Saturday, November 05, 2005

Stop Press: Greens against banning something

Crikey! Those apostles of the 'b' word have come out against banning fireworks, and for some very good reasons. Says Rod Donald in 'The Press':
Are you going to ban cars because people have accidents? It gets to the point of the ridiculous. I’m more concerned about young drivers in charge of a one-tonne metal missile than kids letting off crackers.
Good on him. Fireworks have mutated from the noisy, exciting things we threw at each other when I was a kid to culturally-correct things these days that you may only approach wearing an asbestos suit over a Raph Nader-certified hair shirt. And today's fireworks don't even go BANG anymore -- these days they just let out a gentle 'poof.' Bloody sad. No wonder Halloween is taking over. Seee those crackers in that photo up there: they're now illegal. Bloody wowsers and their banning.

Anyway, the Frog's comments on this are equally interesting and sometimes even amusing, and they conclude with a comment that I know will interest some 'Not PC' readers:
While we’re on the subject of Guy Fawkes - check out the trailer for V for Vendetta, based on one of my favourite comics :) .
And BTW, if you want to see some virtual fireworks, you can either tell your significant other where you really were that night you came home late last week, or you can visit Fireworks.Com and upload your favourite picture -- here's my own effort -- or try one of their other virtual bits of fireworks fun. My favourite is the Phantom Fireworks Online, allowing you to let off fireworks over some major American cities.

However you choose to enjoy Guy Fawkes, make sure you DO enjoy it. Let off a few loud explosions for me, if you can.

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Pandemic punditry

Further to the post and subsequent discussion below about the possibility of a bird flu pandemic -- and the brief scare in Melburne yesterday when a chap returned from a trip to China with a dose of what now appears to be ordinary flu -- Dr Henry I. Miller at the Hoover Institute has a good short summary of the evidence so far for worrying. Note that the third characteristic is the crucial one and, crucially, the one yet to appear:
During the past several years, an especially virulent strain of avian flu, designated H5N1, has ravaged flocks of domesticated poultry in Asia and spread to migratory birds and (rarely) to humans. Now found from Russia and Japan to Indonesia, it is moving inexorably toward Europe. Since 2003, more than 60 human deaths have been attributed to H5N1. Public health experts and virologists are concerned about the potential of this strain because it already has two of the three characteristics needed to cause a pandemic: It can jump from birds to human, and can produce a severe and often fatal illness. If additional genetic evolution makes H5N1 highly transmissible among humans -- the third characteristic of a pandemic strain -- a devastating world-wide outbreak could become a reality.

Moreover, this is an extraordinarily deadly variant: The mortality rate for persons infected with the existing H5N1 appears to be around 50 percent, whereas the usual annual flu bug kills fewer than one percent.
As I said in the comments below, if you want to keep in touch with the evidence as it appears, here's three such sources of evidence that wil be worth keeping an eye on:
CIDRAP (the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy), the Avian Flu blog maintained by academics at George Mason University, and the collaborative reference site Flu Wiki.

Bitten

My sister has been attacked by a dog.

Story here from the Northern Advocate. I can pass on whatever comments or messages you would like to make.

'Compassion' & 'Just Music'

Two pieces here tonight from Cordair Fine Arts, 'Compassion' -- a sculpture by Danielle Anjou -- and 'Just Music' -- an oil painting by Theo van Oostrom.

Both pieces are for sale at Cordair Art.

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's Beer O'Clock!

It's about that time isn't it.

The beer for tonight is the wonderfully crisp Czech beer Budvar, which is to my delight now appearing in beer chillers around the country in increasing numbers, just in time for summer.

NB: When purchasing your Budvar -- or if you're lucky, having it purchased for you -- do NOT under any circumstances confuse this ambrosia with the sugar-flavoured slops peddled under the Budweiser brand. The difference between the two approximates the difference between Moet and Margue Vue.

'P' madness

The Bay of Plenty murders have inspired the usual media speculation and rumours, including the predictable if evidence-free talk about links with 'P.' It's almost as if, as this neat spoof at Blair's points out, the media themselves might be the locus of the very 'P'-driven frenzy they frequently rage about.

[UPDATE: FWIW, here's a somewhat different view on 'P,' from psychiatrist Sally Satel, which rather demonstrates Blair's thesis. Feel free to comment at will.
Now I enjoy a good moral panic as much as the next person, but I think methamphetamine deserves its dreadful reputation. No other addictive drug combines so expertly the seduction of intoxication (feelings of supreme confidence and energy) with duration of intoxication (over 10 hours) with memory and concentration deficits (presumably reversible) and paranoia (usually reversible). Because the drug inflames the sex drive for hours on end the large number of different partners in a given session virtually ensures high rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and syphilis.]

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More violence, more social workers. Duh!

Now this is surely going to fix the problem of South Auckland's thuggish and pathetic warrior culture. From NewstalkZB: Call for more youth workers:
A meeting was held last night with 150 community members including police, church leaders and school principals.

Mayor of Manukau Sir Barry Curtis will be talking with Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope today about the need for more youth workers in Mangere and Otara.
A recent survey highlighted some 250 government organisations in South Auckland, all focussed on 'social development' and other bromides. Hasn't helped. Youngsters just keep on doing what they want to -- more social workers on the streets isn't going to stop them. More police on the streets might, but only if those police are focussed on arresting those committing the violence, as the 'new always-arrest' policy maintains will happen. But that doesn't happen at the moment, as a recent story in The Press noted:

[Across the country] over the past 10 years, violent crime has increased in every age group but most notably with 14 to 16-year-olds, where the number apprehended for violent crimes has jumped from 3306 in 1995 to 4112 in 2004...
For 80 per cent of youth offenders, their crime will mean a visit to police youth aid and a warning. They are unlikely to reoffend.

The remaining 20 per cent are referred to the Youth Court.
Oooh! Either "a warning," or an appearance in Youth Court. That must really terrify these young gangsters. Can't wait to see how the 'cure' of more social workers is going to fix things. As I've said here before (see below), in my view it's nannying Governments action that have helped cause the problem -- the answer is not more of the same.

NB: Part three of my own pieces on the problems in South Auckland will be here soon. For the record, here is Part One and Part Two of 'The Warrior Culture of South Auckland.'

[UPDATE: Of course, the problems seen in South Auckland are not confined to it. I learn from Berlin Bear for example that Parisian suburbs have had "seven consecutive nights of rioting..., in which at least 177 cars have been set alight, numerous shops and other buildings looted and/or ransacked and/or set on fire, and shots have been fired at police and firefighters." Oddly however, Berlin Bear finds something wrong with calling these destructive fuckwits 'scum.' Don't want to "alienate... the disaffected youths who are causing the trouble even further with such terms of abuse," whimpers the Bear. Jesus wept! You can tell he's an academic.]

[UPDATE 2: The problems in Paris put those in South Auckland in the shade. Cox and Forkum have the cartoon (right) and some news that explains why.]

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Duncan on Islam

Duncan has a very good, very short piece this morning summarising his opinion of Islam. I concur, and commend it to your attention.

Political Correctness: A classic documentary now online

I thought it was time that a classic documentary on Political Correctness was taken out and dusted off: a forty minute radio documentary put together by Lindsay Perigo and Deborah Coddington for BBC World Service Radio just over a decade ago. (I've transferred it to MP3 and put it online, with links below.) How far have we come since then?

The documentary covers the orgins and effects of political correctness, the local and overseas manifestations of the phenomenon, and of course takes the piss out of PC whenever possible. The case of Anna Penn is discussed (Penn, if you recall, was the trainee nurse failed for being 'culturally unsafe' -- ahem, 'deficiency-achieved' -- in 1993, despite having a 92% average in the rest of her course) and there is also commentary from and interviews with luminaries such as journalist Carol du Chateau, economist and commentator Walter Williams, then-lecturer Rodney Hide, scientist and former Professor Robert Mann, andphilosopher Gary Hull.

Hull points to post-modernism and its relativist, deconstructionist cousins as being responsible for political correctness. Says Williams, the corruption of language that political correctness demands brings to mind George Orwell's important point in 1984, that "to introduce totalitarianism into society, you first have to corrupt the language."

How far have we come since 1993, and how much closer to 1984? You decide. Feel free to forward a copy to Wayne Mapp. He might learn something.

Linked MP3s: Political Correctness, Part 1, and Political Correctness, Part 2.

[Brought to you by SOLO, for Sense of Life Objectivists, and The Free Radical magazine. Visit both today, and see what's new!]

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

SH1 RMA Protesting

Motorists on State Highway 1 will no doubt already be familiar with the signs of the Resource Users Association in farmland beside the road. Their blood is worth bottling.

If you have a site next to a main road, and you want to host one of the Resource Users' signs, then get on to Warwick Cheyne, the RUANZ President. Tell him I sent you.

Hamilton house - some progress

To be fair, Hamilton isn't totally bereft of good things. Here's a sneak preview of a pretty exciting house going up there -- yes, it's one of mine.

(This is turning into a bit of a photoblog this afternoon -- if only I had TinCanMan's dexterity with laying out all the pics.)

The Black Hole that is Hamilton

Look, I know Hamilton has had a tough time finding a decent slogan -- 'Hamilton: More than you expect!' and Hamilton: Where it's happening!' were two recent efforts -- but this, ah, minimal effort which I spotted today is rather amusing.

Hamilton: The blank canvas? Hamilton: The Black Hole?

What's your guess?

Getting Frank with Google Earth

My tempting time-waster at present is Google Earth, and I've just found a truckload of Google Earth plugins (they call them .kmz files) that take you directly to various Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, where you can then fly around to your heart's content. There on the right for example is a screeen capture of the site of the Ennis-Browne house just outside LA.

This is a wonderful tool for seeing architecture in its context -- or at least, at present, seeing the context of the architecture; you still need to know the architeture whose site you're looking at. And in a short time you can have an architectural tour of the globe -- or even an engineering tour if you prefer: that's a screen capture of the Hoover Dam down there on the left.

Links: A collection of Google Earth Frank Lloyd Wright plugins

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Transmission Gully -- the full background

LibertyScott has chapter and verse on all the Transmission Gully project hoo-hah: if you think you know about this project, then check with Scott's analysis to see if you really do-- he has been immersed in the project for years, and he knows whereof he speaks.

Prebble: Wrong, wrong, wrong

Richard Prebble's 'The Letter,' a gossip sheet purporting to give you all the inside stories around the traps, is maintaining instead a proud record of giving you the scoops without letting the truth get in the way of its good stories. The failed guess-work this time is over Prebble's claims about Jim Sutton and his property-buying. Said Prebble:
Former Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton did not decide to resign voluntarily, he was pushed. His crime? Firstly for having the biggest swing against him and secondly for announcing that he had bought a house in Waikanae and was going to stand for the Wellington Labour list next election. Sutton was valuable while he was a rural voice but the party had no need for yet another MP who wants to live just the distance needed to qualify for the Wellington housing allowance.
Trouble is, like many of Prebble's predictions and punditry, it's not true. Sutton has bought property in Wainouiomata, not Waikanae, and for raising horses, not to claim a housing allowance. The Letter has now been amended to make this change. (Compare it to the cached copy here.) But this isn't the first thing Prebble has got wrong in his Letter -- indeed in the same Letter he both misspells and incorrectly predicts Brash's new Chief of Staff. With so many failed predictions, none of his breathless revelations can be relied on. The thing is worthless.

Henry Hazlitt once described the work of John Maynard Keynes as lacking both truth and originality. "What is original... is not true, and what is true is not original." The same might be said about Prebble's rag. The former MP is an embarrassment who can't leave the limelight. Time to take his state pension and bugger off out of it.

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Incompetent Design

If you enjoyed Penn & Teller skewering Intelligent Design fruitcakes on Prime last night in their show 'Bullshit,' or if perhaps you caught up with my own recent efforts in that area (see here for Part 1), then you might also enjoy the new theory of Incompetent Design developed by a University of Massachusetts geology professor.
To combat the Intelligent Design idea, Wise has come up with his own theory: 'Incompetent Design.' This theory challenges the idea of Intelligent Design with the argument that if the human body were designed, the designer did a terrible job in doing so...

Picking on three examples of where evolution is very obvious: [the] pelvis slopes forward for convenient knuckle dragging like all the Great Apes, but only because of an extreme bend in our vertebrae do we walk upright. It?s the kind of mistake no first year engineering student would make. So it?s either evolution or bad design? Wise said.

Wise also explained that the human mouth also has far too many teeth, with wisdom teeth becoming impacted and needing removal. Wise also criticized the design of the sinus cavity, crammed between our expanded braincase and shortened muzzle, which is so easily clogged, that a plumber would be ashamed of it.
Linked article: UMass professor presents new theory of 'Incompetent Design'

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War on Drugs keeps locking them up

Taken from Hit and Run:
Based on the latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the 'Drug War Chronicle' estimates that more than 530,000 people were behind bars for drug offenses in the U.S. at the end of last year. Drug offenders accounted for about 25 percent of jail inmates, 21 percent of state prison inmates, and 55 percent of federal prison inmates. The total number of people behind bars was about 2.3 million, an all-time record, giving the U.S. an incarceration rate of 724 per 100,000--the highest in the world, according to the Chronicle, which says [the US] even beats out China this time.
New Zealand has about 6,250 New Zealanders locked up, most of whom deserve to be there. About nine percent however are in there for drug offences, about 600 people. Most drug offending here is at the 'no threat to anyone' end of the scale, but NORML's Arrest-o-Meter calculates there have still been 118470 New Zealanders arrested for cannabis possession since Labour taking office in 1999, and they say "NZ has the highest recorded cannabis arrest rate in the world, at 606 people arrested per 100,000 population per year. The United States is second with 247 arrests per 100,000 population per year."

Drug offending is a victimless crime, but the state still keeps locking up and arresting people for no other reason than that the state disagrees with what they put in their bodies. It's archaic.

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MG Rover warning

David Russell of the Consumers Institute warns 'The Chinese are taking over the bankrupt Rover MG' so 'Don't buy Rovers!' and 'Never nasty MGs!' As all simple people stay close around Russell's reasoning, I guess that's it then for New Zealand's Rover and MG owners. Says Dynamic Dave in his own words:
"Buyers of MG Rover cars may find themselves unable to get parts and service in years to come. Worst of all, they may be unable to resell these vehicles at anything like the purchase price," Consumers’ Institute chief executive David Russell said. "Our only possible advice is to completely avoid these vehicles."
Can anyone tell me why the fuck this guy gets so much air time to talk so much shit? Rover MG shut down production in April and were declared bankrupt; the news to which Russell is now responding is that production may now beginn again in China. Most recent MGs and Rovers have hardly been worth stepping across the road for anyway (unfortunately that means most of them since 1976), and most MG and Rover buyers are pretty clear what they're getting anyway without needing Russell's advice.

It's still sad that they went belly up again, but they really died as real car makers in 1980. Somewhere, sometime, there's a story to be told here about how state intervention killed the British motor industry. In the meantime, why not continue to enjoy your classic MGs and Rovers even as David Russell tries to talk down their price. I'm sure if you've got the smarts to buy one, you've also got enough smarts to do that.

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Original clay figures, by Helen Hughes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bird Flu, or not?

Is the Bird Flue pandemic another Spanish Flu disaster in the making, or just a Y2K for 05 -- all talk? The always thoughtful Jack Wheeler has his own doubts about the predictions of pandemic:
One more calamity to freak out about now, it seems, is an impending “pandemic” of the Asian Bird Flu virus known as H5N1. Every day we read about five billion more chickens or turkeys or geese in China or Romania or some other country being infected and killed.

A batch of folks in Vietnam have died of it, and the scare stories mount about how any day now, the virus will mutate, enabling not just bird-to-human infection but human-to-human. Then, the stories claim, the pandemic is on.

Well, maybe. All these comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 are shaky.
Read on to see Wheeler's reasoning, and the measures that he's taking for personal protection. And read on here to see Tim Selwyn's sneezy update to the 'Dead Parrot Sketch': "Why did the chicken cross the road? To spread bloody bird 'flu everywhere, apparently."

Top 40 magazine covers

A panel from the American Society of Magazine Editors (yes Virginia, there is a society for every breed of committee-joiners) has voted on the 40 best magazine covers from the past 40 years. There are some goodies amongst them, and also some donkeys (sorry).

There is a 6mb Powerpoint available here if you want larger images.

BTW, did you know that surveys have shown that nine out of ten men who've tried Camels preferred a woman? Just thought I'd share that.

[Hat tip, The Goodness]

New site poll: TVNZ?

Cripes TVNZ is a shambles. The argument for a state broadcaster is apparently that they're neutral and independent. Bzzzzt. Wrong. That they provide a quality product, one that private broadcasters wouldn't bother with? Bzzzzt. Try again. Um?

What would you do with the state monolith if you had the chance? Don't let my line of questioning influence your vote. ;-)

Sketch models -- Organon Architecture

Some 'sketch models' I'm playing with at the moment for what promises to be a very interesting project...

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Monday, October 31, 2005

New Zealand in Iranian sights

Cox and Forkum's cartoon (right) highlights the most commented upon threat made by Iran's new president in his recent 'Kill them all' speech: his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map." But that wasn't the only threat made; as Amir Taheri reports, "the new generation of Iran's Islamic revolutionaries" now wants to "play chicken" against the entire West, including New Zealand.

Blogger RegimeChangeIran points out (with pictures) that Iran's chief strategic guru and the architect of the so-called "war preparation plan" currently under way in Iran, Hassan Abbassi, has us here in New Zealand in his sights. In a lecture given in Tehran,
he claimed that the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the Gulf states were all "children of the same mother: the British Empire." As for France and Germany, they are "countries in terminal decline", according to Abbasi.
"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization," said Abbassi in 2004, and he has now made clear that we Kiwis are included in those plans.
We must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them. Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover.
As we know, the Clark Government ran for cover long ago, but it's about time they woke up to this threat. Although our new foreign minister has leapt into action, calling Ahmadinejad's threat "unhelpful" -- that should put the wind up the mullahs! -- he and others seemed to have overlooked Abbassi's comments. It might be time for the Clark Government's previous position of crawling appeasement (coupled with the assertion that we here in Godzone enjoy an "incredibly benign strategic environment") to be seriously rethought. Urgently.

[UPDATE: Just so you're clear about the nature of who's threatening whom, Atlas Shrugs offers a comparison between 'The Week in Israel vs the Week in Iran.' While Israel enjoyed a busy week of achievement, scientific advance and medical breakthroughs, Iran endured another week of bloodshed, murder, threats and death. Said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Oct 30 cabinet meeting, “if we were permitted to hang two or three persons, the problems with the stock exchange would be solved for ever.” ]

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Welfare's inhumanity to immigrants

Two recent cases have made Julian reflect this morning how New Zealand's welfare state has made an inhumane mess of our immigration policy. "Isn't it incredibly inhumane," he asks "how the socialists treat people like cattle - as a cost-benefit calculation?" It sure is.

I had similar thoughts a few years ago when the Tampa refugees were being shunned by all parties, thoughts summed up in the titles of two pieces I wrote: " Welfare State Leaves Boat-People to Die," I said, leaving "Bloodstains on the Refugee Red Carpet."

And Tibor Machan makes a similar argument, that the biggest problem withe the welfare state is not that it might lead to even greater control by government, but that it habituates people to brutality like that seen in these immigration cases above:
    Sure, a problem with the less Draconian evils of the welfare state is partly that they could habituate people to accept coercion from governments, making the march toward a dictatorship more probable.
    However, that’s not the biggest problem. It is far more serious that the welfare state is a lingering political, moral, and economic malady already—it constantly violates individual rights, and people suffer from that plenty. Never mind how much worse it all could get.
Linked article: The Inhumane Immigration Policy of our Welfare State

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Tragedy of the Bunnies

Here's a good, short, colourful online game to help you understand the subtle concept of the Tragedy of the Commons. It's called the Tragedy of the Bunnies.

As the person who sent it to me warned: "You might want to turn the music off though..."

[Hat tip Robin]

Liar, liar your credibility is on fire

Not every property owner rolls over when they're targeted by environmental activists intent on deception. When the Center for Biological Diversity posted a series of photographs on their web site purporting to show "the supposedly 'devastating' impacts of ranching, mining, lumbering, and just about any other productive use of the Western lands that you can think of," one Arizona rancher cried foul.

Some of the posted photos ostensibly 'demonstrated' the destruction caused by rancher Jim Chilton's 425 cattle. Trouble is, the photos were a complete pack of lies, as Chilton proved in court. The Center is now $600,000 poorer.

Linked Article: VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Nature cult's devious tactics exposed

Teaching economics

Pete Boettke at The Austrian Economists suggests there are just a few important lessons freshman economic students need to be taught. "Focus on first principles (opportunity costs and spontaneous order), and the interpretation of a wide variety of human relationships that can best be explained with the use of these principles" he suggests, " and you will make the subject matter of economics come alive and be exciting to students and leave them wanting more. "

He has two book recommendations which follow this menu: The Economic Way of Thinking by Paul Heyne, which explicitly promotes the above view, and Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist. "The persistent and consistent applications of opportunity cost reasoning and explaining how order emerges out of the behavior of individuals even though it is not anyone's intention to promote the overall order is revealed throughout The Undercover Economist in a vareity of illustrative stories from throughout the developed and developing world."

Personally, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (complete book online here in PDF) would be my recommendation, but then I haven't yet read the other two.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ralston next

After doing for TVNZ what he had previously done for Metro magazine, Bill Ralston's days as news and current affairs boss at the state broadcaster look to be numbered after network head Ian Fraser reportedly heads for the exit door. No great loss.

Let's make Australia a nuclear waste dump!

Bob Hawke's suggestion last month that Australia should offer itself as the solution to the world's nuclear waste storage problem has, naturally, fired some controversy. As Christopher Pearson said at the time, "Some will say that Hawke was just floating an unsaleable idea on a whim or, as one green activist put it, saying something outrageous because he was suffering from relevance-deprivation syndrome. I think he meant exactly what he said, and it was a premeditated and well-timed intervention into a national debate that was in danger of going nowhere."

Hawke's proposal has been taken seriously. An ABC-Radio podcast at Ockham's Razor hosts a physicist going through the reasons why, as a friend who sent me the link says, "the Aussies would be mugs NOT to allow a nuclear waste storage facility to be built inland from Perth." Says the physicist, it would be in Australians' self-interest. Feel free to comment.

Bring on the activist judges

"Those goddamn activist judges!" That's a complaint frequently heard around the traps, and with the question of the next Supreme Court appointee still unanswered, one being hotly debated in the States at present. The complainst about judicial activism and the debate around it frequently features two apparently opposed ideas: that of original intent -- a theory often supported by conservatives -- and the idea that law, treaties and constitutions are 'living documents' that empower an activist judiciary to feats of ultra vires legerdemain. (Students of the Treaty of Waitangi will be familiar with this debate.)

Tara Smith blasts that dichotomy sky high. As Don Watkins summarises her argument, "'judicial activism' is a package deal. The question is not whether a jurist is 'activist' but what their activism consists of. Proper judicial activity, she says, should involve the interpretation and application of abstract legal principles -- fundamentally, the basic principle of 'rights'."
The salient question in assessing any nominee, then, is not whether a judge takes action, but the factors that guide his actions. To be qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, a person must, at minimum, understand three basic facts: First, that individual rights are broad principles defining the individual's freedom of action. The familiar rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness subsume a vast array of particular exercises of this freedom, some explicitly named in the constitution (e.g., the freedom of speech) and some not (the right to travel). Second, he must understand that the government's sole function is to protect individuals' freedom of action. As Jefferson explained, it is "to secure these rights, [that] governments are instituted among men." Third, he must recognize that our government properly acts exclusively by permission.

Articles I, II and III [of the US Constitution] specify the powers of the three branches of government and the 10th Amendment expressly decrees that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved by the states or by the people. The government, in other words, may do only what it is legally authorized to do.

These, correspondingly, are the considerations that should guide a judge's decision-making. It is precisely because action from judges is often needed that principled action--action premised on the basic principles of our republic--is essential. Only a nominee whose record demonstrates that he is so guided is fit to be entrusted a place on the Court.
Linked article: The Need for an Active Supreme Court Justice

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'Prisoners Dilemma,' & other crap

Ayn Rand hated chess. That surprises me, but her reasons were interesting:
I could never play chess. I resent it on principle. It involves too much wasted thinking. Chess is all ifs,' and if there's one thing I cannot do mentally, it's handle anything more than two 'ifs.' In chess, you must consider hundreds of possibilities, it's all conditional, and I resent that. That is not the method of cognition; reality doesn't demand that kind of thinking. In cognition, if you define the problem clearly, you really have only one alternative: 'It is so' or 'It is not so.' There is not a long line of 'ifs' -- and if your opponent does this, you will do that. I can't function that way, for all the reasons that make me a good theoretical thinker: it's a different epistemological base.
Rand was not one who thought in 'conditionals' -- as she says, for her the accurate definition of a probem is the key to its solution. How unfashionable. As Don at Noodle Food muses, Rand's reasoning parallel his own "total disdain for game theory and much of modern economics (I'm speaking of the economics that tries to analyze all individual decisions in terms of cost/benefit analyses). Such theories do not refer to anything in reality. Take the classical prisoner's dilemma... In every analysis I've ever read, one question is never even considered..."

Read on here to find out just what that question is.