Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Ise Shrine, Japan

Ise Shrine Outer Grounds

Japanese temples don’t enclose congregations, they mark sacred space. Space to which pilgrims must undertake a journey.

Ise Shrine Grounds of Buddhist Temple The journey is part of the ritual. It conditions the soul for the destination.

Ise Shrine Steps These plain, craftsman buildings elevated above the ground on simple structures have been marking these same sacred space for centuries; unadorned, unchanged--yet they are destroyed and rebuilt anew identically every twenty years.  (Unadorned, but not undecorated—the “decoration” derives quite naturally from their construction.) At the turn of the century poet Locfadio Hearn visited Ise and wrote,

_Quote There is nothing imposing but the space, the silence and the suggestion of the past.

Ise_1746 And few people gain admission to the inner shrine, where we find one of the main Ise “treasure houses,” The architecture recapitulates the ancient end-post-and-roof beam style of prehistoric Japanese rice storehouses and shrines.ijinja0001p1

Ise pre-dates Zen.  It represents a kind of nature worship that venerates the spaces that  gods might inhabit, and the nature-given materials used to frame it.  No wonder so many architects find inspiration here.

Granted permission to visit these temples  a few years ago, architect Kenzo Tange—designer of the dramatic 1964 Tokyo Olympic Stadium--said,

_QuoteThe buildings, their placement, and their form and space moved me deeply. Plain to the point of artlessness, they nevertheless possessed a highly refined style.  Their origin in remote times has stamped on them an elementary vigor; they combine this with a timeless aesthetic discipline.  Seldom is an architecture created in which the vital and the aesthetic are as well balanced as here.

Tange wasn’t alone in finding inspiration here. Architects from Greene & Greene to Walter Gropius to Bruno Taut to Frank Lloyd Wright discovered architecture afresh from the shrines at Ise and from other lesser temples.  taut reckoned that, along with the Parthenon, Ise represents “the peak of world architecture.”

But as Gropius and Wright observed, where the Parthenon seeks “to breast and conquer nature,” this is architecture that seeks to adapt and absorb it.  Honor, said Wright, represents truth to nature and  to materials. This is part of the “be clean” ethic celebrated here. Japanese architecture like this, he said, is “a supreme study in elimination—not only of dirt, but of the insignificant.” There is “very little added in the way of ornament because all ornament as we call it, they get out of the way the necessary things are done or by bringing out and polishing the beauty of the simple materials used in making the building.  Again, you see, and kind of cleanliness.”


In Japan, he declared, “I had found one country on earth where simplicity, as natural, is supreme.”

So what does the ACT Party actually stand for now? [update 2]

Isn’t it about time someone decided what ACT actually stands for now?

Given that Roger Douglas and Heather Roy have now been repudiated by the other three in their caucus -- leaving their effective caucus as just a dancer, a prancer and a bigot with his foot in his mouth –- and given that ACT has across this parliamentary term departed entirely from their founding principles ( I don’t recall seeing either the baubles of ministry or planting a super-sized bureaucracy across Auckland in there) –- and given that all of this caucus have voted for every big budget Bill English has ever written –- budgets that with each vote grew government rather than shrank it –- and have completely backflipped on the Foreshore & Seabed issue – recognising property rights one month; calling for nationalisation the next -- then just what the hell does the party whose name is on those three remaining buttonholes actually stand for?

Has all the political capital of fifteen years really come to this?   Not a party of ideas, just five people who don’t like each other. Not a party of freedom, but one more like flounder.

They can’t say they were railroaded by their senior coalition partner into this malaise either.  Not today, not ever. Even at the start of this term, ACT leader Rodney Hide (remember him?) was given the choice of pursuing either regulatory reform or super-sizing the Auckland bureaucracy.  That he chose the latter (and chose to live it up on your tab) says all you need to know about this erstwhile small-government perk-buster. 

From poacher to moocher, in less-than-one parliamentary term. That’s some sort of record, for sure.

Every minor party so far has been killed by coalition—NZ First was cannibalised and spat out; the Alliance was cannibalised and spat out; United-Dunne nothing turned intro a lapdog and a party of one. Every minor party so far has been killed by coalition--and so it has been for ACT. 

So what does the ACT Party stand for now?  Which one of the current caucus members could even tell us?

And why does it even matter.

UPDATE 1: Just listened to Deborah Coddington talking to Maggie Barry on Radio Live, saying very much the same.

UPDATE 2: Now, I’m not one to gossip … but rumour has it that Roy was fired for being a little loose with a certain set of defence papers.  Time will tell on that one, no doubt.  But she certainly should have been fired, just like her leader, for doing absolutely nothing while a minister to advance her party’s stated ideals.

Article Published at Big Peace: "Ground Zero Mosque, Rotten Foundations"

Guest Post by Jeff Perren.

My article discussing the plan to build the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in Manhattan has been published at Big Peace.

Your feedback is invited - pro, con, or otherwise.

Thanks, Jeff

Off the ‘Spirit Level’ [update 4]

The authors of the British book The Spirit Level have a political agenda, and they’ve got it talked about everywhere. Even here. The NZ Labour MPs’ blog Red Alert for example is so excited it even has a ‘Spirit Level’ “tag”, and breathless comments from the likes of Grant Robertson that “These people’s work can not be dismissed.” And Colin James, the commentator on the tired and the bleeding obvious, wonders if the 300-page tome might not become  “a sort of guidebook for the next Labour ministry,” should there be one.

So what’s their work, and why are Grant Robertson and his comrades so excited about it? It’s a “revolutionary” thesis overturning all previous research: that societies with more “equal” incomes do better than those that don’t.

So how did they do what no other researchers before them have managed to do? Simple, They fudged the figures.

Here, for example, is a graph that is central to their thesis, purporting to show how much better off our life expectancy would be if we all copied “the workers’ paradises of Scandinavia and the egalitarian nirvana of Japan.” See how the culturally egalitarian Japan and Sweden skew the left side up, and the culturally meritorian USA skews it down?

SpiritLevel01And here it is again, this time with the many elephants in the room they neglected to include because they inconveniently contradict their thesis, charted using figures from that bastion of inequality, the UN. See how the addition of Hong Kong alters the right-hand side, and the additions of the likes of South Korea and the Czech Republic give a more “realistic” level to the left-hand end.


Go to the SPIRIT LEVEL DELUSION blog Adding in the countries that contradict their thesis shows that there really is no significant trend at all (maybe one month, or two?), which means their much-hyped thesis is basically bosh.  [Further clarification on the graphs below.]

As the author of The Spirit Level Delusion, Christopher Snowdon, explains at Spiked, (from whom I stole those graphs) this sort of statistical legerdemain exposed here cannot be unintentional. Which means, to put it bluntly, that the authors have lied—and if you have to lie to make your point, that probably means you haven’t got one. Nonetheless, it’s a lie perfectly calculated to get the chattering classes talking; so after tearing apart their “research,” Snowdon draws the only conclusion about their thesis and its widespread acceptance that you could:

_Quote The only real difference between ‘less equal’ and ‘more equal’ countries is the size of the government and the amount it takes in tax, rising from less than 15 per cent of gross domestic product in Singapore to almost 50 per cent in Denmark. The fact that Singapore outperforms Denmark under almost every measure of what makes a country ‘do better’ only serves to underline the folly of The Spirit Level and, by association, the futility of its political agenda.
    That this agenda takes the form of zero-growth economics and eco-authoritarianism perhaps explains why journalists at the New Statesman and the Guardian have been so willing to suspend disbelief when confronted with such an improbable explanation for the problems of all mankind. It seems not to have struck them as odd that two left-wing epidemiologists were able suddenly to unearth a ‘theory of everything’ which had eluded the world’s finest minds for generations.
    To The Spirit Level’s legion of admirers, this uncanny turn of events is only proof of Wilkinson and Pickett’s unique genius. A more prosaic explanation is that the grand unifying theory had not been unearthed because it was never there.

As Ayn Rand used to say,

_QuoteIf there were such a thing as a passion for equality (not equality de jure, but de facto), it would be obvious to its exponents that there are only two ways to achieve it: either by raising all men to the mountaintop—or by razing the mountains.

And naturally, the exponents of forced equality always end up advocating the latter. That the talk about this book and its recommendations at the Red Alert blog usually ends with a recommendation to soak the rich is proof once again that this thesis is still fundamentally correct. But don’t expect them to change that one big idea in their policy manual—because it’s the only “big idea” they’ve actually got.

UPDATE 1: Phil Sage has some complementary comments over at the No Minister blog, concluding,

_QuoteRedistribution … is useful for solving short term problems but ultimately does not make a community more cohesive or happier; it just drags back the wealth creators, to the detriment of all.

Phil links to two excellent reports on the central thesis of The Spirit Level, which I hope he won’t mind me linking here; first, from the UK Taxpayers’ Alliance:

_QuoteBefore policymakers rush to enforce the income equality that the authors suggest is so vital to improve public health and general wellbeing, it is important that we properly scrutinise its claims. 
new report published today by the TaxPayers' Alliance does just that.  The Spirit Illusion looks at whether the most important correlations established in the book can be replicated.
The findings are stark.  On almost no measure does the central claim of the Spirit Level, that income inequality decreases life expectancy, stand up to scrutiny…
    [The report’s] main point is that the most important statistical correlation between countries that the authors claim to have established – the connection they point to between life expectancy and income inequality in different industrialised nations – is simply wrong…

I recommend the report. It’s free. And the UK Policy Exchange has produced its own report on the phoney tome, Beware False Prophets, in which “Wilkinson and Pickett’s empirical claims are critically re-examined using (a) their own data on 23 countries, (b) more up-to-date statistics on a larger sample of 44 countries, and (c) data on the US states. Very few of their empirical claims survive intact.”  The hardback costs you £10 + £3p&p—but you can download the PDF free.

UPDATE 2: If you think those “dots” have moved in the two charts above, you’re right.  Chris Snowdon clarifies in the comments:

_QuoteThe two graphs are from exactly the same UN source, but are from different years. The first is from the 2004 UN Human Development Report, the second is from the 2006 report.
The reason I mention this is that, if you own a copy of The Spirit Level, take a look at references 2 and 6. Reference 2 is the 2006 report and is for their graph showing no relationship between life expectancy and GDP. Reference 6 is the 2004 report, and that's used to show there IS a relationship between life expectancy and inequality.
    Why use two different data sets? We can only speculate, but I would speculate that its because, even if you exclude places like the Czech Republic, the 2004 data fits their hypothesis better than the 2006. This, from two researchers who insist they took their data "warts and all."

UPDATE 3: Dinther sums it all up perfectly. At the end of the day, even if the research were true …

_QuoteI’d rather live a shorter life in freedom … than a longer and no doubt boring life in captivity.

UPDATE 4Spirit Level authors Wilkinson and Pickett's responded to the Spirit Level Delusion author’s 20 Questions to them. Hong Kong was excluded because, apparently, it’s not “an older, rich, developed, market economy.” Presumably because it’s a young, poor, undeveloped, communist state like Cuba?  I guess this gives you a taste of Wilkinson & Picket’s acumen.
Snowdon’s response to them is here. It’s good.
Some of the graphs from The Spirit Level Delusion are here. And Snowdon’s Spirit Level Delusion blog is here.

Sky not falling. The real lessons of another failed scare story.

sky-not-falling Who can doubt the power of mythology to drive behaviour.  Sadly, the myths of ‘End Times,’ ‘Apocalypse’ and our “separation” from nature (part of the myth of our ejection from the Garden of Eden) have driven several dozen scare stories over the centuries—from the earth running out of sunlight in the third century to it running out of coal in 1860; from it running out of oil by 1990 to it running out of room by 2000; from ice ages to floods; from robins dying of mass slaughter in 1979 to Americans dying of mass starvation by 1980 to England failing to exist in the year 2000 to “the entire world” being under famine by 2010. We’ve heard it all. And it hasn’t happened.

Mythology can guide us.  If we’re not careful, it can also blind us.

This tendency to go moth-like to the flames of self-immolation doesn’t stop with individual humans but can suck in an entire culture. As I have previously shared, perhaps the single best example of that is provided by the ancient Hawaiians who, finding themselves in absolute paradise, set about inventing over 2,000 “kapus” or laws, transgressions of most of which were punishable by death. One minute, paradise, the next....

As you see, this idiocy isn’t confined to modern western man.  Take this dopy quote, for example:

_Quote You must know that the world has grown old, and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the sun’s warmth are both diminishing; the metals are nearly exhausted; the husbandman is failing in the fields, the sailor on the seas, the soldier in the camp, honesty in the market, justice in the courts, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals. This is the sentence passed upon the world, that everything which has a beginning should perish, that things which have reached maturity should grow old, the strong weak, the great small, and that after weakness and shrinkage should come dissolution.

That quote comes not from recent times, but from third century Europe—and we’re still here and we’re still vigorous, and the human environment is now the best it’s ever been! But we’ve been scaring ourselves to death for centuries, literally centuries.

chicken-little-1 The latest “we’re-all-gonna-die” scare story widely embraced by those who can’t see past the myths was H1N1 Swine Flu, about which nearly everyone was all in a lather not so long ago.  Now that the World Health Organization have called off the “pandemic,” two Canadian epidemiologists make a sober assessment of one of the more unlikely scare stories of recent times to have pushed the hot button of mass hysteria.

There are important lessons to be learned here about many of the other apocalyptic scare stories—and people’s too-eager readiness to embrace them.

So read The real lessons of H1N1

Monday, 16 August 2010

The world’s biggest sign

For our regular art post tonight, something called GPS Art—which is not at all art, but is certainly something to do with GPS.

Apparently, a chap took a month off and travelled the length and breadth of the States to “write” this piece of art on Google Earth with his GPS unit. It’s a big sign with a big message. Here’s how it looks … (Click through to read on)

The future of education

Paediatric neuropsychologist Dr Steven Hughes explains that traditional education is running out of steam, and why Montessori education has to be an important part of the future of education--not just one of a number of alternative approaches, but the main one---not least because Montessori education is unique in recognising the way children’s brains develop.

Not bad for a three minute video.

He mentions:

Get more information about Montessori education and Montessori teacher training at Mt Eden’s Maria Montessori Education Foundation.  Or just sit through the videos that should play automatically after this one, courtesy of www.MariaMontessori.com.

Income splitting?

I’m not so excited about the Bill before the House aiming to let couples split their incomes and cut tax.  ‎I’d be far more excited if people began recognising that when government takes around 45% of every year’s production, that effectively means that one partner in every couple is going out to work just to keep the government afloat.

That’s utterly iniquitous.

If you want to help families, Mr Dunne-Nothing, then help stop this government spending so damn much. That will do much more for non-mooching families than anything your damn Families Commission has or will ever do.

President Unpopular

barack-obama-is-not-superman (1)

In less than two years he’s gone from one of the most popular presidents of all time to being President Zero, and now President Minus 22 Percent.  That’s even less popular than Bill English.

Nile Gardiner gives ten reasons key reasons why the Obama presidency is in meltdown.  The best reason to celebrate? Number 5: “Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat.”

But there might be even more good news. Dislike for the Obama Administration doesn’t guarantee anything better on the horizon. (Just see what’s happened here in NZ!) Robert Tracinski, however, suggests a new political “camp” forming within the Tea Party movement might offer some hope for genuine political change.  It’s called “constitutional conservatism.”

_Quote Let's look at precisely what the phrase means, as I have gathered from how it is being used. A "constitutional conservative" is someone who wants to restrain the power of government within the original limits set for it by the US Constitution. Specifically, "constitutional conservatives" want to resurrect the doctrine of enumerated powers, which constrains Congress to stick to the small number of limited powers explicitly described in Article I of the Constitution. …One of the top agenda items of the "constitutional conservatives" [is] a requirement that all legislation proposed in Congress has to "point to where they are enumerated in the Constitution."
    The label "constitutional conservative" is based on the recognition that [the American] system of government, as originally conceived by America's Founding Fathers, would be radically smaller than it is today, that the Founders' vision is fundamentally incompatible with the majority of current government programs and with the vast array of current government controls on the economy.
    It is clear that the rise of this new term is a powerfully good trend. For the first time, there is a strain of "conservatism" that we can actually sign on to—though the use of the term "conservative" is still a misnomer. "Constitutional conservatism" is "conservative" only in the sense that it seeks to "conserve" the original meaning of the Constitution. But in today's context, it is actually a radical and ideological agenda that would require overturning the past one hundred years of political precedent…

It’s early days, but it sounds promising.

Book me a front-row seat! [update 5]

Crikey, this is going to be fun to watch.

Court challenge to Niwa climate records – STUFF
    Climate change sceptics are taking the country's state-owned weather research body to the High Court over claims that its records are inaccurate.
    The government’ National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is being challenged about the data it uses to calculate climate change. The court action is being funded by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition … [who are] asking the court to order that records are invalid that show a 1 degree Celsius warming trend in nationwide temperatures during the past century, and wants NIWA to be ordered to produce another "accurate" record.
    It has also asked the court to order Niwa to stop using its current records to advise any government authority or the public.

The challenge is a simple one. As reported here several times before, the raw temperature records from New Zealand recording stations over the  last century shows no to only very slight warming. But, in a process begun by disgraced climatologist Jim Salinger, those raw figures have been adjusted upwards, well upwards, and the records justifying those specific adjustments are “no longer available.”

This is bad science, used to back up the most serious political attack on NZ industry since the war. Basically, the dog has eaten NIWA’s homework, and the best they can now do is point to general reasons for their dramatic upward adjustments, with no specific record available, they say, to justifying their fiddling of each figure.

And when that fiddling has been done by Jim Salinger, a certified climate alarmist who NIWA themselves described as “a stranger to truth,”  there’s good grounds to hope this bad science is as discredited by this case as it deserves to be.

It’s not even good enough for government work.


UPDATE 1: Why is this important?

  • Because NIWA are the source of the advice given to NZ governments on which they based their carbon taxes and emissions tax scam.  If that well is poisoned, their advice is moot.
  • Because NIWA are the source of the advice relied upon by councils around the country that severely restricts (against right) what people may do on their own coastal property. If their advice is wrong, councils’ cases fall apart.
  • Because the likes of the anti-development Environmental Defence Society (EDS) understand this perfectly, which is why they’re joining the action with NIWA. Without NIWA’s discredited advice, one less reason exists for the EDS to claim control of your land.
  • Because the raw temperature records from the Met Service show no significant warming. Yet adjustments have been made by NIWA downwards pre-war and upwards post-war (the reverse of what you would expect as an adjustment for the Urban Heat Island effect). Talk about cooking the books! And the records for those adjustments"? They’ve been lost, says NIWA. This is either incompetence or dishonesty--and it’s certainly bad science—so in either case their advice to anybody should be ignored, and as the late Augie Auer maintained , they should be shut down. Because they’re not scientists, they’re shills.

UPDATE 2: Climate Science Coalition rep Barry Brill discusses the claim with Leighton Smith on air. Listen to the audio here. [Brill appears about 10:35am]

UPDATE 3: Apparently Radio NZ is finding it hard to find anyone to support NIWA on air, so this morning they went with truffle farmer Gareth Renowden, who does his best to fudge the story.  Listen to how carefully he dances around the disappearance of the log of adjustments, and the specific reasons for each.

UPDATE 4: Rational Capitalist has some links on the wider arguments:

_Quote Here is a Forbes article titled, The Death of Global Warming, and here is a great synopsis of the science by Dr. Roy Spencer titled, My Global Warming Skepticism, for Dummies. And, in case you are keeping track, here is some skepticism on the recent "independent review" of the Climategate controversy conducted by approximately the same people who were accused of the cover-up.

That should help give this all some context—and help you understand why warmists are getting so desperate.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Something to live for

The Chief Coroner's call for debate on the media's reporting of suicide has got people talking about suicide, and why it is that teenagers especially elect to end their lives just as they’re about to blossom.

At a time when they’re just beginning to ask life’s big questions, why is it that oblivion seems to so many a more desirable alternative than life on this earth, with all its madness, laughter, delight, possibilities and joy?

Why do they throw their young lives away so lightly?

In one sense, it’s a hard one to answer, since no-one can ever really tell us why they’ve done it.  But surely one major answer is that when they come to ask those big questions, they’re finding no answers to them that make sense.

Those “big questions” are the ones that, by definition, philosophy is supposed to ask and answer. But modern philosophers can’t, and don’t. Instead, if they listen to philosophers at all, they tell youngsters there are no absolutes, life has no meaning, and not to bother asking about it. Why wouldn’t thinking teenagers ponder that message of destruction and wonder what to do about it?

They’re told from every screen and in every school room that their species is evil and destructive, and is going to kill the earth.  Why wouldn’t serious teenagers take that message seriously and begin to damn themselves and existence?

They’re given religion as an answer to life’s big problems, which tells them to renounce their own happiness on this earth for a “life” in some other damn place; to place other’s faith over their own reasoning mind; to live for others instead of themselves. Is it any wonder they end up in doubt, confusion and ready to be easily led? Ready to damn achievement and success?

lewis Tennis ace Chris Lewis (right) calls this 'the crab-bucket mentality,' the hatred of achievement with which so many young folk shackle themselves and damn their more successful brothers. And why wouldn’t they? Instead of real values for living life on this earth, they’re given only nihilism or slop.  Says Chris about a youngster’s need for fuel to impel themselves forwards from within,

_Quote …in a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.
   The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us,
        "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by
     imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few
     hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it
     shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek
    a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find.
    The Fountainhead is one of them."
    At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.
    For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.

picture-2 Lindsay Perigo (right) expands on the theme in a piece he wrote a few years ago in response to a how-to piece on suicide in Craccum. (One of the “high points” of the editorship of Martin “Bomber” Bradbury, as I recall.) Called “Affirming Life,” I post it here in its entirety.

    Yesterday's furore about the Craccum "How to commit suicide" article … set me to thinking about the time I appeared on 'The Ralston Group' when we panellists were asked our explanations for the high rate of youth suicide.
    I stated my own suspicion that the problem came down to a failure of philosophy. Youngsters were taking their own lives at precisely the time one asks life's big questions & searches for ideals to guide one's conduct. Religion, to which one traditionally repaired for answers, was discredited & had not been replaced with a viable secular alternative - leaving a values vacuum, leading to despair. What youngster would be inspired by the jaded cynicism so manifest in so many once-thoughtful adults?
    But is a viable, secular alternative to religion possible? Can life have meaning without an after-life? If there is no god to inspire ideals & prescribe values, can there be any other source? Can man discover it? Theologians & philosophers alike have answered these questions with a resounding, No! Many professional philosophers revel in proclaiming their discipline irrelevant to the conduct of everyday life. The moral status of benevolence, they say, is no different from that of malevolence, creativity from destructiveness, honesty from deception, etc., and a belief in any of these values over their opposites is merely an arbitrary preference, with no objective validity. Ethically, it's deuces wild.
    The current subjectivist/relativist/nihilist morass may seem unappetising, they concede, but that too is an arbitrary judgement. There are no grounds for seeking anything better - there *is* no "better."
    The Russian/American novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand begged to differ. It is reality itself, she argued, that confronts man with the need for morality - a code of values designed to facilitate the process of living - because it confronts him with alternatives amongst which he must choose (he has no choice about choice). At the most fundamental level the choice is: life or death. If one chooses death, there is nothing more to be said; if one chooses life, the book of morality opens, & one must fill in the pages oneself, making one's choices in the presence of alternatives to the ultimate value of: life.
    To the nihilist's gleeful 'coup de grace,' 'Ah! But why should one value life in the first place?' Rand replied: The question is improper. The value of life need not & cannot be justified by a value beyond life itself; without the fact of life, the concept of value would not be possible in the first place. Value presupposes life; life necessitates value.
    To the existentialists' lament that without something beyond life, life itself has no meaning, she responded similarly - the very concept of meaning can have meaning *only* in the context of life. Ultimately, the meaning of life, if one wants to use that terminology, is ... *life* - one's own life, since one cannot live anyone else's - & what other or better meaning could one conceive?
    A creature endowed with immortality, denied the alternative of life or death (& their barometers, pleasure & pain) would have no need of values & could discover no meaning in anything since nothing would be of any consequence to it. It is man's nature as a living, mortal entity, unprogrammed to survive, constantly facing alternatives, endowed with a conceptual/volitional consciousness, that simultaneously makes the need for morality inescapable and the fulfilment of that need possible.
    For a human being, "is" is fraught with "ought"; "ought" is an irresistible aspect of "is" - the traditional dichotomy between them is false. The task of ethical philosophy is to prevent their being artificially sundered. A successful outcome - a morality derived from and consistent with the facts of reality - is, by virtue of those very characteristics, *not* arbitrary (disconnected from reality) but objective (consonant with reality).
    Rand went on to argue that a reality-based, life-affirming morality would concern itself not merely with survival, but survival proper to the life of the sentient, conceptual being that man is. While life might be the *standard* of morality, *happiness*, she argued, was its *purpose*. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
fountainhead     In Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a young man fresh out of college, looking for spiritual fuel for the journey ahead of him, is wheeling his bicycle through a forest, when he encounters the architect Howard Roark, contemplating some breath-taking new structures - his own - in a nearby clearing. "Who built this?" he asks. "I did," Roark replies. The boy thanks Roark & walks away. "Roark looked after him. He had never seen him before & he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime."
    To all this country's young people, happy & unhappy alike, I would repeat what I said on 'Ralston': Read this book - & the philosophy that produced it. You have nothing to lose but your doubts; you have your dreams to win. I repeat that advice today.

Here’s Ella Fitzgerald & Mercer Ellington.  Something to Live For.

PS: If you agree with the prescription that Chris and Lindsay outline here and you’d like  to offer to a new generation the inspiration to face a lifetime that reading The Fountainhead has given some of us—then why not help out with our Fountainhead Essay Contest, and put the ideas in this life-changing book in the hands of more young New Zealanders.  (Here's what one participant in the ARI's American competition has to say, and here's the winning 2002 New Zealand essay.)

Friday, 13 August 2010

More red tape for builders, not less

It’s astonishing how much spin and how little real improvement one ridiculously incompetent and ill-informed Building Minister can make.

Yesterday’s press release from the Pakuranga Clown Maurice Wimpianson led with talk of “reducing red tape,” “red tape being snipped out of the $5.7 billion house building sector,” “cutting the red tape associated with building a house,” and other promising noises.

Unfortunately, all these “noises” about cutting red tape are bullshit, yet since they’ve been embraced by the industry’s noisiest cheerleaders and lapped up like mana by the ignorati in the press, I’ll need to explain why.

It’s all about the small print.

“Reducing red tape?”  The only red tape that’s been reduced is “allowing” you, yourself, in your capacity as home-owner and D.I.Yer, to erect a small porch, a fence or a small retaining wall on your own land, or add a heat pump or shade sail to your house. Isn’t that nice of nanny? (Make sure you tug your forelock appropriately as you nail home that last fence paling.)

But when all’s said and done this is something you can do already, and have quite properly been allowed to do since Adam was a lad. (Whose bloody land is it anyway, for Galt’s sake?!)  All that’s changed today is that the government’s thrice-announced plans to take that right away have been changed.  Slightly. For the moment.

Oh, and if you do want to “do it yourself,” even to the small extent allowed by Nanny, you might just need your D.I.Y signed off by a builder. Ahem, by a “licensed building practitioner.” To whom you will need to tug your forelock, because (whether you like it or not) the law will require them to take responsibility for what you have just done.

So much for making the chain of responsibility clearer.  That’s as much a lie as Labour’s new brochure claiming that all 15% of the Government Slavery Tax is due to National
(Q: Does the new announcement take councils out of the chain of responsibility? A: No.
Q: So that still leaves ratepayers responsible for the failures of building inspectors required by law to take responsibility for things in which they have no ability? A: Yes.
Q: So if you’re relying on insurers to protect home-owners for some parts of the building process, why not remove ratepayers’ risk altogether and allow insurers to cover it all?  A: ? )

And so much for “reducing” red tape. Because not only is this not a real relaxation, what was also “announced” yesterday was a new requirement adding a whole new truckload of paperwork to “every job over $20,000” (which, these days, means every job) requiring that every home-owner and home-builder use Nanny’s contracts to have their homes built or renovated. Because Nanny knows best.

And with it too was announced yet again, just to remind us all, the same announcement that’s already been made several dozen times before over the last five years: that everyone from plumbers to builders to house designers will have to become a “licensed building practitioner” by 2012 or be forced out of the industry—a “license” being a proxy for quality and reliability that has and will fail abjectly to achieve either. (If you doubt this, just look how many leaky homes were designed by registered architects and built by master builders.) 

A “license” has no more ability to guarantee quality than a stop sign has to stop a speeding car (or a ban on drugs has to keep drugs out of prisons).  Nonetheless, every current practitioner will soon be forced to bend their current practices and methods to fit those of the people who were, by and large, most responsible for designing and building those leaky homes—to either change their ways, conform, or get out.

“Reducing red tape?” Sounds more like anti-competitive regulation to me, so it’s no surprise that everyone from the Master Builders Association to the Certified Builders Association came out of their woodwork to throw up their hands in celebration.  Can you think why that was?  If you answered: “For the same reason that large taxi companies were celebrating the compulsory requirement for security cameras in cabs,” then give yourself a large tick. It’s because these rent-seekers understand that this anti-competitive move will help to exclude their smaller more nimble competitors from the market, and probably send many more of them offshore. Simply put, by enforcing the flaccid practices of behemoth organisations on everybody, registration of builders and designers is a great way of preventing competition from new rivals.

So much for either “raising standards” or “reducing red tape.”

It’s a pity that none of the media commentators realise that.  But they don’t.  Instead, they’re busy selling this already oft-announced announcement as both a “new” announcement and a reduction of red tape, which tells you once again just how little these commentators bother to do anything other than repeat the self-serving press releases that get sent to them.

As I listened to all the nonsense and all the “practices” of all the dinosaurs that we will all soon be required to follow (either follow or leave the industry), I couldn’t help thinking of this observation by Frank Lloyd Wright (who was never “licensed” anywhere, nor even “qualified,” and under this current regime wouldn’t be allowed near a hammer, let alone a drawing board):

_QuoteThe building codes of the democracies embody, of course, only what the previous generation knew, or thought they knew, about building...

The codification in law of fluid and ever-changing practices is the first step in their calcification, and to the inevitable exclusion of innovation and new competition.  Not that anything of that would bother either the people collecting their members’ dues at the Master Builders Association and the Certified Builders Association, or this Minister of Building--whose only relationship to the industry is being milked quite happily by the current team rebuilding his home at his great expense in Farm Cove, Pakuranga.

But as I listened to all the nonsense, and to all the new restrictions being announced as a removal of red tape, I thought back to a simpler time when regulations were simpler, home-owners actually had rights, and men who would one day become Prime Ministers would happily and without any hindrance from Nanny erect their own houses right from right down to making their own concrete blocks. I thought, in other words, of the house that Big Norm built could no longer build, and of the National Party Minister who only four years ago opposed, in the name of Big Norm, what has just been announced by his colleague:

_Quote Has the Minister visited the Kaiapoi home of former Labour Prime Minister Norm Kirk—in the Minister’s electorate—that he built with his own sweat and toil, including making his own blocks, a feat now outlawed by the Minister’s complex licensed building practitioner regime, which would have required Norm to have a licence for concrete work, a licence for blocklaying, a licence for roofing, a licence for carpentry, and a licence for external plastering; why does the Minister want to destroy with his politically correct red tape the proud New Zealand tradition of Kiwi battlers being able to build their own homes, when there is no evidence that the leaky homes problem was caused by DIY builders?

That’s the measure of how much real “red tape is relaxed” today. Answer: None.

By the way, it won’t surprise you to know that the surname of the National Party Minister with the forked tongue is Smith, and his first name is Nick.  The dick.


A sporting dilemma

cmrfu-crest-embossed Here’s a sporting story with both a dilemma and a moral. And a Ranfurly Shield.  Let’s start with the dilemma.

But first, some history.  Once upon a time in a land to the south of Auckland there was a small and plucky team from the south of Auckland called Counties, who attracted the support of folk like me who liked to support their local team, and liked to support a battler.  They gave us a lot of fun over the years (NPC win in 1979; two Grand Finals in 1996 and 1997) , and also a lot of heartache (demotion; relegation; last-minute Ranfurly Shield losses) but never a Ranfurly Shield win.

And then, at the start of the professional era, our team was taken away from us.  The dismemberment began between that Grand Final of 1997 and the Super 14 final of the next year, when the Auckland Blues played Canterbury’s Crusaders, a final which ended with eight Counties players on one side and seven on the other, and a stand full of Counties fans with no idea who to cheer for—a metaphor for what was to follow as our players were quietly hoovered up by the Rugby Union’s more favoured teams, and by other teams around the world: Joeli and Jonah to Auckland; a clutch to Waikato and Canterbury and Otago; and Tony Marsh to France. (About eight internationals emerged first at Counties before being snaffled up by others.)

So when Counties were finally demoted in 2001 after a season when even Northland beat us, many Counties fans began to feel our team had been taken away from us, the game was being changed into something else in any case, and and we began to quietly give up on the game altogether.  Go Counties. Yeah right.

And then in just three short weeks this year something changed. First they knocked off Otago; then they knocked off Wellington. And now, from the top of the first-division table, Counties all of a sudden gets to play Southland for the Shield—with a definite chance to win it for the very first time!

Woo bloody hoo!

So what’s the dilemma? Well, it’s this. How do you go from bitching and whinging and finally giving up on your team, to all of a sudden yelling for them again without making yourself like a prize dick.  Answer is:  you can’t. So fuck it, I’m a dick. 

Go Counties.

So have you guessed the moral by now?

It’s this; as Winston Churchill once said,

_Quote Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in...

Even as a fan: don’t give in, and don’t give up on your team. Even if your team is taken away, even if the region’s main paper can’t be bothered reporting them properly (so what’s changed), even if the Rugby Union tries to kill them off, never, never, never give up on them.  Because they might just turn around and surprise you.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

“View of Bonnières” – Paul Cezanne


Why am I posting this painting? Because I was fascinated by a discussion of it in one of Bernard Levin's columns I was re-reading.

_Quote The problem of Cezanne, which we who only want to feast on his pictures can happily leave to the experts, is how to classify him. To start with, was he an Impressionist at all? He said himself that his aim was ‘To make of Impressionism something solid and durable. . .‘, which suggests that he was not altogether at home in a world where everything dissolves, and if he was the true precursor of Cubism, that would further distance him from the ‘true’ Impressionists, though his Cubism was all his own, and it didn’t last long anyway. A fig for all this taxonomy; go to the Academy and stand in front of No. 17, ‘View of Bonnières’. Better still, get yourself a camp-stool and sit in front of it. If you stay there long enough you will see the picture change before your eyes, first becoming Impressionist, and then sliding imperceptibly into Cubist. What you are watching through these metamorphoses is Cezanne becoming Cezanne — no, Cezanne making himself Cezanne, wrenching his genius apart to see how it works and how it can be put back together and remade.
Click on the pick to enlarge, and then spend some time in front of it on your camp-stool. Can you see it?

To dream the unsustainable dream

While Obama dreams of electric cars, reality bites in Spain…

Spain’s plans to have 2,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2010 have been dealt a blow as figures showed just 16 have been soldIn April, the government said it would invest 590m euros ($775m; £490m) in the production of electric cars.

And in Britain…

Sales of electric cars have fallen by more than half this year, according to figures released two days after the Government’s climate change advisory body predicted a huge increase. Only 156 electric cars were sold from January to October, compared with 374 for the same period last year.  [Hat tip Andrew Bolt.]

Moral of the story?  “Sustainable” is just another euphemism for unrealistic, unprofitable, and unaffordable. Which means “sustainable” really means unsustainable.

KRIS SAYCE: How to Pay Off Your Debt–US Government Style

Guest post by Kris Sayce

We look at the market this morning, and what do we see?

Oh mamma, we see trouble a-brewing!

Quite frankly we don’t get why others can’t see the same problems.

To us it seems obvious. But anyway, seeing as no-one else is game to show you, if we’ve got space today we’ll reveal all. If not, we’ll hold the rest of it over until tomorrow…

First let’s get the crazy stuff out of the way. The US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee met this morning and decided to keep the US Fed Funds Rate on hold at 0%-0.25%.

No surprise there.

But there was something that did surprise us. Although it apparently didn’t surprise the folks on Wall Street.

We were surprised because – naively – we didn’t think it was possible for Dr. Ben Bernanke and his buddies to be any more stupid than they already are.

But they can. Here’s what caused your editor to apply the palm of our hand to our forehead in a slapping motion:

_Quote_Idiot To help support the economic recovery in a context of price stability, the Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve’s holdings of securities at their current level by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in longer-term Treasury securities.

What it simply means is that all the money the Federal Reserve created at the press of a button last year and the year before isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to hang around like a bad economic smell.

The idea that the Fed would contract its balance sheet has gone up in smoke. Even though that was the unwritten promise the Fed and it’s mainstream cheerleaders said would happen.

“Don’t worry about the increased money supply, the Fed understands this and will start to take money back out of the system at the right time” was the general chorus. Yeah right.

Of course, we always suspected that the Fed would have no intentions of reducing the size of its balance sheet. Not while there was the prospect of price deflation still around.

And sure enough they’ve done what we feared they would do.

Here’s how it works. In order to bail out the banks and housing market, the Federal Reserve bought a whole bunch of securities. It bought them using money it just created from thin air.

The money didn’t come from savings, because there wasn’t any. It didn’t come from tax dollars, because tax receipts had fallen. And it didn’t come from selling bonds to investors, because the investors couldn’t afford it because they had invested in the very crap that the Fed now wanted to buy!

So, the Fed just clicked a button and voila! There’s a cool trillion or so dollars.

Well, naturally enough, when you buy securities that have a maturity date, more often than not they mature, and the holder of the bond – the Fed – gets to receive the face value of the bonds on maturity.

Which is roughly where we are today.

The money that it created from thin air and then paid out to the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, to take the bonds off them, has now found its way back to the Federal Reserve.

Now, this was the chance the Fed had to reduce its balance sheet. It could make all that phony money go away. All it needs to do is hit the ‘Delete’ key, and poof, the money it created would just disappear.

But no. That would be too sensible. And more worryingly for the Fed and the O’Bama administration, it would probably bring forward the inevitable economic depression.

“Not on our watch”, they’ve clearly said. “Some other sucker can wear that one. Hilary’s gonna run for President in five years right?”

So, rather than taking the hit now and allowing the economy to purge itself of all the crap that’s still poisoning it, the Fed opts for the easy way out – easy for them and their taxpayer-funded jobs that is. Tough for everyone else.

But in this instance it’s not the banks or the car firms or the insurance companies that are in line for a massive bailout. No, this time it’s the US Federal Government that will enjoy the lion’s share of the inflated dollars.

Look, this isn’t the first time the Fed has bailed out Uncle Sam. Last year when the Fed started its quantitative easing (QE), or money printing programme, it bought up a whole bunch of US treasury bonds.

But today’s announcement from the Fed has just made things a whole lot worse.

In effect, the Fed has crossed the Rubicon. How so?

Simply because this one statement has now institutionalised central bank money printing as a means to pay off government obligations.

We’re not just talking your common-old-garden fiat-currency and fractional-reserve banking type of money printing. That’s the kind of money printing that goes on under the cover of darkness.

No, in this case it’s brazen printing money from thin air without even the charade of backing it with anything.

This decision by the Fed has in effect done for money printing what the consumer price index (CPI) has done for price inflation.

You see, the creation of the CPI is probably the single biggest contributor to higher prices. The adoption of an inflation target by central banks such as the Reserve Bank of Australia has institutionalised rising prices.

The brainwashing has been so effective that economists, commentators and even the general public view rising prices as a good thing. Even during an economic downturn! They can no longer see the conflict of supporting price inflation while at the same time lamenting the rising cost of groceries.

Hats off to the Keynesians and the inflationists for successfully spreading their economic evil. The rats.

But that could all be nothing compared to today’s announcement by the Fed.

Take a look at the chart below that we’ve reproduced from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland:

Summary View
Click here to enlarge
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

You see the large brown area (that’s appropriate) that suddenly emerged in early 2009. That’s the Fed’s holding of agency debt and mortgage-backed securities.

Agency debt by the way is debt issued by, well, agencies of the US federal government – such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a bunch of other QUANGOs.

Also note the yellowish area that started to grow in the early months of 2009. That’s US government debt. Long term and short term government bonds.

Well, what the Fed has decided today is that the total size of its balance sheet – around USD$2.25 trillion according to this chart – will be maintained at the level. Only the composition of it will change.

In other words, as the Fed starts buying up longer term treasury bonds we can expect to see the yellow area expand and the brown area contract. And as it does so, more newly printed money will flow into the US and global economy, and the greater the impact it will have on monetary inflation.

The focus on longer dated treasuries is the key point. The Fed knows the government can’t pay back its obligations, that’s why it’s going to load the balance sheet up with longer term debt.

Debt that won’t need to be rolled over for ten years.

If the US economy manages to struggle on for that long, the Fed will do just what the government has done in the past. It will use the money it’s been “repaid” by the government in order to buy more debt, plus print more money to keep the balance sheet at an inflation adjusted level.

Soon enough the Fed balance sheet will balloon out of all proportion just as the US debt clock has.

And just as the US Congress votes to increase the debt ceiling just as it’s about to be hit, so will the Federal Reserve vote to increase the size of its balance sheet in order to fund that ever increasing US government debt.

As I say, if it gets that far. Odds are the final collapse into economic depression will happen before the ten years is up.

Either way, the printing presses will soon be working harder than they’ve ever worked before.

Kris Sayce
Money Morning Australia

- Fernando Botero


Painter and sculptor Fernando Botero is like a Colombian Beryl Cook.  Called “the Beloved Artist of the Americas,” he’s clearly a man with a well-developed sense of humour, and sense of life.

1095180349_f83aa3d67d His paintings and sculptures of lustful fat folk grace squares and plazas all over Colombia—and attract people like flies to honey.

plaza-esculturas-botero15 Just like all good sculpture should.

[Hat tip to reader Julian D.  Photos courtesy Babau, and Travel Adventures]

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY: What happened to ghost towns?

I liked this comment over at Australian blog Catallaxy Files, just as relevant here in the wake of the debate over how welfare has changed over the last few generations.  Seems like what would once have become ghost towns these days become bogan towns instead…

_Quote Why do ghost towns exist? Because the economic activity that once supported them dried up, so the people upped and moved to someplace else.
    We don’t seem to be creating ghost towns any more...  [Instead], economically dead places are being supported by indirect government handouts, like the dole.

Anyone who just said either “creative destruction” or “rustbelt” to themselves while reading that earns a point.

Instructions for people who suck at everyday life

The major idea of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom was identifying the way communities use processes like privatisation and “informal norms and cultural rules” to combat the Tragedy of the Commons. [Hat tip Anti Dismal]  It’s the same point made in Larry David’s lesson to Christian Slater (above) about eating all the caviar. (A principle he then embarrassingly breaks himself.)

At a party, Larry David spots Christian Slater, who, considering his career lately, is indulging a little too heavily in the caviar. As Slater goes over his "allotment," Larry David tells him: "We have unwritten laws in our society... You take a little bit, and then you step away for twenty minutes, see what kind of action there is. If nobody's taking any, maybe take a little bit more. Step away again. So forth and so on.

If this advice to a caviar hog sounds pretty basic, it is. That’s because it’s advice to someone who sucks at everyday life. Just like Larry himself. Just like all these Instructional Diagrams for People Who Suck at Everyday Life:





DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Organic bullshit, Dr Gorgon & some fairy-tale romance

_richardmcgrath Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom

This week: Organic bullshit, Dr Gorgon & some fairy-tale romance…

  • “Athfield attacks heritage rulesWell, well. Following on from the story from last week of the assault on John Buck’s property by the Historic Places Trust, a story emerges that the architect who designed Buck House – Ian Athfield – once found his own house under threat of being stolen (a.k.a. “listed for its heritage value”) by the Wellington City Council. He came up with an ingenious, suitably post-modern solution: he told the council the house had “organic heritage,” which meant he could change it as he wished. What better way to deal with council scoundrels but to throw their own namby-pamby weasel words back at them? The council accepted this, and everyone went home to their families.
        But hang on. It turns out Mr Athfield is a board member of – what else! – the Historic Places Trust. Yes, you’re reading that right. He is at the top table of an organisation of those same busybodies who collude with city and district councils to effectively seize property owned by other people. All fine and well until it happens to you, Mr Athfield; whereupon your property becomes a special case, and suddenly develops unique “organic heritage.”
        Wow. I wonder if Mr Buck can now use this same clause to free himself from the predation of Mr Athfield’s gang of thieves? Surely his property, which closely resembles that of Mr Athfield, must also ooze “organic heritage.”
        I think I can see where this is heading: in the not too distant future, for a fee, Mr Athfield and the Historic Places Trust will bestow “organic heritage” on your property in order to keep it safe from the clutches of the Historic Places Trust. Or am I just becoming cynical?
  • “Gareth Morgan: Our Approach To Booze Has Been Pathetic – Frankly, Gareth Morgan’s approach to individual liberty has been worse than pathetic. His solution to the broken-down public health system, for example: more state taxes and bullying. For example:
                “Again the solution is simple [says Mareth Gorgon] tax, education and stigma.
            Impose excise duties on low nutritional food (use the revenue to subsidise whole foods
            if you like), play dramatic ads of grossly obese people stuffing their gobs and scoffing
            diet drinks (whose ingredients simply stimulate appetite), and like smokers, have them
            go outside to eat.”
        Dr Morgan then launches into GPs, in his ignorance not realising that they are no longer paid a subsidy for an open-ended number of patients, but a fixed yearly capitation payment regardless of how many times a patient is seen.
                “Taxpayer subsidies to GPs who aim to see as many patients as they can each day is
            a totally perverse approach to effective primary
    healthcare, that conflict of
            interest standing in the way of effective prevention. Better to directly pay those most
            at risk to improve their self-management than waste the money on pseudo-
            entrepreneurial GPs.

        Not only is Dr Gorgon ignorant of how actual doctors work, he’s ignorant of what the govt is already doing to their market. If a patient enrolled with Dr X then sees Dr Y while on holiday in another part of the country, Dr X then has part of his subsidy transferred across to Dr Y. And, to cap it off, if doctors want to increase the fee they charge patients, they have to justify their price increase to a state-appointed board of bean counters! In other words, we already have price fixing in place, worthy of the most despotic and economically backward Third World banana republic we are becoming.
        Dr Morgan dances around the concept of rationing health care, without mentioning the only viable and just method of delivering services: a free market. Nowhere in his spiel does he advocate a free market in health care, surely the answer to the mess in which our crumbling public hospitals and disappearing primary care workforce find themselves.
        But as the returns of his govt-subsidided Kiwisaver company make clear, Dr Morgan knows nothing about free markets.
  • nealpat “Patricia Neal: A life of drama on screen and off – I had occasionally wondered if this actress was still alive, and saw that she had died just this week. Sixty years ago she played a stunning Dominique Francon, opposite the Howard Roark played by Gary Cooper, in a film directed by King Vidor.  Based on a novel by a man named Lear (no, wait, a woman named Ayn Rand) it was something called The Fountainhead--as relevant today as it was in 1949.
        Rand herself once described the character played by Neal, Domnique Francon, as “herself in a bad mood”—a role Neal played to perfection.
        The sexual tension between Roark and Francon in the book was transferred to the screen by the actors, and spilled over into real life…
  • To finish, a libertarian fairy tale for the guys: 
            Once upon a time, a Prince asked a beautiful Princess: “Will you marry me?”
    The Princess said “No.”
    And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and went fishing and
        hunting and played golf
    and shagged women half his age and drank copious amounts
        of beer and scotch and had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up
    and just did
        whatever he fucking wanted.
            The End.

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny - when the
government fear the people, there is liberty.”
-attributed to Thomas Jefferson