Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Cool machine of the day: Archimedes’ Screw [updated]

Water doesn’t flow uphill, you say?  It does with the Archimedes’ Screw – invented by Archimedes well over 2000 years ago, and still in wide use today all over the developed and the developing world for everything from irrigating fields to gathering crops to draining Dutch dykes (insert obvious jokes here).  So simple yet so ingenious – and so helpful.


One of the first examplea of man’s mind applied to production making the world a better place.  Where the animal adapts himself to nature, man adapts nature to himself – making water run uphill was one of the first and most deceptively simple moves down that road.

NB: More on Archimedes’ Screw here at Wikipedia.

UPDATE: The Ancient Greeks were “the inventors of the modern world” in more ways than just culture, philosophy and art.  In science and technology too they were remarkably advanced – a natural consequence of the Pagan Greek’s “this-world” focus.

The science is not settled

Politicians relying on scientists’ climate models to back up their warnings about what “will” happen if “we” don’t act should be aware of a sentence buried on page 805 of the IPCC’s last, 2007,  wad of documents on global warming -- a proviso about the efficacy of the climate models on which the politicians are relying. Says the IPCC:

“The set of available models may share fundamental inadequacies, the effects of which cannot be quantified.”
- IPCC, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 805

Naturally, that sentence never made the executive summary of the last report. So naturally, the politicians never read it.  Nevertheless, as more and more scientists and science writers see a whole decade of temperatures refusing to rise in accord with the models’ predictions, they are starting to wonder just how fundamental these inadequacies are. Houston Chronicle science writer and former card-carrying warmist Eric Berger is one:

    “It seems pretty clear that the models forecast a steady upward trend in global temperatures as long as carbon dioxide levels rise. (Which they have). Yet according to satellite and surface temperature measurements the global average temperature has essentially remained flat for the last 12 years. This strikes me as somewhat curious.”

Sure is. As Texas A&M professor of Atmospheric Sciences & Oceanography Gerald North points out, “There are pitifully few ways to test climate models.”  The only sure way of course is with reality – and on that test, as Berger summarises, they’ve failed:

    “But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the world: hurricane activity on the global scale is near historical lows. And the Earth seems to have, at least temporarily, stopped warming.
    “This, despite the fact that some of the country’s leading climate scientists say there is unequivocally a link between major hurricanes and climate change. And despite the fact that other leading climate scientists predicted 2009 or 2010 will go down as the warmest year in recorded history. Either prediction, if true, would be alarming.
    “Yet both of these predictions seem, at the present moment, to be off.”

Off?  Well off.  German climate scientists are now saying we could be about to enter “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”  And their colleagues are saying it might take “more time, maybe a decade” before they know why.

“For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled,” points out Berger.  Time for the science reporters to point out that it’s not – and for the politicians who read them to listen.

The problems with the Mises Institute

Let me take a moment to give you a brief public notice.  Since I regularly recommend that readers head to the Mises Institute for rational writing in economics, I need to also let you know that I have serious reservations about their non-economic writing.

That is to say that when the economists of the Mises Institute write about economics, using the insights of the Austrian tradition of economics, there are few better – as last year’s much-needed Bailout Reader should demonstrate. When the Institute’s economists write outside their field however, they are universally awful. Specifically, they are awful on intellectual property, on foreign policy, on religion, on anarchy, and on how the South will rise again.  (On morning drinking, of course, they’re fundamentally sound.)

And they’re not just awful: their writings on these subjects are in opposition to Ludwig von Mises’s own writings on these subjects – or the first four subjects, anyway.  So as a “Mises Institute” it’s only on economics (and morning drinking) they can be taken seriously on “what Mises would have said.”
Just thought you should know. In my view, for all their heroic work in resuscitating the economic thoughts and writing of Ludwig von Mises and his colleagues in the Austrian tradition, the Mises Institute should more accurately be re-named the Rothbard Institute, with all that implies.

And for those still confused about Mises’s own views on intellectual property (which includes his followers at the Mises Institute), Mises’s translator, editor, and bibliographer Bettina Bien Greaves summarises here. Short story: “Without copyright protection, musicians, authors, and composers are in the position of having to bear all the costs of production while the benefits go to others.”

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Hello Nanny. Got a light?

"Not the Nanny State Government.” Really? asks Susan Ryder.

susanryder I have many indulgences. Some are more expensive than others and some will never be discussed in this column. However some don’t cost much at all, which means I get to enjoy those ones a lot.

Spring has arrived bang on time in my part of the world with stunningly gorgeous weather; the sort of weather that makes you glad that you’re alive and kicking. Last weekend was just perfect so I spent much of it out and about, which is how I came to be at one of my favourite cafés last Sunday morning where our story opens.

One of life’s simplest pleasures is enjoying a leisurely drink in the sun while reading in a pleasant spot. I seldom buy newspapers or magazines; I’ve always preferred books. But I reserve the right to browse through New Zealand Home & Garden over coffee at the hairdresser’s. And when alone in a café I’ll often pick up the paper and have a look, if only to ruefully be reminded as to the pink hue of most journalists. But every so often there is something worth reading and being Fathers’ Day, I thought there might be one or two good stories related to that.

Wrong. Instead, I copped a finger-wagging from the Accident Compensation Corporation on behalf of all the DIY-Dads who’ve suffered accidental injuries over the past year. “These handymen are costing hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills by putting up wobbly scaffolds, touching live wires and shooting themselves in the hands and feet with nail guns”, said ACC injury prevention team leader Ceri Davies. “If you are going to paint the house, make sure you have the equipment. You don't have to fall very far to have a life-changing accident." I can see why Mr Davies works for the government. He’s a bloody genius.

Numbers were spat out that were “higher than the road toll.” I held my breath and read on expecting the worst. I wasn’t disappointed. Evidently, the Bruces and Trevs are all set to be “targeted during safety week” in a campaign that started yesterday. It would seem that this Nanny State government has again forgotten that it’s not supposed to be a Nanny State government. I know that’s true because they told me they wouldn’t be back at the last election.

So I spurned the rest of the paper and tootled off.

Back in the car I struck the radio news bulletin and the first story was a suggestion for “the best Fathers’ Day present of them all”: a PSA check for prostate cancer. “Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad! We were all set to shout you a chainsaw, but the ACC said that you might hurt yourself, so have we got a surprise for you!!”

It will come as no surprise that the news report emanated from a press release from a medical organisation. So don’t be surprised to find them lobbying government next a la the subsidised insulation rort that is currently providing a windfall for that industry. There are few as smugly self-important as the corporate-welfare crusaders.

Which neatly brings me to the next part of this tale, (albeit somewhat Tarantinoesque in nature, hopping back to Friday night now, as we are). Hang in there; there is a point and I’m getting to it.

For many years I have not worked on Fridays; as such, it’s my favourite day to go the movies, which is right up there in my “Top Five” things to do on any given day. As noted once before in some long-forgotten rant, I go during the day when there is hardly anyone there. I sit right up the front in the middle so that I’m nearly in the film. (On four occasions I have been the only patron which is a near-perfect experience, but I digress).

After the film – (The Young Victoria: highly recommended, even from this non-monarchist, with the talented Emily Blunt and a wonderful supporting cast; gorgeously romantic and worth seeing for the costumes, let alone the political intrigue of the age) – I caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages, that evolved into my staying to dinner.

Knowing that they voted National last year in order to oust the despised Clark government, I asked their current opinion of Guy Smiley. “Okay”, said Dan (not his real name).

“What’s alright about it?” I asked. “There’s no real difference; fewer lesbians, I suppose, but that’s about it. The size of government has barely changed.”

“Pragmatically, I think it’s smart that he hasn’t made any radical changes to date”, said Dan.

“But that doesn’t make sense”, I said. “Private sector jobs are disappearing every day. Who’s supposed to pay for it all?”

It’ll take too long to relay the conversation verbatim, but essentially Dan – in the private sector himself – thought that cutting government hard would result in massive numbers joining the dole queues; that he’d rather things chugged along largely unchanged whilst the economy was in the doldrums. He also thought it was sensible to guarantee banking investments right now, too, so that people didn’t have to worry about losing their savings on top of everything else. The “creation” of business as in the home insulation subsidisation was a short-term programme that would last a year or two and disappear, he admitted, but would at least provide some business in the interim.

I stared at him in disbelief, knowing him to be a general supporter of the free market and someone who recognises that true economic growth evolves from increased investment and productivity, as opposed to increased consumption.

I struggled with myself for a second before abandoning all pretence of rising above it. I pointed out the insanity of market interference and the Law of Unintended Consequences; that the investment game includes risk that sometimes doesn’t pay off; that subsidisation was a form of market distortion that results in producing more of what’s not wanted as per the US auto industry; that corporate welfare was just as immoral as social welfare and that Margaret Thatcher was correct when she said that the problem with socialism was that you eventually run out of other people’s money. “Well, you’re right about that” he said.

We had a great evening and I love Dan and Rachel (not her real name either) to bits. Like many, they work hard and are naturally concerned about their family’s future. But when will the penny drop that there is a connection between lobbying corporates and the latest ACC ad campaign? That socialism – of any stripe – doesn’t right wrongs and that it’s worth remembering just what it is that paves the road to hell.

In short, that the Nanny State doesn’t start with shower pressure and end with light bulbs.

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column here at NOT PC every Tuesday * *

Russia Tower – Foster + Partners

Look what Norman Foster and Associates has designed for the skies over Moscow -- a building that at 610m with 118 floors is intended to be Europe’s tallest. 

And this, below, is its peak.  Isn’t it amazing what you can do with concrete and steel and double-glazing?


Monday, 7 September 2009

Machine of the day: Boulton & Watt steam engine

It might not look like much, but this is the invention and the machine that that powered the Industrial Revolution and made the modern world. 

James Watt didn’t invent the steam engine – even the Ancient Greeks had a primitive steam engine – but he and his entrepreneurial partner Matthew Boulton did invent what was necessary for it to power industry, including radically increased fuel efficiency and power, and producing the output by rotation rather than by reciprocating motion. 

The oldest surviving rotative engine was built by Boulton and Watt in 1785 for the London Brewery of Samuel Whitbread to drive the malt crushing mill.  It’s now preserved in Sydney in the Power House Museum.

To MMP or not to? [updated]

John Boy has launched a counter-strike to assuage resentment at his refusing to listen to last month’s referendum on smacking by announcing a binding referendum on MMP.

Some years overdue and not an election promise [oops, yes it was], but a welcome promise nonetheless. MMP has delivered Winston Peters, the Greens and Alamein Kopu, and along with them the abandonment of principle, the rise of propagrandstanding, and (since they always slither back in on the list) the inability to vote any particular bastard out.

Not a lot to cheer about there then – although MMP did slow some of the bastards down for some of the time.  And, mind you, what we had before did deliver Muldoon: so don’t  go thinking a change in the voting system is a panacea for the few checks and balances NZ’s politicians have as a restraint.

So as someone once said, or should have, “The idea that a change in the system by which your dictators are elected will change you from slave to subject is like hoping that a change in your swimwear will alter the tides.”

What’s more important than changing the voting system would be putting our most fundamental rights and freedoms beyond the vote altogether.  That would be something to really get excited about.

UPDATE: By the way, if you’d like to understand the vehement knee-jerk opposition to electoral change of the more collectivist political commentators around the traps, then you need to understand why they were so vehemently in support of MMP in the first place – and why Rod Donald was the prime mover in its introduction. Simply put, it’s because the left has a history of using the ‘leverage of democracy’ to make the tail wag a dog who doesn’t realise what’s going on.

Observe for instance how (with the help of compulsory student unionism) a small group of vocal collectivists on a student body can so easily take over the wallets of a larger group, and then claim to speak on their behalf?

Observe for another instance how a small group of militant Liverpudlians who called themselves the Militant Tendency began the take-over by vote-packing of local Labour Party electoral committees and then the Labour Party in Liverpool – and eventually, in 1983, with the Militant tail of each committee wagging the dog’s bodies to which they were delegates, The Tendency under Derek Hatton took over the the city and led it down a hole blacker and deeper than Arthur Scargill’s members’ mines.  (It was to expel the Militant Tendency and their allies from UK Labour that Tony Blair courageously took on the Clause 4 battle – and it’s for this principled stand more than even his alliance with George W. that he’s still reviled by the Trotsky lovers.)

That same process – of leveraging the votes of a few into becoming the voice of many – was used as well by Sue Bradford and her Maoist and Marxist colleagues to effect a reverse take-over of the Green Party after it left the Alliance, long before the genuine sandal-wearers even realised what was going on. (And you thought it was just coincidence there were so many former NLP, SWL and Socialist Action types in positions of power in the Green Party, and wondered why so few of their MPs have a genuine environmental background.  Head over and read Phil U.’s account here at Update 3 of Bradford and Catherine Delahunty, fresh from McCarten’s NLP, rejoining the Greens and declaring “the party is ripe for taking over.”)

And having achieved that, when Rod Donald et al kicked off the campaign for MMP in New Zealand, the collectivists were ready, willing and hoping for precisely the same effect on New Zealand’s body politic as they’re just had on the Greens and Derek Hatton had on Liverpool – for a small group of politically committed collectivists to use the leverage of MMP to wag the whole body politic.

Didn’t they do well.

Now do you understand their vehement opposition to any attempt to overthrow that system now?

Now do you see why they’re playing the “elected dictatorship” and “we’re-going-to-be-ruled-by-old-white-men” cards?

Do you think John Key is ready for a battle on a scale that Tony Blair faced when he faced down Militant Tendency and their allies to overturn Clause 4?  Are you?  Because that’s what you’re going to get.

No Maori seats for Auckland

It was good to see from last week’s announcement that even in the process of setting up a decidedly un-super local government for Auckland  last last week, there were at least no racist seats on the menu.

Thank goodness for small blessings.  Seats based on skin colour would enshrine separatism, tribalism and race-based favouritism and would be, as David Round points out, a precursor to the inevitable Balkanisation of New Zealand.

You can still hear the bleating of the Apartheid Party and their more unthinking supporters however, who are still bleating that to fail to provide racist seats is itself racist.  Irony itself is too ironic for these people. 

The Apartheid Party makes three points in its rearguard protest in favour of racial favouritism:

  1. Race-based seats were “a specific recommendation of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.”
  2. Race-based seats would be “consistent with current provisions in the Local Government Act 2002.”
  3. Race-based seats would “uphold the partnership relationship established between Maori and the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi, including the partnership established with the mana whenua of the Auckland region.”

As Muriel Newman points out, none of the three points lasts a minute under scrutiny. First, The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was set up by Labour, long-time friends of race-based law,  to effect the Auckland super state along with the race-based seats it so favoured.  Just because Rodney Hide and John Key are delivering the amalgamated uber-council that Labour wanted, that places no onus on them to make that uber-council a racist one.

Second, if race-based seats would indeed be “consistent with current provisions in [Sandra Lee’s] Local Government Act 2002,” then this just gives one more reason why Sandra Lee’s law should be struck down. Sandra Lee gave councils the “power of general competence” – a power they’ve used to dabble in things they can’t do, and their ratepayers can’t afford. A power Auckland’s new council megalith will wield.  If she also gave the power to deliver race-based seats, then this only makes the repeal of her Local Government Act more urgent, and more necessary.

And third, where exactly is this “partnership” established in the Treaty of Waitangi – except in the imaginations of those who support it?  As Michael Basset says,

“Constant repetition of assertions that Maori have a Treaty of Waitangi right to dedicated seats on the new Auckland Council doesn’t make them correct. It is clear that neither Tuku Morgan nor Len Brown, nor most of the other advocates of separate representation, has read the Treaty.”

Neither the word nor the concept appears in the Treaty’s three spare clauses -- under Article One, the chiefs of New Zealand ceded their sovereignty to Queen Victoria; Article Two created private property rights; and Article Three conferred on Maori the rights and privileges of British subjects, making all New Zealanders equal under the law.  There was nothing in there about “partnership” between state and tribes, and as Muriel Newman notes,

If such a special relationship just applied to Maori, then the Courts would have been responsible for elevating Maori to the status of a ruling class superior to all other citizens. By definition, all other non-Maori New Zealanders would therefore have been relegated to an inferior status as second class citizens. Since that is clearly not the case, any talk of Maori having special partnership status with the Crown is just wishful thinking by Maori separatists.

I have to agree.  Talk about the difficulties of Maori councillors being elected onto council is both irrelevant and (according to historian Michael Bassett) questionable.  I hesitate to use the word “merit” about the sort of self-serving scum who usually end up sitting on council and kicking us around, but if you can’t persuade a truckload of people to vote for you based on your character rather than just the colour of your skin, then I’d suggest it’s not a megaphone you should be using when you call others racist, but a mirror.

100% success!

GoTheCats I’m feeling pretty chuffed after the first weekend of AFL finals, and not just because my team came home in a close game: I managed to pick all four winners in a weekend of thrilling football.

Adelaide Crows thrashed Essendon, Cats beat Dogs in a close one, Brisbane Lions (the Brians) knocked off Carlton in a thriller, and St Kilda spat out Eddie McGuire’s ’Pies – all as I predicted.

Shame I didn’t share my thoughts with the TAB. 

No mind, here are my predictions for this coming weekend, so you can. Here’s my picks for week two of the finals: Crows to knock out the ’Pies, Dogs to knock out the Lions . . . and Eddie McGuire & Kevin Rudd to console each other over a stiff fruit juice.

Which sets up two cracking preliminary finals for week three.  Keep up with it all here at Real Footy.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Friends working hard

I love seeing what creative friends have been up to.

  • Playwright Vanessa Rhodes has a new play that opened last night at Wellington’s Circa Theatre, ‘Where Are You My Only One,’ billed as “a bittersweet comedy for anyone with a romantic streak: -- an unconventional love story between a secretary from the heart of Moscow with a mother who would try the patience of a saint, and a lonely Waikato farmer whose wife has left him for another bloke.  It looks like a lot of fun:

    • Painter friend Mark Wooller’s been working hard, and it was fun hearing about his new work when he call in on Friday.  Unfortunately, you can’t see any of it at either his blog or his website.  Yet.
    • And Whangarei clay artist Helen Hughes has been busy too, working on a new series of her wonderfully small exuberant dancing figures.  I was lucky to be presented with this one.  (I fear my quick photos don’t do her justice.)




    I love seeing what creative friends have been up to.

    Oh, and I’ve been working on a couple of things myself – here’s one, for a site in Mt Eden:


    Charlton-Section - Copy

    Friday, 4 September 2009

    Beer O’Clock: They were in Beervana!

    Fresh (or more accurately, not so fresh) from last week’s Beervana in Wellington, Neil Miller gives a wrap on the competition.

    Pilsener (bottle).tifThe biggest week on the New Zealand beer calendar is over with a record number of entries in the Brew NZ beer awards and record crowds at the Beervana festival.   It was a bit of a bumper time at Malthouse too with the trusty bar propped up by an even higher than usual number of brewers, judges, stewards, writers, anoraks, experts and aficionados.

    A panel of international and domestic judges sampled well over 300 beers and awarded coveted gold, silver and bronze medals.  The key Best in Class trophy winners were:

    European lager styles - Baltika N7 Export
    European ale styles – Harrington’s Pig and Whistle
    New Zealand, US and international ale styles - Epic Armageddon IPA
    Stouts and porters – Invercargill Brewery/Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black
    Wheat and other grain styles – Tuatara Hefe
    Flavoured and aged styles - Emerson’s JP 2009
    New Zealand lager and premium lager - Emerson’s Pilsner
    Specialty, experimental, aged, barrel- and wood-aged styles - Moa Dark Reserve
    Packaging – Mike’s Organic Brewery
    Full results here.

    Alert readers will notice that many of these winning beers have featured on this very blog, not that there is any causal relationship.

    The supreme awards go to the international and local champion breweries of the year based on the strength of their entire range.  This year, Deschutes (USA) was selected as the champion international brewery.  Emerson’s Brewing Company of Dunedin was rightly crowned champion New Zealand brewery for 2009.  After accepting his multiple trophies, brewer Richard Emerson urged the big crowd to be passionate about good beer and to keep the industry growing.

    richard02 Perhaps suspecting that he was going to do very well at the ceremony, Richard (right) was sharply dressed.  That has not always been the case.  Emerson’s brewery manager Chris O’Leary recalls Richard arriving at a previous Brew NZ wearing two different shoes.  Apparently, Richard had gotten up at 5am in the dark, slipped on his shoes and travelled all the way to Wellington.  Chris says “being the observant, caring guy I am I let him wear that combination for a day then advised him that he was wearing one brown shoe and one green shoe.  Ever positive, Richard replied ‘Bugger – oh well, at least I’m wearing one shoe from each of my favourite pairs!’

    It is hard to talk about Richard for any length of time without mentioning his irrepressible sense of humour.  When asked at a recent tasting “how do you make a dark beer,” he immediately responded with a completely deadpan “we brew it at night.”  Some attendees even apparently wrote this down.

    Personally, I’m particularly delighted to see the Emerson’s Pilsner do so well. It has been one of my favourite beers for a number of years and has been tasting fantastic recently (even though it is no longer bottle conditioned).  It is more of a New World interpretation than a completely traditional pilsner but the final product is balanced and full of flavour.  It has a healthy citrus nose and a robust body bursting with delicious lush fruit (including orange and sometimes passionfruit) before a long dry finish.

    The Pilsner is one of only two organic offerings in the ever-growing Emerson’s range of beer.  Unlike some producers, Richard is not content with a beer just being organic - first and foremost it has to be a good beer.  Richard has said “I’m thinking more about the flavours first.”

    I wrote an article about Richard for Beer and Brewer magazine where I had the chance to ask him what he thought the secret to good beer was.  His answer was “the best ingredients and 'the good old Pint test!'  A good beer is all about flavour, balance and drinkability.  How does the beer taste?   Does it have some ‘wow’ factor?  Could I drink 4 or 5 pints of this?”

    When it comes to Emerson’s Pilsner, the answers are “yes” and “absolutely yes.”

    In that same article, Richard revealed that, in a cruel twist of fate, he threw away the best beer he ever made.  Here is that story:

    He made a beer with Vierka Munich yeast but says it “was terrible to ferment and didn't taste that great after two months in the bottle.”  Needing the bottles for more brews, he dumped virtually all the beer down the drain.  The two dozen he kept sat forgotten for a year.

    Emersons-JP When he returned to New Zealand, he recalls his Dad pouring him “this wonderful glass of sparkling clear beer with huge fluffy head.”  Even after sniffing and tasting it, Richard was adamant the beer was Duvel.  Only when he saw the actual bottles did he realize it was his abandoned beer.  He was speechless - an extremely rare occurrence.  Even today, discussing the loss of this wonderful beer provokes an anguished sigh.

    Congratulations to Richard and the team at Emerson’s for their success at the 2009 New Zealand Beer Awards. 


    Beer Writer
    logo_yb_transReal Beer New Zealand
    Beer and Brewer Magazine
    Crossposted at The Malthouse Blog

    PS: Congratulations too to Not PC’s former beer co-correspondent Stu McKinlay, whose excellent Pot Kettle Black was deservedly announced Champion Stout and Porter.  Well done Stu!

    Friday arvo ramble

    Here’s a wee ramble round the internet for you to check out over the weekend (to get these links live  head over to my Twitter page where I post them as they come in,and cick ‘Follow’)

  • DimPost goes all Samuel Beckett on Phil Goof's and Annette King's arse in 'Waiting for Voter'

  • On CNBC Yaron Brook comments on Eliot Spitzer’s efforts at a political comeback.

  • Carbon scammers use carbon scam to scam carbon dollars. Hard to distinguish from the 'real thing.' http://bit.ly/SKTkO

  • On CNBC Reports, Yaron Brook discusses European demands to cap bonuses for American executives. http://bit.ly/aKFcj

  • The Wisdom of Silent Cal: Calvin Coolidge used to say that nine out of ten visitors to the White House lobbyists want something they ought not to have-and if you keep dead still they will run down in three or four minutes. Reagan had a similar strategy, which outfoxed the Dead Kennedy. 

  • It has to happen. You can't keep diluting your dollars by printing more and more of them and expect the value not to eventually collapse!

  • The unlearned lessons of the tragic Victorian bushfires are repeated in California. http://tinyurl.com/nlfw2u

  • Obama's bi-polar . . says The Onion.

  • Managers are typically gateways to resources. Leaders are gateways to vision.

  • "Patients with terminal illnesses being made to die prematurely under NHS scheme to help end their lives" http://bit.ly/Ossmw

  • Peter Schiff on the phony recovery bought with government paper, and the new era in Japan with ‘Japan First’ – and the implications for the US dollar. http://bit.ly/3jOizT

  • Avoiding the resource curse. http://tinyurl.com/mz62oj
    It's "the Argentine delusion" all over again! http://tinyurl.com/ldozql3:45

  • Pithy yet wide-ranging summary of Ayn Rand's best short answers. What a mind!

  • "Climate change is an election prayer. As an issue, it has no use during actual terms of office. "

  • Solar panels cost a fortune but deliver minimal reward. Yet people keep buying them – and keep being disappointed

  • Ethiopia is starving again 25 yrs after the last pop start left? Why? One factor is incentives. All land is state owned.

  • Just a reminder when you hear the words 'trillion' & 'dollars' in the same sentence. Here's just how big that is.

  • Prohibition kills again, evidence this time from Gujarat in India. Govt cites deaths by illicit liquor, ignores the actual cause of death: govt intervention.

  • The world's best complaint letter? Letter to British telecoms starts funny and turns hysterical. http://bit.ly/ouBuc

  • From blaming AGW on modern civilization, some scientists now say it all went wrong when man took up agriculture!

  • Bailouts make money . . . if you ignore all the losses.

  • #Johan Norberg 's new book concludes: " the 'solutions' to the economic crisis are repeating the mistakes that caused it."

  • Johan Norberg:"The only thing more dangerous than financial crises may be our way of responding to them."

  • Thomas Sowell: In ways large and small, the West is surrendering on the instalment plan to Islamicists. http://tinyurl.com/kkehg4

  • A Berkeley Professor Dares To Debunk The Popular Wisdom on Energy - and to Attack Gore and Friedman's Exaggerations

  • Good news" Labour realises they did some bad things in Govt. Bad news: they’ve selected the wrong bad things.

  • "Propagrandstanding" - the perfect description of Sue Bradford's modus operandi.

  • People with Flat Screen TVs Should Stop Whinging About Capitalism.

  • Every cost-benefit analysis done for govt misses the biggest & most important cost: the unseen cost of lost freedom

  • Now that Robert Fisk finally makes it to the Collins English Dictionary, take a look at the history of the verb "to fisk." http://bit.ly/18jOoH6

  • Epic Armageddon IPA reviewed at Beer Advocate. http://tinyurl.com/l7gssn "Wheres the next one, i want more hoppy goodness"

  • Congressman says debt = wealth, threatens to defenestrate reporter ...

  • Climate Vulnerability and the Indispensable Value of Industrial Capitalism - by Keith H. Lockitch http://tinyurl.com/ncmy3u

  • If we're all morally obligated to 'others,' then who the hell are all the 'others' morally obligated to?

  • If we're morally obligated to relieve world poverty, as Peter Singer says we are, then just where exactly do you draw the line?

  • Bailout stocks soar on back of billons of taxpayers' money & investors get in bed with the govt Peter Schiff explains.

  • Stephen Hicks recommends "a good and important book”: Race and Liberty in America, edited by Jonathan Bean.

  • Ayn Rand: Radical for Capitalism — talk delivered in Guatemala in celebration of Atlas Shrugged' 50th anniversary.

  • Inflation as we know it pretty much begins with the creation of the Fed, who in just one century hav destroyed the dollar’s value. 

  • America's Founding Fathers despised democracy.

  • Financial Times looks at the "new era" in Japanese politics.

  • The two biggest threats to Europe's freedom and prosperity, says Vaclav Klaus, are Europism and global warming alarmism.

  • Science shouldn't be decided by vote, says PZ Myers. Wonder why he doesn't think the same way on AGW? http://preview.tinyurl.com/...

  • Doing bad for doing well

    At  a time when businesses are reeling, the business of punishing success is on the uptick.

    As European antitrust investigations against Oracle-Sun swing into action, US antitrust action against a Microsoft-Yahoo merger look almost certain, and here at home ‘Communist Commission’ action against Telecom is under way, perhaps it’s time to look again at whether antitrust and anti-monopoly actions actions are even justified, or if they simply punish success.

    Clearly they’re not justified morally.  What a business does is its own business, and certainly not the business of busybody jobsworths who’ve never run a business in their own lives.

    And they’re hardly justified economically either, as Bryan Caplan succinctly points out:

        “If the monopoly came from government, then it's silly to fret about market failure and muse about antitrust remedies; you've got to unleash your inner libertarian and call for free competition.
        “If the monopoly came from superior efficiency, broadly defined, you've got to realize that antitrust "remedies" penalize excellence - which almost any economic theory admits is a bad idea in the long-run.”

    Antitrust laws punish successful businesses by branding them "monopolists" regardless of how they achieved that success – they fail to perceive the difference between a monopoly, and a coercive monopoly, i.e., between:

     Monopoly: exclusive domain over the production or provision of a given good or service.
    Coercive monopoly: exclusive domain over the production or provision of a given good or service that is maintained by government force.

    And as Caplan says, the result of anti-monopoly/antitrust legislation is that excellence is penalised, something praised these days in almost every school classroom and on every political stump, which is just one reason anti-monopoly legislation is so popular. The anti-success sentiment well summarised by the US Court of Appeals when they ordered the break-up of ALCOA some years ago, saying:

        “It was not inevitable that it should always anticipate increases in the demand for ingot and be prepared to supply them. Nothing compelled it to keep doubling and redoubling its capacity before others entered the field. It insists that it never excluded competitors; but we can think of no more effective exclusion than progressively to embrace each new opportunity as it opened, and to face every new- comer with new capacity already geared into a great organization, having the advantage of experience, trade connections and the elite of personnel.”

    51QX4SSRXNL__SS500_ You can easily see the Supreme Court’s attitude to business success when you realise this was not written as an endorsement of ALCOA’s excellence, but as a condemnation of it! As a reward for success, they were punished with an order for dissolution (an order made nugatory when three competitors sprang into action in the booming post-war economy).  As Alan Greenspan described, back when he was an economist, businesses are

    “condemned [by antitrust laws] for being too successful, too efficient, and too good a competitor. Whatever damage the antitrust laws may have done to our economy, whatever distortions of the structure of the nation's capital they may have created, these are less disastrous than the fact that the effective purpose, the hidden intent, and the actual practice of the antitrust laws in the United States have led to the condemnation of the productive and efficient members of our society because they are productive and efficient."

    And contra Caplan, this penalisation of excellence is undertaken with the full support of almost every economist – all of them in thrall to what George Reisman calls a “platonic” notion of competition, a notion used to put a figleaf on what is effectively envy-ridden intervention for the sake of envy-ridden intervention –an emotion that comes from the same place as demands to soak the rich.

    And contrary too to what’s commonly thought, antitrust beats down success even when the trust-busters lose in court, as David R. Henderson points out in his review of Gary Hull’s book The Abolition of Antitrust:

        “The book is at its most effective when the authors distinguish clearly between force and voluntary action and when they tell horror stories about antitrust. Exhibit A of the latter is the DuPont cellophane story. The book's editor, philosopher Gary Hull, tells of clear-eyed DuPont chemists perfecting cellophane in the 1920s and creative marketers marketing it in the 1930s, revolutionizing the sale of bread, cake and other items. By 1940, a national poll found that Americans' most cherished words were, in order, "mother," "memory," and "cellophane."
        “Then came antitrust. The government charged that DuPont had "monopolized" the cellophane market. Most antitrust texts point out that the government lost the case. But Hull points out something that I had never read in 35 years of reading about antitrust: DuPont helped assure its "victory" by canceling its expansion plans and actually building a cellophane plant for a competitor, Olin Industries.”

    Face it: there is no justification for anti-monopoly legislation ethically, economically, or historically.

    If anyone is looking at making tax savings, they could do a lot worse than to add the Commerce Communist Commission to their list. Promoting 'free competition' at gunpoint is not just uncivilised, unethical and unsuccessful, it's also utterly illogical.

    If it’s non-coercive and providing a service people want, which is what gives it a monopoly position, then where’s the sense in punishment?  And no non-coercive monopoly lasts for ever anyway, as the likes of ALCO, IBM and even Microsoft tend to show. (Indeed, the picture of Microsoft as an unstoppable monopolistic behemoth that cried out for antitrust Nazis to bring to book just a few years ago is now a very different puppy -- as the Los Angeles Times noted yesterday, “ it now looks as though the Internet has accomplished something that antitrust regulators failed to do -- break Microsoft's ability to monopolize software markets.”)

    So I say it’s time to shut down what should never have been opened. Or as the man might have said, how come there's only one Commerce Commission?

    NB: For a free chocolate fish, can anyone tell me which particular political pillock it was who set up NZ’s Commerce Commission just over two decades ago?  I’ll give you a clue: he thinks you should pay for all his overseas holidays.

    UPDATE:  Cactus Kate joins those who fail to fully distinguish between coercive monopolies and the other sort. Saying her “next target” is going to be monopolies, she declares,  “I am not a fan of anything to do with monopolies” Frankly, my dear, I am not a fan of anyone who bashes businesses who’ve earned their dominance in the marketplace.

    How do **you** deal with the petty fascists?

    I’ve mentioned before a chap in England who used to show up at the local council offices with a muck-spreader every time the council hiked the rates.  Painting their windows with sewage might not have reduced his rates bill, but it sure as hell told the petty fascists inside that there wasn’t very much love for them outside.

    So cut now to Whangarei and to a chap called Alan Agnew who’ was told – told? the bastards are insisting! – that he must – MUST! – fill out his date of birth on the council’s bloody form to register his dog.

    Over and over he’s been told, and over and over he’s told the bastards it’s none of their goddamned business,  until finally Alan Agnew snaps: he shoots the dog and dumps it on the council’s steps.  Not much good for the dog, but it sure as hell made Alan feel a little better.

    We all do mad things under pressure, and those perfect bastards at council offices know how to drive the blood pressure up.

    So short of muck-spreading and dog-shooting, what to you do to release your anger when the cardigan-wearing petty fascists are on the march?  Come on, I know you’ve got some stories to tell.

    I could easily do with trying one or two myself at the moment.

    Rhythm: Art’s integrator


    If melody is what integrates sounds and makes them into music, then in a similar fashion rhythm integrates visual chaos and integrates it into art.

    Michael Newberry explains how at his new blog, An An Artist’s Voice, using his 2005 painting of Joseph, above. Read: Rhythm: A Beautiful Way to Organize Chaos.

    Thursday, 3 September 2009

    Two tragic ironies of World War II – and one crucial lesson

    junkers_ju_87_stuka On the 70th anniversary of the day that World War II was declared, effective upon Germany’s blitzkreig invasion of Poland, it’s worth observing two outstandingly tragic ironies:

    1. Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany in defence of Poland – a country that wasn’t defensible – but acquiesced in Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, which were.
      That’s just one of the practical consequences of appeasement.
    2. Britain declared war on Nazi Germany because Hitler invaded Poland, yet within two years Britain was an ally of the Soviet Union -- which was the co-invader of Poland, and the Nazi’s partner in Poland’s dismemberment.
      That’s just one of the tragic ironies of twentieth-century history: that’s what happens when you fail to identify the nature of your so-called friends: the practical consequence of which was that a war undertaken ostensibly to deliver Poland from the Nazi yoke ended by delivering the entire population of Eastern Europe to the noose of Joseph Stalin.

    Just as the moral is the practical, so too is the immoral the impractical.  The lesson of WWII is so large that it’s so rarely seen, but it’s crystal clear when you look hard enough.  In the words of Virgil, “Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.” (Loose translation from the Latin: Do not give your sanction to evil, but proceed ever more strongly against it.)

    There endeth the lesson of 3rd September.

    Cool Machinery of the Day: Leonardo Da Vinci’s machines

    Leonard Da Vinci was the original Renaissance Man.  He was an artist, an engineer, an  inventor, a scientist . . . Here’s a neat video of just some of Leonardo Da vinci’s machines – modelled in 3d and based on Leonard’s many sketches -- from a seed drill to a machine gun, from a forge hammer to an armoured tank.

    Lying like a Central Banker

    "Over at the Mises Economics Blog, Robert Blumen slams the door on boasting by Federal Reserve Bank flunkies so thoroughly, and with the maximum of pith, that it’s worth reposting it here:

    From a presentation by Janet Yellin (of the San Francisco Fed) on June 30 to the Commonwealth Club of California,

    “I will be the first to say that it is always difficult to get monetary policy just right. But the Fed's analytical prowess is top-notch and our forecasting record is second to none.”

    The same Fed that thought there was no housing bubble? Second to none? What about all those Austrian economists who identified the bubble?

    But Yellen didn't stop there. She followed up with:

    “The FOMC is committed to price stability and has a solid track record in achieving it.

    Really? The same Fed that presided over a 90% depreciation in the purchasing power of the dollar?

    And finally, she finishes up with:

    “With respect to our tool kit, we certainly have the means to unwind the stimulus when the time is right.”

    See my thoughts on that here.

    You think NZ’s pseudo-banking inquiry is a farce? It’s no half as ludicrous as watching The Fed wriggling in the spotlight as more and more evidence emerges that The Fed’s (and the NZ Reserve Bank’s) efforts at price stabilisation have delivered only chaos

    Well done to Blumen for so effectively and summarily dismissing the leading claims of its cheerleaders. Time to shut down the Fed (and by extension the local Reserve Bank) and head back to the system that delivered a half-century of genuine price stability before money was nationalised [head here and scroll down for a discussion of the chart below showing NZ’s gently declining price levels in the late nineteenth century as it became more prosperous].

    Banking ‘inquiry’ collapses [update 2]

    Kiwibank CEO Sam Knowles, who owes the existence of the bank he manages to Jin Neanderton’s jingoism and  taxpayers’ largesse , was not returning Old Jim or the Labour Party who extracted that largesse any favours at yesterday’s banking pseudo-inquiry.

    The pseudo-inquiry is an attempt to position the Labour lightweights as the poor man’s economic heavyweights when it comes to bashing banks.  It was ostensibly intended to “investigate claims that banks are not giving customers the full benefit of Reserve Bank rates cuts.”

    It was over however from almost the first question.

    Knowles was the only banker to show up at the pseud’s inquiry.  Asked by opposition Punch ‘n Gro spokesman Clayton Cosgrove whether other banks’ higher rates were evidence that Kiwibank's larger rivals were "rorting Kiwis," Knowles short answer was “No.” 

    His longer answer , which was  probably too long for either Punch ‘n Gro or Neanderton to digest, involved pointing out that if you already have customers (like the bigger banks do) then in order to take those customers yourself (which is what Kiwibank has been trying to do) then you have to offer a better deal.  Hence Kiwibank’s lower rates.

    And at that point the whole raison d'être of the psuedo-inquiry collapsed in a heap. Only thing was, the pseuds themselves didn’t appear to notice.

    UPDATE 1: Banks maximising profits? People say that like it’s a bad thing. But as David Rawcliffe points out at the Adam Smith Institute’s blog,

        The argument for profits is so simple as to be trivial: firms, provided they are subject to laws preventing theft and violence [and fractional reserve banking], can only gain revenue by selling things that people want; they can only make a profit if they sell these things for more than they cost to produce; and in the process of production they employ people who prefer that job to any other they could find. That is, profit-making firms create wealth (in the broadest sense of the word) for their customers, owners, and employees. They take wealth from no-one.
        FSA chief Lord Turner talks vaguely of the banks failing to be ‘socially useful’. The truth is this: any industry that makes money is ‘socially useful’, in the very concrete sense that it makes all those involved better off.

    As you can see, I only needed to add one phrase to make it strictly accurate.

    UPDATE 2: Give the state of BERL’s own economic literacy, isn’t it a bit rich for BERL’s senior alleged economist Ganesh Nana to be pointing fingers at the economic literacy of other New Zealanders?

    And if it’s true that New Zealanders are more interested in property prices and mortgage rates than another other economic phenomenon, could it be that New Zealanders are simply responding rationally to distorted incentives – i.e., to investment incentives severely distorted by the Reserve Bank’s dictatorship of the money supply and their overseeing of the profligate issue of counterfeit capitalcredit expansion (measured in M2) at the rate of over ten percent a year

    Since the dollar in your pocket is diluted every time a new tranche of money is issued, it’s no wonder that NZers prefer a “flight into goods” rather than be left with holding too much of the Reserve Bank’s risky paper.

    Quote of the day: Thatcher on socialism

    The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other
    people's money."
    ……………………………………………………………………………………..—Margaret Thatcher


    Read Whole Foods’s John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal article with that quotation at its head, and discover for yourself why it so raised the ire of ObamaCrats that they’re now camping outside Mackey’s doors in protest:
    The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare: Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

    The leading claim made by Objectivist John Mackey is this:

    “Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every … adult is responsible for his or her own health."

    You can see why the socialists are organising boycotts in protest at his temerity to question the ObaMessiah, and Tea Party protestors are organising buycotts in response -- and people like Michael Strong are writing in the Huffington Post that Mackey is a hero of intellectual integrity.

    NOT PJ: Living Off the Fat of the Land [updated]

    This country’s bureaucratic meddling index (BMI) is climbing ever higher, says Bernard Darnton.

    _BernardDarnton New government-funded research shows that the government should interfere in the food market more. Health economist (inveterate meddler) Des O’Dea yesterday presented research suggesting that the government should offer discount vouchers for healthy food. Apparently fresh food is too expensive.

    One idea he looked as was getting rid of the GST on some foods. Bravo! Finally, a tax cut! But, no. It would be too hard to administer. Four hundred government departments and seventy-five billion dollars a year later someone works out that red tape is bad. And then it’s an excuse not to cut taxes. I spluttered so hard I could barely get any swear words out.

    Here’s a plan. Make collecting GST on these foods voluntary. If you want to jump through the hoops and charge GST on chocolate biscuits but not on the wheaty plasterboard ones (or whatever rules the jobsworths came up with), good on you. If you think the rules are too complex, just ignore them and charge GST on everything. In theory this favours the big supermarkets over small dairies. In reality there’d be no effect because the “fresh” food section at most dairies consists of an optimistically-priced bag of damp onions and two bruised bananas.

    The favoured plan is for poor people to be given discount vouchers that they can use to buy fruit and vegetables – food stamps. If this plan is introduced I hope to pick up some of these vouchers at eighty cents in the dollar. I might get the equivalent of my tax cut that way.

    Diabetes New Zealand president Chris Baty is reported in The Press saying, “any scheme that allowed people to eat more healthy food was a positive move,” ignoring that fact that people aren’t currently forbidden from eating healthy food.

    Would this programme to make fresh food cheaper work? When I lived in Lower Hutt I used to buy my seventy-plus a week at the Riverside market. Orchardists from Gisborne, market gardeners from Levin, and everyone else in the area brought their produce almost to my doorstep. It was plentiful and cheap. And yet, when I was bagging up my 69-cents-a-kilo apples, surrounded by literally truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables, I could watch the fat kids wobbling around eating hot dogs.

    So, no. The fruit was cheap, the fried crap was expensive, and the fat dads bought their fat kids fat-drenched food. They weren’t eating it because they were poor. They were eating it because they wanted to. Try doing a sociology PhD on that.

    It will undoubtedly be as successful as so many other government plans. Sadly (for connoisseurs of the absurd at least), the government’s ‘Mission On’ programme, which encouraged children to become active by providing a web site for them to play games on, has been discontinued.

    All this latest scheme would achieve would be a massive new government department to issue and redeem the vouchers and to work out what counts as healthy food. When I was a kid orange juice was healthy. Now it’s not, because it contains sugar. Some unemployable is going to have to go through every aisle in the supermarket to work out what’s in and what’s out.

    One man they won’t be employing is Marc Ellis. In his role as orange juice magnate he was accused of peddling products that cause childhood obesity. As a remedy, he suggested “telling the fat pricks to go for a run.”

    Our response to the food fascists should be similar. Tell them to take a hike.

    * * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

    ‘Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps’ – JMW Turner exhibited 1812


    I confess I’m not grabbed by every canvas that Joseph Mallord William Turner smeared weather over, but this one does something more for me than most.

    You can feel how much Hannibal had against him; you can sense the immensity of the challenge in doing what was thought impossible – and the distant glimmering of the triumph awaiting. him.

    Read about the history here.

    Wednesday, 2 September 2009

    Who chugs where the most?

    Liberty Scott brings you news and brief analysis of the OECD’s report out today on young people.

    So to answer the first question first, according to the OECD (whose figures are far more reputable than the UN’s, even if their policy writers like big govt far more than is healthy):

    • UK teens drink the most (hardly surprising.  If you grew up in the UK you’d drink until you were blind too).
    • Turkish teens are the most bullied but love school the most (hot for teacher?)
    • Finnish teens have the best educational results (they keep bad teachers out of the system and pay good teachers a lot to teach larger classes)
    • NZ teens have the highest suicide rate in the developed world (by jillikers, that Ministry of Youth Affairs is doing good work,don’t you think?), but in the UK it is a fifth of that in NZ (does the alcohol help?)
    • Swiss teens take the least exercise (too much cheap public transport?)

    It also says that average NZ family incomes are low.  So no lessons at all here then . . .

    NBR on Nick the Weasel & John the Vacillator

    Not to be one to recycle editorials like some blogs do, but last Friday’s National Business Review editorial (just sent to me, for some reason I’m not on the free list and its not online) looks somewhat familiar, which is why it’s probably so good.

        The time is arriving for the business community to assert itself against a government proving itself on a rang of issues to be as bad as its predecessor and, in some cases, worse.
        John Key’s affable persona may be sufficient to keep his government high in the polls for now. This however is not a substitute for a policy programme to deliver the economic growth required for New Zealand to remain a first-world society, let alone catch up with Australia.
        After nine months in power, no such programme is apparent.  Instead, the government seems at least as determined as Labour to impose unnecessary and extravagant new costs on the business community.

    Good stuff, isn’t it (the writing I mean, not the impositions and the extravagance) even if the author has used the word “community” twice in two paragraphs.

        The worst offender is [guess who] Climate Change Minister Nick Smith.  Rightly regarded as being in the wrong party, he is colluding with the Labour Party to ensure New Zealand becomes the first and only country to impose an all-sectors, all-gases Emissions Trading Scheme on its manufacturers, electricity and fuel users, and farmers.
        Even worse, Smith and Labour are working to ensure the new system will deliver the highest possible carbon price. . .

    Disgusting isn’t it.  I’ll let you guess for yourself which party the insufferably naive Nick the Weasel should really be in – and the editorial spells out how that naivety is going to cost us all big time, especially “the crème de la crème of the country’s productive base [whose] ability to create wealth and jobs is being sabotaged in misguided desire to be the toast of the environmental cocktail circuit.”

    Ouch!  That’s that hard-hitting stuff from the country’s biggest-selling business weekly about this so-called business-friendly government.

    On the same page is the quip, “If John Key was a Viking he’d probably be called John the Vacillator.”

    I don’t think Blind Willy Johnson sang that one.  Mind you, a revelator’s not a vacillator, is he.

    DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Smacking Sue, Tweaking Tuku, & Mocking Michael

    Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes another irreverent weekly look at some of the past week’s headlines.

    1. Bradford: Pro-smackers behind threats – According to Sue Bradford, anyone who opposed the anti-parenting legislation rammed through by the National/Labour socialist grand coalition wants to thrash and maim children. According to Sue, it’s not about parenting – by the way, Sue wants to nationalise parenting, which her Marxist study has taught her will help in dismantling the capitalist system. Sue reckons the resistance to her red plague is coming from people wanting to assault and murder their children. As I have stated previously, what inflamed people (if you would care to listen, Sue) is the fact that you and your ilk want to remove the ability for parents to be able to use physical force to keep their children safe and from doing harm to others, when all attempts to use reason and negotiation have failed.

    2. Tukoroirangi Morgan: Maori or Pakeha candidate – who’d get your vote? – The $89 man (remember the boxer shorts?) reckons that not many years ago Maori owned all the land over which Rodney Hide’s Super City Council will preside. That’s stretching it a bit. Before European colonization, land was not owned in the sense that we think of ownership. It was fought over, there was no secure title and thus there was little incentive to improve or develop land as it was likely to be pillaged and looted at the time of the next tribal raid.
        Somehow however Tuku reads in the Treaty of Waitangi a right for ‘indigenous’ people to have special representation on the Super City Council. He laments the fact that the advertising industry seems to feature rich, white people in their promotions. He does have a point in that the Maori ‘brand’ is lumped with negative or controversial extremes. But the answer is not for the government to insult Maori by treating them as powerless victims. It is to empower them by treating them as sovereign individuals, unshackling them from welfare dependency, closing down the violent and increasingly anarchic public schools in which many of them are raised, and allowing them genuine tino rangitiratanga – independence from domination by the state.
        New Zealanders should all be subject to equality under just laws, with no discrimination by race or other accidents of birth. More on this at a later time!

    3. Mayor hails first day of gang patch ban – There is now a dress code in W(h)anganui, enforceable by law. Michael Laws has made the River City a laughing stock; unbelievably, Timaru now wants to do the same (no word yet from Otara).
        The ultimate reference for new laws and by-laws should be a Constitution or Bill of Rights. Laws incompatible with this should be struck down. New Zealand has a Bill of Rights of sorts, crafted by Geoffrey Palmer, the man whose face needs punching because of his conspicuous and over-the-top wowserism. Section 14 of Geoffrey’s Bill of Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind, in any form.” To that section has now beeen added three words: “except in W(h)anganui.”     

    See y’all next week!
    Doc McGrath

    I’m allergic to plastic-bag campaigners

    In Vienna a few centuries back they fought off the Turks and saved the West from barbarism.

    In Europe in 1815 they rallied together to fight off Napoleon's authoritarian designs on the continent.

    In Britain in 1940 they hunkered down alone to defend themselves from Nazism.

    But now in modern-day New Zealand we have so few real enemies to rail against (or so some people think) that we take up arms instead against the likes of the humble plastic bag.

    Are we insane? And by "we" here, I mean you – you and your friend with the shit-eating mien Russel Norman, and that moron who appeared on TV news last night with the title "Plastic Bag Campaigner" under his mug. How embarrassing it must be to make your one life-time appearance on TV and have that propping up you face! (If the acne-ridden nincompoop has any friends I hoped they videotaped that segment and play it back to him when he's grown up so he can see what an embarrassment he is to humankind.)

    Haven't we got some real things to worry about, that we have to start making things up?

    Haven't we? Or do these people just feel no shame telling you not just what you can put in your shopping bag, but what sort of damn shopping bag they're going to let you use.

    It’s said that more children have more allergies these days because their mothers spend too much time removing any real evils for their immune systems to resist, so they start finding unreal evils like cat hair and peanuts to be immune to instead.

    These modern-day vermin are like those They can’t see the bigger picture so concentrate myopically instead on busy-bodying things like your shopping bag and what’s in it.

    Naff off.

    And get yourselves a life.