Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Student philosophical 'research'

Stephen Hicks has a compilation of some recent philosophical 'research' that's passed across his desk from his students. Clearly, some haven't been listening too well in class ...
Is philosophy a waist of time? Ethical debates have been around for a long time, but nobody seems to have any answers. Ethnics are very important... For the world to be good means having strong Altruistic people to help the society survive in this doggy dog world.

The existence of God is questionable since evil does have some good points to make. John Hick rebukes the concept that God would not allow suffering if he existed in the third paragraph of his essay. Because of evil there is said to be another force in the universe, a dark force. His name is Satin.

According to Freud, the child has lust during the breast-feeding stage. Eventually his mother stops, and his lust is suppressed until his adultery stage.

In feudal times, jobs were passed on from fathers to sons. For example, if your father was a priest, you would probably become a priest too.
Read on here for more 'insights.'

TAGS: Philosophy, Humour

Celebrate Smokefree Day with a cigar

Today has been mandated as World SmokeFree Day by a bureaucrat somewhere. Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor rejoices, saying as a country we are doing well to make as many places as possible smokefree.

Isn't that irony. The only time you hear the word 'free' these days its associated with a ban.

Here's what I'll be doing later to celebrate SmokeFree Day: I'll be smoking the biggest, dirtiest, smelliest cigar I can get hold of. I'll smoke it on principle, and I'll damn well enjoy it.

Won't you join me!

UPDATE: Here's someone (left) gettin' wit' da program in the correct manner. Onya, Jean.

TAGS: Political_Correctness, Beer&Elsewhere

Q: Do you have an inviolable right to do whatever you want on your property?

I'm going to answer that question in the title above by linking to an earlier piece on neighbourly relations, and I need to answer it because of misunderstandings like this from people who should know better:
I don't subscribe to the notion that you have an inviolable right to do whatever you want on your property. I'm comfortable with not being able to build a 100 foot high fence as it may block your neighbour's views...
The 'notion' being argued against in that extract is a straw man. The notion being suggested, by me at least, is something quite different.

But first, an introduction: let me tell you about something called 'freedom.' Freedom in this context means to be free from physical coercion; in other words, having political freedom means that you're free to do whatever you're able and whatever you damn well please as long as you don't initiate force against anyone else. My freedom ends, in other words, where your nose begins. In this respect you might call your neighbour's nose your 'side-constraint,' just as his nose is yours -- which meams some of us do get more freedom than others.

Now, under common law, which is what I would propose to repair to once the RMA is abolished, you have the secure right to peaceful enjoyment of your property. And as both you and your neighbour would enjoy that same right, his right of peaceful enjoyment is your side-constraint. Your freedom ends where your neighbour's peaceful enjoyment begins. The 'side contraints' for land use under common law require you to take account of, among other things, your neighbour's rights to light, to air, to support, and to road access and the like. These are significant side constraints, but they are both objective and reciprocal -- your neighbour is equally constrained to recognise your similar rights.

So how are neighbourly issues resolved under common law? How for instance might I ensure my view or a neighbour's tree was retained? Voluntarily, as I explained here.
Voluntary agreements and the use of easements and covenants is the key. If, for example, I want to protect my existing view over your land, then I can negotiate with you to buy an easement over it for that purpose, and that easement would be registered on the title, and legally protected. It might be that my neighbour doesn't want money; it might be that he values very highly the stand of trees on my property. How highly? Highly enough perhaps to ask for a restrictive covenant over those trees to be registered on my title, in his favour. We shake hands. We have agreement.

We each have want we want, we each have security over what we want, trees and view are both protected, and not a bureaucrat or resource consent was needed to do it--just common sense, the tools of common law, and respect for each other's property rights. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it.
And no room for the Jackie Wilkinsons of the world -- or, at least, no house room for them.

LINKS: Tree chopping - Kiwiblog (DPF)
The 'right' to a view - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Cue Card Libertarianism - Freedom - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Cue Card Libertarianism - Common Law - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

TAGS: Common_Law Conservation Environment Property_Rights RMA

Where does their power come from?

I know some of you are unclear where the power comes from for the Jackie Wilkinsons of this world to tell you what you can and can't do on your own land, so perhaps I can help clear it up.

First of all, it come from the local District Plan. Like arseholes, every council planner's got one. Here's the one that Auckland's planners use. That's an awful lot of rules. Here's the rules dealing with trees, and other stuff council planners think you should like.

I can sympathise with you hating the District Plan and trying to 'fix it.' But that takes time. The real power comes from the Resource Management Act (RMA)-- that piece of excement that former Environment Minister Nick Smith calls "far-sighted environmental legislation." The RMA required councils to write District Plans telling you what you can and can't do on your own land. In fact, it's quite explicit:
9. Restrictions on use of land—
(1)No person may use any land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a district plan or proposed district plan unless the activity is—
(a)Expressly allowed by a resource consent granted by the territorial authority responsible for the plan; or
(b)An existing use allowed by [section 10 or section 10A].
(Just for reference, the "existing uses" allowed by section 10 are now severely limited.) Let me repeat the important phrase from the RMA's Section Nine: "No person may use any land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a district plan..." In other words, you may only do on your land what you are allowed to by the council. (This is an example what RMA author Geoffrey Palmer called "permissive legislation.") By contrast, under the Local Government Act, councils may do whatever they wish unless the Act denies them. Kind of neat, huh?

"But they can't do that!" you might say. "They can't have carte blanche can they, while making me ask permission for absolutely anything, can they?" Well, yes they can. And they have. And they do. Yes, there is a word for this kind of political system (it starts with 'F'), and they do make you ask permission, and they frequently deny it. People have been denied permission to do things as simple as mowing their lawns because it would "disturb local wildlife"; to cut down trees, to plant trees, to build driveways, to put up fences, to take down fences -- the list goes on, let alone the number of people denied permission to build, to renovate, and to improve their own properties. There are people around the country who own gorgeous beachfront properties on which they're not allowed to build -- and there are people like Jackie Wilkinson and Sandra Coney who have made it their job to ensure they won't.

And don't forget the RMA has a draconian penalty regime attached if you do what those in charge of your property haven't previously allow you to, and people have ended up in front of local goon squads to be pilloried -- George Bernard Shaw, for example, in Onehunga recently -- and they've also ended up in jail -- Andrew Borrett, for example, who was jailed for cutting down his own trees to get a driveway to his house.

"When the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce," said author Ayn Rand, "then you may know that your society is doomed." Well, we're there. Under the RMA, you must ask permission from poeple like Jackie Wilkinson so you can "use" your own land -- and "use" under the RMA has a very particular meaning: Almost everything. I quote again from Section Nine, 'Restrictions on Use of Land,' "the word 'use' in relation to any land means:
9. 4(a)Any use, erection, reconstruction, placement, alteration, extension, removal, or demolition of any structure or part of any structure in, on, under, or over the land; or (b)Any excavation, drilling, tunnelling, or other disturbance of the land; or (c)Any destruction of, damage to, or disturbance of, the habitats of plants or animals in, on, or under the land; or (d)Any deposit of any substance in, on, or under the land; or [(da)Any entry on to, or passing across, the surface of water in any lake or river; or] (e)Any other use of land— and ``may use'' has a corresponding meaning.
Happy now? Can you see now that the cartoon in the post below isn't funny, it's tragic. The enemy to attack is the RMA. That's where it all starts. If you object to all this, it's the RMA that has to go. As someone once said, a Ministry for the Environment is a ministry for everything. A law that seeks to control the environment with the means adopted by the RMA means laws for everything. This is eco-fascism pure and simple. Offend the prevailing state religion, and expect to be done over for your crime.

And who brought it in? Who's responsible for this blot on our freedom and property rights? Have a closer look at the picture above. Print it out a PDF and pin it on your wall, and throw a dart at it every time you hear another story like that of Alice Presley's -- and then email each of the people on it and tell them the RMA has to go.

I've said it before: It's time to put a stake through the heart of the RMA. It's time to abolish it. Time to replace it with the simple common law protections of property rights and environment that once existed, and can be given power once again.

UPDATE: A correspondent reminded me that when Nick Smith updated the RMA's penalty regime some years back by bringing in instant fines, court-imposed fines of up to $200,000 and up to $10,000 a day, and up to two years in jail for not doing as you're told, Nick ("this is far-sighted environmental legislation") Smith declared that for the Jackie Wilkinsons of the world to properly get their way "all we need to do is 'ping' one or two people. Then everyone will get the message." What a creep. This is the character you National Party supporters expect to 'amend' the RMA if they ever get near power.

LINKS: Section 9: Restrictions on use of land - RMA
Section 5C: Auckland City District Plan
'No' to more council powers - Libertarianz, Scoop (August, 2001)
RMA villains - PDF
Submission on the McShane Report on the RMA - Peter Cresswell, Libertarianz (1998)
It's time to put a stake through the heart of the RMA - Peter Cresswell, Free Radical [4-page PDF, 2005]

TAGS:
Auckland RMA Common Law Cartoons, Property_Rights Urban_Design Environment New_Zealand Politics-NZ

Whose bloody land is it anyway?


Cartoon by Nick Kim, courtesy of The Free Radical magazine.

TAGS: RMA Property_Rights Cartoons Humour Politics-NZ Environment Property

Desert Hot Springs Motel - John Lautner

A superbly planned and delightfully designed set of four motel units by one of Frank Lloyd Wright's former apprentices. Built all the way back in 1947.

LINK: Desert Hot Springs Motel website

TAGS: Architecture

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Ms A. Presley gets community service

Yes, that's right customers. Ms Alice Presley from Avondale has been tried and convicted of cutting down her own tree, and has been sentenced to 180 hours community service for her pains.

Just a reminder if you weren't already sure: here in the People's Republic of Aotearoa, your property is not your own. Just as Theresa Gattung can be now be sure who owns Telecom's lines, ie., not her, I'm sure Alice Presley is nowfully aware who owns her trees: the planner's. Not her.

Auckland City’s services requests commissar, Jackie Wilkinson, says the sentence serves as a timely warning that the courts take the unauthorised felling of the Council's trees very seriously.

“It’s really important that people understand that trees over a certain height no longer belong to the people on whose land they reside. These trees are protected, which means they are ours, and the courts will hand down stiff penalties to those who do not abide by our rules for our trees.

The rest of you who still haven't got it can perhaps expect a cast of Shortland St stars to begin making the same point for you in an award-winning series of TV ads. And those of you who have already got it will no doubt continue to cut down existing trees as they get to six metres tall, and refrain from planting anything that is likely to ever reach over six metres tall.

[Caution: some trees may be harmed in the printing out and distributing of this post.]

UPDATE 1: In an interview on Newstalk ZB, Commissar Wilkinson demonstrated that words like "medding arsehole" and "bitch" might perhaps be too mild to describe those of her ilk. Interview starts twelve minutes into the linked radio show segment, and -- frustratingly -- continues at the beginning of the 5:30 segment. If anyone would like to combine both sections of the interview as one MP3 and send me a link I'd be very grateful.)

UPDATE 2: Lindsay Mitchell and Elliot have a well-deserved crack at both the decision and the Commissar.

UPDATE 3: Jackie Wilkinson clearly enjoys her job. She gets to tell people what they can and can't do. She gets to threaten. Just in the last few months she's been responsible for threatening and then involved in tearing down signs in Dominion Rd (remember Sound City (right), whose signs were removed in what the Herald called "a pre-dawn raid"?), threatening to put an end to summer dining in Ponsonby cafes, and warning Aucklanders zat zey need to follow the rules "voluntarily," or else Jackie and her commissars will "work with them." How do you spell 'busybody'? Or 'petty fascist'? Funny, isn't it, how such jobs provide a comfortable berth for such aggressive busybodies. Feel free to contact the council and remind them who their employers are.

UPDATE 4: If you're not sure what a Liquid Amber looks like, that's one there on the left. If you're particularly keen, you can click on it and watch the clouds move.

UPDATE 5: Listen to Alice Presley's twelve-minute interview with Kathryn Ryan on Radio NZ's Nine-to-Noon. Link here.

UPDATE 6: Some of you who sent money to me to help out if Annette Presley continues with her legal threats (mostly sent through the PayPal link at the top of the page) suggested that if it were found not to be necessary I should pass it on to someone else, perhaps someone who's in the midst of a property rights battle. Someone just like Alice Presley. Who is Annette Presley's mum. Who Annette hasn't apparently spoken to since 1987. You can hear the irony from Papatoetoe to Avondale, and all the way over to Takapuna.

LINKS: Community service for illegal tree felling - Scoop
Interview with Commissar Jackie Wilkinson from Auckland City Council - Newstalk ZB (interview starts 12 minutes into linked segment, and continues in the next segment at 5:30pm)

TAGS: Property_Rights, Common_Law, Conservation, RMA, Auckland

'Pure and perfect competition'

So what is it with monopolies, eh? Clearly not content with my own wee Cue Card on the subject, I saw someone yesterday (somewhere) asking what the heck problem we free-marketeers have with regulating and stealing from Telecom -- after all, said the questioner, it's only regulating and stealing from a monopoly so as to increase competition, right? So that must be a good thing, right, for markets and consumers? The more 'pure and perfect competition the better,' right?

Sigh. Not right. Not right at all. Clearly I haven't said enough about 'competition,' and since my own chat on monopolies was insufficiently persuasive, then let me offer you something much longer, much more learned, and much, much better written than my own poor contribution: George Reisman's recently republished classic on monopolies, the theoretical foundations of 'anti-competitive' legislation, and the nonsense of "pure and perfect competition." Here's just a taste:
'Pure and perfect competition' is totally unlike anything one normally means by the term “competition” ... While competition as normally, and properly, understood rests on a base of individualism, the base of 'pure and perfect competition' is collectivism...

According to contemporary economics, no property is to be regarded as really private. At most, property is supposedly held in trusteeship for its alleged true owner, 'society' or the “consumers.' 'Society,' it is alleged, has a right to the property of every producer and suffers him to continue as owner only so long as 'society' receives what it or its professorial spokesmen consider to be the maximum possible benefit...

According to the tribal concept of property, 'society' has a right to one hundred percent of every seller’s inventory and to the benefit of one hundred percent use of his plant and equipment. The exercise of this alleged right is to be limited only by the consideration of 'society’s' alleged alternative needs...

The ideal of contemporary economics—advanced half as an imaginary construct and half as a description of reality, with no way of distinguishing between the two—is the contradictory notion of a private-enterprise, capitalist economy in which producers would act just as a socialist dictator would wish them to act, but without having to be forced to do so...
Or maybe forced, just sometimes -- just when enough people can be found who expect to benefit from the resultant looting. Read on here to find out why the 'ideal' of competition militates against real competition, and why Plato really is to blame. (And if like it so much you want to buy a few pamphlets and pass them around, then here's a link to George's shop.)

LINKS: Cue Card Libertarianism - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Platonic Competition (Part 1) - George Reisman's blog
Platonic Competition (Part 2) - George Reisman's blog
Pamphlets by George Reisman - Jefferson School of Philosophy, Economics and Psychology

TAGS: Economics, Politics, Nonsense, Telecom

Let's play 'meet the bureaucrat'

Watch what happens when "a junior policy analyst makes a visit to a notorious bureaucrat, desperate for help in understanding the bureaucratic mind." Good morning Dr Lecter...

LINK: The silence of the regulated - YouTube

TAGS: Libertarianism, Films, Humour

Handbags at 7

Things aren't what they used to be, are they. All Blacks in pub brawl. Former All Black captain swings handbag. New All Black cries. All Blacks offer public apology.

A public apology? What for? One damaged phone is being replaced. Everybody involved has already been apologised to. I think perhaps they should apologise for being unable to produce the headlines they used to. They should apologise to Keith Murdoch. They should apologise for crying in public. (And I can say that, because Chris and Tana can't find me. I hope.)

So what exactly happened? Says the Hurricanes CEO, "Numerous reports are now in circulation which have provided various accounts about the incident." I'll bet there are. The Herald reports: "The incidents occurred in The Jolly Poacher tavern between 6.30am and 8am on Sunday, witnesses told the Herald." Now, given that the incidents would have taken less than thirty seconds, and the 'time period' for those incidents as given by witnesses still in the bar as the sun came up was an hour-and-a-half, you can only wonder how reliable those witnesses are.

I have to say, however, that having previously been in The Jolly Poacher myself
between 6.30am and 8am on a Sunday, I can highly recommend it for an all-nighter. I can also confirm that the bouncers there are exceptional. I never had a chance. But I swear I would have made a perfect witness.

LINKS: Players say sorry over handbag incident - NZ Herald
All Blacks blue ... with a handbag -
Rugby Heaven

TAGS: Sport, Humour

Dancing with Quasimodo

I know I said I wouldn't mention 'Dancing with the Stars.' Okay, I lied.

In commenting on Gen XY's ACT on Campus lookalikes over at DPF's -- you know Clint Heine is Paul Giamatti; Helen Simpson is some bint from some TV show -- Brian S. unkindly suggested that Rodney Hide looked like Quasimodo. How unkind, I thought. How terribly unfair, I thought. Perhaps I could make some contribution along those lines myself, I thought.

So I have. Do you think Krystle looks like Esmerelda? "Any chance of a dance, love?"

(Click on the pic to enlarge.)

LINKS: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE #18: ACT on Campus - Generation XY
ACT on Campus lookalikes - Kiwiblog (DPF)

TAGS: Politics-ACT, Humour

Unbundling thanks

A mighty big thanks to all of you who have contributed to my 'Annette Presley Legal Defence Fund' through the Tip Jar up on the right. If you haven't already, you might like to email and let me know what to do with it all if she doesn't try to unbundle me.

LINKS: Annette Presley: The face of threats - Not PC

TAGS: Telecom, Blog

Interview with a cartoonist

Many of you will have enjoyed the cartoons of Cox and Forkum -- you've certainly seen plenty of them here - there's a few below and over there at left - click on the cartoon to go to its story -- and perhaps you've wondered what sort of mind could have produced them.

Well, now you know -- or you will know if you tune in to Martin Lindeskog's interview with Alan Forkum. [Hat tip Prodos] How for example did they come up with the idea for that apple down there? Tune in and find out.


LINKS: Interview with editorial cartoonist, Allen Forkum of CoxandForkum.Com - The Egoist at Solid Vox
Cox and Forkum website
Interviews - Cox and Forkum

TAGS: Cartoons, Humour, Politics, Objectivism

Forth rail bridge - Baker and Fowler


Speaking of great nineteenth-century bridges, here's Scotland's magnificent Forth rail Bridge, a spectacular cantilevered steel bridge completed in 1890.

The photo at right gives an idea of the epic scale of this structure that links Edinburgh to the highlands, and stands exposed to the worst the North Sea can throw at it.

A famous demonstration of the structural principles at work in this innovative bridge was undertaken by the proud designers. Click on the pic to above for a more detailed description.

LINK: Forth bridge - Wikipedia
Demonstration of structural principles: the Forth rail bridge - Imperial College of London

TAGS: Architecture

Monday, 29 May 2006

He was a Rocket Man

William Shatner's oddball performance in 'Boston Legal' brings to mind an earlier period of oddball Shatner performances, and I don't mean in Star Trek. Here's one: Blair Anderson has plucked out a gem in which Shatner almost sings, and almost makes Elton John musical.

Well, sort of. Click the link and scroll down to view.

LINK: Rocketman, William Shatner - courtesy of Blair from the Mild Greens

TAGS: Humour

Rural backlash under way?

Julian tells me he senses "a growing backlash by rural New Zealanders against bureaucrats of both local and central government." Are the news reports he posts in support of that question evidence enough to demonstrate such an encouraging sign? Are the meddling bureaucrats in trouble? Or might this be wishful thinking?

LINKS: Trouble for meddling bureaucrats in rural New Zealand? - Julian Pistorius

TAGS: New_Zealand, Politics-NZ, Property_Rights

When snobs attack your property rights

A commenter here, now sadly departed, was disappointed at the inflammatory language I used to describe ARC Parks chairman Sandra Coney's use of ratepayers' money to ensure that caterer Rae Ah Chee cannot build his retirement house on his 4.8 hectares Pakiri land -- what Coney called "this intrusion of a trophy house on the landscape."

I'm happy to see that at least a few other people share my outrage at Coney's high-handed meddling and insulting attempts to acquire a 'public open space' at the expense of Mr Ah Chee, the ratepayers of Greater Auckland, and the property rights some New Zealanders still think they enjoy.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association declared in response to Coney:
"Ms Coney's attitude to Mr Ah Chee is anti-success and anti-development. "Her derogatory description of the plan as a 'trophy house' shows she is unable to think of a serious environmental objection to it.
Good for them. And Owen McShane -- who suggests "the history of central planning is almost entirely a history of an elite standing in the way of change," which in the present context means "the planners are anti countryside living and want to crowd the people into cities even at the expense of increased congestion and pollution"-- suggests that Mr Ah Chee is perhaps the "victim" of a new kind of "class prejudice" in which class and the architectural taste of that class has beome a surrogate for race, and "intrusive trophy houses" [intrusive to whom, by the way?] become "the local surrogate for McMansions." As Owen notes in an offline post, this attitude has been encapsulated by author Robert Bruegmann as "the attack of the snobs" -- of which Coney is clearly one:
There is an obvious class bias in these judgments. The indictments against sprawl almost never target architecture or landscapes acceptable to upper-middle-class taste, no matter how scattered or consuming of land. One doesn't hear complaints about the spectacular British villas, the private gardens of the French Riviera created in the 1920s, or the great country houses built by American industrialists at the turn of the century on northern Long Island or in the Brandywine Valley in Delaware. "Sprawl" means subdivisions and shopping centers for middle-and lower-middle-class families. Today it is notoriously "McMansions"--houses judged by some observer to be excessive in size or stylistic pretension...
I can recommend the entire article to get a handle on why Sandra Coney's 'taste' is used to justify the violation of Mr Ah Chee's property rights.
LINKS: Dreams killed north of Auckland - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Comments of ARC parks chairman out of line - EMA, Scoop
Planners are grinding our cities to a halt - Owen McShane, Scoop
How sprawl got a bad name - Robert Bruegmann, American Enterprise Online, 'Attack of the Snobs' issue

TAGS:
Property_Rights, RMA, Auckland, Urban_Design, Environment

Unbundling trial balloon works a treat

You know how a trial balloon works in politics? It's a bit like slipping your toe into the water at the beachfront to see whether you can risk a dip with your whole body. A trial ballooon tests the political weather to see what you can get away with it. Unfortunately, after the rapt reaction to the trial balloon of 'unbundling' Telecom, the Clark Government now apparently think they can get away with more, much more.
Public Law expert Mai Chen, in an article to be published in the 'NZ Law Journal' next month, says the environment created by the Government's broadband package "has resulted in a push for greater regulation of monopoly or dominant incumbents in other areas such as the postal market and in airport pricing".
As The Tory The Whig says, with which I agree completely:
The minute you let the government get away with one bit of regulation, it craves more. And if Mai Chen is saying so, you know it's more than mere speculation.

How much more private property will soon be "unbundled"? And what moral high ground will Tory unbundling advocates stand on when it happens?
A fair question, isn't it David? Remember Jefferson's warning: "The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again."

LINKS: Telecom reform may spur others - Dominion Post
See what you did? - The Whig

TAGS: Telecom, Politics-NZ, Politics

Sunday, 28 May 2006

'Pursuit' by Michael Newberry

'Pursuit' by Michael Newberry, from 1984.

Just who is pursuing whom, and exactly what? Perhaps the artist's explanation might help.
With a passion bordering on insane somnambulism I poured everything I had into pursuing the furthest reaches of my art. It was wild. I worked 16 hours a day for six months, somewhere I remember the crunch of ice outside under my shoes.

I worked to integrate: the fantastic dramatic spotlight affect of Rembrandt; the wet-clothe technique of ancient Greek sculptures; the romantic themes of Delacroix; and the pure vibrant contrasting colors of the Impressionists (the painting has no black).

I made more studies than I can remember. And it slowly took form. Once, for this piece, I went into Wall Street late at night to make a pastel color study of the granite wall of a skyscraper; got very curious looks from a patrol...

Pursuit is the work I am most proud of.
LINKS: Pursuit - RomanticRealism.Net

TAGS: Art, Objectivism

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Annette Presley take note.

Look what this guy is saying. Oh, and this 'thief'. Looks like certain comments are themselves being 'unbundled.' It's hard to keep a good argument contained on the net, isn't it. Or is Annette simply proving as "inspirational" as she often says she is?

TAGS: Telecom

East Timor: Why? How many? And for how long?

I'm interested in hosting a debate here on NZ's military presence in East Timor, which seems to have happened gradually and without either discussion or significant Parliamentary attention -- much like happened in Vietnam, really. Clark suggests NZ's soldiers will be there for at least a year, but that's somewhat simliar to what John F. Kennedy said when he first sent 'observers' to Vietnam, wasn't it?
  • What's been happening in East Timor is certainly outrageous, but what exactly are 160 NZ soldiers (and counting) expected to achieve there to stop it?
  • And on whose behalf? Who will be the final beneficiary of NZ's 'peace-keeping' in Dili? Do we know?
  • What sort of peace are our soldiers trying to achieve there? Given that their armaments and disposition are better used offensively than defensively -- in other words, they're better equipped for 'shooting at' than being shot at -- who will they be shooting at, and why? And how much being shot at will there be, and why?
  • Will they be able to hunt down all those who shot at them, and if not why not? How many will be killed (and how many of them) if they don't?
  • Why has there been so little debate to date on NZ's military involvement there?
  • And will our troops even get there without their RNZAF transport breaking down?
I'm happy to hear and to air views on these and any related questions, and I might post the best responses here on the front page. How 'bout it?

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Politics-World, Timor

Open letter to TelstraClear, from a customer

>Written by a customer in response to a letter from TelstraClear trumpeting their excitement at the Government's nationalisation of Telecom's lines. No egos were bruised in the making of this letter.

Dear TelstraClear

Thanks for this message. Unfortunately, I seem to be one of the few New Zealanders who are disgusted with your support of the government's bullyboy tactics with regard to its decision concerning Telecom and broadband. Let me state for the record that I am an otherwise satisfied TelstraClear customer. I have been a customer since returning permanently to New Zealand 11 years ago. You have all my toll, internet and residential business.

The fact is that Telecom owned the broadband service. Broadband was its property. But the state has obscenely overridden those property rights in a blatant vote-buying exercise. The position taken by other service providers regarding the government's enforced LLU is reminiscent of a group of kids crowded around a schoolyard fight egging on the bully. In other words, you have lobbied the state to use force (against Telecom) on your behalf.

You picked the wrong fight. Rather than support state force against a company, you should have fought against its (the government's) appalling Resource Management Act that all but prevents you (and other suppliers) from building your own networks; the RMA hampering progress, particularly of a commercial nature, as it routinely does.

In conclusion, please don't grizzle if, in future, the state should step in and enforce an action against your company. The state never solves problems. It subsidises them. And the government that can give you something is the same government that can take it away.

SR

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Telecom

Beer O'Clock: Moa. Not endangered at all.

The sun's past the yard-arm, what little of it can be seen, and there's a great few hours of footy in store. Time to think about what we'll be watching the footy with. This week's Beer O'Clock advice comes from Real Beer's Neil Miller:

Any number of beers around the world claim to be unique.

It is a big boast and many brews simply fail to live up to it. They may very well be different, but that is not the same as being unique.

Sometimes, the beer are actually unique but for a good reason. For example, perhaps no one else thought popcorn and tomato sauce flavored lager was a good idea. Those people would be right of course.

Occasionally though, something strides through the palatial door of my secret overground worldwide headquarters that is both unique and good.

One such thing is Moa.

Given the high calibre of readers attracted by the philosophical and architectural musings of Not PC [a group that clearly excludes the thin-skinned the overly sensitive, and those "too busy to think about what people might think of their image" - Ed.], I have to add the caveats that Moa is, to my knowledge, a unique style in New Zealand.

Moa appears in a classy 750ml champagne bottle complete with wire cage and cork.

The champagne allusions don’t end there. The brewing process borrows techniques from the classical “methode champenoise” which the brewer Josh Scott picked up while learning wine making in France.

This includes freezing the contents and disgorging a plug of sediment. The beer is also re-fermented in the bottle and is still very much alive when you pour it.

An attractive pale straw in colour, it positively bursts with the smallest bubbles I have seen in a beer. These push up into a bright white head which will usually sustain right to the bottom of the glass.

Slightly fruity and spicy on the nose, the beer is spritzy in the mouth with brushes of citrus fruit and a gentle cleansing finish.

A further advantage is that you can usually drink it in BYO Bottled Wine only eateries.

Strong sales indicate this Moa is not an endangered species.

LINKS: Real Beer
Moa Beer

TAGS:
Beer_&_Elsewhere

Future generations

TAGS: Cartoons, Environmentalism, Conservation

The architecture of happiness

Having just heard a very brief interview between Mike Hosking and author/philosopher/publishing phenomenon Alain de Botton on Alain's new book, pictured left, I'm interested to find out more about it. Commentator Joe Bennett is a fan -- his books, says Bennett, "hauled philosophy from the high shelves to the bedside table" which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- and on the face of it, his thesis sounds laudable as far as it goes:
One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings and streets we’re surrounded by. And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. 'The Architecture of Happiness' starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be - and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.
I'm curious to see just how far he does go with that argument, yet more than a little concerned by one reviewer's comment that in his latest "philosopher looks at architecture" routine
de Botton is just looking at façades, whereas,
Great architecture is mostly concerned with the arrangement of space and light... What de Botton has done is the equivalent of literary criticism based on jacket design: a very interesting idea, but not the full story.
Since I've argued elsewhere that the essence of architecture is space, I really hope de Botton does go further.

Anyway, looks like the website for the book has a great deal of information, and even some video clips from the TV series that was evidently made from the book. Interesting.

LINKS: 'The Architecture of Happiness' by Alain de Botton - author's website, including reviews, extracts and video clips
Audio Interview with Alain de Botton - Scoop
'The Architecture of Happiness' - review by Stephen Bayley, The Independent
What is architecture? - Peter Cresswell, SOLO

TAGS: Architecture

'In the beginning was sound' -- Barenboim's Reith lectures. 'Brilliant!'

The internet is a wonderful thing. Not only does it throw up the absurd, the titillating and the combative, lurking within it also are real nuggets of pure genius. This year's BBC Reith Lectures by brilliant conductor Daniel Barenboim is such a nugget.

If you're at all interested in music, then you should be overwhelmed by this series of five fascinating lectures from an inspirational man who knows music inside out -- lectures that you can see on the net in pristine video, or hear in pure MP3, or just read, if you wish, without the benefit of the glorious music he uses to illustrate his points.

Rather than summarise myself what he says, I'll let him tell you himself:
I will ... attempt the impossible and maybe try and draw some connection between the inexpressible content of music and, maybe, the inexpressible content of life.

In Chicago [Lecture 2] I will be trying to rescue "the neglected sense" - the ear - and launch a campaign against muzak. [Boy, did that excite some controversy.]

In Berlin [Lecture 3]
I will argue that we have lost the ability to make value judgements about public standards - all because of political correctness and bad education.

In Ramallah [Lecture 4] I will speak about the ability of music to integrate, and how it is that a musician is by the sheer nature of his profession in many ways, an integrating figure. If a musician is unable to integrate rhythm, melody, harmony, volume, speed, he cannot make music.

And to end in Jerusalem [Lecture 5], I will try to explain what to me is a very major difference between power and strength - something which I learned very precisely from music, that if you attack a chord with more power than you are going to sustain it, it has no strength. So there we are at the first, if you want, connection between the inexpressible content of music and in many ways the inexpressible content of life...

Of course, appropriate moment to quote Neitszche, who said that life without music would be a mistake.
And now we come to the first question - why? Why is music so important? Why is music something more than something very agreeable or exciting to listen to? Something that, through its sheer power, and eloquence, gives us formidable weapons to forget our existence and the chores of daily life...
Why indeed? Listen up and learn. I certainly have.

UPDATE: Whoops. Links fixed.

LINKS: In the beginning was sound, Reith Lectures 2006 - BBC Radio 4
Barenboim hits out at 'sound of muzak' - BBC News

TAGS: Music, Heroes, Science

The man who evicted the IRD

"The man who took on the IRD and won." It's a great headline, and a great story -- and Dave Henderson's not a bad bloke either. Last Sunday's Herald (yes, I'm a week late) has a run-down on how the IRD tried to bury him, and he bounced back to defeat their attempt to bankrupt him only to buy their building and, eventually, evict them.

A great story.

LINK: The man who took on the IRD and won - Herald

TAGS: New_Zealand, Heroes

Friday, 26 May 2006

Annette Presley: The face of threats

Well readers, the lawyers for Our Annette just sent me this missive on her behalf (right -- click on it for a larger version). Not content with using the law to 'unbundle' her competitors, she now wants to do the same to one of her detractors. Odd really, when she told my old school chum Michelle Hewitson last weekend,
She's too busy to think about what people might think of her image. "I think if I worried about that I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning."
This was just after Michelle reported Presley "has a laugh like a kookaburra and fingernails like the sheilas on Footballers' Wives. You are not going to mistake her for a shy, retiring type."

Well, clearly she is. So what should I do, customers? What should I tell Mr Lowndes and Ms Presley? Isn't truth an absolute defence? Just so you're sure what it was I said and the context in which I said it, here is the "offending publication": 'Annette Presley: The face of theft.'

TAGS: Telecom, Blog, Law, Politics-NZ

It's an un-fair cop

After a dozen or more years of John Banks' amalgamation of cops and traffic cops it's clear it hasn't worked. Instead of more policemen on the beat and an improvement in the thuggish culture of the traffic cops we got exactly the reverse -- more traffic cops, and more policemen turning into thugs.

The recent rash of rape trials of high-ranking policemen just makes clear what most of us already know: that all is not well with the force. Our policemen and women seem to spend more time doing us over than they do protecting us. Burgled? 'Don't bother us, we're too busy.' Car stolen? 'Not interested.' Home invasion? 'Let us know how you got on.' Rape? 'Out the back, thanks.' Speeding? Warrant offence? Rego overdue? 'Get out of the car, sir, and empty your wallet.'

Today's police are not our friends, as Louise Nicholas for one might attest. As Trevor Loudon notes,
Today, when you say "Police" to many people, they envision a specially marked car with flashing lights in their rear-view mirror. That car is perceived to be a predator seeking to attack the driver's wallet usually with little or no justification. Many people believe they are more likely to be ripped-off by a traffic cops than by gang members. Real criminals hardly consider the Police as a threat anymore. This image has produced the "us and them" separation between the public and the Police.
And as all those new policemen and women might well make it all worse, rather than better, Trevor's zapped out a few thoughts on how to "make 'Cop' the highly respected word it once was." Something sure needs to be done, and urgently. The motto 'To Serve and Protect' would hardly be appropriate at present, would it. More like a sad, sorry joke.

LINKS: Acquitted Nicholas-case trio face new sex trial - NZ Herald
How to save our Police Force - New Zeal (Trevor Loudon)

TAGS:
Politics-NZ, Law

Belgian balls

Let's say you're a talk show host. And your guest is a man who had his testicles removed. And you ask his wife about his sex life. You don't need to be either hearltess, gullible or Belgian to enjoy the result. But at least one Dane might appreciate the humour. Those Europeans, eh.

Clip here. [Hat tip The Goodness.]

LINKS: Belgian Talk show - You Tube
!! - Berlin Bear

TAGS: Humour

'Maori most affected by minimum wage' says academic

Here is some sense. From an academic. I know that's surprising.
Maori would be most adversely affected by a rise in the minimum wage, says an AUT senior economics lecturer.
See. Good sense. And of course she's right (and have you noticed that a lot of AUT lecturers are not the politically correct line-toers that many of their colleagues over the road are?), and she's backed it up with research:
"My study [says Gail Pacheco] found for Maori who find the minimum wage binding, a 10% rise in the real minimum wage would see a 15.8% point fall in employment propensity, a drop of 13.5 hours usually worked each week, a 5.7% point increase in unemployment propensity and a 10.9% point increase in inactivity, that is, not working or studying."

Pacheco says the minimum wage is a blunt instrument and there needs to be a more balanced debate around increasing it.

Doesn't there just. As Linda Gorman's entry in the Concise Encyclopaedia of Economics summarises,
minimum wage laws can set wages, [but] they cannot guarantee jobs. In reality, minimum wage laws place additional obstacles in the path of the most unskilled workers who are struggling to reach the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
Decades ago -- before the onset of today's widespread economic ignorance -- people knew that. Indeed, there were white, male economists about who supported the minimum-wage laws precisely because they knew they would adversely affect blacks and women. 'Progressives,' such as Richard Ely, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the Webbs in England etc., wanted women kept in their place -- which meant 'the home' -- and racist economists in US and South African unions wanted blacks kept in their place -- which meant 'not in white men's jobs' and 'not in our country clubs' -- and they knew that raising the minimum wage would put women and blacks out of work. Notes Thomas Sowell for example,
The first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, was passed in part explicitly to prevent black construction workers from "taking jobs" from white construction workers by working for lower wages. It was not meant to protect black workers from "exploitation" but to protect white workers from competition.
Notes Walter Williams for example, in his 1989 book South Africa's War Against Capitalism "racists recognized the discriminatory effects of mandated minimum wages," and he quotes Gert Beetge, secretary of South Africa's avowedly racist Building Worker's Union, in response to contractors hiring black workers, who said:
There is no job reservation left in the building industry, and in the circumstances I support the rate-for-the-job [minimum wages] as the second best way of protecting our white artisans.
More on the 'secret history' of the minimum wage in Tim Leonard's paper, Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work.

LINKS: Maori could be affected by minimum wage rise - Gail Pacheco, AUT, Scoop
Minimum wages - Linda Gorman,
Concise Encyclopaedia of Economics
Ignoring economics - Thomas Sowell
Minimum wage, maximum folly - Walter Williams
Minimum wage escalation - Thomas Sowell
Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work - Tim Leonard, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, July 2005

TAGS: Minimum_Wage, Economics, Politics-US, History-Twentieth_Century

Monuments? You want MONUMENTS?!

For those young chaps who visited North Korea as guests of the Democratically-Starving People's Republican Korean Government and who returned to write about with misty-eyed awe (reported at DPF's yesterday and right here at Not PC a month ago) and who were so impressed by those monuments - and for whatever other monument-fanciers there might be out there - here's a brief resume of monumental Muscovite architecture from the thirties and forties. You have to admit, they sure knew how to build monuments.

Shown here is the 1934 project for the Palace of the Soviets, which (thankfully) remained unbuilt:

That would have been an awful long way for that large statue of Lenin to have to fall, wouldn't it. But it would have made an almighty crash, one that was heard around the world -- and that perhaps might have been its only real value. Ayn Rand, who grew up in Soviet Russia, skewered the mentalities who build and admire such things in 'The Monument Builders' (found in this collection of essays). Here's a longish excerpt:
Socialism is not a movement of the people. It is a movement of the intellectuals, originated, led and controlled by the intellectuals, carried by them out of their stuffy ivory towers into those bloody fields of practice where they unite with their allies and executors: the thugs.

What, then, is the motive of such intellectuals? Power-lust. Power-lust—as a manifestation of helplessness, of self-loathing and of the desire for the unearned. The desire for the unearned has two aspects: the unearned in matter and the unearned in spirit. (By "spirit" I mean: man's consciousness.) These two aspects are necessarily inter-related, but a man's desire may be focused predominantly on one or the other.

The desire for the unearned in spirit is the more destructive of the two and the more corrupt. It is a desire for unearned greatness; it is expressed (but not defined) by the foggy murk of the term ‘prestige’ ...

There are two ways of claiming that ‘The public, c'est moi’: one is practiced by the crude material parasite who clamors for government handouts in the name of a ‘public’ need and pockets what he has not earned; the other is practiced by his leader, the spiritual parasite, who derives his illusion of "greatness"—like a fence receiving stolen goods—from the power to dispose of that which he has not earned and from the mystic view of himself as the embodied voice of ‘the public.’

Of the two, the material parasite is psychologically healthier and closer to reality: at least, he eats or wears his loot. But the only source of satisfaction open to the spiritual parasite, his only means to gain ‘prestige’ (apart from giving orders and spreading terror), is the most wasteful, useless and meaningless activity of all: the building of public monuments.

Greatness is achieved by the productive effort of a man's mind in the pursuit of clearly defined, rational goals. But a delusion of grandeur can be served only by the switching, undefinable chimera of a public monument—which is presented as a munificent gift to the victims whose forced labor or extorted money had paid for it—which is dedicated to the service of all and none, owned by all and none, gaped at by all and enjoyed by none.

This is the ruler's only way to appease his obsession: ‘prestige.’ Prestige—in whose eyes? In anyone's. In the eyes of his tortured victims, of the beggars in the streets of his kingdom, of the bootlickers at his court, of the foreign tribes and their rulers beyond the borders. It is to impress all those eyes—the eyes of everyone and no one—that the blood of generations of subjects has been spilled and spent.
I wonder if the wide-eyed innocents being shown around the North Korean monuments gave any thought to any of that, or to which variety of parasite their visit and their craven apologia supports, and indeed which type of parasite they are themselves?

LINKS: Living it up in the DPRK - Not PC (April 27)
Visit to North Korea -
Kiwiblog (David Farrar, May 25)
The Architecture of Moscow from the 1930s to the early 1950s. Unrealised projects - MUAR

TAGS: Architecture, History-Twentieth_Century, Nonsense, Socialism, Politics, Objectivism

'Brooklyn Bridge' - John and Washington Roebling


The Brooklyn Bridge was at the time it was built one of the wonders of the world: the first large suspension bridge -- bigger by a substantial margin than its closest rival -- and the first built with ductile steel wire. Its designer John Roebling was already in the very first rank of the world's engineers when he began this project; structural and construction innovations there are aplenty, and a measure of his genius can be gauged by the fact that a bridge built in the steam age is still going strong today.

Opened on May 24 1883 (yes, I'm a day late) the bridge both symbolised and made real the coming to maturity of the great city that is New York. It is a masterpiece that fully deserves its spectacular setting.

LINKS: Brooklyn Bridge website - Buildings & Monuments Bookmarks

TAGS:
Architecture, Urban_Design

Thursday, 25 May 2006

'Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground'

The whole history of progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
--Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
TAGS: Quotes, Politics, History