Tuesday, 2 August 2005

The beers are on ACT, but only if you're young enough

Now here's some on-campus political activism I like, from -- oddly enough -- Act on Campus:
Today Auckland ACT on Campus held a protest against Matt Robson's bill to raise the drinking age. ACT on Campus shouted a keg, but only for those who could prove they are 18 or 19. Besides the amusement of seeing how many people have learner licences, we did this to make a serious point. The ACT Party wants 18 and 19 year olds to be able to make their own decisions, including being able to drink. ACT on Campus helped them drink in a more direct way.

We made the point that it is ridiculous for people who work and study hard, pay tax, vote, can have sex and be sent to jail or war; can't even buy a beer. It's a double standard on responsibility.
Guess they're not all bed-wetters and suit-wearers in ACT then. Shame they haven't yet worked out that ACT isn't a freedom party. Still, that question will be moot in just 45 days, 21 hours and 46 minutes. I'm sure more than a few Libz on Campus types pointed out to them what a real freedom party looks like, and then went on to help them to finish off that beer keg.

Good stuff everyone. :-)

[UPDATE: Somebody's bitten. Aaron Bhatnagar, no doubt with memories of Palmers vouchers in mind, is wowserly suggesting the boys have commited an offence! Aaron wears a suit, and these days he wears it to bed.]

Betting on Iraq

A website called BetOnIraq.com points out that
Iraq's chances of thriving are much better than most of the media would have us believe... After years of trade sanctions, and rampant counterfeiting, the Iraqi Dinar has plummeted from its pre-Gulf War value of over USD$3, to mere fractions of one US cent. What was once the equivalent of more than $82,500, can now be purchased for around $50. Can Iraq's economy achieve, in a free market, what it once achieved under a brutal dictatorship?.
Fancy betting on Iraq's future? Then think about buying some dinars.

Car crash calls for knee-jerk Leviathan

A tragic crash in Hastings (picture right) has highlighted why this country oozes bad law. Author Robert Higgs in his book Crisis and Leviathan suggested that big government has an ever-expanding 'ratchet-like' growth, with that growth fed by various crises.

Higgs was talking about large-scale crises such as wars, depressions and other disasters, during which Leviathan government grows and never shrinks back . Here in New Zealand, we do it differently. A tragic car crash, for example, is enough to prompt knee-jerk calls that "the guvamint should do something about it," and talkback shows are awash with schemes for raising the licensing age; for compulsory third-party insurance; for P-plates, L-plates and R-plates; for restricting the cc rating of cars for young drivers; and for locking teens up at night and fitting them with chastity belts.

Expect to see a stampede of party pledges from aspiring politicians seeking to stroke this disaffection, and a stream of bad, nannying law to eventually emerge, and self-responsibility to diminish.

It's often said that hard cases make bad law. It's also true that knee-jerk law written in an atmosphere of emotion is bad law, and bad law almost always feeds Leviathan. Talkback callers demanding "the guvamint should do something" might like to reflect on two points: First, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again; and second, when you're wondering who is responsible for the growth of Nanny Government, the answer is you.

Roll over Bono: Beethoven beat you

So much for the "shrinking appetite for classical music." The BBC's 'Beethoven' downloads, to which I pointed loyal readers in good time for downloading, has been the most successful online download of all time! Don't just believe me, the Grauniad has the news here.
Forget Coldplay and James Blunt. Forget even Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which, in the version performed at Live8 by Sir Paul McCartney and U2, has become the fastest online-selling song ever. Beethoven has routed the lot of them.Final figures from the BBC show that the complete Beethoven symphonies on its website were downloaded 1.4m times, with individual works downloaded between 89,000 and 220,000 times.
1.4 million downloads! That is amazing.
To put another perspective on the success of the Beethoven downloads, according to Matthew Cosgrove, director of Warner Classics, it would take a commercial CD recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies "upwards of five years" to sell as many downloads as were shifted from the BBC website in two weeks. The BBC has been stunned by the response - so much so that its director general, Mark Thompson, opened his annual report with Beethoven's inscription on the score of the Missa Solemnis: "From the heart ... May it go again to the heart!"
Who says classical music isn't relevant today?

Memo to Muriel:

ACT's Muriel Newman declared yesterday that "ACT’s once radical policies are now determining the future of New Zealand." You heard it there first, in Muriel's Weekly commentary. It must be true, because Muriel said so.

What I read there is a little, um, imaginative. Have a look yourself. Let's look at just one of her claims: "We were the first party to call for the scrapping of the Resource Management Act, which allows private property to be confiscated without compensation."

Word to Muriel: Not only has the ACT Party never had scrapping of the Resource Management Act as party policy -- more's the pity -- but there is only one party that has a policy to scrap the RMA, the Libertarianz, and -- as I know you know Muriel -- that has been Libz policy ever since the party's formation in 1996. (Here for example is Libz submission to Upton's RMA Inquiry back in 1999 . The ACT Party's submission then called for tinkering. Today they call for "gutting" but without any detail.)

Furthermore, even after Kelo, Muriel still thinks that confiscating private property with compensation is okay. Oh dear. It clearly takes her a while to learn her lessons.

File Muriel's column in the Fiction section of your archives.

Awatere Huata: Beneficiary and thief

Q: Has Donna Awatere Huata ever done an honest day's work in her life? Has she ever actually earned a dollar, or has she sucked off the state tit all her life?

A: She did once have a 'business' selling Maori stick games to government departments, but that's hardly work, is it? And hardly what you'd call 'earning' money. She's spent her whole life as a beneficiary of state largesse, and she thought she had an entitlement to it.

There's a metaphor there for something, isn't there?

Monday, 1 August 2005

The Death of Marat



'The Death of Marat,' by Jacques-Louis David.

The death of an ideal...

Snouts in the electoral trough

I have a letter in front of me from "the official publication of the NZ Law Society," that bastion of rectitude, probity and worthy self-importance that looks after the interests of all New Zealand's lawyers -- except of course when their name is Rob Moodie.

They've noticed that there is an election coming up, and they would like me to respond on behalf of the Libertarianz to the issues that concern them this election year, especially Libertarianz's "policies in relation to the law." Foolishly, I began thinking what I could say about our support for the Rule of Law and of slashing legislation to make the law more simple and more accessible, of our enthusiasm for Common Law and its principled protection of property rights, and of our proposed Constitution protecting individual rights ... I say "foolishly" because reading on it quickly became apparent that none of these things are of any interest to the Assistant Editor of "the official publication of the NZ Law Society."

What he is specifically interested in is our attitude to legal aid. Specifically, he is asking me for our attitude to the following: 1) "changes to eligibility ...so that more people can obtain representation through legal aid"; 2) an increase in rates for legal aid; 3) a bigger budget for legal aid; and 4) more experienced lawyers needing to submit bigger legal aid bills if they're going to be interested.

Put simply, what Mr Frank Neill, Assistant Editor of LawTalk, (04) 915 1282 (give him a call, I'm sure he'll be delighted to hear from you) wants to know is this: Are we promising to to give lawyers more money if elected? That's it really. Are we promising more for all the snouts in the legal trough, and a bigger trough for all those snouts to go into? That's the substance of the "election special" in Frank's upcoming issue -- and you can bet all the parties bar Libertarianz will be falling over themselves to promise increased gobs of your cash to be handed out to lawyers, who as we all know are in a parlous state nationwide, poor dears.

Take poor Deborah Manning for example, whose law firm McLeod & Associates have only manage to pull down a paltry $2 million or so from the taxpayer in defending Ahmed Zaoui's bid to stay in New Zealand. Surely we can help Deborah and McLeod & Associates, can't we? She herself might question "the importance of money as a motivation to succeed," but you can be sure the rest of her partners aren't complaining about the largesse being flung their way.

So on reflection, the best answer I can give to Mr Frank Neill (email: frank.neill@lawyers.org.nz) and the readers of LawTalk -- "the official publication of the NZ Law Society" -- is to point him to the Libertarianz Unemployment Policy:

Unemployment under Libertarianz would increase dramatically: among politicians, lawyers, accountants, resource management consultants, iwi consultants, town planners, arborists, politicians, bureaucrats, tax collectors, WINZ staff, and salaried busybodies of every stripe. With the dead weight of these parasites out of our way the rest of us can get on with our lives, while the moochers re-educate themselves for life in a world that no longer owes them a living.

With some very few noticeable exceptions, the more I see of lawyers and their venality, the more I find myself in favour of nationalising the lot of them. Put that in your official journal, Frank. Or maybe just print these two quotes from H.L. Mencken for your members and see if they get the point: 1)"An election is an advance auction of stolen goods"; and 2):
All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.
Should there be any further questions after that, Frank, then please do not hesitate to write them on a small piece of stiff parchment, fold it until it's all sharp corners, and then insert it where the sun doesn't shine. It's an exercise lawyers such as those you represent should do more often.

[UPDATE: Here's an interesting update -- Deborah Manning, star of the Ahmed Zaoui travelling circus and recipient of that $2 million of legal aid, is herself on the Auckland Law Society's Legal Aid Committee. Can anyone spell 'conflict of interest'?]

Health, Education and all those bloody problems

At every election, what gets people annoyed they say is the mess the Government makes of Health and Education. This morning's Herald makes clear that this election these two issues are once again at the top of people's concerns, just as they have been at every election since Adam needed a hip operation for his mother-in-law (or at least since the State has been trying to organise such things). Waiting lists, waiting-for-waiting lists, NCEA scams and non-scholarships, tertiary institution rorts, rising illiteracy and innumeracy, pictures of Bill English looking righteously indignant ... the list of downright horrid and frightening things goes on and on, and it's not a list that gets those hip operations done, now is it?

What’s common to the management of both the problematic Health and Education sectors in New Zealand is of course one big thing: Big Government -- and I do agree with you that it's oxymoronic to use the words 'government' and 'management' in the same sentence, although it's no surprise to see the words 'problem' and government linked, is it.

The big problem is Big Government. We don’t argue every three years about the issues of zoning for local supermarkets, problems with waiting lists at shoe stores, or the dangerous shortage of Burger King restaurants, but you can be damn sure we would be if the bloody government was running them, and the talkback lines would sure be running hot complaining about a shortage of Double Whoppers if they were. We don’t want government running supermarkets, shoe stores or hamburger outlets (unless you still vote Alliance), so why the hell do we let them them run our schools and hospitals? It sure beats the hell out of me.

People say that governments must run the country's health system because they need to ensure that everyone has access to it. But do they? As Canadian Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin has just ruled in striking down Quebec's government-not-run health-care monopoly “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.” Sure ain't. Not there, and not here either. Mark Steyn has that story and his own acerbic commentary on the state of socialist healthcare in Canada. "They’ve not yet reached the stage of a ten-month waiting list for the maternity ward," he notes comfortingly but he does cite cases that are awfully close. " But forget the medical arguments and consider the purely political ones," says Steyn,
The justification for “universal access” to health care is that a “decent society” does not let its sick suffer because they can’t afford an operation. But even as universal access decayed into universal lack of access, the utopian left defended it all the more vigorously: the fact that we all received the same non-treatment testified to our virtue, though even this perverse defense was utterly phony: one of the most unattractive features of our ersatz-egalitarianism was that it led to the creation of a humbug nomenklatura who (like Canada’s Prime Minister) use private clinics for their own health even as they continue to proclaim that decrepit incompetent monopoly public health is an eternal “Canadian value” that can never be changed.
Sounds awfully familiar to the New Zealand ear, doesn't it.

I haven't even started on the problems with government-run education and the state's factory schools. Fortunately, I can point you to some places that do. Julian Pistorius has been following the Orauta school saga at his blog (as can you if you care about government force being used to close a successful school loved by children and parents), Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation has a blog called Education Weak keeping an eye on this issue from an American perspective, Mark Lerner has a brief item on an increase in educational “looping”, in which a teacher stays with a group of students for two years, and Stephen Hicks (from whom I got some of these links) has an article on Excellence in Education (which is itself excellent).
One component of freedom is social: Not being subject to authoritarian dictates. We live in a democratic republic, and we take our freedoms seriously. Part of education, then, involves teaching people to be self-governing citizens – individuals who can form sound judgments about complicated matters, who have confidence in their judgments and the initiative to act upon them, and who have the independence of spirit that doesn’t let others push them around.
Hard to do that in a school financed, organised and 'managed' by a system that tries to make pushing people around an art form.

And check out too this alternative US school focusing on independence and choice, this about the just-finished 2005 Montessori Congress, Championing the Cause of All Children, and this from the Libertarianz party who wants to give back the government schools to those that use them, and to close down the Ministry. Makes sense to me.

Smacking ambiguous law

Sue Bradford's Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005 will be considered by a select committee after the election. The bill will remove a legal defence of reasonable force by way of discipline for parents charged with assaulting their children by repealing s59 of the Crimes Act, which permits what the law at present calls explicitly "reasonable force." Without s59, the law considers all force to be assault, meaning "the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another, directly or indirectly..."

Read more of this comment here at Dave Crampton's Big News, and my own earlier comments on this Bill here.

Frankly, I have no time for those who are determined to collapse the distinction between smacking and beating, and between the illegal and the immoral. There is a difference -- a crucial difference -- between each of these, and confusing the distinction as Bradford seeks to do by adding unnecessary ambiguity to our law needs being smacked down itself.

Sunday, 31 July 2005

SST Morality Quiz

Have a crack at this, the Sunday Star Times' Great Morality Quiz. It's not great, but it is a quiz. :-)

I'll post my results later.

[Hat tip DPF]

Dinner with the stars

When John Lennon moved to New York in the early seventies he said he'd done so because he wanted to be at the centre of the world.

New York in the fifties was even more a centre of excellence, and perhaps an even greater magnet for talent. With all the certified geniuses then either resident in Manhattan or working there, I've often wondered at the sort of sparkling dinner party that could have been put together.

How about this for the start of a sparkling guest list, put together from people spending a lot of time in New York at the time:

Frank Lloyd Wright
Maria Montessori
Arturo Toscanini
Ayn Rand
Pier Luigi Nervi
Duke Ellington
Albert Einstein
Terence Rattigan
Ludwig von Mises
Maria Callas
Godfrey N. Hounsfield

Wouldn't you just love to even be a fly on the wall at that gathering?

Saturday, 30 July 2005

Futuna, by John Scott


An unsung New Zealand masterpiece, sadly now in a state of deterioration: John Scott's Futuna Chapel, unloved and undeserved by the people of Karori.

Gotcha!


All four 21/7 London bombers arrested last night.
As the Sun once said, "Gotcha!"

ACT autopsied on 'Agenda'

Rodney Hide's appearance on 'Agenda' this morning prompted a dissection of the ACT Party's prospects, and as always these days the dissection turned into an autopsy. (Transcript here when it's ready.)

What all the commentators seemed to agree on is that ACT are gone unless they can find a King Hit, and Rodney's mission to "Stop-Winston" is just not it. Those voters are not theirs.

Which reminded me of my public spirited advice to ACT Party supporters back at the start of June:
If you're going down anyway -- as you are -- why not use the public platform you've got, eschew compromise and scandal-mongering, and start saying what you really believe? Or at least say what you say you really believe? What have you got to lose that the polls are saying you haven't already? If not now, when?

Here's five things you could try saying that at the moment you're too scared too ...
Read on here.

Judicial activism v rights

As George W.'s Supreme Court nominee John Roberts awaits confirmation, Tara Smith offers some thoughts on what a Supreme Court nominee should know as a minimum, and she takes a tilt at the notion of judicial activism as being in any way meaningful.
As the battle over John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation begins, the one widely agreed upon measure of qualification is that he not be a "judicial activist." While conservatives have long railed against "activist" judges "making" law by legislating from the bench, many on the left in recent years have similarly criticized the Rehnquist court as "activist" (on behalf of executive powers, for instance). Charges of "activism" have essentially become a smear intended to discredit any decision with which one disagrees. More damaging, however, the use of this label, on all sides, fosters a serious confusion about the role of the judiciary.
What the job of the justices is, contends Smith, is the understanding and upholding of the individual rights and freedoms of its citizens, which is after all the reason that governments are constituted, and the recognition and protection of the fact that governments properly act only by permission.

And why are rights-based systems so sound? Well, as Tibor Machan explains here, they're not at all sound if they're misunderstood, as they are by those such as the present US Supreme Court justices in their egregious Kelo v New London decision. But when properly understood, a rights-based systems is sound because
it fits human beings better than the alternative, which would have a legal system constantly promote welfare or well-being in an ad hoc fashion. The fact is, no one can ever devise a legal system and public policies that guarantee good results. Putting people in charge of this massive project will backfire in a big way. Politicians are not gods (or even angels), so their plans are bound to contain many mistakes, and when they plan for others whom they do not know, that likelihood is overwhelming.
The question then is either a rights-based system or a centrally planned one, and that particular question was well-answered for all of us when the Berlin Wall fell. Or so you might have thought...

Free screen cleaner

Download your free MS Monitor Cleaner here.

[Hat tip Silent Running]

Friday, 29 July 2005

Slainte!


It's been one of those weeks when only whiskey will do. And when only whiskey will do, the only whiskey that will do is Jameson's.

Slainte!

223,000 voters still not enrolled!

It looks like the 'No Confidence' vote and the 'None of the Above' votes are secured for the election. The Herald reports that 223,000 voters are yet to put their name on the electoral roll. I don't know about you, but that makes me smile.

As they say, don't vote, it only encourages them.

New Poll: Who is the most odious MP?

Based on the fact that people don't vote new governments in, but instead vote the last government out, I'm offering a new poll there on the sidebar to give us a guide to which of the present crop of power-lusters in parliament you find most repellent. For reasons perhaps obvious only to myself, I've excluded the party leaders from the poll.

Feel free to let me know your choice of 'Other' in the comments below.

Site poll results - Libz the winner on the day

My site poll to establish who reads this blog -- which is a poll that does really matter to me -- has now finished.
Selection
ACT 108 votes
Greens 55 votes
Labour 33 votes
Libertarianz 272 votes
Maori 7 votes
National 106 votes
Bigots 6 votes
None of the above 16 votes
With a total of 603 votes cast, I've established that I have 6 readers that are Bigots and 7 that are Maori Party supporters; as we have no Maori seats here at Not PC and both parties are under the 5% threshold, all bigots are out. I wish it were that easy. :-/

The Labour-Green coalition has 15%, with the Greens as senior partner with 9% support. Act and National have 18% each, meaning that at this site at least there will be other ACT MPs who will have the chance to deliver a valedictory speech one day. In real life however ...

Anyway, the undisputed winner, to nobody's surprise I'm sure, is the Libertarianz-None of the Above coalition with 48%, meaning they will still be needing a coalition partner. Perhaps one or two from the Press gallery could help out? ;-)

So, all that remains then is to give full credit to all the opposition, and to note that 'Not PC' was the winner on the day. Thanks to all those who took part, and I invite you all to participate in my 'Which is the Most Odious Parliamentarian' poll, up there shortly. :-)

As if they would

Former PM Mike Moore was expressing concern this morning that with the closeness of the polls (The Polls! The Polls!) he is worried that in search of votes politicians will be "making promises they won't keep."

You have to laugh.

The polls! The polls!

Unlike every other blogger in Christendom I won't be commenting on 'The Polls!' this morning.

It's not that they're irrelevant but there's never any test of their accuracy, they are in many respects self-fulfilling, and in the end there's only one poll that matters anyway.

Crikey, with all the noise about them elsewhere though it's enough to make you put your head in your hands and run around maniacally... "The Polls! The Polls!"

[Q: BTW, what whiskey does Quasimodo drink?
A: Bells. ]

Fordham Spire will stand tall


One of the most exciting international architects practicing today is Santiago Calatrava, who has just unveiled his plans for the Fordham Spire, the tallest skyscraper in the US, to be built on Chicago's lakefront (above). When completed, it will be the second tallest in the world, behind the Burj Tower presently under construction in Dubai. The Herald quotes the head of Fordham Co. Christopher Carley, who clearly has a sense of history: Good on him. Chicago's skyline is like an art collection; it's wonderful that Chicagoans value these art treasures so visible in their city. Naturally the design has attracted knockers, from a Donald Trump apprehensive of the competition -- "a total charade" The Donald calls it -- to people suggesting it will be "a target for terrorists." Carley and Calatrava brush off both claims. Of the latter, Calatrava says:
Chicago was America's birthplace for modern architecture, nurturing the genius of Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe," Carley said in a statement. "We want to carry that tradition into the 21st century and give our city a masterpiece by one of today's indisputable geniuses."

"The target was not skyscrapers," he said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. "The target was the human lives within them. That's what made it so horrible. But what is my weapon to react against this thing? This building is my weapon! It is a way to say we build in our culture a respect for human life and for a pluralistic society. We have to make an effort to continue inventing the book of life."

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Leaky homes 'suck it up'

Intelligent guest commentary here from a retired builder who says "architects are part of the leaky homes problem[s]." [Pluralisation is my own.]

I don't necessarily disagree with him, as I pointed out when I heard that Richard Priest Architects Ltd went into liquidation. In my opinion too many of the architects who do have culpability for these and other problems are too often protected by their Institute -- and of course the 'solution' proposed is that more of us join the various institutes and bodies to which so many of the culpable people already belong.

Anyway, here's the guest commentary (lightly edited just for punctuation):

"The houses of the last century are still up and serving their owners well. They didn't treat wood in those days. The problem is they don't have a clue about design, or any of the more scientific reasons that create this problem. Pressure treated timber is far superior to painted treated timber, but that has nothing to do with the problem. The problem lies in the fact that design is completely wrong. Build a house with untreated wood exactly as your great grandfather did, and it will last 150 years. Let the timber breathe; no stupid insulation in the wall.

All this treated timber, or untreated timber, or bad builders has very little to do with the problem. The problem lies solely with the people that make the rules. The rules up to the seventies never encountered the leaky home problems that we have today. They had bad builders, idiot designers, untreated wood, so lets concentrate on what changed.

The 'Spanish' look was born, that's when the rules changed. We had air tight walls full of insulation like it was the Arctic Circle. That in itself is a great mistake: the pressure inside the wall is less than the pressure outside the wall, so that the wall will suck water up hill like drinking with a straw. They still don't know that, that is the problem they run round like headless chooks each blaming the other.

If you want a ROLLSROYCE job don't try and do it with LADA parts. If you want a Spanish house build it with blocks the way the Spaniards do, not like these clowns on a timber frame. "

The 'deregulated' building industry...

My first post this morning is by way a comment at DPF's on the source of the problems with leaky homes, and some of the myths that have been fomenting around the problem. The first myth is that the building industry was "deregulated" in 1991 ...

That's a sample on the right of some of the paperwork that accompanied the 1991 'deregulation.' The new bureaucracy was of a similar size.

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

'Cathedral' by Rodin Posted by Picasa

Defiant school still offering Mallard two fingers

The brave trustees of Orauta School were smacked around the head yesterday by the courts and the Ministry of Education who, acting under instruction by Minister Trevor Mallard, had taken them there in a further attempt to close them down. Background here; two of my earlier comments on the case here and here.

Julian Pistorius has the full story of yesterday's action, a few reflections on whom to blame for the trustees' plight, and the defiant assertion "that parents should have the right to choose and take responsibility for the education of their children."
The parents and teachers from Orauta School have done nothing wrong. They have entered into a mutual, voluntary agreement and are educating their own children. There are no victims here. Why is the State persecuting them and treating them like criminals?
Ask your own MPs when he knocks on your door why such parents are being persecuted.

Plunge in Not PC's Blogshare price!

I've just found out that my Blogshare price took a savage drop at the start of July from a high of B$804.70 to its present price of B$354.91, which surprised me, particularly as I wasn't even aware my blog had a share price. How 'bout that!

You've probably got one too. Check it out.

I see the big drop was from a major sell-off by Idiot Savant, but it hasn't yet recorded any drop in share price from the recent sell-off by one previously large holder of Not PC paper who failed to accurately read the various company reports sent to her. You do get that on the big jobs.

That's got the students...

From one of my guest commentators:

"That's got the students - beneficiaries next !! Won't bother with the tax payers - there aren't enough of them anyway."

That's true! As one of the young intellectual giants interviewed on Campbell Live said, "I don't care about the future anyway." Sadly, there's too few votes in those that do.

Election bribes for students

If you're still wondering why Cullen insists his $7 billion surplus is not a surplus, hints are emerging all the time. You might recall some weeks ago it was announced he 'found' an extra $500 million to pay for new roads. Yesterday there was enough left over to pay for $300 million of election bribes so that students can take out no-interest loans at taxpayers' expense.

Labour says it will ease the brain drain. But Dr Brash said the Government could "just as easily give every New Zealander $1000 to stay in New Zealand". "This is the Government that said just a couple of months ago there wasn't enough money for any kind of tax relief for hard-working New Zealanders." Labour's scheme would also cause an explosion in student debt. "Why would you not borrow to the limit of your capacity, to the limit of the rules if you're not going to pay interest on it?", Dr Brash said.

Indeed, why not? The Dominion points out that, so far at least, National promises "more money in the hand through tax cuts": that's your money in your hand (although it is so far not so much a promise as a promise of a promise). Labour's strategy on the other hand is to promise more of someone else's money in your hand, while the government's own hand dives deeper into your pocket.

This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, or your children, are being bribed.
[UPDATE: GMan and Cathy are questioning the "rather conveniently round" $300 million figure. As Cathy says, "The costings should be redone on the basis that every student maxes their student loan every year. They will....just watch." Why wouldn't they?]

No power

Shit, I hate saying 'I told you so,' especially when what I was offering was a warning. Seven years ago I pointed out that "Auckland’s current power crisis is only a dry run for worse to come." Remember Auckland's power blackouts in February 1998? Remember the crisis when a few crucial cables broke, and we learnt how tenuous was the power supply to our largest city?

With this in mind, did you notice this week Genesis Energy's appeal over the decision to deny them a secure right to take water from the Whanganui River to generate hydro power? The reason Genesis Energy's water rights were cut from 35 to 10 years by the environment court (acting under the RMA) was because Ken Mair of the Whanganui River Trust Board says he wants to "ensure the well-being of our river." Specifically, he wants to ensure the 'mauri' or 'life force' of the river. Yes, that's right, this is mystic nonsense recognised in law by the environment court.

A ten-year water right is not a secure right. As Genesis said when the decision was handed down, “We cannot plan for sustainable operation of the Tongariro hydro scheme with a ten year time horizon. Like other power generators, long term commercial certainty over the operation of our assets is essential to meet New Zealand's energy needs.”

So in Owen McShane's words "Now we have a sort of precedent that says rivers in New Zealand have a life force and generating stations take that life force away." Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association warns that the principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. "It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word...hydro is suddenly becoming too hard...what's left?...we can't do everything on windpower," says Jenkins. And if there's no power, there's no industry. And industry is our real lifeblood. So this decision demands that our own real lives are being sacrificed for the mystical life force of Ken Mair's river. Such is the RMA.

Which is what I was saying seven years ago during Auckland's power crisis:
Future restrictions on industry arising from ‘The Green Dream Team’ will dwarf [Auckland's] current problems, according to the Libertarianz Party. The Dream Team’s two players are the Resource Management Act and the Kyoto Protocol: The RMA we know about by now; the Protocol, signed by Simon Upton earlier this year... extracts promises that governments of wealthy, industrial nations will ‘work towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions’ - the inescapable by-product of the burning of fossil fuels. Stripped of its worthy glow this means nothing less than a promise for the reduction of industry!

“The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol, promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure (like power stations and industrial plants). [Auckland's 1998] power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us," said Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell today.
Lest you think the Green Dream Team have throttled industry by accident, allow Robert Bidinotto to try and persuade you otherwise:

Typically, the person who calls himself an "environmentalist" is really just a nature-loving "conservationist." Appreciating the earth's natural beauty and bounty, he is understandably concerned about trash, noise, pollution, and poisons. Still, he sees the earth and its bounty as resources--resources for intelligent human use, development, and enjoyment. At root, then, his concern for the earth is human-centered: he believes that this is our environment, to be used by people to enhance their lives, well-being, and happiness.

But the leaders of the organized environmentalist movement have a very different attitude and agenda.

Their basic premise is that human activities to develop natural resources constitute a desecration of nature--that, in fact, nature exists for its own sake, not for human use and enjoyment. By their theory of ecology, they see man not as the crowning glory of nature, nor even as just another part of "the web of life"--but rather as a blight upon the earth, as the enemy of the natural world. And they see man's works as a growing menace to all that exists.

Their basic agenda, therefore, is to stop the "assault" and "onslaught" of human activity: to place every possible impediment to man's further development of the earth and its resources. They pursue this anti-human agenda tirelessly and consistently. Their fanatical activities have led not just to enormously increased financial burdens on us all, but--demonstrably--even to the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children worldwide.

And the ugliest aspect of all this is that while causing so much harm, environmentalists posture--and are generally accepted--as idealists.
I'm not just talking about so-called "extremists" within the movement: I'm talking about its mainstream organizations, leaders, and spokesmen. Their public faces of moderation mask private attitudes and goals that are radically, irreconcilably opposed to the requirements of human life on earth.
I couldn't put it better myself. Exaggeration? In his evidence for his view, Bidinotto quotes numerous environmentalists including David Graber, a biologist with the US National Park Service:
Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line—at about a million years ago, maybe half that—we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth . . . . Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.
Here are some more quotes from anti-human-life luddite whack-jobs. These are the people with whom we are compromising when we give Kyoto house room, when the RMA is tinkered with and not abolished, and when we allow them both to throttle industry.

As I said during Auckland's power crisis, “The environmentalists’ false claims for disasters that ‘might’ occur will be dwarfed by the disasters that will occur if we continue to blindly accept their rantings. You think that the loss of power to our industrial capital for nine weeks is bad news? Just wait until the Dream Team kicks in - you ain’t seen nothing yet!”I do hate saying 'I told you so,' but don't say I never warned you.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Don v Helen: Game on

Speaking on Breakfast News this morning Helen Clark was asked to say something about her opponent Don Brash. "He's an intelligent man," she said, "but beyond that I have no comment."

He is indeed an intelligent man. In fact, Don and Helen between them are the two most intelligent, astute and principled representatives of their respective parties that a New Zealand election campaign has seen for some time -- perhaps ever?

The sheeple will be coralled whatever the final outcome, but if the mudslinging stops and the minor players can keep out the headlines for a while then I for one relish the prospect of watching a presidential style election campaign in which these two intellects debate each other and debate the issues. As NZ elections go and however bad the result on election night, that spectacle at least will be a rare pleasure. If the mudslinging ever stops.

The only poll that counts

Now that the date has been set for the only poll that counts, my site poll can be changed. It's been very useful to me to see who has been reading me here: particularly to find that National supporting readers are second only to Libertarianz readers, that 'None of the Above' performed so poorly, that the Greens performed so well, and that Labour supporters are mostly elsewhere.

So I'll give it one more day and then I'll put up a new poll. Any suggestions? Should I have a poll on the subject of the next poll?

Monday, 25 July 2005

An election day practice ballot Posted by Picasa

Running the rule over the Nats

A winning but high-risk strategy in sport is to attack your opponent directly at their strongest point rather than identifying their weaknesses and attacking those. When you can pull it off it's a winning strategy since once the opponent's strength is demolished, or at least nullified, the rest should follow. It's high risk because if you can't pull it off you lose. Big time. As DPF pointed out last week, "The most stupid thing a party can do is set expectations that their leader will crush the other leader. This is Politics 101. It means that a draw becomes a loss, a win a draw, and a bad performance could spell game over."

Labour have explicitly adopted this very strategy in their decision to target Don Brash in a series of, well, odd billboard attacks. The idea is that if they can take him out they take out National's main strength. In doing so they've chosen not to attack the many weaknesses behind him, and as Saturday's Herald's article looking at National's possible front bench demonstrates, those weaknesses are legion.

John Armstrong runs the rule over the Nats behind Brash, and as those of us who can remember the Nats when they were in power might testify they come up three feet short of a yard.

In every respect apart from the obvious one Gerry Brownlee is a lightweight, and only in a caucus with the paucity of talent of this one would such a buffoon have the job of deputy. Bill English was a dithering waste-of-space as party leader, deservedly leading his party to their worst electoral defeat ever, and more recently criticising Labour for the NCEA disaster, apparently unaware that his own party introduced the whole mess. Onya Bill.

And then we have Nick Smith. Idiot. The man that called the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation" when he was previously minister in charge of it. The man that John Armstrong points out "as Environment Minister... would have the crucial task of rewriting the Resource Management Act." Uh oh! As Lindsay Perigo describes him he is "a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with." Expect to see no change however "substantive" to the RMA from Nick the Dick, especially now that Labour have stolen the window-dressing he proposed for it.

Remember Tony Ryall promising to end the presumption of innocence for crimes of his choice when he was Justice Minister back in 1998? Remember Vile Ryall defending the revenue-collecting of his police officers, and instructing them to continue with it. Some of us still do. And then there's John Key, who has spent the last few weeks contradicting his leader: when Brash says in the morning "tax cuts by Christmas" John says in the afternoon maybe by Easter, or Christmas 2007, or in nine years. With talent like this around him, Don Brash must walk into his caucus room some days and just shake his head, and wonder how he ever got involved with them.

One from the vaults...

One from the vaults to send Chris Lewis on his way. (News and background below; tribute to Chris from Lindsay Perigo here.)

Photograph courtesy The Free Radical, from Issue 30.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Sunday brunch music

The Not PC research and development department has after many years of research found two candidates for your perfect Sunday morning and Sunday brunch music.

The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions has just the right amount of light and space for a hungover Sunday, and Margo Timmins smoky mezzo complements wonderfully the smell of pancakes and maple syrup from the kitchen. Gerry Mulligan's quartet album with Chet Baker is the perfectly breezy follow up. Togther they make me ready to face the afternoon. :)

[NOTE: I'm updating the Ellington links below. I'm told some weren't working, so I'll be changing them for some that do. :-( ]

Saturday, 23 July 2005

"...That rip-roaring harmony hound, Duke Ellington"

Anyone who missed the Concert FM's Jazz Profiles radio programme on Duke Ellington a couple of weeks ago -- or if you heard it and want to hear it again, can find at least some of it online here in five short parts (scroll down past some other audio gems to find the shows, or click here for parts one, two, three, four and five) .

As one of the show's interviewees avers, Ellington was unquestionably the greatest composer in the history of jazz. Listen in and find out why.

If you want something further, check out some other NPR Ellington excerpts here, or invest in perhaps the best introduction to Ellington's genius, Beyond Category, or my own favourite his Far East Suite. Superb.

Not PC: What you might have missed

More of what you might have missed at Not PC this week if you've been away, had computer problems, or just shamefully haven't been tuning in here every day. Shame on you! All this below plus humour, innuendo, gossip and a complete set of new steak knives free with every visit (Hint: one of these things is not true).

Prohibition finds new victims
The 'high profile sporting stars' and celebrities that were caught up in the latest drug hoohah and whom we dare not name just go to show that the main problem involved with drug use is not the harm of the drugs themselves but the criminalisation involved with their use...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/prohibition-finds-new-victims.html

Chris Lewis: Tall Poppy
I'm enormously sad to learn that New Zealand Tennis have finally driven tennis ace Chris Lewis from New Zealand. Chris is a wonderful sportsman and a tremendous human being, and his departure for California leaves me angry at his treatment here at home...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/chris-lewis-tall-poppy.html

The west's suicide bomb
Once again Cox and Forkum are on the money with their cartoon, The Real Suicide Bomb, inspired by a line from Mark Steyn's A victory for multiculti over common sense . Steyn's most important point is one expanded by Robert Tracinski, that "you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is." In the battle for civilisation in which we're presently engaged, it is crucial to know what in fact the values that support civilisation are. As Steyn notes they are more than just eating fish and chips, playing cricket and sporting appalling leisurewear...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/wests-suicide-bomb.html

Poll shows species headed for extinction
If you're any sort of anthropologist or ecologist you should keep your eye on the last days of a particular human species about to beome extinct, Homo politicis Actus, otherwise known as the ACT Party...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/poll-shows-species-headed-for.html

A word from your taxpaid sponsor
A correspondent just sent this to me, and it seemed the best thing to do with it is to post it here. I agree with every word: I'd like to vent my spleen over something heard on the news this morning only I'm not sure which direction to vent. The fire in Dunedin apparently destroyed the offices of some people organising the "NZ Masters Games" (whatever that is). The bit that's got me going is that the sponsors of said games is "ACC Think Safe"...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/word-from-your-taxpaid-sponsor.html

Nick Smith: Idiot.
We all know that National's Nick Smith is an idiot, but you'd think he could at least remember what he says from one week to the next. Last month he described Labour's proposed changes to the RMA as a "massive U-turn." "...This important change was proposed in a bill by National in 1999 but dismissed by Labour as evil and dangerous," says a breathless Smith. Now, a month later, he says of these same reforms they are "window-dressing ... a piecemeal response to a law that requires far more substantive reform."
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/nick-smith-idiot.html

Apollo 11: Human Achievement Day!
On our present calendar there days in which to 'Remember the Spotted Whale' ands more than one 'Poke a Sharp Stick at the Capitalist Day'; they litter the calendar all they way from here to the next 'Say Sal'aam for Noam Chomsky Day.' So I was disappointed to find I'd missed a proposal by Objectivist Center head Ed Hudgins that "A new [commemorative day] should be added to the calendar - informally rather than by government decree: Human Achievement Day...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/apollo-11-human-achievement-day.html

Sawmill project shows RMA court a "lottery"
One million dollars, several years of planning, and the Coromandel sawmill proposed by Blue Mountain Lumber has now been knocked on the head by the Environment Court. Apparently the court decided that people on the property's 'marginal strip' could see the proposed plant. Wouldn't that be just awful for them...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/sawmill-project-shows-rma-court.html


My Son the Fanatic
Irfan Khawaja has a hot film tip for you: A friend asked me over the weekend for help in understanding the London bombings, and I told her (as I'd recommended in a previous post) to go out and rent the 1997 British film, "My Son the Fanatic."
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/my-son-fanatic.html

Legalise It. Not.
The Greens are proposing to legalise cannabis decriminalise cannabis fine people for using cannabis. This is somewhat of a backdown from previous positions on the freedom to put into your own body what you choose yourself. I look forward to hearing Nandor re-recording Peter Tosh's legalisation anthem under a new title, 'Fine It'!
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/legalise-it-not.html

Piling on the pylon pressure
Transpower have announced the route through which it plans to force its line of pylons through the Waikato, unswayed by the pleas of farmers over whose land these pylons are being forced, and of a government previously eager to have the issue resolved post-election.
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/piling-on-pylon-pressure.html

Roman Polanski finally admits 'I was wrong'
Roman Polanski has finally admitted he was wrong to have committed statutory rape all those years ago, before fleeing for France with a warrant for his arrest "on charges of luring a 13-year-old girl to the home of Jack Nicholson under the pretext of photographing her, then drugging and raping her." No sign of him intending to return to face the music however...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/roman-polanski-finally-admits-i-was.html

More spoilsport neighbours
Jim Eagle has a good thoughtful piece in the Herald on the RMA and those people that 'come to the nuisance' and then complain about the neighbour they knew about when they moved in...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/more-spoilsport-neighbours.html

Honesty the best policy, Rodney
Third-placed Epsom candidate Rodney Hide was door-knocking around the electorate yesterday with The Herald in tow. "I'm on 1 per cent in the polls - nothing can bother me," he says. He may not be bothered, but I noted yesterday he was delusional..
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/honesty-best-policy-rodney.html

Liberal slavery and the 'substantive freedom' fallacy
Kiwi Pundit has picked up the baton with Richard with whom I have had various disagreements on the question of freedom both thick and thin, most recently here and here. As I've said before, Richard's criticisms of libertarianism are more in the nature of caricature than they are analysis..
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-slavery-and-substantive.html

Hatred and mysticism behind the violence
As Christopher Hitchens says in a post below, "Random and 'senseless' though such violence may appear, we also all know it expresses a deadly ideology; indeed that in some ways it is that ideology. The preachers of this faith have taken care to warn us that they love death more than we love life..."
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/hatred-and-mysticism-behind-violence.html

Loving death, loving sacrifice
Christopher Hitchens has argued of the London murders "It is a big mistake to believe this is an assault on 'our' values or 'our' way of life. It is, rather, an assault on all civilisation... For a few moments [on July 7], Londoners received a taste of what life is like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose Muslim faith does not protect them from slaughter at the hands of those who think they are not Muslim enough, or are the wrong Muslim." If you think this is hyperbole then remind yourself of the weekend's terror attack in Baghdad..
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/loving-death-loving-sacrifice.html

Who would commit mass murder?
The terrorists that murdered Londoners were home-grown and foreign-trained to make them ideologically equipped for their 'ultimate sacrifice.' Where were they trained, who would encourage such thinking, and just what in the name of hell did they think they were sacrificing for? The answer to the first question, reports The Times, is that Hasib Hussain and Shehzad Tanweer were trained in Pakistan...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/who-would-commit-mass-murder.html

More misunderstood killers
So who wants to defend this atrocity -- was the suicide bomber and those who encouraged and resourced him just 'misunderstood'? BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber killed 27 and wounded 67 people, mostly children...
http://pc.blogspot.com/2005/07/more-misunderstood-killers.html

Friday, 22 July 2005

A real spin doctor

While we're talking about human achievement, greatness and tall poppies -- well, as I was doing anyway -- I came across this wonderful piece of writing in (gasp) The Herald as I sought coverage of the long-awaited Ashes cricket series.

Plucked from the Independent, it is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man, Shane Warne, and entirely free of what I expect to see shortly in the comments below, what Chris Lewis described as the crab bucket mentality. Whatever you have ever thought about Shane Warne, read this piece. It is a magnificent tribute.
Sportsmen salute his competitive courage. Spectators rejoice in his artistry. In an age of reason, he chased the wildest of dreams.
Marvellous stuff.

Chris Lewis: Tall Poppy

I'm enormously sad to learn that New Zealand Tennis have finally driven tennis ace Chris Lewis from New Zealand. Chris is a wonderful sportsman and a tremendous human being, and his departure for California leaves me angry at his treatment here at home.

Chris has been at odds with New Zealand Tennis's 'coach-by-numbers' mentality since his arrival back in NZ over ten years ago to begin coaching junior tennis players. The more success his proteges attained, the more the coach-by-numbers brigade were shown up as the conformist dullards they are, and the more antagonistic they became.

The last public blow-up over NZ's dismal Davis Cup loss to Pakistan had the dullards spluttering into their gins as Chris pointed out where blame for the failure lay: squarely in their laps. While the dullards closed ranks praising "a great team performance" -- referring presumably to the closing of ranks as NZ's tennis chickens flew home to roost -- NZ Tennis CEO Don Turner sprang into action. He tried to shut Chris down.

Chris Lewis -- a former number one junior in the world, a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1983, former coach of Ivan Lendl (World # 1) and Carl Uwe Steeb (World #14) -- was told that he would have to answer to a new 'high performance manager' whose own performance achievements were close to nil. He was told further that his players would effectively be nationalised by NZ Tennis, and that he should "work together with all the key parties in the name of nationhood."

As I said at the time, "Perhaps in the name of 'nationhood'; they'd rather he packed up his proven talent and took up a well-paid coaching job overseas while they make permanent bookings for the Kazakhstan Hilton. That would be good for the 'nation' wouldn't it."

Apparently that's what NZ Tennis did want and does want, and now they've got it. The dullards would rather be comfortable in their mediocrity than have their boat rocked by the truth, or try and deal with real talent. This is what Ayn Rand meant when she talked in an article about Marilyn Monroe of a particularly common variant of the hatred of the good for being the good:
"When you're famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way," she said. "It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she--who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature--and it won't hurt your feelings--like it's happening to your clothing. . . . I don't understand why people aren't a little more generous with each other. I don't like to say this, but I'm afraid there is a lot of envy in this business."

"Envy" is the only name she could find for the monstrous thing she faced, but it was much worse than envy: it was the profound hatred of life, of success and of all human values, felt by a certain kind of mediocrity--the kind who feels pleasure on hearing about a stranger's misfortune. It was hatred of the good for being the good--hatred of ability, of beauty, of honesty, of earnestness, of achievement and, above all, of human joy.
Chris described NZ's tall-poppy syndrome himself some years ago as the "crab bucket mentality."

Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is...

As a tennis coach running a comprehensive junior & senior development programme for Auckland Tennis Inc., it is my job to produce future tennis champions. Among other things, this involves demanding the maximum amount of effort from every player with whom I work. If a player is to become the best he can be, he must dedicate himself from a relatively early age to the single-minded pursuit of his tennis career. Along the way many obstacles & barriers will be put in his path. One such obstacle, which brings me to the point of my article, is the tremendous amount of negative peer pressure that is brought to bear on anyone who attempts to climb life's peaks by those who have defaulted on the climb.

I trust Chris will find fairer pastures in California.

Apollo 11: Human Achievement Day!

On our present calendar there days in which to 'Remember the Spotted Whale' ands more than one 'Poke a Sharp Stick at the Capitalist Day'; they litter the calendar all they way from here to the next 'Say Sal'aam for Noam Chomsky Day.'

So I was disappointed to find I'd missed a proposal by Objectivist Center head Ed Hudgins that "A new [commemorative day] should be added to the calendar - informally rather than by government decree: Human Achievement Day -- July 20th, the date in 1969 when human beings first landed on the Moon." On July 20th, suggests Hudgins,
let's each reflect on our achievements -- as individuals and as we work in concert with others. Let's recognize that achievements of all sorts -- epitomized by the Moon landings -- are the essence and the expected of human life. Let's rejoice on this day and commemorate the best within us with, as Rand would say, the total passion for the total heights!
Great idea! To add to the celebration of this particular achievement, have a look at NASA's page commemorating the moon landings, Google's own Google Moon interface (make sure you zoom right in), and an excerpt from Ayn Rand's terrific 1969 article paying homage to the achievement:
What we had seen, in naked essentials - but in reality, not in a work of art - was the concretized abstraction of man's greatness...

That we had seen a demonstration of man at his best, no one could doubtthis was the cause of the event's attraction and of the stunned numbed state in which it left us. And no one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational beingan achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality.

Frustration is the leitmotif in the lives of most men, particularly todaythe frustration of inarticulate desires, with no knowledge of the means to achieve them. In the sight and hearing of a crumbling world, Apollo 11 enacted the story of an audacious purpose, its execution, its triumph, and the means that achieved itthe story and the demonstration of man's highest potential.

African-American suspended

Those who were offended by the 'Michael Jackson photo' below are going to love this story. An African-American student was suspended from his Nebraska school after posters with his mug on were posted all over the school advocating he receive the' Distinguished African American Student Award.'

The student was a white South African. His mother said her son, Trevor Richards, "is not a racist." Some of his best friends are black, she said. I swear, I am not making this up.

[Hat tip, Stephen Hicks]

Sawmill project shows RMA court a "lottery"

One million dollars, several years of planning, and the Coromandel sawmill proposed by Blue Mountain Lumber has now been knocked on the head by the Environment Court. Apparently the court decided that people on the property's 'marginal strip' could see the proposed plant. Wouldn't that be terrible for them.

Blue Mountain spokesman Garth Moore said on Radio NZ this morning that as far as he can see the RMA decision process is "a lottery." A lottery, perhaps, with the odds stacked against property owners.

With odds stacked as they are, why would anyone be planning any large projects such as these?

Message from Iraq

Thursday, 21 July 2005

Prohibition finds new victims

The 'high profile sporting stars' and celebrities that were caught up in the latest drug hoohah and whom we dare not name just go to show that the main problem involved with drug use is not the harm of the drugs themselves but the criminalisation involved with their use.

Robert Downey Jr for example never caused his employers a problem with his drug use, except that that he kept getting arrested for buying drugs. As Judge James P. Gray said of Downey's 2001 conviction,
How is actor Robert Downey Jr.'s problem with drug abuse any different than Betty Ford's problem with alcohol abuse? Why is it appropriate to send Robert Downey Jr. to jail but send Betty Ford to treatment? Shouldn't drug users who cause harm to others raise different questions, and answers, than users such as Downey who do not harm anyone but themselves?
NZ's 'high profile sporting stars' and celebrities will probably now face similar problems to Downey and to poor old Simon Poelman. I was about to start a lengthy blog rant on all this when it came to my attention that James Gribble had already done the job. Highly recommended.

The west's suicide bomb

Once again Cox and Forkum are on the money with their cartoon, The Real Suicide Bomb, inspired by a line from Mark Steyn's A victory for multiculti over common sense . Steyn's most important point is one expanded by Robert Tracinski, that "you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is."

In the battle for civilisation in which we're presently engaged, it is crucial to know what in fact the values that support civilisation are. As Steyn notes they are more than just eating fish and chips, playing cricket and sporting appalling leisurewear.

The best defence I've yet seen of western values over the suicidal nullity of multiculturalism is George Reisman's 1992 'Education and the Racist Road to Barbarism.'
From the perspective of intellectual and cultural content, Western civilization represents an understanding and acceptance of the following: the laws of logic; the concept of causality and, consequently, of a universe ruled by natural laws intelligible to man; on these foundations, the whole known corpus of the laws of mathematics and science; the individual’s self-responsibility based on his free will to choose between good and evil; the value of man above all other species on the basis of his unique possession of the power of reason; the value and competence of the individual human being and his corollary possession of individual rights, among them the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness; the need for limited government and for the individual’s freedom from the state; on this entire preceding foundation, the validity of capitalism, with its unprecedented and continuing progress, capital accumulation, and rising living standards; in addition, the importance of visual arts and literature depicting man as capable of facing the world with confidence in his power to succeed, and music featuring harmony and melody.

Once one recalls what Western civilization is, the most vital thing to realize about it is that it is open to everyone...

Race is not the determinant of culture. Not only is Western civilization open to the members of every race, but its present possessors are also potentially capable of losing it, just as the people of the Western Roman Empire once lost the high degree of civilization they had achieved. What makes the acceptance of the “Eurocentrism” critique so significant is that it so clearly reveals just how tenuous our ability to maintain Western civilization has become...

(If you want to get your hands on Reisman's article in pamphlet form, Libertarianz are offering a copy free with every new Libz membership. Download a membership form here, and just write 'Reisman offer' at the top when you send it in. As they say, for a limited time.)

A word from your taxpaid sponsor

A correspondent just sent this to me, and it seemed the best thing to do with it is to post it here. I agree with every word:
I'd like to vent my spleen over something heard on the news this morning only I'm not sure which direction to vent.
The fire in Dunedin apparently destroyed the offices of some people organising the "NZ Masters Games" (whatever that is). The bit that's got me going is that the sponsors of said games is "ACC Think Safe".
What the hell is an organisation that gets its money by compulsion (read theft) doing giving it away in sponsorship to anything.
Maybe if they didn't sponsor things or pay for endless ads on TV they could drop the rates to the poor bloody people paying it.
It's enough to make you vote LIBERTARIANZ.
Consider me half vented.
I'm delighted to have been a conduit for such a vent. Bravo!

My Son the Fanatic

Irfan Khawaja has a hot film tip for you:
A friend asked me over the weekend for help in understanding the London bombings, and I told her (as I'd recommended in a previous post) to go out and rent the 1997 British film, "My Son the Fanatic."

Well. No sooner do I come up with a brilliant idea but some smart-ass writer at Slate steals it telepathically out of my head (or out of my in-box or off of my universally-read blog). Anyway, don't forget that I said it first --even if she said it better .

Reafd Irfan's caveat before you view.

Nick Smith: Idiot.

We all know that National's Nick Smith is an idiot, but you'd think he could at least remember what he says from one week to the next. Last month he described Labour's proposed changes to the RMA as a "massive U-turn." "...This important change was proposed in a bill by National in 1999 but dismissed by Labour as evil and dangerous," says a breathless Smith.

Now, a month later,
he says of these same reforms they are "window-dressing ... a piecemeal response to a law that requires far more substantive reform."

So which is it? Like a monkey on a typewriter trying to type a word, you can be sure that if he open his mouth and lets the wind blow his tongue around for long enough he'll eventually say something that's correct. In this case, it's his most recent pronouncement. Labour's proposed amendments are indeed "'window-dressing' to try to convince voters they had fixed its problems, when they had not." Much like Nick's own proposals when he was Minister of the RMA back in 1999 and has been peddling ever since. What Nick is really angry about is that Labour have stolen his own window-dressing, and he's now exposed as a peddler of nothing but nonsense, and certainly not of substantive reform.

As I said at the time they were announced, Labour's proposed changes to the RMA are a lane-change not a U-turn. To use Nick's words, it's "a piecemeal response" to a law that requires a stake through its heart -- much like Nick the Dick's own proposed RMA reforms. He would certainly know window-dressing when he sees it since that describes perfectly the changes he presently proposes to the RMA, and indeed those he proposed as Minister back in 1999.

Perhaps as he looks for further things on which to pontificate, Nick might contemplate this question: if Labour's proposed amendments constituted "substantive reform" in 1999 when they were put forward by Nick Smith, and just "window-dressing" now they've pinched his plans from him, then what does that say about Nick's own past and present plans for the RMA?

Nick Smith: Idiot,window-dresser and, as Lindsay Perigo said of him back when, a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with.

Smokestack socialism makes joke of Kyoto

What makes an environmental basket-case? In a word, socialism. Specifically, state ownership of the means of production. The Mises Daily has a story this morning of a shitty man running a shitty coal-burning plant in New Delhi. Explaining how the plant works, one of the plant's top officers avers: "I dump the ash (the residue from burning coal) in the river, I do not pay the railways for delivery of the coal, I do not pay the coal company, and I will keep running it this way." Naturally, the plant is state-owned.

India's filthy and corrupt coal-burning plants point to the reason for the needed separation of state and industry (can someone please tell Jim Anderton), and show what happens when the state is both referee and a player on the team.

It also helps demonstrate the feel-good irrelevance of the Kyoto Treaty: India and China between them are planning up to 775 new coal-fired plants by 2012, "which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce."

Meanwhile, the British House of Lords has issued a report on the economics of climate change that deserves some attention. As TechCentralStation explains, the report's conclusions are unambiguous.
"The science of climate change leaves considerable uncertainties about the future," it declares. "The costs of mitigation are uncertain, as are the benefits which are also more distant." The committee even questions the objectivity of the IPCC process and its models concerning emissions. It adds: "Positive aspects of global warming appear to have been downplayed in IPCC reports." The committee also recognizes that the Kyoto Protocol will have only a very small impact on lowering global warming and that it is very unlikely the plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will succeed.

Now you know why.