-warming- campaigner Sir Crispin Tickell convinced her to tell the Royal Society, "it is possible . . . we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself." She notes that the doomsters' favorite subject today is climate change, which "provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism" (449).
    “Thatcher's critics might claim that she has--to use a fashionable term--flip-flopped on the issue, but that is not necessarily the case.
    “First, she stresses that she was initially skeptical of the arguments about global warming, although she thought they deserved to be treated seriously. She points out that there was "rather little scientific advice available to political leaders from those experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis" (451). However, by 1990, she had begun to recognize that the issue was being used as a Trojan horse by anti-capitalist forces. That is why she took pains in her Royal Society speech in 1990 to state: "Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment" (452).
    “In fact, Thatcher makes it clear that she regards global warming less as an "environmental" threat and more as a challenge to human ingenuity that should be grouped with challenges such as AIDS, animal health, and genetically modified foods. In her estimation,"

    ‘All require first-rate research, mature evaluation and then the appropriate response. But no more than these does climate change mean the end of the world; and it must not either mean the end of free-enterprise capitalism.’ (457)  
…. Thatcher's environmentalism is founded on Edmund Burke's conservative view of our inheritance as being worth defending. Yet that view is tempered by her classical liberal belief that human wealth and progress are crucial.”

Which, to be fair, is a far more important point than whether or not she would support Christopher Monckton, but enough nonetheless to be fairly clear that she would.



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Copying is theft [updated]

I commented on two local blogs recently on the subject of copyright—a hot issue, what with the latest round of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) talks just having concluded in NZBoth blogs at which I commented posted the same saccharine piece of agit-prop declaring that “copying is not theft,” to which I replied, in essence:

    “Copy­ing is not theft,” you say?
    Well, if you’re copying someone else’s creations without permission, yes it is.
    My ideas are my prop­erty. Steal the form in which my ideas are expressed or made con­crete, and you’re a thief.
    Since creation is a livelihood for artists, writers and inventors, stealing the form in which their creations are made is theft of their intel­lec­tual prop­erty–which means a theft of their livelihood. And since intellectual property rights are at the heart of all prop­erty rights, the pop­ulist attack on intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights is just the latest and most fun­da­men­tal front in the attack on all prop­erty rights.
    Abol­ish­ing copy­right pro­tec­tion favours theft over thought.
    You say-or, at least, your saccharine ditty says, that no-one is worse off if copy­ing is allowed?
    Well yes, we all are. We are worse off by the lack of new ideas pro­duced and made con­crete in the form of a book, or a CD, or a patentable invention.
    With­out copy­right pro­tec­tion, you load the cost of pro­duc­tion onto musi­cians, writ­ers, artists and inven­tors, while all the ben­e­fits that would have and should have accrued to these pro­duc­ers go to instead to the thieves.
    Copy my new kind of bicy­cle with­out my per­mis­sion, for example, and you take away from me all the ben­e­fits I’d hoped to derive from the inven­tion of my new bicy­cle. Take away all the ben­e­fits that all the inven­tors of new bicy­cles hoped to derive from their inven­tion, and pretty soon you have no new types of bicycle at all–-and, if the process con­tin­ues across all fields of endeav­our, even­tu­ally no new inven­tions at all, and no more technological progress.
    Why would any­one con­tinue to pro­duce new music, write new books or invent new things under such a set-up? Why would any­one sup­port such a set-up–unless they wished them­selves to steal?
    Lud­wig von Mises explained this point:

[I]t is obvi­ous that hand­ing down knowl­edge to the ris­ing gen­er­a­tion and famil­iar­iz­ing the act­ing indi­vid­u­als with the amount of knowl­edge they need for the real­iza­tion of their plans require text­books, man­u­als, hand­books, and other non­fic­tion works. It is unlikely that peo­ple would under­take the labo­ri­ous task of writ­ing such pub­li­ca­tions if every­one were free to repro­duce them. This is still more man­i­fest in the field of tech­no­log­i­cal inven­tion and dis­cov­ery. The exten­sive exper­i­men­ta­tion nec­es­sary for such achieve­ments is often very expen­sive. It is very prob­a­ble that tech­no­log­i­cal progress would be seri­ously retarded if, for the inven­tor and for those who defray the expenses incurred by his exper­i­men­ta­tion, the results obtained were noth­ing but [gifting benefits to others while earning nothing oneself for one's creations].”

Make no mis­take, copy­ing with­out the per­mis­sion of the owner is theft–-no mat­ter how many sappy sugar-coated dit­ties you hear to the contrary.

So what’s wrong with what ACTA proposes?  Simply this:

The way ACTA proposes protecting intellectual property–by going through people’s bags, laptops and MP3 players at airports; by holding ISPs responsible for what their customers do; etc.–-is hardly in accordance with the principle of property rights they purport to be upholding.

That is the copywrong part of ACTA’s copyright proposals.  What is proposed violates the very principle they want to protect.

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Distinguish, people

An embryo is not an adult.  A foetus is not a child. A human cell is not a human being. And a human being is not a cracker—although with some nuts you’d sometimes be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Biologist PZ Myers at Pharyngula takes to task people who lack the simple ability to distinguish one thing from another—and advertise this fact by hoisting billboards around the place to show it.

    “There are groups that are actively blurring the line between embryos and human beings, and I consider them just as wicked as the howling haters lined up outside women's health clinics — they use mistruths to foment attacks on people to defend non-people. One of the biggest, noisiest, and most dishonest is Pro Life Across America, which puts up billboards all across the US; we have a similar outfit here in my state, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
    “Their work is easily recognizable. They have one theme: fetuses and babies are exactly the same. All of their signs feature cute baby pictures coupled to factoids about development, and they thoroughly enrage me — I see them all along the roadsides on my drive in to Minneapolis. They are basically generating false associations about development.”

Read on here to see some examples, and some skilful debunking: Sunday Sacrilege: an embryo is not a person



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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Because we need to be reminded occasionally . . .

_quote A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”
        - Thomas Jefferson.

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