In addition to writing about home entertainment technology, I also occasionally participate in the political and cultural debate. Here are a number of essays
|Was John Howard truly Hitleresque?||Funny how the man so often accused of censorship of contrary opinions was depicted as a Hitler figure ... in a short film part funded by his own government!|
|Why I Am Not A Journalist||I'm an opinion writer, because that requires me to know the topics upon which I write, rather than blindly reporting the views of other.|
|Letters to the Editor||Before I started writing for a living, I undertook the even harder task of writing letters to the editor of various newspapers and magazines. Getting these published, on my experience, is harder than getting paid work published! Here they are.|
|A Tepid Defence of SBS||In which the SBS's role in occasionally airing balanced documentaries is noted, and some dreadful examples of media motivation are revealed. Discusses the documentary 'Jenin: Massacring Truth'.|
|On Torture||A decidedly unfashionable essay arguing that torture may be a worthy enterprise in certain circumstances.|
|Nature Calls to Test Parents||A true story: There are some things that the Grandparents just can't know.
(A version of this story appeared in The Canberra Times, 15 May 1997, p.16.)
|To Be One With Today||A short story: what if Paul Ehrlich were to have his way?
(A version of this story appeared in Quadrant, July/August 1998, pp.96-105.)
|Skewering the dogma||A review of Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.
(A version of this article appeared in The Institute of Public Affairs Review, March 2003, v.55/1, p.39-40.)
|Viewing Things Differently||A review of David Friedman's Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life.
(A version of this article appeared in The Institute of Public Affairs Review, September 1999, v.51/3, p.30-31.)
|Eating Ideology||A review of P.J.O'Rourke's Eat the Rich.
(A version of this article appeared in The Institute of Public Affairs Review, June 1999, v.51/2, p.32.)
|The Vision Thing||Libertarian theory is invaluable. But Libertarian fiction can fill the spirit.
(A version of this article appeared in The Institute of Public Affairs Review, September 1998, v.50/4, pp.13-14.)
|Restricting Viewing Rights
NOTE: PDF format, 64 kB
|This was my 1999 submission to the Australian Intellectual Property and Competition Review Committee, in which I argued that then pending legislation may inadvertently prohibit modification of DVD players to play out-of-region DVDs. As it happens, since then action taken by Sony to stop region modification of PlayStations has failed in Court, so it is likely that DVD Region modification remains perfectly legal in Australia. In addition, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been huffing and puffing about restraint of trade, so a number of local DVD player suppliers are quite relaxed about having their DVD players made region free. Nevertheless, the paper does show some of the adverse consequences of how the region coding scheme would have worked, had it been successful.|
|Why I am a libertarian||Libertarian theory is usually grounded in either conceptions of natural rights, or utilitarianism. I think that neither of these is sufficient, yet I am still a libertarian.|
|Does Taxation equal Theft?||Albert Jay Nock persuasively argues that it does. Despite the definition of theft being an illegal taking, taxation has all the other hallmarks of larceny. Except that it in this case, the thief exudes an unbearable air of moral superiority.|
|Presumed innocent?||DNA identification has become a powerful tool for law enforcement, both convicting those who are guilty and freeing those who are innocent. But it is already being misused, thanks for fishing expeditions.|
|Boxing some doctors||Once again that organisation that likes to think it's superior medical knowledge justifies a health dictatorship is weighing against the sport of boxing. So what's new?
(A version of this article appeared in the The Canberra Times, 26 April 2001, p.9, as 'Prohibition not the answer to boxing deaths'.)
|GM foods: our "right to know" at others' cost||Governments, busily butting in again where no action is warranted, now require us to be 'informed' about what genetically modified organisms appear in our food. Fat lot of good that will do.
(A version of this article appeared in the The Canberra Times, 1 August 2000, p.9, as 'Show and tell law a hollow win if battle is already lost'.)
|Nobody's ABC||The problem with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is not that it is biased (although it is), but that it kills the commercial market for high quality programming.
(A version of this article appeared in the The Canberra Times, 10 July 2001, as 'ABC stuck in sludge or a hard pace'.)
|How to make petrol even more expensive||A constant refrain has been how horrid it is that petrol is expensive, and what a rip-off it is that prices go up in the holidays. But, actually, this is a good thing!
(A version of this article appeared in the The Canberra Times, 7 May 2001, p.9.)
|Why war is essential ... on this occasion||Back in February 2002 I addressed a number of the anti-Iraq-war arguments that had been put on the Australian Libertarian Society web site. Here I reproduce that (rather lengthy) response.|
|Sex in the State||When Prime Minister Howard acts to allow State Government legislation to stand, why is it represented as a denial of rights?|
|The Untouched?||De Palma's 1987 movie The Untouchables is well produced, well acted, entrancing in story, and horribly wrong in its message.|
|Children and Guns||In the United States, death by gun is one of the leading killers of children, right? Wrong.|
|Uncertainty||Written in October 2002, before the Iraq war began, I argue that the charade of certainty by those both for and against the war is wrong. Utterly wrong.|
|Suffer the little children||Former Governor General Hollingworth was largely a victim of our current idolisation of children and his silly belief that people might regard him with goodwill.|
|You Can't Have It Both Ways||You can have an immigration policy. Or you can abolish detention centres. You can't have it both ways.
(A version of this article appeared in The Canberra Times, 26 July 2001, p.9.)
|A Flat Tyre on the Energy Cycle||A tongue-in-cheek piece on riding bikes, and starving
(A version of this article appeared in the Institute of Public Affairs Review, Vol. 48/4, 1996, pp.56-57.)
|The Death of Patience||A Subtle Attack on a Human Virtue: How Bill Gates will take over the world ... with the game 'Solitaire!
(A version of this article appeared in the The Canberra Times, 20 May 1996, p.18.)
|Three-quarter measures on drugs not good enough||Drug policy is a disaster. All it manages to do is kill people and increase crime and corruption. Yet even the most radical reformers seem to propose just three-quarter measures.
(A version of this article appeared in The Canberra Times, 26 July 2000, p.11.)