Tuesday, 18 April 2006

The Berrymans still fighting

If you hadn't seen the story over the weekend, lawyer Rob Moodie has filed suit against the Army for $4.5 million on behalf of Keith and Margaret Berryman.
Keith and Margaret Berryman are suing the New Zealand army for about $4.5 million 12 years after a beekeeper died when his truck fell through an army-built bridge leading to their King Country farm...

Taumarunui coroner Tim Scott blamed the Berrymans for not maintaining the bridge.

But since Dr Moodie took over the case in 2004, it has emerged that the Defence Force kept information from the coroner that laid some of the blame with the army engineers who designed and built the bridge as a training exercise.

The Solicitor-General has declined four applications by the Berrymans for a new inquest.

Speaking this morning. "Mr Moodie says the Berrymans have taken the blame for too long and they deserve justice." Too right. And Keith Berryman himself argues that Helen Clark has abandoned them “She said the charges should never have been laid; now we don’t hear anything from her. She’s turned.” She certainly has. In 1998 in the midst of a hard-fought by-election Helen Clark declared, "Labour's by-election campaign has been about putting the heart back into the country, and giving hard-working people such as Keith and Margaret Berryman a fair go." In 2000 Helen Clark stood on the Berryman's bridge with Mark Burton and Harry Duynhoven and promised "when I become Prime Minister, I will ensure the Government will settle the Berrymans for this outrage."


Talk about politicians' empty promises. Eight years after her first promise the Berrymans have yet to receive even the steam off Helen Clark's piss. "The government has made an offer of compensation to the Berrymans and it's up to the Berrymans to consider that," said "a spokesman for the Prime Minister" over the weekend. What that spokesman didn't say is what I pointed out here last year,
that the $150,000 offered to the Berrymans by her Government in 'mediation' is a sick joke. It does not even cover their $450,000 legal bills, does not begin to compensate for the loss of their farm (which conservative estimates say might now be worth $2.5 million), and in no way compensates for the ten years of hell both Labour and National Governments have put this couple through.
Good on Rob Moodie for not giving up on this even when all around him are falling asunder. Perhaps it might spark a similar backdown as happened recently with the long-running Contaminated Blood Scandal.

LINKS: Berrymans seeking $4.5m damages from Army - NZ Herald
Couple suing army over bridge collapse -
Helen Clark: Berryman case highlights abandonment of rural NZ - Not PC
Berrymans say PM has abandoned them -
NZ Herald
$10m payout for victims of tainted transfusions - Sunday Star Times

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Berrymans

Separating State and Welfare

Lindsay Mitchell has posted a thought-provoking Jacob Hornberger piece on her blog. Money excerpt:
Federal welfare assistance to Americans has become such an ingrained part of our lives that most Americans hardly give it a second thought. While “waste, fraud, and abuse” have become a standard part of the welfare-state lexicon, the answer for many is simply, “The system needs reform.”

Yet when recommended reforms are instituted, “waste, fraud, and abuse” inevitably rear their ugly heads again, which then generates the call for new reforms, perpetuating an endless cycle of problems and reforms.

All this fiddling avoids the central issue: Why not separate charity and the state, in the same manner our ancestors separated church and state? Why not get government totally out of the charity business? I’m suggesting that we do much more than simply repeal all welfare-state programs. I’m suggesting that we go further and elevate our vision to the same level as that of our American ancestors when they separated church and state. I’m suggesting the following amendment to the Constitution: “The federal government shall not provide any subsidy, grant, welfare, aid, loan, or other special privilege to anyone.”
Go look at it all.

LINK: The separation of charity and state - Jacob Hornberger (via Lindsay Mitchell)

TAGS: Politics, Libertarianism

Moral equivalence?

Is there a term for those who berate Westerners for being 'offensive' to Islamic culture, but who turn a blind eye to a religion that was born in violent conquest and which today mandates and endorses genital mutilation, the subjugation of women, the stoning of gays, the beheading of those who satirise their stone-age beliefs, and the violent institution of sharia law and dhimmitude across the globe?

What sort of person would get more angry at those being offensive to such a barbaric culture than they would at the practioners of barbarity themselves? Frankly, if barbarity like that doesn't offend you, then you've failed as a human being.

As Allie says here in 'Hating Islam':
Yeah. I'm intolerant of Islam. But you can go on being tolerant. If evil does not repel you.
LINKS: Hating Islam - Allie
Discrimination of women and child abuse - Middle-East-Info.org

TAGS: Multiculturalism, Religion, War, Cartoons, Sexism

The Swinging Whig

This week's Whig Status Report shows The Whig swapping party affiliation back from Compulsion Touter to National Socialist, ie., from the party of scandal-mongering back to the party of weasel-worded nannying. Any bets as to how long this latest expression of undying loyalty will last? Anybody like to put together a Whig-o-meter showing where his week-by-week affililiation lies? Would a Whig-o-Meter showing The Whig's swinging allegiance be as as a useful a political barometer as the pendulum showing the allegiance of the swinging voter?

LINKS: The Whig is now a mainstream New Zealander - The Whig

TAGS: Politics_ACT, Politics_National, Nonsense

Learning from history

It's said that “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It might also be said that those who are unable to learn from history -- or who don't even know their history -- cannot honestly expect to have their ill-formed and baseless opinions taken seriously. History has many lessons for those both alert enough to identify them and honest enough not to evade them:
  • From the Dark Ages comes the lesson that taken together faith, mysticism, an ethic of blind sacrifice and a focus on some non-existent other world leads to dirt-poor misery in this one. (The same lesson can be learned either from the thousand years of the Western Dark Ages, or from what looks to be at least a thousand years of Islamic Dark Ages.)
  • The Inquisition and Islamic jihad between them show the truth of Voltaire's dictum that those who believe absurdities tend to commit atrocities.
  • From the Enlightenment comes the lesson that between them reason and a focus on this world provide a way out of the darkness.
  • The Industrial Revolution shows that reason applied to production leads to an enormous increase in human welfare, (and from it also comes the further lesson that reason is man's unique means of survival).
  • That the Industrial Revolution happened first and most spectacularly in Britain shows that a legal environment protecting freedom and property rights is necessary for such a revolution to happen and to endure.
  • The relative success of the US Constitution shows that if you know what you're about that it's possible to tie up the government to protect freedom and property rights at least some of the time.
  • From two World Wars and a century of slaughter comes the lesson that totalitarian state worship is not the route to human happiness.
  • From the bloody failures of collectivism comes the lesson that 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' is a recipe for human sacrifice and bloody slaughter.
  • From the rise of Nazism comes the lesson that appeasement rewards the aggressor; that all evil requires is for good men to do nothing.
  • From the Holocaust comes the lesson of the banality of evil, and the evil of blindly following orders.
  • From the spectular post-war economic successes of Germany and Japan comes the lesson that trade and capitalism are better than totalitarianism and bloody conquest.
  • From the rise of the Asian Tiger economies comes the lesson (again) that freedom and prosperity are directly and inextricably linked.
  • From the Fall of the Berlin Wall comes the lesson that non-freedom and poverty are also and inextricably linked.
  • The continuing fatwah on Salman Rushdie; the murders of Theo van Gogh, Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg and Paul Marshall Johnson; the deaths of September 11 and the bombings of Bali, Madrid and London -- between them the lesson is there that war has been declared between barbarity and civilisation.
All these lessons are there for those who choose to open their eyes and learn them. Taken together, the lesson from the events of history is that reason, individualism and capitalism are a recipe for health, wealth and happiness in this world, and their polar opposites a prescription only for death, misery and destruction.

UPDATE: Speaking of history, Stephen Hicks has just spent two hours he didn't have exploring this great timeline history of the universe (right). Ignore his warning at your peril.

LINK: Timeline history of the universe - JohnKyrk.Com

TAGS: History, Philosophy, Ethics, Politics, Objectivism

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Murdering tall poppies -- that's what Easter is about

Every religion has their own myths that go to the very heart of their beliefs. The Easter Myth is central to Christianity, and somewhat revealing. Watching a performance of Bach's 'St Mathew Passion' last week I was struck by Bach's dramatisation just how revealing the Easter Myth really is.

Just think, Christians revere Christ as their ideal, and indeed Bach had his chorus praise him, worship him, eulogise Him. And then they killed him.

That's the story. That, says Bach, is what Christians revere. The murder of their ideal.

According to the scriptures which Christ's contemporaries worshipped, this man was the one they sought, the one they were waiting for, the one who was their hero. And they killed him. They couldn't wait to kill him. In the name of their own mediocrity, he just had to go: his perfection was an affront to their own imperfection; his nobility an affront to their own ignobility. So, in that Easter week they denied him, killed him and disowned him, after which they bewailed his fate, and they bewailed what they had done. BUT THEY STILL DID IT! And they would do so again.

Such is the nature of the Easter Myth.

The clear insight that it seems Bach wants us to take about the myth of Easter is one of sacrifice, and the nature of that sacrifice: in that name of religion he shows us that the good (by Christian standards) are sacrificed to the rotten, the constant to the inconstant, the talented and inspirational to the lumpen dross. Why? Because the good are a constant affront to the mediocre, the talented to the untalented, the superhuman to the less-than-human. They can't be allowed to remain -- they're an affront to us all. In the name of God they just have to go! Only once they're dead are they safe to revere once again. After all, the dead can't talk back.

In other words, it struck me that the Easter Myth is not unlike Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, only without the happy ending, and with a bloody awful ethic to boot.

LINKS: The Fountainhead - Objectivism Reference Center

TAGS: Religion, Objectivism, Ethics, Music, Books

Friday, 14 April 2006


More illuminating nonsense from Clare Swinney of Investigate magazine, ranting on NZ Politics:
It's common knowledge that Al Qaeda is the product of elements of the US
Admin, bent on a one world government - or as Bush Senior termed, the New
World Order...
Next week, how Noddy and Big Ears shot JFK, under orders from Mother Goose...

TAGS: Nonsense

Modernism: How bad was it?

A recent show of modern art at London's V&A has once again put modernism and particularly modern architecture in the spotlight, offering a chance perhaps for a reappraisal of a style whose obituary was deservedly written some years ago, but which is presently enjoying a 'more knowing' revival.
Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme [left], or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite [right].
So said architectural critic Charles Jencks, (who unfortunately seized on the awful Pruitt-Igoe and contemporary cultural developments to invent the un-style of post-modernist architecture; Galt save us from po-mo wankers). What Jencks was celebrating in his own way was the much-needed destruction of a thoroughly Modernist, nearly new and utterly inhuman housing project, a project designed whole-heartedly in the 'bourgeouis-proofed' High Modernist tradition of Swiss-French architect-hero Le Corbusier I mentioned this some time ago here).

Who was Le Corbusier? Here's a perfectly fair satire of him by Uncyclopaedia:
Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887–August 27, 1965), a Swiss architect who frequently travelled as a French broom salesman, is single-handedly credited with turning architecture from an art form, one which celebrated man's spirit through the creation of uplifting and inspiring structures, into a vehicle by which humanity housed itself in a bleak, despair-filled world of soulless concrete and glass boxes devoid of anything resembling 2,000 years of human achievement.
Well put -- many a true word there spoken not entirely in jest. Le Corbusier was merely amongst the most emulated of modernism's elite, amongst whom the aphorism was often as telling as their bland work.

"Ornament is crime!" declared Adolph Loos -- "less is more," offered Mies van der Rohe (whose Reichsbank design that is at right) -- "Necessity would have to defeat beauty," said the constructivists -- between them helping set off a wave of defiantly un-beautiful 'neutron-bomb' architecture; that is, architecture from which all signs of humanity, beauty or soul were expunged. "A house is a machine for living," declared Le Corbusier (whose Casa Weissenhof that is at left). "If the house is a machine for living in," responded the more humane Frank Lloyd Wright, "then the heart is a suction pump." "A building should not be of a style," said Wright, "it should have style." However, like the anti-art of Dadaism from which modernism drew inspiration, heroic modernism rejected all style explicitly, but in the end all it had was this 'non-style' -- a reaction to all the style (and styles) already in existence.

Non-style celebrated as style -- what could be more ingenious! And, as it turned out, what could be more dispiriting?

Reviews of the V&A exhibition 'Modernism, Designing A New World 1914-1939' have been mixed, but they do show that the worm is beginning to turn against the sterility of the modernist movement in art, if not yet sure what exactly it's turning to. "To the past," unfortunately appears to be this reviewer's chosen route, an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise sound review:
It is the most terrifying exhibition I have seen, because it is politics disguised as art. It opens with a word that says it all - utopia - and ends with an unspoken lie, that this nihilist ideology became merely a style and is no longer a threat. If only.

...Only now do I realise that the tawdriness of so much modernist architecture was deliberate. The constructivists sacrificed art as they rejected history, as bourgeois: "Necessity would have to defeat beauty." Harsh manufactured materials such as glass and steel were "appropriate to achieve the communist expression of structure". Hence the bleak minimalism of Mies van der Rohe and the cruel brutalism of Le Corbusier, whose creations must have inspired more human misery than any in history...
The modernist cult took hold most firmly in countries that capitulated easily to dictatorship: Russia, Germany, Italy and France. It was resisted in more resolutely democratic Britain and America. [The exhibition's curator] refers patronisingly to British critics who favoured an art that "gave pleasure, physical and intellectual comfort and a sense of place" as somehow missing the point, if not off the planet... Modernism was never a style. It was a rejection of style, because style required hard work and talent.
<Rejecting the 'modernist past' does not mean embracing the ancient past as too many cultural commentators would recommend, or moving on to the new non-styles of deconstruction, nihilism and the irrational as too many present-day architectural practitioners have done. Embracing art and architecture that celebrate human life on this earth in this age is possible, as I trust examples of both posted over the last year on this very blog have demonstrated.

LINKS: Pruitt-Igoe & the end of modernity- University of Missouri - St Louis
Le Corbusier - Uncyclopaedia
Brutalism and brutality - Simon Jenkins on the myopic vision of modernity -
Modernism - Special report -

TAGS: Art, Architecture, History-Twentieth_Century, Urban_Design

Hamilton footbridge: Evolution of an idea

Hamiltonians have been discussing the possibility of a footbridge over the Waikato River at the south end of Victoria Street, linking Hamilton's thriving restauarant, bar and entertainment precinct with the river and with the many people living across the river.

A great idea, that I'm told is back on the agenda once again. Great news.

The possible problem lies in the implementation of the idea.

At present there are two ideas. The first is elegant, playful and adventurous (right, below, in an unfortunately bad image). The second (left below) and the one presently proposed is dull, squat and -- as a friend said -- "looks like a road bridge with a few sheds on it."

Above at right is another foot-bridge, nowhere near Hamilton, which gives an indication of what another city has done in the way of an elegant solution to a similar demand -- a Barcelona footbridge by Santiago Calatrava.

TAGS: Architecture, Urban Design

Thursday, 13 April 2006

Beer O'Clock: Kilkenny

About time I started on one of these I'm thinking. A perfect beer for a Friday Thursday before a long weekend just as winter's icy fingers start stealing across the scenery. The perfect spot would be in a small bar with the setting sun just coming in over distant leaves and picking out the flames of an open fire...

Jaysus, but sure and the very t'ought of it's enough to get a man poetic.

PS: Real Beer has the news of a man who got not just poetic over his beer, but downright romantic... There are some who might t'ink a feller had gone too far.

TAGS: Beer & Elsewhere

Auckland arseholes try to kill the car

A meddlesome arsehole from the Auckland Regional Council was bleating today that Aucklanders own too many cars ("1.66 cars per household!" says the arsehole from the ARC, "that's one for every person over fifteen!!" compared to "only 1.4 per household for Los Angeles!" [breathless exclamation points mine!!!]), with the clear implication that they intend to do something about that state of affairs by force. True. They do.

Recognising (or perhaps failing to recognise) that nearly every person over fifteen in Greater Auckland has a car since it's the only practical way to get around, live and do business in Greater Auckland, they intend to impose a scheme which will make car use in Auckland unfeasably expensive, and by which they themselves hope to collect scads of cash. Now you know why I've called them arseholes.

(What's not true however is that figure they quote for LA -- the actual figure for Greater LA and not just the benighted downtown is 1.9 cars per household, as the ARC surely know and as Owen McShane pointed out soon after this morning's ARC grandstanding. Fancy a bureaucrat lying to make a point.)

As to the scheme, the ARC and their fellow-arseholes at the Auckland City Council have both been considering the imposition of road-pricing around Auckland in a bid to get people out of their cars and on to, well, not on to public transport since there's barely any in Auckland, but just to impose it because they can, and because they think it will be a particularly lucrative form of theft.

Agreeing to support the measure Auckland Mayor Dickwhack Hubbard said "road-pricing stood to provide $200 million to $400 million of essential public transport improvements." Jolly good, but not nearly jolly enough for Auckland's creaking public transport 'network' (what's the opposite of a network? -- that's the only word for Auckland's pulic transport), as even former Labour MP Richard Northey can see:
"If you talk to anybody in the street, they will say: How on Earth can you seriously consider road-charging when there is no serious alternative for me to get into the central city for my work or my study except in my car?" the former Labour MP said.

Mr Northey said administrative and technical costs would drain away a huge proportion of revenues raised, and although there might come a time when such schemes became feasible, pursuing any of them now would risk losing public credibility for the future.
All true. However, said Dickwhack raising his hand to vote for road-pricing, "The council would be seen as 'Luddites' if it supported Mr Northey's amendments." It would also kiss goodbye to nearly half-a-million in potential revenue, not something a tax-and-spend politician could easily kiss goodbye to you must admit, even if the imposition of the new regime were in fact to strangle Auckland and make that revenue stream an illusory one. Meddling arseholes.

PS: as an antidote to this creeping, all-enveloping, all-statist, anti-car wowserism, try this from Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson: "
If you love cars you are up against a global conspiracy to destroy your spirit. You must rebel." Great stuff -- until the last line. [Hat tip Marcus at SOLO]

LINKS: Auckland road tolls clear first hurdle - NZ Herald
Here's to health and safety - Jeremy Clarkson, Times Online

TAGS: Auckland, Urban_Design, Politics_NZ

Celebrating those Easter rituals

Every year at Easter we celebrate sacrifice with time-honoured rituals that go to the heart of who we are as a society. This year will be no exception.

Yes, this very Easter -- just like every Easter past in this pathetic authoritarian backwater -- bureaucrats will be out in force once again showing who's boss: arresting, harrassing and charging shop-owners who have the temerity to open their own shops on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Tourists will be able to say that they arrived in New Zealand, but the country was closed. And those of us who live here will be able to look forward to court hearings later in the year at which people will be sentenced, fined and pilloried for the act of minding their own business.

A pity that our politicians and bureaucrats can't learn how to.

TAGS: Politics-NZ

A movie about the mind, apparently.

Let me introduce you to a film in which the contradictions are apparently all worth it.

A teen-flick that celebrates intelligence.
A film in which Kim Basinger wins out by the use of her mind.
A thriller in which cellphones and technology star, and in which the mind comes out victorious over muscle.

Thrilling stuff, huh? Sounds like it to me too, and I know nothing more about it than what I've read here, and that it's called Cellular.

LINK: The digital divide: It's not the money stupid - Owen McShane, NBR

TAGS: Films, Objectivism

Is it true that the government that governs best, governs least?

'The Government that Governs Best, Governs Least.' That's true, but it's not the whole truth -- which just shows you how reliable bumper-sticker philosophy can be. What's missing from that analysis is what gets too many libertarians confused.

What's missing is this: Size isn't always important (and just try selling that line after dark). In particular, size is not the primary consideration when judging governments. What is of primary importance is not that government is small, but that it protects individual rights. That, after all, is what government is for - to protect you from me, and me from you. Size is a consequence of that primary role, not the generator.

To protect me from you and you from me -- in other words, to protect our individual rights -- a government needs to be big enough to be able to do that job properly, and it needs to be properly constituted so they don't do you over themselves. There are too many example of small but vicious governments that don't do the job, and some rare examples of big governments that (sometimes) do -- and some very rare but truly exceptional examples of small governments that very often do, and hardly ever don't. In judging them all, small is better, but proper protection of individual rights is best.

As the T-shirt might well say, 'There's No Government Like No Government - Unless it's Very, Very Small, and it Properly Protects Individual Rights.'

TAGS: Libertarianism, Cue_Card_Libertarianism, Politics

Elk Rock House - Robert Harvey Oshatz

Another house from Robert Harvey Oshatz, this one the Elk Rock House from 1988-89.

LINK: Robert Harvey Oshatz Architect

TAGS: Architecture

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Muslims get tits in a tangle

A new Muslim-sensitive edition of Playboy has appeared in the world's most populous Muslim nation that should please all the local and international idiots who favour wowserish puritanism for Muslim women -- the just-launched Indonesian edition lifts the burqah on "midriffs, thighs and cleavage," but contains no nudity. None at all. I swear I am not making this up.

As a poster at Noodle Food says, if you're a Muslim, you really do read Playboy for the articles. Or perhaps, if you're a militant Muslim, you reach for your sword: in a reaction promising to be as intemperate as the one against the Danish cartoonists (now in hiding in fear for their lives), a few are promising to do just that:

"If within a week they are still active and sell the magazine, we will take physical action," said Muhammad Alawi Usman, a spokesman for [Islamic Defenders Front, a hardline faction known for offering violent solutions to moral problems]. "Playboy is not suitable for reading because its contents degrade women."

Don't you just love that characteristically tolerant, caring and reasonable approach to disagreement. Fortunately there were some genuinely reasonable outrage aired on a local radio station:

"It’s sinful to read Playboy if there’s no nudity!" said one caller. "It’s a scandal! There’s no nude women in the magazine. I think we have been deceived," said another.

If they want the real thing, it's not like there isn't plenty of it about in Jakarta. "More explicit photos appear daily in local tabloids," says AsianSirens.Com, so maybe the non-nudity is more about appeasement than anything else.

UPDATE: Turns out that the forces of barbarism have already acted, attacking the Playboy offices in Jakarta.

LINKS: Playboy's Indonesian edition enrages - and disappoints -- Time Online
More Muslim outrage - Noodle Food
Slide Show and Video - Reuters Video, via Yahoo
Tamer Playboy hits Jakarta newsstands - Asian Sirens
Indonesia Muslim hardliners attack Plyboy building - Reuters

TAGS: Religion, Multiculturalism, Politics-World, Sex, Tara Tainton, Porn, Filth, , 

Petrol price gouging

There is a feeling afoot that there is some group taking advantage of high petrol prices to make a killing, to rip you off, to take you for a ride. That feeling is correct: the culprit is the Government.

At 166.9c for every litre of 95 octane petrol, the Government takes about 68c of that litre as excise tax. Sixty-eight cents. Every time the price rises ten cents they get just over four cents of that -- and of course that includes the extra 0.79c per litre in tax (plus GST) that kicked in on April 1, but does not yet include extra taxes proposed to build new roads like Wellington's Transmission Gully.

How much of every litre you pay for gets spent on roads? About 24c.

So when you fill up your Toyota Corolla (thanks to the Herald for the graphic), approximately $36.33 of every tank is going to the grey ones. Thirty six dollars and thirty-three cents, of which about $12.80 goes to build and maintain the roads.

So if you want to yell at someone when you fill up today, don't yell at the person at the pump filling you up; ring your MP and vent your spleen at them for being complicit in ripping you off. And if you want prices to fall, you could try lobbying the US Government to remove exploration restrictions and refinery taxes, environmentalists who oppose drilling in empty wilderness, rebels and insurgents in Iraq and Nigeria disrupting suppies, and intransigent mullahs and Mahmouds in Iran. Good luck with that. Just be happy that oil prices are still not at record highs.

LINKS: Petrol soars: get used to it - Herald
Why is oil so gosh-darned expensive? - Not PC (August, 2005)
Taxing profits stifles oil production - Not PC (September, 2005)
Oil at a record high? - Not PC (December, 2005)

TAGS: Economics, Energy, Politics-US, Environment

NZ's libertarians want you.

I know some of you have been meaning for some time to join the Libertarianz -- why not now? You know you want to; and you know you're wanted. If you agree with even half of what you read here at this blog, if you like us want more freedom and less government, then you really need to join New Zealand's only libertarian party.

And don't worry, you can continue your membership of other parties -- infiltration of libertarian ideas into places where they otherwise wouldn't be is one of our specialities.

LINK: Join Libertarianz
Libertarianz principles
Libertarianz on the web

TAGS: Libertarianz, Libertarianism, Politics-NZ

Atomic Iran

In 1981 when Israel bombed Baghdad's nuclear reactor in a bold air strike, the world was outraged.

Yet is there any doubt that if his reactor had been contructed as planned that when Saddam's Scuds were dropping in the suburbs of Tel Aviv in the 1991 Gulf War that some of them would have been armed with nuclear warheads?

How happy were the residents of Tel Aviv in 1991 that action had been taken in 1981 to halt Iraq's nucler programme? And how happy might the residents of the Middle East be in years to come if action is taken to halt Iran's atomic programme now?

LINKS: Blixatron - Cox and Forkum
Iran enriches uranium for the first time - Regime Change Iran
Iran cartoons - Cox & Forkum

Politics-World, War

Welfare hardening hearts, minds and borders

George Reisman joins the chorus in favour of open immigration; I made my own small contribution here the other day, arguing that "letting peaceful people pass borders freely is both moral and practical," and quoting Harry Binswanger's argument that "Entry into the U.S. [and New Zealand] should ultimately be free for any foreigner, with the exception of criminals, would-be terrorists, and those carrying infectious diseases."

Reisman points out, as I did, that the large elephant in the middle of the immigration debate that no-one mentions is the Welfare State. That's a large elephant which is stampeding through all the moral arguments for open borders, and hardening the hearts and minds of those who should be the natural supporters of open immigration. His point is pithily summarised in the title of his piece: Immigration Plus Welfare State Equal Police State.

'V' House

An unbuilt project from 1979 by a chap called Robert Harvey Oshatz.

LINK: Robert Harvey Oshatz Architect

TAGS: Architecture

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Ideas vs People

There are a disturbing number of people who don't understand the difference between ideas and those who hold them. Perhaps the clearest example yesterday was a commenter on Kiwiblog's 'Anti-Islam Speech' thread in this exchange:
RW: "Islam is not any individual muslim, it is a socio-political ideology with religious dressings, and it is a mortal enemy of the infidel."
ERR: "Oh, now that's just sophism. What is a religion? It is an idea shared by a collection of people. If all the individual people vanish, so does the entire idea. Therefore the individuals making up Islam are a subset of the entirity of the religion."

Far from being 'sophism,' understanding the difference between destroying an idea and destroying a person is surely fundamental to the exchange of ideas. Conflating ideas and people is, well, either sophism or just plain silly.

Calling for the death of an idea does not entail calling for the death of a person. If for instance I say "I look forward to the death of the idea that flared trousers are fashionable," then I'm advocating that people no longer wear flares; I'm maybe suggesting that flared-trouser-wearers be shunned socially; what I'm not doing is advocating killing those who wear them or sell them. On the other hand, Eric Pianka in the post below is calling for people to die, or is at least saying he'll be happy when mass-dying happens. You see the difference? [Sheesh, you'd hardly think this was necessary to point out, would you?]

Equally, if I advocate the death of an idea or a religion I am not advocating genocide -- I'm calling for the death of an idea; the death of the religion, not the deaths of the religion's adherents. (Not, that is, unless those adherents have taken the next step of becoming murderers themselves.)

So what lack of logic equates one with the other? The other day I quoted Eleanor Roosevelt saying, "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, small minds talk about people." What sort of mind confuses one with another?

There are some ideas that are so toxic they deserve to lose support. They deserve to be shunned. They deserve to die out. Just because some ideas are held very strongly -- indeed religiously -- does not mean they can't be criticised, pilloried, satirised or laughed at. As Thomas Sowell reminds us, "Cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life." We need to judge cultures and religious beliefs and practices by the same standards as we judge "working machinery": that is, by how well they work for adherents and those affected by cultural and religious practices. The standard by which that judgement is made is life, human life. By that standard, modern Islam ranks very poorly.

The West too had its own Dark Ages before reason and individualism brought us into the sunlight of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Sadly, as the West embraced reason and went from Dark Age to Golden Age, Islamic philosophers did the reverse, rejecting reason and this earth and setting off Islam's own slide into darkness, where it has remained ever since. Without their own rebirth of reason, Islamic cultures are likely to stay there.

Whatever you can say about Golden Age Islam and its great advances, sharia, subjugation of women, suicide bombing, virulent irrationalism and worldwide terrorism say an awful lot about modern Islam and it's current anti-life outlook. Said the Islamic philosopher who first rejected reason and this earth on behalf of his brothers, "If it's in the Koran we don't want it; if it's not in the Koran we don't need it. Said Osama bin Laden after 9/11, "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two... in the [Muslim] nation there are thousands of young men who are as keen on death as Americans are keen on life." The events of the last five years in particular show these statements should be taken seriously, and judged accordingly.

Like I said, there are some ideas so toxic that they deserve to die out. Irrational, anti-life religion is one of them. "Death to the anti-life," say I.

NOTE: For your interest, I've added links to two related pieces I wrote for Scoop back in 2001: 'The Heart of the West' and a response to critics of that piece, posted down the page from 'Who Kills the Innocents?'

UPDATE: I'm adding a link to an excellent piece by Amit Ghate on 'The Islamist Threat to Civilization' which concretises exactly that, showing exactly what is at stake and why. It's not Islamism versus Chistianity, its Islamism versus every civilising value that the West stands for.

LINKS: Anti-Islam speech - Kiwiblog
The Heart of the West - Peter Cresswell, Scoop
Who kills the innocents? - Peter Cresswell, Scoop
The Islamist threat to civilization - Amit Ghate, Capitalist Magazine

War, Multiculturalism, Religion, Philosophy, Ethics

When scientists go genocidal

Religous zealots aren't the only ones preaching destruction. One award-winning American academic beats even Islamic mullahs for sheer genocidal chutzpah.

Dr Eric Pianka, an environmental ecologist from the University of Texas (pictured left with an apparently adoring audience member) wants ninety percent of the human race exterminated so we can "save the earth." His preferred method? Ebola virus: "HIV is too slow. It's no good... You know, the bird flu's good, too. We need to sterilize everybody on the Earth.”

Pianka delivered his delighted obituary to the human race at a Texas Academy of Sciences award function at which he received both a plaque as the 2006 Distinuished Texas Scientist, and a standing ovation for declaring that "We're no better than bacteria," (speak for yourself, Buddy), "spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy," and said:
His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola ( Ebola Reston ), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, [as scientist and audience member Forrest M. Mims III reports] Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs...
When Pianka finished his remarks, the audience applauded. It wasn't merely a smattering of polite clapping that audiences diplomatically reserve for poor or boring speakers. It was a loud, vigorous and enthusiastic applause.
"Bad philosophy, tenure, and your tax dollars at work," says Stephen Hicks, drastically understating the case. Life-hating philosophy, anti-human environmentalism and jobs-for-life tenure have allowed academics to seriously give this toxic stuff house-room. Post-modern nihilism, deep ecology, and vicious anti-humanism give it legs. Why don't they start their project on themselves?

  • If you're wondering if this was a hoax, then rest assured the American media were too. No longer. Keep an eye on the MSM as this story develops, and as Pianka and his supporters spin. A transcript of Pianka's speech is not yet available, but Cathy Young has a transcript of an earlier speech by Pianka, and a brief summary of the state of play with the spin and counter-spin.
  • If you're wondering how people can seriously sit still for this stuff, then rest assured there are those who do, and indeed environmentalists who have been saying this stuff for some time -- I quote many of them in a comment on this post here. Sample: "We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have... more value - to me - than another human body, or a billion of them... Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along." - David M. Graber, US National Park Service biologist.
  • Time to repost or at least link to my earlier post calling for a new environmentalism that puts humans first.
UPDATE: Page with Piankas's earlier speech moved, and link updated.

LINKS: Meeting Doctor Doom - The Citizen Scientist
Pianka's speech - The Y Files
Pianka: Smear victim, eco-fanatic, or neither? - The Y Files
Anti-human environmentalism quotes, included in Comments on 'Eaten by Absurdity' - Peter Cresswell
A new environmentalism: Putting humans first - Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Conservation, Philosophy, Environmentalism, Politics_US

Eames House - Charles & Raye Eames

The 1940s Eames House showed that with the right amount of ability and careful design, 'off-the-shelf' steel componentry could produce a delightful and thoroughly liveable Californian house.

The picture at right is a 3d rendering of the famous Shulman photograph at left above.

LINKS: Charles Eames - Great Buildings Online
Eames Foundation website
Eames House - Shulman collection

TAGS: Architecture

Monday, 10 April 2006

Nicholas - abused

Louise Nicholas has been used, abused and then discarded by people in positions of power who have used those positions to exploit her shamelessly for their own ends

I'm talking here of journalists, militant feminists and editorial writers.

In the wake of a journalist resurrecting the Rickards/Shipton/Schollum story from twenty years ago, where Nicholas herself had been content to let it lie, a tide of sensationalism and intrusion into Nicholas's life and intensely private affairs has swept the media and the country. Whatever private life she once had has now vanished in the glare of a thousand close-up photographs, the breathless revelations of too-much titillating journalism, and the man-hating agendas of militant feminism.

Enough. Leave her be. For pity's sake, just leave her be.

LINKS: Suppressing information. A challenge to free speech? - Not PCRickards v Nicholas - Not PC
Cue Card Libertarianism - Feminism - Not PC

TAGS: New_Zealand

A reminder that we're still at war with barbarism

Death to Marxism! Death to Fascism! Death to Islam! Death to all forms of tyranny over the minds of men! And shame on those who would appease or apologise for the evils these disgusting and barbarous ideas represent.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for cowards to appease it - and Islam is the locus of evil in the contemporary world." If that statement from The Free Radical's Lindsay Perigo is not true, then the death and destruction of September 11 did not happen; then Theo van Gogh was not murdered; then the Danish cartoonists are not in hiding in fear of their lives; then hordes of stone-age barbarians did not take to the streets in reaction against those cartoons to say "Europe, you will have your own Holocaust soon," "Behead those who would insult Islam" and "God Bless Hitler"; then Bali, Madrid and London were not bombed by maggots who show those threats need to be taken very seriously indeed.

It's still not clear to some people that war was declared in the name of Islam some five years ago by representatives from the dark ages who hate the West for its wealth, for its happiness and for its material success. This post is yet another reminder for those people. Since that time and in the name of Islam, murderous morons have reaped destruction across the globe -- and make no mistake, they mean to continue until another curtain of darkness has been brought down over the West. THEY MEAN IT! If you still don't understand that, then either you have a mind incapable of learning from events happening right in front of your eyes, or perhaps it's time you did some serious reflection. Let me help you in that task by reminding you that these barbarians want you enslaved and destroyed, and the world of the West returned to the darkness from which it once came. THEY DO MEAN IT!

Said the scum who murdered Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh at his trial for the killing, he "acted out of religious conviction and would do it again if given the chance." He really does mean it.
I don't feel your pain," he told Van Gogh's mother, Anneke. "I don't have any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because I think you're a nonbeliever... I did what I did purely out of my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction... If I ever get free I would do it again.
Said Abu Musab A- Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda frontman in Iraq and perpetrator there of bombings, butchering and beheadings, "Islam permits the killing of "infidel" civilians.":

In Islam, making the difference is not based on civilians and military, but on the basis of Muslims and infidels," said the voice attributed to the fugitive leader who has a 25-million-dollar price on his head.

"The Muslim's blood cannot be spilled whatever his work or place, while spilling the blood of the infidel, whatever his work or place, is authorized if he is not trustworthy.
Make no mistake, these are voices from the dark ages; representatives of ideas as intolerant and cruel as they are unfortunately widespread. The barbaric ideas these men represent are as evil as the murders committed in their name. The stone-age representatives of those ideas are not going away-- indeed, if left unopposed they plant to bring sharia and dhimmitude and death to all those unbelievers and infidels they can reach. THAT MEANS YOU! If that's something some of you still don't understand, then perhaps you should refrain from criticising those who do. For until you do you're like a child in an adults' world, and your brainless chattering just distracts adults when they're talking.

Fortunately, there are adults who do understand. As Tony Blair said just days ago, "the struggle facing the world today was not just about security. It was also 'a struggle about values and modernity, whether to be at ease with it or enraged at it'." As Dr Wafa Sultan bravely said on Al-Jazeera television just one month ago:
The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete...
And as Lindsay Perigo said in that Free Radical editorial criticised as "reminiscent of the rhetoric which led to the Holocaust" by an infantile fool who smears Perigo as a Nazi (and who is linked to by a hand-wringing David Farrar) :

Human beings worthy of the title must rise up and shout in irresistible unison: “Enough of this primordial primitivism! We who are civilised are revolted by it and shall rebuff it at every turn!” Muslims must discover rationality and decency; Westerners must rediscover them, and, as a matter of urgency, speak up for them!

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for cowards to appease it—and Islam is the locus of evil in the contemporary world.

There’s been far too much appeasement of it...

It cannot be defended—indeed, it can only be betrayed—by apologetic weasel-worders appeasing militant, murderous morons whose savage pseudo-sensibilities have been stirred, not by sticks and stones, but by words.

May men of righteous rationality reignite the flame of reason and fight an unapologetic philosophical jihad in its holy name, that it may illumine the globe and save the world from another Dark Ages.

Bravo! Death to Marxism! Death to Nazism! Death to the barbarities of the Dark Ages! And as Perigo concludes himself, "Death to Islam -- and all forms of tyranny over the minds of men!"

UPDATE: I'm adding a link to an excellent piece by Amit Ghate on 'The Islamist Threat to Civilization' which concretises exactly that, showing exactly what is at stake and why. It's not Islamism versus Chistianity, its Islamism versus every civilising value that the West stands for.

LINKS: Death to Islam - Lindsay Perigo
Muslim radical confesses to Van Gogh killing in court tirade - Times Online
Intolerance in the Quran - Skeptics Annotated Quran
Cruelty in the Quran - Skeptics Annotated Quran
Death to hate speech - Ruth - Chaos Theory
Anti-Islam speech - David Farrar, Kiwiblog
"A battle of values..." - Not PC
'Clash of civilisations' rubbished by Arab-American woman - Not PC
The Islamist threat to civilization - Amit Ghate, Capitalist Magazine

War, Multiculturalism, Religion

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Still No Power

Since power and the imminent lack thereof are sadly and increasingly topical again, I'll re-quote myself from July last year re-quoting myself during Auckland's then power crisis, when I warned about the future energy implications of the 'Anti-Industrial Dream Team' of Kyoto and the RMA. We are now reaping the consequences of what wasn't done then:
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 greens’ 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...
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.
Power is the lifeblood of industry, of technology, of everything that keeps us alive. With the combined 'Anti-Industrial Green Dream Team' of Kyoto and the RMA, we are in danger of unilaterally cutting off our own blood supply.

Warned Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association last year, after the decision to minmise Genesis's water right to the Whanganui river to proetct the 'mauri' of the river:
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... [oil is becoming too expensive] 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.
Such is the current state-endorsed religion of environmentalism. But there are some environmentalists who are prepared to consider going nuclear, as I posted last year. How about it then?

LINKS: No power - Peter Cresswell
Religionists for nuclear - Not PC
Taxing profits stifles oil production - Greenspan - Not PC

TAGS: Energy, Environment, Religion, Global_Warming


The best gigs stay with you for years -- the best ones make all the other lesser ones worthwhile, and all the ignominy worth it. And since I've been making musical lists on recent weekends, here's a list of my top ten most memorable gigs from my own pre-history that still stick with me. Dates are approximate (I'm not a damned encyclopaedia here):
  1. Manic Street Preachers, London Astoria, 1993. Richey's last show (pun sadly intentional). Rock experiences don't come better than this.
  2. Green Day's first London gig, 1995 (where spitball volleyball got played between crowd and band) - also at London's Astoria. These guys thought they could take on the word and win. I think they did.
  3. Velvet Underground, Forum, London. 1993. It was over before we realised what we'd all just seen...
  4. The Members, at Auckland's Mainstreet, November 5, 1978. The first time one of those nasty English punk bands -- the real thing! -- came to li'l old NZ. So naturally a friendly, local skinhead had to try and set fire to the place. Well, it was bonfire night. And the place was already on fire.
  5. Toy Love, Albert Park. 1979. An afternoon show just as The Enemy came to Auckland and changed their name; back when they were at their savage, snarling, dangerous best.
  6. Wilko Johnson, somewhere in Wellington, 1986, with a tight band and a machine-gun guitar sound. What a show.
  7. Christy Moore, Hammersmith Odeon, 1991. A man at the top of his powers, who could hold an audience of thousands in the palm of his hand with just his own voice and the sound of a bodhran. Pure genius.
  8. The Ramones, Logan Concrete Centre, 1978. Newspapers next day had headlines declaring 'Ramones Rock Riot.' It was that good.
  9. John Cale, Gluepot, 1983. Camouflage-era Cale showing he always did have the necessaries.
  10. Bob Dylan, Perth, 1985. I went to see Tom Petty. Realised pretty quickly that on his night, Bob was the real thing. And this was Bob's night.
I could add performances of Parsifal and by Wynton Marsalis to the list, but I might save those for a different list at another time. :-) So how about you? What were your ten best? (Careful now: Anyone suggesting Robbie Williams gets banned for a month - and that means you, Sus.)

TAGS: Music, Events

Investigate's most wanted

As a service to readers (specifically to readers of Clare Swinney and Investigate magazine), I post here a picture of the man responsible for too many of the worlds most fantastic crimes and alien encounters. Be on the look out for Cyril the Centaur (and note that Cyril and Al Gore have never been seen together in the same room!):

TAGS: Nonsense, Humour

Friday, 7 April 2006

Beer O'Clock: Macs Reserve

At the recommendation of Neil from Real Beer, tonight I'll be sampling moderate quantities of Mac's Reserve.

I don't have good memories of it from previous sessions, but I'll let you know in the morning how it rates this time.

Enjoy your evening.

LINKS: Macs Reserve - Lion Nathan
Real Beer

TAGS: Beer_&_Elsewhere

Best blogs

Congratulations to Public Address, winner of Netguide's People's Choice Best NZ Blog award, and to the other two finalists Kiwiblog and Idolblog. (Full results here.) Hope the champagne was flowing for you all last night. For my part, I guess I'll go and open that loser's bottle of whiskey in the cupboard...

LINK: 2006 Netguide People's Choice Web Awards - Netguide
Websites point to interactive future - NZ Herald

TAGS: Blog, New Zealand

More conspiracies

Conspiracy theories generally tend to attract people who think there's something going on in the world just beyond their reach -- if only someone could lift the curtain for them to show what's really going on and who's doing it. They want to feel they have a handle on the world but as abstract ideas are generally beyond them they stick with concretes and personalities instead. The true conspiracy theorist will know all the minutiae there is to know about a subject, but have no perspective on it all to ever enable them to see the whole truth instead of the partial glimpse of it that they're sticking with. Like someone using a filing cabinet without any files or any order they'll never have a chance to get their thinking in order, so find it difficult to separate wheat from chaff.

Which side of the grassy knoll did those puffs of smoke come from? -- what does that shadow really mean on that bit of grainy film -- which head of security is who's second cousin once removed? -- what was that white plane doing? -- was it paid for by oil interests? -- the CIA? what's that dust seen on that photo? ... all sorts of tedious speculations are 'adduced' to make a an awful lot of stew from one very small onion while the bigger picture is overlooked, and a whole world of context is dropped. As Mark Twain once said about amateur science, "One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

The latest conspiracy theory to do the rounds is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were between them responsible for the fatal attacks of September 11; that no large planes hit the Pentagon; that controlled explosions and missiles were responsible for most of the Ground Zero destruction and death; that all the death, destruction and disaster was planned for ana organised not by Osama bin Laden but by America's President and Vice President. 'Obscene' is the kindest word for this sort of thing. 'Unhinged' might be another. 'Insane' could easily be another. No surprise then to find one of Ian Wishart's journalists, one Clare Swinney, is all over an online newsgroup peddling this rubbish. Dive in and see, if you can bear it.

For a succinct debunking of this nonsense before it gets to your inbox from some of your more over-heated friends (yes, you can stop sending me that stuff now, please), head to Popular Mechanics who've fisked most of the claims so you don 't have to waste your time on it.

And let me leave you with one of the few things said by Eleanor Rooosevelt that ever made any sense: "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, small minds talk about people." As they say in term papers, discuss.

LINKS: Debunking the 9/11 myths - Popular Mechanics
CNN poll indicates worm turning - Thread: NZ Politics

TAGS: Nonsense, Politics-US