Friday, November 23, 2007

A Beer O'Clock summer taste-off

A repost here of my taste test to find the perfect good, crisp, summery lager -- something that's just the thing for a long, semi-summery New Zealand weekend ...

This informal beer tasting was held here in the garden at 'Not PC Towers.' Ranged against each other in two 'semi-finals' were two New Zealand charmers, and a couple of European beauties. The tasting began informally, and ended even more so.

The two Europeans lined up against each other first. On the left the Czech beauty Budvar, and on the right a German from Dortmund, DAB. Quite a contrast to look at in the glass, with the Budvar both darker and with with much less head; both proved an equal contrast in taste. The DAB was crisper and 'deeper,' with almost a hint of mushroom, but all the tastes very subtle. If drinking the DAB was like eating an apple with a hint of mushroom, the Budvar was like a malt biscuit with a small side of hops. Very tasty. Neither had much aroma to speak of, but the tastes were superb, and beautifully integrated. The afternoon ... ahem ... the tasting had started well.

In the European semi-final then, the Czech beauty proved a narrow, but unanimous winner with its extra flavour just getting its 'head' above that of the other competitor.

So to the two New Zealand charmers, the Limburg Hopsmacker and the Mac's Reserve. Both are attractive in the glass (bear in mind the Hopsmacker is an ale) and both have full and attractive aromas -- the Hopsmacker exceedlingly so -- but after the two Europeans these local lovelies were far less subtle and much more, um, robust. My regular beer correspondents might disown me for saying so, but from the first sip it was clear that whoever won this local derby, the eventual winner would be from Europe.

Of these two locals however the Hopsmacker was the clear favourite. Taste aplenty, as there was also in the Mac's Reserve, but the Hopsmacker's flavours seemed somehow better integrated, and the Reserve's bitter after-taste lost it points by the hop-load.

So to the Final, and following the final taste-off, and then another for third and fourth, and then just a few more to make sure of the results -- and then doubly sure since we wouldn't want to make any mistakes (by which time both 'tasting room' and tasters could well fit the description implied by the phrase "a mess") the taste test results looked like this (and I really do hesitate to use the phrase "in order"):
  1. Budvar. Just like the Miss World contest, the Czech beauty got the crown.
  2. DAB
  3. Limburg Hopsmacker
  4. Mac's Reserve
And it has to be said too that beer really was the winner on the day. Hic. And still is.

Cheers, PC

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Oz newspapers fall foul of local law

The front pages of several Australian newspapers have just broken the law -- or at least the law as it will be in NZ's elections next year.

"We believe this country must, for now, look elsewhere for that response - to Kevin Rudd, and the Labor Party," says the Sydney Morning Herald endorsing Rudd. "Daily Telegraph backs Rudd," shouts the Daily Telegraph. Lots of other newspapers over there are following suit, all of which robust journalism would be illegal here next year under the Clark/Peters/Dunne/Fitzsimons bill to muzzle political opponents.

Incidentally, the Herald's endorsement comes just three years after swearing off such benaviour, saying just before the 2004 election [hat tip Tim Blair]:
There comes a time when a newspaper, having expressed its voting preference for more than 170 years, as has the Herald, must renew and reassess its claim on independence so that its pursuit of truth is not only free of partisanship and without fear or favour, but is seen to be so. From today, the Herald no longer will endorse a political party.
I guess it's always okay to lie when you're supporting Labor/Labour?

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Honey, I doomed the universe!

Those of you familiar with the famous Schrodinger's Cat thought-experiment -- in which a cat's very survival is dependent upon the effect our observations may or may not have upon the quantum system in which it's said to be entangled -- will be interested to hear that according to two "controversial" physicists, the entire universe is in the same position as that cat.

One false observation, they claim, and apparently our universe gets it! Story here from 'New Scientist' magazine: Have we sealed the universe's fate by looking at it?

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Comrade Trottersky lays bare the real EFB issues

Chris Trotter, who is on the record of being all in favour of "acceptable corruption," makes his derision at "the owning class" abundantly clear in a diatribe this morning against a libertarian opponent of the Clark/Peters/Dunne/Fitzsimons Bill to Gag Free Speech & Buy Elections. You can read Comrade Trottersky's column here at Lindsay Mitchell's blog.

Stephen Franks summarises Trotter's position perfectly when he summarises Jeanette Fitzsimons speech to Wednesday's parliamentary protest: "Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war." Both Trotter and Fitzsimons are singing from the same songsheet -- and we all know who's writing their songs, or we should do.

Trotter and Fitzsimons understand just as clearly as Trotsky did the crucial importance of property rights. Where there is no private ownership, Trotsky recognised, individuals can be easily bent to the will of the state. The authors of the Electoral Finance Bill and the fellow travellers of Mr Trotter understand that point more clearly than "the owning class" themselves presently do -- and because they understand it more clearly, and because they despise "the owning class," they're prepared to use all the levers of state power at their command in the battle to control the "inherent power structures" at work in a society in which "the owning class" is allowed to flourish.

They're prepared to justify an "acceptable" level of corruption in our elections -- which includes putting severe restrictions on how much electioneering you can do with your own money, while putting their hand in your pocket to fund their own political campaigns. They're prepared to countenance the muzzling of your free speech while using your resources to trumpet their own. They're prepared to support retrospective legislation legalising eight-hundred thousand dollars of pledge card spending that Labour Party organisers knew at the time was illegal.

They're prepared to support and spin and lie about the real point of the Electoral Finance Bill, which is to use state power to silence as far as possible this "owning class."

Thank goodness then for the columns of old schools socialists like Trotter, whose spin being less opaque than that of his younger more postmodern successors the reader can see more clearly the real issues at stake here. In a sea of spin, his "extreme, unvarnished -- and refreshingly candid -- ideological assertions" are a welcome relief, since they can help us see the issue more clearly.

Make no mistake, it's the very idea of an "owning class" Trotter and Fitzsimons and their fellow travellers find repugnant, and in the name of the poor, the oppressed, the halt and the lame -- of speechless peoples and the "oppressed" everywhere -- they'll do whatever it takes to wipe that class out, or at least to puncture the "power structure" their post-structuralist pomowank tells them is there in society and at the service of this "class." And make no mistake, they're prepared to wrap themselves in all the state's power they need to do that.

That's not just the reason for their willingness to countenance and support this latest obscenity - it provides the explanation too for the many other outrages introduced under the Clark regime, including the nationalisation of children via the anti-smacking amendment, the welfarisation of the middle classes via Welfare for Working Families, and the innumerable other nannying assaults by which we're all kept down.

Do not make a mistake of thinking they don't mean to take your free speech away: they sure as hell do. And once your free speech is gone, all legitimate forms of protest at what they're doing will be gone too.

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More marches against election muzzling

Momentum is building for more protests against the Clark/Peters/Dunne/Fitzsimons project to muzzle political opposition while giving themselves access to your wallet.

Auckland gets a second to beat the bastards back on December 1st, at 2:30pm. Says organiser John Boscawen. "The PM was not impressed with 2000.....so I want to give her 5000."

And Christchurch gets its chance this Wednesday, 12.30pm from Victoria Square to Cathedral Square.

Anyone else like to get something started? How about a Day of Action right across the country on December 1st to protest the bastards' outright attack on free elections and free speech? Who's in? All you need at the moment is a megaphone and a plan -- do it now while it's still legal!

Let's give the bastards hell!

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The very best composer for films ...

Imagining films without music to drive them emotionally is like imagining pasta without sauce, cheese without wine -- or Helen Clark without Judith Tizard around to carry her handbag.

So given the crucial importance in film of communicating intense emotion through music, which composer do you think has been most used in film soundtracks?

Bach?
Rachmaninov?
Tchaikovsky?
John Williams??

I've already given you a clue. What film directors are after is intense emotion. As Auckland Wagnerian Chris Brodrick discovered through extensive research, which I'm told involved consumption of life-threatening quantities of popcorn and extensive pillaging of the IMDb database, it's Wagner's music that's far and away the most used to deliver that emotion. As Chris said at the conclusion of his death-defying resarch, it's astonishing "how much Wagner has been pillaged over eighty years of film soundrack, and how absolutely fundamental he has been for the way modern film composers try to make music work on film."

Wagner's music makes an appearance in films an astonishing four-hundred times -- and in films of all genres -- followed far behind (and in descending order) by Mendelssohn, Mozart, JS Bach, Rossini and Beethoven. (Distressingly, the most used is his 'Wedding Music' from 'Lohengrin,' which everyone knows who's ever attended such a function.)

On reflection however it's hardly astonishing at all. It wasn't just the intense emotion in Wagner's music that directors look for and contemporary composers continue to pillage (Brodrick points out for example the presence of Wagner's "nature" motif in the 'Lord of the Rings' films). It was Wagner who first showed how to use music as a "psychological tool" in dramas, a lesson well used by John Williams with his 'Jaws' theme which "instantly warns of danger by implying the shark's presence," and in "the famous shower scene in Hitchcock's 'Psycho' that is underscored by Bernard Hermann's truly terrifying music."

In the way he composed music for his monumental music-dramas, Wagner in almost every way but inventing the celluloid itself was responsible for inventing movie music. Composer Max Steiner, a pupil of both Brahms and Mahler, a godson of Richard Strauss, and the composer of the soundtrack for the film of 'The Fountainhead' is the chap usually credited for inventing movie music. "Nonsense," says Steiner. "The idea originated with Richard Wagner. If Wagner had lived in this century, he would have been the Number One film composer. "

I can't say I know all the films in which he's been used, but here's just three examples from YouTube of how Wagner's been used in some film classics. As those three examples show, however, I can't say that all the uses have been appropriate to the music, or that they've been great films . . .

The Rheingold prelude in Werner Herzog's 'Nosferatu'
'Siegfried's Funeral Music' in 'Excalibur'
Tannhauser's xxx Overture and Bacchanale in 'Meeting Venus' [scroll through for a few clues how it's used]
And of course, the infamous use of Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' in Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' -- music intended to sanctify dead heroes used instead to accompany mindless slaughter.

[NB: Chris Brodrick's articles on Wagner and the Movies can be found in these two Wagner Society newsletters. Both links are to PDF forms of the newsletters.]

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'Steam to Nuclear' - Robert Tracy


A 6"x8" canvas by artist Robert Tracy, available at Quent Cordair Art.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good news from odd places

BBC News: "George Bush's troop surge in Iraq appears to be working... An estimated 1,000 people a day are returning across Iraq's borders having previously moving abroad to escape the violence, Iraqi authorities say... One factor in their return is likely to be a sharp and sustained drop in all kinds of violence, particularly in parts of the capital Baghdad, following a US-Iraqi military 'surge'."

London's Times:
Road from Damascus: Iraqis are voting with their feet by returning home after exile The figures are hard to estimate precisely but the process could involve hundreds of thousands of people. The numbers are certainly large enough, as we report today, for a mass convoy to be planned next week as Iraqis who had opted for exile in Syria return to their homeland. It is one of the most striking signs that not only has violence in Baghdad and adjacent provinces decreased dramatically in recent months, but confidence in the economic and political future of Iraq has risen sharply. Nor is this movement the action of men and women who could easily reverse course and turn back again. Tighter visa restrictions imposed by Damascus mean that those who are returning to Iraq cannot assume that they could quickly retreat again to Syria if that suited them. This is, for many, a one-way decision. It represents a vote of confidence in Iraq.
NY TIMES: Around Baghdad, Signs of Normal Life Creep Back: "With security in Baghdad improving, residents across the city are taking steps to return to normalcy. More Iraqis are traveling between Shiite and Sunni areas to shop, work and go to school. While there are still neighborhoods too dangerous to enter, interviews across the city reveal the personal ways Baghdad residents are fighting to reclaim the lives they lost."

NY POST: "THE situation in Iraq has improved so rapidly that Democrats now shun the topic as thoroughly as they shun our troops when the cameras aren't around..."

It must hurt the poor pessimistic dears terribly to have to admit that General Petraeus' "surge" is working, but the good news is now breaking out of from blog commentators like Michael Yon and Michael J. Totten, and on out into the mainstream. That in itself is good news.

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Governments are "utter, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, unpardonable idiots"

A very large number of Britons have just woken up to the fact that government cannot be trusted with their data: Her Majesty's Government has just misplaced the personal details of some twenty-five million people. Well done HM Government, eh?

British commentators are already beginning to say that watching Gordon Brown as PM is like watching Frank Spencer make a garden shed, and this is only exacerbating the contempt in which he's held. Frankly, in my view, anything that demonstrates to millions of people that governments are "utter, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, unpardonable idiots" is a very good thing in my book.

UPDATE: "There is lack of honesty about this," says Liberty Scott. "It didn't happen yesterday, or last week. It happened months ago - the efforts to find the [misplaced information] have been fruitless, so now the banks have been advised, and the public too. It is not a Labour or Tory issue, it is an issue about government, and the simple fact that there are never the adequate incentives or accountability for when the government fails to protect its citizens. This is [another] very good reason why governments should do less, nor more."

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Honest John?

Good for Whale Oil:

To: john.key@national.org.nz
Subject: Time to stand up and be true to your word!

Dear Sir,
We believed you when you said that the first time this happened you would stand up and commit to scrapping this law. No amount of spin will get you off the hook here.

Please read this : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10477661

Now show us that it is worth staying in NZ . And show us that National has some guts.
Kind Regards, Whaleoil
I'm sure readers will have no problem composing a similar email to Sue Bradford, who said that the law would be treated by police and prosecutors with "common sense"; that it wouldn't catch good parents, only those who are killing "our" children.

Bullshit. "The law of common sense" that in various contexts Bradford, Key and Annette King have argued will protect people from inappropriate police attention should have another think about delivering laws that they argue won't be fully enforced. As I said here yesterday in respect of the Electoral Finance Bill,
A law with draconian provisions that aren't intended to be applied is bad law. A politician who introduces such a law and who argues that they won't be applied is either a fool or a liar -- and in either case they're a tyrant.

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Don't worry, be free

I'm hearing all about "peak oil" and how we're "running out of resources." The answer apparently is to give up, give up, give up!

Fuck that.

The idea is as wrong ethically -- it's not man's natural estate to grovel before Gaia; we either stand tall and exploit nature or we die -- as it is wrong economically. As Cambridge Energy Research founder Daniel Yergin points out "The theory [of Peak Oil] is very fashionable ... but it completely discounts technology, which constantly expands our horizons..." Let's explore that idea.

In the sevententh-century Britain was running out of trees to build houses. The problem was solved by the increased use of bricks. In the late-nineteenth century we were all running out of whale oil to light out lamps. It was a problem solved by the exploitation of a new resource: oil.

The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones; it ended because they went on to exploit better things -- and sitting here as a beneficiary of the Industrial Revolution I'm very glad they did. Given that it's the process of invention and exploitation of resources begun back then that keeps us all alive today, it's important to have some basic understanding of how resources are produced and exploited -- when properly and freely done, it's almost seems as if an invisible and benevolent hand was guiding production.

As George Reisman explains,
the resources provided by nature, such as iron, aluminum, coal, petroleum and so on, are by no means automatically goods. Their goods-character must be created by man, by discovering knowledge of their respective properties that enable them to satisfy human needs and then by establishing command over them sufficient to direct them to the satisfaction of human needs.

For example, iron, which has been present in the earth since the formation of the planet and throughout the entire presence of man on earth, did not become a good until well after the Stone Age had ended. Petroleum, which has been present in the ground for millions of years, did not become a good until the middle of the nineteenth century, when uses for it were discovered. Aluminum, radium, and uranium also became goods only within the last century or century and a half.
Julian Simon points out that it's the human mind applied to nature that is the ultimate resource. It's the human mind applied to production that transforms what nature provides into "goods" for human use: in other words, it's the mind itself that produces resources from the raw materials around us. As George Reisman and Ludwig von Mises point out, the idea that resources are running out "comes true only under socialism" -- only under a system in which private property is banned, production is strangled, the tragedy of the commons remains in effect, and (crucially) price signals that indicate the real value of resources are ignored or muzzled. Let George explain.
The value of goods is within us—within human beings—and radiates outward from us to external things...

Thus, in one sense ... the contribution of nature is zero. Practically nothing comes to us from nature that is ready-made as a useable, accessible natural resource—as a good in [this] sense. In another sense, however, the natural resources that come from nature—the matter, in the form of all the chemical elements, known and as yet unknown, and energy in all of its forms—are virtually infinite in their extent. In this sense, nature’s contribution is boundless...

And this brings me to what I consider to be the revolutionary view of natural resources that is implied in [this] theory of goods. Namely, not only does man create the goods- character of natural resources—by obtaining knowledge of their useful properties and then creating their useability and accessibility by virtue of establishing the necessary command over them—but he also has the ability to go on indefinitely increasing the supply of natural resources possessing goods-character. He enlarges the supply of useable, accessible natural resources—that is, natural resources possessing goods-character—as he expands his knowledge of and physical power over nature.

The prevailing view, that dominates the thinking of the environmentalists and the conservationists, that there is a scarce, precious stock of natural resources that man’s productive activity serves merely to deplete is wrong. Seen in its full context, man’s productive activity serves to enlarge the supply of useable, accessible natural resources by converting a larger, though still tiny, fraction of nature into natural resources possessing goods-character. The essential question concerning natural resources is what fraction of the virtual infinity that is nature does man possess sufficient knowledge concerning and sufficient physical command over to be able to direct it to the satisfaction of his needs. This fraction will always be very small indeed and will always be capable of vastly greater further enlargement.
In a free and unhampered market, the production of resources once discovered are coordinated and harmonised by the price system. Produce too much and prices go down, making further production uneconomic. Produce too little, and not only do we get headlines saying we're running out, but (if the politicians have left it free to operate) the price system tells producers that it's time to explore new fields, to bring previously uneconomic fields back into production, and (if prices really go stratospheric) to explore substitutes for these resources that are becoming uneconomic.

If it's left unmeddled with, it's the price system itself that provides the motivation for production, for conservation, for exploration and for exploitation; not the maunderings and witterings of Gaia worshippers and economically illiterate politicians who only help to make things worse.

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The zig zag hockey stick, and the lessening storms

Two recent pieces of research help to dispel two parts of the warmist mantra. Published in 'Energy and Environment' Craig Loehle takes the average of eighteen 2000-year-long series to confirm for warmists the existence of the Medieval Warm Period. Explains Lubos Motl, with tongue slightly in cheeck
Loehle has eliminated tree ring series from his datasets, explaining that they don't seem to be good temperature proxies. The result is a new kind of a hockey stick (pictured above), the so-called zig-zag hockey stick. ;-) The new blade in the middle of the stick is called the Medieval Warm Period.
Loehle's paper is audited by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit here and here. Head over and join in.

And you've heard that storms have been increasing over the last century? Not so, says research soon to be published in 'Climate Dynamics' that finds "storminess" - high winds - "hasn't changed in Europe during the 20th century" that complements similar numbers showing hurricanes haven't been increasing across the US, despite what the headlines and Al Bore's flawed film might suggest. And Jeremy Clarkson reckons Europe doesn't get good storms in any case. Europeans, he says, need to harden up, before laws are passed forcing us to stay at home when the Met Office has decided it will be windy.

Just thought you'd like to know.

UPDATE 1: On the premise that seems to be that it's okay to lie but it's not okay to call a liar names, some folk are upset at me giving Saint Al the pejorative name Al Bore. This is presumably because they find The Goracle exciting, or perhaps because they think Lord Gore of Nashville deserves greater respect -- though how any thinking person could dredge up respect for the Gorangutang I just don't know.

So if I need to find another something else to call the debate-dodging, media-shunning, unsafe-for-children ecodunce Al Gore III, then what names would you suggest?

UPDATE 2: The insufferably patronising Gavin Schmidt at Real Climate has a go at Loehle's paper on behalf of Team Warmist. Lubos Motl gives Shmidt an 'F': "Unfortunately, his criticism is extremely vague and in the cases when it is not vague and where I could try to check his statements, they seem to be demonstrably wrong." Steve McIntyre suggests Schmidt can't even plagiarise accurately.

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Election Bill "complex" and "confusing"

The organisation that is supposedly the "guardian of our democracy"and the one that the new Bill says is supposed to register everybody who wishes to engage in political debate and to administer the complex donations regime set up under the Bill, says it is "almost impossible to interpret parts of the new Electoral Finance Bill."

Electoral Commission chief executive Helena Catt said "it was crucial her organisation understood the law," and they can't.

"We're the organisation people will want to lay complaints with, we are the ones tasked with the duty to report to police if we think the components of the law are breached," she said. "We also the ones that are expected to provide guidance on what the bill means along with the Chief Electoral Office." Dr Catt described the confusion as serious...
She's not the only one who can't understand the damn thing. Law Society head John Marshall "also said the complexity of the law was one of its major flaws."
The Law Society President John Marshall said the general public would struggle to understand it. Mr Marshall said the law society was concerned with the speed in which the law was being rushed through. "In our experience, hasty legislation is usually ill-considered and contains defects."He said the Law Society still believed the bill should be scrapped and begun anew, or, at the very least, returned to the select committee for public submissions on the revisions."Our electoral law exists for the benefit of the people of New Zealand and they have the right to be heard on this substantially amended bill."
Law Society president John Marshall QC says the bill will still limit freedom of speech, and should be scrapped or referred back to the committee.

It's not just complex. It's not just that we're being railroaded. It's that our democracy is dying with just a whimper, and our right to speak out with it, even as warnings from the supposed guardians of our democracy are left unheard.

As Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst political system possible, apart from all the others. We're now heading down the road of "all the others." And quickly.

UPDATE 1: Electoral Commission CEO Helena Catt talks to Catherine Ryan this morning about her concerns. Audio here (nineteen minutes).

UPDATE 2: A protestor (right) carried a placard yesterday asking the Greens "what the fuck are you doing" supporting this corrupt attack on democracy and free speech. Jeanette Fitzsimons stepped up to answer the question [video]. Stephen Franks summarises her position: "Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war." As I've said here before, don't discount the effects of bullshit philosophy to give dishonest politicians a sense of self-righteousness and a tolerance for "acceptable corruption."

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Lifting the lid on Labour lard-arses

You'll recall the would-be immigrant to New Zealand, Rowan Tresize who was turned away because she was said to be overweight, and therefore "a drain on the health system." Wairarapa GP and Libz health spokesman Richard McGrath thinks the government should be consistent on this. He figures if wobblebottom would-be immigrants are sent away, then so too should wobblebottom MPs.
Click here to read more ... >>

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let's change the flag

Events over recent years indicate that it's time to change this country's flag to more closely resemble the political direction of our country. Tomahawk Kid makes the obvious suggestion.

Pictures of today's EFB protest

May I invite anybody with more pictures of today's protest at the nationalisation of free speech to send them to me at organon@ ihug.co.nz.

UPDATE 1: Scoop has pics and a braindead account of the protest. David Farrar explains why he ended up as MC ...

UPDATE 2: Brief video of Marching down Lambton Quay.

UPDATE 3: And more videos here (courtesy of Andrew Falloon) of some speeches which really should have done better:
Entering the grounds of Parliament
David Farrar addressing the crowd
Stephen Franks addressing the crowd
Gordon Copeland addressing the crowd

And here courtesy of Whale Oil:
Nick Smith - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKwQq5Ovy78
Jeanette Fitzsimons – http://youtube.com/watch?v=a-YSFmRFuPo
Bill Supporter - http://youtube.com/watch?v=PpxtBHWnEVg

TVNZ Coverage
David St George (Includes photos)
And more photos courtesy of Phil:








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Quote for the Day: Censorship

CENSORSHIP: Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas—such, for instance, as sex, religion or criticism of government officials—an edict enforced by the government's scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release.

But for stifling the freedom of men's minds the modern method is much more potent; it rests on the power of non-objective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men's lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim.

- Ayn Rand

Non-objective law? Censorship? How else to describe a law that will “permit legitimate lobby groups to carry on” only if they comply with “minimal” registration requirements (not mentioning the accounting, auditing, record keeping etc), only so long as they “do not advocate for or against any politician or party,” and for which the only justification is that the more draconian provisions "will not be enforced."

KILL THIS BILL!

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There is no free speech under a tyrant

If it moves, they've taxed it. If it keeps moving, they've regulated it. When it stops moving, they've subsidised it. If they don't like it they've banned it, and if they do like it, they've made it compulsory.

They've taxed you to hell, regulated you into the ground, and turned nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders into welfare beneficiaries. And they've lied to you about it all.

In times of tyranny the only relief from dictatorship is through free and fair elections -- the right retained by the people to throw the buggers out -- and the right -- the right! -- to raise your voice in protest.

Both forms of pressure release are now being taken away.

Elections are now being fixed to favour the ruling party -- and the so called opposition is so spineless in any case as to be no real alternative -- and for one year in three political protest is being muzzled, requiring registration with a censor's office.

To raise your voice in protest you'll have to ask permission first.

It's the last straw.

There is no free speech under a tyrant.

As long as it's possible to exercise your right to free speech, you may resist your government peacefully; once that right is taken away, anything goes. After all, if you can't use reason or persuasion to make your voice heard, then what course of action is left?

That's how important this is.

This government has declared war on the liberties of New Zealand's free men and women, and today is our last chance is to raise our voices in protest against the obscenity -- but we must be under no illusion about the situation we face.

This is not, as Helen Clark claimed on Monday, just a party political issue, and it sure as hell isn't politics as usual. Says Lindsay Perigo this morning,
"In its stated intent to persevere with the iniquitous Electoral Finance Bill, the Clark-Cullen government has lost all claim to legitimacy and may now be overthrown with impunity."
Read on here, and take copies with you this afternoon when you take your last chance to protest the onset of tyranny.

Assemble in Helengrad's Civic Square today at 12:00, and head to Parliament to make your voice heard and your protest count. The fact is that the tired and corrupt Clark regime is no longer fit to govern, and they want to make it illegal to tell that truth. Tell them that today. As Bernard Darnton said in a recent issue of The Free Radical:
Labour seems to have concluded that political speech is so important that no one else should be allowed to have any... The Clark Government is not just nibbling at the edges of free speech, they are engaged in both direct frontal assaul and deliberate flanking attacks on free speech [and democracy].

... Political speech must be especially protected because it is in the political arena that all other freedoms must be protected. The Clark Government's assaults on free political expression must be resisted because if we fail to withstand this latest round of assaults, it will be illegal to resist the next.
KILL THIS BILL NOW, before it kills liberty in New Zealand stone dead.

Protest against it now, before protest itself is made illegal.

Name: PC
Address: MYOB
Declaration: I declare that I am a free man. I declare that I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. I declare that my life is my own.


UPDATE 1: Annette King, the minister now responsible for pushing through this obscenity, refutes every claim to the bill suffocating free speech by saying the "law of common sense" will apply. She was well fisked in parliament yesterday by Heather Roy and Bill English, who on this issue at least has begun to find a spine. English concluded his fisking thus:
Can the Minister tell the public and the House what will happen when a well-meaning member of the public or community group looks up the Electoral Finance Bill and reads the Draconian provisions that mean that any person expressing a point of view in any form at all about whom to vote for is covered by the Act and has to comply with its regulations; and whom does that person approach to find out which rules now no longer apply because of common sense, and which rules will continue to apply because Labour wants to clamp down on public opinion?
A law with draconian provisions that aren't intended to be applied is bad law. A politician who introduces such a law and who argues that they won't be applied is either a fool or a liar -- and in either case they're a tyrant.

UPDATE 2: Stephen Franks is in no doubt: "She was lying."
"To mislead Parliament yesterday she used reasoning like [Steven Price's] RNZ weaseling."
Meanwhile, Steven Price from the misnamed Coalition for Open Government -- the only non-Labour front supporting this Bill -- weasels one further time over at Public Address.

UPDATE 3: Tyranny? I've been told using that word "smacks of hyperbole." Really? Here's John Locke, the inspiration for Jefferson's Declaration of Independence:
TYRANNY: AS usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage...
Any questions?

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Pigeon Tower at Bellevue - Cezanne


A work from 1889 when he broke with impressionism, replacing its concern with atmospheric effects with a new emphasis on geometric structure. It seems to foreshadow the spirit of the modern architecture to come ...

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog Readability Test

cash advance

The Standard has a rundown of how the various party websites rate according to the Blog Readability Test. Libertarianz, by the way, is "Elementary School" and SOLO is "High School." Meanwhile Labour's website is "Genius."

Bet you didn't know stupid blog rating tools could have a sense of humour.

From one lawyer to another ...

The once idealistic Stephen Price is now fronting for a corrupt law says Stephen Franks, who grieves for him "descending to justify corrupt law ... on the grounds that it will not be enforced."
Today I heard Price minimising the freedom of speech limit in a law that will “permit legitimate lobby groups to carry on” if they comply with “minimal” registration requirements (not mentioning the accounting, auditing, record keeping etc) so long as they “do not advocate for or against any politician or party”. In other words you can have ‘free speech’ as long as we know where we can get you, and only so long as you do not let people know which politicians support or oppose your policy position.
Read Stephen's opinion here.

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What's wrong with "private money" in public debate"

Labour says the Electoral Finance Bill will "stop people with money being able to buy votes for their party through advertising." Green Party whip Metiria Turei says the $120,000 restriction on third-party spending will "prevent those with deep wallets drowning out Kiwi groups and people with legitimate election issues." Various commentators are spinning the Labour/Green line that "there is no place in a democracy for private money in public debate..."

Why isn't there?

What's wrong with people with political opinions putting their own money where their mouth is? That's certainly infinitely preferable to the corruption that sees politicians putting their hand into your pocket to peddle their opinions, as Labour, the Greens, United Future and NZ First all insist on doing. They're putting their hand into your pocket, while restricting your own ability to do the same.

Let me say this: If "Kiwi groups" have "legitimate election issues" then let them find people with the same concerns to pay to air them. Using the power of the state to force others to pay for your opinions -- forcing people to pay who wouldn't do so voluntarily, or who may even disagree with your "issues" ... that's beyond disgusting.

Anyone who votes for this bill has no claim to be a supporter of either free speech or democracy.

What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the Electoral Finance Bill?"
What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the banning of BZP?"
What's wrong with saying "Don't vote for anyone who supports the criminalisation of protest."
What's wrong with saying that however much you damn well spend?

What's wrong is that offends those who wield political power, and they're going to use all the political power at their command to shut you up.

In six weeks, using your own money to express your own views is going to be illegal -- and it's going to be illegal for one third of your life.

It's supposed to be wrong to have private money in public debate. Why? Because it's supposed to be wrong to "buy" political power.

But is it? Even if it's really possible to "buy" political power, is it really wrong?

What's really wrong is giving politicians and legislators the power they have, power without limit, power to enter your bedroom and your boardroom, to tell you what you can and can't say, and how much you're allowed to spend to say it. then allowing any special interest group access to the levers of political power is inherently dangerous. But isn't that what we already have? The problem is not buying political power, it's with the power that politicians are given, and hwo much more they want to take.

As PJ O'Rourke says, giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

What's needed is not restrictions on buying political power, but on what politicians do with that power. What's needed are constitutional restrictions not on how much can be spent for a party to gain power, but on how much parties can do once they have power.

That is how you protect free speech.

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"A conference on how to cut emissions like the kind they blew in getting there..."

Andrew Bolt looks at the ten-thousand climate change hypocrites heading to Bali for the summer:
They could video-conference instead to make a statement about cutting emissions, but what’s the fun in that? So thousands of global warming prophets, including many hundreds from the United Nations agencies which have whipped along this new faith, will next month jet to a luxury resort (above) in Bali instead for a conference on how to cut emissions like the kind they blew in getting there. Flying business class, of course...
Read all of 10,000 warming prophets jet to hot resort.

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Darnton "Staggered" At "Even Worse" Electoral Finance Bill

It was bad before. Now it's even worse!
Libertarianz Party leader Bernard Darnton said this morning that he was "staggered" that the Electoral Finance Bill had come back from select committee even worse than originally drafted.

"Given how awful the Bill was, it's unbelievable that it has come back from select committee even worse."

"The clock is ticking for freedom of speech in this country. Not even the smallest act of political opposition escapes this Bill's reach. Every political comment made during an election year must carry an authorisation statement. The Clark government's message to anyone who opposes it is, 'We know who you are and we know where you live.'"

Darnton encouraged people to join the march on Parliament this Wednesday. "Anyone, of any political stripe, who believes in open political debate should march on Parliament this Wednesday Show your opposition to this attempted repression."

"The tired and corrupt Clark regime is no longer fit to govern. They want to make it illegal to tell that truth. Tell it on Wednesday."
The march against the Electoral Finance Bill leaves Civic Square in Wellington at 12.30 on Wednesday. KILL THE BILL, before it kills free speech in this country for good!

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Girl - Melissa Hefferlin


[Hat tip Michael Newberry]

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Nineteen reasons to KILL THE BILL before it kills free speech stone dead

David Farrar has posted 19 reasons why the Electoral Finance Bill as it stands now must be re-written.

Quote:
  1. It now includes speaking into a megaphone as a regulated election year activity. [Page 8 of Select Committee Report]
  2. The definition of publishing an election advertisement is extended to include the catchall “bring to the notice of the public in any other manner” which will include speaking in public. [Clause 4(1) – para (i) of definition to publish]
  3. Anonymous political advocacy on much of the Internet is outlawed. Uploading a political video to You Tube, or even a post into the nz.politics Usenet newsgroup which advocates either for or against a party will require a name and residential address. [Clause 53(1) – para (a) and para (g) of Clause 4(1) definition of publish]
  4. The regulated period of all of election year remains one of the world’s longest at 30% of an electoral cycle, or nearly one third of your life (in Canada it is 6 – 8 weeks only for third parties) [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
  5. Advocating for or opposing a party or a recognised party position requires registering with the government. These so called "third parties" are restricted from advocating in all of election year to vote for or against parties on particular issues such as the environment or taxes. For example Greenpeace could not spend more than $10,000 a month advocating a vote against parties who do not support Kyoto.[Clause 5(1) para a(ii)]
  6. Blogs are left in an unsure legal position as only "non-commercial" blogs are exempted. All commercial blogs and other websites are now regulated if they express an opinion for or against a party or candidate. [Clause 5(2) para (g)]
  7. Other online forms of advocacy such as e-mail are now regulated. [para (g) of Clause 4(1) definition of publish]
  8. No right of reply for people attacked in an election campaign. You can spend only $12,000 nationally defending yourself if you or your organization is attacked during a campaign as third party registrations close on writ day. [Clause 17 para (a)(i)]
  9. By closing third party registrations before candidate nominations close, a local residents' group would be restricted to spending $1,000 opposing a last minute candidate whose views they find repugnant. [Clause 17 para (a)(i)]
  10. Different rules for third parties and political parties remain – political parties have twice the disclosure limit of third parties. [Clause 47(1) para (ab)]
  11. Spending limits not adjusted for population growth and/or inflation so an effective decrease in real per capita spending of 31%, plus that now has to last all year not just last 90 days [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
  12. Instead of banning anonymous donations, a compromise deal has seen them remain legal up to a certain limit, obviously designed to favour the incumbent Government. [Clause 28C(1)]
  13. All forms of political advocacy which promote votes for or against a party (or candidate) have to have a name and residential address supplied – even for placards, e-mails, speaking at street corners, posters, chalk on pavement. [Clause 53(1) para (a)]
  14. Parliamentary expenditure which was clearly electioneering under the existing Electoral Act (such as pledge cards) is now exempt from the spending caps [Clause 80 – para (d)]
  15. New candidates face a near impossible job against incumbent MPs as they are limited to just $20,000 over 11 months, and MPs parliamentary spending is exempt. [Clause 4(1) – definition of regulated period]
  16. Political parties are banned from running ads which advocate against candidates on particular issues (such as vote against MPs who voted for the Electoral Finance Bill) [Clause 53(2) para (a)]
  17. Political parties remain immune from prosecution for breaches of the Electoral Act – only individuals such as financial agents can be fined. This provides an incentive for parties to place pressure on individuals to risk breaking the law as the party itself will face no penalty.
  18. Smaller parties remain disadvantaged with broadcasting rules, as they are banned from purchasing their own broadcasting.
  19. The public have no meaningful opportunity for input into the revised bill, with its masses of changes
The only thing left to say is KILL THE BILL!

The next march against this corrupt assault on democracy and free speech leaves Civic Square in Helengrad at 12.30 on Wednesday. Be on it!

Let your voice be heard while political opposition is still legal.
This is not a drill. It's the real thing.

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Warming?

"Global warming is killing the world" says the Herald headline.

Global warming
? The earth hasn't been warming since 1998's El Nino put an end to the '79 to '98 warming splurge (before which there were several decades of cooling after the highs of the thirties and forties).

"Regional warming" is killing the glaciers, says NIWA's Jim Salinger.

Regional warming? According to Salinger's own organisation, New Zealand's average temperate last month was 0.5 degrees Celsius below the average for October.

Catastrophe? I think not. Bullshit? I think so. In fact, Doomsday has been called off [video, 44min.].

But I'm damn glad summer's finally here.

UPDATE: Jeanette Fitzsimons' wind turbine has fallen off the roof for the last time -- she's giving up on wind power. And a good thing too. When the cost of repairs is taken into account, Fitzsimons' turbine has produced some of the most expensive electricity ever made.

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"There's only so much democracy to go around"

It's said by supporters of the Electoral Finance Bill that to protect demoracy it's necessary to ration political speech in election year -- all of election year -- thus effectively destroying democracy, which heretofore has been seen as a system whereby citizens get to have their say.

Not so, say EFB supporters. There's only so much democracy to go around. Free speech is so important in a democracy, says the Electoral Finance Bill and its supporters, that only politicians and those registering with a government censor should be allowed it.

Thus are free speech and democracy destroyed in the name of protecting free speech and democracy! What could be more ingenious?!

Its also argued that private money should be banned from public debate because -- too much private money slants debate, it is said, and laws are need to level the playing field. This of course is bullshit.

People who have money are just as entitled to have their views expressed in public as those who don't -- if democracy has any meaning it is that anyone of whatever race, creed, colour or means is entitled to express their views, and should not be encumbered from doing so.

Taking money from those with one view of politics (while banning their own use of it in expressing those views) and giving it to those with opposing political views who wouldn't otherwise attract such support -- which is what state financing of political parties amounts to -- is wrong. It means that I, in my role as citizen and ripe suck, am required to pay for views that I vehemently oppose. And it means that I, in my role as subject and slave, must pay attention when my political betters tell me I may not freely express my own views.

That is just obscene. Voltaire's dictum is to defend the right of others to express views with which you disagree, not to provide them with a microphone, an advertising budget and a censor's office to bar views with which they disagree.

It's wrong to ban or limit free speech in election year, which in NZ is one-third of our lives. And it's wrong to ban private money from public debate. After all, if it were so easy for money to buy elections, why is the ACT Party the only party in the MMP era that has never been in government?

Bernard Darnton encapsulates the argument in a recent issue of The Free Radical:
Labour seems to have concluded that political speech is so important that no one else should be allowed to have any... The Clark Government is not just nibbling at the edges of free speech, they are engaged in both direct frontal assaul and deliberate flanking attacks on free speech [and democracy].

... Political speech must be especially protected because it is in the political arena that all other freedoms must be protected. The Clark Government's assaults on free political expression must be resisted because if we fail to withstand this latest round of assaults, it may be illegal to resist the next.
I salute every single one of the two-thousand or so good honest and angry people who got off their arse in Auckland on Saturday to protest this obscenity, and I look forward to seeing that anger land on Parliament's steps on Wednesday with a loud and resounding bang.

Let us hear the outrage echo from one end of this beautiful country to another, and let's Kill This Bill.

UPDATE: Submitters to the Electoral Finance Bill, who were overwhelmingly against the Bill, were told effectively, "Don't worry. It'll be all right on the night. Changes in Select Committee will address your concerns."

Today those changes have been announced and the Bill as it is about to be rammed through can now be seen in detail. It can't have been easy to achieve but the Select Committee hasn't made it better -- as David Farrar summarises they’ve actually made it worse!

Not content with regulating written political advocacy, they’ve extended the definitions to also include verbal political advocacy!

The Electoral Finance Bill now even regulates someone who gets up on a soap box and starts communicating to the public.

And while they have scrapped the ludicrous system of statutory declarations, they still treat a placard in a protest march as an election advertisement (if it targets a political party) and that placard will need your name and residential address on it.

Remember all those protesters outside the Labour Party Conference? They would all have been breaking the law if they didn’t have their name and address on their placards. The ones with the megaphones – they would be breaking the law if they didn’t announce over the megaphone their name and residential address each time they chanted.

And this is no drafting error. The select committee report makes it clear they have intentionally widened the scope to capture “the use of loudspeakers and megaphones”. Yes Labour, NZ First, United Future and the Greens have deliberately moved to regulate verbal political advocacy. What sort of parties and Governments are threatened by megaphones?

Read on here to see more details about the form in which the death of democracy is proposed.

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Cue Card Libertarianism - Environmentalism

ENVIRONMENTALISM: Encompasses various strands ranging from legitimate concerns about industrial pollution through to outright hostility towards industrial civilisation and technology. Libertarianism has no problem with the former, but is vehemently opposed to the latter – to the misanthropic or ecology strand which these days is all but mainstream.

The term ecology was coined by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. He defined it as the science of the relationship between organisms and their environment. As a philosophy it came to regard any disturbance of or harm to the organisms as necessarily detrimental to the whole environment. In its modern guise, it makes no distinction even between inanimate and animate matter, effectively claiming that all of existence, has intrinsic value in its virgin form, and should be regarded as inviolate. This includes such entities as trees, rocks and mud puddles, all by this “reasoning” granted equal importance to living, breathing human beings.

In 1905, Haeckel the zoologist became Haeckel the President of the Monist League, dedicated to promoting the forcible imposition of ecological ideals. Its zeal paid off in Germany’s “Green Revolution” of the 1930s, which began under the banners of “Blood and Soil” and “Back to the Land” and ended up by invading Poland and destroying most of Europe, and much of the inhabited world.

The ecology movement hibernated after World War Two and re-emerged in America in the 1960s. Initially deriving popularity from concerns about the use of pesticides raised by Rachael Carson in Silent Spring – concerns that led to the banning of DDT and the consequent death of up to 55 million people due to the return with renewed virulence of malaria -- the ecologists, deep ecologists and their deeper red felow travellers who saw an opportunity went on to posit implausible doomsday scenarios which all required big and bigger government to remedy.

Reputable scientists and disreputable politicians joined in doubting man’s or the earth’s chances of making it to the year 2000. Undaunted by the non-advent of any of the promised apocalypse scenarios, the doomsday merchants are still at it – Global Warming having supplanted an imminent Ice Age – demanding a tax-spend-regulate binge in the interests of the eco-system.

New Zealand’s Resource Management Act is an answer to any ecologist’s prayer. It prohibits (without a resource consent):
any use, erection, reconstruction, placement, alteration, extension, removal or demolition of any structure in, on, under or over land;
any excavation, drilling, tunnelling, or other disturbance of any land;
any destruction of, or damage to, or disturbance of, plants or animals in, on, or under the land;
any deposit of any substance in, on, or under the land;
any other use of land whatsoever [!!]
- – and it sets out the tortuous steps by which such a consent might be acquired and from whom.

As Ayn Rand points out, when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know your culture is doomed. The point should be obvious even to a product of today's education system.

It should be obvious enought that as a species human beings have a specific means of survival. The way we survive and (if we do well) flourish is not by renouncing ourselves or sacrificing to Gaia but by producing - by applying the mind to existence, transforming it for our own ends.

Thus are resources identified and produced: by application of our minds to this earth in the name of our own survival. It's said that resources themselves are finite, but that's not true. The human mind itself is the ultimate resource. Summarises Benjamin Marks in 'The Malthusian Trap,' it's possible to take seriously the warnings of the pessimists, but as George Reisman and Ludwig von Mises point out, "it comes true only under socialism" -- only under a system in which private property is banned, production is strangled and the tragedy of the commons remains in effect -- under a system of (non) production where the human mind is not able to read price signals and opportunities, and to adapt their own resources to suit.

Libertarians generally hold that there is a place for environmental laws, but that they must be based on the non-initiation of force principle. It is legitimate to protect human individuals from the enforced, involuntary ingestion of harmful substances, for example, but not legitimate to protect un-owned sand dunes from being “despoiled” by housing -– just one of the more absurd outcomes of the Resource Management Act.

Libertarians hold that the best answer to environmental concerns is the extension and better honouring of property rights through common law protection of private rights, whereby it would be unlawful to pollute, violate, or commandeer private property. Old ladies couldn’t be forced from their homes by government or local body fiat to make way for motorways or shopping malls; whole villages (of privately-owned houses) couldn’t be uprooted to make way for government mandated dams; private land couldn’t be invaded by a gold prospecting company or power lines with government backing – to cite some recent real-life examples.

Even trees, rocks, mud puddles and sand dunes would be inviolate if they are privately owned!

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by NZ libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. The series itself is accumulating down on the right-hand sidebar, and in the archives here and here.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Anti-EFB march coverage.

MikeE rounds up coverage of Saturday's Auckland protest march here.

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