Friday, August 12, 2005
We're safe. For now.
NZ's legislature was officially dissolved at 11am yesterday morning. There are photos here to prove it. So as of yesterday we're safe. For a bit.
Until then, watch for low-flying politicians and protect your babies from their kisses, and keep your hand on your wallet. It's your money they're promising to spend.
Free speech goes so easily
As most of you know, the High Court yesterday took it upon itself to command a private broadcaster to include two politicians on a programme belonging to that broadcaster. The politicians' reactions to the decision ranged from the "Oh, well" to the smug. The public reaction to this dictatorial legedermain ranged, for the most part, from "Oh, well" through to "Oh, what?"
Here was a blatant violation by a court, acting at the behest of two politicians, of a broadcaster's right to its own private property (its programme, network and broadcast spectrum), and to its right to free speech across that network. And in response to this violation the public barely gave a shrug. Such is the way new violations are welcomed day after day. With a shrug. Such is the way liberty yields, and government authority gains ground.
To the credit of some commentators, bloggers and broadcasters, there was at least some resistance. Most bloggers, to their credit, realised the significance of the decision and were opposed. No Right Turn was one who seemed happy at the court's bullying, however, calling it "good for democracy" while still trying to straddle the issue by agreeing the bullying "is a prima facie violation of [the broadcaster's right to free expression." There's clarity for you.
The Herald reasoned the judge's focus should have been "the freedom of the media to cover political events as they see fit, and the right of private companies to make their own decisions about their operations." Quite right. Tim Pankhurst of the Media Freedom Committee called it "a dangerous precedent for the democratic process when judges are allowed to dictate which politicians should be included in specific programmes.” Bernard Darnton of the Libertarianz, who some were saying should perhaps have joined in the application to the courts, replied that "Libertarianz... is taking a moral stand by setting aside narrow self-interest, as in the long run, we are all better off with a free press." Quite true.
And TV3 itself, fearful of the precedent this has created, has announced it will be fighting this ruling. Thank goodness for that. "[TV3's Mark] Jennings told the Herald after the decision was announced that it was the first time judges had "decided our editorial policy for us. You'd have to think 'what's next? Where does it stop?'"
Where it will probably stop is with people like the vacuous announcer on the Breakfast Show at Radio Live this morning who can't tell the difference between a dictator and someone who pays her wages, and wants to be told by someone else what to do in her job. Bernard Darnton had just repeated his assertion that "state direction of the media through the courts is something that would not be out of place in countries such as Zimbabwe. These politicians have criticised the regime in Zimbabwe, but are now demanding that totalitarian policies be implemented here."
Her response: "If we let private broadcasters choose who they have on then aren't we replacing one dictator with another?"
Galt save us from vacuous idiots who would give up their liberty so easily.
Are you part of the resistance?
Fortunately, this morning I found myself twice blessed: once because I'm already a member of a resistance organisation opposed to precisely that form of thieving, bland and dishonest schmuckery so heavily in evidence on my TV screen last night. Twice, because Chaos Theory sent me to a site to find my inner Nazi, and I found that I was actually and warmly Welcomed to the Resistance instead (Der Widenstand) by my quiz results. Apparently, I'm 30% brainwashworthy, 27% antitolerant, and 42% blindly patriotic. So there you go.
I laughed so much I then found I needed to find my humour style. Apparently I'm The Ham, just like Will Smith (which is odd when you think about it since I hate Will Smith). My humour style is Clean, Spontaneous and Light, and it's 47% dark, 42% spontaneous, 36% vulgar -- fuck that -- which just shows what happens when you don't answer all those stupid questions about American films you either hate or don't know. That'll learn me, I thought, as I began throwing out my George Carlin and Monty Python tapes.
So you see what I would have missed then if I'd been stuck up a pole last night, or out at ante-natal classes, or up at Mangonui talking about ocean fishing. At least I've been reminded first-hand once again why I'm part of the resistance. How about you lot?
The Conqueror Worm
Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.
Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.
Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
Cartoon courtesy Pritchett Cartoons
Thursday, August 11, 2005
What have we learned today about our elected representatives
We've all learned that Jim Neanderton, Peter Dunce and Winston Peters have between them not the slightest shred of respect for the principle of free speech, nor for the distinction between public and private property. These entities literally make my skin crawl.
I've learned where most of Neanderton's Auckland Alliance Retards have gone: to the Greens. As one former Retard told me today, "The Greens have the same policies as the Alliance used to." And so they do. Hard-core authoritarian.
What else have we learned. We've learned, courtesy of Aaron, that like his former colleague Ms Awatere-Huata Rodney Hide doesn't give a shit about spending the taxpayers money on himself when he thinks he deserves it. The little fat fuck, this overweight 'perk-buster' who once claimed to defend the taxpayer, is getting you lot to pay for his Epsom election brochures. If Dunce and Peters and Neanderton make my skin crawl, Rodney makes my very bowels revolt at his dishonesty. "We'll keep National honest," he whines... the fat fuck wouldn't know honesty if it leapt up and bit him in the scrotum. Remember how the IRD gets that money, Rodney? Remember Ian Mutton? How quickly the dead are forgotten by those who once claimed to be their defenders.
We know too that Helen Clark has today pledged 250 more policemen after the election, but it took the proximity of a close election to bring such a pledge about, and she's still claiming that crime in New Zealand is dropping. Tell that to those people that no longer bother reporting break-ins, burglaries and theft because the police can't be bothered with that 'minor' stuff any more. Tell that too to Peter Bentley and Susan Couch, and the families of Michael Choy, Marcus Doig, Beverley Bouma, Iraena Asher and countless others whom the police, corrections department and injustice system have failed in recent years.
What else do we know? We know too that day after day, today included, Don Brash is travelling around the country whipping up apathy and promising, nay pleading with us to believe , that National has no secret agenda and no significant policy differences to Labour -- that in reality they are just Labour-lite -- Labour perhaps in pinstripes, and with just a hint of blue. The sad thing is, as I've said before, there is no secret agenda, and they really are just Labour-lite. Today he's been pleading that National's health policy is really not very radical at all. Unfortunately, I believe him.
So Parliament has been dissolved today. And with entities like these above employed there, perhaps it were best for all of us it were never ever re-opened. Here's hoping for a long hiatus. Perhaps the coalition talks might take three months this time instead of just the nine weeks it took them all last time? In any case, I'm really going to struggle to watch the Leaders Debate tonight without throwing something at the screen and having my blood pressure go through the roof. Perhaps I'll go re-read my copy of Parliament of Whores and see if makes me feel any more well disposed to the thieves, liars and charlatans being compulsorily exposed on our TV screens tonight.
In other news, we've also learned today from Fletcher Building chief executive Ralph Water that whatever extra spending on roads that the various entities promise, it won't make a blind bit of difference to the number of roads being built at present, since their just aren't enough skilled people in the country to build any more than we are now. We're at capacity with what few skilled workers we still have. There you go.
And we've also just officially learned, if you didn't know it already unofficially, that Brent Todd was one of the so-called sports celebrities alleged to have been involved with the so-called white collar drug ring, although his lawyer says he "never bought, sold or supplied drugs." Hmmm.
Now don't say I never keep you up to date.
The US face of moderate Muslims
As Robert Bidinotto notes, "If you watch TV or read newspapers, you've probably already encountered CAIR. Every time some Islamist militant or terrorist provokes public demands for the U. S. to respond more forcefully against Muslim fundamentalism, CAIR spokesmen pop up all over the airwaves to denounce 'anti-Muslim bigotry.'"
Now Bidinotto has persuaded Middle-Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes to check CAIR's moderat credentials, and those credentials look awfully tarnished when help up to to Pipes's scrutiny. 'Council on American-Islamic Relations: The Benign Public Face of America's 'Wahhabi Lobby' is the report Pipes produced, showing in Bidinotto's words that:
At best, CAIR is the biggest, best-organized group of excuse-makers and apologists for Islam's Wahhabi wing in America. At worst, some of its representatives are far more sinister and unsavory than that. See for yourself: the special report by Pipes and Chadha is the most comprehensive effort yet to unveil these characters and their machinations.I commend it to your attention. It's an eleven page PDF, so you can print it out and read it at your leisure. You might reflect after reading Pipes's report that with 'moderates' such as those he identifies, who on earth would need enemies.
Message to Jim: Keep the duct tape on
"Can someone please inform fuck-knuckle Jim Anderton and his mates what progressive actually means," asks friend Bennyasena, and then he does.
It's good reading. Especially if you're not a fan of busybodies.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
PC's Art for the Night
Useful phrases for travelling in Iran
Thank you for showing me your marvellous gun.
EKR GABUL CARDAN DAVAT PARH GUSH DIVAR:
I am delighted to accept your kind invitation to lie down on the floor with my arms above my head with my legs apart.
HOWMAEH FEKR TAMOMEH OEH GORTEH BANDE:
I agree with everything you have ever
said and thought in your whole life.
CASHAL-EH FASHAL-EH TUPHEMAN NA DEGAT MAN GOFTAM CHEESHAYEH MOHEMARIR BEHMESHVAREHMA.:
If you will do me the kindness of not harming my genital appendages I will gladly reciprocate by betraying my country in public.
AUTO ARRAREGH DAVATEMAN MANO SEPHAHEH- HASTI:
It is exceptionally kind of you to allow me to travel in the trunk of your car.
KHREL JEPAHEH MANEH VA JAYEII AMRIKAHEY:
I will tell you the names and addresses of many American spies travelling as reporters.
BALLI BALLI BALLI:
Whatever you say.
MATERNIER GHERMEZ AHLIEH GHORBAN:
The red blindfold would be lovely excellency.
TIKEH NUNEH BA OB KHRELLEH BEZORG VA KHUBE BOYAST
The water soaked breadcrumbs are delicious thank you. I must have the recipe.
[Pinched wholesale from here.]
MMP at work in Epsom
After all, he's said about his own somewhat similar signs "all the billboard does is explain MMP and that it is no more misleading than National using pictures of Helen Clark. He says his advice is that the billboard fits within the law." Further, "He would be okay with another party using the ACT logo depending on how it was used. The important thing is to explain MMP and what we need to do to get a change of government and the National Party can't do it on its own."
So there you go.
Question is, how would decent, upstanding Libz voters feel about seeing that logo on their otherwise good-looking billboards. And the colours just don't really work, do they? Still, I do hear a rumour a few might be appearing around the Epsom electorate ...
[UPDATE: Feel free to save and print out an A1 PDF of this bilbboard, available here.]
Hide v Worthless on Radio Live
Rodney once again sounds delusional about his chances in Epsom, while Worthless keeps making the point that ACT need to stand on their own feet, not all over those of other parties, and that letting ACT have a seat out of charity would be simple malinvestment.
A traffic jam is a collision between free enterprise and socialism. Free enterprise produces automobiles faster than socialism can build roads and road capacity.
More sweatshops please
Meanwhile Arnold Kling at Econlog suggests what the third world needs is more sweatshops. He's a few weeks behind. :-)
"When aid money keeps coming, all our policy-makers do is strategize on how to get more," said [James Shikwati] the Kenya-based director of the Inter Region Economic Network, an African think tank.
"They forget about getting their own people working to solve these very basic problems. In Africa, we look to outsiders to solve our problems, making the victim not take responsibility to change."
Moving the aid can be nightmare in itself. Africa's good roads are few, and often pass through the front lines of civil wars. But Shikwati notes an additional problem: Even African countries that have food to spare can't easily share it because tariffs on agricultural products within sub-Saharan Africa average as high as 33 percent, compared with 12 percent on similar products imported from Europe.
"It doesn't make sense when they can't even allow their neighbors to feed them. They have to wait for others in Europe or Asia to help," he said. "We don't have any excuses in Africa. We can't blame nature. We have to tell our leadership to open up and get people producing food."
[Hat tip Stephen Hicks.]
Discovery is back...
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Having posted the Death of Marat here some days ago I really do need to post its 'companion piece,' Charlotte Corday by Paul Jacques Aimé Baudry, painted 1858.
Corday was Marat's murderer. Wikipedia gives the reason for his murder. For those not familiar with the story of 'The Terror' Marat was a butcher. His murder deserved.
Note the change in styles between the two paintings, and the claustrophobia and disorder of this one, painted half-a-century later than the earlier one.
Police tasers: Good for them, good for us
The argument against New Zealanders being allowed to defend themselves with these simple self-defence tools just doesn't stack up. It used to be argued by the police that we shouldn't need to defend ourselves since the police would be there quickly enough to do it for us.
George Hawkins fixed that line of argument.
It is also claimed that a person with pepper spray for example might have it taken away and then turned around on them -- but presumably if one has felt the need to draw on such a device the situation is already serious, and at least by drawing it you've given yourself a chance you wouldn't have had otherwise. And whose right is it to make the decision of how you defend yourself anyway? Yours? Or Philip Alpers's and Helen Clark's?
Perhaps the main practical reason to allow ownership of such things is to discourage criminal attack by letting criminals know that people do have such things about their person, and they can't expect an easy ride if they do try and attack someone who looks otherwise defenceless.
Imagine if pizza delivery companies for example let it be known that their delivery staff were armed with one of these devices and trained to use them in their own defence. Perhaps then the mother of murdered pizza deliver man Michael Choy would not still be grieving today. And as I asked here a few months ago, what's a woman to do when they have been banned from using such simple devices as Tasers, mace and pepper sprays. These devices are perfect for people that can't rely on their own strength or the skill of a martial art to protect them.
This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of life and death: specifically of our own life and the right to defend it. If the police should be able to defend themselves, then so should we. And as author Carl Hiassen says to those who might object to the police using such things, "it's still safer for people to be shooting at each other with Tasers than with Glocks."
Dunne desperate for the worm
TV3 have chosen leaders only from the six parties that ranked highest in the latest TV3 political poll, and Dunne is upset at his exclusion. TV3's Marks Jennings has defended the decision as one that "reflects commmercial reality," and no doubt Dunne's Black Belt in Boring was a help in making that decision. Dunne's present lack of logic will probably confirm Jennings in his decison.
Public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of all political party leaders being able to put their view, moans Dunne with neither proof nor sound reasoning. Even if true, I doubt that anybody really wants to see all twenty political party leaders on TV on Thursday night, so some form of exclusion is necessary. Frankly, I think Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton should be there, but I'm realistic enough to know that's not going to happen this election. Dunne's realism as to his own worth-- or self-insight as the psychiatrists say -- is not nearly as strong.
"I've come across no one yet that supports TV3's decision," continues Dunne's tantrum. Well, here's one person at least: me. I think they've made a sound decision, and I look forward to your return to well-deserved irrelevance. (Feel free to add your name below.)
Lord knows what the good people of Ohariu see in this tosser. Personally, if I were they I'd be voting for Colin Cross.
Labels: Bernard Darnton
NZ on an unbeaten run
NZ's Falcons under the captaincy of Andrew Congalton have now beaten Great Britain (photo of the game right), Spain and now Japan in their last three games, and are on track to meet favourites Ireland in the final to be played at the MCG on Saturday.
Before getting to the final however they face their biggest challenge in the semifinals against either the athletic PNG, or a resurgent USA, and they must beat Samoa in the last of their pool games. The semifinals will probably be the first time the Falcons face any real pressure, but with Ireland going down to the USA, NZ now top the ladder with a huge percentage, and are being given the favourites tag.
Watch this space...
[UPDATE: After beating Samoa in their final pool match 98-27, the NZ Falcons are now through to Thursday's semi against the USA.]
Zims lose twice over
Zimbabwe's plummeting fortunes in world cricket mirror their plummeting fortunes politically, socially, individually, agriculturally and economically -- and the responsibility for all these can be sheeted home to Robert Mugabe, Thug.
Cricinfo sums up the cricketing mood, suggesting
the time has come for a change of tack and a rethink about what is being achieved by ploughing on regardless. Nobody benefited from this [cricketing] massacre, and the pitiful attendance showed that even the locals have tired of such wretched fare. This was a match of interest to nobody but the statisticians.So why did they bother going?
Monday, August 08, 2005
A friend commented over the weekend that I had only posted a few bridges here in my 'evening art works.' I should say to void confusion with a debate going on elsewhere that unlike architecture, bridges are not art; but the slender, spare concrete bridges of Robert Maillart are beautiful constructions.
Salginatobel Bridge in Switzerland (completed in 1930) is perhaps his masterpiece.
Save what squadrons?
No airforce strike capability; no nuclear ships; no firm promises beyond a "comprehensive review."
It's not quite true to say you're better off with Labour, but with limp-wristed policy like this you're hardly any worse off. Frankly, on defence as in so much else there's damn-all difference between the two main parties. As the election date gets ever closer they begin to look more and more like Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.
I do know one party that does recognise that New Zealand is worth defending...
The price of European Union freedom
Points out Giedrius Kadziauskas of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute:
This will come as part of Lithuania's commitment to the European Union to raise its excise duties in order to reach the EU's minimum levels by 2009. But this minimal level is not minimal at all for Lithuania and other new E.U. members, where standards of living are not expected to rise to the E.U. average for another 15 to 30 years... Meanwhile, smuggling is growing in Lithuania, which is responsible for guarding 902 kilometers of the EU's external border. Every single rise in excise duties signals to smugglers that the ranks of their potential customers are swelling and that they have an opportunity to mark up prices of their goods.The price of the EU's style of heavily-taxed and heavily-regulated 'freedom' may be too much for poverty-sticken Lithuanians to bear. They're not alone in that.
Bloodless scholasticism ahoy!
"I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves," argues Paglia, before taking wing:
Today's lack of major female philosophers is not due to lack of talent but to the collapse of philosophy. Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre. This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity. The web mimics human neurology, and it is fundamentally altering young people's brains. The web, for good or ill, is instantaneous. Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry. Today's philosophers are now antiquarians.Wilkinson contends contra Paglia that, far from collapsing, "philosophy as traditionally practiced is at its high water mark." However, he says,
I agree that academic philosophy is insufficiently engaged with the public, and could hold a more privileged place in the fragmented popular consciousness. And I think this is due to straightforward institutional reasons. Academia as it is presently constituted does reward a kind of bloodless scholasticism. One reason I decided to drop out of academia was that I thought direct engagement with current policy debates and cultural concerns would make me a better philosopher. Greats like Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill, Marx were not academics, but men involved in thinking through the practical political matters of their day.Quite true. In the words of poll winner Karl Marx, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it" (a great pity however that he himself had so misinterpreted the world before he attempted to have it changed.) Ralph Waldo Emerson made a related point many decades ago in an address which got him banned from Harvard in which he castigated the chattering classes of the day, those second-handed ivory tower-dwellers
who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm ... who values[s] books as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul.What meek young men will find in their libraries today is rather different to the great men to which Emerson referred however. What they will find instead is moral and intellectual pygmies of the likes of "radical pragmatist" and ethical relativist Richard Rorty. Tibor Machan takes Rorty and his ilk to task over at SOLO:
The greatest minds in the Western philosophical tradition, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Spinoza all held that, while it is difficult, human beings can learn of some basic truths. At the very least they held out hope that this could be done, especially in the realms of ethics and politics. The American Founders shared a similar perspective, which is why they declared themselves in support of the inalienable individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But today, probably more so than ever before, the dominant idea in most universities is that no basic truths about ethics and politics can be identified...Machan suggests that in these troubled times it is little wonder philosophers such as Rorty spend so little time writing op-eds and engaging with the world, and so much time talking nonsense to each other. "They ought to remain silent in less troubling times as well," contends Tibor.
The practical implication of the view that Richard Rorty (and other relativists) expound is that the positions of the terrorists and of the victims of terrorism are basically indistinguishable as to their merit or worth. In the grand scheme of things, as best as we can tell, the two are on the same footing—or, to put it another way, neither has any better footing.
Amen to that.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Libz TV ads -- rough cuts ready
Here's a sneak preview of the rough cut of the Libz TV ads: Opening address zipped here; assorted five second ads zipped here. Enjoy - and don't tell them I've let you have a look; keep it under your hat. :-)
(NOTE: The compression used to post these means the sound is a bit munted. You'll need a player with MPEG4 capability, whatever that means. Winamp works for me.)