Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Ideas from the Edge

In 2005 the Edge World Question Centre brought us "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

In 2006 it was
"What is your dangerous idea?"

In 2007 it was "
What are you optimistic about?"

And this year it is "What have you changed your mind about? Why?"

This website brings together over 150 of the worlds academics and asks them all the same question - brilliant! Lots of differing opinions of course - hours of reading - enough to make you go blind.

Changing ones mind is often a sign of intelligence - well in my case anyway. So what have I changed my mind about?

I confess here and now that I use to be a socialist - yes very embarrassing I know, but there you have it. The process of change started in my second year of university and was almost completely out of my brain a few years later, then a brief period of dabbling in the right, until I developed into a fully blown Libertarian at about 27 years of age - hey, better late than never.

Why did I change my mind?
The issue that dragged me out of the misery that is the left, was censorship and by extension freedom of speech. I basically got sick of listening to white fat middle aged women bleat on about the sins of pornography - it was also the time that I realised how annoying many women are.

I had been noticing other weakness in the policies of the left - every time they enact a policy it did exactly the opposite of what was intended. Also noticed the patronising attitude that believed that the poor and minorities, particularly Maori, are stupid and can't look after themselves. Even more frustrating were the Maori leaders (all socialists), who believed exactly the same. How they expect their kids to gain great heights with this mentality is beyond me. A mentality that still prevails for women as well, I might add.

I also noted that many socialists were often the beneficiaries of state funds - either as beneficiaries or state employees - funny that.

The one big problem with being a Libertarian is that I'm surrounded by Socialists, and with New Zealanders happy to sell their vote to the highest bidder every single election, I suspect it will be so for the remainder of my lifetime.

Question: What have you changed your mind about? Why?

Monday, 28 January 2008

NZers free to speak - not bloody likely

Christ this country is just frankly bloody pissing me off - why do I bother hanging around? Another hardworking upstanding citizen silenced!

Well done Andy Moore for your efforts to try and retain free speech in this country - I hope to meet you one day to shake your hand.

Vigilantism - on the rise?

Driving back today from Tutakaka from a short holiday, I heard the disturbing news that South Auckland businessman, Bruce Emery, had stabbed teenager Pihema Cameron on Saturday night. Pihema was with a friend and were about to tag a fence, when Bruce ran after them and stabbed the tagger - Pihema died.

What was most disturbing about it was my initial reaction which went along the lines of "good job". 10 years ago I would never have said or thought such a thing - taking the law into your own hands just wasn't in my cup of tea.

My second reaction was absolute horror at my first - of course I don't think that stabbing a tagger was a just act and I don't think I would ever partake in acts of vigilantism (although touch my nieces and I won't be held accountable for my actions). However, after 5 years of property management (thankfully now in my past), and dealing with constant acts of theft and vandalism against mine and my clients properties - I am ready to crack.

I live in a nice neighbourhood, but in the month of December there were 40 stolen vehicle, 45 burglaries, 131 thefts from cars (one being mine). No figures on the number of tags made to property, but since my garage is tagged every few weeks it must be nearing 1,000 acts of vandalism every month. So I have to deal with crime at least once a month (when I was in property management it was about 3 times a month).

I don't think I'm particularly out of the ordinary in this regard and I also think that Bruce Emery was probably dealing with a similar (and probably worse) scenario down in South Auckland and simply just cracked. Unfortunately now he will be sent to jail and his family will have to live without a son, brother, husband and father.

Pihema's family also must deal with life without their son and brother - just because he and his like can't leave the rest of us alone to get on with our non-criminal lives.

Now there is a way to help out the over-stretched Police force by volunteering for Community Patrols NZ and patroling your streets. Less crime = less stress for us all. And the more that volunteer, the less night patrols each individual (ie: me) has to do per month.

And if you really need serious bad-arse help - that the Police just can't provide - then call Rent-a-Bro and the likes of the Parnell Panther will come and sort out those baddies for you - good to know.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Public Health Warning

Don't go and see the movie Cloverfield - unless you have a cast-iron stomach.

I headed out to Sylvia Park on Sunday to buy some shoes (not successful I might add) and decided that since I had a couple of hours to kill I'd head to Hoyts to watch a movie - about to start was Cloverfield and I am Legend. Well Cloverfield looked interesting and started 20 minutes before I am Legend, so as I'm not one to sit around and wait for anything, I decided on the earlier session.

The film starts as documentary style with the characters using a handycam to record their activities. Unfortunately the whole movie is like this - it just goes on and on with the camera waving and jerking all over the place and after 15 minutes I left totally nauseous. Such a shame, it looked like it might have been a good story.

Now granted Hoyts does say that it is video style in its review, but I didn't read this before I went in. To Hoyts credit they refunded me the price of the ticket, which was most decent of them.

I suppose I could have then gone to I am Legend, but felt so sick I just had to go home to lie down.

Friday, 18 January 2008

People smugglers = Hero!

Over in Tibor's Space, Tibor Machan tells his story of being smuggled through the iron curtain to the West. He can not understand the depictions of these smugglers as "rapacious, greedy, heartless brutes".

Over the years people smugglers have served a vital role in saving countless people from misery, imprisonment and death. No one could call those that smuggled Jews out of the clutches of the Nazi's, criminals (except the Nazi's themselves of course). These smugglers were often paid for their highly risky services, which could result in their own imprisonment or death. The fact that they were paid does not diminish their Hero status one iota.

They only lose their Hero status when they intentionally hurt or restrict the ongoing freedom of the escapee - then we move over to the realm of Human Trafficking - which is another completing different matter. These are the men that are "rapacious, greedy, heartless brutes" and of whom we should be horrified.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Infidel & proud

There were parts of 2007 that I enjoyed immensely, the major one being the worldwide discussion about religion, god and the fanciful nature of both, thanks to the likes of Christopher Hitchens with God is not Great and Richard Dawkins with The God Delusion (I struggled with Dawkins’ book - but still, at least he was out there talking the talk).

Due to my illness last year, the thought of death was understandably at the forefront of my mind, as I am sure it was for everyone I knew - some would talk about it, others would not. I thank those that did talk - it couldn't have been an easy discussion for them at the time, although it was a great relief for me to articulate my thoughts and plans.

There is a saying that goes "there are no atheists in foxholes" implying that atheists deep down believe in god when put under life threatening conditions. Having been in that metaphorical foxhole I can with 100% certainty say there most definitely are atheists in foxholes - and I’m one of them. Although I did not want to die so young, I was not afraid of dying. But my lack of fear is not why I’m an atheist, even if I was terrified at the prospect of dying, I’d still be atheist. I'm an atheist because that is the only rational possibility.

I actually think I could turn the foxhole scenario around and say that on a sunny day at the beach all believers are atheists. The only reason I can fathom that they cling to their belief, is fear: fear of dying, or fear that life does not have that certain meaning, or fear that without religious structure life would be too chaotic, or fear that their family and friends would shun them should they not follow like sheep.

What kind of horrible mental gymnastics must this take - to dispel all the facts around you and cling to the impossible, just because you are afraid - sounds like a quick path to mental illness.

Many New Zealanders at this point would say they are not religious and in the face of such atrocities perpetrated by catholic priests – and really just the sheer stupidity of the bible – many New Zealanders have turned away from organised religion and god is definitely on the out. One would think that this was fantastic and New Zealanders were now free to turn to rational thought patterns. But alas no, many are turning to psychics, star signs and other such new age crap and yes I do hold the opinion (based on observations of my mystic friends) that these people suffer mentally for these pursuits. It is also unfortunate that women are more likely than men to wallow in mystical and spiritual fantasies.

Then there is a fraction of these mystic types that actually declare that they are atheists. They do not attend a church and do not believe that there is a god, yet they still hold the opinion that there is some kind of super-natural force that or that there is life-after-death and yet they label themselves atheists. Please everyone an atheist is one that “denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings”.

And I’d just like to say to all those that are wondering:
* no, your pleadings with god did not cure me of cancer - the doctor did;
* no, I did not get cancer because of some bad Karma in this or any non-existent previous life;
* no, stress does not cause cancer - if it did I would be dead by now from the stress of listening to believers for the last year;
* no, having a positive attitude does not mean I'm going to survive, and being negative will not mean the cancer will win. The pressure to always be “up” was really just rather annoying and stressful;
* no, I did not suddenly catch religion during my chemo and I'm not suddenly in touch with my spiritual side;
* no, I did not appreciate you trying to convert me over to the dark side - I am enlightened and will stay this way until my dying days.

And on that last point: I’m sure that one of the jobs of hospital security guards is to throw out religious vultures that prey on the scared and venerable in times of stress.

PS: No, taking large quantities of vitamins or aloe vera will not cure me of cancer and there is no, none, zilch evidence that it does. Your new age herbalist/natropath did not cure your uncle, aunt, mother, friend of cancer it was the chemo, radiation or medical treatment provided by their oncologist or hematologist.

Yes, I did have and still do have an almost impeccable diet (better than anyone I know) and a healthy lifestyle, I do not smoke and drink very little. I use beauty products that don't have nasty chemicals in them, never use normal deodorants and eat mainly organic food and yes I still got cancer. There is nothing that I can conceivably have done to prevent this - that fact that I got cancer and you guys didn't is a big mystery to me. There is a possible (and unsubstantiated) linked between pollution and Lymphoma, but since I run a very energy efficient car and can only think of about 3 people that consume less than I do, I think I've done my bit to keep the pollution levels around me down.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

State funeral?

In my opinion the funeral of Sir Ed, to be held next Tuesday, would have been better off being a private affair than this state funeral that has been planned. I thought the idea of a state funeral is that members of the public could attend, if not actually in the building, then out on the lawn. But the lawn outside the Church in Parnell is small and at a guess could hold 1,000 people - maybe 2,000 - well even at a wild guess 5,000. Hardly the solution for the tens of thousands of people that would like to attend.

So it appears that the funeral is really just for friends and family plus the ruling elite - is this what they mean by state funeral?

The funeral really should be held at the museum if the intention is that New Zealanders attend. I know they won't change the plans now, but a quick fix would be to transmit the funeral to a big screen on the lawn outside the museum. This way the non-elite can gather to say their final farewell to this great man. The Hearse can then drive through the domain on it's way to the crematorium.

Update: Turns out that's exactly what's going to happen - oops. I'm just so use to the powers that be stuffing thing's up, that I jumped the gun.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Commemoration of life well spent

Not entirely sure why the commemoration of Sir Ed’s life should be an either/or situation. By all means name a mountain after him, but please call it Mt Ed, not Mt Hillary - wouldn't want Hillary Clinton to claim it. And please don’t spend thousands of dollars consulting with every man and his Iwi about which mountain, just do it cheaply and quickly. Acutally might be better to do this in Nepal, I'm sure they will love it.

And, have a public holiday in his honour – I don't think it need necessarily relate to any particular date, just a Friday some time in the middle of winter would be good, thus bringing much relief to workers during this long stretch without a break. Since I run my life around the Australian Stock Exchange it won't be of any benefit to me, but you can't say I don't do anything nice for you wage slaves.

As for continuing his work in Nepal, then by all means raise money to enable this work to continue. I suggest that the fundraising activity could be undertaken in the week of the Sir Ed's national holiday. But it is totally inappropriate that it comes out of taxpayers account – it is the individuals’ choice where their charity dollar is applied (or not) – it is not the governments.

Two heros

My wonderful, fantastic Architect - Not PC - managed to get the Building Consent out of Auckland City Council last week, not an easy task in this day and age - my hero.

Then Glenn the builder phoned to say that he could start the job earlier than first anticipated - my other hero (note I didn't link you to his website - no one is going to steal my builder out from under me - he's mine, mine, mine).

Anyway an excellent start to what is going to be a fun renovation - no stress allowed!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Rules for life #1: Cut labels off!

Over at Idle Vice, Mrs Smith brings up a serious problem that has plagued mankind since clothes met industrialised manufacturing - clothing labels.

Ever since my childhood I have hated - yes hated - labels. All labels, big and small, long and short, in all their many and varied forms and on all things without exception*. You will rarely see me wearing clothes that has the brand name sewn on the outside (difficult to avoid on gym gear I know). And last week, to my horror, I purchased a Kathmandu shirt, got home to find that they had sewn Kathmandu into the sleeve of all places - jesus h christ, what is the world come to.

Labels are simply not cool, or stylish, or hip, or whatever word you use to portray what is truly pure and good in this world.

People ... get those scissors, grow those nails, get that rag and cut, peel and rub, but above all, remove all labels! And whilst you're at it, add "Cut labels off!" to your rules for life list that you just stated a minute ago.

* I find that the make and model printed onto electronic equipment is rather handy for when I talk to service technicians, so I can inform him what make and model I purchased, since I threw the instruction book away long ago.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Hugh, Hugh - I love you

Most excited I was on Monday when I spied an advert on the back of a bus for the new House season on TV3. Tuesday 8.30pm was apparently the time to feed my addiction of this sexy doctor - yay.

So I sat down at 8.30 Tuesday, with lust in my heart and excitement elswhere - to find that it bloody well wasn't bloody on. Oh well I thought it must be starting next week - but no I see it isn't starting then either. What kind of cruel joke is this!

Come on New Zealand TV - get your act together - we should be seeing new seasons a week after they are played in the US. In fact we should see it before it plays in the US - we are first of the rank each day after all.

Bye, bye Winny

I do so hope that the Auditor General doesn't hold NZ First to account for the $158,000 they are trying to give to charity instead of refunding back to the taxpayer. If this happens then we all have a legal precedence to justify giving our tax directly to charity, rather than wasting it on public servants.

Anyone keen to set up a charity for The Disenfranchised Taxpayers?

And if they don't pay it back, can they be struck off the ballot? Here's hoping anyway.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Auckland City spends wisely!

That got your attention - but of course not true. Auckland City Council added to their property portfolio last year, purchasing multi-million-dollar properties at inflated prices. One that got my blood boiling for it's total stupidity, was the purchase of the SuperLiquor site on the corner of Ponsonby Road & O'Neill Street, for a staggering $7 million.

Retail? I hear you ask. However, not for retail, but to be demo'ed and turned into a park! The most ridiculous place for a public park, it will be small, which in itself isn't a problem (small parks can be charming) but with roads on two sides (one being a main road) it will be bloody awful place to sit. It will be empty 99% of the time, and anyway within 1km of this site there are 8 reserves and 16 within 2kms.

Apparently, they had to make a purchase to justify all the reserve contributions they have been taking over the years. Why didn't they just give the money back to the developers? At least most developers wouldn't be dumb enough to pay $7m for that property. At a guess, that must be twice the government valuation.

For $7 million I would have thought they could have brought at least 6 small parks around Ponsonby & Grey Lynn. But since I can't see a need for more parks they, shouldn't have levied the Reserve Contribution in the first place.

Whoever made this decision should be fired for total incompetence, they would have been in the private sector. A developer would be bankrupt after making decisions like this - but no, not the council. Let's hope those responsible were voted out in the last local election - our only revenge after all - hollow at that.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Eight for 2008

Christ I've been tagged by Not PC to come up with eight wishes for 2008, oh the pressure:

1) All birds that live in the city learn not to mistake the street light with the sun and start chirping at 3.30am! If I was religious I would be the follower of the Sacred Sleep Sect. All creatures that didn't appreciated the sacredness that is sleep would be sacrificed by my Bazooka. Well maybe not - it is the beautiful Tui.

2) Glenn the builder agrees to renovate the house - and there are no problems whatsoever in the process. Impossible I know - council is involved after all.

3) The council see the error of their ways and cancel unnecessary funding of non-essential services and bring the rates back down to a reasonable level.

4) That the elections are disrupted by thousands of adverts from disgruntled citizens. So much so, that no one can see the party adverts due to the amount of citizen adverts.

5) The fourth estate refuse to take any advertising from anyone that voted for the Electoral Finance Bill. Wouldn't surprise me if the government has already made this kind of action illegal - but hey editors just do it anyway. Your chance to prove to them that it wasn't about the money.

6) Everyone suddenly realise that spiritualism and religion are a crock of s*** and stop wasting the millions of hours a day that humans spend in this annihilation of brain cells. Just imagine how high humans could have gone if it wasn't for religion.

7) When they realise that religion is a crock of brown matter they don't turn their energies to the climate change movement - it's just another faith based pursuit after all.

and finally ...
8) That cancer doesn't take up residence in the temple that is my body again. I not only 'beat the bastards back' Linz, but I think I annihilated them - well the doctor did - but I turned up and let them stick me with needles, so I figure I deserve some credit.