Sunday, 31 July 2005
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
Pier Luigi Nervi
Ludwig von Mises
Godfrey N. Hounsfield
Wouldn't you just love to even be a fly on the wall at that gathering?
Saturday, 30 July 2005
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?Read on here.
Here's five things you could try saying that at the moment you're too scared too ...
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...
Friday, 29 July 2005
As they say, don't vote, it only encourages them.
Feel free to let me know your choice of 'Other' in the comments below.
|None of the above||16 votes|
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. :-)
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. ]
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
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. "
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
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.
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 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.
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?]
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!Lest you think the Green Dream Team have throttled industry by accident, allow Robert Bidinotto to try and persuade you otherwise:
“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.
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.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:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Sunday, 24 July 2005
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
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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"...
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."
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...
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...
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."
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'!
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.
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...
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...
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..
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..
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..."
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..
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...
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...
Friday, 22 July 2005
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 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
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."Chris described NZ's tall-poppy syndrome himself some years ago as the "crab bucket mentality."
"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.
I trust Chris will find fairer pastures in California.
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.
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 doubt—this 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 being—an 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 today—the 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 it—the story and the demonstration of man's highest potential.
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]
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?
Thursday, 21 July 2005
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.
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.(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.)
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, 20 July 2005
"This is my oldest son Mohammed. He's 24 years old now."
"Yes, I remember him as a baby," says the other mother cheerfully.
"He's a martyr now though," mum confides.
"Oh, so sad dear," says the other.
"And this is my Kalid. He's 21."
"Oh, I remember him," say the other happily, "he had such curly hair when he was born."
"Yes. He's a martyr now too." says mum quietly.
"Oh, gracious me..." says the other.
"And this is my third son. My baby. My beautiful Ahmed. He's 18," she whispers.
"Yes says the friend enthusiastically, "I remember when he first started school."
"He's also a martyr, " says mum, with tears in her eyes.
After a pause and a deep sigh, the second Muslim Mother looks wistfully at the photographs and says...
"They blow up so fast, don't they?"
I look forward too to seeing the Greens at some stage saying something about poor Schapelle Corby, whose appeal against her life sentence begins shortly. As I've said before, their silence on Corby is a clear indication they've lost the freedom mojo. So too is their call for fining cannabis users. Shame.
The Waikato Times reports, "Transpower communication manager Chris Roberts said staff would hand-deliver letters to about 600 landowners today confirming a western route had been chosen for the transmission line from Whakamaru to Otahuhu." Along that western route Transpower will be entering into what they've called 'negotiations' with land-owners -- negotiations in which Transpower will be reminding landowners that if they don't accept the compensation offered then Transpower will be using the big stick of the Public Works Act to force them to accept.
There's not really much I can add to what I said back in May.
What's wrong with asking nicely? Why use the government's stick to force property owners against their will? When railroading was at its peak in 19th century America, railroads used to purchase 'options' from land-owners along their three or four preferred routes - options that would only be picked up once one of the routes became 'live' by having purchased [from willing sellers] 100% of the necessary options along that route. The Kapuni gas line that went through some years ago made use of similar undertakings. There is no reason at all that the state-owned Transpower cannot make use of a similar voluntary mechanism to gain their transmission route, no reason at all except that as a government department they can't be bothered. To resort as they have done to wielding the bullying big stick of government is a disgrace.It's pretty clear that there's bugger all respect for property rights about. This year has also made it pretty clear that 'compensation for takings' is not by any means the same thing as protecting property rights, despite what some people still think. Do you think that Kelo v New London and the Transpower land grab might help convince them, and will it be too late?
It is related by Norman Malcolm in the following story about him in which ownership is spelled out very instructively: "When in very good spirits he would jest in a delightful manner. This took the form of deliberately absurd or extravagant remarks uttered in a tone, and with the mien, of affected seriousness. On one walk he 'gave' me each tree that we passed, with the reservation that I was not to cut it down or do anything to it, or prevent the previous owners from doing anything to it: with those reservations they were henceforth mine." (Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein, A Memoir [London: Van Nostrand Rinehold Co., 1070], pp. 31-32.)
Tuesday, 19 July 2005
Asked about charges he may face in the US, the Polish director told the court today: "As far as those events are concerned, I would not even start to justify myself. What I did was wrong and I don’t see why I should go back to this for the purposes of this trial."Polanski is still marooned in France, unwilling to travel for fear of arrest on these charges. I can't say I've ever been too sympathetic to his plight myself.
He's also got a few thoughts on the consultation requirements of the RMA. Consultation, he says, "is all too often a chance for the local busybody, the neighbourhood curmudgeon and the nimby brigade to force the rest of the world to conform to their selfish viewpoints. Do we really want these people running our communities?"
Jim's opinion piece is here. As I've said before, common law offers the best chance to depoliticise the busybodies.
[Hat tip TinCanMan.]
Um, honesty alert Rodney: That's not your party policy. Your environment policy promises only "substantial changes" to the RMA, not a stake through the heart. Sadly, there's only one party at this election promising a stake through the heart of the RMA, and it's not ACT.
Surely honesty is the best policy, Rodney.
Kiwi Pundit says in passing that my 'pure version' of libertarianism is 'unsound,' and that liberals like him are more practical: unlike libertarians, liberals he says are "willing to give up some of our liberty in order to make a better society" (as if giving up a little liberty would do that). But he makes some interesting points nonetheless in response to Richard, particularly on the relationship between slavery and so-called substantive freedom.
Under Richard's notion of 'substantive freedom,' says KP, "If a slave-owner were to offer significant benefits to his slaves such as healthcare, education for your kids,... a luxurious villa with a jacuzzi and 32 inch flat screen TV, then you are free, despite the fact you have to go out every day and pick cotton or face serious punishment."
You can see with that example why socialists like the concept of 'substantive freedom' since it demolishes the idea of real freedom in favour of a little slavery (or a lot, depending on your view). As such it is what Ayn Rand called an anti-concept, a "term designed to replace or obliterate some legitimate concept."
You can see too from his example that when liberals say they are "willing to give up some of [their] liberty in order to make a better society" that they are really saying is that a little slavery is what makes a better society. Now that's pretty unsound, I would say. Basically it means the liberals are just arguing with the socialists as to the degree of slavery necessary to make the 'better society.'
But I digress. Read KP's whole thing here.
Monday, 18 July 2005
The Herald's weekend poll make it clear if it wasn't already that ACT are dead. Polls are often suspect, but there is little now beyond suspicion in that verdict. Two percent at best in nationwide party vote polling (one percent in the weekend's TV1 poll), ACT needs an electorate to survive. Many of us have wondered why we haven't seen Rodney Hide campaigning in Epsom, and the poll tells us why: with only weeks to go, Rodney is third in Epsom behind National's Richard Worthless and Stuart Nash of Labour. With all the resources behind him and a once-sympathetic electorate, he can't even beat these hacks in a pre-election poll.
ACT are kept alive not by volunteers but by paid employees, and when they're not in parliament, the money stops. When the supporters stop donating and the taxpayers' money stops rolling in, where will ACT be then? Dead, is the answer. So in less than two months we'll see the end of ACT scandal-mongering and of politics before principle; of saying less than you mean and meaning less than you say; of unprincipled wimps who wear suits to bed, and perk-busting politicians who enjoy tax–paid trips around the lambada bars of South America.
As it happens, I predicted ACT's demise some years ago in 'The Free Radical.'
The last days of such a species would make an interesting anthropological study for someone.
The essence of practical politics must surely be to expand the market share for your ideas. Let me tell you now, that unless you seek to change minds you will never expand your market share beyond those who already agree with you. That is what Act is now finding so difficult. Because in order to be heard you must have something to say; in order to change minds you need fundamental principles to promote. Act has none.
[UPDATE: Apparently one behaviour exhibited by the pack-leader of such a species is severe delusion. Rodney Hide has told his blog readers the Herald poll has him "coming third in a straight poll but winning if achieving a centre-right government depends upon it." Winning? The poll shows that when asked 'Would you vote for Rodney Hide if his win ensured the ACT Party's return to Parliament?' 61% of respondents said Not Bloody Likely Mate, and only "38.8 percent say they would vote strategically for him if it provided a partner for a centre-right government." How he gets 'winning' out of that is beyond me.]
Making that ideology concrete are some comments in today's Times. The first is from London-based cleric Hani Al-Siba’i, who says of the London killings,
“If Al-Qaeda indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it..." When asked about the killings of civilians by Islamists in Iraq, he denied that victims could be divided into combatants and non-combatants. “The term civilian does not exist in Islamic religious law. There is no such term as civilians in the western sense. People are either of Dar al Harb [literally, house of hostility, meaning any non-Islamic government] or not.”
When contacted yesterday, Al–Siba’i stood by most of his comments, although he said the remarks about the definition of civilians “may have been mistranslated”.
And The Times reports another cheerleader from murder is on his way to London.
Al-Qaradawi, 79, is banned from America for advocating child suicide bombers in the Middle East, although he has condemned the London bombings. He has reportedly said: “The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation.”These people do mean it. The Times also has a series of interviews with suicide bomber volunteers in Gaza, and with one suicide bomber survivor. They concur with the venom above. "One member of al-Qassam said: “We do not have tanks or rockets, but we have something superior — our exploding Islamic bombs.”
“How did you feel when you heard that you’d been selected for martyrdom?” asked [The Times]. "It’s as if a very high, impenetrable wall separated you from Paradise or Hell,” he said. “Allah has promised one or the other to his creatures. So, by pressing the detonator, you can immediately open the door to Paradise — it is the shortest path to Heaven.”
The interviews makes clear the mysticism at the heart of all this:
“What is the attraction of martyrdom?” I asked. “The power of the spirit pulls us upward, while the power of material things pulls us downward,” he said. “Someone bent on martyrdom becomes immune to the material pull.And in this religion, as in so much fundamentalism, the material world is seen as evil; the good can be reached only by shunning this world and seeking another through faith. Ayn Rand identifed the link between Faith and Force, in her article 'Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World.'
The real conflict, of course, is reason versus mysticism... The conflict of reason versus mysticism is the issue of life or death -- of freedom or slavery -- of progress or stagnant brutality...Makes you think, doesn' t it.
Reason and freedom -- are corollaries, and their relationship is reciprocal: when men are rational, freedom wins; when men are free, reason wins. Their antagonists are: faith and force. These, also, are corollaries: every period of history dominated by mysticism, was a period of statism, of dictatorship, of tyranny.