Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Good radio

Libertarian Lindsay Perigo and Maori activist Willie Jackson are on Radio Live together for two weeks. As co-hosts. I can see the steam coming out of the studio from here.

Tune in from midday until 3pm

LINK: Radio Live

Stunning space tourist

"How cool is this?" asks Crusader Rabbit. " It's one thing to make buckets of money--but this lady knows how to spend it on what matters." She sure does.

Photo right from The Times: "Anousheh Ansari prepares for her $20 million flight. The former telecom tycoon, who left Iran when she was 16, says that space is 'in my soul and in my heart'."

LINK: Refugee who fled Iran's mullahs becomes first woman space tourist - Times Online

RELATED: Science, Politics-World, Heroes

Writing tips

Here's a helpful list of the ten most common grammatical mistakes to avoid if you want your writing to be taken seriously. (And can I add the unfortunately frequent use of "publically" for "publicly"?) [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

And here's ten useful tips to help you get that writing project done. Tip #4:
Stop with the blog already. When I’m pressed for time, distractions like blogging and hoovering become very compelling. Knowing this makes it easier to resist...

Give people time and let them show you who they are

Jason Roth at Save The Humans has some good advice:
Judge Not, Yet
Give people time and let them show you who they are.
Go visit, and see what you think.

DDT ban removal will save millions

I haven't yet taken time to praise the WHO decision to rescind the long-overdue banning of DDT, which has seen millions die unnecessarily from malaria. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I'll simply post the ARI press release on the matter (below), with which I wholly agree.

Meanwhile, Richard Tren from the organisation Africa Fighting Malaria has still had no response from his open letter to Greenpeace calling them to account for their decades-long support of the ban, and suggests their "various inconsistent and contradictory statements beg several questions":

First, if, as Mr. Krautter asserts, Greenpeace should not be characterized as opposed to the use of DDT in malaria control, why should the organization describe its use in malaria control as a "cycle of misery?" Furthermore, why does Dr Santillo consider that the restricted and careful use of DDT for malaria control is "a step in the wrong direction?"

Second, please, could you detail the financial commitment that Greenpeace itself has made to developing new malaria control technologies, and include any details of the success achieved? Given that Greenpeace informs us that it is "committed to seeing more effective methods for combating malaria," we assume that it has followed that up with actual investment.

Third, please, could you detail the lobbying and advocacy efforts that Greenpeace has undertaken to ensure that public and private funds are invested in the search for chemical alternatives to DDT?

Africa Fighting Malaria applauds the constructive and positive role that [some other environmental] organizations have taken with regard to DDT for malaria control. The criticism that Greenpeace has leveled at the WHO, and by implication, some of the world's leading malaria experts and scientists is damaging to malaria control programs and ultimately will cost lives in Africa.

Ask the next bearded young man who stops you on the street and asks you to donate to Greenpeace any one of those questions, and see what answer you get.

Anyway, here's what the ARI's Yaron Brook has to say:
WHO Sides with Humanity Against Mosquitoes and Environmentalists

Irvine, CA—The World Health Organization, conceding that alternative methods to fight malaria have failed, will start encouraging the use of DDT around the world.

"For anyone who cares about human life, this is excellent news," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "The widespread use of DDT against malaria-carrying mosquitoes can prevent the infection of hundreds of millions of people every year and save millions of lives."

Before environmentalists managed to ban or severely restrict its use, DDT led to a dramatic reduction in malaria cases wherever it was used.

"The decades-long environmentalist opposition to DDT never had any basis in science: for half a century DDT use has been proven safe to humans and deadly to mosquitoes.

"The environmentalists responsible for banning or tightly restricting the use of DDT are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and for the untold suffering of hundreds of millions more, most of them children.

"The environmentalists' persistent opposition to the use of DDT shows that they are indifferent to human suffering. This is because environmentalism places the 'preservation' of nature above the requirements of human survival and prosperity. Given the choice of eradicating malarial mosquitoes with a man-made pesticide or condemning millions of people to suffering and death, committed environmentalists have consistently opted for the latter..."

LINKS: World Health Organization (WHO) Announces New Policy Position On Indoor Residual Spraying For Malaria Control - Medical News Today
DDT cleared for fighting malaria - ABC News
Calling Greenpeace to account - The Commons Blog
Open letter to Greenpeace - Richard Tren, Africa Fighting Malaria
Ayn Rand Institute News - US Politics Today
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum

RELATED: Environment, Health, Politics-World, Objectivism

Court limits government RMA action

So there are limits to government. Some. Turns out even the otherwise egregious Resource Management Act places some limits on government action, as the High Court has just told minister Chris Carter. That's a good thing.

When Carter delivered his own ultra vires verdict killing the marina project he said he "had serious concerns about aspects of the proposal," all of which had already been dealt with in court. "Under the Resource Management Act," he said, "the Conservation Minister is the final decision-maker on restricted coastal activities."

No he isn't. That's what this court decision says. Notes the Herald this morning:
Mr Carter said he would not be commenting until he had decided whether to appeal.
"I need to look carefully at what Justice Fogarty has had to say on the matter, " he said. "I have not yet had that opportunity."
In other words, "I'm not commenting until this embarrassing decision has gone away." Let's hope not. It's already taken the Whangamata Marina Society years to get to this point, and this decision still doesn't give them any certainty.

LINKS: You made a mistake over marina, judge tells minister - NZ Herald
Get Carter - Not PC (March, 2006)

Environment, RMA, Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Politics-Labour

Clark has lost it - Cactus

Helen Clark is losing it. That's the opinion of Cactus Kate:
I have always admired Helen Clark in one context - as a formidable opponent. Today she showed the first signs of complete and utter stark raving instability. The “right wing conspiracy”, "the Exclusive Brethren are stalking us", "the mainstream media are to blame", "people are talking about me in golf clubs, business circles, other circles". She called for a truce at some level, yet in doing so managed to further accuse her opponents of acting against her. Indeed the Prime Minister is starting to "see dead people."
I have some sympathy for Clark with regards the latest very personal attacks. But it is nothing that some men and a great majority of women in business have not been subject to since time in memoriam. In fact a great deal of the scrutiny and envy that business people face is caused in direct correlation to the envy against them purposely created by Clark and her kind. There is some kind of deeply kharmatic logic about this whole recent episode.
There is, and there's a lot more at Kate's, not all of which I agree with - Clark's personal life is still no business of ours. However As DPF says this morning:
Clark again tries to portray herself as the victim, and claim personal attacks are no part of Labour strategy. Her problem is that not only do her Ministers and MPs undertake them constantly, but one of her most senior colleagues explicitly said we will dish up dirt unless you lay off on the pledge card. It wasn't implicit, it was explicit.
That's right. Personal attacks are no part of Labour strategy. They will always deal with the issues honestly. And the fairies at the bottom of my garden have been particularly noisy this morning.

LINKS: Labour's Diplomatic Positioning Squad - Asian Invasion (Cactus Kate)
No organised bile - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour

Architecture V Architecture: Artist's House, by Organon Architecture

This last post of my own 'Top Five' in this architectural series is, per request, of my own favourite New Zealand building.

There's some serious contenders here for my own favourite local building. Karori's Futuna Chapel by John Scott is a personal favourite -- the scale, the light and the playfully geometric 'simple yet mysterious' roof is intensely evocative, even in its current setting -- but the photographs available hardly do justice to the space. Auckland University's famous Clock Tower Building and its related campus buildings is another personal favourite, and this is as much for its original ornamentation and its qualities as an innovative inaugurating College Building from which to begin a campus as it is for the excitement of knowing that it's architect was Frank Lloyd Wright's draughtsmen's draughtsmen, and so the closest we've got to our own original NZ Wright -- however, for mine the aggressive symmetry and the similarity to a wedding cake are a detraction.

Architect Claude Megson has several candidates, but with Claude's buildings we encounter a familiar problem: Claude did not design for those who flick loftily through magazines or to impress a building's neighbours, he designed houses for his clients, houses so good that those who commissioned them often didn't want to leave them. But they don't photograph well.
Their qualities are 'built in' rather than worn on the sleeve, and you often don't notice them even when you're driving right past.

So in this case then for my own personal NZ favourite I not so humbly submit one of my own sketch designs, as yet unbuilt, for an artist's house in the Wairarapa. It largely follows my own ideas on the promise of the New Zealand house.

This is a two-level house with roof deck, set in rural Wairarapa beneath the Tararua Ranges (to fit the landscape in the painting at bottom). The site is is very near the rail line to and from Wellington, and the intention is for a home from which the artist can work, enjoy life with his family, and welcome in 'art tourists' who can view his work, watch him paint, and buy, buy, buy.

The house has four wings and four courtyards-- each with its own definite aspect and character -- all centred around the reason for the house: the artist's own work displayed in the double-height cubic gallery around which the various wings pinwheel out, and above which a roof deck offers a lookout to the beauty of the surrounding landscape, (captured in paint in the image at the foot of this post.)

Working clockwise around the four compass points of the house:
  • we first have the studio wing and studio garden at the eastern part of the compass, over the driveway from the gallery and connected through the upper level east-west axis, and looked over by the mezzanine gallery and an internal 'picture frame' window' from the master bedroom;
  • to the south is the garage and service court, accessed from the driveway which runs under the bridging upper floor;
  • the west axis is the more formal, accessed from the main entrance through the gallery and into the lounge and sculpture gallery, and then out to the pool and the two contrasting courtyards and the landscape beyond;
  • running from the entrance the north wing comprises in order kitchen, family room and homeschooling room: this, with children's bedrooms above is the family wing, spilling out to the afternoon courtyard
The gallery is the heart, the anchor, the very reason for the house, around which the life of the house plays out, and spills out into the landscape. Vertical concrete 'pylons' -- which share with portal steel frames the job of supporting the house -- display more of the artist's work throughout the house, all of it carefully lit from above.

An upper-level steel catwalk passes east-west through the top-lit gallery from 'studio wing' to 'guest wing,' taking guest all the way across the house from mezzanine lounge level (where provision is made for future guest bedrooms) in a straight line through the upper gallery and over the drive to the studio. This axis emerges at each end of the house with decks that reach out to the landscape, as does the family wing, from which a large deck offers sweeping views over the landscape to the east, north, and west.

The more I rediscover this house, designed over five years ago, the more I enjoy it. To see it built would be, well ... I'd be very excited.

RELATED: Architecture

Monday, 18 September 2006

More tributes to Oriana Fallaci

More tributes to "warrior for freedom" Oriana Fallaci here: London Times ... Reuters ... NYT ... AP (1) ... AFP ... Guardian ... WSJ ... LAT ... Wash Post ... New Yorker (June) ... AP (2) ... Daniel Pipes [Hat tip Arts and Letters Daily]

And I enjoyed this from Robert Spencer writing at 'Front Page,' last year, reminding us just how good a warrior she was.
Oriana Fallaci, who received the Center for the Study of Popular Culture’s Annie Taylor Award in New York Monday evening, has been a warrior for human freedom ever since she joined the anti-fascist resistance in 1944, at age fourteen. For over six decades, she has fought against those she has labeled “the bastards who decide our lives,” opposing all forms of tyranny and oppression, from Mussolini and Hitler to Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. She amassed a fearsome reputation as an interviewer, recounting of Ariel Sharon: “‘I know you’ve come to add another scalp to your necklace,’ he murmured almost with sadness when I went to interview him in 1982.”

Other scalps on her necklace include that of Henry Kissinger, who termed his interview with Fallaci “the most disastrous conversation I ever had with any member of the press.” While interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeini, Fallaci called him a “tyrant” and tore off the chador she had had to wear in order to be admitted to his presence. According to Daniel Pipes in his introduction of Fallaci Monday night, she is also apparently one of the few who ever made the irascible old man laugh.

Today, at seventy-five years old, Fallaci still stands for freedom. She is suffering from cancer. She stated with her usual directness at the Taylor Awards ceremony: “I shall not last long.” But she has dedicated the four years since 9/11 to trying to awaken her native Italy, Europe and the world to the magnitude global jihad threat, which most analysts continue, whether from willful blindness, ignorance, or a misplaced strategic imperative, to misapprehend. Pipes noted that “she has her differences with the President. When he says that Islam a ‘religion of peace,’ she has said, ‘each time he says it on TV? I’m there alone, and I watch it and say, “Shut up! Shut up, Bush!” But he doesn’t listen to me.’”

And it isn’t, of course, just Bush. Fallaci spoke fervently Monday evening about how Western nations are selling their own homelands and culture to their mortal enemies. “We seem to live in real democracies,” she said, “but we really live in weak democracies ruled by despotism and fear.” Western elites – government and media – are paralyzed by fear, afraid to speak out against the life-destroying aspects of the Sharia law that Islamic jihadists want to impose on the rest of the world. The risk of offending Muslims is, in their calculus, apparently greater than the risk of national or civilizational suicide.

Alexis de Tocqueville, according to Fallaci, explained that in dictatorial regimes, despotism strikes the body: the dissenter is tortured into silence. But in democratic regimes that have succumbed to corruption, despotism ignores the body and strikes at the soul. One is not tortured for dissent; instead, one is discredited for it. To affirm the patent fact that Islam is not a religion of peace today renders one “unelectable,” or “bigoted,” or beyond the bounds of what is fit to print. In despotic democratic regimes, Fallaci observed, everything can be spread except truth.
That is indeed the present-day situation.

Most of the liberal and conservative mainstream not only will not feature trenchant criticisms like Fallaci’s of the violent and supremacist impulse within Islam; they will not even discuss them. Those who, like Fallaci, speak the truth about the motives and goals of the jihadists are vilified and marginalized, while the purveyors of comforting half-truths, distortions and lies fill the nation’s airwaves and newsprint. Fallaci herself faces the most frivolous of frivolous lawsuits in Italy for defamation of Islam; a Muslim group tried to have banned her searing, passionate response to 9/11,
The Rage and the Pride.

Why does all this happen? In her speech Fallaci explained that it was to a great degree because “truth inspires fear.” When one hears the truth, one can only be silent or join the cause. It is a call to a personal revolution, an upheaval, a departure – perhaps forever – from a life of ease and comfort. So most will prefer not to hear the truth -- in no small part because of the difficulty of living up to it.

Yet the real heroes, she said, are “those who raise their voices against anathemas and persecution,” while most succumb -- “and with their silence give their approval to the civil death of those who spoke out.”
“This,” Fallaci declared, “is what I have experienced the last four years.” She described how, since 9/11, the whole of Europe has become a “Niagara Falls of McCarthyism” – with the new Grand Inquisitors of the Left persecuting and victimizing all others. [...]

Fallaci told the audience that she faced three years in prison in Italy if convicted in her trial for hate speech. “But can hate be prosecuted by law? It is a sentiment. It is a natural part of life. Like love, it cannot be proscribed by a legal code. It can be judged, but only on the basis of ethics and morality. If I have the right to love, then I have the right to hate also.”

Hate? “Yes, I do hate the bin Ladens and the Zarqawis. I do hate the bastards who burn churches in Europe. I hate the Chomskys and Moores and Farrakhans who sell us to the enemy. I hate them as I used to hate Mussolini and Hitler. For the cause of freedom, this is my sacrosanct right.”

What’s more, Fallaci pointed out that Europe’s hate speech laws never seem to be used against the “professional haters, who hate me much more than I hate them”: the Muslims who hate as part of their ideology...

Read on here.

LINK: Fallaci: Warrior in the cause of freedom - Front Page magazine

RELATED: Obituary, Multiculturalism, Religion, War

Cheques we'd like to see ...

Generation XY has a picture of a cheque we'd like to see drawn. (Click the photo to see.)

Not that paying it back on it's own would wipe out ther corruption, as Bernard Darnton points out:
They need to admit their wrongdoing and assure us that they will not steal public funds again. Right at the very start of this case I pointed out that Crown spending of public money not appropriated by Parliament is a violation of one of the laws that separates a liberal democracy from a dictatorship. Labour needs to decide which side of that fence they’re on.
It's not everything, but it would be, as they say, a start.

LINKS: STOP PRESS #34: Everyone comes to their senses... - Generation XY

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

Lies, damned lies and a Prime Minister

Helen Clark is right to defend herself against the Wishart creep's latest egregious muck-raking, but I suspect there is about as much truth in Helen Clark's latest claims -- that National is behind the smear, and that private detectives were hired to follow her and her husband -- as much truth behind these claims as there was behind her similar-sounding claims last week that National is behind Bernard Darnton's court action against her and her colleagues.

She was lying then, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I'd say the same of her claims this week -- on those points at least.

UPDATE: I loved this comment by Philip over at DPF's blog:

Ian Wishart is a grubby and unworthy fellow, masquerading as a journalist.

If he reported that the sun was shining, I would have to see proof outside my window - and even then I wouldn't be too certain that he hadn't hired a crerw to rig up a fake.

LINKS: Furious Clark defends husband - Dominion Post
Wishart "a creep" - Not PC (March, 2005)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Libz

Jihadists call for sword to be taken to Pope

All you need to know about the reaction to the Pope's speech last week is at Jihad Watch, which summarises reactions from around the jihadist world -- and the reaction from the jihadists tells you all you need to know about the jihadists.

Pope Benedict quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said,
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
"No he didn't!" denied jihadists in unison, who called on the sword to be taken to the Pope.

The irony seems to escape them.

LINKS: Pope's speech at the University of Regensburg - Vatican
Israeli-US plot behind pope's remarks: Iran hardline press - Jihad Watch
Italian nun killed in Somalia - Jihad Watch
Security around pope beefed up - Jihad Watch
Pope: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address" - Jihad Watch
Arab op-ed: Pope’s remarks may lead to war - Jihad Watch
"We are all papists now" - Jihad Watch
Iraqi jihad group threatens Vatican with suicide bombers in Internet message - Jihad Watch
Christian Killed in Iraq in Response to Pope's Speech: Islamic Website - Jihad Watch
Mental and moral balance - Jihad Watch
Somali Islamic cleric: the Pope must die - Jihad Watch
Rioters' madness shames Muslim world - Jihad Watch
A moderate Muslim renounces the jihad ideology - Jihad Watch
Pope 'sorry' for Islam comments? - Jihad Watch
Grenade blast as Muslimsprotest Pope's 'insult' - Jihad Watch
Muslim anger over Papal comments grows - Jihad Watch
"Mr Pope, be with in your limits" - Jihad Watch
"The Pope and Vatican proved to be Zionists" - Jihad Watch
Jihadist hypocrites castigate Pope - Jihad Watch

RELATED: War, Religion, Politics-World

Last thoughts on '9/11 week'

Last week was a time for commemorating 9/11 five years on. Speaking for myself, which is what I always do, I was struck by how many of the commemorations and thought-pieces dwelt on the tragedy as if it were some kind of natural disaster, rather than the organised destruction that it was.

9/11 was no natural disaster. It was a fully man-made event, at once a mass-murder and a declaration of war. To ignore that is not only a gross injustice to the memory of the innocents who died on that day and in subsequent man-made horrors, but it ignores the very real threat that the continued existence of the planners of those mass-murders represents.

RELATED: War, Politics-World

New Darnton V Clark banner

The boffins over at Bernard Darnton's site have produced another, smaller, banner for you to hang on your blog or website to show support for Bernard's case if the larger one I'm wearing is too big for you.

Just visit here for the HTML, paste it into your blog template, and hey presto, you'll be showing the world that you too support limits on government.

And look out this week for Speaker Margaret Wilson and Parliamentary Services to file their defence in Darnton V Clark.

LINKS: Diagonal Banner - Darnton V Clark
Large Banner - Darnton V Clark
Progress - Darnton V Clark

RELATED: Darnton V Clark

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Stalker, troll ... or what?

I have an unpleasant job to have to do. I am being pursued by ... well, you decide on the appropriate word. Anyway, enough is enough.

Whatever the issue, the issue for this person seems to be me. I hate to use the word "obsession," but to cite just a few of the most recent examples:
  • on DPF's blog, commenting on the issue of Don Brash's private life, the issue for this person was only the so-called "neo-con" agenda of Libertarianz and myself;
  • also on DPF's blog, on the issue of Labour's Pledge Card spending, the issue for her was the so-called "genocidal" agenda of the Libertarianz and myself;
  • and here at Not PC, to take two recent instances as an example, notices of the deaths of Peter Brock and Oriana Fallaci -- opportunities for tribute and reflection -- were used by this person instead to make the same accusations about me.
The accusations are not only entirely irrelevant to the issues in question, even if they were true - but they're just silly. They are false, and have been refuted several times (as if such nonsense even needed refuting). At no time have the refutations been responded to except to repeat the allegations as before. This most recent series of attacks provides a useful summary of the accusations:

"Your support of genocide on SOLO has not gone unnoticed..." It certainly has by me.

"You got into bed with supporters of child rapist Capill..." I did not. Not even metaphorically.

"[You helped] to run Peron out of the country - and defame him as a paedophile..." Jim Peron was deservedly run out of the country by the Immigration Department because he was and is a promoter of paedophilia, as his disgusting magazine 'Unbound' made crystal clear, and it was as a promoter of paedophilia that I described him. Accurately. Unfortunately, I can't claim credit for having done the job of running him out.

"And as I have said before -- please don't try the farcical response that there are no Muslims who are doing anything worthwhile..." I haven't. Never have.

"You are afraid of me." I am not. That would be farcical. It is not fear I feel, it is disgust.

"You don't have a deep love of Judaism, just a deep, sick hatred of Muslims..." Etc., etc. etc. You get the point. There certainly is a "deep, sick hatred" in evidence here, and it hardly needs me to point out its locus.

"The only one who is a racist disgrace is you." Sigh. I'll let you form your own conclusions about this person, but as from now she is no longer welcome at this blog. As I've said many, many times before: "I welcome intelligent debate, but free speech does not require that I provide my unhinged attackers with either a platform or a megaphone."

You may decide for yourself the motivation of this person from the fact that in all the many months over which this person has attacked me for advocating that the west defend itself she has never once said anything -- not a word -- to condemn the scum who flew airplanes into buildings, who set bombs in crowded city trains in London and Madrid and in bars in Bali and Egypt filled with holidaying Australians, New Zealanders, Egyptians and Israelis, and who kidnapped and beheaded western journalists and engineers going about their business. Nor has she chosen ever -- not once -- to condemn those who planned and carried out these murders. This is despite numerous invitations to do so. On its own this is disgraceful enough, but to constantly and without evidence accuse me of advocating genocide, while failing -- even once! -- to lift her pen against the perpetrators of mass-murder is more than I am willing to stomach.

Stalker troll or whatever you want to call her, it's time for me to remove this platform from this commenter. Other bloggers may decide for themselves, but as for me she is no longer welcome here.


Today's Bible reading: Great deeds of David

It's Sunday, so it's time for another uplifting Bible reading. Today, the story of how David bought his first wife with 200 foreskins hewn from dead Philistines.
And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.... And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well.... Wherefore David ... slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king.... And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. [1 Samuel 28:25-27]
The Bible. Full of good rules for living.

LINKS: Shorter Absurdities - Skeptics Annotated Bible

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense

Some propositions on the 'smacking debate'

  • People who are unable to distinguish between smacking and beating and abuse should be abjured from public debate on the issue.
  • Parliaments do not exist to "change the culture," they exist to write law.
  • Personal views on how you would discipline your own child or how you yourself were disciplined as a child are irrelevant to the issue of writing laws that limit how others discipline their own children.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Law

Italian writer Oriana Fallaci

Italian journalist, author, and critic both of Islam and of Euro-weeny attitudes toward same, Oriana Fallaci, has died. Reason magazine's 'Hit and Run' blog summarises:
Italian journalist and interviewer extraordinaire Oriana Fallaci has succumbed to cancer. In the 1970s Fallaci conducted thrilling talks with men like Yasser Arafat and Ayatollah Khomenei, but since 9/11 she'd hitched her muse to the anti-Islam bandwagon, publishing several book-length screeds against Muslims and Muslim traditions. The new work, while it stiffed in America sales-wise, ignited debate in Europe and on the blogs, and writers who might not have cared about her previous work became almost worshipful of her new stuff.

Her final book,
La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason), assailed the Catholic Church for letting Islam run over Europe; as [Reason's Nick Gillespie] already blogged, that was a fitting note for her to go out on.
UPDATE: More obituaries on the great Oriana from London Times ... Reuters ... NYT ... AP (1) ... AFP ... Guardian ... WSJ ... LAT ... Wash Post ... New Yorker (June) ... AP (2) ... Daniel Pipes
[Hat tip Arts and Letters Daily]

LINKS: Oriana Fallaci, Italian writer, dies - International Herald Tribune [Hat tip: Craig Ceely]
Rendezvous with history - Hit and Run
Did the Pope shit in the woods? Or just on Islam? - Hit and Run
Oriana Fallaci: The face of hate speech laws - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

Privatising, Rodney

"Selling the family silver." That's what people call privatisation. "Selling the family silver," they say. "We paid for the state assets," they say. "They're ours," they say. "You can't sell them," they say.

Libertarianz policy on that for many years has been to say, "Very well, you paid for them - you have them back. Here's your shares in these assets; do with them what you will." Eminent sense it seems to me. Here's the Libz policy on privatisation, the same policy we've had since 1995:
State assets will be given back to those whose money paid for them - taxpayers! After retiring the government's debt, all assets will be distributed as shares to be sold or retained as you choose. So-called 'stakeholders' can become real shareholders. Existing superannuitants - whose savings have been stolen by taxes and government-induced inflation - would be provided for from these assets.
It's a policy we've promoted many times since. Here for example is what leader Bernard Darnton said in March of last year:
In our first term of government, Libertarianz will sell or distribute shares in ALL state-owned enterprises, crown companies and crown-owned businesses to the public."

Darnton produced a list of state-controlled entities he would personally ensure were gone by lunchtime:

NZ Post
Genesis Energy
Mighty River Power
Solid Energy
Television New Zealand
Air New Zealand
Broadcast Communications Ltd
MetService Airways Corporation.
"Privatisation should in the first instance be undertaken to eliminate public debt, which inflates interest rates and is a burden on taxvictims; and thence to give the public a shareholding in these companies --so that Dr Cullen's own desire for New Zealanders to save and own shares will be implemented by creating true public ownership and sovereignty."

"We hear much talk on the left about the 'people's assets' and the people having control over these assets - well Libertarianz will de-politicise the assets altogether and give full property rights in state businesses to New Zealand
ers," declares Darnton. "Then the people can decide themselves if they wish to hold shares in a power company for example, or if they would rather sell and buy themselves a new TV!"

"The important principle is to get government out of business as fast as possible!"
Makes perfect sense to me. And it seems it now makes perfect sense to ACT's Rodney Hide as well, as he makes clear in this speech over the weekend:
If public opinion is against 'selling the family silver' - as some people put it - why not simply return the silver to the family?

In other words, why not give Kiwis shares in their SOEs?

After all, taxpayers own the enterprises in the first place. The government is just their trustee, and a poor one at that.

Although they are the real owners, Kiwis can't sell their shareholding, and they have no control.

This is an issue not just of economics but also of freedom and fairness. What we ultimately own is locked up without our consent. Any dividends from our involuntary investment in SOEs are spent by the government, not paid out to us.

Citizens who could put their share of these investments to better use, like having a hip operation, are denied that opportunity for no good reason.

We should give Kiwis real control over what they already own.

To hand back control over the "people's bank" and "peoples airline", we could have a "People's Float".

Why not?

So that's one out of five for ACT then. Well done. One down, four to go.

LINKS: Policies - Libertarianz Party
Nats backdown on backbone - Bernard Darnton, Libertarianz, Scoop (March, 2005)
A question for ACT's libertarians - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Libz, Politics-ACT, Privatisation

Saturday, 16 September 2006

The self-imposed prison of tradition

When I read this report in the Herald, I was reminded of the observation made by Thomas Sowell quoted below. From the Herald comes the news that for the king's funeral Tongan villagers are donating gifts they can't afford to a dead monarch who can't use them, and a new monarch who doesn't want them (you might recall the new monarch disparaging the "basket weaving" of "his people" on TV news recently). Says the Herald, "The villagers' generosity is born of tradition, but not all are happy about it":
Tongan tradition grates for some
A Tongan village has woven thousands of dollars worth of fine mats, donated cash for a pig and will provide baskets of food for the funeral of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. The villagers' generosity is born of tradition, but not all are happy about it. Saane Masila (right), a mother of eight, says it actually makes her sick. [...]

At Fahefa, in the northwest of Tongatapu Island, the local women have spent weeks weaving valuable fine mats and making tapa cloths as gifts which will be presented at the palace by their village noble for the late King.
Mrs Masila, 38, says she has no idea what will happen to the mats, hundreds of which will be gifted from around the kingdom.

While she says she loved the King she is unimpressed that the mats will go the "rich royal family" when her village could do with the money they could be sold for.
So why do they do it? Tradition. Culture. Mrs Masila is rightly "unimpressed" at giving away her wealth to pay for a parasite, but she does it anyway. As a cultural practice, who benefits?

As Thomas Sowell says:
Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives.
In this example, which is symbolic of the parasitic relationship of monarch and subjects, "culture" is working bloody poorly for those expected to altruistically donate their time, wealth and energy to celebrate a dead parasite who grew fat (quite literally) off the energy of the people he ruled.

Democracy can't come fast enough for Tonga, but without a change of culture as well as a change of leader then democracy will just deliver them more parasites wanting to grow fat off the largesse the Tongan people can't afford.

RELATED: Multiculturalism, Individualism, Ethics, Politics-World

Pollock by numbers

Some people will pay over a million dollars for a Jackson Pollock scrawl (what's that they say about a fool and his money being easily parted?).

But if you want an original Jackson Pollock painting with just as much effort as it took to produce the original, and far less expense than the real thing, then just go here and wave your mouse around -- and then head down to your dealer.

See, you too can be a con-artist.

LINK: JacksonPollock.Org

RELATED: Art, Humour

Jewish Museum in Berlin - 'Between The Lines' - Daniel Libeskind

Our Architecture V Architecture Series is drawing to a close, with only two favourites left -- or you could say it's coming to a climax, with only the very best selections left, one from each of us! Tonight in this "Top Five" series then, we have the last of Den's "top five" favourites, with my own last selection in the series coming Monday.

This building, one that I unfortunately have yet to see in person, is without a doubt my most favourite piece of architecture. It demonstrates how brief, understanding of form, and individual brilliance in conception can be brought together in creating a 'speaking' architecture. This 'petrified flash of lightning' answers a lot of questions about what architecture's function in society should be, what it should speak of, and in what manner it should speak.

Libeskind won a hotly contested international competition on the back of a rather esoteric and ephemeral entry, which he entitled 'Between The Lines'. The drawings for this entry are beautiful and engaging entities in themselves, and Libeskind created an evocative intertwining of text and image to outline the story he wanted to tell.

The original brief was the replacement of the original Jewish Museum in Berlin, which opened with catastrophic timing in 1933, one week before the installation of Hitler as Chancellor, was badly damaged and thoroughly looted on Kristallnacht in 1938 and ultimately totally dismantled. The organisers of the competition set out an edgy and difficult triad of considerations for the proposals. They were to focus on:
(1) the Jewish religion, customs, and ritual objects; (2) the history of the Jewish community in Germany, its rise and terrible destruction at the hands of the Nazis; and (3) the lives and works of Jews who left their mark on the face and the history of Berlin over the centuries. Even given the ultimately integrationist aims of the competition, avoiding a grim memorial relic of a building would be the greatest challenge.

Libeskind's scheme, 'Between The Lines', aimed to create:
'...two lines of thinking, organization, and relationship. One is a straight line, but broken into many fragments; the other is a tortuous line, but continuing indefinitely. These two lines develop architecturally and programmatically through a limited but definite dialogue. They also fall apart, become disengaged, and are seen as separated. In this way, they expose a void that runs through this museum and through architecture, a discontinuous void.'
Libeskind, through form and programme, recreates the history of the Jewish people in Germany. The straight line, broken into fragments can be conceived as the Jewish presence in Berlin and Germany, punctuated by voids, absences, and silence. The tortuous yet continuing line is the shared destiny of the city. These are simplistic interpretations of what is a complex and multi-layered design, but what one can feel simply through looking at pictures of the evocative interiors and exterior is the powerful juxtaposition of solid and void, presence and absence. Visitors, in traversing the museum in order to move through the various exhibition areas, must go over sixty bridges through the void spaces which cut through the building's volume.

The exterior has been 'written upon' - appearing almost scarred, imprinted with arcane patterns and displaced fragments. Exterior space has been considered as an integral feature of the building, with the 'Garden of Exile' - 49 six-metre high columns through which visitors can wander, and the immensely evocative (although somewhat 'folly'-ish) 'Holocaust Tower' - a bare concrete tower, the interior of which is neither heated or cooled, with a single unreachable aperture opening to the outside. Friends (both architects and non-architects) who have been in this space all attest to the immense power of the simple gesture made by this space.

To return to the original point I made, that this building demonstrates architecture's power to speak, think about what Libeskind has done. By taking themes of absence and presence, and working these into the design in a concrete, tangible way, the architecture moves beyond something which must be explained - a piece of art that you have to read a pamphlet before you can sagely nod, grasping your chin - and into the realm of 'speaking' architecture: one forms one's own opinion, but is forcefully guided by powerful, masterful narrative.

Perhaps most brilliantly, the building constitutes an 'emblem of hope'. Libeskind has allowed both lines of the programme - the 'tortuous continuous' line and the 'straight, fragmented' line to coexist, such that our interpretation springs from the synthesis of the two, suggesting that rather than a solution or a closed book, the design logic presents a way forward. In his own words:
The work is conceived as a museum for all Berliners, for all citizens. Not only those of the present, but those of the future who might find their heritage and hope in this particular place. With its special emphasis on the Jewish dimension of Berlin's history, this building gives voice to a common fate - to the contradictions of the ordered and disordered, the chosen and not chosen, the vocal and silent. I believe that this project joins Architecture to questions that are now relevant to all humanity. To this end, I have sought to create a new Architecture for a time which would reflect an understanding of history, a new understanding of Museums and a new realization of the relationship between program and architectural space. Therefore this Museum is not only a response to a particular program, but an emblem of Hope.
* * * * *
So that's the last and "most favourite" of all Den's buildings. Look for a wrap-up from him on our series some time next week -- and go right ahead and comment yourself right here, right now. Remember those two questions I suggested on which to base your comments: First, is this good architecture? And second, do you like it. And remember to say why!

RELATED: Architecture

Friday, 15 September 2006

Architecture tonight ...

Our Architecture V Architecture Series is drawing to a close with only two favourites left to post -- or you could say it's coming to a climax, with only the two very best selections to come, one each from each of us!

Come back tonight then for the last in this "Top Five" series of Den's five favourites. This one, he says, is his "favourite, all time, hands down" winner. It's that good, he says:
This building ... is without a doubt my most favourite piece of architecture. It demonstrates how brief, understanding of form, and individual brilliance in conception can be brought together in creating a 'speaking' architecture.
As for me, I think I've won a bet.

Come back later on tonight, and all will be revealed.

Beer O’Clock – Three Boys IPA, India Pale Ale, Christchurch, 5.2%

The Beer O'Clock post this week comes from Neil at Real Beer.

After all the good beer flowing during Brew NZ, I could not possibly spend another column writing about Viking Lager. [Thank goodness, Ed.]

So I have decided to highlight one of my absolute favourite beers from a little known Christchurch brewery called Three Boys. Trust me, you will be hearing a lot more from these guys. They will go far.

For starters, the beer looks good before it even gets in the glass. As soon as you see the distinctive bottles, you know they are aiming at the very top end of the microbrewery market. I have to say they are very handsome bottles (and I once wrote an article called “good beer can come in plastic bottles!”).

Simple labels, simple language, very distinctive and classy. And it would seem I am not the only one to think so. Three Boys rightly won the Packaging Award at the New Zealand Beer Awards last week.

The brewer is scientist Dr Ralph Bungard who now runs this small brewery in Woolston, Christchurch. The Three Boys name is a reference to Ralph and his two sons.

He has just put in new tanks to meet increased demand from an increased number of venues which should make the beers a bit easier to find.

The IPA is the newest beer in his range (along with Pils, Wheat and Porter) which will be complemented by two seasonals (Oyster Stout – with real bluff oysters – and possibly a Golden Ale for summer).

All his beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised. Ralph says they are “just as nature intended. Our aim is simple: finest quality beer, finest possible taste.” I consider that most laudable!

The IPA pours a burnished gold with a light head. On the nose it is aromatic with herbs, citrus and a little honey evident. The taste is full (yet balanced) with plenty of fruit (particularly grapefruit – very American) closely followed by a long, long bitter finish.

This is one of my favourite beers of the year. It is so good I got thirsty just typing that description. Lucky it is Beer O’Clock…

Cheers, Neil

LINKS: Three Boys Brewery
Real Beer

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Song for today: 'You Run Your Mouth (I'll Run My Business)'

Song for today is Louis Armstrong's 'You Run Your Mouth (I'll Run My Business).' Sample:
Yeah, you run your mouth and I'll run my business brother
You run your mouth and I'll run my business brother
You start up telling me you're my pal
End up telling how to handle my gal
You run your mouth and I'll run my business brother

You run your juicy mouth and I'll run my business brother
You run your juicy mouth and I'll run my business brother
You're always telling me what to do
Saying "I wouldn't do that if I was you"
You run your mouth and I'll run my business brother
Full lyrics here (at least, a somewhat different Joe Jackson version). Listen to Louis with Real Player here. Send a copy to Don Brash's advisors so they understand what the proper response sounds like, and another to Mallard and Benson-Pope and Brian Connell who could all do with a good dose of minding their own bloody business.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Music

A conspiracy rant

The world is a confusing place, particularly if you only ever turn on half your brain. That describes your average conspiracy nut, doesn't it, a person who has never worked out what actually moves the world, who has never tried to think in abstractions (something for which the fully-functioning brain is so well suited) so who grabs on to any threadbare explanation to explain what he sees around him, no matter how many facts that explanation has to ignore.

To paraphrase Jack Wheeler, the world headquarters of this subset of humanity is a grassy knoll in downtown Dallas. (And we all know where the local home for these nuts is, don't we customers?)

Now, Robert Bidinotto occasionally loses his head-- but never as much as your moonbat conspiracy theorist -- and on this week of remembrace he's explaining why he has no time for either conspiracy theorists or their latest and newly topical conspiracy theory about 9/11. You know the one:
Surely, you have heard the 9/11 conspiracy theories by now. The U.S. government, not Osama bin Laden and radical Muslims, brought down the World Trade Center. Attacked the Pentagon. Tried to hit Congress, even. Why? To justify launching the War on Terror.

And why do that?

If you are a Muslim conspiratorialist, it's because the Great Satan wishes to destroy the Muslim world.

If you are a libertarian conspiratorialist, it's because a War on Terror would allow excuses for the diabolical neocons to violate our liberties, vastly increase government spending, and consolidate power.

If you are a leftist conspiratorialist, it's because that gives the imperialistic U.S. an excuse to colonize the Middle East.

If you are a conservative conspiratorialist, it's because it gives the communist Insiders and international bankers a greater stranglehold on our finances.

The wonderful thing about that 9/11 conspiracy theory is that it can be cited to explain damned near anything, for damned near anyone. Like the Blob from the 1950s horror movie, an ambitious conspiracy theory like this one can expand amorphously in any direction, allowing it to encompass -- and account for -- any conceivable fact, thus allowing its proponent to imagine himself unassailable to any challenge.
Read more ranting here. It's good.

LINK: A rant against conspiracy theories - Robert Bidinotto's blog

TAGS: History, History-Modern, Nonsense, Politics-US

Oh dear.

Here's a clue as to why the Labour Party would like to see the back of Don Brash. The next four in line for his job?
John Key.
Bill English.
Simon Power.
Gerry Brownlee.
Anyone there who's going to set the world on fire?

LINKS: Support acts waiting in National's wings - Stuff
A smiling Brash emerges from home - Stuff

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National

Popular 'Not PC'

Here's the most popular searches here at Not PC at the minute. It might suggest that politics is of little interest to readers:
  1. broadacre city
  2. pc = tolerance
  3. the ecstacy of st. teresa, rome
  4. peter rabbit tank killer
  5. swedish night club newcastle night club
  6. annette presley
  7. peter brock death
  8. soliciting helen clark usa
  9. peter rabbit the tank killer
  10. price tower architecture
  11. hans scharoun schminke 1933 pdf
  12. smartest guys in the room analysis
  13. broadacre city theory
  14. libertarianism maori affairs
  15. milleu viaduct
  16. hans scharoun schminke
  17. rudolf kalman jewish
  18. 0wned by psych fuck 3d israel
  19. switching station in basel by herzog and de meuron
  20. alderton house glenn murcutt
And here's the top dozen most popular posts, which might suggest that politics is of interest to readers.
  1. Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
  2. Hodgson attacks. Libz leader gummed.
  3. Peregrine Winery - Architecture Workshop
  4. Political Correctness: A classic documentary now online
  5. Whose business?
  6. Bernini - 'Ecstacy of St Teresa'
  7. Zero tolerance for corruption
  8. Your private life drama baby leave me out ...
  9. Rail Switchtower, Basel, Switzerland: Herzog de Meuron
  10. 'Peter Rabbit: Tank Killer'
  11. Submissions on Telecom theft
  12. Another lesson from history
Politics, schmolliticks.


Architecture V Architecture: John Soane's House, London

A rather unusual 'Top Five' architectural favourite for you tonight, this time my own fourth selection in the series we began here at the start of last week.

A building tonight from a very different century, a house whose charms are perhaps a little difficult to discern from just a simple web page, particularly when seen with today's eye. The house is architect John Soane's own house, built in the London of 1812 -- the year in which Charles Dickens was born, Napoleon invaded Russia, Britain and the US were at war for the last time and Beethoven had just compsed his Seventh Symphony, and had just begun to go deaf. The difficulty here lies in three main areas.

The first two problems are somewhat obvious. For the casual observer it is easy to just dismiss this as some sort of everyday classical building. It isn't. It does use classical motifs, but by the standards of the day the skin is relatively unblemished, and the ornament is incredibly restrained, almost spare.

Soane was one of the few genuine English Romantic architects, and perhaps the only one to eschew ornamentation simply for the sake of ornamentaion, and to begin to develop his own method and form of stripped back detailing. He used classical motifs, but intelligently rather than slavishly.

He was perhaps the pre-eminent Architect of the Enlightenment -- using reason, ingenuity, the limited materials and technology of the day and what was known about the nature of architecture to develop a totally new conception of stylised space, with man at the centre.

The second problem is that there's not much of the house that can really be seen from the garden square the building has to its front. Soane's house began life as a simple Georgian terrace house, in what was then the outskirts of Northern London, before being completely remodelled -- but all you see of that from the outside was what was seen at the time as a very sparely ornamented facade addition, the effect of which inside was to allow light to wash the inside of the street wall, and to help dissolve the spatial division between inside and out .

It is this spatial manipulation at which Soane excelled, and it is here we find both the real difficulty in trying to understand Soane's house only through a web page, but also the reason we should bother: Soane's house is a masterpiece of spatial manipulation, a landmark in architectural progress towards 'breaking the box' and moving to a more dynamic way of laying out space.

As a visitor you enter expecting to find the usual series of well-proportioned but spatially constrained rooms one has come to expect in a Georgian terrace house of this size; once inside however you realise you couldn't be more wrong.

The place is like a tardis -- as one moves through the house space is always and everywhere unexpectedly opening up beyond. Soane has so cunningly manipulated space and the angles inside the house that the eye almost never seems to find real enclosure, and is constantly surprised to find that the enclosing elements either can't be seen, or have been made to disappearin some way, or to open out when we expect them to enclose.

The effect of all that manipulation is pretty hard to convey just through a few photographs, but to the visitor it is astonishing: one enters expecting a series of claustrophobic rooms, and instead finds oneself inside what seems to be almost never-ending space and with the feeling almost of being outside in a small, uniquely decorated park. Soane was breaking the containing box, the first architect to do this, and giving to the contained space a totally new sense of freedom appropriate to the Age of Enlightenment that this was.

You're left with the question: How does Soane do this? Let me give you two or three examples.
  1. Entering the house one comes first to a small lobby, but looks ahead to where the side wall of the house should be and find instead that the wall has disappeared and instead a light-filled oval stairwell (lit from above) fills space that really shouldn't exist. The oval walls that surround the stairs help to confuse the geometry of this space, and the fact that over time Soane bought the two neighbouring houses and used those in his remodeling to 'borrow space' help him to confuse the spatial boundaries of his own house. (You can see from the plan how the angled Hall wall and Breakfast Room wall help to confound the observer expecting the usual one-dimensional Georgian party wall.)

  2. Further on past the stairs and in this same extra space given up by the neighbouring house, Soane's Breakfast Room (the room above with the yellow 'handkerchief dome') sits beside an open window looking into the Monument Yard, and through that and a window-lined corridor beyond to a larger light-filled yard beyond that, take the eye out to a more disant view where one would least expect to, and from a space one hadn't expect to find.

    The corners of the room itself have been removed (as you can see in the plan), destroying the 'gestalt' of enclosure, and the the dome itself is shaped to hover rather than enclose, and so positioned as to conceal from the seated breakfaster the upper enclosing corners of the space.

    The effect in sum is to create the feeling in the occupant of a pavilion in a carefully planned and well-lit garden, a major achievement in a very small space in the midst of built-up Georgian London.

  3. Enclosure. I mentioned it briefly above, but in a rectangular room our eye seeks enclosure at each of the four corners and the four edges of the ceiling. In many of Soane's room's the eys seeks but never finds: surfaces are brought forward or back to hide or confuse the place where the corner should be, and in some places mirrors are cunningly placed at those corners to make it impossible to see enclosure. Our eye is always looking beyond to find the end of the space, but never quite finding it, and the effect is to make these small spaces appear much, much larger than they actually are.
The effect of all these measures taken altogether in one house is dramatic, and that's not mentioning all his other effects and the other unexpected vistas or even his many ingenious technical innovations -- like the moving planes of his picture-frame mechanism (seen at the bottom of this post), and worth a whole post on its own) -- or venturing at all into the treasure garden that is the museum running the entire width of the three houses at the back, and in which Soane has just played and played and played some more with space and light and shape, and all the time with a twinkle in his eye (you can see a section through the museum just below.)
The architect has been enjoying himself, and this is a house designed to be enjoyed. It is a house designed to be in, and to celebrate the life of the occupant -- who was of course the architect himself.

It is my fourth favourite building, and she's a beauty.

RELATED: Architecture