Friday, 17 April 2009

Beer O’Clock: Waikato [updated]

This post is intended as a warning. A warning to everyone heading to Hamilton for a weekend of fast cars and faster women (one in hope -- and one, perhaps, in expectation). The warning is this. No matter how desperate, don’t drink anything bearing this label:


According to the drink’s website:

The Waikato is a region on the Western side of the North Island of New Zealand around the city of Hamilton extending along the pristine Waikato River and is home to Waikato Draught. Now a Lion Nathan beer the beer has a very rich history dating back to 1864 when brewer Scot Charles Innes arrived in New Zealand. Charles Innes started a brewery in 1871 at Ngaruawhia and then a new brewery was established in 1873 in Hamilton East. A bit of tragedy followed with fire destroying the brewery in 1897 and poor old Charles Innes drowning while bathing in one of his beer vats- what a way to go. His wife Mary took over the reins and it later became a public company with what is now Lion Nathan merging with the brewery in the 50’s. The beer brand has a strong tradition with Rugby and is a real tasty beer- They have won Gold Medal and Best in Class at the 2005 BrewNZ awards just to prove it.

All this is true, except for five things.

  1. It’s not brewed, it’s made.
  2. It’s not made in Hamilton on the shores of the Waikato, it’s made in Newmarket underneath the motorway.
  3. It’s not beer.
  4. It’s not tasty – not unless you think sugar is a “taste.”
  5. Sure, they won Best in Class at the 2005 BrewNZ Awards . . . but that class was Undrinkable.

Drinkers at the Rate Beer site had this sort of praise about this drink:

  • “Pours a brown colour”
  • “Not particularly smooth and not a lot of hops”
  • “Under average pale lager”
  • “Flavour soapy,oily slight citrus finish and bitter but not good”
  • “ . . . small, rough, off-white head. . . Medium in body with some malts and sweetish caramel and a touch of metal”
  • “. . . grainy, earthy, metallic, sweet, YUCK. Aftertaste like the sole of your old sneakers. . . ”

In summary, don’t be tempted. The weekend’s too short to drink bad beer. Spend your money on fast women instead.

UPDATE: There is hope, Hamiltonians. Reader Greig, from Hamilton, reckons Hamilton is not devoid of excellent beer:

Get ye to Hamilton Wine Company on Hood Street for a selection unlike anything you'll find in Auckland, and fairly rare for NZ in general. At least 150 beers of various pedigrees. Hillcrest Fine Wines has similar. We have a Cock and Bull for ye Auckland types, and for those in the know, there's the Ruakura Campus Club, though it's not open over the weekend. This is a shame. I've just come from there, and they were pouring Epic Pale Ale, Invercargill Biman Lager, and Tuatara Pilsner. All in top form.

So yes. Avoid Waikato. But drink well wherever you go.

Excellent advice.


Just the facts, ma'am [Update 2]

Humphrey Bogart as Philip MarloweDeborah Hill-Cone suggests in today's Business Herald that "bitter bloggers" who lambast the mainstream media for its manifest failings are duty bound to solve old media's problems for them, i.e., to shed some light on "how the [mainstream] media might turn a buck so we [the royal "we"?] can fund quality journalism." Ironically, her column is not online, so her audience have to rely on bloggers to retype it all for her, but here's her main beef, that

"all this old versus new media aggro is just a distraction from the fact that neither [bloggers nor] Rupert Murdoch . . . have an answer for the future of journalism."

Well, it's not like I'm duty bound to solve all the problems for the profession of journalism (there's more than enough problems in my own profession of architecture, thanks very much), but here's a simple enough solution for the old media to adopt -- so simple that even a journalist might understand.  Here it is::

            Recognise the division of labour, boys and girls, and just report the news!

We, the bloggers, can get on with commenting on the news, since that's what we do best; and you get on with finding and reporting the news, since that's what you're supposed to do best. In other words:
  • don't editorialise;
  • don't pontificate;
  • don't ask how people feel, ask instead what they saw;
  • don't report events as if people are outraged, just report the events themselves;
  • dobn't report what everyone knows is transparent science fiction; report real science fact instead;
  • don't report what "celebrities" do as if it matters a damn;
  • don't report puff pieces about actors/musicians/writers as if they're not just puff-pieces for their new film/album/book;
  • don't report what everyone knows is just spin) -- report instead what's being spun, and the news that someone is spinning, and who;
  • don't assume the whole world has the same values as your friends;
  • don't just rewrite press releases as if they were news;
  • and don't create the news yourself.
  • In short, just report the news. All of it. As if the truth actually mattered.
Your role model in this new endeavour should not be Woman's Day, which your front pages and the Six O'Clock News more and more resemble, but the classic private detective whose motto should be hung over your desk in copperplate lettering: "Just the facts, ma'am."

This week offers the perfect example of why people are switching off the mainstream. With 400,000 Americans taking up pro-freedom signs against their government, the mainstream media has either pretended they don't exist -- preferring instead to focus on the tough issues like the new White House dog -- or tried to suggest all the protesters are insane. Meanwhile, the issue of the week in New Zealand, according to every news report every time I switch on the local media, is the latest in the Tony Veitch saga -- giving numb-nut so-called journalists the opportunity to interview each other over how well they did (or didn't) handle the story, and Mark Sainsbury and John Campbell the chance to wring their hands over the courage/bravery/pluckiness [delete one] of the two protagonists.

No wonder no one can take mainstream journalism seriously any more. Instead of Philip Marlowe, we have to endure endless re-runs of Barbara Cartland.

UPDATE 1: Why do so many journalists blog, despite their apparent opposition to the concept? Simple, says one journalist cum blogger: "there’s a part of me that loves blogging because you’re allowed to break the journalism rules."

So read on here, journalists, for the top 10 journalism rules you should go right ahead and break on your blog. Do it, it's okay.

UPDATE 2:  Deborah Hill-Cone's blog column is now online.

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Tea Party follow-up [update 2]

CLICK HEREYou won't be finding any commentary on yesterday's Tea Party protests in the local media (too much time spent talking about how they covered themselves in glory in the Veitch affair), and as Chris Richards at CATO points out, even the mainstream US media is doing its best to ignore them, or to smear them.

Fox News and MSNBC are having fun with the taxpayer tea party protests today [while the rest concentrate instead on Obama's new dog] . Fox News is playing up the protests, while MSNBC hosts are making jokes about “tea-bagging,” while pretending that the protests were all orchestrated by Sean Hannity. I’ll be attending the protests in D.C. today, and I’m hoping that the message isn’t just anti-Obama because the Republicans are every bit as guilty as the Democrats for the government’s fiscal mess. MSNBC hosts who think that the colonists didn’t mind taxes, but were just upset about the “without representation” part, should read Alvin Rabushka’s massive tax history leading up to 1776, Taxation in Colonial America.

So in the absence of local coverage, I'll try to do the job for you on the coast-to-coast Government-is-out-of-control protests by posting some related commentary, links and resourcers from people I like, or who are still doing their job (and don't forget all the pics and links I posted yesterday).
What else have you got?

: Is this the sign of the day? It is at least the short answer to all those who claim that Alan Greenspan was carrying out some sort of Objectivist agenda at the Fed:

And here's a couple of collections of links, the first from Noodle Food, the second from the Titanic Deck Chairs blog, which includes several plum Rand references from 'round the Tea Parties. I loved this one in particular from the Dallas Tea Party, where the organiser
concluded by quoting John Galt’s oath: I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.'

UPDATE 2: Terrific speech here by historian John Lewis at the Charlotte, North Carolina Tea Party.

And don't forget to check out the Ayn Rand Tea Party blog for more, including this post-speech interview with Lewis.

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Ignoring crisis causes means promoting causes of the crisis

An op-ed in today's Business Herald gives the perfect example of why nothing will be learned from the economic crisis by those whose schools of economic thought were responsible for making it happen.  Robert Wade, from the London School of Economics, ignores the credit bubble inflated by the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve; ignores the US goverment's promotion of the sub-prime bubble; continues with the nonsense that "deregulation" was too blame; and promotes instead the canard that the solution to the crisis created by big, meddling government is even bigger and more intrusive government.

Alex Epstein writes in Canada's National Post that "Obama doesn't get the roots of the crisis."  Little wonder.  Neither do academic economists. 

I recommend to Mr Wade, and to Business Herald readers who want something better than they'd otherwise be reading, to avail themselves instead of the following three sites, where they won't find writers struggling to sweep uncomfortable facts about the crisis under the carpet.

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FROM THE NEARBY PEN: Why not Obama-nomics?

The following is a guest post written by Daniel of The Nearby Pen and The Guru 5:
Have you used the term Obama-nomics to refer to the policies being put forward by President Obama? Do you think this helps or hurts the cause you're fighting for? Assuming that you are an advocate of liberty and individual rights, here are three reasons why you should never use that term:
1. It's excessively vague. Does it mean "bottom-up economics" (as opposed to "top-down") or does it mean increased government spending while taxing "the rich" even more? It may mean something unique to each person, which makes arguing against Obama-Nomics a mistake. Instead, state with clarity the moral premise of the economic policies, what they require in practice, and the name for the economic system that they approach.
2. It's not a new economic policy--and there is nothing really to distinguish it from a ton of failed programs in the past including those of the previous administration. There is no need to create a new term, and it is actually confusing to do so. Obama's policies approach the economic system known as socialism. This system has been tried countless times before (in many nations) and with equally disastrous results. Why advocates of socialism desperately want a new label should be as obvious as why you, an advocate of capitalism, should not give one to them.
3. It's guaranteed to waste your time. Leaving aside the vagueness of the term, and how using it without reference to all of history makes predictions about the practical effects of such policies (almost) irrelevant, recognizing each new label used, and arguing against them individually, commits one at the start to a political discussion focused on ever-changing concretes and labels. One could spend their whole life taking part in such fruitless arguments. And many have. But it is not recommended.

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Nothing productive about Facebook use

Two weeks ago most of the blogs around the place were talking up "a study" that "showed" regular users of Facebook, Twitter and TradeMe were "more productive" at work than those workers who didn't spend their time checking up on their friends and buying old tat, and who actually worked instead.

Go figure.

But now another study shows something somewhat different.  Specialising in the bleeding obvious, researchers at the education department at Ohio State University found 
 that 68 per cent of students who used Facebook had a significantly lower grade-point average than those who did not use the site.
For the benefit of regular Facebook users, that means they got lower marks.  Perhaps that was because
students prone to accumulating friends, uploading photographs, chatting and "poking" others on Facebook may devote as little as one hour a week to their academic work...
So there are two conclusions we might draw here. One is that, for two-thirds of Ohio students at least, there's nothing productive about doing inane quizzes and reading pageloads of posts saying "lol cuz cool ta see yuz all."  The other is that taking any of these studies at face value is ridiculous.  And I have a study somewhere round here that shows that.

Sketch – Inga Loyeva

3232_179051630396_651375396_6349607_7341182_n A sketch – yes, a sketch -- by Inga Loyeva, presently studying at Florence’s Angel Academy of Art: a place they actually require you to draw.  Such places do still exist.

  Have a look at her website here.  You’ll be bowled over.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

Quote of the day: Samuel Adams

The quote of Tea Party Day -- the Day of the 400,000 -- comes from Founding Father Samuel Adams, courtesy of Walter Williams: "The Tea Parties today were very impressive," says Williams. Remember,

"It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
-Samuel Adams

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No Veitch

No comment, not from me, anyway.  Not my business.

But you knock yourself out in the comments if you must.

Yaron calls for a REAL Tea Party! [Update 9]

Yaron Brook analyses the Tea Parties on Pajamas TV, calling for an intellectual revolution to back up the Tea Party activism out on the streets. (NB: You have to sit through a short ad bagging the MSM before the interview starts.)

On this point, the first Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution itself is germane. As they point out at Bureaucrash, the real revolution happened not in 1773 in the Boston harbor or in 1776 with the “shot heard round the world” at the Battle of Lexington and Concord but in the decades leading up to that date with the revolution inside people's heads. Take to heart the words of Samuel Adams, who during his retirement years was fond of saying that the War for Independence was a consequence of the real American Revolution. The real revolution, he declared, had taken place in the minds and hearts of the colonists in the fifteen years prior to 1776. According to Adams, the American Revolution was first and foremost an intellectual revolution.

That's what's needed now.
  • NB: Feel free to send me more Tea Party links either by email or in the comments , and I'll post them below. After all, we're not going to read about them in the MSM, are we.
UPDATE 1: There's been Tea Parties all over, in around 500 different locations, people mad as hell and not going to take it any more. Roundup here at the Tax Day Tea Party, and more pics here. Daily Pundit reports on the SF Tea Party, held outside Fancy Nancy Pelosi's office. Favourite signs:

More signs here from the Tea Party in Al Bore's locale:
And from Springfield, Illinois:
Austin, Texas:
Hartford, Connecticut:
New Haven, Connecticut:
Flemington, New Jersey:
Gilbert, Arizona:

UPDATE 2: Don Boudreaux is tea-ed off with Paul Krugman and the New York Times:

Paul Krugman criticizes the anti-tax tea parties to be held around the country on Wednesday ("Tea Parties Forever," April 13). But Mr. Krugman's message never rises above tabloid journalism. Rather than address the issues, he merely rehashes absurdities spewed (mostly years ago) by right-wingers such as Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. The implication is that, because the likes of Messrs. DeLay and Rove oppose higher taxes, persons who attend these tea parties must be similarly crazy partisans. But is it really so absurd for ordinary Americans to be furious that Uncle Sam now promises to run up $9.3 trillion in debt during the next decade - an unfathomable sum that will inevitably lead to much higher taxes or higher inflation or both? Is it small-minded to oppose corporate welfare for automakers, banks, and insurance companies? Is it lunatic to fear further socialization of medical-care provision? Do these concerns really signal that those of us who hold them are, as Mr. Krugman alleges, "refusing to grow up"? One need not agree with the tea-partiers to concede that these worries are ones that reasonable people can, and do, have.

UPDATE 3: Obama responds to Tea Baggers: "I simply want to rule you," paraphrases the Rational Capitalist.
This is prime Obama pragmatism on display[says the Rational Capitalist]. Notice that he claims to start from a 'simple premise': Marxism. . .
UPDATE 4: John Hindraker of Powerline smacks down the MSM's insistence that Tea Party protestors are just "right wing extremists."

UPDATE 5: More cool signs, courtesy of Bosch Fawstin and Amy Peikoff:

UPDATE 6: Rational Jenn records a one-minute speech for Atlanta's big screens, and takes her kids along. (Go, Jenn.)
#teaparty Morgan's sign: a classic! on Twitpic
UPDATE 7: Mish has a couple more cute kids:

UPDATE 8: Some great pics from Sweet Obamatown Chicago, and a cool video of the action.

UPDATE 9: Rochester, NY:

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NOT PJ: A Fence is the Best Defence

This week Bernard Darnton visits the local community centre and thinks about naked women and whales. . .

Our new neighbourhood is a bit Bohemian. Not in the sense that it’s run by an unspellable Good King from a Christmas Carol or that it’s been annexed by Hitler – just that it’s a bit run down. And we have a community group.

I was terrified to hear that they had “facilitated” a “visioning day.” The “intense familiarisation and contemplation process” was preceded by a “backcasting” (haven’t the foggiest) and resulted in a, err, a few paragraphs of hippie day dreaming.

“Happy residents walk and cycle through streets of abundant colour, lined by productive fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Musicians enliven front yards and community parks, as people talk to their neighbours and trade local produce.”

Some bastard musician was enlivening a front yard a few doors down from us at 3 o’clock last Sunday morning. I would have facilitated an intense backcasting then and there if I knew how.

“Fences have been removed … and the local fish and chip shop sells fish caught in nearby streams.”

Or at least you can bring things home from the local shops in a trolley fished out of a nearly stream. It’s kind of ecological, I suppose. But what’s this about the fences?

Hippies hate fences because they’re one of the hallmarks of civilisation. A fence separates mine from yours. A fence is a symbol of property rights and all that flows from property rights, such as a society more complex than a bunch of guys called Ug all bopping each other with wooden clubs.

The “productive fruit trees and vegetable gardens” wouldn’t last five seconds if there were no fences to stop young and old from sharing in the community wealth a bit more than they deserved.

Fences – or more generally property rights – serve as the public line between peaceful action and aggression. They’re the difference between minding your own business and trespass. The risk of a fight is much reduced if we all know where the boundaries are.

Eric Raymond wrote about this in a chapter spicily titled “Noöspheric Property and the Ethology of Territory”. (I can quote this quite happily, knowing that no one else in the noösphere will have gone anywhere near it.) He noted that, “our domesticated cousins of the wolf know, instinctively, that property is no mere social convention or game, but a critically important evolved mechanism for the avoidance of violence. This makes them smarter than a good many human political theorists.”

Part of the reason the whaling debate is so retarded is that there are no fences in the ocean and so no sensible way of saying what belongs to whom. If Ngāi Tahu could just string some barbed wire round our exclusive economic zone (and patrol it from their new air base at Wigram) the whales could safely be watched in Kaikoura and the Japanese fleet would have to go back to bombing Darwin.

Fences make farming possible, promote secure development of land, and encourage Wanaka tourists to remove their bras. They feed us, they enrich us, and they irritate the stuffed shirts at the Queenstown Lakes District Council. What better vision could you facilitate?

* * Bernard Darnton's NOT PJ column appears here at NOT PC every Thursday * *

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Smoke and Mirrors, Somalis and Soccer

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath gives his weekly take on the news items that grabbed his attention. (WARNING: Contains commentary talking positively about soccer.)
  • US Navy Guns Down Somali Pirates, Rescues Kidnapped Captain This is the story of the week. What more can I say that hasn’t been said already. Full marks to the Navy snipers who iced three of the toerags. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it would be to hit a target aboard a life raft bobbing up and down in the sea, while avoiding injury to hostages. Kudos to President Obama for authorizing the hit, a good example of the government acting as it should in using retaliatory force to protect its citizens.
  • NZ Posts Carbon Surplus Tree-hugger Nick Smith is delighted that bureau-rats in the Environment Ministry have fiddled with the figures to somehow turn a $546m carbon deficit into a $241m surplus. Despite the apparent good news, useful idiots Charles Chauvel and Jeanette Fitzsimons are still looking to punish the productive for being productive. What a pity for all three Gaia-worshippers that the whole AGW hypothesis is a crock of shit, and that numbers can be manipulated by politicians to prove whatever crackpot theory they want to prove.
  • Ex-Unionist Ousted From Pay Agency The truly gruesome and revolting Angela 'Jabba' Foulkes is booted off the Remuneration Authority. Good riddance. I wonder if this authority is descended from the Higher Salaries Commission, which used to set pay scales for all manner of publicly-run organizations. Many of these, such as power companies, have been privatized -- and rightly so. There are many other government departments and Ministries that would find themselves abolished if a Libertarianz government were elected, and the Remuneration Authority would then have very little to do, and could probably convene once a year to set salaries for the police, judiciary and politicians. My own view is that latter should be unpaid, in order to encourage them to engage in some sort of productive activity outside of their political careers.
  • Kiwis’ Rugby Birthright Denied: Labour Brendon Burns, broadcasting spokesman for the recently spurned Labour Party, alleges that New Zealanders have a natural right to watch rugby games free of charge. It's our "birthright." Free, at whose expense, Brendon? What a pillock. Does he forget that in the days before televised rugby, paying to get into the stadium was the only way one could watch a rugby match live? Most people have a Sky TV connection anyway, Brendon. Just take a drive around some of the less affluent suburbs in our towns and cities and you will see home after home sporting the tell-tale grey dish.
  • Chelsea, Liverpool play outThriller Last night I watched a replay of yesterday’s game at Stamford Bridge, and what a thriller it was! Two of the game’s giants battling it out, both without their captains on the pitch. Whoever would have picked a 4-4 draw? As a Liverpool fan myself it was sad to see them exit the Champions League after a 1-3 loss in the first quarter-final game at Anfield last week, but bravo to both teams for playing their hearts out to the final whistle.
See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath

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Figure Sketch – Michael Newberry

2956_1073835047254_1267526600_30255363_3159497_nI love how with  a few well drawn lines great artists can bring a piece of paper to life.


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Schiff explains the GDP delusion [update 2]

There is a delusion stalking economic reasoning that is the cause of more mal-think than any other -- a delusion peddled in nearly every mainstream report you read. Let's call it the GDP Delusion (about which I'll have more to say tomorrow).

The biggest and most destructive myth of the GDP Delusion is this: that consumer spending is "the biggest part of the economy" -- a ridiculous delusion repeated in today's report at Bloomberg on the US economy [hat tip Bernard Hickey] worrying that US retail sales dropped in the last quarter? So?  And that's a problem why, exactly?  In a recession retail sales have to drop -- that's part of the solution, dummy.  Expecting them not to drop, or hoping they don't -- or, worse, throwing taxpayers' money at shopping subsidies to keep them propped up -- that's just one more example of how bad economic thinking, which got us into this unholy mess, is making it ever more difficult for us to get out.

Peter Schiff explains this whole delusion in this short but enlightening video blog.

But there's more.  Given that Bloomberg is dead set mainstream, and that the same Bloomberg report peddles yet another economic fallacy -- that falling producer prices somehow represent a threat, instead of another part of the solution -- then it's no wonder that mainstream economics has little ability to understand what the hell is going on, or what the hell to do about it besides shovelling cash we don't have at a problem they don't understand.

UPDATE 1: You can see the GDP delusion at work in this abjectly ignorant column from National Business Review's Michael Coote calling for "emergency US fiscal stimulus, with Uncle Sam becoming the face of enlarged public consumption" in place of shrinking private consumption -- which amounts to nothing more than idiocy squared.

UPDATE 2:  The GDP fetish is a delusional nonsense: it sees no difference between consumption and production; between productive expenditure and money thrown down the drain; no difference between capital accumulation and eating the seed corn--which means "stimulus" to boost GDP figures is simply money down the drain, or worse.
   In fact all GDP really measures is the growth in the money supply. No wonder countries deep in recession can still pretend to show “positive growth.”  If you want to know more about the whole failed measuring device that is the Gross Domestic Product, check out these pieces on the GDP Delusion in increasing order of thoroughness:

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Fiji. What a mess. [updated]

Since writing what I thought was a fairly considered piece last year on what's going on in Fiji, things have definitely gone backwards.  Military seizure of the Reserve Bank and compulsory exchange controls; locking up a law Society president who was previously reluctantly supportive of the regime's aims;  sharpening censor's knives; expelling journalists and sacking judges.

I still maintain that it's urgently necessary to sort out the race-based constitution and electoral system and the near-feudal system of race-based land tenure, and that interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama understands this and has these as his goal.

He has three hurdles to overcome however in carrying that out, number one being that sorting out these fundamental constitutional problems while overturning the chiefly power bases is excruciatingly difficult, and number two being that what is difficult has been made even more so by the trade and travel sanctions and pious pontifications of other Pacific politicians, our own not excluded.

Rather than help resolve a problem set up by paternalistic colonial rulers a century-and-a-half ago, the likes of Key and Clark and Rudd have instead placed every barrier in the way they could find, and talked in unthinking knee-jerk fashion as if "new elections" under the old race-based system would be some kind of cure-all balm for a problem created by that very race-based system.

The third problem is of his own making.  He hasn't really done much to help himself.  Any constitution is only as good as the public support for it, and the 'Draft People's Charter' travelling the country was a valiant effort to garner that public support and understanding.  But by sacking judges, shutting down free speech and failing to clearly explain himself to the world (this speech to the UN is practically his only communique to the world) he's done nothing to help himself, and everything to give those pious politicians enough rope to want to have him hanged -- and enough ammunition to put at risk the fragile domestic support for positive change he's built up.

Fiji.  What a mess.

UPDATENational Business Review editor Nevil Gibson has a measured response well worth reading.

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Cuba. It's still a mess.

Doug Bandow is right.  The embargo on Cuba has been disastrous, and its review is long overdue. US sanctions on trade with Cuba have done exactly nothing to harm Old Busywhiskers himself -- if anything, they've granted him and his cronies an excuse for the penury into which they've driven the populace.  Like all sanctions programmes it's harmed only the citizens themselves, about whom Castro's thugs could care less.  Far from supporting Cuban freedom, it's likely diminished it.

With sanctions, the Castro Regime has been reinforced.  Without sanctions, the Regime would likely have withered into irrelevance and nascent capitalism emerged again, much as it has in Vietnam.

"Trade and investment normally draw peoples together," says Bandow, and he's right.  It's time, as he says, for America's policy-makers "to ask the simple question: If 50 years of embargo have not worked, why do they expect another decade or two or three of sanctions to work?"

    A new political climate invites a new policy response. No more half measures. Congress and the president should drop the embargo. Americans should be free to visit and trade with Cuba. There should be no government subsidies, whether in the form of trade subsidies or foreign aid. But individuals and companies should be free to cut their own deals. Would this strategy transform the island nation? There are no guarantees, though foreign contact has helped spur liberalization elsewhere. But lifting the embargo would have a greater likelihood of success than continuing a policy which has consistently failed. Some day the Cuban people will be free. Relaxing U.S. policy would likely make that day come sooner.

A bonus point for any reader who can see the parallels with Fiji.

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Your 3d map of the 'net

A crowd called Information Architects has produced a 3d map of the internet that demonstrates both its major sites, people and locations, and how little of it I visit.  Click on the map to see the full-size version.  [Hat tip Chris Keall, NBR]

Send EMA your 90-day good news

Had a good experience with the new 90-day trial employment law?  Then the Employers and Manufacturers Association wants to know.

    The EMA has asked employers from small businesses to email the association with their success stories as part of its battle against scare mongering over the law.
    Opponents dubbed it the “fire at will bill” when it was going through parliament, and claimed it stripped employees of their rights. . .
    But we want to hear [the good news, says the EMA's David Lowe]. By sending in positive stories to the email address more facts will come to light about how the law can work well for both employees and employers.

Get on to it.  That's

PJ O'Rourke on the crisis

Not NOT PJ -- our regular columnist -- but the real PJ: PJ O'Rourke, explaining how Adam Smith would fix the financial crisis:
" How would Adam Smith fix the present mess? Sorry, but it is fixed already. The answer to a decline in the value of speculative assets is to pay less for them. Job done."

If you haven't booked tickets to hear more pithy wisdom from PJ in Auckland on April 30, then you're sure as hell missing out. Do it now.

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Peter Zumthor: Starchitect

While I was off-duty over Easter, Tim Selwyn kindly kept track of things architectural, posting the work of the 2009 Pritzker Prize winning "starchitect" Peter Zumthor.

Here's a characteristic sample. Crap, don't you think?

Frankly, Tim was far, far too kind about it.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tomorrow, we are all Americans! [updated with new resources]

Writing at the No Minister blog, Fairfacts Media is dead right:Tomorrow's Tea Party Protest is Our Protest Too!!!

All taxpayers need to constantly remind political leaders that we don't want to see New Zealand swim under Brown /Obama-style red ink, or face an orgy of spending like Australia is facing, wiping out the surpluses of the Howard and Costello years, giving Australia a $100bn deficit over three years.

No, we sure as hell don't. I don't want borrowing to fund local tax cuts -- I want spending cuts to fund tax cuts. But I do want tax cuts.

So tomorrow, Americans, speak for all of us. Make the Tea Party protests a Moral Defence of Freedom:

By making sure you understand the ideological causes of today's failing policies.
UPDATE: Here's a Google Map of the more than 500 Tea Party protest sites. This is the official Tax Day Tea Party website. And since what is needed today is not just a one-off tax revolt, but an ongoing revolt against today's intellectual mainstream, here are some of the online resources needed to sustain that intellectual revolt.

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Some of me 'oliday snaps

Melbourne is one of the world's great cities. No question. When it comes to the Melbourne-Sydney debate, "I'd give you all of Sydney harbour (all that land, all that water)" for that city's promenades. Nineteenth-century architects used to use the metaphor, "God made the country, Man made the town." Cities add civitas to landscape, and some cities do it better than others. Melbourne is one. Sydney's not.

Sydney has one of the world's greatest harbours, and with rare exceptions (Bennelong Point, Eastern Suburbs) it's made a pig's ear of it. Outside those rare exceptions, it's like Henderson spread over several hundred square miles. Melbourne on the other hand started with nothing -- a dull landscape, a drab harbour, a river that flows upside down -- and in that unpromising landscape it has built a real, genuine city: it's a man-made town in every respect.

From the World's-Good-People file comes this wee snap of myself enjoying Melbournian hospitality with Prodos and friends over the weekend -- fine people all of them.

Let me tell you that if you don't read Prodos regularly, or listen to his great online interviews, you should. (He's the chap with the top hat and flag, by the way.)

And being Easter, it's only appropriate that two pilgrims should find themselves down at Kardinia Park between the hours of dawn and dark (note absence of banners flying high, by the way) . . .

. . . before heading to the Cathedral of Sport (known sometimes as the MCG) to watch Geelong smash the Pies. And this was an Easter without miracles for Collingwood, to the gratification of every right-thinking sports-lover. That's the two team run-throughs you can see being erected.

And here's another friend I like to visit regularly, Rodin's Balzac at the Melbourne Art Gallery, with a new friend behind: the Eureka Tower -- the world's tallest residential building -- seen to much better effect here at its website.

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Vote Judith for Mt Albert

"Labour happy to have Tizard back," Goff says. Me too. Truth be known, I'm even tempted to campaign to get Judith back.

Basically, I'm a fan of any MP who after twenty-five years in parliament has absolutely nothing to boast about. If all 120 MPs were as lazy as the former Minister of Wine and Cheese, the country would be a much better place.

Vote Lazy. Vote Judith.


Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn

Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress."

So gratifying, in reflecting on those words, to see the ObaMessiah fronting up against the evil of piracy, in much the same manner as did Jefferson against the Barbary Pirates. Lindsay Perigo offers praise where it's due:

President Obama is to be congratulated for authorising the use of lethal force instead of making a YouTube video appealing to the savages' non-existent good faith. Let us hope this lesson in the realities of the world—that there are bad guys in it—has come early enough in his presidency to effect the rescue of America from his appeasement of the likes of Iran and North Korea.

The world is a more civilised place today for the Navy Seals' heroics over the weekend, in precisely the manner Steyn describes. Let us hope the lesson will be seen elsewhere.

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Elevator music for freedom

I won't be joining the thronging hordes queuing up to see Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel playing their particular brand of elevator music at Vector Arena, but if you enjoy shopping music like theirs then you're bound to enjoy this update of one of their wee tunes: Here's to You, Mr Jefferson.

A revised, updated (and uplifted) Sermon on the Mount for Easter

Having been face down in various locations around Melbourne for several days, I haven't had the chance to post my usual Easter rant.  So here, from Lindsay Perigo, is his:

A revised Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the poor in spirit—when they become rich in spirit and matter, for theirs will be the kingdom of earth.

Blessed are they who mourn—when they get over it.

Blessed are the meek—when they acquire pride, for then they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after individual rights—when they rise up for their cause, for then they shall become free.

Blessed are the merciful—when they learn to discriminate, for then they shall obtain justice.

Blessed are the pure in heart, since to be pure in heart they must be using their brains.

Blessed are the peacemakers—when they learn that peace doesn't come at any price, and wipe tyrants off the map.

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely—when those men be the High Priests of Islam, Christianity, Socialism, Postmodernism, and all other manner of unreason.

Blessed are the rational, the independent, the honest, the sincere, the productive, the just, the justly proud; the scientists and capitalists; the poets, singers and symphonists of love and thought—for theirs is the glory of man.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward on earth—when you have earned it, and it is not the fruit of a bailout.

Ye are the salt of the earth—but if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? If ye become tame as sheeple, ye shall be trodden under the feet of politicians and bureaucrats and postmodern philosophers. Be ye instead the light of the world. Do not hide that light under a bushel, but let it so shine before men that they may see your vision of reason and freedom, and glorify it, and bring it to pass on earth.

Amen.  Hope you had a good one yourself.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: There's none so blind . . .

Susan contemplates a colour-blind Auckland.

Regardless of any misgivings over last week’s announcement of the planned One Council to Rule Them All in Auckland, there was one move that could genuinely be described as bold. That was the abolition of special race-based Maori representation.

It didn’t take long for the predictable outrage from the usual suspects. Leading the charge was Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, calling the move “institutionalised racism.” Yes, Virginia, doing away with separatist, race-based seats is racist.

But hang on. The English translation of the former South African system of “apartheid” is “separate development.” So by definition, Sharples is saying that South Africa’s abolition of separate, race-based policies was “institutionalised racism”? Lord knows what Nelson Mandela would make of that. George Orwell, on the other hand, would recognise Newspeak in a trice.

Hot on Pita’s heels was an urbane young Maori man railing in the same vein. I missed his name, but he screamed local government/academia/public servant – and I have no doubt that he was well versed in the ‘principles o Te Tiriti’ – who said that “this has put Maori back some 50 or 60 years.” And Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has since added his 2c worth, stating his opposition to the plan, like the collectivist he is.

Because collectivism is the essence of their argument; that insidious practice of categorising people for political convenience, as if all think and behave as one. By inference, these men shamefully believe that DNA determines individual success. By inference, they have the temerity to suggest that it is impossible for individuals of Maori descent to gain representation on their own merit.

On the contrary, gentlemen. In fact, it is that sort of toxic rhetoric that is guaranteed to keep people subjugated by the deliberate stifling of individual thought and action, as the last 30 odd years of failed social(ist) policies have demonstrated beyond argument.

Paul Holmes has several times stated that the (red) left hasn’t yet grasped the sense of change in the public wind since losing power last year. Justin du Fresne has made similar comments in Wellington. I’m not getting too excited; eg, the justice system is still looking very sick to me; but putting aside the obvious libertarian ambivalence towards the blue collectivists, they might have a point. The abolition of race-based government representation, albeit at local level, is exactly the sort of issue that would never have even been broached prior to last November.

Now it has. And it’s rocking the once rock-solid left. When the winds of change blow, they can do so rapidly and from seemingly nowhere, a la the fall of the Berlin Wall and Eastern European communism. Whether this small step is an indication of what is to come, only time will tell.

In the meantime the brown collectivists are angry, sensing perhaps that the racist gravy train might be starting to lose a bit of steam. And losing steam means losing power. Winston Peters -- another avowed racist -- knows all about that …

For too long this issue has been in the “too hard” basket. If anybody dared raise it, (remember Orewa?) they were shot down by a coalition of apologists for daring to challenge the Sanctified. Well, not this little black duck. I certainly won’t mourn its passing and I believe that many New Zealanders think similarly. Racism is poisonous. It is collectivism at its worst and as such, the end of race-based representation at any level is a good thing.

In this respect, colour-blindness is a virtue.

* * Susan Ryder writes every Tuesday for NOT PC * *

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