Song of the Day – 26/2/14

I am absolutely loving this song by Peking Duk right now – I just love the beats in it. Aussie dance music at its best: 


The disgrace that the Liberal Party of Australian should have nothing to do with

The IPA highlights this disgraceful attack on free association and speech by elements within the Liberal Party:

The names ”Liberal” and ”Labor” would be quarantined for use only by the major political parties under reforms being considered by the Abbott government to prevent micro parties capitalising on voter confusion.

A tightening of the Commonwealth Electoral Act could spell the end for the Liberal Democratic Party, led by NSW senator-elect David Leyonhjelm.

Victoria senator John Madigan, of the Democratic Labour Party, would also likely be in the sights of the ALP if any reforms succeed. Senator Madigan said ”hell would freeze over” before he gave up the DLP name.

Senior Liberals are behind the push to stop votes bleeding to little-known parties like the Liberal Democrats. Mr Leyonhjelm infuriated the Liberals when he bagged nearly 10 per cent of the Senate vote in September – scooping $1 million in public funding in the process and nearly ending the political career of assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane said Mr Leyonhjelm’s success was ”almost entirely at the expense of the Liberal Party”.

I have been at a Liberal Party Divisional meeting where this idea was suggested and, while not surprised, I was still appalled. Primarily, it is an attack on freedom of speech – classical liberalism is an idea that has long preceded the Liberal Party of Australia by a couple of centuries so if a political party wants to hark back to those ideas (as the Liberal Democrats undoubtedly do), the Liberal Party of Australia doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. For the the Libs to claim they have exclusive property of a set of ideas is both totally misguided and verging on the authoritarian.

Secondly, it is politically self-defeating. The balance of the Senate will almost always be held by a minor party so which minor party do you want to rely on to help the Liberal Party achieve the majority of their aims? The pinko Greens, who hate almost everything the Liberal Party stands for? Do you want to indulge the megalomania of a fickle populist like Clive Palmer? Or do you want to work with a party that is deeply and fundamentally committed to reducing the size of government?

Even if you don’t agree with their stances on gay marriage or drug policy, they are the only party that will help the Libs cut taxes, cut spending and tame the special interests in bureaucracy. It is an absolute no-brainer, yet in their arrogance, some Libs want to attack the only party that is really willing to help them. I will fight this hopeless attack on freedom and I pray that other Liberals will stand for what is right too.

How I think a League of Legends player union could work

Overnight, Snoopeh, jungler for Evil Geniuses and all-round top bloke, has come out saying that he thinks a player union would be a good idea. This has brought on a range of comments from people within the eSports community. Most comments seem to revolve around whether players waging war against team owners/Riot would be a good/feasible thing, and given that unions in the rest of life seem to hell-bent on a combination of rent seeking, class warfare and (at least in Australia) maintaining their monopoly on their patch of union turf, it seems pretty reasonable to be skeptical.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way in my view. I think there is a way of having player unions that don’t revolve around what traditional unions do in the US/Australia. If I were to run a player union, and it is something I would love to do, I would run it more along the lines of a friendly society. Friendly societies, from what I understand, were a mainstay of working life prior to the formation of massive government welfare programs. Essentially, people would pool their money to provide for insurance of various sorts, as well as banking and a whole range of other services. There was some times a social aspect to it too, with regular meetings for members where they could provide support to each other. Friendly societies enabled cooperation and mutual assistance for working people.


Song of the day – 4/2/14

While probably not the best Radiohead song (that honour IMHO is reserved for either Paranoid Android or Karma Police), this is my favourite Radiohead song. The fuzzy guitars, the hypnotic bass line, the thumping drums and Thom Yorke’s wail just make for a primal and hauntingly beautiful song. Supposedly Thom Yorke burst into tears when he first heard the final mastered version of this song, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Andrew Bolt and Edward Snowden

I while back I sent this email to Andrew Bolt regarding his stance on Edward Snowden. I have edited it to look better as a blog post.

Dear Mr Bolt,

Firstly, I would like to say that I am a daily reader of your blog and ordinarily, I would agree with the vast bulk of what you have said in the past.

However, I have to take strong issue with your stance on Edward Snowden, as I think conservatives should welcome the documents he has released for exposing the attempts by Big Government to invade every aspect of our lives and to lie to our faces about it. Conservatives rightly make a big deal about the overreach of government and the Snowdon documents have exposed the US Government of unconstitutionally issuing general warrants, something the Fourth Amendment was specifically written to forbid. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said:

General warrants do not state the name of the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, and they do not have the necessity of individualized probable cause as their linchpin. They simply authorize the bearer to search wherever he wishes for whatever he wants.

General warrants were universally condemned by colonial leaders across the ideological spectrum — from those as radical as Sam Adams to those as establishment as George Washington, and from those as individualistic as Thomas Jefferson to those as big-government as Alexander Hamilton. We know from the literature of the times that the whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment — with its requirements of individualized probable cause and specifically identifying the target — is to prohibit general warrants.

And yet, the FISA court has been issuing general warrants and the NSA executing them since at least 2004.”

Not only that but the Snowdon documents have also exposed senior government officials blatantly lying to Congress, something I would have thought should deeply worry conservatives, being aware of the abuse that comes from unaccountable power. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, ruled out the mass collection of data by the government while given sworn testimony to Congress and the only reason we know he was lying was because the Snowdon documents came out shortly after and exposed what he said as a lie. As reported at Breitbart:

When the James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, was asked under oath at a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting in March of this year: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?, he answered “No, sir.”  Astonished by the response, Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden sought clarification: “It does not?” Clapper replied: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect–but not wittingly.” Yet documents recently leaked by former NSA analyst and America’s number one fugitive, Edward Snowden, demonstrate Clapper likely gave false testimony to Congress. Clapper has since admitted he testified in the “least untruthful manner’ he could think of” and he was “too cute by half.”

On the issue of Snowdon seeking refuge in Russia, you approvingly quote someone who (presumably sarcastically) refers to Obama as oppressive but in reality, we should both be able to agree that the Obama administration has ruthlessly attacked its enemies. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, said that Snowdon made the right call by fleeing because of the ruthlessness of the US government:

“Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.

There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).”

Conservatives have rightly condemned such government projects as Obamacare or the NBN as government overreach but I think it is foolish to dismiss the very important work that Edward Snowdon has done in exposing the unconstitutional and extensive spying that the US government has committed on everyone. I would hope that you might see the importance of the Snowdon leaks in a different light.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Herridge
Busselton, WA

Andrew replied, saying: “I see nothing gained in the release of our spying secrets. Only much damaged.”

I followed by saying: “You don’t think it is worth knowing that the US is engaging in massive unconstitutional spying on its own citizens and on everyone else? Sure, it’s embarrassing to the Abbott government that it was revealed that Australia tapped SBY’s phones 5 years ago but I wouldn’t call it a massive blow to Australia’s security.”

Despite my differing view, kudos to Andrew for replying – I’m sure he gets a million emails a day, and lots that are angry so to get a reply was nice.

Big Government crowding out private players: Triple J Edition

Justin Burford, former lead singer of pop-rock act End Of Fashion, has taken a big swipe at Triple J for the demise of his band:

Justin Burford, who fronted Perth band End of Fashion, said Triple J turned on his band after initially being supportive, which spelled the band’s demise. He said “very small group of people” make decisions on whether a band gets Triple J airplay, a factor which can make or break an act.

Fellow Australian musician Whitley says Triple J’s playlist is “excruciatingly narrow-minded”, adding “In my opinion they’ve failed as a taxpayer funded radio station that is supposed to challenge and present new ideas for the youth of Australia.”

And this month an anonymous musician claimed many Australian bands are tailoring their sound to suit the Triple J playlist and therefore get airplay.

Burford said the station’s once-supportive music director Richard Kingsmill went off End of Fashion after initially supporting the band, which made No. 8 in the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2005 with O Yeah.

On his Facebook page Burford said “Triple J ended the career path of End of Fashion, no question.”

“A band that was fully supported by the station, earning a top ten place in a Hottest 100, was dropped like a sack of hot potatoes upon the second album’s release. Our lead single, Fussy was even openly derided on air by Richard Kingsmill as just another pop release’.”

Firstly, you have to ask whether End of Fashion’s follow up was any good. I quite like their first album – it’s a energetic slice of the sort of rock-pop that Perth was doing a good trade in circa 2006 (see also: Eskimo Joe) so I don’t have too many doubts that the follow up would been along similar lines. And given how much crap that gets promoted and lauded by Triple J (*cough Riptide cough*), I doubt it couldn’t cross the low bar that is set for going on high rotation.

But the bigger problem is that Triple J is really the only game in town for alternative radio stations. Yes, there are independent stations like RTR and whatnot but none of them have the sorts of dollars or reach Triple J has, primarily because they don’t get a slice of the ABC’s behemoth budget. If you can’t get airplay on JJJ, you aren’t going to go anywhere fast.

Triple J, like any government creation, skews investment in alternative youth radio stations. Who would be willing to invest serious money to broadcast across Australia when revenue and listeners are fickle and Triple J has a solid, year-in year-out source of revenue and a well established customer base? Even if you managed to create a superior station and draw half their listeners, Triple J won’t lose a dollar, so you can’t even starve your competition of money. This is already on top of the problem that potential listeners have less money to spend (either directly or indirectly through buying the products advertisers sell) on radio stations because the government is taking money away from them through tax.

Existing beneficiaries of the system with mediocre second and third albums might mock but it is a serious problem that you have one government backed player dominating one segment of the radio market. Aside from the problems with Left-wing groupthink at Triple J, the economics of a state-subsidized radio station mean that the Australian alternative music and radio markets will be stifled as long as Triple J is on the taxpayer teat.

John Roskam on Cotton Wool Culture

John Roskam on how kids have had all risk sucked out of their lives:

It’s true that today’s youth are more affluent than in the past, but if Daube thinks youths have more freedom then he hasn’t been to a school, or a children’s sports event, or a playground lately.

Belgian Gardens State School in Townsville banned children doing cartwheels and handstands in the playground – even if they did them on the grass. According to the principal, “gymnastic activities” were classed as a “medium risk level 2” in the Queensland Activity Risk Management Guidelines.

Mount Martha Primary School in Victoria banned children from touching each other after some students suffered playground injuries. The school said a ban on students playing tiggy and doing high fives was “not an overreaction”. A student at the school who put his arm around a friend who was winded was punished by being forced to walk around the school grounds with the teacher on yard duty.

He follows up with examples that point to the disturbing trend in some places to eliminate winning and losing from kids sport. See also: the cracking down on government-unapproved youth entrepreneurship. As he goes on to say:

These are not isolated examples. Some are extreme, but they’re all representative of how society and the government now treat children, regardless of whether they’re in primary school or are teenagers. Supposedly for their own good, children are wrapped up in metaphorical cotton wool and are protected from the risk of physical harm or psychological distress. The inevitable result is that children lose the capacity to experience a sense of adventure or responsibility or self-control. Social media and binge drinking are some of the few opportunities for self-expression young people have left.

I have seen this in some of what I am involved in. While the ethos and goal of Scouting is for youth independence and risk-taking (an ethos embraced by every leader I’ve met), there seems to be great pressure pushing back against that. Some of it stems from concerns about insurance but it also comes from parents. Basically male leaders cannot have physical contact with kids at all and I have gotten into trouble because parents complained to the powers-that-be (I don’t know who exactly because I just got a phone call from a Commissioner in Perth) that I would muck around and rough-house with the boys. I never hurt any of them and I would never be alone with them but still, joining in gently with the most natural way young blokes have fun is a big no no.

What’s worse is what I have seen going on in my church as of late. There has been a big drive to implement Safe Church practices in our church. Fair enough – churches need to be careful that the numerous kids in their care are looked after. I initially thought that these changes might be coming down from government onto churches but I was assured that it was a voluntary thing.

One of the first steps was having sign in sheets for the creche. Sign in sheets make some sense when you are dealing with strangers’ kids and you mightn’t know if there is a custody battle you don’t know of that ends with a parent who is persona non grata picking up a child they’re not supposed to see. But in a church where everyone knows everyone, the parents are not 50m away in the auditorium and we’ve never had a problem? ‘What a waste of time’ I thought but it was someone else’s call and obviously they were happy enough to keep going even with this absurd requirement.

Sadly the situation has escalated to the point where the creche for 1yr and 2yr olds had to be shut down. The sticking point I was told of was the requirement for first aid officers. Apparently, if the church was to run a creche during the service, there needed to be a first-aid qualified person in the room. Not in the building, not in another room, not outside the door – in the room at all times. Even though if there was a problem, you could obtain help from one of dozens of people if you run 2 secs down the corridor, it wasn’t enough so the creche had to be shut down and little kids have to sit in on the service. What serves the needs of both parents and kids living in a community of others is playing second-fiddle to ridiculous rules created to ‘protect the safety of children’.

This trend of micromanaging the lives of children and burdening those who look after them with needless rules is truly lamentable and IMHO our society will pay a high price for it. Thankfully, there are some fighting back against this awful trend.