Saturday, 24 February 2007

Persuasion versus Force

Rather than post the usual Saturday fare of a collection or rambling readings, todayI've got something different for you. Just one thing on which to ponder: Mark Skousen's classic article, Persuasion versus Force. Read it, savour it, digest it. And when you have, perhaps you will have been sufficiently persuaded to pass it on to others who have need of persuasion in this vein. This is essential reading for every adult who wishes to impose his or her views on other people.

Yes, you know who you are.

You who feel so strongly about whatever you feel strongly about that (you feel) everyone should be bent to your will. You who never understand the difference between persuading someone to do your bidding, and coercing them. It is a crucial difference. One appeals to the human mind, to human reason. The other treats people as a subject, as a serf, as a mindless chattel.

The use of persuasion rather than coercion is the recognition that human beings are sovereign individuals, with the right to make their own choices, and to commit their own mistakes.

The truth is this: That just because you feel strongly about something that gives you no right to impose your feelings upon others who may in no wise agree with you. Talking about bringing in a ban is not persuasion, it is not a "national debate we should be having." A new law is not persuasion. No matter how many other MPs you can persuade, the effect of that law is the assembling of the vast might of legislative, judicial and police powers to enforce this thing about which you feel so strongly. That's force. That's coercion.

If smacking is bad because it uses force against children, as some people have argued, then why isn't force bad when it's used against adults (who -- unlike children -- do have the full power of reason). If date rape is bad because it takes away a woman's right to refuse consent, and so it does, then so too is every form of coercion in that it too takes away the power of consent.

What's wrong with persuading people, rather than using force? Isn't that -- or shouldn't that be -- the mark of a truly civilised society? If you look for symbolism, you might think of it as reason against brute force, or the mind versus the gun.

Why isn't it wrong for politicians to impose their will on parents, or for planners to impose their views on home-owners? Why isn't it wrong for busybodies to impose their own values on party pill users and gun owners, on Easter holiday shoppers and fireworks users, or on people who smoke in bars, or people who don't save enough, or who spend too much, or borrow too much, or who work too hard or too much -- or too little -- or who drive the wrong car, or use the wrong lightbulbs, or upon anyone and everyone who just might be doing something the busybody might just disagree with?

Why do we so easily countenance using coercion when we wish to impose our values upon others? Why is individual liberty so thoughtlessly and so easily sacrificed for some feel-good wowser's fix. What's wrong with persuasion? What's wrong with freedom with responsibility? Isn't that -- or shouldn't it be -- the mark of a truly civilised society?

As Skousen points out, the measure of a civilised society is the extent to which persuasion is the pre-eminent coin of the realm, rather than coercion. This is what it means, he says, to have freedom with responsibility.

But persuasion is tiresome you say, and coercion is so much easier? On that, all of the dictators of history rise up in agreement with you -- as too do the corpses of their victims, who rise up in silent protest.

But people will make mistakes, you say, if we who know better aren't there to save them from themselves. But do you know better? How do you know it's not you who is making the mistake; how do you know you're protecting fools from folly, rather than falling into folly yourself? Are you really sure that you aren't the fool? Do you really know better for everyone? And if you're really convinced yourself that you do know better, then why not genuinely convince others that you do before trying to simply herd them into your chosen coercive scheme?

In the end isn't it true, as Sir James Russell Lowell said, that even if people are left free to make their own mistakes -- and do -- that "the ultimate result of protecting fools from their folly is to fill the planet full of fools."

As the man says, if it makes sense, then they wouldn't have to force you. And that makes sense, doesn't it.

Skousen argues that there is one sure mark of a civilized society.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, 'Taxation is the price we pay for civilization.' But isn't the opposite really the case? Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society... The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society.
Skousen, of course, is right. Surely, he says, this is a fundamental principle to which most citizens, no matter where they fit on the political spectrum, can agree.

Do you?

Persuasion versus Force - Mark Skousen

RELATED POSTS ON: Libertarianism, Politics


"Thank you very much for your kind donations."

A big thank you to recent donors here at Not PC. To paraphrase Robert Parker's detective Spenser, I pocketed the money and I sprang into action: I headed for the nearest book store.

Here's what I pulled down:

Once again: Thank you. :-)

Friday, 23 February 2007

Beer O'Clock: Green bottled beer

More Friday afternoon beer advice from Real Beer's Stu.

A couple of months ago I found myself with a brewer friend sampling the two most widely available green-bottled beers in New Zealand, Heineken and Stella Artois. Both are beers I'd not normally drink. Neither are beers I would refuse, if offered one, but they are certainly beers I avoid buying in all but the most desperate of situations. During this 'taste-off' we both surprised ourselves with a sneaky appreciation for Stella Artois. Not enough to go out and buy it but enough, at least, to agree that it actually is "beer."

We concurred that Stella Artois, from a glass, displayed a nice hop aroma (with lemony herbal hints that you would expect from a classic European lager) and a pleasing balance of subtle malt sweetness and a subdued, cleansing hop bitterness. It was well made, fresh, clean and crisp. Stella certainly outshone it's more heavily promoted cousin by a long margin.

Fast forward now to a couple of weeks ago, and Stella slipped into my beery world again. I attended a wedding where the beer options were Tui, Lion Brown or Stella Artois. With the recent pleasant memory still in mind, I contemplated the reasonable quality wine list, perused my memory again, and found myself asking for the green bottle (and a glass, of course). On this occasion I also picked up, within the aforementioned subtleties, a slight tropical fruit hop note that I'm sure you'd not pick up in a European-brewed version of the same drink. I sipped through a couple of bottles and teetered on a balance point between wishing there was something better, and being glad that at least I wasn't drinking Tui. (Beer? Yeah right.)

That same week I mentioned my enjoyment of Stella (or "Nelson Mandela", as my brother calls it) to some other beer lovers. One response was "I would rather drink a classic New Zealand draught, than a 'Premium Lager' pretending to be something it's not. At least Lion Brown, down at the RSA, is honest about what it is." This had me thinking about why I choose the beers I do. Do I look for honesty or integrity in the beers that I drink?

I thought a little about this and decided that I choose my beers on what the beer actually smells and tastes like, not what the marketing department or anyone else tells me it is (or isn't). I choose without any bias towards beers that are perceived as girly, dumb, over-priced or pretending to be something they are not. I truly enjoy every style of beer that I've tried, as long as it is a well-made and well-cared for product that is in fact a beer. I try everything I can get my hands on but I only ever go back to the best (or I retry ones where I think I may have got an ill-treated sample). Sometimes you've just got to drink the best beer you can get your hands on, and in some of those occasions Stella Artois will be that beer. It's unlikely that Otahuhu-brewed Heineken, with it's signature DB 'banana' note, will fit that bill for me.

It's unlikely that you'll find me in the supermarket line with a box of Stella Artois [reports can be sent to me here at Not PC Towers - Ed.] but you may well find me drinking it, from time to time, just so long as it continues to meet its current high standards. I won't toe the company line, however, in saying that the beer "epitomises European style and sophistication and is the beer of choice for successful consumers that are in the know." I'll leave that sort of talk for those in the know.

I just know that it's good enough to drink. When you have to.

LINKS: Stella Artois: Beer drinking stereotypes
Beer for all the right reasons: SOBA

Beer & Elsewhere

They're reading Not PC where?

Top ten cities in which Not PC is being read this week.
  1. Auckland
  2. Wellington
  3. Sydney
  4. Christchurch
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  6. Canberra
  7. Noumea, New Caledonia
  8. New York
  9. Cairo
  10. London
I love it -- although I must confess I'm a bit worried about the Canberra connection. Nobody there but bureaucrats and politicians. ;^) And no surprise about the most popular posts at present:
  1. Smacking is not beating
  2. Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
  3. Today's Bible reading: Divorce & Castration
  4. Smacking? You have to laugh!
  5. Beer O’Clock – Heineken Mini-Keg
  6. Death threats?
  7. It's about more than just smacking
  8. Libertarianz - Fighting for your right to party!
  9. NZ's Political Spectrum
  10. Aliens cause global warming?
No surprise about the popular searches either:
  1. cyfswatch mirror
  2. broadacre city
  3. "not pc" spontaneous order
  4. blog one tree point one tree point
  5. evening, fall of day
  6. cyfswatch
  7. "fabric of reality" freedomist
  8. pc sex
  9. knock school down
  10. nz herald 100 must see places nz

No Britney here.

Just in case you're looking, let me just tell you that I won't be saying anything at all about Britney Spears, or Anna Nicole Smith. The reason is simple. I don't care.

Why either of them make the news is beyond me. Make of that whatever you want to.

Cue Card Libertarianism: LIBERTARIANISM

Each 'Cue Card Libertarianism' entry forms part of a series intended to introduce newbies to the terms used (or as used) by New Zealand libertarians. The series so far can be found archived here, and the Introduction here.

LIBERTARIANISM: Libertarianism as a political idea is four-square for freedom. At the basis of libertarianism is the principle that all adult human interaction should be voluntary, or to put it another way, that capitalist acts between consenting adults should be legal.

There are many ways to put the point. In a political context, freedom has only one specific meaning -- freedom from the initiation of force by other men. US libertarian Murray Rothbard puts it this way:
"The Libertarian creed rests on one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the non-aggression axiom. Aggression is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else."
This point has been well enough rehearsed under other Cue Card entries, but it should be noted at this juncture that many advocates of the Non-Aggression Principle, including myself, do not regard it as an axiom.

An axiom is a fundamental, self-evident truth; it does not require “grounding’.” The Non-Aggression Pinciple is fundamental, but far from self-evident; it does need grounding. The question for libertarians is how it is grounded.  Rothbard boasts that not insisting on such a foundation has enabled the Libertarian movement to be "eclectic." As the US Libertarian movement demonstrates, this has not been an unequivocal virtue, the "eclecticism" encompassing a "broad church" of adherents from all manner of philosophic (or non-philosophic) positions, including emotivism, hedonism, Kantian a priorism, Nozickism, neo-conservatism, pacifism and many others. Few of these positions are defensible. Most of them are represented in US Libertarianism.

 Objectivists in particular regard it as positively dangerous to treat the Non-Aggression Principle as axiomatic, and insist on the need for an ethical/epistemological foundation. Objectivist Peter Schwartz, for instance, says that without the correct philosophic base, "liberty means nothing…"
“Ultimately [however], liberty is justified because it is a necessary condition of human survival; force is unjustified because it is an attack on man’s means of cognition. Only philosophy can identify so fundamental a connection.” 
 Mr Schwartz goes on to attack (correctly) the more bizarre subjectivist elements of the American libertarian movement. As Shwartz points out, and this article explains, this principle of the non-initiation of force was formulated and popularised by Ayn Rand, and her advocacy of individual rights and limited government in her novels and speeches was largely instrumental in the rebirth of libertarianism in the 1960s. Sad that so many US libertarians fail to give her her due.

Her thought is still a major influence in the general libertarian movement, but Rand herself thought the differences so great that she rejected the label "libertarian," and called libertarian luminaries such as Rothbard (accurately) "Hippies of the Right." She preferred to be known as a "radical for capitalism." In the American context, I sympathise with that view.

In the New Zealand context, however, where any talk of freedom is foreign and libertarianism is still nascent, Not PC supports the position of both Schwartz and Rand but recognises that the perfect should not be made the enemy of the good.. For example, I would regard a Christian who endorses the non-initiation of force principle – however untenable the means by which he or she arrives at it – as less likely to threaten freedom in his actions than one who doesn’t, and as someone who can be persuaded to do better. Mr Schwartz, however, eschews such attempts. Such is his right.

Just to be clear, at this blog I use the term libertarian to denote, supportively, the Non-Aggression Principle; I believe in grounding this principle in sound antecedent principles; however for the most part I maintain (or try to maintain) cordial relations with those who regard the Non-Aggression Principle not as a principle, but as a self-sufficient, self-evident axiom, or with those whose antecedent principles we regard as unsound.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by New Zealand libertarians, based on the series originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

RELATED POSTS ON: Cue Card Libertarianism, Libertarianism, Politics-World, Objectivism, Philosophy

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Spotted this in this morning's Dominion, apparently snaffled from The Times:
Kiwi songbird drives animals crazy
She may possess 'the voice of an angel' but to some of our four-legged
friends Hayley Westenra is a pain in the ear. According to her record
company, the 19-year-old New Zealand soprano can sing beyond the range of human hearing, hitting notes that can be heard only by animals. But, unlike the people
who have bought millions of her albums, the animals appear less than impressed.
A border terrier called Iggy Pup was the first to react when Westenra went
into her English studio to make her latest album and began to explore how high
she could sing.

Yep. I know just how Iggy feels. "A pain in the ear" is pretty much how I'd describe hearing Hayley. But why is this considered news? Answer here, at the story's conclusion: "Westenra's third album, Treasure, is out on Monday." Ah, there you go. "Iggy Pup will probably give it a miss," the story concludes. Me too. That probably means the houses of a few friends wil be out of bounds for a while. Uuugh!


Cue Card Libertarianism: NATIONALISM

Each 'Cue Card Libertarianism' entry forms part of a series intended to introduce newbies to the terms used (or as used) by libertarians. The series so far can be found archived here, and the Introduction here.

NATIONALISM: A specie of the genus collectivism, in one of its most toxic forms. Collectivism takes many form: in one form (Marxism) the individual is made subordinate to one's class; in another form (racism) to one's ethnicity; in yet another (Islamofascism), to one's religion. In its nationalist strain, the collective to which the individual is subordinated is – the nation. The nation, right or wrong. The nation, over and above other nations. The nation: to sacrifice for if called on.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that nationalism -- like all forms of collectivism -- is at odds with the libertarian philosophy of individualism; or that it places an accident of birth over individual rights. Nor should it be necessary to point out the natural political expression of overt nationalism: “The man of fascism," said Mussolini, "is an individual who is nation and fatherland.”

Nationalism is a refuge of despots. It is the means by which they gull their subjects into making sacrifices for the nation, and into fighting foreigners imbued with the same poison about their nation. It is the lifeblood of both war and statism.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism – with love of one’s country when it is right, and when it upholds rights. Such a country is worth loving – and worth fighting for if threatened. It would not conscript its citizens to do so – and nor would it need to.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

RELATED POSTS ON: War, Cue Card Libertarianism, Libertarianism, Politics-World,


Norris House - Claude Megson

Claude Megson's Norris House, a 'two-zoned' house that was one of his own favourites. Plans below (upper floor at top, followed by lower ground, then main ground floor), an axonometric drawing at bottom -- for some goddamned reason Claude was an enthusiast for axonometrics -- and lots more pictures here of both exteriors and interiors.

The house won a National Award in 1978.

LINKS: Norris House - The Claude Megson Blog

RELATED: Architecture

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Thursday, 22 February 2007

A historic ceremony for Saturday's Six Nations game in Dublin

News just in from RTE Ireland about an historic joint ceremony to be held before Ireland's crunch Six Nations game against England in Croke Park on Saturday. The Croke Park venue -- normally a Hurling and Gaelic Football (GAA) venue -- is being used since Lansdowne Rd is under renovation, but as history minded readers will be aware, the ground has some history that first needs to be laid to rest:
The significance of the game is not lost on GAA followers and republicans who remember the infamous shooting of 14 players and supporters by the British Army on the 21st November 1921.
However according to GAA spokesman Ulick Magee a plan being devised by the GAA and the Northern Ireland office, will attempt to draw a line under the incident.

"We've spoken to the British government and they understand the significance of the event back in 1921. Back then 14 people were killed by British forces so in the spirit of the peace process and friendship we're proposing that we shoot 14 of their lot before the match. Then maybe have fireworks afterwards or something."

The plan has had a mixed reaction from Downing Street. Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks the idea has merit but said that it needs to be done properly and with dignity. "Frankly I think its a small price to pay for progression in Anglo-Irish affairs, but I think the idea of getting Ray Houghton to do the shooting would be too much for many English fans to take particularly after his goal against us back in 1988. And he's Scottish which is worse."
Candidates for the shooting include "moaney-hole singer James Blunt, foul mouth idiot Jade Goody, Trinny & Suzannah, Man Utd donkey Rio Ferdinand, cream cake expert Vanessa Feltz, "comedian" Russell Brand and any of the blokes who do outside broadcasts for Sky News.
But discussions took an ironic twist when both sides agreed on shooting Belfast singer Brian Kennedy, but neither side agreed on what nationality he was.
News that Bono was to offer himself up for martyrdom as a gesture of inter-nation amity were, unfortunately, denied by band manager Paul McGuiness.

British & Irish Governments plan ceremony in Croke Park: Controversial game will be started with compromise gesture - Indymedia Ireland

RELATED: Humour, Sport

Smacking? You have to laugh!

I've been sent some much-needed humour on the main subject of the day.

UPDATE: And if you can't smack 'em? Baroness von KLake has some advice you can try.

Death threats?

Yes, it's all over the news that an anonymous poster posted a threat -- not "death threats" (plural), just a threat (singular) -- against anti-smacking Bill author Sue Bradford on the CYFSWatch. Most of you here know my views on anonymous posters, that most of the them post in a cowardly fashion, but since the news is not exactly reporting the full context of the threat (no surprise there) I'm posting a link to it here*. Decide for yourself.

I'll simply note that the anonymous poster is drawing attention to the distinction I was making yesterday: the one between smacking and beating. Here to me is the crux:
Sue sees no difference between a parent smacking their children, and the awful assaults that have been perpetuated on children that are now dead.

Since Sue cannot tell the difference, I would like the opportunity to [hit her in a very thorough fashion]. I would then give her a light smack on her substantial arse, and ask her "Now Sue, is the difference a little more clearer to you?".
A pity that a good point was somewhat overshadowed (and left unreported) due to the rather unnecessary threat.

UPDATE 1: Should the post or the entire CYFSWatch blog be banned? Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton tackles the question on his Free Speech blog, Section 14 :
The question is: does this post constitute something close enough to an act of force that it should be banned?

And the answer is no.
You can read his reasoning here. Here's a Tory who disagrees. And so does the otherwise pro-free speech Idiot/Savant.

* UPDATE 2: Oops. The post is gone. And so is the whole CYFSWatch blog. That didn't take long. There'll be a story here, for sure.

UPDATE 3: CYFSWatch say that Google have shut the site down, following pressure from ... whom? Several mirror sites have been set up -- including this one at WordPress -- but so far without the offending post. The authors of CFYSWatch themselves say they ain't going away: "One bullet does not win a battle."

LINKS: Death threats over NZ 'anti-smack bill' - The Australian
Smacking is not beating - Not PC
CYFSWatch Mirror site at Wordpress

NZ Politics, Greens, Law

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It's about more than just smacking

I've been sent a very good letter which was sent to the Herald yesterday, which they unfortunately declined to publish:
Could somebody please tell me what banning smacking has to do with environmentalism?
Green Party MP Sue Bradford is about as 'green' as a red pepper. The reality is that the Green Party has been systematically hijacked in order to promote Marxist ideology in a softer, more marketable light.

Amidst a measured piece on the anti smacking Bill (voted through to its first reading last night by 70 to 51), Liberty Scott reminds us that Sue Bradford and her fellow travellers do have a wider agenda here,
and you see it in Childrens’ Commissioner Cindy Kiro – it is the state having a greater and greater role as parent – in funding children, regulating children, regulating and funding their health and education, media, housing.
As I said yesterday, she is intent on removing parents' hands from their own children; and equally intent on the state getting their hands on them. Let me remind you of Kiro's enthusiastic plans for "our chooldren," which is lessening the influence of parents as parents, and increasing the role of the state as parent -- yes, that's literally the Nanny State. Scott describes as "Orwellian" her
proposal that the state monitor every child from birth religiously to make sure that parents are being good. She has given it a long vapid name (Te Ara Tukutuku Nga Whanaungatanga o Nga Tamariki: Weaving Pathways to Wellbeing) to make it sound so nice and inclusive, instead of "State monitoring of parents and children" which is what it bloody well is. What is even more disturbing is that Sue Bradford is reverting to her communist past in supporting it. Greens liberal? Hardly.
Cindy Kiro brought this up before and now she is excited about what is an absolutely terrifying proposal:
"Individual plans, owned by the child and held by the family, will be developed in partnership with children and families and each child would have a named primary professional responsible...
Bob McCoskrie National Director of Family First makes the quite correct point:
Who gets to decide what is best for children? This report is clear; it’s Dr Kiro and the morass of bureaucracy that is going to surround this initiative. It is a licence for ‘professionals’ to interfere in families’ lives when there is no crime and no abuse,” “This would fundamentally alter the relationship between the family and the state
It's a simple message leave good parents alone and stop subsidising bad ones.
And on that last point, Scott has very good policy advice for those honestly opposed to assaults on children: remove future victims and welfare privileges for all those so convicted.
[R]emove those who brutalise and destroy childrens’ lives from being able to receive money [and other benefits] from the state, and from having access to children in the future... Once you have brutally violated another person, you have no right to expect any of the privileges of state, except to be left alone with those who choose to be with you – children don’t count in that.
More details on that line of argument here.

LINKS: Smacking ban - Liberty Scott
Big Sister Cindy 'Stalin' Kiro supported by Stalinist Sue - Liberty Scott (Oct, 2006)

RELATED POSTS ON: NZ Politics, Greens, Law, Smacking

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Earthquakes in Auckland? I confess, I didn't feel a thing. My glass never shook at all.

Aliens cause global warming?

"Aliens cause global warming." That's not as unlikely as it might sound. Michael Crichton makes the case here in the typically dramatic way you'd expect of a best-selling author. I guarantee you'll find food for thought. Roger Dewhurst of NZ's Climate Science Coalition suggests:
After reading this anyone would have to agree that he speaks more sense and conveys more wisdom than so many of the world famous scientific authorities on this matter - even including Al Gore and Leonardo De Capricio. This is the best history of the debasement of public science I have read. You might not think there could be any connection between Aliens in Outer Space and Climate Change – but there is and it is strong and Crichton lays out the pathway with devastating clarity. I too lived through the times he describes and never thought to make the connections.
And further recent food for thought on the most state-intrusive threat facing the world today -- ie., political action to face the 'global warming' threat -- has been compiled by Roger Dewhurst, with what he calls "a useful list of URLs" If you've been keeping up, you'll have seen many of them here before.
To this list of essential reading, I would simply add these four gems:
The last two between then are a damned useful resource, particularly for teachers who are required to screen Al Bore's film to their captive children, and who would like a rational alternative to further discussion.

Enjoy. And don't say I don't keep you up with your reading material. Oh, and by the way, Pharyngula has a useful plot point suggestion for Michael Crichton, all about what to do "if you're ever stranded in the Great White North, short of ammo for your shotgun." ;^)

RELATED POSTS ON: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World.

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Megson House - Claude Megson

Here's architect Claude Megon's own house, above Dingle Dell in Auckland' St Heliers. A simple looking exterior concealing an awful lot of living within.

Writing about Claude's house a few years ago, John Dickson said of it, "It is impossible without the process of Megson's imagination to connect the cluster of small, confined rooms of the house as it was (right) to the expansive, multi-levelled, vertical-fissured, spatial-phantasm that it has become."

And English architectural critic Professor Geoffrey Broadbent, writing after a 1992 tour of Claude's Auckland houses had this to say:
"This," I said to myself, "is work of a very high international standard indeed." ...One is constantly struck by the surprise around the corner, the bright shaft of light penetrating from above into the softer glow of the main living spaces -- especially in Megson' own house -- that give his work such very special qualities...

There is an essential "rightness" about Megson's spaces, for pleasant occupation by ordinary, normal human beings. Such things, says Dickson, have gone out of fashion with today's students. Well, so much the worse for the students [and their clients!]. Perhaps it hasn't occurred to them that if they design real spaces for human comfort and pleasure, then even those anguished souls overwhelmed by post-Heideggerian "problematics" about the nature of their existence might, given spaces like Megson's to contemplate that nature of their "Being," come to more positive conclusions! Because that's the point about Megson's spaces; they are life-enhancing.
Broadbent, for once, is exactly right.

LINKS: The Claude Megson Blog

Model of Megson house used to promote NZ architecture exhibition - The Claude Megson Blog

RELATED POSTS ON Architecture.

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Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Thought for tonight

News that Sue Bradford's egregious Bill empowering police intrusion into NZ homes has passed on first reading by 70-51 suggests this thought for the night, from Victor Hugo's Cromwell:
...when a yoke bends Liberty's bold brow
A tyrant is less burdensome when small.
Yet another small example of Hannah Arendt's great lesson of the Twentieth Century -- of the banality of evil.

Hat tip Return to Reason.

New JFK clip online

Kennedy assassination buffs can check out a new film showing JFK and Jackie just before he was killed.
This newly-discovered home movie ... filmed President and Mrs. Kennedy on Main Street at Lamar in downtown Dallas less than 90 seconds before the assassination. Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, assigned to protect Jackie Kennedy, can be seen riding on the left rear bumper.
You can see the entire film at the Sixth Floor Museum site.

Australia wakes up to a clean sweep

How the Australian press handles a thrashing:
Perhaps the lesson for Australians is that your team is only as good as your last game. For the New Zealand team, that's a very positive lesson indeed.

RELATED: Sport, New Zealand

Smacking is not beating

It is insane that an MP promoting a Bill to ban smacking one's own children is completely unable to distinguish between smacking and beating, between smacking and violence. Insane, just insane.

Her Bill she said removes "an excuse for violence towards children," and it does it by criminalising those who, in her words, "beat, assault and hit their children." This is how she characterises smacking: as beating, assaulting and hitting children.

But smacking is not violence, smacking is not beating or assaulting children -- failing to distinguish between smacking and violence is a failure to distinguish at all -- and a failure too to understand that there are already laws on the books against beating, assaulting or inflicting violence against children, but those who do beat their children simply ignore them. A new law criminalising smacking is utterly unlikely to influence those parents who do inflict violence towards children; instead, it will criminalise parents who don't.

UPDATE 1: I was interested in this comment below: " Smacking is morally wrong, as is a ban on smacking." Some people won't understand that comment, so a link to this article might help, explaining the difference between persuasion and force. As the author Mark Skousen says, "persuasion instead of force is the sign of a civilized society." Read the piece to see just what he means. It's not quite what you think. ;^)

UPDATE 2: Given that Bradford is a Green MP, would anyone like to explain the connection between the environment, and having smacking banned?

UPDATE 3: You may choose to take it or leave it, but if you're struggling to answer the above question with anything other than "no idea," then the explanation is surely that she's not in the Green Party for the environmental politics. This, remember, is the woman who left Anderton's hard-left New Labour Party in 1990 because she saw a "definite move to the right."

Two blogs have some relevant background:
Writing at his Whoar blog last year in the midst of the Greens's co-leader's contest, Green member Phil U. warned of the left acquiring a "death grip" on the party. [Punctuation has been somewhat cleaned up to make it readable.]

I’d like to finish with what I think is a telling anecdote. I was present when Sue Bradford and Catherine Delahunty made their first appearance at a green party meeting, this after both being hounded out of the alliance part of the alliance by Jim Anderton -- it was at his feet they learnt their organisational ‘chops’(and it shows...) -- the left are very ‘top-down,’ bordering on control freaks.

The Green Party at that time was a very low-key affair, [with] meetings held in the low-roofed attic of a bookshop on K. Road. At this meeting, Bradford said to me out of the corner of her mouth (I had known her for some years) that “this party is ripe for taking over” -- and she wasn’t wrong.

Later in that same evening I approached the then-leader of the Auckland Greens (a lovely lady but lacking that political killer-will), and told her that “that woman over there is going to take your job." This duly came to pass.

And if Trevor Loudon is correct in his five-part exegesis of Bradford's history, the environment was the last thing on Bradford's mind for which she was "taking over" the Green Party: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Her Green party bio states: There are three ways to make radical social and environmental change. 1) Working within the system; 2) throwing rocks at the system from outside; 3) building new organisations within the shell of the old system.

Which of those three ways do you think she is working on here with her anti-smacking Bill? She is intent on removing parents' hands from their own children; but she has no problem with governments getting their hands on children's minds, or even getting her hands on them herself -- as Catherine Delahunty, her co-trustee at the Kotare School -- "a centre for radical and liberating education for social change," she says -- makes clear enough in this speech outlining the Kotare School's aims. Part 2 is here.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Greens, Smacking

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iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Along the Way

Steve Wozniak in a free audio lecture at LearnOutLoud.Com:
iWoz: From Computer Geek to Culture Icon

In this lecture from MIT World, Apple Computer co- founder Steve Wozniak tells at a rapid-fire pace the story of how he came to invent the Apple I computer and start Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976. At the end, he fields a few questions about computers in today's world... While lots of books recount this story, Wozniak says many of them “got it wrong.” So he decided to set down his own version, by book and lecture. 40 minutes.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


McMillan stars as New Zealand chase 347

McMillan! Who in hell knew he could do that!? Add that to a ten wicket victory on Friday. A huge run chase on Saturday. An enormous run chase tonight. Three out of three! A series win!
Against Australia!

They might not have Lee, Ponting or Gilchrist ... or Symonds, but this is still Australia, and no Australian team likes to lose. No Australian team lies down. They have to be made to lie down.

They have been. A clean sweep.
Wow! Just, wow.

Foreshore repeal Bill should go to select committee

Good sense on the Foreshore and Seabed Act in yesterday's Herald from former law professor Jock Brookfield, much of which it's impossible to disagree with. He lays out bluntly the rational basis for sending to select committee the Maori Party's present Bill for repeal of the Act:
In the Marlborough Sounds case in June 2003, the Court of Appeal held that Maori customary communal title in areas of sea land (of foreshore and seabed) could exist at common law. Recently the Herald referred to that decision as "astounding" and many readers will infer that the decision was a judicial aberration. The inference would be wrong.

As Michael Cullen has acknowledged in his 2005 Michael King Memorial Lecture (and elsewhere), that decision was correct... Maori claims to sea land are not based on the Treaty of Waitangi but on the common law that colonisation brought... [C]ustomary title is a species of legal property and should not be taken by Parliament without full compensation determined by an independent authority.
In my estimation, property should not be taken at all -- full stop -- and on that I part company with the good professor; but on his point that the claims were made on a common law basis he is entirely correct.

The purpose of the Foreshore and Seabed Act was to remove the opportunity to prove ownership of unowned tracts under a common law process. This is a right should not have been taken away. The Act essentially nationalised whatever property rights existed in foreshore and seabed, extinguishing forever the possibility of title to any part of them being recognised.

Turia's Bill would do us all a favour, and return that same common law right -- to prove ownership on a common law basis -- to all of us.

Brookfield expresses surprise that "it is conservative members of the National Party caucus who are reportedly against allowing Turia's Bill to go to a select committee," suggesting that "property rights usually have the strong support of conservatives."
There is material here, surely, that could properly be considered by a select committee. Radicals, liberals, and the conservative defenders of property rights alike should agree on that.
He must be thinking of some other conservatives. He seems to forget it was this lot who introduced the Resource Management Act.

UPDATE: Questioned on this editorial in Parliament today, Cullen argued that despite the Foreshore and Seabed Act, anyone has right to go to High Court, and the Court says so the Crown must enter into "negotiations." Even if correct, it shouldn't need me to point out you the difference between this arrangement, and secure property rights.

LINKS: Time for a rethink on customary title - Emeritus Professor Jock Brookfield, NZ Herald
A debate on taking property for the public good - Not PC

RELATED: Property Rights, Politics-NZ, Common Law, Politics-Maori Party

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Over 50. Hot or not?

The French, it's said, are more likely to celebrate "real women" than they are vapid teenage bimbettes.
The French have long been far less likely than their UK counterparts to run in disgust from a woman old enough to be, well, their first wife... Over there, actresses in their 50s and 60s (Charlotte Rampling (right), Jane Birkin, Catherine Deneuve (left)) still attract love-interest roles as a matter of course; over here they'd be lucky to land the role of "put-upon mum" in a gravy advert.

Likewise, the French applauded when presidential candidate Segolene Royal, 53, was snapped in a bikini on a beach - none of the childish barfing of our press when poor Cherie B is pictured in a one-piece or when even Jerry Hall was teased for her cellulite. Then there was the Paris Match photo spread of Arielle Dombasle, 53, wife of philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, featuring the singer-actress on all fours wearing a silver thong, at one point studiously adjusting her nipples.

Anyone see anything wrong with that?

The guns of Brixton & elsewhere: A thought experiment

Three solutions to gun crime in the UK. Would you like to rank them from most ineffectual (but headline grabbing) up to most effective?

Blair announces new gun-crime measures after fourth murder
Monsters and - 18 hours ago
London - Following the deaths by shooting of four young men in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced harsher penalties for possessing firearms.

In an alternate universe, suggests Pacific Empire:

Following the deaths by shooting of four young men in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced harsher penalties for shooting people.

And in another universe, in which the UK followed the advice of Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance:
We believe the best action would be to relegalise guns and let ordinary people fight back with lethal force against the violent criminals who presently rule the streets of our cities...
To help you in your decision, Dr Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance points out on behalf of beleaguered Britons: "We have the most restrictive laws in Europe on gun ownership. These have plainly not worked. In 1968, in 1988, and twice in 1997, we were promised a safer country if only we gave up our guns. We were cheated. In fact, the only people who have no guns are the respectable."

So which is it? Which solution would be the most effective? And which the least?

LINKS: Crime and punishment - Pacific Empire
Relegalise guns: Power to the People! - Dr Sean Gabb, Libertarian Alliance, UK

RELATED: Politics-UK, Self-Defence


Modern architecture in Wellington

Modern architecture comes to Wellington in the form of a travelling exhibition of modern classics from Frank Lloyd Wright and JJP Oud, and also work from the likes of Le Corbusier, Mies can der Rohe, Walter Gropius and other early twentieth-century architectural luminaries.
It is based on an exhibition in Stuttgart from 1927 which toured then through 17 European cities. German curator Prof. Karin Kirsch selected buildings and architects whose approach seem to be pointing to the future even more today than they did back then.
The exhibition hits Wellington on Wednesday 21 February with a 6 pm opening at the School of Architecture & Design in Vivian St.

Details of the Wellington dates here. More details of the travelling exhibition itself here and here.

RELATED: Wellington, Architecture

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Monday, 19 February 2007

Stadium still to cost us $200m

Sense at last?
Govt confirms downgraded Eden Pk for Cup
The Government has confirmed the upgrade of Eden Park will involve a new South Stand and temporary seating.
The bloody thing is still costing us $190 million and counting. What's wrong with just the temporary seating for goodness's sake? That could be paid for out of the proceeds of the damn Cup!

UPDATE: To help put the costs in perspective, here's a comparison of stadium costs I posted previously, based on estimates announced in the press:
  1. Eden Park -- temporary stands only (about $45-100m)
  2. Jade Stadium -- additions to a seating capacity of 60,000 ($80m)
  3. North Harbour -- additions to a seating capacity of 60,000 ($226m)
  4. Carlaw Park -- new stadium and Domain renovations (say $750m, minus Eden Park's sale)
  5. Wiri - new stadium and rail lines (say $750m, minus Eden Park's sale)
  6. Telstra Stadium, Sydney -- (you could buy ownership for just A$200m -- Stadium New Zealand in Sydney!)
  7. Waka Stadium -- what cost?
  8. Eden Park -- gold-plated option ($385m plus)
  9. Bedpan -- new stadium, plus new facility for Ports ($1 billion plus)
It's also worth remembering that the Eden Park Trust Board helped bring this whole farce about when they saw their chance at piles of government money coming their way, and they went from what was a proposal for essentially temporary stands (agreed to by the IRB when the World Cup hosting rights were won) to the bout of grandomania over the last few months that will apparently deliver them a tax-paid South Stand.

RELATED: Stadium, Politics-NZ


Auckland: David Henderson on the politics of climate change

When Al Gore lectured in Lecture Theatre 439 of Auckland's Engineering School a few months ago (picture left -- Al is the one on the right)), the room was packed with journalists, politicians and "decision-makers" -- "a cross-section of infuential New Zealanders" -- all of them hand-picked -- all of them applauding their hero; a spill-over audience outside and in other lecture theatres around the campus cheered Al to a standstill both coming and going; and John Boy Key emerged confessing all his buttons had been pushed after having undergone a Damascene conversion at the feet of Al Gore's slides.

This was not the scene at today's lecture on the politics of climate change delivered by David Henderson (right), the former head of economics and statistics for the OECD.

Henderson is in many ways a bureaucrat's bureaucrat, and today's was a far more sober affair. There were no journalists and politicians in high-profile attendance; no flash bulbs went off; no glossy slides to show; no films to sell; no Presidential campaigns to leverage - and there was time at the end for questions. It was a different affair entirely.

The reason for the lower key event was not just the sobriety of the speaker. Henderson the former bureaucrat has taken a very unbureaucratic and extremely unpopular line: he refuses to buy what he sees as the manufactured political consensus around global warming. This does not go down well in the mainstream.

Henderson has co-authored a major critique of the Stern Report, which he summarised for the audience. [You can find a link to the critique here -- it's well worth your time to download and read]. What he is specifically critical of is the handling by governments of the complex scientific and political issues around the science of global warming -- far ahead of the science establishing any reliable evidence for anthropogenic (ie, man-made) global warming -- of the "links with global salvationism" that have fuelled the alarmist 'consensus'; and the "race to regulate" that governments are stampeding towards, not least our own government in NZ.

He maintains that the IPCC process is significantly flawed, and that the world's governments are wrong to take their advice solely from this body. The "IPCC milieu," he says, "is characterised by a clear bias towards alarmism."

On the specific issue of the Clark Government's stated pursuit of a "carbon neutral economy," Henderson had this advice for Clark and other similarly disposed political leaders:
Rather than pursuing costly and meddlesome CO2 interventions, they should take steps instead to be more fully and objectively advised, especially before making [or trying to make] an economy "carbon neutral."
He finished with a warning, over and above the problems he sees with the science, of the intrusiveness of political action proposed in the wake of the alarmist reports, for example the enthusiasm of UK Environment Secretary David Milliband for the issuing of "personal ration books" for our "allowed" carbon consumption. As Neo-Jacobin noted at the time this enthusiasm was expressed, it is an imposition at once egregious and absurd that in an era of plenty this man is openly advocating imposing harsh austerity.

Such intrusiveness is made all the more acceptable by the uncritical acceptance of some very uncertain science.

With regard to this whole debate, Henderson concluded with a point that motivates many so-called skeptics. "There is a lot at stake in terms of who runs our lives," he said.

Ever the bureaucrat, even that conclusion is severely understated.

LINKS: Answering the Stern Gang on global warming - Not PC (Jan, 2007)
Britain deserves better - Daily Telegraph
Carbon rationing? Thanks ... but no thanks - A Neo-Jacobinn

RELATED: Global Warming, Politics-World, Politics-NZ, Economics


REMINDER: Climate Change Presentation in Auckland today

A reminder for Auckland readers who can take an hour off this afternoon to listen to a climate commentator who is not a warmist:
Climate Change Presentation

Professor David Henderson is the former head of economics and statistics for the OECD. He is a member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, has written a major critique of the Stern Report and will be giving presentations in both Auckland and Wellington.
You can find a brief review of this presentation here.

Supreme crap for Supreme Court

Look at this piece of expensive crap: the proposed design for NZ's new Supreme Court. The bill will be sent to you, to Mr and Mrs Taxpayer. The architects, Warren and Mahoney, are if you recall the same Warren and Mahoney that helped peddle the urban design disaster that was the Mallard Stadium.

That one was just a bigger Cake Tin plonked down between Auckland's downtown and its harbour. This one is little more than an oversized glass box with some pseudo-Maori candyfloss to pass it off as "bicultural."

What a piece of crap. As Judi Keith-Brown says in this morning's Dom, "There is no need for the Supreme Court to be very big or to cover what is now a park in that slab building. It is completely nuts. It is a court for five judges."

The building is as bad as the notion of the Supreme Court itself. Better to keep the park, I'd say -- or (if a new building is really needed, which I doubt) perhaps to hold an open competition to see if something of more substance can be produced.

UPDATE: More photos added, from Tom Beard's blog. More here at Skyscraper City.

LINK: Architects in uproar over Supreme Court Building - Stuff

RELATED: Architecture, Wellington, Politics-NZ


Spin, substance, standards and what bloggers might owe their readers

Span and Idiot/Savant are meditating on spin, substance, standards and what bloggers might owe their readers. I'm with I/S here when he argues,
none of us have to read the crap if we don't want to - and I generally don't. Likewise simply because blogging as an institution has no standards doesn't mean that we all have to wallow in the sewer. The freedom to adopt whatever standards we choose means we can also choose to have some rather than none.

Unlike Span, I am trying to use my blog to push a political barrow. As I've said before, democracy is "participate or perish", and if you want your views to be taken into account, you have to speak up for them. That's what I'm doing here. I am also, in a small way, trying to change minds and influence opinion. The difference between this and some other blogs is that I choose to maintain some basic intellectual standards in doing so.

I like to think I'm doing the same here, albeit with a rather different barrow. Feel free to comment below on either my barrow or my standards.


Smarm doesn't sell, it seems

Political pundits (and John Armstrong) argue that Don Brash frightened the horses far too much, and that in order to attract more support "from the centre," John Boy Key needs to outflank Helen on the left in order to attract more support from those outflanked -- to which I've pointed out that at 49% under Don Brash in the last TVNZ poll before he was ousted, National already had plenty of support, and for policies that weren't just warm and squishy and insubstantial. (Samples from John Boy: "I believe in the welfare state and I will never turn my back on it" ... )

How's John Boy's team doing in the latest TVNZ poll then? After a serious media honeymoon, a summer full of smarm ("An empty stomach, and an empty lunchbox, sets kids up [pause and voice waver] for an empty life"), lots more people who say they "like" John Boy, and a Government who stole an election and now have a a programme for the year that doesn't go much beyond buying Skodas to replace government limos ... the National Socialists are now at 46%.

46% under John Boy, compared to 49% under Don. That would be a downward trend, then.

So how about them pundits, eh?

[PS: Thanks to Teenage Pundit for the Key quote].

LINKS: Labour gains support but trailing Nats - Stuff

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National

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Sunday, 18 February 2007

Where's Al when the blizzard hits?

From Phil Brennan at NewsMax: Al Gore Ducks Northeast Blizzard:
As a blizzard of snow and ice pummels the Northeast after trouncing the Midwest, and waves of Arctic cold fronts drop much of America below sub freezing weather, the $64,000 question is, Where is Al Gore?
And in a report at Drudge:
SAVE IT FOR A SUNNY DAY: Maryville Univ. in St. Louis area cancelling screening of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ because of a snowstorm.
Amused? I am. If you're not, then maybe this is more your thing:


Today's Bible reading: Divorce & Castration

Important advice this morning from the Bible on divorce and castration.
Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
What the fuck is he talking about? Quite simply, according to many people's favourite ethicist:
  1. It is not good to marry.
  2. If you do marry, it is not good to divorce (except if it be for fornication).
  3. It is better, all things considered, to make yourself a eunuch "for the kingdom of heaven's sake."
Sheesh. Do let me know how you get on with that.

UPDATE: Lucyna at Sir Hump's responds here (and in the comments below), but misinterprets my rhetorical question above. Ah well.

LINKS: Matthew 19 - Skeptics Annotated Bible
On marriage and castration - The Brick Testament

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense