van Beynen on Islamic extremism

March 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A very good column by Martin van Beynen:

While there can be no disputing that only a minority of Muslims believe in taking their beliefs to extremes, an intrinsic part of Islamic teaching justifies the death of opponents, non-believers or believers in other religions.

And a large minority of Muslims support the death penalty for apostates. I estimate around 32%.

An ancient text can be used to justify a variety of lethal behaviour as the history of Christianity has shown but, as some commentators have pointed out, you don’t get the feeling the Islamic world is moving away from fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran.

There are almost no people in Christianity demanding that there be an empire run on old testament law.

There are a fair amount in Islam wanting an empire run on a fundamentalist 7th century version of Islamic law.

As British columnist Rod Liddle pointed out recently in the Sunday Times, it is only in Islamic countries that people risk being put to death for blasphemy or apostasy (renouncing Islam).

“It is not just Muslim extremists who want to punish people for apostasy and blasphemy; it is the view of the mainstream Islamic world,” he writes.

And this is the challenge – not just the jihadists, but the laws in many Islamic countries.

The benefits of working from home

December 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Martin van Beynen writes at The Press:

Recently due to health hiccups I have started working from home a couple of days a week and it has been a bit of a revelation.

The first great advantage is not needing to get ready for work and be presentable. You can slob around unshaven and unwashed in your dressing gown all day and no-one is the wiser.

You can bet most home workers will be resisting getting caller video on their cellphones.

The ability to go from bed and straight to work is a huge time saver. No mucking about with ablutions and ironing that shirt or polishing the shoes.

No complicated transport arrangements and no time wasted commuting and getting stuck in traffic jams. No worries about whether it will be flat white or a latte today. I reckon I save two hours a day at least thanks to the simplicities of working from home.

Choosing your own hours is also a blessing. The work can be done in bursts over the 16 hours of waking time unless you sleep in, which someone as disciplined as me would, of course, never do.

I work from home primarily and it is great, for the reasons above. However I am now in the habit of always showering, shaving and changing before 7 am, as I found if you don’t do it when you first get up – then it is all too easy to just keep putting it off.

As more and more people work partially or fully from home, the economic impact could be significant. The productivity gains from not having to commute to work are significant. Also in some cases, you also save on reduced office rent.

Good journalism

September 19th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A good example of the investigative journalism we need more of in NZ. Martin van Beynen at The Press reports:

The construction manager of the deadly Canterbury Television building stole the identity of a professional engineer and faked an engineering degree, an investigation has revealed.

Gerald Shirtcliff, now 67, supervised the construction of the CTV building which was finished in about October 1987. It collapsed on February 22 last year, taking the lives of 115 people, when Christchurch was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

The Canterbury earthquakes royal commission has been told of a number of construction defects with the building, although Shirtcliff denies he had much to do with the site.

In evidence to the commission last month he claimed to be a “graduate engineer” and that he had been a supervisor on construction projects in South Africa. Inquiries by The Press, in Christchurch,  suggest these assertions are misleading.

Shirtcliff, who was educated at Rongotai College and left school to work in a Wellington bank, has lived off and on in Australia since about 1970 under the name William Anthony Fisher. …

A month-long investigation by The Press shows Shirtcliff in 1970 stole the identity of an English engineer called William Anthony Fisher, with whom he worked in South Africa in 1968 and 1969. Shirtcliff has lived as William Fisher in Australia for over 25 years, and now resides in Brisbane, driving a late-model Mercedes and enjoying a spacious house and a $200,000 motor launch.

When Shirtcliff left South Africa towards the end of 1969 to settle in Sydney he took on Fisher’s identity including his birthplace, birthdate and his bachelor of engineering from the University of Sheffield.

Shirtcliff then used the real Will Fisher’s BEng to gain entry into a masters programme at the University of New South Wales in 1971 and also to become a member of the Australian Institute of Engineers in 1972. As “Will Fisher” he was awarded a master of engineering science degree in highway engineering in April 1974.

He later worked as an engineer for a Sydney firm, then called MacDonald, Wagner and Priddle (to become Connell Wagner and then Aurecon), before returning to New Zealand in the mid-80s, to work under his Shirtcliff name.

In New Zealand he purported to be a “registered” engineer and at one time a “chartered” engineer.

Shirtcliff used his new identity on company documents and also to try to avoid extradition to New Zealand on the fraud allegations. He spent a week in a Brisbane jail in 2003 before conceding he was actually Gerald Shirtcliff.

A fascinating discovery which would have taken a lot of detective work.