Friday, 20 June 2008

Best of NOT PC, 13-20 June

Here's your chance to catch up on what readers considered was the best of NOT PC this week, as measured by how many showed up to read these posts.  Catch up now if you missed out the first time round ...

  1. Some pics from Fieldays - photos of the Libz crew and Libz' neighbours at Fieldays.  We were hard at work ... our National Party neighbours less so.
  2. On fuel prices - a great idea for a protest: stand outside petrol stations advertising this information to motorists.
  3. Where the 'New Atheists' get it wrong - the assault by the New Atheists on religion has been splendid to watch, but incompletely conceived.  Here's a few things they missed.
  4. Anyone for a drive across Israel? - It's smaller than you think, you know.
  5. Curing South Auckland - six steps to curing the mire.
  6. Why can't the bastards just leave us alone - the latest bad idea is the very symbol of bad ideas.
  7. Honest Badges-- since the Ministry of Education think that wet odes to patronising racism will cure the ills that the state's factory schools have engendered, Elijah Lineberry has a more honest set ...
  8. What moves history? - Do you know?

Oh, and check out this week's Objectivist blog carnival over at The Crucible & Column.  Enjoy!


Beer O'Clock: Beer names again

Reading Neil Miller's list of favourite New Zealand beer names, a few weeks ago got St, our other regular beer writer, thinking about some of the ones that may have just missed out. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here they are:

Invercargill Biman – Steve Nally is a former prop, turned brewer, from Invercargill (he still lives and brews there). I wonder what he was thinking when he named his beer Biman? You can imagine what the folk in Tuatapere shaking their heads at that one (by the way, Steve is always quick to note that the beer is actually pronounced 'B-man').Santa Fev2.1

Bennett's Sante Fe Lager – Maurice Bennett: world famous toast artist, supermarket owner, started a bar on a frigate that was just about to be sunk and has a beer with a stripper on the label. What more can I say? ‘Avoid the beer’ is probably a good start. (Despite the label’s references to “attractive head” and “enticing aroma,” it’s not a flash beer and it’ll cost you a $10 cover charge to get into any bar that sells it).

Emerson's Bookbinder – This low-strength bitter, a firm favourite amongst craft beer drinkers around the country – and one of the key beers in my confirmation as craft beer convert – is a nice nod from one type of craftsman to another (a theme used all over beer world: Galbraith’s Bellringer, is another local example).

Pink Elephant Mother's Bruin – I never got a chance to try this beer but the name appeals in so many ways. Is the Pink Elephant’s mother actually doing some brewin’? One would hope that the bottle isn’t full of a Pink Elephant Mother’s brown? If the Pink Elephant’s mother is brown, that would make her a brown cow? Yes, a very philosophical beer indeed.

Wanaka Brewski – I hated this name until I tried the beer. Brewski made me think of loud blokes playing drinking games at university, and I thought it was just plain gimmicky. I saw it on the shelves for years before I finally picked up a bottle. Needless to say it blew me away. A real peach amongst New Zealand’s plethora of new world Pilsners.

Renaissance Stonecutter – The folk at Renaissance, with their award-winning high-brow branding, would love you to think this is a reference to Michelangelo. It is actually a reference to the Simpson’s episode ‘Homer the Great’ (Who controls the British crown, who keeps the metric system down…).

Mac's Brewjolais – Brewjolais is fantastically crafted beer, probably the best to have come out of a mainstream brewery in the time that I have been following the craft beer scene. Its name is a hat-tip to annual hop harvest and references the harvest wine Beaujolais nouveau. It is the ‘Brangelina’ of the New Zealand beer scene and also goes under the street nickname: ‘BJ’.

Galbraith's Resurrection – A Belgian abbey-style ale from Galbraith’s in Auckland. The name goes deeper than a simple reference to the religious background of abbey-style ales, it refers to the resurrection of Australis Benediction (Australis Brewing Co., way too far ahead of their time, is a now defunct brewing company based out of Galbraith’s that produced three beers – all of which made it into Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide, possibly the only brewery in the world to achieve such a feat).

PC_weaselDux de Lux Sou’ Wester – Perfect beer drinking weather: snugly camped inside, with good friends, remembering the last patch of good weather and planning for the next break in it. It also fondly reminds me of the long gone Parrot and Jigger brewpub in Lower Hutt, which had a beer of the same name with the same label.

Mussell Inn Weasel’s – The brewery website says it all: Any of our 4% beers cut 50/50 with soda water. A shandy without the sugar. Great for drivers and wowsers. NB: All of the Mussel Inn beers taste great and the names are truly fantastic. They provide an interesting service fixing cell phones too.


Stop the presses

Here's the thought for the day from NZ's Foundation for Economic Growth:

    In 1988 our M3 money supply amounted to some $43,101 million. Twenty years later our M3 money supply had expanded to $201,273 million.
    This is an annual compound interest rate of around 8%.
    No wonder we are experiencing inflation.

Fighting inflation isn't hard -- it's easy.  All you have to do is stop the Reserve Bank's printing presses.

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Leaving Greenpeace

Here's some interesting reading with which intelligent environmentalists can challenge themselves: why one of Greenpeace's founders left the movement he helped to start.  The reason in a nutshell?  Says Patrick Moore: I learned "the environmental movement is not always guided by science."

The turning point for Moore was when his colleagues declared they wanted to ban an element in the periodic table ...

Read Moore's article 'Why I left Greenpeace,' and check out his Greenspirit website.   Good reading. [Hat tip NZBR]

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Unintended consequences

Paul Walker explains why the Law of Unintended Consequences takes hold of every new government programme, to the consternation of every policy-maker involved who's never learned the lesson:

    [R]esearch has shown that people drive faster in vehicles that feel safer, attempt to bike on more dangerous terrain when they wear helmets and pay less attention to infants being bathed when the children are in seats that are said to reduce the risk of drowning...
    When explaining these results
Steven Landsburg asks, "If the seat belts were removed from your car, wouldn't you be more cautious in driving? ... Carrying this observation to the extreme, Armen Alchian of the University of California at Los Angeles has suggested a way to bring about a major reduction in the accident rate: Require every car to have a spear mounted on the steering wheel, pointing directly at the driver's heart. Alchian confidently predicts that we would see a lot less tailgating.

The fundamental lesson? 

"[P]eople respond to incentives."  And politicians and policymakers need to remember this when designing policy."

The art of good coaching

Author and professor of 'international business and marketing' Jerry Kirkpatrick has a great post on  the idea of “turning caterpillars into butterflies” used in relation to teaching.

It's what every good coach tries to do.

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The case of the mislaid file

The case of the mislaid file

NEWS: National MP Simon Power is calling for heads to roll after the discovery of a file on an Auckland street containing confidential parole details of convicted killers like Bailey Junior Kuariki and David Tamihere. The file is now in the hands of blogger Martin 'Bomber' Bradbury, who failed to return the file this morning to the police as he promised yesterday.  Meanwhile, Corrections Department head Barry Matthews and minister Phil Goff have gone to bat to defend the department...  and the employee who mislaid the file is no leave.

Everyone who's commented on this news has expressed surprise at what's happened.  But what I'm surprised about is that anyone could be surprised about any of it. 

Let's face it, this is what bureaucrats do --  they fuck up.  They take files out of places they shouldn't, they lose files, they cover up. If they were in any way competent, they'd go out and get a real job.

And this is what the bureaucrats' bosses do when they fuck up -- they run for cover. They explain they're 'overworked.'

And this is what the Minister in charge does when his department is under pressure -- he argues everyone is performing well in a department that's under pressure.

And this is what Simon Power does when he hears news that bureaucrats have fucked up and are running for cover -- he calls for their heads to roll and makes a play for his head to appear on the six o'clock news. (Just wait until a year from now when he'll be telling us that all the bureaucrats he's been abusing for six years are now performing perfectly "in a department that's under pressure.")

So everyone is behaving exactly as you'd expect them to in the sort of story we've all seen before. 

And Mr Bradbury?  No surprise there either.  This is what Martin Bradbury has done for most of his life -- he's taken every opportunity he can to be a pain in the arse.

So why anybody is surprised about how anybody is acting really does surprise me.  Meanwhile, the names and details of two convicted killers are out in the public domain. Good.  The more we learn about how these scumbags are going to be let out, the better.

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Honest badges (updated)

blameElijah Lineberry has fashioned a more accurate set of badges than the patronising Ministry-supplied set -- badges that trendy white liberal teachers can wear between macrame classes to really show their solidarity with  their brown brethren.  My favourites:

3. Welfare, not work
9. Give me your land
10. I believe in Taniwhas

All he needs now is $56,000 of taxpayer money to get them into classrooms.

UPDATE 1:  Oops.  Mustn't laugh.  Might get called a "cracker asshole."

UPDATE 2: Whale Oil has the complete set of Lineberry badges in colour, to replace the dripping wet set produced by the Ministry -- one for which you might even fork out your money voluntarily.  That's one of the better set up there ...

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A novel EFA prosecution

Everyone's fallen foul of the Electoral Finance Act, and now news is just in that despite his non-existence God is to be prosecuted for promoting ... some damn party or other.  God knows which one.

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'Femme' - Pablo Picasso


See, I told you Picasso could draw when he wanted.  Pablo Picasso never got called an arsehole.


Thursday, 19 June 2008

Hot songs about cold beer

NOT PC beer writer Neil Miller talked to Radio NZ's Jim Mora recently about beer tours, beer songs and other things beer.  He did well (audio here) but disgracefully, the best he could come up with in the way of great beer songs was Th' Dudes' 'Bliss.'  Uuugh.

I figure between us you and I can do a lot better than that so the poor chap is better equipped next time he's put on the spot.  Here's a list to start with:

Great songs about beer, and drinking.
'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer' - George Thorogood
'Warm Beer & Cold Women' - Tom Waits
'Pub With No Beer' - Dubliners
'Beercan' - Beck
'Six Pack' - Black Flag
'Special Brew' - Bad Manners
'Milk and Alcohol' - Dr Feelgood
'Beer' - Reel Big Fish
'I Spent My Last $10 (On Birth Control and Beer)' - Two Nice Girls
'Drink, Drink, Drink' - from Sigmund Romberg's 'Student Prince'
'Look What I Found in My Beer' - Beautiful South
'Long Neck Bottles' - Captain Beefheart
'Beer Goggles'- Brilleaux
'Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers' - ZZ Top
'Boys From County Hell' - Pogues
Two Pints of Lager' - Splodgenessabounds
'Drinking Song' - from 'The Vagabond King'
'Let Us Drink' - from Verdi's 'La Traviata'
'Beer is a heaven's gift indeed...' - From Smetana's 'Bartered Bride'
'A Long Hard Thirst Needs a Big Cold Beer' - TISM
'Last Lager Waltz' - Kevin Bloody Wilson
'Titties and Beer' - Frank Zappa
'Philosophers' Drinking Song' - Monty Python's Flying Circus

What's yours?  (Remember, "a lot better than that " excludes anything sung by anybody wearing a stetson hat, meaning this is out -- and probably excludes songs you sing after a bucket load of beer. Probably.)

UPDATE:  Some heavy recommendations coming in for...

'Beers' by Deja Voodoo
'Beer' by Elvis Crespo

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Purpose, not sacrifice

Despite what you might have heard, the point of ethics is not to understand how to treat others -- the primary point of ethics is understanding how to treat yourself.  Everything else comes afterwards.  (Tibor Machan points out that even the 'philosophers' who write airline's safety manuals understand this, when they advise that in an emergency you put on your own oxygen mask before you try helping others.)

Using this basic insight, Burgess Laughlin explains how understanding your own central purpose gives you the foundation on which to build your life, and helps you avoid making the very common error of "the third worst sacrifice" -- a sure road to unhappiness, therefore a clear sign you're treating yourself badly.

Read on to see what he means by that...

NB: Laughlin's post is part of a series on the Central Purpose of a Life.  Scroll down and read them all.  The time spent won't be a sacrifice. ;^)

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Is the world heating up? Or are the figures being cooked.

Prominent NASA scientists tell us the world is heating up, yet the figures they're using increasingly look cooked.

Given that their figures are used to support extensive government action to squelch private production, shouldn't they be examined a little more closely? And when we do, what do we find? As Steven Goddard explains at The Register, what we find is sobering. Some lowlights of NASA science described by Goddard:
  • "Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998. According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941. By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880. The other two widely used global temperature data sources are from earth-orbiting satellites UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems.) Both show decreasing temperatures over the last decade, with present temperatures barely above the 30 year average."
  • "NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again. The recent changes can be seen by comparing the NASA 1999 and 2007 US temperature graphs. Below is the 1999 version, and below that is the reworked 2007 version."
    US temperatures: NASA's 1999 version
    US temperatures: NASA's 2007 version
  • "We observe that [NASA's] data has been consistently adjusted towards a bias of greater warming. The years prior to the 1970s have again been adjusted to lower temperatures, and recent years have been adjusted towards higher temperatures."
  • "Prior to any adjustments, more than half the US shows declining temperatures over the 20th century - blue and green colors - i.e. the US is cooling down. However, subsequent to the adjustments the country goes dominantly warmer..."
  • For the last twenty years, NASA's ground-based (adjusted) temperatures have diverged considerably from the two main sources of satellite derived temperatures. "The divergence is now quite striking. Looking closer at March 2008, NASA's data ( shows the month as the third warmest on record. In sharp contrast, UAH and RSS satellite data showed March as the second coldest on record in the southern hemisphere, and just barely above average for the whole planet. How could such a large discrepancy occur?"
  • "... NASA has essentially no data (gray areas) in most of Canada, most of Africa, the Greenland ice sheet, and most of Antarctica. This begs the question, how can one calculate an accurate 'global temperature' while lacking any data from large contiguous regions of three continents?
  • So what was NASA missing?

    NASA Temperatures March, 2008 - 250 mile smoothing radius - looks hot

    NASA Temperatures March, 2008 - 250-mile smoothing radius - looks hot.

    We can find NASA's lost continents in the UAH satellite data for March below.

    UAH Satellite Temperatures March, 2008 - looks cool

    "UAH Satellite Temperatures March, 2008 - looks cool.

    "Not surprisingly, the missing areas in Canada and Africa were cold. The NASA data thus becomes disproportionately weighted towards warm areas - particularly in the northern hemisphere. As can be seen in the UAH satellite map above, the warm areas actually made up a relatively small percentage of the planet. The vast majority of the earth had normal temperatures or below. Given that NASA has lost track of a number of large cold regions, it is understandable that their averages are on the high side."
  • "Additionally, NASA reports their 'global temperature' measurements within one one-hundredth of a degree. This is a classic mathematics error, since they have no data from 20 per cent of the earth's land area. The reported precision is much greater than the error bar - a mistake which has caused many a high school student to fail their exams."
To this must be added Anthony Watts' extensive work on documenting the horrendous state of NASA's surface temperature recording network. Forget the urban heat island effect -- what Watts' team has uncovered so far is a network of contaminated data collection: nearly two-thirds of temperature stations surveyed have been built in close proximity to an artifical heating source, or are either on or next to a building, roof-top, parking lot, or concrete surface. The picture at right gives you some idea of what's considered to be 'good enough for government work.' [Watt's work is summarised here at SurfaceStations.Org, with regular updates at his blog].

So what does this all mean?

As Goddard says in his conclusion, "What is being examined is the quality and stability of the data being used by people making [sweeping] claims. [W]hen the data is calibrated in lockstep with a very high-profile and public political philosophy, we should at least be willing to ask some hard questions. Dr. James Hansen at GISS is the person in charge of the NASA temperature data. He is also the world's leading advocate of the idea of catastrophic global warming, and is Al Gore's primary climate advisor..."

"Both of the satellite data sources, as well as Had-Crut, show worldwide temperatures falling below the IPCC estimates. Satellite data shows temperatures near or below the 30 year average - but NASA data has somehow managed to stay on track towards climate Armageddon. You can draw your own conclusions..."

If you think this is all just an academic debate, then understand that what is being questioned is the quality of the science on which calls to shut down industrial civilisation are based.

Does it stack up?

: Naturally, the Greens continue to applaud NASA's "famous" James Hansen, the Chicken-Little-in-Chief of warmist so-called science. They have to, don't they. It's difficult to admit your hero in chief is a complete fuck up.

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The philosopher is in

Every week leading Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions at his website on everything from art to politics to sex.  This week's podcast includes questions on drug taking -- moral or immoral -- and on Mexican immigration into the US -- doesn't it irrevocably change the local culture?  Listen in here.

NB: Peikoff is not like your usual philosopher - he thinks in fundamentals, and always says what he thinks.  Here he is, for example, on global warming:

A: The global-warming movement is one offshoot of today’s mysticism and statism. As many have observed, it represents in essence the onetime pro-industrial Reds changing—with the same purpose, but to be achieved this time by different means—into the anti-industrial Greens. The global-warming call to statism will have harmful effects but, I think, the movement is going to be short-lived; too many people remember how recently we were terrorized by the prospect of an imminent, man-caused ice age, and before that by the doom of over-population, DDT, etc.
The danger to the West is not this kaleidoscope of absurd concrete-bound threats, but the philosophy which makes their common denominator stick. This is the very philosophy (unreason and self-sacrifice) which is the essence of religion
    The Greens offer no solution to the disasters they predict but sacrifice for worms and forests, a big and permanent cut in man’s standard of living, and a big increase in government...  The religionists, by contrast, offer as the solution to all problems a firm code of values, moral principles supposedly provided by God and proved through the ages...
    To compare ecology and religion in terms of the threat to our future is to fail to understand the power of abstract ideas. No political movement, however popular at the moment, can compete in the long run with a basic philosophy.   

See what I mean: firm and fully focused.  And he has a sense of humour:

Q:  Could competitive sports assist one’s education through the experience of executing concepts in action? For instance, my time as a wrestler, I believe, significantly assisted me in grasping concepts such as “integration,” “momentum,” “force,” and “accountability.”

A: Yes—but every form of action, if approached consciously and rationally, provides the same type of experience. Writing books, for example, helped me significantly to concretize concepts such as “organization,” “transition,” “drama,” “deadline,” and “misery,” to name just a few.

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"Buildings with nothing to say"

I love this comment from Tony Watkins from Owner-Builder magazine:

    One person will travel the world and arrive home with nothing to say. Another person walks down to the corner dairy and comes back with a story.
When Gaylene Preston, herself a wonderful weaver of stories, made this comment, she might well have been talking about buildings.
    A building may be designed by a world-famous architect. It may be documented with hundreds of sheets of drawings. It may meet the most stringent requirements of the most demanding building inspector ever cloned. It may comply with every known regulation and planning scheme. It may use the most lavish of rare marbles. The building may be flawless in every other respect, and yet have nothing to say.
    It would be better if such a building had never been built. You cannot hear yourself speak for the deafening noise of buildings which only shout. They contribute nothing to civilisation or culture.
    In contrast a tree-house built by a child from trash may have the most wonderful stories to tell. Owner-built homes are seldom "frozen music". Dreams and drama are the stuff of which they are made. 
[Read on here.]


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

No lies

I love the pithiness of Aussie blogger Tim Blair:

Just for the record
George W. Bush didn’t lie.

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'Shoot the victim' -- and make even more victims

Helen Clark & John Key's disgraceful 'shoot the victim' response  to Navtej Singh's brutal murder - which is to impugn honest shop owners and close down the shops of his colleagues -- is not just factually challenged (as Whale Oil demonstrates), it's not just punishing to all of us (as Oswald bemoans), but it's historically and demonstrably destructive.  As Phil at Pacific Empire explains,

excessive restrictions on liquor outlets actually contributed to one of Auckland’s most notorious murders...  [As that murder and research by Paul Christoffel demonstrates] if you criminalise something, or even just restrict the supply, you will create a black market, with inevitably violent competition. And while there is currently no, or almost no, black market in alcohol, further restrictions may well resurrect the practice of “sly-grogging”. Especially as excise tax goes up again on July 1, raising the price of spirits by up to 10%. Ill-thought-out policy will result in unintended consequences - in this case, providing another profit-making opportunity for organised crime.

Like South Auckland needs more profit-making opportunities for organised crime, right? And like the politicians really care, right?

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One down, eight to go

One of the nine charities to which Winston Peters 'donated' money that didn't belong to him (that is, taxpayer money he illegally used for electioneering in 205) has returned it, saying, "it is unclear if the party 'has any right' to make a charitable donation on money wrongly spent at the last election."

Good on the Cystic Fibrosis Association.  Why not reward them for their honesty?


Now *this* is what I call sport ...

I freely confess I couldn't give a flying fig for soccer's Euro '08 competition -- in my book, soccer is only beaten out by golf for the accolade of world's most boring ball game -- but this definitely looks  eye catching (if not, considering the cold, eye threatening): the topless women's Euro soccer match between Austria and Germany.

This really must be what they mean by 'the beautiful game.'  [Hat tip Dave Gee.]

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Barack Obama: "Messiah of Change"

Capitalism Magazine hosts four superb dissections of that bogus "Messiah of Change," Barack O'Bambi Obama, administered by Ed Cline.  Here below are their summaries, with links.  Read them.

Obama has not deliberately posed as a miracle-working Messiah who promises to cure all ills for all complainants; that is how his supporters and most of the news media view him, but he is willing to meet them halfway. And his race, fundamentally, is immaterial, regardless of what importance others attach to it. Virtually every other candidate has mouthed the same bromides, cliches, and populist tripe as Obama. Why have they worked for Obama and not much for anyone else?
Regardless of the image Obama projects, that of an independent force master of his own destiny -- and it is a manufactured image, to be sure -- it is the nature of modern American politics that he could not have moved a single square on that chessboard without being
covered by more powerful pieces.
There are no substantive differences between Obama's rhetoric and Hitler's. Both regard the individual as a subordinate part of the "social organism" who would be permitted his few peccadilloes but otherwise answerable to society or the State.
Obama would have no presence in that debate if it were not for the gifts that keep on hurting the U.S. from the likes of Soros (seen right, seated by the stairs at with the Messiah).

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Curing South Auckland

I said yesterday I'd offer some solutions to the mire that is South Auckland, some simple, some not so simple.  Here they are, in summary:

  1. A police force that protects the innocent.  One that has the tools to do the job, but more importantly has the knowledge and training and backup and will to use them.
  2. A justice system that takes the guilty off the streets. Rudy Guiliani's successful 'Broken Windows' policy is a guide: start with the small crimes, where failure to punish leads offenders into bigger crimes, and put these right first.  (And remember that justice isn't about retribution, it's about protecting the rest of us.)
  3. Hold parents accountable in law for the offences of their children.  You have them, you take responsibility for what and whom they destroy.
  4. Stop paying no-hopers to breed. We are forced by government to pay people to have children they don't want. The result of all those unwanted children appears on the front page of our newspapers nearly every day.
  5. Have an education system that gives youngsters the tools for life -- that teaches each of them, not how fit in and how to follow (which is all the present factory schools teach them), but how to use the brain they are born with, and how to use it to give themselves wings instead of shackles.
  6. Perhaps most important of all is this, which is much, much harder: work towards the abandonment of the 'church-on-Sundays' thinking that infests South Auckland more than any other part of the country -- which imparts a superstitious hope that someone else will come along and can solve all one's problems -- and towards the destruction of what tennis ace Chris Lewis calls 'the crab-bucket mentality,' the hatred of achievement with which young South Aucklanders shackle themselves and damn their more successful brothers, and instead of the 'warrior values' of dependency and conflict and renunciation that are all many young South Aucklanders see, promote a philosophy of individualism that offers genuinely life-affirming value to which to aspire --

What I mean by this last is real values for living life on this earth.  In one way it's the most difficult of the six points to achieve (and in another it's the easiest: all we have to do is encourage youngsters to think), yet it is by far the most important.  The first four or five points are necessary, but not sufficient.  The only real antidote to the bad ideas that so many young South Aucklanders have imbibed with their welfare-mother's milk --ideas that are killing them and their neighbours -- is the better ideas that will show them their true potential.  Chris Lewis explains what I mean in his conclusion to his article on the 'crab-bucket mentality' that holds so many youngsters back: a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.
The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."
At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.
For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.

Lindsay Perigo expands on the theme in a piece he wrote six ears ao in response to a particularly egregious article in Craccum on suicide.  Called Affirming Life, I post it here in its entirety.

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

For those who agree with the prescription I've outlined here and who do wish to help the youngsters of South Auckland, I can suggest at least these three things that flow directly from my suggestions above:

  1. Join the only political party that is committed to points one to five above, and help us promote those ideas this election year.  If not us, then who?
  2. Contact one of the three Montessori schools in South Auckland and tell them you'd like to sponsor a child to attend -- or better yet, sponsor the training of a Montessori teacher for one of these schools.  This is precisely the sort of education that does give them wings, what Dr Montessori called education for the human potential.
  3. Help out those of us who want to reintroduce the Fountainhead Essay Contest next year to encourage youngsters to read The Fountainhead -- that is, to offer to a new generation the inspiration to face a lifetime that reading The Fountainhead has given some of us.  (Here's what one participant in the ARI's American competition has to say, and here's the winning 2002 New Zealand essay.
The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff

Read more about this book...
To Educate the Human Potential (The Clio Montessori Series)
by Maria Montessori

Read more about this book...

South Auckland, again - NOT PC (June 17, 2008)
The warrior culture of South Auckland, Part 1 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
More social workers, more violence - NOT PC (November, 2005)
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop, (January, 2007)

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'Feeling the Form' - Michael Newberry

If you can't draw breasts, then you can't call yourself an artist.

But you can't start at the top: if you can't even draw an egg, then breasts are always going to be beyond you.

Artist Michael Newberry's mini-tutorial on the difficulty and importance of drawing form -- "no spectator is going to believe that the woman's breasts were concaved, or that the sphere was flat" -- offers the perfect instruction on the technique needed.

It all comes down to letting the feeling become form ...

Figure below is a study for Newberry's 'Kimberly,' in pastel.              



Tuesday, 17 June 2008

'Shred the RMA'

Wellington's Capital Times interviews Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton.  Link to the interview is here, or just follow the link from the front page titled 'Shred the RMA.'  My favourite two responses:

On contemporary politics:
"It’s about getting one over on the public rather than do what is best for the public,” says Darnton.
On National and Labour:
“They are out for power for power’s sake. They see it more as a sport than as a way to run the country. They are there to win the game rather than see how things could be better.”

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South Auckland, again.

Crime and poverty in South Auckland are once again in the headlines, just as they have been every month for the last ten years, and probably will be for the next ten as well.  Despite government programme after government programme after government programme, it just doesn't get any better, does it.

Crime and poverty in South Auckland is not the result of a shortage of money or a full moon, it's the result of an excess of poor choices.  Many of those poor choices have been from politicians, who have sat back and watched as government programme after government programme after government programme has had absolutely no positive effect on either crime or poverty, and yet have never bothered to themselves whether it's their own programmes that might be to blame.

Let me give you something to think about: No part of New Zealand has had more government than South Auckland.  And I suggest, as a former resident of the place (and one who still visits to help out with my old footy team in Manurewa*),  it's no accident that no part of New Zealand is less attractive.

Most of South Auckland is government-planned, government-designed, and built almost entirely with government money -- and every new problem attracts more government action plans and even more "resources."

Government houses fill the suburbs and people overwhelmingly on government benefits fill those houses, from which children emerge every day to go to government schools where the latest fashionable government curricula and government educational programmes are delivered, and their parents emerge every three years to tick the box of the political party promising even more government intrusion, and even more suffocation of enterprise.

If anecdotal evidence is correct, there are more government programmes, government plans, government agencies, and government-employed welfare agents per-square kilometre in South Auckland than there is anywhere else in the country outside parliament and its surrounds.  And the place is a disaster.

Might I invite readers to have a really good, hard think about that as they read the daily headlines that emerge from there.

The problems of South Auckland are not too little government, but too much.  If there is a violent underclass, and South Auckland seems to be doing its best to prove that there is, then it is the perverse incentives created by government paternalism and forced redistribution that has given birth to it.  Between them they remove any reward for responsibility -- and if South Auckland really is poor in any one thing, it it this.

Paternalism undermines responsibility. Dependency creates disaster.

Lindsay Mitchell put it bluntly last year: "Whatever the arguments about the legitimacy of the dropping unemployment figures, "[don't] forget there are still almost 300,000 working age beneficiaries - double the number we had 20 years ago," and many of them live (and vote) in South Auckland.

    The underclass isn't everybody on a benefit. It's a group of people who refuse to live in society in a peaceable, co-operative and constructive way. Their thoughts are only for today and themselves. If they aren't already criminals of some kind they are on the fringes. And it isn't an "emerging" class of people. But, judging by what we read in the newspapers and what we see on TV, or what we experience firsthand as victims, it is growing. Bugger reported crime levels. Look at victims of crime surveys.
    Then if you looked at WINZ records most of these people are there. They abuse welfare, they abuse or neglect their children, they abuse each other. But most of all, they abuse opportunity.

I've written before about this, and I'll give you the links in a moment, but think for a moment about just one phrase above, and how the incentives created above have fostered what it describes:  "Their thoughts are only for today..." 

That is the problem at the heart of South Auckland.  Think about it.  How you solve that takes more than just another government programme.

Tomorrow I'll mention some solutions -- some of them hard, some of them easy, none of them involving knee jerk bans on bottle stores, armed police patrols, or more social workers.

The warrior culture of South Auckland, Part 1 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
More social workers, more violence - NOT PC (November, 2005)
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop, (January, 2007)
* I'll be out there at Mountfort Park on Saturday, in fact, installing barbed wire around the interchange bench.  ;^)

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What moves history?

Cover_web Now, this  is the sort of thing I'd like to see on Sky's History Channel, AKA, the WWII channel.  (Where would the History Channel be without Hitler?)  What I'm talking about is Stephen Hicks' superb video presentation Nietzsche & the Nazis.

How did one of the most educated nations in Europe turn into a Nazi dictatorship? How philosophical were the National Socialists? How socialist were they?  What influence did heavyweight intellectuals such as Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and Oswald Spengler have? And to what extent was Nietzsche a forerunner of the Nazis?  All these questions and more are asked and thoroughly answered in Hicks' film. 

But don't just trust me about how good it is.  Read Tibor Machan's review -- and watch the first few minutes online at YouTube

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Long life, thank man!

To understand one of the main benefits of living in an industrial civilisation, just think for a moment about life expectancy. 

Since America's Industrial Revolution, life expectancies have essentially doubled, from a life expectancy of 38.3 for a man born in 1850 (and 40.5 for a woman), to 75.7 for a man now, and 80.8 for a woman.  [See the tables here, hat tip Stephen Hicks.] 

What that means is that just one-hundred-and-fifty years ago, anyone over the age of forty in the US was considered old.  And with the exception of the last one-hundred-and-fifty years, that was the way it was for most of human history -- and still is in those places that haven't yet experienced genuine industrialisation.

Thank goodness then for the Industrial Revolution, the single biggest boon for the human environment in all recorded history (and thank goodness too for the source of that blessed revolution: man's reason). 

As Ayn Rand suggests, anyone over 38 years of age today should give a silent "Thank you" to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find.

PS:  I wonder how many readers will see the link between this post, and the post on morality a couple of days ago?  Anyone?

UPDATE: On a related theme, Yaron Brook characterises the ongoing conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil as that between the "flat world" and the "free world." Those who see the victory of the latter "powered by inexorable forces of technology and history" should think again, he says.

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Why can't the bastards just leave us alone! (updated)

light-bulb-ban Another day, another ban. 

Since Navtej Singh was shot we've been hearing calls for bottle stores and their opening hours to be capped, banned and regulated into non-existence -- it was Mr Singh's own fault for being shot, say the wowsers, and bans on bottle stores and their opening hours are urgently needed.

This, it seems, is their idea of 'fighting crime.'

On Wednesday last week, we were told that using our cellphones while driving would be banned.  We're not to be trusted in our own cars, so the government's big stick is coming out, we've been told.

This, it seems, is their idea of 'road safety.'

And today we hear that the government is going to ban incandescent light bulbs from the end of next year, so if we want light in our homes we will have to use the mercury-filled spiral windings that have been struggling for consumer support -- and with good reason. 

This, it seems, is their answer to so called 'market failure' -- ie., consumers who show a dislike for products the wowsers insist they should be buying.

Nearly every day we're assaulted with would-be wowsers who know better than we do how to live our own lives, or who think they do.  Every day we hear a new bastard who wants to ban products or behaviour that for some twisted reason they just don't like. And nearly every second day we're assailed with a politician who's seen an opportunity for headlines by picking up one of the wowsers' favourite schemes to decrease our moral space.

And so it is that our freedoms shrink incrementally, one ban, one regulation, one imposition at a time.

It's often said that the end result of banning foolishness is that we'll end up with a nation of fools. It's increasingly obvious that it's the fools who have taken charge.

PS: I wonder if the wowsers have considered that the ban on light bulbs is symbolic of the wider wowserism?  After all, since cartoons often use a thought bubble of a cartoon to signify a good idea, what to do you think a ban on lightbulbs symbolises?

UPDATE 1: New links added.
UPDATE 2:  To celebrate the new light bulbs we're all going to be forced to use, here's Graham Parker's 'Mercury Poisoning.'

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Blogger warning

This is a heads up to bloggers of all shapes, sizes and political allegiances (even nasty ones) that use stories from Associated Press.  Looks like using AP's content might land you at the wrong end of a legal suit.  In just one example, Roger Cadenhead of the Drudge Retort reports that AP is suing a blogger for posts  quoting between 33 and 74 words of AP's material!  More details from the blogger here. [Hat tip Noodle Food.]

Just thought you ought to know too.

Taxpayer-funded blogging

Yes, taxpayer-funded blogging.  No, not me you fools.  I'm talking about the Labour Party client blog called The Standard AKA The Stranded, AKA The Double Standard, AKA the Sub-Standard.  (I won't post a link to the site because every time I visit my anti-virus software goes into hypermode.)

This is a blog run by geeks with no name who spew out patent garbage promoting this government that even Heather Simpson would reject as too fawning -- geeks who continue to insist that the Electoral Finance Act is justified to prohibit anonymous participation in politics.  And it looks like they're using our money to do it.

Earlier in the year it appeared clear that these geeks were paid Labour flunkies using a tax-paid Labour server to post their anonymous rubbish. After much media interest, Labour president Mike Williams insisted they weren't, and even if they were they were going to stop, and even if they had been they've stopped now.

They haven't.  It appears The Double Standard still pumps out its hot air, lies and spin on a taxpayer-funded Labour webserver -- that's a big piece of hardware you've paid for, dear reader, so that the the Labour Party can run its office, not so Labour flunkies can help them run for office.    Details here.  That's a piece of hardware, just to remind you, that Labour Party president Mike Williams has previously insisted the Standard boys and girls are barred from. 

Guess not.

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Martin House, Frank Lloyd Wright


This, above, is the focal point of the 100 ft long pergola and conservatory extending from the entrance of the Darwin Martin House right to the very back of the garden -- part of a reconstruction currently under way at the 1904 Buffalo house to restore the house and grounds to their former glory after a century of destruction of the grounds, and institutional neglect of the house.

You can see the pergola and conservatory running from right to left through the centre of the plan below.

This slide show and audio at the 'Wright in Buffalo' site gives an update on the progress of the reconstruction. [Hat tip Prairie Mod.]  And you can take a virtual tour of the whole complex here at the house's official site.  [Click BUILDINGS then MARTIN HOUSE COMPLEX.]

                            Martin_House Plan

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Monday, 16 June 2008

New blog & new updates

New blog in town is NZ Capitalist hosted by Elijah Lineberry, seen in his usual besuited garb a few posts below at the Libz stand at Fieldays.  Of his new blog Elijah says, "It is intended to have various current events, market matters and other business related comment for you to read; and one hopes you all enjoy!"  Sounds splendid!

And for those of you following Anna Woolf's cancer treatment (that's the treatment of the blogger formerly known as Annie Fox), she's posted the first updates on how she's feeling after her first two sessions of chemo.


Anyone for a drive across Israel?

When preparing his lecture on Israel for our online history course on The Islamist Entanglement, historian Scott Powell discovered an apt way in which to demonstrate just how small Israel is. For a New Zealand audience, it's the size below -- the length of a drive from Dunedin to the Wild Food Festival in Hokitika -- the size of a country that could be overrun in just a few hours by anyone determined enough to 'wipe it off the map.' No wonder it's been tried --and repelled -- so often.

The image comes from the site IRIS.ORG.IL, which also shows the size of Israel in comparison to just a portion of the Arab world.

As Scott wryly says, "No wonder the Arab world has so much trouble accommodating the Palestinian refugees. Where would they all fit?"

NB: If you've missed the nine preceding lectures in Scott's Islamist Entanglement course, then it's not too late to sign up and listen to all the lectures so far at the online archive, and then get the concluding lecture live and online next week.

And if you'd like to sign up for Scott's next history course before it starts -- and I'd urge all of you to give it serious consideration -- he's kicking off his First History for Adults™ (Part 4) on Ancient History shortly. (No previous knowledge of history is required, just some basic native intelligence.)

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The exploding glass ceiling

Aussie Tim Blair has news on the latest frontier for feminism: a women's equal right to blow herself up.  Apparently while the likes of Hamas and the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda are happy to heed the call of "I am woman!  Here me explode!", Al Qaeda bosses are denying women the right to break, quite literally, the 'glass ceiling.'  Read, Blair's The Right to Ignite for the latest farcical feminist flatulence.


Finding a scapegoat for petrol prices (updated)

The Government has decided how to handle the calls for a reduction on excise tax in petrol: To ignore them.

Specifically, to ignore them and to offer the public a scapegoat.

This is the real point, you see, of the Government-ordered inquiry in petrol pricing: to draw attention from the fact that without excise taxes and GST on petrol, the price would not be the record high of $2.10/litre it is this morning but a highly affordable price of around $1.25/litre. In the words of George Reisman, this will be the guilty interrogating the innocent in order to throw the blame somewhere else.

The reports around the traps this morning and the support for the inquiry from the Automobile Association show that the conjuring trick is working -- the media are too dumb to notice they're being used, and the AA are too keen to curry favour to point out the dishonesty.

The inquiry has absolutely no other point than to take the focus of the extent of government theft. There is absolutely nothing of any substance an inquiry can achieve. You can compare its theft below, in red, to the margins made by local distributors, in grey, and see for yourself the effect that bullying the local petrol companies could have:

The government takes far more in excise taxes and GST on petrol than the local petrol companies earn for importing, refining and selling the stuff, yet by offering up the spectacle of local oil company executives being harangued by local MPs the government hopes the public will forget the extent that the government is thieving from them, and maintain the illusion that the government is on the side of the motorist.

They know, of course, that can rely on the compliant media and a fawning Automobile Association to back up the lies.

UPDATE 1: Julian summarises the situation, for those of you who Lianne Dalziel hopes haven't kept up. "The reasons that fuel costs are so high are because:

  1. The cost of crude is high. It is an international commodity. In NZ we are powerless to change that.
  2. The majority of the local cost is made up of tax. The government can change this - but will not.
  3. I understand that the return on capital for international oil companies has risen from 22% to 23% - that is an increase of only 1% - since oil was at US$40 a barrel. The costs of refining have risen and they are pouring huge amounts of money into exploration (despite governments trying to prevent them from exploration). The risks they face are enormous and they must be compensated for this.
  4. Which brings us to the local petrol companies. As the MED graph shows, margins are not high historically speaking. They are powerless in the face of the current environment.

"As you say PC, this is just another exercise in blaming companies - and another attempt to [justify regulating] our lives and business." Don't buy it.

UPDATE 2: The nonsensical idea that international oil prices are being driven up by speculation, and not by basic supply and demand factors, should be given short shrift.

I've dealt before with the supply and demand factors, so I won't do that here. Instead, I'll let George Reisman explode the myth that, in the absence of genuine reasons for price movements, 'speculation' is capable of pushing up the price of anything.

Yes, it's true that many investors have been moving into commodities in recent months, but to blame them for the overall rise in prices ignores a number of things (including those supply and demand factors), including the much overlooked fact that in order to gain their profits the speculators or their agents will at some stage have to sell their holdings -- and if the quantities of their purchases are sufficent to shift the market upward (as the braindead say they do), then so too will their sales drive the market down. Explains Reisman:
The fact that speculators must lose in the absence of an independently caused rise in the demand for and price of the commodity in which they speculate is confirmed by the following supply-and-demand diagram. The diagram shows that initially, in the absence of speculators, the price of a commodity is p0, resulting from the demand DD and supply SS. [That is,] the general public buys the entire supply, equal to quantity OA, at the price p0.
Now, speculators appear on the scene, and when their demand is added to that of the general public, the total demand for the commodity rises from DD to D'D'. The result is that the price rises from p0 to p1.
At the higher price, the general public reduces its purchases from the full supply, OA, to the part of the supply represented by OB. The speculators buy up the part of the supply represented by AB. If the speculators bought the quantity AB all at once, they would have to pay a price of p1 for it. In the absence of an increase in demand on the part of the general public, the speculators would then have to sell back their supply at a price of p0, if they sold it back all at once.
The fact that they would probably buy the quantity AB in increments and sell it back in increments changes nothing fundamental, because the purchase and sale of each increment is described by exactly the same analysis.
In addition, there is the further problem of a likely movement of the quantity supplied to somewhere to the right of the line SS, in response to the rise in price.
Naturally, this is a problem somewhat helped in the case of oil by the natural tendency of governments to place extensive restrictions on supply.

And just so you know, this is the first, and probably the last, time this blog will play host to a supply-and-demand diagram. It's posted here so all the intelligent Treasury types who read this blog and who do use such diagrams can download it and use it in their submissions to Dalziel's inquiry. (If you want the page reference for your footnotes, you can read the argument in Reisman's book Capitalism, p217-218, and 224-225. You can find a PDF copy of the book online here.)

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Some pics from Fieldays (updated)

Here's a few photos of the Libz crew at work at Fieldays talking to part of the record Fieldays crowd(click the pics to enlarge). We figure someone at Fieldays must have had a sense of humour, putting the Nats right next door to us :

P6130246The crew at work (below). Punters sign up for more, while Eli checks the deserted National Party stand next door (left). Note the signs indicating who paid for the Nats' site.

Here's the Nats' Rotorua candidate on Friday afternoon, just before we sent him home for vagrancy.P6130248And here he is hugging a tree ...

Here's Maurice Wimpianson looking for today's National policy...
P6130249 And here's Maurice all alone, and still in the dark ...

P6130254 4.37pm on Friday - the taxpayers obviously didn't pay enough to keep these people (left) on the job for the full day either.P6130257

NZ First lady (right) knew all about Libz "because we read all your press releases."


Here's the winning message that drew the punters in:

And a winning stand -- the only political party stand that was Not Taxpayer Funded: P6140270

And, finally, guess which party has ideas ... and which one's completely in the dark ...

UPDATE 1: Following on from what I said after my own stint on the Libz stand earlier in the week, here's some of what the Libz volunteers observed over the week:

  1. Libertarianz' name recognition has increased enormously amongst rural folk, as has the realisation that if parties keep dishing out the same old slop we'll keep getting the same old big-government failure.
  2. Libertarianz is no longer seen as 'extremist' -- at least not by the people we were talking to. It's taken twelve years, but policies like abolishing the RMA and separating school and state were being talked about as sensible and 'centrist.' As they say, it's not until you get bored with saying something that it finally starts to sink in.
  3. Oh, and no questions on the roads. Real people are over the small stuff.
  4. Most National MPs are better privately than they are publicly (hard not to be, really), but every single one of them lacks courage. The lesson being that the more principled activists can make it politically acceptable for politicians to say (as Kate Wilkinson did, for example) that National MPs are opposed to compulsion, the better. Even better if they mean it when they say it.
  5. ACT are now irrelevant. Not one person mentioned ACT to us all week, not even to write then off.
  6. And so too are Winston First and United No Future. For once, there was no rabid geriatric supporters of Winston first to give us the usual 'The Messiah Will Save Us' speech, and no Winston to show up and sooth his few remaining supporters. And no one even knew who Peter Dunne was.
  7. The traditional farming constituency of the National Party are very angry with the Nats. There is widespread agreement that they are just Labour-Lite, widespread annoyance that they've bought the phony global warming line -- and absolute outrage that they're proposing their own Emissions Trading Scheme -- and apparently no support at all for National's mealy-mouthed sleep-walking to the election. A rural vote for National this year will not be a vote for National but a vote against Helen Clark. The Nats will have to earn back any genuine support -- if they can.
UPDATE 2: Note that unlike the other political parties at Fieldays, the Libz stand was NOT taxpayer funded. If you'd like to help out with the costs of the stand, you can donate here. :-)

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