Tuesday, 12 June 2007

New record

The world's most libertarian sport has a new record:

THE round 11 crowd attendances for the 2007 Toyota AFL Premiership Season are the fifth-best single round in the history of the game, with a total of 342,376 fans attending the eight games across the Queen's Birthday Weekend. AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the 2007 season had now seen more than three million fans pass through the gates.

Sort of puts Super 14's woes in perspective, doesn't it. Oh yes, and Geelong are now at the top of the table. Just thought you should know.

And how about them Warriors, huh? ;^)

Anarchism is self-defeating

You'll rarely see a better critique of the nonsense of anarchism than this one, from Harry Binswanger. "Competition," says Harry, "is an economic, not a political, concept; it refers to the voluntary exchange of values, not to the exchange of gunfire."

Read more of this common sense here: Harry Binswanger: Anarchism vs Objectivism. [Hat tip Thomas Lee]

See also: Cue Card Libertarianism: Anarchy

UPDATE 1: A commenter at SOLO has conveniently summarised the main points covered in just 1500 words:
  1. why government must have a monopoly of force;
  2. the need for a philosophy of law to spell out details of objective justice;
  3. private force iss a violation of objective justice;
  4. the self-defence/emergency exception;
  5. private guards;
  6. what 'competing' would mean in practice;
  7. How anarchism is 'the rule of whim';
  8. how varying notions proposed for 'just retaliation' under anarchism would result in rights violations;
  9. the inescapability of disputes over rights in whatever anarchist system is initially set up;
  10. the stolen concept of a 'market' in force;
  11. the 'binding arbitration' fallacy;
  12. defense agency force is still force suppressing 'competition';
  13. the denial of the need for objectivity and proof in regard to force.
As the commenter says, "the only criticism of the essay would be ... that he lumps together all 'libertarians' as though they were anarchists."

UPDATE 2: A good debate on this still continuing at SOLO. Jump in.

Consumer beers

David Russell's former fiefdom, the Consumers' Institute, has done a beer tasting. Russell's replacement Sue Chetwin told Breakfast News this morning some of their results, which included awards for, wait for it, Speights Gold and Black Mac -- and I'm sure I heard her say that the latter was a prize for best lager! If there hadn't been a prize to Emerson's brewery for their Emerson's Old 95, I might have had something more acerbic to say.

Let me know in the comments if you hear the full list of results. In the meantime,whatever you do don't use Consumer magazine as a guide to buying beer. It'll only end in tears.

UPDATE 1: Ah, that makes more sense: Black Mac is best dark lager. Well, in their mind.
  • Best NZ Draught: Speight's Gold. ["Best" is clearly relative. Second is DB Draught!]
  • Best Dark Lager: Black Mac
  • Best Ale: Emerson's Old 95
  • Best Porter: Speight's Porter
  • Best Stout: Cascade Stout [poor Guinness, the locally brewed stuff, comes in fourth!]
Consumer's recommendations are Founders Organic Long Black, Emerson's Old 95, Wigram Brewing Co Munchner Dunkel, Speight's Porter, Black Mac, Moa Noir, of which Speight's Porter would be the best for value. Comments?

UPDATE 2: Greig from the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) reckons I'm too negative.
We at SOBA had some input into this. Remember that it aimed at the mainstream consumer. The tasting panel were fairly knowledgeable, and included a sensory scientist and Geoff Griggs, the well known beer writer - both SOBA members. Stu and I also had some input into the article itself, and I think the end result was fairly good. I was a little suspicious of Black Mac's - especially when noting that Colin Paige (Mac's brewer) was also on the tasting panel. ;)

Oh, and the Speight's Porter is pretty damn good. Don't write it off just because it's made by the same crowd who bring you "Distinction Ale". :)

Alan Bollard is insane.

If ever there was doubt that Alan Bollard is out of his depth, then his efforts earlier today supplied the proof. This is just insane, denying the cause of the high exchange rate -- himself and his interest rate hikes -- and seeking to lower it by letting off his peashooter full of our money into the nuclear battlefield of international finance. George Soros and the like will be rubbing their hands with glee.

Alan Bollard is insane.

See Stuff: RBNZ confirms intervention in NZ dollar.

UPDATE 1: Gareth Morgan calls it right:
Economist Gareth Morgan said: "Overall, this is high-stakes poker. I think we're gonna end up dog tucker here."
The "we" here, by the way, is those of us whose money Bollard is gambling with.

UPDATE 2: Gonzo comments:
This intervention may set the stage for some very nasty arbitrage. Let's hope the fund sharks don't take the bait.
"Hope" is all Bollard has. When the big sharks start biting, Bollard's going to lose our shirt.

Nanny State Has Gone Berserk!

Nanny State Has Gone Berserk!
Nanny tells us . . .

We may not discipline our children
We may not let them eat tasty food
We must pay for hysterical advertising that treats adults like children
We must not watch advertising that treats us like adults
We may not drive fast cars in industrial areas at night
We may not climb tall ladders
We may not act in ways that Nanny deems "anti-social"
We may not buy vitamins and minerals without a prescription from Nanny
We may not drink alcohol in public places
We may not smoke cigarettes at work or in the pub
We may not smoke marijuana anywhere
We may not ride a bicycle without a helmet
We may not walk a poodle without a muzzle
We may not buy fireworks that go ‘Bang!’
We may not put up bright billboards or sandwich boards around our cities
We may not cut down trees on our own property
We may not repair our own property if Nanny says we can't
We may not plant trees on our own property without Nanny’s approval of the type of tree
We may not paint our houses in colours of which Nanny disapproves
We may not build houses at all where Nanny says we can’t
We may not advertise for young female employees
We may not open for business on days Nanny specifies
If we do open for business, we must act as Nanny's unpaid tax collectors
We may not fire staff who steal from us
We may not fire staff, whatever their employment contract says
We must surrender our children to Nanny’s factory schools
We must pay for teachers that can’t teach and for centres of education that aren’t
We must believe that Alan Bollard knows what he’s doing
We must believe that our money is not our own
We must not call bureaucrats “arseholes”
We must not offend people paid to boss us around with our money
We must answer stupid questions when Nanny asks us
We may not spend our own money in ways of which Nanny disapproves
We may not defend ourselves against people who try to kill us
We must pretend that snails are more important than we are
We must pretend that murderers are people too
We must pretend that totalitarian Islamists do not want us dead, that Castro’s hospitals are not abattoirs, and that Che Guevara was a humanitarian
We must apologise to tribalists for things we didn’t do
We must not offend criminals for things they did do
We must apologise to conservationists for things we need to do
We must apologise for success
We must ignore failure
We may not build new power stations that actually produce real power
We must not offend Gaia by driving big cars and enjoying overseas holidays … unless we’re a cabinet minister
We may not end our own lives when we choose
We must pay for art we don’t like and TV shows we don’t watch
We must pay middle class families to become welfare beneficiaries
We must pay no-hopers to breed

Are we all going mad … ?
Time to throw Nanny from the train.
Tell Nanny to “Go to hell!”
And start living like a goddamned adult!

New house by Steve Kornher, San Miguel, Mexico

Images from Flying Concrete ferrocement houses.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Sad news about Augie Auer

Just heard the sad news on Newstalk ZB that meteorologist Augie Auer has died. Terry Dunleavy reports that Augie looked forward to living long enough to see the global warming scam thoroughly disgraced, and in the week NIWA admitted they get their forecasts right only half the time [pdf] ...

UPDATE 1: Tribute to Augie from Lindsay Perigo:
The erudite, jovial Augie Auer, meteorology professor-turned-TV-weather-presenter has died. Latterly he achieved notoriety as a debunker of the current Global Warming bullshit, to the embarrassment of his employer, TV3, who are fulltime proselytisers for said bullshit. Augie featured in the last Free Radical. His death is a sad loss for reason, science and life-loving.
UPDATE 2: More tributes at Stuff.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

No Ethics Please, It's Culture

The subtitle for this piece is this: 'Mrs Muliaga Didn't Have to Die.'

Culture can blind you, some people never figure that out. Culture can kill you. Folole Muliaga died because she and her family acted in accordance with their "culture," but ultimately unethically.

Does that sound extreme? Harsh? Strange?

If it sounds strange, it's because you're not accustomed to thinking about ethics that way.

I've said here before that you should think about morality that way, and I don't know that many of you understood. Let's see if the tragic case of Folole Muliaga makes it any clearer.

It's been argued that the Muliagas acted in a way that their culture demanded of them; that they didn't want to cause trouble; that they were ashamed to embarrass themselves in front of their neighbours by asking for help; that their diet obliged them to eat and eat and eat until Mrs Muliaga died of it...

This is just nuts.

None of us is obliged to do everything, or even anything, that our culture demands of us -- or seems to demand. We all have a choice. We all of us -- every one of us -- has the power of choice, the power to speak up, to act, to say "This isn't good enough," and to choose a better path. If our cultural norms demand -- or seem to demand -- that we act in a way that will lead to our own destruction, then so much the worse for those cultural norms; and so much the worse for us if we choose to close our eyes to reality and to follow those norms instead of what reality demands.

You see, everyone has a choice. The most basic choice is the choice to focus on reality, and to act upon our identification of what confronts us.

It takes just simple stupidity to make basic mistakes, but it really takes "culture" to kill. It takes just simple observation, for example,to notice that your mother is dying, and basic integrity and common sense to do something about that.

It takes "culture," or in this case what's been defended as the "Polynesian mentality," to really evade the obvious and do nothing but sing hymns while your mother dies. Two young adults of twenty-one and eighteen and two boys of fifteen and five watched their mother slip into a coma in front of them, and not one of them did anything at all about it.

That is the real tragedy. Such is the power of bad ideas, bad cultural norms, and bad philosophy.

Now, among those hymns was a real crowd favourite: "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." What a joke. What a sad and tragic irony. As Christopher Hitchens says in the subtitle of his latest book: "Religion Poisons Everything." The "friend" the Muliagas needed as they sat around clapping their hands as their mother's breathing became more difficult, as her speech became more incoherent, as her eyes closed and then her breathing stopped, the friend they needed was not an imaginary sky pilot or the outside chance of some luck to save them -- the "friend" they needed was themselves, and their rationality.

The point being that focussing on some other world or some form of salvation that exists only in the imagination -- heaven, Valhalla, Paradise, Jannah, Elysium -- the abode only of gods and angels and the souls of those who have already "gained salvation" -- necessarily sells life on this world pretty short, and pushes the locus of morality and the object of 'salvation' out into the realm of the imaginary.

What they needed to do was to act ethically, which is what I'm arguing here -- to think about what was happening right in front of them on this world and then to act. Ethics, otherwise known as morality, is the science that examines our choices and our actions, and determines good from bad. In cases such as this one, "the good" and "the bad" become much clearer.

You see, many of you argue that morality comes from religion, and that without religion there is no morality. Many of you argue that morality comes from culture, and that our culture sets our "norms" for us. Some of you have suggested that morality comes from within, from some "fellow feeling" that somehow inspires us to do "good" deeds -- which in this line of argument usually consists of sacrificing ourselves to others.

This is all just so much bunk. Morality comes from none of these, and it most certainly doesn't demand our sacrifice. Where objective morality comes from is reality, and what it demands at root is our survival, and in time our flourishing.

Let me explain.

As I've said here before, when it comes to morality, the basic choice that confronts every living being is the fundamental alternative of life or death: in stark terms, to live or die; either to identify and then take the actions necessary to living, and living well, or to evade the responsibility and to act instead for your own destruction -- or the destruction of your loved ones. All actions flowing from that first set of choices come under the heading of "the good." All those flowing from that second set of choices comes under the heading of "the bad."

(For your first bit of homework, I'll let you decide for yourself under which label the lifestyle and diet of Mrs Muliaga comes, and under which label the actions of her teenage family would fall. Answers on a postcard, please.)

I've said before that life is the standard for morality, the standard by which all actions should be judged (including the act of judging our actions). Let me say it again: the standard for morality -- the rational standard -- is not obedience to what your God or Moses says, or what your priest or pastor or Imam says, or what your neighbours say, or what your own "inner voice" seems to say, or even what you mother says if it defies reason. The Standard is Life, our life, and the lives of those we love. The immediate beneficiary of our actions is not others; it's ourself, and the purpose of such a standard is not to suffer and die, but instead to enjoy ourselves and live.

To turn Descartes on his head (which is no less than the silly French philosopher deserves), the basic ethical principle is this: "I am, therefore I'll think." Because if we don't think, there'll soon be no "I" around to think about.

I hope you think about that.
* * * * *

** For your second bit of homework, if you want to know more about Objectivist morality then you might want to act on that ...

Now that's love...

Your Sunday cartoon:

Friday, 8 June 2007

Beer O'Clock: Westmalle

It's Friday, it's almost Beer O'Clock, and this Friday your regular Beer O'Clock post come to you from Stu, a member of the Real Beer blog and the Society for Beer Advocates, SOBA. Today, we learn about what even this blog will concede is one of the good things that religion has brought us. Read on...

I generally feel sorry for people with religious tendencies and a direct line to the Almighty. It seems like lot of hard work and sacrifice, and for what? The promise of eternal salvation? That's a little like working hard for a boss who never gives you anything in return, but promises you a pay rise "next month." Just as it was for Alice's Red Queen, so it seems with the Almighty: it's always jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today. But perhaps it just seems like always when the pleasures are few and far between.

There is one group of inveterate lion-chasers however for whom I could only ever feel a twinge of genuine jealousy. These enlightened souls are the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance - also known as Trappist monks. Trappist monks have become world famous for their excellent beer, their delectable cheeses, their stunning architecture and their strict appellation that protects their use of the Trappist term. There are seven Trappist breweries:
  • Chimay, who is the most famous;
  • Rochefort and Westvleteren are held in the highest regard by beer hunters (think train spotters, but with leather jackets rather than anoraks);
  • Achel is the smallest;
  • La Trappe is the only non-Belgian Trappist brewery, and is the most notorious, having been being kicked out of the Trappist association after breaking some of the strict trading rules - they have since beer readmitted and are just now becoming available in NZ;
  • Orval is probably the most distinctive, and my own clear favourite.
Which leaves Westmalle, something of a "middle child" among this richly celebrated company.

Westmalle beers (that's their abbey at the right, by the way) are available at most good bottle stores, supermarkets and all of the Belgian beer cafés these days. Their Tripel is a delight, and is a mind blowing experience for anyone whose only tripel experience was Monteith's deservedly maligned seasonal release last year.

The Westmalle Tripel pours a pale gold, slightly hazy, with a dense white foam and a complex heady aroma - firstly of apricot and sea breeze, then of sweet dough, sour fruit, white wine and woody spices. In the mouth it's dry, tart and highly carbonated. It has a strong alcoholic character underpinned by herbal notes, reminiscent of absinthe, and delivers a generously spicy clove-like finish.

An exceptionally complex beer that's perfect for indoor drinking at this "unseasonably warm" time of year.

If God does indeed exist, then Benjamin Franklin probably summed up his reason for being, when stating: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." The Trappist monks would agree, God bless 'em.

Have a beery good weekend.

Slainte mhath, Stu

LINKS: Pascal's Wager.

Repudiate African aid, and promote African self-help

Guilt-induced blatherings about Africa are emerging from the G8 conference. But the west has nothing to feel guilty about* in regard to Africa: it's not the west who makes Africa poor, it's Africans. Africa is not poor because we made it so, says Elan Journo at the Ayn Rand Institute:
Africa is poor because it is rife with bloody tribalism and superstition--ideas that in the Dark Ages kept the Western world as poor, if not poorer, than today's Africa. If aid advocates were genuinely concerned with helping Africans, they would campaign for political and economic freedom; for individualism, reason and capitalism; for the ideas necessary to achieve prosperity.
That this is emphatically not what "aid advocates" are out in the street yelling for suggests that helping Africans is not the chief motivation behind their yelling. [Hat tip Liberty Scott].

UPDATE: A colleague on the O-Blogger list sent me a link to an interview with James Shikwati, who I've mentioned here before. "For God's sake, please stop the aid," says Shikwati to G8 leaders.

I'd suggest that if there were more James Shikwatis in Africa, then Africa would be a much more self-reliant place, and undoubtedly a mihc wealthier and a much happier place. As my colleague says, they "might actually be able to eradicate poverty by creating more wealth instead of promoting legalized theft."
- - - - -

* Correction: the west does have one thing about which it should feel guilty, and that is western Europe's and the US's closed borders to African trade. The irony here however is that those yelling loudest for a guilt-trip to help Africa are also the loudest in their opposition to free trade.

Go figure.

A right dicking

Crikey, the boys must have been excited when they woke this morning after their all-night celebrations with the Louis Vuitton Cup under their arm and a head like a soft-boiled egg, only to find this media release from Dick Hubbard coming off their fax congratulating them on their 5-0 clean sweep, and letting them know that Auckland's soon-to-be-ejected Mayor is "right behind Emirates Team New Zealand in their quest to bring the Auld Mug home."

Must have made it all seem worthwhile. :-)

It's Friday

Generalife, Grenada - before AD 1319

The early Islamic culture in Span represented a high civilization, far higher than anything else around at that time, and for the longest time it was good and getting better. The pictures here show the Generalife at Grenada -- built before Islam turned towards death worship, and was instead worshipping this life, and pleasure on this earth.

What a contrast to Islam today!

And why wouldn't you celebrate life on this earth, if not for foul ideas that suggest we shouldn't.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Great news!

The police case against Greg Carvell, who shot a machete-wielding man in the Carvell's family gun shop, has been dismissed.

Great news! But why the hell did it take a year to come to this, with all the stress involved in the charges being laid and heard and talked up?

Psst, anybody wanna buy some "traditional remedies," eh?

Amidst all the many loud and long and highly principled protests against the promised regulation of supplements, natural and alternative medicines (it's my body and I'll put whichever homeopathic non-medicine into my body I like, thank you very much), Russell at 'Hard News' puts his head above the parapet in support of Annette King's Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill.

It's one that libertarians should recognise; one involving the argument that quackery and fraud should be illegal...

Religion poisons the politics of the left

While Richard Dawkins has been taking the polite approach to arguing with religionists, and generally finding opposition mostly from the right of the aisle, Christopher Hitchens -- who has taken to referring to Ayn Rand as "two leading public intellectuals of the American Right in the last two, three decades" -- has taken a more acerbic approach to the argument in his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and his opposition has come mostly from the hysterical left.

Here's an example, a recent debate between Hitchens and a wanker called Chris Hedges. The Zombie Time blog has an account and videos of the debate, and the explanation of how the so-called secular left wind up defending religion against a so-called neocon.
Surprising as it might seem in a contemporary political landscape where mocking religion is an established liberal pastime and where Christianity and spirituality are most often associated with conservatism, it was Hitchens -- now loathed by the left for not toeing the party line over the Iraq War -- who attacked religion, while the neo-Socialist, anti-patriotic, radical Hedges volunteered for the seemingly topsy-turvy position of having to defend spirituality and the existence of God.

How did this strange state of affairs come to pass? In one word: Islam.

The left -- of which Hitchens was a part until recently -- has always been anti-religion. But now, they've become caught in a philosophical bind: how can they promote multiculturalism -- and by extension all non-Western cultures, such as fundamentalist Islam -- if they condemn religion in general? Neocon pundits have since 9/11 frequently accused the left of being in bed with Muslim extremists, a charge which the left has vehemently denied. But with every denial their position was becoming more and more untenable, as the verbiage and narratives of Islamic radicals and "anti-war" progressives have grown to become virtually indistinguishable...

OK, let's be frank: Hitchens absolutely mopped the floor with Hedges. It was an embarrassment, really. Scroll down to watch the videos of Hitchens' performance to see what I mean.
Tune in and watch neo-Socialist, anti-patriotic, radical Hedges cheered on by the supporters of suicide bombing. [Hat tip Boaz the Boor].

Sacrificed again on the cross of "price stability"

Another interest rate rise (now the highest in the OECD), another rise in the exchange rate, another higher hurdle for exporters and producers, another sign that this pathetic addiction to "price stability" is crucifying everyone except those foreign investors enjoying our over-inflated interest rates.
In the quarterly monetary policy statement issued along with today's OCR review, the bank says previous tentative rebalancing of the economy toward exports and away from domestic demand appears to have stalled because of the high dollar.
See. So just what the hell is he doing this for, and why?
The bank has been nudging the OCR up by a quarter of a percentage point every six weeks since early March, blaming resurgent domestic demand, climbing house prices, labour shortages and government spending for fuelling inflation pressures.

This time it also fingers soaring dairy prices, warning their boost to farm incomes will add to inflation pressures.
It's undoubtedly true that government spending is partially responsible for fuelling inflation, a responsibility shared by the Reserve bank's expansion of the money supply. But the banks' reasons for concern represent a flawed view of the economy -- one that discounts the restrictions that governments place on producers, particularly on house builders -- and a flawed view of economics, a view that aggregates all income without distinguishing the nature of those who receive it.

Farm income is production income -- capital -- money that for the most part will go to increase production despite labour shortages. But Bollard is doing his best to wipe out that windfall by making new production more difficult. We're all being penalised for the amazing success of our country's farmers, and the near-religious fervour for "price stability" blinds everyone to that fact, and instead of rising up in protest everyone whimpers sheep-like under Alan's financial lashing.

And galloping house prices, as we've seen before, are more to do with the restrictions that urban planners and 'green-plated' government regulations have between them placed on land and on the cost of new building. Ignoring these serious dislocations and pursuing "price stability" in spite of them is just flat out dumb. There's no other way to describe it. We all lose as producers are strangled and exporters are priced out of world markets. The irony here is that Bollard appears to share that same concern even as he exacerbates the problem, and commentators are happy to ignore that his fingerprints are all over the murder weapon .
Dr Bollard re-airs concerns about the high exchange rate, repeating his comments in April that the dollar is at exceptionally high and unjustified levels - in what is considered to be a further attempt to head off the spike in the Kiwi dollar that commonly follows an interest rate rise.
The dollar's "exceptionally high and unjustified levels" has one chief reason: Alan Bollard. Higher interest rates attracting foreign money. The dollar is already up on average 0.6% against all currencies but the Australian --and Alan's whimpering won't change that.
"Had we not increased the OCR this year [says Bollard], it is likely that the inflation outlook would now be looking uncomfortably high.".

He warns that it will take a "sustained period of slower growth" in domestic activity to alleviate inflation pressures.
Talk about dumb. We're all being crucified on this pathetic cross of price stability, and the crucifixion could be so easily averted, and prosperity embraced: Just stop meddling. Free up urban land; abandon the green-plated building regulations; reduce government spending; stop inflating the money supply (which is what inflation actually is) and let prices rise and fall just as prices are supposed to.

Just let us alone!

  • We all need to know more about inflation, and not just Alan Bollard, since inflation of the money supply is one the most devious taxes that government's inflict upon us. Frank Shostak at the Mises Blog has two brilliant recent pieces that rip the scab off the inflationary wound and show the raw scar beneath. A poor metaphor perhaps but consider it an invitation to read (or re-read) the brilliance of Shostak's explanation and analysis of:

  • The Australian has noticed Shostak's commentary. A recent piece noted:
    Dr Frank Shostak has a warning for investors. The [Australian] Reserve Bank's monetary policy is "out of control" and that means inflation is heading up, interest rates are set to rise and the share market is only being supported by excessive money supply.
    He believes the Reserve Bank uses incorrect definitions of inflation and even money itself. As a result, he says, the bank is actually causing inflation, rather than combating it. "The Reserve Bank claims that it does not print money, but merely accommodates demand, but printing money is exactly what it is doing."
    See RBA Policy Causing Inflation. The analysis is just the same for NZ's Reserve Bank. Remember, just because you don't see inflation directly, doesn't mean it isn't there.
UPDATE: Perhaps it's time to re-release Bob Jones prescient 1996 book, Prosperity Denied, one of the best short arguments against this sheep-like addiction to "price stability." This brief excerpt shows you just how prescient it is:
Over the 1994-95 period Auckland's median house price increased by 36 per cent [these days we might say"just 36 per cent"] . . . the Reserve Bank responded by repeatedly increasing interest rates, thereby causing an across-the-board economic squeeze.
All sounds all too awfully familiar, doesn't it. The Bank treated those price rises as some sort of "economic disaster Richter scale," restraining and tightening the entire New Zealand economy as a direct result of a change (then) in some Aucklanders' residential tastes, and an increase (today) in governement meddling in the supply of housing and land. The result, said Jones, is that

the commercial fisherman in Timary, the plumber in Westport, the home-mortage seeker in Wairarapa -- all other New Zealanders -- are obliged as a direct consequence of a change in residential [status] by a small number of Aucklanders ... to pay higher interest rates. This in turn adverselly affected their personal incomes, adversely affected business development confidence and investment decisions and any new job-creation intentions. Thus a relatively small number of Aucklanders [experiencing a problem very easily fixed] ... unwittingly cost thousands of jobs and reduced the income of every other New Zealander.
For that we all have to thank the Reserve Bank and the all-hallowed Reserve Bank Price Stability Agreement set up by Ruth Richardson, and now maintained by Michael Cullen. (Note, by the way, that tenses have been changed to improve the immediacy of Jones' comments.)
The higher interest rates [set by the Bank] drive up the exchange rate,
attracting foreign investors in our money markets and thereby driving the
exchange rate even higher. This influx of money in turn necessitates yet further
tightening by the Reserve Bank, and so the vicious cycle feeds off itself.

Today we have the highest real interest rates in the western world, as a
direct consequence of a foolsih government action, ironically aimed at achieving
low costs. All of this should be deja vu to New Zealanders recalling the
1983 Muldoon price freeze.

Some might argue that the Muldoon technique was worse insofar as the
monetarist method still allows the market, at a price, to call its individual
shots. Perhaps so, but the overall effect is identical in its economic
repression... Regardless, there is little to be gained in weighing the
respective eveils, because whether by shooting or by hanging, the negative
outcome of a death sentence is identical.
Words just as accurate now as they were when first written. Time to bite the bullet and condemn the Reserve Bank Price Stability Agreement to oblivion instead of us.

Theatre at Epidauros

The theatre at Epidauros is not just one of the earliest existing examples of human theatre, it's also a magnificent example of integration of landscape and architecture -- so well done the architecture almost seems to 'complete' the pre-existing landscape.

This is an often overlooked feature of early Greek architecture. Describing the theatre in their book The Landscape of Man, Susan and Geoffrey Jellicoe suggest that this "genius loci, the recognition and expression of the spirit of particular places, has been the most enduring legacy of Greece in landscape design."
Architecture stood for universal order. The existing landscape was without apparent order, and the Greeks not only harmonized two seeming opposites, but gave to the whole a significance which civilization is only now beginning to accept is not pertaining to Greece alone...

The theatre at Epidauros (350BC) is protectively modelled out of a north-west slope. The sun is upon the players, and the theatre is an almost perfect instrument of sight, sound, player-audience association and landscape affiliation -- the climax in form of the Greek philosophy of the unity of all things.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Sydney

Ayaan Hirsi Ali visits Sydney for their Books and Writers' Festival, and she has the luvvies eating out of her hand.

Read Pommygranate's summary of her presentation to see why that matters. [Hat tip Prodos]

PS: Here's a recent interview between Ali and Guernica magazine.


There's a Mercury Energy bill sitting here on my desk.

Is there any point in paying it? After all, we're not going to be cut off, are we.

'Samurai' House - Melling Morse Architects

The 'Samurai' House by Melling Morse Architects, a "small, simple house amongst the trees of a tiny suburban forest" in Silverstream, for a "celebrated martial arts exponent." [2003]

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Country maths

All this talk about what Alan Bollard might do to the currency this week, I hope he brushes up on his arithmetic. I'd hate to see us get cheated.

Ma and Pa Kettle have the lesson for Alan, over at Noodle Food.

Jeanette plays Turandot

Jeanette asks her "three questions" as if they're a bit of cheese and her own Party's policies are the mousetrap.

Liberty Scott answers all three without springing the trap.

Cue Card Libertarianism: PARKINSON'S LAW

Formulated by C. Northcote Parkinson in his book of the same name, Parkinson's Law claims to explain and quantify the inexorable tendency of bureaucracy to expand, with the expansion powered by two inexorable forces:
1. An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.
2. Officials make work for each other.
As a result, “any government bureaucracy will grow at between 5.17 and 6.56 per cent, irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done.”

Parkinson's bureaucrats lack imagination. Since 1999, New Zealand's bureaucracy has grown at more than three times this rate, helping to increase annual govt spending by more than $20 billion more than the figure in 1999.

As Phil Rennie from the Center for Independent Studies has shown, that spending binge is greater even than a comparable blow-out under Muldoon's Prime Ministerial reign, and then as now the deluge of taxpayers' money bought no improvement at all in government services.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by New Zealand's libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

Monday, 4 June 2007

"The increasingly warm and inclusive Mr Key said he could work with anyone..."

I do love the Kiwi Herald. From this weekend's political report comes this gem:
John Key today offered Bishop Brian Tamaki a Cardinalship should the Destiny New Zealand Party join the Key led Government following the next election. The move came shortly after the National Party leader stunned observors by saying that he was prepared to appoint a Green Party member as Minister for the Environment in exchange for that party's support.
Announcing the offer, the increasingly warm and inclusive Mr Key said that he could work with anyone...
See KIWI HERALD: Tamaki, Taito Offered Cabinet Posts.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

May Blog Stats

General Stats
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Most Popular Posts:
Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
"Who am I to judge?"
'Exposed: The Climate of Fear'
A necessary obsession with justice
PC, & 'The Great Postmodern Essay Generator'
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Becky wants to knock her school down
Sex with chickens
"It's a lie!"
Why morality at all?

(sites sending more than 100 referrals this way, ranked in order. Thanks everyone. ):
sirhumphreys.com [guess that's all over ... anyone know what's going on there?]

Top Ten Countries Reading Not PC in May
New Zealand

And here's the Most Popular Search Terms (I kid you not):
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Clearly some of my commenters have become famous in their own right!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Bradford & McCarten: Errors apparent

A few comments this morning on Eye to Eye clarified something for me.

SUE BRADFORD ARGUED that the death of Mrs Muliaga is "an indictment" of Max Bradford's "market reforms" of the electricity industry, "an indictment" of the cold-heartedness of capitalism, and a signal that all electrical producers should be taken back into the arms of the caring state and peremptorily renationalised.

Yet neither Mercury Energy nor Mighty River Power are private companies. Nor did Bradford's reforms take these power producers away from the arms of the state: These are both state organisations. Any resemblance to anything outside North Korea is entirely accidental.

SUE BRADFORD ARGUED that access to electrical power is a right.

At the same time her colleagues in the Greens are doing everything they possibly can to make the production of power more and more difficult; everything they can to raise costs by having extensive restrictions and carbon taxes and the like placed on existing power plants; they're enthusiastic supporters of Kyoto, which guarantees to make power more expensive, and the RMA, which makes it all but impossible to reliably transport power to NZ's largest city; and they're doing everything they possibly can to stop the production of new power plants, cheering loudly every time their protests and the RMA between them sink new plans for more power (Think how they cheered when Project Aqua, Marsden B, and Genesis' Whanganui River hydro schemes were canned).

In the face of opposition such as that from her colleagues and supporters, how are the power companies supposed to keep producing cheap power and keep making it widely available, as she insists they must? How are they supposed to deliver this "right" that she talks about?

How? Somehow.

MATT MCCARTEN ARGUED that the person who switched off the power to the Muliaga's home should have known what would happen to poor Mrs Muliaga when he did that.

Yet he also argued that there was nothing wrong in the family (four sons in all, ranging from a seven-year-old to a twenty-one-year-old) sitting down for two hours with their dying mother to sing hymns, since they didn't know that she was dying... How, we have to wonder, was the poor contractor supposed to know what the family themselves apparently weren't aware of?

How? Somehow.

BRADFORD ARGUED THAT people shouldn't leap to judgement by "playing politics," and McCarten argued that people shouldn't be condemning this family before the facts are known.

Yet even before the facts are known (and in complete disregard of the facts that are known) these two between them have leapt to make political capital out of this tragedy.

There's an error here in both of them that is far more than just one of logic.

UPDATE: What did Mrs Muliaga die from? On that, as Whale Oil suggests,
the quote of the week comes from Lindsay Perigo on Eye to Eye just after one of the socialists say her death should be blamed on poverty. Quote:Well she didn't die of starvation.
As I've said here before, poverty in South Auckland is generally not a shortage of money. It's an excess of poor choices. Today's Herald highlights the result for Mrs Muliaga of some of those choices.
Mrs Muliaga was fatally ill when she left hospital last month and not expected to live much longer. The obesity-related heart and lung disease which was killing Mrs Muliaga was being kept at bay by a cocktail of powerful medication - not the oxygen machine. Mrs Muliaga had previously turned her back on using the drugs to seek traditional Samoan health care...

Mrs Muliaga was suffering from cardiomyopathy - a weakness in the muscle of the heart brought on by a lack of oxygen being carried to the organ. The illness, lung disease and associated breathing difficulties were related to her obesity. She had been admitted to Middlemore Hospital in April and was discharged on May 11...

It was not the first time she had been hospitalised since the illness was diagnosed about five years ago. On previous hospital stays for the same problem, Muliaga had been told her lifestyle had to change or her health would not improve. This time, like previous times, she was stabilised and released with medication that would help relieve the symptoms. She was also given the oxygen machine, which is intended to assist her breathing - not to breathe for her.

When doctors who had treated her heard she had died after the power cut, they were astonished. On release, she was not so ill that the machine was critical to survival...

"No one should ever die because they can't pay a power bill," [said Mighty River Power chairwoman Carole Durbin].
And in this case, no one did. Shame on those who use tragedies like this to make political capital.

Friday, 1 June 2007

BEER O'CLOCK - Taste-off: Budvar v DAB V Limburg v Mac's

Since we're still enjoying an Indian summer (and while we might be enjoying global warming they're sure catching a chill elsewhere), I figured reposting my pre-summer taste test of some good, crisp, summery lagers would be the thing for a long, semi-summery weekend that might be the last chance for some months to enjoy a cold beer in the sun...

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Three stages of a man's life

Ain't that the truth...

A challenge for socialists under thirty

What do you do when reality confronts your most cherished beliefs with unwelcome facts? "When the facts change," said economist John Maynard Keynes, "I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

I ask because any socialist under thirty who is reading this will, if they're honest, be looking at the collapse of petro-socialist Venezuela and asking themselves some serious questions about socialism in practice. Venezuela's agony is not unique -- anyone over forty who's ever seen a news broadcast has seen it all before. Her fate was shared by every single country anywhere that ever adopted the destructive principles of More Socialism, More Government and the demonisation of capitalism and wealth production.

Both the collapse and the spiral into totalitarianism are the inevitable results of those ideals.

Peter Schwartz suggested back in 1995 that anyone over forty who had watched the collapse of the Berlin Wall and didn't draw the necessary conclusions about the abject failure of socialism as an ideology was either deluded, dishonest or braindead. Those too young then but who share those same ideals now should have been watching current events in Venezuela with the same interest, and hopefully with your brains switched on. Those of us old enough to have watched the crumbling, the penury, the totalitarianism, and the eventual collapse of every socialist regime known to man know what socialism looks like when implemented. This is your generation's opportunity to watch and to learn.

The process is the same everywhere: First they nationalise industry, then they censor all opposition, and then slowly the people starve -- and by that stage there's no one left to speak out. For those with eyes to see, Venezuela is just the latest tragic lesson.

Chavez's nationalisation of Venezuela's energy and telecommunications industries, of oil fields, banks and steel producers, these were just his first steps. His recent ham-fisted closure of the only remaining opposition TV station is the next. In the socialist gulag, free speech is not to be trusted:

President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech. [The protests followed the] shutting-down of the country's oldest television station, the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network (RTC).

On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown, following the fifth straight day of protests... RCTV was replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station...

These events make the news. The slow, stale stagnation of life (and death) under Chavez doesn't. Jeff Perren describes life under Chavez:

Increasingly frequent reports reveal that — in true 1960s Soviet style — grocery stores in Venezuela are no longer stocking items we would take for granted, such as sugar or black beans. These items, it happens, are staples of the traditional Venezuelan diet. However, because Chavez is so determined to “help the poor,” the socialist way, soon neither rich nor poor will be able to find such items in Venezuelan grocery stores.

Chavez’s price controls are having the same effects in Venezuela they’ve had everywhere else they’ve been tried... True to form, Chavez has threatened to jail price control violators.

In addition to their gradual takeover of the media, Venezuela’s socialists, led by Chavez and his Vice President Jorge Rodriguez, are nationalizing everything in sight as rapidly as possible.

The economic effects of these socialist programs speak for themselves. Per-capita GDP in Chile is $12,600 per year. In Argentina, it’s $15,000. In Mexico — not exactly a rich country, by any standard — it is $10,600. In Venezuela, the figure is $6,900, behind even the Dominican Republic at $8,000.

Remember, this is a country that supplies 11% of U.S. oil imports, and who received over $46 billion last year in oil receipts (assuming 2.55 mb/d at $50 per barrel). Of course, as oil production continues to decline, those numbers will worsen. Revenues for Venezuela will decrease, and exports will decrease, as Chavez continues to forego infrastructure investment in favor of social welfare spending.

Like I say, to those of who saw the heyday of socialism, we look at all this with the benefit of hindsight. If we're honest about what we've seen, none of this is either unfamiliar or unpredictable. Those productive Venezuelans, for example, who went on nationwide strike four years ago to protest the imminent liquidation of their property rights and themselves under Chavez's communist revolution knew what they were about, and knew exactly what was afoot. Jonathan Hoenig makes their point:

As Ayn Rand wrote, "without property rights, no other rights are possible." Chavez’s socialism, under which private property does not exist, is bringing this once-promising country back to the third world. He might have called Bush “El Diablo”, but it doesn’t take much to see the effect of Chavez’s benevolent populism.

Simply put, he is leading his people down a pathway to hell.

And note well: It's the same pathway down which every single socialist country before them has gone. Make no mistake: this is socialism's inevitable result. As Jeff Perren sadly concludes:
Given the country’s current trajectory, it’s almost inevitable that many people will have to suffer and die, needlessly, before Chavez’s increasingly harsh and unworkable socialist policies are discarded.
I urge you not to let this suffering and despotism happen with your sanction. Socialism is a bacillus as destructive as smallpox. I implore you to learn from the suffering and dying in Venezuela; to refuse to sanction it; to help wipe the socialism that caused it from the face of the earth, just as smallpox itself was once eradicated.

Leo Tolstoy said once that everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. I'd like to turn that around. Changing yourself and your own ideals for the better is precisely where changing the world actually begins. That's where positive change begins. The battle against the destruction and human misery brought about by the ideals of socialism begins by rejecting those same ideals in yourself, and then by ensuring that what's being done to Venezuelans in the name of "people power" isn't done to you, or done in your name.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Global warming sanity from India

No one has died or is likely to die from global warming, but people have been dying in their hundreds of thousands from poverty, with India right up there as a place in which they've been dying.

Full praise then to India's environment minister, Pradipto Ghosh, who in preparation for next week's G8 meeting that will focus on global warming says "that any curbs would hold back India's economy and damage attempts to eradicate poverty."
"India will reject any attempt to put legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the G8 summit next week. Setting legal limits on CO2 emissions was "not the path we [India] want to pursue," Mr Ghosh said.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions [is] likely to have significant adverse impacts on GDP growth of developing countries, including India - and serious implications for our poverty-alleviation programmes," he said."
Good on him. That's a man who has his priorities right. See (UK) Daily Telegraph: India to Shun G8 Demands on Gas Emissions - [hat tip Marcus].

McCanns seeking something from the Pope.

Does anyone else find it ironic that the McCann family, whose child is suspected of being kidnapped by a paedophile, is reported as seeing the Pope to "find comfort." I'd like to suggest that perhaps their motive for seeing the Pope has been misreported.

Bearing in mind that the Pope's early career consisted largely of defending paedophile priests and buying off the victims of those priests -- and that as a consequence he must have a better directory of Europe's paedophiles than Interpol -- perhaps the McCann's aren't seeing the Pope to seek comfort, but to seek information.

It's a thought...

Daily Record Building - Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Brilliant Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was designing and building tall, stunning modern buildings -- to use Louis Sullivan's phrase, buildings that were "comely in the nude" --long before the idea really occurred to too many others outside Chicago, and few of those rare geniuses were able to express their ideas as deftly as Mackintosh.

1901. Just think about that.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Call me anti-social

Law, good law, is intended to protect me from you and you from me. Specifically, it is intended only to protect me against any initiation of force or fraud by you, and you from any initiation of force or fraud by me. My freedom ends where your nose begins.

That works both ways.

There is an expectation that if you violate good law, that you will be handled under due process, and that the punishment will fit the crime. This is all part of what it means to have objective law. This is what freedom looks like. This is what Annette King wants to overturn with what is called in the UK 'Anti-Social Behaviour Orders', which give police the power to deliver summary justice, and courts the power to turn minor offences into a five-year stay in jail if they're arbitrarily deemed to be anti-social.

She means it. We should take this seriously.

Russell Brown and No Right Turn are right. This needs to be opposed. Read their posts to see why. Read the BBC's The Asbo Chronicles to see why. To paraphrase Russell, and at his express invitation, here's my short, and consciously anti-social response to Annette: you can stick your fucking ASBO up your arse.

Who sings when your mother is dying?

Not knowing all the facts is no barrier to every bullfrog and his leg-rope taking up positions on the death of Folole Muliaga. Plenty of questions about what exactly happened, few of which seem to have been answered twenty-four hours after we first heard of the apparent tragedy, and Craig asked these questions.

If Folole Muliaga died so shortly after the power to her home was cut… why wasn’t she more prepared? Power cuts are common. If the facts as the media are presenting them are correct, a car hitting a powerpole down the street or a fault at a substation could have killed her at any time.

Furthermore, if you do subject yourself to this level of dependence on the power grid, why sit waiting for four warning notices and six weeks to elapse and do nothing? Not arrange with your respiratory nurse for a portable O2 bottle, not arrange for a transport to hospital, not call an ambulance when the contractor turns up and tells you they’re going to shut off the power.

Mercury Energy may certainly have some culpability, but it seems like there’s something we’re not being told. For a person to let their very survival rely completely, 100% on an unreliable system which is out of their control, and to ignore several warnings about its impending disconnection yet failing to enact any one of several easy remedies to the situation?

All good questions that I don't think have been adequately addressed. What we do know is that Folole Muliaga wasn't completely, 100% reliant upon the oxygen machine. It was not "a full breathing machine," notes David Farrar, "where death is automatic if it stops. The machine was for people with a chronic, mildly reduced level of oxygen in their blood, typically those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder." That said, she received the machine on May 11, she needed it, and the Muliagas were presumably already behind in their bills at that stage, yet they proceeded to rely on power always being there -- just as if, in their minds, the unpaid bills and the supply of power were unconnected. That's a clue right there, isn't it?

There does appear to be a lack of responsibility all round, doesn't there. Cactus puts the questions we'd all like to ask more bluntly than most:
If you were on a home oxygen machine, don't you think you would put the electricity bill ahead of ALL the other bills? Or if you were a family member don't you think you would have helped and made sure it was paid? Or run to Social Welfare and get assistance like they are MEANT to be there for...real emergency matters of welfare. It is a horrible story but it really hits deep into the league of can lead a horse to water.....but you can't help people who don't help themselves. Or get off their arse and call for a fucking ambulance when the power was cut off?
Nope, with Middlemore Hospital just down the road, with unpaid power bills all around them and the alarm for their mother's oxygen machine loudly playing a tune, they apparently all sat around and sang a song. I find that just impossible to understand. Perhaps you could explain it to me.

UPDATE 1: I've heard people arguing there are "cultural" reasons for what this family did (and Falu. On that, I can only quote Thomas Sowell on that and invite you to reflect upon it:
Cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life, and we should judge them by how well they work for those within them.
Think about that. If reports are true, it has rarely been so starkly illustrated.

UPDATE 2: I say that not all questions have been answered, which is true, but I should give credit to this morning's coverage in the hard copy of the Herald [some of which appears here], which seems to have answered all the questions that it's possible to answer at this stage. Kudos to the Herald for that. (The coverage is so good that all copies were sold out at the three outlets I visited this morning. I was forced to buy a coffee to catch up).

It's worth noting that none of the people describing the events publicly were there at the time, and that the family spokesman who has described them is described as "a union organiser" -- so expect some (quite understandable) hyperbole. And this too seems worth noting:
Folole Muliaga was seriously ill from heart and lung disease, but her hospital doctors are surprised she died "so soon" after her oxygen machine stopped providing the life-giving gas. The 44-year-old died about 2 1/2 hours after the mains-powered machine, supplied by the Counties Manukau District Health Board, stopped working about 11am on Tuesday.

Medical experts said yesterday that home-oxygen machines were given only to patients with chronic conditions. They were not aware that any of the machines had battery back-ups. "It's not a life-critical thing as a rule," said the health board's chief medical officer, Dr Don Mackie. "There are things about this case that we don't understand," he said.
Now ain't that the truth.

NZ the way Jordan Carter wants it.

Labour hack Jordan Carter imagines and blogs an alternative history that would have resulted if the Labour Party and the Alliance re-united in 1994. (You can see it here.)

"Imagine," he imagines, breathing hard all the while, that this "more left-wing Labour Party" had taken power in 1999, but with "a wider activist base and a more radical policy and caucus, and aided by the Greens as a coalition partner." His imagination, such as it is, has served up some frankly febrile predictions about what life would be like in New Zealand in 2007 under such a collectivist's wet dream.

To help our erstwhile alternative historian (who seems to have overlooked a few things), I have added the necessary touch of realism to Master Carter's wet dream. Here is how this place would really look if the nightmare situation he describes had truly taken place:

  • Health spending would be sitting around 9-10% of GDP and, with the consequent inflation in the Government health system, surgery numbers are down, waiting lists have soared, and small medical supplies companies are listing on the stock exchange at the rate of twice a week. Radiologists are still on strike.
  • The 1991 benefit cuts would have been reversed, and beneficiary numbers increased from 270,000 to over 400,000. Shareholders in Sky City and Restaurant Brands/KFC buy condos on the Gold Coast. Meanwhile the three poor saps left to pick up the tab for this welfare explosion have just bought the last remaining flights out to Australia. There are no lights still burning to turn out: Kyoto has put paid to the power stations.
  • The industrial relations system would have been re-collectivised, days lost to strikes would have gone through the roof, and no ferries would have crossed Cook Strait since Xmas 2005. No killing has been done at any meatworks since the General Strike of 2003, and meat has been changing hands at $100 per kilo in some inner suburbs of Helengrad.
  • Tertiary, early childhood, vocational education and training have been made "free" at point of use, private schools and early childhood centres have been nationalised, and Jane Kelsey, Susan St John and John Minto are writing the curriculum. NCEA has been scrapped for being "too challenging" for students. No one can read, or write, or do sums (but they're all very good at some stick games), and teachers wear kevlar stab-proof vests to schools, which they pay for themselves out of their meagre salaries.
  • Nation-wide investment in public transport has have been far higher over the past decade, and flowers and trees now grow on NZ's (very) few motorway systems. Auckland's buses are still empty. There is no work to travel to, no rush hour to negotiate, and Queen St is being dug up again. Car imports have been banned, and the average age of cars is twenty years and rising. Petrol taxes are now set at $3 per litre to help pay for public transport and the MPs' Superannuation Fund. Mike Ward is the Minister for Transport.
  • New Zealand would have focused economic policy on local production, not acceded any further into the WTO system, and reinstuted protectionism on local industry. Sue Bradford is the Minister for Trade. Import licensing has been reintroduced (making the holders of these licenses fabulously wealthy), and families in Porirua no longer able to buy cheap imported bedding, clothing and appliances are now making underwear out of their curtains and boiling up rocks to make soup. There is no internet because nobody can afford the locally-assembled computers, and (since they've all been assembled at the Sheltered Workshops) they don't work anyway.
  • New Zealand's distribution of income would be moving solidly in a more egalitarian direction, with no one earning over $20,000pa except for civil servants and MPs. Everyone else has been made equally poor, and everyone is equally miserable. Blam Blam Blam reissues "There is No Depression in New Zealand" in a limited edition, with free packets of soma for the first 1,000 buyers.
  • Public spending would be at around 42-44% of GDP, around $17bn a year higher than it is today. Interest rates are at 20% and climbing, but still no-one is buying the dollar...
  • The country has been renamed the People's Republic of Aotearoa, the Treaty relationship has been put into a modern, bicultural context, and Co-Prime Minister Turia (head of the new Upper House, called the Council of United National Tribes) has just "negotiated" a co-management deal with Fonterra whereby tribal leaders will receive each year's dairy payout to redistribute as they see fit. Farmers are shooting and burying their sheep and cattle.
  • Immigration is no longer a problem, and the only flights now are outbound. Without a political platform, Winston Peters retires from politics and buys a corner dairy.

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"You wouldn't take the Gospels as gospel."

"There's nothing original in Christianity."

Just some of the provocative views of James Valliant, author of the forthcoming book Behind the Cross that examines the origins and early history of Christianity -- and that history is anything but what you've been told.

Last Easter, author Valliant engaged with Lindsay Perigo in a wide-ranging on-air conversation that has just come online today. Rest assured there are both lessons for and parallels to today.

Settle back and listen in here for a whole two-hours of conversation and questions. And head here to engage in discussion with Valliant. He can't wait to talk to you. :-)

UPDATE: By the way, if anybody is suitably inspired and would like to transcribe all or part of this interview so I can use it in The Free Radical, I'd love to hear from you. Email me at 'organon at ihug dot co dot nz.' Cheers.

Jumping off the warmists' gravy train

Mathematician and computer and electrical engineer David Evans explains in depth at the Mises site why, in his words "I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train" -- "making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming" -- and why he jumped off that train.

The basic reason he jumped off, he explains is that the warmists' arguments just don't stack up. "The pieces of evidence ... just kept falling away," three pieces in particular [go and see what they are]. "There is now no observational evidence that global warming is caused by carbon emissions," says Evans, who suggests we look at "the interaction between science and politics," and at a crucial change in both at about the turn of the century.
By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions.

But after 2000 the case against carbon emissions gradually got weaker. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken it. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming?

...the cause of global warming is not just another political issue, subject to endless debate and distortions. The cause of global warming is an issue that falls into the realm of science, because it is falsifiable. No amount of human posturing will affect what the cause is.

'A Song of Life' - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Concluding excerpt from 'A Song of Life' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919):

I lift up my eyes to Apollo,
The god of the beautiful days,
And my spirit soars off like a swallow,
And is lost in the light of its rays.
Are you troubled and sad? I beseech you
Come out of the shadows of strife –
Come out in the sun while I teach you
The secret of life.

Come out of the world – come above it –
Up over its crosses and graves,
Though the green earth is fair and I love it,
We must love it as masters, not slaves.
Come up where the dust never rises –
But only the perfume of flowers –
And your life shall be glad with surprises
Of beautiful hours.
Come up where the rare golden wine is
Apollo distills in my sight,
And your life shall be happy as mine is,
And as full of delight.

TAGS: Poetry

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Fisking St. Al

Al Bore: "He’s his own Leni Riefenstahl," says Tim Blair.

Read Tim's hilarious fisking of Time magazine's 'Letter from St. Pooley to St Al' here: Al's the Guy. And here's something even less laudatory about "the Al phenomenon," and a recent appearance of The Phenomenon and His Followers in Marin County.

And think about this, from Tim's Daily Telegraph column:

News flash: people can't change weather. Try stopping the rain some time.

But there is one guaranteed way to make things uncomfortably warm for our children (or at least our girl children). Require them to wear burqas every time they set foot outside.

You don't want that future for your kids? Well, quit worrying about big CO2 and be concerned instead about big Mo.

Mo? He's been trying to get you to notice him for sixty-odd years. Odd that Big Al doesn't seem to notice him at all.

Fixing your errors

Here's a list from the ever useful Economist Style Guide of unfortunately far too common solecisms you should know about, and should definitely avoid (especially if you're submitting an article to The Free Radical). [Hat tip Ceely's Modern Usage] What's a solecism? Looks like you definitely need to read the list...

SOLECISM, n., a deviation from correct idiom or grammar; any incongruity, error or absurdity; a breach of good manners, an impropriety.

Many necessary correctives here, to quote just a few:
  • Canute's exercise on the seashore was designed to persuade his courtiers of what he knew to be true but they doubted, ie, that he was not omnipotent. Don't imply he was surprised to get his feet wet.
  • Confectionary [of whatever colour]: a sweet. Confectionery: sweets in general.
  • Crisis. This is a decisive event or turning-point. Many of the economic and political troubles wrongly described as crises are really persistent difficulties, sagas or affairs.
  • Critique is a noun. If you want a verb, try criticise.
  • Decimate means to destroy a proportion (originally a tenth) of a group of people or things, not to destroy them all or nearly all. Factoid: something that sounds like a fact, is thought by many to be a fact (perhaps because it is repeated so often), but is not in fact a fact. [e.g., "global warming has already made hundreds of thousands of climate refugees from low-lying Pacific islands."]
  • Frankenstein was not a monster, but its creator.
  • Gender is a word to be applied to grammar, not people. If someone is female, that is her sex, not her gender. (The gender of Mädchen, the German word for girl, is neuter, as is Weib, a wife or woman.)
  • Hobson's choice is not the lesser of two evils; it is no choice at all.
  • Homosexual: since this word comes from the Greek word homos (same), not the Latin word homo (man), it applies as much to women as to men. It is therefore as daft to write homosexuals and lesbians as to write people and women.
  • Key: keys may be major or minor, but not low. Few of the decisions, people, industries described as key are truly indispensable, and fewer still open locks.
  • Like governs nouns and pronouns, not verbs and clauses. So as in America not like in America. But authorities like Fowler and Gowers is a perfectly acceptable alternative to authorities such as Fowler and Gowers.
  • Media: prefer press and television or, if the context allows it, just press. If you have to use the media, remember it is plural.
  • Only. Put only as close as you can to the words it qualifies. Thus, These animals mate only in June. To say They only mate in June implies that in June they do nothing else.
  • Oxymoron: an oxymoron is not an unintentional contradiction in terms but a figure of speech in which contradictory terms are deliberately combined, as in bitter-sweet, cruel kindness, sweet sorrow, etc.
  • Per caput is the Latin for per head. Per capita is the Latin for by heads; it is a term used by lawyers when distributing an inheritance among individuals, rather than among families (per stirpes). Unless the context demands this technical expression, never use either per capita or per caput but per person.
  • Propaganda (which is singular) means a systematic effort to spread doctrine or opinions. It is not a synonym for lies.
  • Rebut means repel or meet in argument. Refute, which is stronger, means disprove. Neither should be used as a synonym for deny.
  • Use and abuse: two words much used and abused. You take drugs, not use them (Does he use sugar?). And drug abuse is just drug taking, as is substance abuse, unless it is glue sniffing or bun throwing.
  • While is best used temporally. Do not use it in place of although or whereas.