Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Despite my overwhelming support for the principle of Voluntary Student Membership (VSM), and my delight when Andrew Bates and co. won the vote that made Auckland Uni voluntary a few years ago, I haven’t yet written anything about Roger Douglas’s VSM Bill: i.e., his Private Member’s Bill, drawn last week, that would allow Voluntary Student Membership at all New Zealand’s tertiary institutions – upholding, says the Bill’s stated aim, “students’ right to freedom of association, by ensuring that no student is compelled to join a students’ association.”

I haven’t written about it for one simple reason – because I’m unsure if I support the Bill.


First off, it looks to me like utter hypocrisy for a politician to write a bill allowing students to resile voluntarily from joining and paying for their student union, while insisting loudly and volubly that you and I and every other taxpayer stumps up compulsorily for his foreign holidays.  Sorry Roger, your credibility is about zero with me right now.

Second, while the bill allows a student to resile from joining the student union at their campus -- and thus from supporting the unsavoury political positions of student politicians intent on putting their professors’ nutty political ideas into immediate action –- and to resile as well from paying for the numerous follies and iniquities of their campus’s student union -- it doesn’t however mean that the student union itself is starved of cash.  When Auckland went voluntary, the balance of the student union’s costs were (as far as I’m aware) largely paid for by the uni itself, which means students were simply paying indirectly. 

And so, while their name wasn’t necessarily attached to the various calls to make the Auckland campus a sister campus to Pyongyang University, they were still helping to pay for Martin Bradbury to visit Pyongyang in tribute to his spiritual home.

And third, you know what: the issue of Voluntary Student Membership is just so damned basic, that it’s worth having that battle on campus once a year just to give students practice in arguing for freedom.

As I said a couple of years ago,  the issue pits freedom, individualism and voluntarism on one side, against collectivism, compulsion and bossyboot busy-bodying on the other. On the one hand it gives training, intellectual ammunition and a platform for freedom lovers to argue the issue of our age: freedom.  And on the other, it shows just how disinterested the collectivists are in freedom, and how excited they are at the chance to get their noses in a trough.  Any trough.

It’s not whether you win or lose a VSM campaign that’s even most important: The real victory of a VSM campaign comes in the number of people each and every year that a VSM campaign permanently switches on to freedom -- everything else is gravy. If campuses are going to be a breeding ground for future politicians, which they are, then I’d far rather they be a breeding ground for young student politicians who understand freedom and know how to argue for it.

And as long as you’re arguing about freedom every year, then you’re not arguing about making your campus a sister campus to Pyongyang University, are you.

It would be an awful shame to take that all away, don’t you think?

“It’s time to play God” - Guardian

It’s time to play God, says JohnJoe McFadden in the Guardian:

    The poet Joyce Kilmer wrote, "Poems are made by fools like me, / But only God can make a tree." New research by Craig Venter, one of the main scientists behind the human genome sequencing project, may change all that. His latest research, published in Science, has succeeded in making a new form of life in the laboratory. The hope is that this "synthetic life" will eventually lead to custom-made organisms engineered to tackle the world's woes…
    Of course, the prince of the realm and the anti-Genetic Engineering lobby will howl that we should not be playing God. Yet millions of tons of GM food are consumed each year without a single authenticated case of any harm. And although there have been justifiable concerns about the ecological impact of GM crops, research has tended to conclude they are more benign than conventional farming.
    Mankind cannot stand still. Since the 19th century human longevity in the west has been increasing by about five hours every day. Most of our extra years have been bought with advances in science and technology. But much of the world has been left out. With people living longer, population growth, crop yields waning and global warming, we need to innovate. Synthetic biology provides new hope for a bright future.

Great piece. 

It makes the great point that it’s playing with nature that keeps us alive, not being in thrall to it.  To be commanded, nature must be obeyed – to paraphrase Francis Bacon – but it’s in the commanding that we are able to flourish.

It reminds us too that despite the years of use and the ravings of the Anti-GE loons, there has not been a single authenticated case of any harm caused by GE. 

And finally, it’s going to play hell with this well-used PJ O’Rourke quote.  I look forward to a rewrite of his piece “How Ferrari Refutes the Decline of the West” or at least of the quote.  (If you can come up with a good quote rewrite I’ll send you one of a new pile of books I’ve been given to give away.)

And for an extra point, see if you can tell me succinctly how “playing with nature” relates to the subject of ethics, and how this piece illustrates the starting point for the science of ethics.  (I’ll give you the answer tomorrow morning, if no-one’s got it before then.)

Quote of the Day: On Parenting

"The parent’s job is to bring the future into the present for the child, to make it palpable, and to do so in a way that accurately represents the world as it is—but at a level that is accessible to the child."
………………………………………………………….- Kenneth R. Livingston: ‘Teaching Albert Honesty’

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: No means no! [update 3]

Susan Ryder explains that no doesn’t mean yes, Mr Key.

susanryder “88% VOTE NO IN REFERENDUM” screamed the newspaper headline last Saturday evening when I ducked into the supermarket for a few things.

After weeks of debate about it, the Smacking Referendum had incredibly slipped my mind. I’d been tied up playing tour guide to friends on their first visit to this country, thus paying scant attention to news reports and political blogs in the interim. “Well, that’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons!” I thought. “What are you going to do now, John Key?!”

What indeed. U-Turn Boy has been backed right into his own corner, leaving no wriggle room. That the referendum is non-binding is immaterial. The electorate has clearly shown the politicians the proverbial middle finger.

The reaction from the Anti-Smacking Act’s architects and supporters has been predictably unpalatable. Stunningly, Sue Bradford called it “inconclusive,” showing once again the authoritarian love affair with language-revision.

National party stalwart Richard Griffin, when asked if would it be “plain rude of John Key to ignore” the vote, said “Not at all. This is not a major political issue. This government is driven by other criteria; there are far more important things to deal with. This government is about global trade relationships. It’s not about social engineering.” Well, all the more reason to repeal the Act then, eh.

His political radio counterpart from further left, John Pagani, said of the 1.4 million-plus voters who returned a “no” vote, that “the question posed isn’t the same as what the referendum advocates are calling for.” That because the wording on the ballot paper never said to change the law, the “no” voters “have no idea what the law should be changed to.”

And the Prime Minister went even further by stating that it would “derail Parliament if it went back to the House for a vote” and that the voters “didn’t necessarily say they want the law changed.”

I have news for Bradford, Griffin, Pagani, Key and the myriad of commentators who insist upon wrongly referring to the 1.4 million-plus voters as “the pro-smackers.”

This issue, as noted again on this blog yesterday, was never about smacking or not smacking children. It was never about preventing or not child abuse. It was about opposing state intrusion into private lives, period.

Notwithstanding the previously-stated shortcomings of referendums per se, the overwhelming “No!” vote is a lonely victory for individual freedom in this increasingly centralised country, made all the more astonishing in the face of a surreptitious campaign to deter voters from bothering to return their ballot papers at all.

Regarding the latter, John Key lead the charge by channelling Helen Clark in his arrogant assertion that nothing would change as a result of the referendum. He stubbornly insisted that the law “was working,” a mantra that was echoed by some in the media, along with playing the “referendum-question-is-confusing” record on high rotate.

And the Greens, in a world-first, harped on about the “wasted cost to the taxpayer” of $8-9 million; the same Greens who were only yesterday grizzling about cuts to Adult and Community Education totalling, according to Russel Norman, “only $13 million; (which is) pretty small in the scheme of things for government funding.” But then the Greens love people who want more government. The opinions of the 100 or so who attended the public meeting in Wellington to force others to fund their Night Classes are far more important to the Green party than those of the thousands who opposed the Bradford Bill. Further, the Greens conveniently forget that they were part of the Government that refused to allow the ballot to be inexpensively held on Election Day last November, citing “voter confusion.”

Meanwhile, the child abusers continue to freely inflict their torture upon little children, with not a peep from Saviour Sue on the horrific occasion of every new case.

The Referendum question was not confusing, nor do the “no” respondents, of which I was one, have “no idea” what they want from the result. On the contrary, the legions demonstrating on the streets and in every poll ever undertaken knew exactly what they wanted prior to the Act’s arrogant imposition: ‘No’ to the Bradford/Clark/Key Rewriting of Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Section 59 should never have been repealed, child abuse always being rightly and properly prohibited. If creating legislation was the key to solving problems, the Soviet Union would have been a paradise. It wasn’t. However Bradford had a firm ally in Clark, who was looking to a future that figured the United Nations and to hell with the wishes of New Zealanders.

John Key, conversely, ought to take note. The law is decidedly not working when citizens are fearful of authority. He should remember who works for whom. If his government is not the Nanny State government, he can demonstrate that by repealing the Anti-Smacking Act.

It shouldn’t take long. I’ll happily provide the match.

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

Dear Ms Bradford,
    I am writing to register my dismay that, despite a 9:1 rejection of your
"anti-smacking" law, you seem unwilling to concede that the overwhelming
majority of New Zealanders do not support your position. Rather, you choose
to insult us by insinuating that the result was skewed because we apparently
could not understand the question and voted the wrong way. Now I can
appreciate that you might find the question difficult or confusing, but I
would submit that is more a reflection on you than the general New Zealand
    I lived for seven years in a country where smacking was banned and I
witnessed firsthand some of the consequences. Among other things, my wife
was assaulted by a 10 year old boy while 5 months pregnant: kicked at full
strength in the lower abdomen because the child did not want eye drops put
in his eyes. It took both parents to hold the boy down and hold his head
still for the drops to be administered, while the child screamed and fought
every inch of the way. Everyone in the department could hear what was
happening including other patients. It was a humiliating and degrading
experience for all concerned, including the child.
    Why did this happen? Because the parents, like so many other parents in that
country, had had no control over the child since the day he was born. It was
a topic much discussed in the general society: there was real confusion and
uncertainty amongst parents about how to cope with their uncontrollable
children, and yet the government trumpeted the virtue of the wonderful,
enlightened law they had foisted on society.
    I would respectfully submit that that government, like you, was blissfully
out of touch with the realities of daily life and the consequences of such
unwanted and unwarranted governmental intrusion into our daily lives.
In conclusion, I would appreciate a public apology for the gratuitous
insult you have delivered to the 87.6% that voted against your law, and an
acknowledgement that it is not the government's role to interfere in how we
raise our families.
    P----- P----

UPDATE 2: As has been said before, the problem with Bradford’s law is not just that it is non-objectively derived (i.e., smacking is not beating) but also that it’s non-objectively articulated. As Professor Jim Evans said not so long ago of the Bradford/Clark/Key law:

    This is not clear legislation. In creating this law, Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity just which conduct is criminal.
    The section results from a political fudge. Whatever other views one takes about the topic of smacking, that much at least ought to be kept clear.

Evans’s point: no-one has a bloody clue in`advance of acting what’s legal and what’s illegal -- and new “guidelines” sent to the police isn’t going to change that.

It’s a bit like rugby’s rules on what you can do in the ruck, eh.  New guidelines sent to referees isn’t going to make things any clearer for the players heading at full tilt into the next contest; only a fully objective rule change is going to help.

Madeleine has a post on the sort of change that’s needed to bring clarity to the dog’s breakfast of Section 59: Dear Cabinet . . .

UPDATE 3: A lot of well-articulated anger directed at the Prime Minister this morning for the arrogance of not listening (now doesn’t that remind you of another Prime Minister).

  • From the MacDoctor: “John Key claims that, with respect to the anti-smacking bill, the “law is working” He is right. The repeal of Section 59 was designed to criminalise using force to correct children It is working very well indeed. Most parents are now criminals. All the ones who have smacked their child within the past two years…
        But the law is working well.
        No, we don’t smack any more. We no longer have any control over our children in a public place. Yesterday, I saw a woman attempting to “persuade” her child out of her tantrum. It was very sad. A grown woman reduced to begging her two-year-old. I saw the look of triumph on that little girl’s face and knew she was doomed, her only means of learning self-control removed by the power of this law.
        Still, the law is working well.
        That nice Mr. Key says so.”
  • Lindsay Mitchell: Go ahead - break the law - “I am unspeakably angry at the government's, no, John Key's reaction to the referendum. But I shouldn't be. Smacking is effectively against the law and that is how it will stay. But those authorities that administer the law are being told to act like it isn't.”
  • Oswald: What an opportunity lost for the Nats - “With an 88% backing, a great opportunity was lost to score some serious points.You stand up in public and state "Now that you have spoken, we understand the true extent of your feelings on this isssue and we will move to repeal this law immediatly."But no, you screwed the pooch.”
  • Liberty Scott: Child abusers need to be bribed - “So is the philosophy of leftwing columnist John Minto. After bemoaning child abuse figures in his Stuff blog, he has found a magic solution for it - give them more unearned money.”
  • Liberty Scott: Ready to punch your kids? - “Presumably the vote on the badly worded smacking referendum means that New Zealanders predominantly want it to be legal to punch your kids in the face or smack them over the head with concrete - that's what you voted for, right? With this sort of nonsense from the child nationalisation lobby…”
  • NZ Conservative: Changing the smacking law would derail parliament! - “On NewsTalkZB this morning John Key said that if they changed the smacking law, it would "Derail Parliament."
        Derail Parliament???
  • NZ Conservative: John Key Lied Today - “John Key lied today, as reported in this mornings DomPost. He said words to the effect that "smacking is legal". This is what the act says:
            (2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.
        How clearer could this possibly be? . . .  We need to respect the laws, not be told to ignore them. If this results in injustice, the law must be changed to be just.
        It is hard to debate when even the Prime Minister willfully misrepresents the facts.”

It’s that “even the Prime Minister” bit that gets me, as if things were going to be different with the Blue Team in charge.

No comment, of course, from Adolph’s No Minister blog apart from this piece by Lou Taylor that slipped through on Saturday.  Since then they’ve been as silent on the issue as Labour’s Red Alert blog. (Now there’s an irony for you.) No surprise of course, If Adolph was a woman he’d be queuing up to have John Key’s babies.

GUEST POST: Can a nine-year-old be an adult?

    I’ve clashed several times with regular commenter Brian Scurfield over his views on parenting, which he characterises as Taking Children Seriously, and which I’ve tended to characterise as a combination of “existential anarchism” and pretending children are adults when they’re not. 
    He’s written one guest post before to resolve just what exactly his views are – Reason, freedom, and raising fine children – without finding any of our subsequent comments persuasive and none of us getting any further ahead, so in the interests of both free debate and freer comments threads  I’ve challenged him once more to produce a guest post that convinced us of his points, and allowed us to thrash out once and for all the issues he raises in his comments.  So here it is.  Feel free to weigh in.
    The post is presented as a dialogue . . .

Amy (aged 9): What's a libertarian?
Lucy (much older): Someone who values freedom.
Amy: But isn't that bad, people can't just do anything they like?
Lucy: Libertarian freedom is not "freedom-to" but rather "freedom-from". So not freedom to initiate force but rather freedom from force.
Amy: Oh. I don't like being pushed around and forced to do things, so "freedom-from" sounds good to me. But wait - how do people know what they should do?
Lucy: Good question. Knowing what we should do requires theories in addition to libertarianism. Take parenting: I think good parenting not only involves "freedom-from" ideas like not forcing children but also positive stuff like helping and supporting your children and knowing how knowledge is created.
Amy: I don't think a lot of people see it that way; they think forcing children can be helping them. Lucy: Why do they think that?
Amy: Well, they say we don't know any better.
Lucy: That argument can be employed to deprive anyone of liberty and it's a sad argument to use in the 21st century. As for children not knowing better, well everyone has vast swathes of ignorance because there's much more to know in this universe than can be known by one mind. The way to overcome ignorance is not through forced learning because, typically, knowledge gained that way is fragile. Learning and doing things because you want to, now that's how you get deep and lasting knowledge. Also, I think children are actually better at picking up knowledge than adults.

Amy: Hmm...but what if I wanted to do something that was bad?
Lucy: Well, you wouldn't want to do something that was actually bad would you?
Amy: No. But suppose I did.
Lucy: But why would you? You see, this is where the positive stuff I mentioned comes into play. If you have been brought up in an environment where not only "freedom-from" is respected but also where help, support, advice, and explanations are given and sought, where making a mistake is not a reason for embarrassment or anger, and where everybody owns up to their own fallibility then why would you want to do bad things?
Amy: Well, I guess I wouldn't.
Lucy: There is a view of childhood that many people have. It goes like this: It is human nature to do want to do bad things and this is inborn in us and has to be stamped out of children through discipline. My view is simply that humans are born not knowing right from wrong, our genes have no knowledge of human morality, nor could they. So whatever makes children turn out bad, it's not in the genes.
Amy: So what makes children go bad?
Lucy: A few things I could mention are neglect and wanting to rebel against authority without really knowing why authoritarianism is bad. Most people don't turn out bad, but they do end up with lots of hang-ups caused by authoritarianism.
Amy: Are there are no authorities?
Lucy: Correct. No-one has a lock on truth and anyone, no matter how learned or qualified they seem, can be profoundly wrong. This is another reason why ideas shouldn't be forced on people.
Amy: Wow. That's a lot to think about. What if I wanted to be a libertarian?
Lucy: I would say it's just as well I'm your Mum!

- Brian Scurfield

Louis Sullivan: the Struggle for American Architecture

Here's a trailer for new film worth seeing: a feature-length documentary that tells the story of revolutionary Chicago architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), one of my very favourite architects – his work, his rapid and early success, and the reasons behind his tragic decline.


RELATED: Louis Sullivan - What’s the Big Idea? - Peter Cresswell

Monday, 24 August 2009

It was never just about smacking, you know [update 4]

The primary focus of the anti-smacking brigade is not smacking.  Once you understand that, you will understand their reaction to the weekend’s poll.  The primary focus of the anti-smacking brigade is not smacking, and it was never about child abuse. It was always about control.  They have used reasonable misgivings about smacking and widespread outrage at child abuse to advance an agenda of state control that has been enabled  by politicians too dim to realise they’re being used.

This morning’s cabinet meeting would be a good time for John Boy to realise that.

In case you hadn’t noticed, statists like Cindy Kiro and Sue Bradford want the state to be part of your family. The original intention of Sue Bradford’s private member’s bill: to ban smacking outright, was entirely consistent with her Marxist philosophy of state control in all facets of life – it was the Trojan Horse  by which she and Cindy hoped to get the state into the family. That’s the agenda here, a much wider one than the way you discipline your children – and an important one to realise when “compromise” is on the cards, as it will be again at this morning’s cabinet meeting.

You can see that wider agenda at work in 'Surveillance Cindy’s' plan for clipboard-wielding Stasis examining every family in the country against criteria set by Cindy Kiro and her children's commissariat.  Don’t raise your kids like Cindy tells you, and you’ll feel the wrath of the apparatchiks.

You can see  it in  Sue Bradford’s long-standing support for Stalinist Cindy’s scheme, and in her and Catherine Delahunty’s Marxist training school Kotare – what Delahunty describes in this speech outlining the Kotare School's aims as "a centre for radical and liberating education for social change."  (Part 2 is here.)

You can see it in Sue Bradford’s announcement in the wake of her anti-smacking amendment being passed that "This [was] very much the end of the beginning."

You can see it too in her utter disregard for the effect of the anti-smacking amendment on good parents, and in their lack of interest in those parents who are still killing their kids, which outrages happen each time without a word from primary sponsor of the amendment that was (it was alleged) intended to stop these violent assaults.

But this was never about smacking, not really.  It always has been about control – control not of bad parents but of good ones. The tragedy still is that only one side seems to understand that.

UPDATE 1: MacDoctor takes on the statistical “confusion” about the result exhibited by the control freaks.

UPDATE 2:  Danyl at Dim Post beautifully satirises some of the likely changes to the anti-smacking law, including :

  • Alter font of Section 59 amendment from Courier12 to Times New Roman.
  • Initiate second non-binding referendum to ask voters if they understood question in previous referendum.
  • Key to address Families First meeting, stand at podium with shit-eating grin and demand to know who the fuck else they’re going to vote for.

UPDATE 3:  It’s worth remembering that it wasn’t just John Key who turned tail on his original opposition to Bradford’s Bill, and who emailers, commenters, Twitterers and Facebookers should now be pressuring to reconsider his first instinctsWhat about all those National Party turncoats who stood up on the steps of Parliament in April 2007 swearing total opposition to the anti-smacking amendment, and then in May 2007 filed obediently into the lobbies to vote for it. I’m talking about National Socialist sell-outs Chester Borrows, Shane Ardern, Toe-rag Henare, Maurice Wimpianson and Judith ‘Don’t-Believe-A-Word-I-Say’ Collins.

Get onto them and tell them now to have the courage of whatever convictions they pretended to have back in April 2007.


(And if you’re super-keen, then as a commenter advises send the buggers a letter. "MP name, parliament" is all that it needs. No stamp required. Emails are much much easier to delete than letters, which will all be delivered physically to the MP’s office.)

UPDATE 4:  Interesting that the Reds’ Red Alert blog hasn’t mentioned a thing on the referendum. Seems their beloved democracy gave them a good smacking on this occasion.

And interesting too that the Reds’ luminary, Braying Oddwords, chose to mention it on Saturday only with a photo of Larry Baldock punching the air in celebration and the caption “A Picture Worth a Thousand Words.”  (FWIW, I left the comment “You do spin well here, don’t you,” but Oddwords wasn’t interested in my comment and it never made the main page.

Trust your inner voice [updated]

A reader was asking me recently about introspection.  Just as we use “extrospection” to know the external world, we use introspection to gain information about the “internal” world – to get a handle on our emotions; to learn our responses to music and art; to understand and validate subjects like free will – without introspection we’re blundering blindly.  Explained simply, introspection is simple the process by which we become aware of our own conscious experiences.

Basically, introspection is as evidential as any other form of evidence-gathering – it simply requires more honesty to collate and communicate the evidence we’ve gathered. There’s nothing mystical about introspection.  Psychologist Edith Packer explains in this excerpt [pdf] that

    Introspection is a cognitive, intellectual process directed inward, focusing on and identifying the internal processes of one's consciousness.  Just as extrospection requires a focus on the various aspects of the external world, so introspection involves an awareness of and focus on one’s intellectual and emotional life. The requirements of mental health include both—the objective
knowledge of both external and internal reality. . .
    The process of introspection covers wide and varied areas of man’s inner life. It can include an examination of the conscious mind’s efficiency in thinking, the discovery of subconscious connections in making evaluations, the discovery of intermediate or core evaluations, the identification of defense mechanisms, and the discovery and identification of one’s values of
every kind, from fundamental to trivial.

Introspection is not a wholly internal process. It is inward directed, focussing on our reactions outward. As Ayn Rand explains, it is

a process of apprehending one’s own psychological actions in regard to some existent(s) of the external world, such actions as thinking, feeling, reminiscing, etc. It is only in relation to the external world that the various actions of a consciousness can be experienced, grasped, defined or communicated.

Introspection is not a “continuous defensive observation of one's behavior and feelings
(usually of anxiety) in anticipation of real or imagined disapproval.” It is not a neurotically self-conscious internal focus which “amounts to asking ‘How am I doing?’ during  all of one's interactions with other people.”  As Packer explains, introspection instead seeks answers to the questions of "What am I doing?" and "Why am I doing it?"

Getting to know our own emotions is one primary goal of healthy introspection.  Emotions are not causeless, however the failure to identify the nature and causes of our emotions can make them seem so.  Suppose then that we want to understand our emotions, and we’re ready to introspect. How do we go about it?  Edith Packer offers six steps to follow:

1. Identify the type of emotion or emotions which you are experiencing.
2. Identify the universal evaluation underlying each of those emotions.
3. Identify the personal evaluations underlying each of those emotions—the particular form in which you hold the universal evaluation.
4. Judge the correctness of the underlying evaluations, both universal and personal, against the facts.
5. If the evaluations underlying the emotions are incorrect, identify the reasons for making them.
6. Consciously reinforce correct evaluations, in order to correct automated inappropriate thinking methods stemming from your psychological problems.

Emotions are our rewards for living.  Honest introspection does more than just give us evidence for philosophical treatises, it does more than just refute the claims of behaviorists and positivists: by giving us a handle on our emotional life and what causes it, it helps us “tune up” the faculty by which we are rewarded for living well.  As Tom Lahti explains at the Focus Foundry blog, “introspection is the primary psychological tool by which man improves his character, integrates his knowledge of the world around him, and increases his own happiness.”

Why wouldn’t you want to do that well?

UPDATE:  Reader “Bez” recommends what look to be two interesting books along these lines by neurologist Antonio Damasio: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, and Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain . Anyone know any more about these?

And of course there’s Edith Packer’s ‘Art of Introspection’ and other work, which you can get hold of here.

Great win! [updated]

I’m sure all NOT PC’s readers will be as excited as I am to hear that my old footy team, the West London Wildcats, has lifted its sixth straight senior premiership in the British Australian  Football league, defeating the Wandswoth Demons by 7 points after a hard-fought battle, fighting back from being 12 points down with 15 mins to go to push their noses in front.


Sadly, it wasn’t a clean sweep for the clubs “sister” teams however, Shepherds Bush Raiders (named after my old Manurewa club) went down to Clapham Demons by 14, putting an end to the Raiders’s eight–year hold on the conference title, and the Ealing Emus lost their social footy title to the Wandsworth Demons.

Nonetheless, we got the title we wanted: Senior Premiers for another season!  Congratulations to all the troops.

Oh, and congratulations too to the Poms who pulled off their own thrilling come-from-behind win in the Ashes, and to the All Blacks, who managed to deliver a win in Sydney if not a game for the ages.

UPDATE: Who says Australians don’t have a sense of humour about losing? Aussie Tim Blair’s recommends reading “Saturday’s cricket-themed column. Written, obviously, before cricket became a subject few in Australia wish to read about.”

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Smacking is not beating [updated]

Turns out the overwhelming majority of voters, 87.6%, didn't agree with those who insisted the majority ofparents just want the freedom to beat their children.

Smacking is not beating.  It never was.  And people, those who count anyway, are intelligent enough not to buy the spin that it is.

They are also too intelligent not to buy the spin from an out-of-the-country Mr Key that this is a law change that needs to be changed back. Time to listen, John Boy. Time to listen.


  • The Best Headline I’ve seen on the result is from Home Paddock:

Which part of no don’t you understand?

  • Best spin is by Sue Bradford:

Bradford says result inconclusive

  • And the Best One-Liner is from Andy Moore, who asks at his Facebook page:

Should smacking Sue Bradford as part of good democracy be a criminal offence in NZ?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Beer O’Clock: Bring back morning drinking!

A “guest post” here in our regular Beer O’Clock slot by Mises.Org’s Jeffrey Tucker, who sings in praise of a glorious yet under-enjoyed tradition – one that would no doubt give a certain other Geoffrey heart palpitations. Perhaps you should send him a copy?

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act that it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one's breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine product. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting the public humiliation.

I was reminded of this tradition recently when a friend - a brilliant and productive young composer and musicologist who has to remain nameless - partook in his favorite breakfast, which he does every day insofar as it is possible. The food part is simple: a chocolate cake donut, with or without icing. The drink part: a pint of Guinness Stout. The method: dip the donut in the stout and chomp it down. It is the adult version of the child's milk and cookies trick.


It turns out that in the sweep of history, when water was not always safe and orange juice rarely accessible, this practice of morning drinking was the norm for all classes in society, and remained so for the upper classes far into the modern age. We forget that coffee and tea are relatively modern by comparison. In the middle ages, the typical British breakfast always included a mug of ale or wine.

In the South today, the tradition seems to bypass the middle class completely and last only among the truly well-formed working class blacks and upper class white aristocrats. A maintenance man I knew would never touch the "government's liquor" but he would never start a day without a nice swig of his favorite moonshine.

I tried it once and it took two days for my lips to feel normal again! But he managed it quite well, worked hard, and had a great life.

Also, I know a delightfully old-world Southern gentlemen who lives in an antebellum house and studies Holy Scripture every morning, the original Greek and Hebrew, and does this before he ever picks up the newspaper. His theory is that mornings are not for rushing around but rather contemplation of higher things.

One day I came during these early hours just for quick visit, and he invited me in.

"Would you like a cup of coffee, Jeffrey?" he asked.

"Yes sir, I would, thank you," I said.

Then he paused and said, with an impossibly charming flash in his eyes:

"Would you like some bourbon in that coffee?"

Well, of course I would! And so it was done.

Today most breakfast drinking takes place on airplanes. Why? Because we are surrounded by people we are not likely to see again, and so we feel a sense of freedom from artificial social impositions. If you think about it, once the silly taboo against breakfast drinking is crushed, many possibilities present themselves.

If you ask people their favorite breakfast drinks, and press the issue, you eventually find that in addition to the ones above, these are the best beloved.

bloody-mary The Bloody Mary: It is made from a jigger and a half of Vodka, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, 3 jiggers of tomato juice, pepper, some lemon juice, salt, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

The Mimosa: champagne and orange juice to taste. But actually you can add champagne to any fruit juice and create an amazingly festive break of day. It's unclear precisely what makes the difference, but I have a theory that it is just the popping of the champagne cork first thing in the morning. You can try this at home. Wake up late, shower, and then pull out and open a chilled bottle. The action alone creates a bigger rush than you can get from any evening martini.

Both of these drinks today are called "Doghair Drinks" as in the old saying that one should eat a bit of the hair of the tail of dog that bit you. Strange saying but it refers to the idea that one should have a bit more of the same drink of which you drank too much the night before, all toward the goal of curing the hangover.

Do you see what is happening here? The breakfast drink is being snuck in under the label of medicine as a way of evading the social taboo against liquor before noon. That's just silly. You don't need an excuse, particularly not a medicinal one. You can have a bloody mary or a mimosa anytime!

Along the same lines there is rum and 7-up, rum and apple cider, and this interesting one just called "The Breakfast Drink": jigger Vodka, jigger Peach Schnapps, cup of Orange Juice, 2 jiggers raspberry Liqueur, ½ cup of Collins mix. Fascinating!

For all the wonders and complications of that latter suggestion, I still can't get past the simplicity and clarity of my favorite of all time: a small glass of port wine.

port Maybe it is an age thing. I like the idea of the Guinness, the courage it takes to drink moonshine, the fussiness that comes with a mimosa, the bold stroke of the Bloody Mary, and the sheer decadence associated with "the Breakfast Drink" but somehow the clarity and stability of the glass of port - which recalls the glory of Colonial America - seems just right and just what is needed to join the movement to smash this ridiculous taboo against morning drinking.

A final note on a frequent objection: morning drinking diminishes one's productivity during the day. This is true, of course, but particularly for adults who process liquor more slowly. This underscores a point that cannot be emphasized enough: like smoking, morning drinking is particularly suited for the young, meaning under the age of 25. Their systems are robust and can handle it better. Don't waste your youth: it is up to you to bring back the breakfast drink!

* * Jeffrey Tucker is the editor of Mises.Org. * *

Where’s your evidence, Brian? [updated]

BrayingOddwords As readers will know  I’m hardly a defender of this government, mostly because of its timidity in saying or doing anything that’s worth a damn, but neither am I partial to people talking utter nonsense.

And for months now this government’s opponents both on blog and in parliament have been talking nonsense about this government’s “hidden free-market agenda ” about its plans to “gut the welfare state,” about its plot to sell off all of Auckland’s Councils’ assets – talking about these plans, plots and agendas as if everyone knows them to be true.

Now I for one would be awfully happy if any of this were true – hell, when even Cuba can implement limited privatisation you’d think it might get some consideration here at home – but there’s frankly no evidence for any of it, and no sign at all that any of its true.

A pack of politicians less interested in anything radical hasn’t been seen since Britain’s John Major went to the polls on a policy platform of a hotline for stray road cones and a new complaints department for the NHS.

Anyway, the latest media maven raising this fantastical free-market spectre is pro-Labour luminary and former Prime-Ministerial adviser Brian Edwards, who peddled all three myths to his blog readers on Wednesday – myths that were picked up and peddled further by his followers

Eager to find evidence that I’d grievously misjudged that nice but dimwitted Mr Key, I asked each of the blog writers who recycled Edwards’s claim to give me the evidence for it, just as I’ve done before.  And lust like when I’ve asked before, neither had anything to offer, not even a reply. 

So I asked Mr Edwards himself to justify his claims with anything approaching evidence, and he admitted eventually that he was entirely out of it – that, quite frankly, he has no more evidence for any of these claims than your religionist has for his god.  That, like the religionist sitting waiting for the rapture, or Pirate Jenny for her ship, he’s basically just sitting there waiting for the black freighter of privatisation to come floating in – and he has absolute faith that it will.  Faith, but not even a shred of evidence.

What a sad place for an atheist like Brian to be. 

So why not help poor Brian out.  Do you have any evidence of National’s radical free-market agenda? Do you have any evidence of these supposed plans for privatisations and asset sales?  Because if you have you should throw what you have up on stage and help your man out.  And if you haven’t, you should – like Brian – just stop telling porkies.  Either throw it up or shut up.

UPDATE: I do like Rob Hosking’s comment in the Edwards thread at Dim Post:

1. Its not so long ago the line from Labour was that Key was the secret idealogue and English was the moderate pragmatist. There has been a flip over since because people seem to like Key. But one of them has to be a secret, hidden combination of Pinochet, Richardson, Thatcher and Vlad the Impaler. Apparently.
2. Lange/Douglas parallel? So all Labour has to do is wait until the second term?  This is like singing old songs from your childhood to comfort you (no, wait....).  If Edwards is offering this sort of advice to Labour, and they're taking it, they're (a) paying him far too much and (b) in very big trouble. If English is an ideologue I'm a small patch of flat ground just outside Ngatea.  There are only two idealogues sitting in National seats:  one is now Speaker and the other one is a minister outside Cabinet in charge of leaky homes.

And if those two are what passes for free-market ideologues in the National caucus, then Galt help us.

“Just Say 'No!' to Apartheid!” [update 2]

Rodney Hide has got a lot of flak for telling National privately what Tau Henare chose to say publicly – that he’s prepared to hold fast to at least one ACT policy with which he went into the election.

Oddly however, it’s not Tau who’s in trouble for leaking, but Rodney who’s in trouble for grandstanding.  (Not really sure how you grandstand when it’s somebody else letting your cat out of the bag, but there you go.)

Anyway, in a parliament where election promises are forgotten before the new government has even been sworn in, for staying true to one principle in the ACT Party manifesto – the principle of One Law For All – Rodney has my congratulations.  And for everyone else claiming that it’s the person insisting on colour-blind councils who’s playing the race card – yes, I’m looking at you Tau Henare and Tariana Turia and Sues Kedgely and Bradford, and sundry partial bloggers – Lindsay Perigo has a message for you all.  It’s this: Just Say 'No!' to Apartheid!

    The fact that Green MPs Sue Kedgley and Sue Bradford are demanding Rodney Hide's resignation over separate Maori representation on the proposed Auckland super-council is a pretty good indication that Mr Hide is right, says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo.
Mr Hide is threatening to resign as Local Government Minister if the National-led government does an about-face and approves separate representation.
"Judging by the weasel-words emanating from Prime Minister John Key's office, it seems the government is wavering," says Perigo. "National is supposed to be abolishing the separate Maori seats in Parliament. It would be unconscionable to allow such apartheid atlocal government level.
"The two socialist Sues are urging Mr Hide to resign regardless. These serial Nanny Statists are terrified that Mr Hide will let the fresh air of freedom into New Zealand's Town Halls. What this totalitarian twosome tout as 'local democracy' is simply a ruse by which their ilk get to ban everything they disapprove of.
"Mr Hide is to be congratulated on taking a principled stand. Maori are as capable as anyone else of standing on merit in local body elections. To say in this day and age that they require guaranteed separate representation is outrageously, patronisingly, racist. Maori Party leader Tariana Turia should be ashamed of herself for promoting such redneckery.
"The only reason Mr Hide should be made to resign are his shirts and ties and shaven head, which frighten horses, children and the elderly," Perigo concludes.

And finally, to those who are suggesting that John Key should take Rodney’s offer and award him the D.C.M., may I suggest you consider that while election promises are for National no more than something to say in November and forget about at the first Budget, National was once nonetheless enormously popular for that very policy, One Law For All, for which Rodney is now under fire.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a National Party with Bill English as second-in-command were now to sack the Minister of Local Government for espousing the very policy that rescued National from the near-oblivion into which that same Bill English once plunged it,

UPDATE 1: You want to see someone playing the race card, Tariana?  Then look no further than the US of A, where you can be an “official poll watcher” who carries a night stick and issues threats to voters at the entrance to a polling place, just as long as you’re a member of both the Democratic Party and the “New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.”  As far as Obama’s Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perelliis concerned, ‘dem threats is alright with us jez as long as you is black. Read the story here: Now THIS is what a racist Administration looks like.

UPDATE 2:   Eric Crampton suggests that having separate Maori seats would end up reducing Maori influence rather than increasing it.  I think he’s offering that as a reason not to include Apartheid seats, rather than the reverse.

The ‘Friday Morning Ramble’ excuse factory [updated]

No ramble this week I’m afraid because I’m out of time.

But if you want to enjoy what you’ve been getting here the past few Fridays, head over to my Twitter page for a fine old bunch o’ links to take you through the weekend.

And if you want to check out the links live, as they’re posted, then all you need to do is to lose your Twitter inhibitions and subscribe to my Twitter feed.

UPDATE:  Readers might care to check out and compare the conservative commentators posted here yesterday with this weeks contribution by Objectivist bloggists, conveniently rounded up for you in this week’s Objectivist Blog Roundup at the Rule of Reason blog. To my eye, there’s no question that it’s the Objectivist blogs that go deeper, and see further.

I’m looking forward to checking them all out myself, and here’s the first five that caught my eye:

"The Bull Market" – Théodore Géricault , 1817



Better known for his Raft of the Medusa, ‘The Bull Market’ shows that young Théodore Géricault had a sense of humour, albeit a strange one, as well as a strong sense of tragedy.

And this is a strange painting.  It is a painting betwixt the classical and romantic periods, with elements of each used to set each other off.

The classical severity of the landscape and surrounds is both the setting and the contrast for a scene of slaughter.  (Much like the confines of Wall Street recently, really.)

Within these rational confines [says one colourful analysis], a volcano of animal energies erupts with the violence of a prison outbreak. . . But throughout, a rigorous structural discipline is imposed upon these welling forces of violence and sexual energy. . . of raging but straitjacketed passions.
Like Picasso, who would also use such richly evocative motifs as bulls and minotaur, Géricault creates a symbolic narrative of human versus animal passions rich enough to rejuvenate the myths and legends of the past.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Testing the new additions to the blogroll [updated]

Curious to see the most recent liberal and conservative output from the chaps and chapesses just added to my blogroll?  Michael Moeller reckons this first lot “these conservative intellectuals,” are “openly attacking collectivism and arguing for free markets and the individual's right to his own life--making clear and well-reasoned historical connections. They are also arguing for American self-interest in foreign policy.” So here’s a recent selection, with my comments:

  • City Journal: Wild Randomness - “Traditional economics has failed to grasp the complexity and dynamism of financial markets.”
    NOT PC’s comment: True, but I’m not sure the re-regulation proposed here is anything i can agree with.
  • Theodore Dalrymple: Is There a ‘Right’ to Health Care? - “If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Spot on.  Is there a right to health care?  No, there isn’t.  It’s encouraging that a conservative can see that, and defend it.
  • Theodore Dalrymple (again): Tracking the troublemakers - “The government, apparently, is thinking of installing closed circuit television cameras in the homes of the 20,000 worst behaved families, or rather households, in Britain, so that they are under surveillance twenty-four hours a day.
    I have a better idea, in fact a far better idea: instead of the 20,000 households, government ministers should themselves be under twenty-four hour video surveillance.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Great idea!
  • Burton Folsom: Incentives Matter - “What have been the criticisms [historically of socialized medicine]? First, socialized medicine is unconstitutional; second, it is very expensive; third, it creates perverse incentives. . .  It was surprising to see President Obama using incentives to defend his program . . . [but] critics of universal health care, higher taxes, an increased welfare state, cap and trade, and the stimulus package need to accept this challenge and study how federal interference changes incentives and produces unintended consequences.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Revealing, don’t you think, that President Zero hasn’t even attempted to counter the first two objections.
  • Nicole Gelinas: “Too Big to Fail” Must Die - “If we continue to subsidize irresponsible risk-taking, we’ll just get more of it.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Can’t disagree with that.
  • Jonah Goldberg: Why ‘Obamacare’ Is Failing -  “To listen to the White House and its supporters in and out of the media, you would think that opposition to “Obamacare” is the hobgoblin of a few small minds on the right. Racists, fascists, Neanderthals, the whole Star Wars cantina of bogeymen and cranks stand opposed to much-needed reform. . . . It’s funny how these supposed champions of the Enlightenment can’t grasp that people can disagree with them for honest reasons.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Spot on again.
  • Daniel Hannan: The Middle Ages were far from dark - “Most of us have a vague idea that the Middle Ages were a time of darkness and superstition. . . In fact … the era was far from ignorant.. .  [and it will] not quite do to portray the Church as hostile to free enquiry.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Revisionist religious drivel replete with straw men and red herrings. And some people say that British conservatives are immune from this religio-drivel!
  • Victor Davis Hanson: Our Ongoing Catharsis - “After just eight months, the President is at a 50/50 cross-roads in the polls. The once hope-and-change exuberance has dissipated…
    What Happened?
    The public was mad at Bush for deficit spending, and yet Obama baited-and-switched and gave them much more of it. Americans perhaps were tired of ‘smoke ‘em out’ and ‘bring it on’ machismo, and then got off-the-teleprompter incoherence of the ‘inflate your tires’ type. Voters wanted Martin Luther King, Jr., and are hearing more an Al Sharpton. Wall Street greed continues, but the remedy for its excess instead falls on our family doctor, real estate broker, and accountant, and all the others who are demonized for making over $250,000 a year. Some believed Nancy Pelosi & Co. were genuine supporters of protest, and critics of government privilege—and only now learned that it was only liberal protest and Republican privilege she and her cohort praised and slurred. We wanted kinder, gentler servants, and instead got a Hillary snapping and gnashing in the Congo, Timothy Geithner swearing in profanity-laced diatribes at bank regulators, and Biden’s lunacy.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Can’t argue with a word of that, can you?
  • Quin Hillyer: Quin Hillyer on Fascist Parallels -  Quin Hilyer explains the similarities between the policies of today’s U.S. Federal Government and that of Mussolini in 1920's Italy.
    NOT PC’s comment: A parallel of which too few people seem aware.
  • Roger Kimball: Channeling your inner Goldstein: Obama’s Renewable Two-Minute Hate Fest - “In his inaugural address in January, Barack Obama promised to put ‘an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.’  I hope you’ve noticed how free from petty grievances, false promises, recriminations, and worn out dogmas public discourse has been since that glorious new dawn, 20 January 2009. . .The president's frequent use of scapegoats is a tactic straight from 1984.”
    NOT PC’s comment: There is of course another famous demagogue famously given to using scapegoats for political capital – but to cite that example would violate Godwin’s Law.
  • Heather MacDonald: Ricci and the Skills Gap - What leads to unequal results between blacks and whites isn’t racism.
  • PJ O'Rourke (at Cato): The Problem is Politics - “Well, I wish I had better news for you, but the barbarians are at the gates. We are besieged by pagans—savage, brutish worshippers of big government. Theirs is not even a golden calf. They’ve abandoned the Gold Standard. They worship the taxing and spending of a fiat god, all the more dangerous for being both false and imaginary.
    Now, we thought Ronald Reagan, our Charles Martel, had stopped the pillaging hordes of Jimmy Carter at the Battle of Poitiers—also known as the 1980 election. Even the heathen slime Bill Clinton said, “The era of big government is over.” We thought we’d won.
    We were wrong. They’re back. And they want to sacrifice us and all our worldly goods on the blood drenched altar of politics.”
    NOT PC’s comment: And that’s just the humour.  You should wait until he starts on the serious stuff.  Sadly, however, he’s by no means prolific online.
  • PJ O'Rourke (at The Weekly Standard): What If Writing Were Like TV? - “And now a word from our sponsor . . . “
    NOT PC’s comment: Not prolific, but hilarious.
  • Powerline: What Happened to the Antiwar Movement? - “This really is a phenomenon that deserves more attention. It is widely believed that Republicans were defeated in 2008 because George Bush was unpopular, and that Bush was unpopular because of the Iraq war. So how does it happen that Barack Obama continues our involvement in Iraq at the same level that had been planned by the Bush administration and increases our forces in Afghanistan, with hardly a peep from the formerly-antiwar left?
    NOT PC’s comment: A good question with a revealing answer.  One that Cindy Sheehan really, really wants to know.
  • Quadrant: Greening the children by Ben-Peter Terpstra - “It’s disturbing how, after years of Orwellian lies, the radical environmentalist is portrayed as an objective scientist. . .
  • Leighton Smith: Carbon Dioxide irrelevant in climate debate says MIT Scientist - “August 18, 7:39 AM Portland Civil Rights Examiner Dianna Cotter In a study sure to ruffle the feathers of the Global Warming cabal, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has published a paper which proves that IPCC models are overstating by 6 times, the relevance of CO2 in Earth’s Atmosphere.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Top-ranking radio host links to rational commentary shock!
  • Thomas Sowell: Whose Medical Decisions? - “The current "health care" bill threatens to take life-and-death decisions out of the hands of individuals and their doctors, transferring those decisions to Washington bureaucrats. People are taking that personally— as they should. Your life and death, and that of your loved ones, is as personal as it gets. . . As for a ‘death panel,’ no politician would ever use that phrase when trying to get a piece of legislation passed. . . But when you select people like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel to give "independent" guidance, you have already chosen a policy through your choice of advisors, who simply provide political cover. The net result can be exactly the same as if those providing that guidance were openly called ‘death panels’.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Sowell on the money, as he so often is.
  • Mark Steyn: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death Panels  “. . . but you can't have both. On the matter of McCarthy vs the Editors, I'm with Andy. I think Sarah Palin's "death panel" coinage clarified the stakes and resonated in a way that "rationing" and other lingo never quite did. She launched it, and she made it stick. So it was politically effective. But I'm also with Mrs. Palin on the substance. . .”
    NOT PC’s comment: You can trust always trust Sowell on the facts and almost always on the analysis.  And when Steyn gets those right you can trust him too. When he does.
  • Walter Williams: Politics and Blacks - “Blacks hold high offices and dominate the political arena in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and other cities. Yet these are the very cities with the nation's most rotten schools, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates, weak family structure and other forms of social pathology. I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems. What I am saying is that the solution to most of the major problems that confront many black people won't be found in the political arena and by electing more blacks to high office. In fact, politicians tend to be hostile to some of the solutions to problems many blacks face such as school choice as a means to strengthen education, the elimination of oppressive licensing restrictions for various occupations, and supportive of job-destroying labor legislation such as minimum wage laws.
    The bottom line is there is very little evidence anywhere on the planet that political power is a necessary condition for economic power.”
    NOT PC’s comment: The man’s a legend. Walter Williams should be on every rational freedom-lover’s blogroll.

That’s the conservatives – the better sort.  And here’s two three of the new “liberal" candidates:

  • Gary Hart: Obama's First 100 Days and the Politics of Transformation - “Last June I urged then-candidate Barack Obama to use his presidency to transform the country for the 21st century world, not simply to repair the damage to our economy, foreign policy, and defenses done by the Bush administration. By that standard, his first three months have been a remarkable success. Using stimulus investments, President Obama is repairing an aging infrastructure, investing in education, stimulating new technologies and inventions, and starting us toward the post-carbon economy. Instead of trying to prop up a failing 20th century economy, he is investing in the new model. . . [Rahm] Emanuel is right: crises are too important to waste and the Obama administration is using the many crises it inherited not to go backward but to launch into the new century--finally”
    NOT PC’s comment: The guy’s a name-dropping Obama-worshipper and an economic ignoramus.  I doubt he’ll be making it anywhere near my blogroll.
  • Nat Hentoff: I am finally scared of a White House administration - “I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.”
    NOT PC’s comment: Impeccable liberal credentials, and always insightful jazz commentary over the years – and he’s on the right side of this one.
  • UPDATE: Camille Paglia: Can Palin ever come back? - “A closer look at the words of Obama, Depeche Mode and U2. Plus: Why do straight actresses make the best lesbo porn?”
    NOT PC’s comment: Well, the lesbo porn sounds like fun . . .

Rambling Tweets

Just so you know, I’ve started posting at Twitter some of those links that I’ve taken to posting on Fridays as a regular Ramble.

So if you want to read them as I post them, instead of just once a week on Fridays, then all you need to do is to lose your Twitter inhibitions and subscribe to my Twitter feed.

From Van Gogh to Guernica . . . in sand

From Van Gogh to Guernica and beyond, Ukranian girl Kseniya Simonoval shows what an expressive medium sand can be.  Yes, sand, set to music.

This Ukrainian sand artist proves that reality TV's got talent, says the Guardian.

Watch all eight minutes . . . and don’t mention Rolf Harris.  [Hat tip Samizdata]

Wowsers still on parade

That unbridled wowser Geoffrey bloody Palmer wants to put the boot into drinkers.  Again.  He now wants to ban “being drunk in a public place.”  Well, that would certainly have changed the 1984 election, that’s for sure.

I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about his attacks on enjoying yourself – here it is here, and there’s a lot of it – and here’s a practical objection to his latest bout of inveterate nannying -- I’ll just say again that he has a face that desperately needs punching.

And if you say that’s an initiation of force, then I’ll simply point out that he started it by putting the boot into us.

NOT PJ: Done Like a Dog Dinner

Bernard Darnton delivers this week’s dispatch from the war on terriers.

_BernardDarnton In a week where it was confirmed that the sentence for killing a family member is 150 hours community service as long as you’re particularly bewildered, the biggest story in the news was that journalistic cliché “Man bites dog.”

Or rather man barbeques and eats dog. Auckland man Paea Taufa had a pet Staffordshire Terrier that was becoming a nuisance. He hit it on the head with a hammer then slit its throat, roasted it in the umu, and had it for dinner. Which led to the number one question on everyone’s mind: Should barbequing a dog as part of a good Tongan cook-up be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

All sorts of people were predictably horrified. “Animal lovers” were “appalled” and demanded a law change.

Auckland Mayor John Banks suggests that the dog roaster should be “educated” rather than prosecuted. Which is very generous of him, given that what Mr Taufa did isn’t illegal. “Educating” (i.e. incessantly nagging) people is second only to banning things in the nanny statist’s arsenal of illiberalism.

But why is a eating a dog different from eating a pig? My pasta alla carbonara last night had sliced up bits of dead pig in it. Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians might find that distasteful but it doesn’t generate outrage. Pasta allo cane, however, and it would have been a different story.

But why? Some would claim that it’s OK to eat dumb animals but that we shouldn’t consume the smart ones. Presumably this is why we’ve built a nation on notoriously dumb sheep carcasses but no-one outside the Congo would consider chowing down on a chimpanzee.

A pig is an intelligent, inquisitive animal that has the misfortune to taste great. The only thing better than bacon is bacon-wrapped bacon. Dogs, on the other hand, are a bit dim. (People say “loyal,” but there’s a fine line between loyal and dim.) By this measure we should be munching on mastiffs and letting Piglet curl up in front of the fire.

Perhaps, then, the opposite is true. Dogs are safe pets because they’re less of a threat. If Farmer Jones had turned Napoleon and Snowball into crackling he’d still be running Manor Farm.

Is it a general prohibition on eating pets? A couple of weeks ago on Gordon Ramsey’s Cookalong (a show known at our place as The ‘C’ Word), guest-irritant Johnny Vegas regaled his audience with a rant about his father cooking his pet rabbit. The intention was comedy, not tragedy.

Our countryside is full of small children bottle-feeding pet lambs until the day the stock truck arrives and they’re turned into little ovine treasure troves. The eating of pets per se doesn’t generate much upset.

The problem isn’t genetic distance because humans are more closely related to rabbits than we are to dogs. Dogs aren’t endangered, which seems to be the problem with whale meat. Mr Taufa’s dog was a Staffordshire terrier so cuteness isn’t a factor.

There’s something special about dog meat. It’s there to a lesser extent with horse meat too and it’s not quite rational. If it’s OK to eat sheep, deer, pigs, and rabbits I can’t see any good reason that it’s not OK to eat cats, dogs, and horses.

Vegetarianism makes sense. Broad carnivorism makes sense. Reacting with horror and anger at the consumption of a dog while digesting a ground up cow is absurd.

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

Conservatives on the blogroll! [update 3]

I’ve been persuaded by Jeff Perren and Michael Moeller that the age of Bill Buckley is dead, thank God, so perhaps I should cut some of the modern conservatives a little more slack, specifically conservatives (and conservative outfits) like these ones listed here who Jeff reckons are given an undeservedly bad rap by Objectivists like me:

So based on Jeff’s recommendation I’m adding them to my blogroll in a new ‘Conservatives -The Better Sort’ section (or in some cases I’ve simply moved them there from their existing spots on the blogroll), and I’ll read them regularly (or more regularly) to see if Jeff is right. And I would also add these three books below recommended by Michael Moeller to my reading list . . . if I weren’t already one-third of the way through Folsom’s mostly excellent overview of FDR’s mostly dreadful New Deal.

Why not join me in checking them all out.