Saturday, 3 February 2007

IPCC Summary for Policymakers: "Isn't it just a bit odd to see the Readers Digest version of a book before the book itself is even finished?"

Two comments below on the Policymakers' Summary released overnight by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)-- that is, as the second commenter says, the "Reader's Digest version" of the real report. Both are taken from a list to which I subscribe:
Although the IPCC 'Summary for Policymakers' now calls it “very likely” that most of the warming since the mid-20th century is due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions [on which see Dr Vincent Gray's comments here], some of the assertions in the Summary are remarkable in their lack of alarm.
  • For example, on page 11 of the Summary, 3 of the 6 climate scenarios predict less than 2.5 degrees C of warming in the 21st century. 4 of the 6 predict less 2.8 C or less.
  • Also on page 11, projected sea level rise during the 21st century is likely to be merely 1 foot or so in 4 of the 6 scenarios. All 6 scenarios anticipate a sea level rise of less than 1 ½ feet.
  • On page 13, the Summary projects that there will be no net loss of Antarctic ice mass during the entire 21st century.
  • On page 20, projected precipitation in North America is likely to remain stable in summer months, and become more prevalent in winter months.
True, there is a good deal of overly alarmist garbage in the Summary, but some of the information I just cited will drive alarmists into frothing-at-the-mouth fits of denial.
You don't need to look far for that. Anyway, here's the second piece of commentary, some of which is repeating what's already been reported here and elsewhere:
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the first volume ("The Physical Science Basis") of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4 - also known as "Climate Change 2007").

Tonight, I'm confident it will lead every network newscast and it will be headline news in all the newspapers and magazines around the world over the next few months. One thing that will be missing from virtually all of the news reports that I'd like to make you all aware of. That is, the actual report itself is NOT available and will not be available until May. The FULL AR4 consists of 3 "volumes" produced by 3 Working Groups (Working Group I, II, and III). The full Working Group I report (Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis) will NOT be the subject of the news accounts. I'm confident the full report IS scientifically produced and represents good science, as were the prior three assessment reports.

What the news reports will use as their "source" is the Summary for Policymakers released today...

The question I have to ask is this: Why is the Summary for Policymakers available BEFORE the content that it claims to summarize?

Isn't it just a bit odd to see the Readers Digest version of a book before the book itself is even finished? This makes it impossible for legitimate inquiry to occur at all, since the basis of the summary is not available to read and study. For more than 3 months, the ONLY data available will be the policymaker's summary, NOT the scientific content.

Yet this will lead the news and be the basis of debate and, potentially, action. By the time anyone can raise legitimate questions about the underlying science, public opinion will have already been shaped.
It's a legitimate question, isn't it? They've had five years to pull this all together, and since they're all supposed to be in agreement -- they've all reached 'consensus' -- you'd think the science and the summary could conceivably be released together, wouldn't you?

In the meantime, Junk Science has broken embargo and posted the draft scientific reports.

Under the circumstances we feel we have no choice but to publicly release the second-order draft report documents so that everyone has at least the chance to compare the summary statements with the underlying documentation. It should not be necessary for us to break embargo and post raw drafts for you to verify a summary of publicly funded documentation (tax payers around the world have paid billions of dollars for this effort -- you own it and you should be able to access it).

Reluctantly then, here is the link to our archive copy of the second-order draft of IPCC Working Group I Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. The second-order draft was distributed in 2006, 5 years into what has so far been a 6 year process and these copies were archived last May.

LINKS: "New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray - Not PC
IPCC Working Group I Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis.
- Junk Science
Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

"New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray


I don't normally post entire press releases here at
Not PC, but I'm reposting below a press release from Dr Vincent Gray because of its importance and incisiveness on a subject in which statists are looking to warmists to justify an increase in their power. Dr Gray is, in effect, saying, "Now hold on just a moment..." -- PC


The draft “Summary for Policymakers of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been widely leaked to the Press. Its crucial conclusion is as follows:
“It is very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.”
The widely available graph of the globally averaged annual temperature anomalies between 1857 and 2005 shows, for the period since the mid-20th century:
  • No warming between 1950 and 1978.
  • No warming between 1998 and 2005.
  • The only ”observed” warming over the period is from 1978 to 1998, 20 years only, out of the 55 years.
  • The actual warming involved over this short period of 1978 to 1998 was 0.53ºC.
The above statement considers that it is very likely that most of this 0.53ºC was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.

This temperature rise is negligible. None of us would notice if it happened instantly, let alone over 50 years.. It is below the amount considered in the weather forecasts. Yet this small temperature rise over 55 years is routinely blamed for all manner of climate disasters.

The IPCC pronouncement is not a certain one. The term “very likely” is defined as amounting to a probability above 90%. In other words, there is one chance in ten that they are wrong. Also, the probability is based on the opinion (or guess) of “experts” who are financially dependent on an expectation of positive results.

Finally, there has been no “warming” at all since 1998, now eight years. “Global Warming” seems to have come to an end.

This temperature record is quite incompatible with the computer climate models [which are now the only place in which warming exists], so why should we believe their pessimistic forecasts for the future?

It should also be noted that there has been negligible warming in New Zealand since 1950. The mean temperature for 2006 was 0.7ºC below that for 2005. According to the temperature record for Christchurch, there was no warming since 1910, with a maximum temperature in 1917.

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

Friday, 2 February 2007

Beer O'Clock: In the beginning...

Instead of sampling fine beers this afternoon and reporting back as Not PC's regular correspondent is required to do on a Friday, rumour has it that instead Neil from Real Beer is hunkered down at Wellington's Cake Tin sampling a series of mid-strength Tuis from a plastic glass. But that's just a rumour.

However, as he's happily waylaid by the Sevens on another gorgeous Wellington day, we'll dip instead into the fabled Real Beer Archives to bring excerpts from his first ever Internet Beer Column:

Let’s start with a confession: I’m not a guy who has always appreciated good beer.

In many ways, the development of my beer taste has paralleled the welcome development of a genuine beer culture in New Zealand.

I’ve gone from a single-brand mainstream drinker to one who appreciates a wide variety of beers from around the world.

Three years ago, I was a solid, loyal Tui drinker. I confess. I still have the hat, Hawaiian shirt and matching couch to prove it. A dozen Tui (pronounced “two-aye” of course) sufficed for every occasion, and was thought to perfectly match every type of food known to man. Pies. Sausages. Chips. Wedges. All the important food groups.

But then things began to change.

For a number of years, a very good friend of mine known as Dr. G (no relation to Ali, by the way) had been trying to tempt me with any number of fine local and international beers.

When others around him had a dozen Tui or a dozen Rheineck (or worse), Dr. G could be relied upon to have a veritable cornucopia of pilsners, ales and double-chocolate stouts. And he would always exhort me to “try a bit of this, sir, instead of your bog standard New Zealand lager” -- and thank God he did.

It took me a long time to be convinced – but two events finally converted me.

I was finally convinced that mainstream New Zealand beers did indeed all taste very, very similar when my friend Bok completely failed a blind taste test between DB Draught (which he claimed to love) and Lion Brown (which he claimed to hate). Strike One.

And just at that happy moment, I was introduced to Pink Elephant Mammoth. Roger Pink’s magnificent flavoursome (and strong) beer drew me into literally a whole new world of quality beer.

Whole new vistas of beer were opened up to me, in which I’ve been frolicking happily ever since.

Cheers, Neil.

Do you have a moment when the scales fell from your eyes and you began drinking real beer instead of flavoured water? What was your Damascene beer? Let the other readers know in the comments section below.

LINKS: Pink Elephant Mammoth - Rate Beer
Real Beer

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Quote of the year?

Turiana Turia on NewstalkZB this morning accused the government of using immigration to keep the proportion of Maori low, and thereby avoid increasing the number of Maori seats.

She said "Maori have been in the minority ever since they were outnumbered."

Let's get lost...

The other night while sitting out with friends watching the sunset and sipping a martini (vodka, extra dry, two olives with the brine) we began discussing holidays, how best to make a martini, and -- as you do -- what to do when you get lost on your holidays. As it happens, there's a famous martini joke that covers that very situation, and I take it from a book on martini lore that should be more famous: Frank Moorhouse's Martini: A Memoir.

Should you be lost in the forest, here's what you do:
"You do not panic. You do not walk aimlessly. You find a shady spot with a fine view, you sit down, you take out the cocktail shaker, the gin, the vermouth, and the olives from your back pack (which every sophisticated trekker carries) and mix yourself a martini. If there is a glacier somewhere nearby you chip off some ice to chill everything down.

You will not be lost for long. Within a few minutes someone will come from nowhere, tap your arm and say, excuse me, you are not doing that right -- that is not the way to make a proper martini."
By the way, our story-teller got it very wrong -- he should have been carrying vodka, not gin. ;^)

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere, Humour, Books


IPCC Report: "Stay alert!"

I blogged yesterday on the IPCC's report, out in Paris today (their time) -- and I pointed out that what is out tomorrow is not in fact the IPCC's report, but just the executive summary thereof, what's known as the 'Summary for Policymakers.' The science behind that summary isn't being released until May, giving warmists a three-month head start before their figures can be checked. Steve McIntyre points out that
the purpose of the three-month delay between the publication of the Summary for Policy-Makers and the release of the actual WG1 is to enable them to make any “necessary” adjustments to the technical report to match the policy summary.

Unbelievable. Can you imagine what securities commissions would say if business promoters issued a big promotion and then the promoters made the “necessary” adjustments to the qualifying reports and financial statements so that they matched the promotion. Words fail me.
David Schnare has a good hard look at this at his blog The Hard Look, and here's some of what he sees:
R.K. Pachauri, the IPCC Chairman admits up front that he is openly seeking alarmism with this report, stating to Reuters “I hope this report will shock people!” Surely politicians around the world will use the report to push for immediate action on global warming, just as Pachauri seeks. All this would seem the actions of a reasonable scientist, except for one thing. The IPCC refuses to release the actual science behind the report and won’t until May at the earliest. Result? Honest scientists will be unable to validate or challenge the openly political overstatements known to be in the summary because they won’t be able to read the scientific basis for the intended alarmism...

Here’s why the late release of the full report is a problem. As we learned from Galileo, it only takes one solid fact to upend a theory. Because global warming alarm builds from complex prognostications that stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain observations, even one contradictory observation could throw the whole model into the dustbin. That, by the way, is one of the reasons the full report is not coming out until later. The scientists who did the ocean level research found out that the IPCC was misusing their work and demanded changes in both the final report and the executive summary. The IPCC doesn’t want that to happen again, so it is slowing review and publication of its final report to avoid any more “scientist unrest”. Naturally, the IPCC will also benefit because late release of the full report will ensure the debate about the actual science will have little impact on global climate politics.
Is he right? Keep watching. And stay alert. The planet needs more lerts.

IPCC Schedule: WG1 Report available only to insiders until May 2007 - Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit
Global spin alert - The Hard Look

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World


Conservatives are no friends of the free market

A friend sent me a link to a comment by NBR's Nevil Gibson, who demonstrates once again that conservatives are no friends of the free market:
It may be a forlorn hope, but the Commerce Commission could break new ground as
a consumer champion if it vetoed a Woolworths or Foodstuffs takeover for The
Warehouse before it gets any further. It should do the same with another deal
being considered – a
Goodman Fielder takeover of independent Huntly-based
baker River Mill, which sells cheap bread largely through non-supermarket
I too have a forlorn hope: that conservatives will one day learn that when governments are powerful enough to give you everything you want, they're also big enough to take it all away again. Next time you hear a conservative bewailing the government's bullying of businessmen, that those conservatives have been right there in the front line supporting the power of government to bully.

Or as my friend puts it (thanks AB): "There's no one like conservatives to tell you free markets need a gun to the heads of producers."

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics

Three Houses - Architect Don Erickson

Three beautiful and very different examples of organic architecture here below by former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Don Erickson, who passed away in October last year.

House for Erickson's father, Inverness, Illinois, in 1951.

J. Mayes Residence, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 1954, Photo by Jim Herrlin.

Charles Matthies Residence, Park Ridge, Illinois, 1962. Photo by Jim Herrlin.

The houses were featured at the 'Wright in Racine' blog, where you can also find these pithy observations by Erickson:
“You graduate from college - I didn’t - and as Mr. Wright said, you go in a perfectly good plum and come out an inexperienced prune. You come out not being able to design a door jamb. Now your education starts, if you can get a job. You don’t know anything, so you're basically worthless.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, I think the students should be taught some basics so when they get out the field they can do something. Maybe you need an apprenticeship, like doctors have, so you can actually handle a patient. Kids basically don’t have a clue as to how to put a building together. My experiences at U of I was that my first day there I was to design a tourist information building. I thought I was going to learn how to design a building form the ground up You stared at a blank piece of paper expecting the design to come up out of the paper. It doesn’t work that way, it comes from the mind to the paper.

“Some architects sit and doodle with the computer, and the computer comes up with the design. It should come from the brain. I don’t know why professors don’t teach how to design. You don’t touch the paper until the design is worked out your head.

“My theory is you don’t design until you analyze what the clients needs are. You have to analyze the problem. You do that up here, not with a pencil. When you analyze the problem, the solution becomes apparent. The problem becomes the solution which becomes the idea. I always come up with the idea sitting and listening to classical music, or driving in a car, or over the roar of the jet engine, flying cross country. You argue with yourself. You become enough of a critic to overcome the euphoria of an idea. You have to bring the euphoria to something which is manageable, which works, which is within your budget.

“You have to make love to a brick, or a piece of steel, or glass. You have to understand what glass does for a building. Is it a hole to let light in, or does it not exist and work with space? How do you use you use your materials? What are traditional ways of doing things? Then build on tradition and find your own way of doing things. About five years after leaving college, you should be reasonably proficient, and then maybe worth your salt.”
All photos are courtesy of Mark Hertzberg at the 'Wright in Racine' blog.

RELATED: Architecture

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

Fight the Food Miles myth

"If you are a NZ farmer," says Liberty Scott, or dependent on New Zealand agriculture or horticulture, "read very very carefully, your livelihood is at stake."

The Food Miles myth is now rampant in the markets where much of our produce is currently sold. "The food miles fad isn't just followed by a minority of environmentalists in the UK," says Scott, "it is accepted mainstream mantra." If you're a New Zealand farmer or dependent on New Zealand agriculture or horticulture, then read Scott's post Fight Food Miles Now.

'Food Miles' is not environmentalism, it is protectionism, but if it isn't fought now it will be a form of protectionism that helps destroy the markets for NZ's agricultural exports.

Fight Food Miles now - Liberty Scott

RELATED: Politics-World, Politics-UK, Global Warming, Nonsense, Economics

Guidelines for warmists

Michael Duffy looks at global warming, and he sees religion.
In my lifetime I've experienced two religious movements, Christianity and Marxism. Now there's a third, the belief our civilisation is doomed unless we take urgent and significant action to reduce our output of carbon dioxide. The three share several core characteristics.
(Read on to find out what they are.) So he thinks it's religious, but he's pretty sure the prophets need some work.

But if the carbon crusade is to succeed as a religion it needs to purge the insincerity that characterises many of its prophets. I find I'm often chastised for not taking global warming seriously enough by people who in their own lives produce far more carbon dioxide than I do. This raises questions about their sincerity and brings the cause into disrepute.

You can't be a good priest if you lie with prostitutes, and you can't be a good Marxist if you exploit workers. And you shouldn't be taken seriously as a global warming prophet unless your actions reflect your words.

If you're a prophet too, or even just a minor warmist, then read on for some guidelines if you want to be taken seriously.

LINKS: Righteous carbon crusaders let down by V8 under the cape - Michael Duffy, Sydney Morning Herald

Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

IPCC: Report tomorrow, but no science until May!

Oh to be in Paris now that Friday is nearly here: Friday in Paris sees the release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of their Fourth Assessment Report. Assessment Reports have been issued by the IPCC every five years, and it is these reports that are considered by most warmists and many skeptics to be authoritative, and are much quoted.

Expect scare stories from Friday's release to be all over the press come the weekend.

To be fair, a clarification is needed here. What is much quoted is not so much the science behind the reports, as the so called 'Summary for Policymakers' -- which have in the past tended to stray a little from the science itself, not least in their peddling of the now notorious 'Mann hockey stick.' NZ scientist Dr Vincent Gray, an IPCC reviewer himself, explains the difference between the science and the summary:
The "Summary For Policymakers" which appears in all the Reports is an openly political document compiled by the Governments sponsoring the report. It is actually a Summary BY Policymakers as it is agreed line-by-line by Government representatives. It is compiled by a panel of senior scientists, but there is no reason to suppose that it is agreed by any other contributing scientists... Although a few scientists who are openly critical of "Climate Change" participate in the IPCC process (examples are Richard Lindzen, J.R. Christy) choice of the lead authors usually falls on sympathisers.
So just to clarify, what is being released tomorrow and what you'll see all over the media this weekend and beyond, is not in fact the science. It is not the Fourth Assessment Report itself, but the 'Summary for Policymakers,' with all the inaccuracies thereof. The science itself -- that is, the "WG1 report" that contains the science -- that won't be made public until, wait for it, May.
Thus [as computational mathematician Steve McIntyre reports], there will be no possibility for external readers to verify what IPCC insiders say will be an “iconic statement” against the actual WG1 report during that period. By making access available only to insiders, IPCC has created a structure where IPCC insiders will try to shape perceptions of the WG1 report for 3 months before any critical appraisal of the final report (available since October 2006) is possible.
It gets worse. McIntyre, who with his colleague Ross McKittrick was chiefly responsible for discrediting the Mann hockey stick by examining the mathematics behind it, points out [the emphasis is his own]:
If you’re wondering about this procedure which, to my knowledge, is unprecedented in public commission reporting, here’s what IPCC procedures (section 4) say about Technical Report acceptance:
Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.
So the purpose of the three-month delay between the publication of the Summary for Policy-Makers and the release of the actual WG1 is to enable them to make any “necessary” adjustments to the technical report to match the policy summary. Unbelievable. Can you imagine what securities commissions would say if business promoters issued a big promotion and then the promoters made the “necessary” adjustments to the qualifying reports and financial statements so that they matched the promotion. Words fail me.

Concludes McIntyre, "IPCC insiders should not be allowed to change a comma of the WG1 Report after Feb 2, 2007 to “ensure consistency” with the Summary. If the two are inconsistent, let the chips fall where they may."

LINKS: IPCC Schedule: WG1 Report available only to insiders until May 2007 - Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit
NZ Climate Truth Newsletter, No. 74 - Dr Vincent Gray
Breaking the 'Hockey Stick' - David R. Legates, NCPA

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

FOR SALE: Brandes House - Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright's Brandes House, built in 1952 as one of over 140 houses Wright designed and called Usonian Houses (of which almost a third were built) -- houses for people of modest means who wanted a beautiful yet affordable house.

It is now on sale for a modest US$2 million, and as with most Wright houses, this one is sold by the original family only reluctantly, and after many years of joyful occupation.

The Usonians introduced to modern architecture many ideas and features still too often misunderstood and overlooked, but the best of most modern houses owe a great debt to Usonians, where many features now taken for granted first made their widespread appearance: features such as underfloor heating, mitred glass corner windows, large banks of south-facing windows -- with the houses facing the sun and views rather than the street -- the use of passive solar and modular design principles, extensive use of cantilevers, ceiling decks and built-in furniture, oxide coloured concrete floors and the intelligent use honest, natural materials .

And most of the best of the winning spatial features promoted in Susan Susanka's best-selling book 'The Not So Big House,' were first applied by Wright in his Usonians.

You can find articles on the Brandes house here, and a page of photographs here. This website on Wright's first Usonian House, the Jacobs House of 1936 (built for $5500, including architect's fee), offers a good idea of the principles on which all Usonians were based. The Jacobs House was named by the American Institute of Architects as one of the Twentieth Century's most important and influential houses.


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Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Pylon pressure ignorant and unnecessary

TVNZ: Controversial pylons get go-ahead
Transpower has been given permission to build its controversial pylons from the Waikato to Auckland... The decision by [the Electricity Commission] was not unanimous, but all agree that an upgrade of the transmission grid is essential to maintain a reliable power supply to Auckland... Landowners affected by the proposal remain bitterly opposed as they will have to play host to the giant pylons.
Let's have a look at the decision:
  • Yes, Auckland does need the power.
  • Yes, landowners should be pissed off that they have been forced against their will to play host to something they don't want.
  • No, no government should have the power to bully landowners.
  • Yes, this is a government action: Transpower is fully government-owned, and last year the Clark Government sacked the then Electricity Commissioner in order to get the result made public today.
  • And no -- as I've said before here -- bullying isn't necessary to get a power line from one place to another. As I've said before, there is no reason it can't be done voluntarily except ignorance of the alternatives, and that as a government bloody department Transpower can't be bothered respecting property owners -- much easier for these assholes to wield the big, bullying stick of big government.
I've described before one type of voluntary mechanism used historically for ensuring a route through private property while respecting property owners:
When railroading was at its peak in 19th century America, railroads used to purchase 'options' from land-owners along their three or four preferred routes - options that would only be picked up once one of the routes became 'live' by having purchased 100% of the necessary options along that route. The Kapuni gasline that went through some years ago made use of similar undertakings.
Little wonder that bloody-minded ignorance and Big Government bullying is this government's preferred option, even when recognition of property rights and voluntary cooperation was always possible.

As Daryl Kerrigan from the film 'The Castle' used to muse, power lines are a reminder of man's ability to generate electricity. In the Waikato, they are now a reminder that the government's big stick may still be used to force pylons and powerlines across unwilling farmers' property.

The big stick seems to be all the Clark Government understands.

LINKS: Government bullying over pylons - Not PC, Jan, 2006
Pylons v property rights - Not PC, May 5, 2005
Piling on the pylon pressure - Not PC, July 20, 2005

Property_Rights, Energy

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The evil that men do

God didn't actually rest on the seventh day. Instead, he discussed evil with his assistant...

LINK: Mr Deity Episode 1: Mr Deity and Evil - YouTube [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

RELATED: Religion, Humour

The evolution of the bathroom

The easiest place to spend over your budget when you're building or renovating these days is in your bathrooms -- and just try to sell a house without an en-suite! To find out how the bathroom has become (for some) the most expensive, and most loved, small room in the house, Slate has a wee slide-show on the evolution of the American luxury bathroom. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks].

Who created the underclass?

If John Key is the solution, then we're really in the shit. Feeling annoyed this morning that anything as vacuous as John Boy's blatherings of yesterday can be taken any way but with a laxative, I stumbled up on this over at Cafe Hayek, which I've changed only slightly, as is 'The Kiwi Way.'
Call me cynical but I doubt that most politicians who promise to solve (real and imaginary) problems by passing statutes and peddling policy truly believe their own rhetoric. They might not disbelieve what they say, but I'm convinced that politicians don't ponder the complexities of reality deeply enough to convince themselves of the truth of what they proclaim. They say what they say and promise what they promise chiefly as a means of ascending to power and glory.

I suspect that people self-select into politics because they have an unusually large lust for being in the limelight and an unusually small concern for the ethics of the actions they must take to get there. And because enough voters stand ready to blame their own (real and imaginary) misfortunes on the evil doings of "the rich" or "the corporate elite" or unprincipled power-seekers eager to ride this ignorance into office.
If John Key's underclass exists anywhere, I reflected that it surely exists in South Auckland, and I thought back to a comment I made last year after the seventh homicide in South Auckland in just three months and on the back of a new government programme that was launched then "to take on South Auckland's street violence problem" (and that predictably has had no discernible impact):
Let me give you something to think about: No part of New Zealand has had more government than South Auckland. Most of South Auckland is government-planned, government-designed, and built with government money -- and every new problem attracts more government action plans and even more "resources."

Government houses fill the suburbs, people overwhelmingly on government benefits fill them, children go to government schools where the latest fashionable government curricula and government educational programmes are delivered, and (if anecdotal evidence is correct) there are more government programmes, government plans, government agencies, and government-employed welfare agents per-square kilometre than anywhere else in the country outside parliament and its surrounds.

The result has not been good. In fact, it has been catastrophic.

Might I invite readers to have a really good, hard think about that.
Do you think that more government programmes, or more government-sponsored programmes -- peddled by whichever party in whatever fashion -- are really going to fix the problems that too much government in the lives of people has already helped to create?

When government is the solution, there's every chance that it was government that created the problem. Will even more government remedy that? Lindsay Mitchell puts it bluntly: Whatever the arguments about the legitimacy of the dropping unemployment figures, "[don't] forget there are still almost 300,000 working age beneficiaries - double the number we had 20 years ago..."
The underclass isn't everybody on a benefit. It's a group of people who refuse to live in society in a peaceable, co-operative and constructive way. Their thoughts are only for today and themselves. If they aren't already criminals of some kind they are on the fringes. And it isn't an "emerging" class of people. But, judging by what we read in the newspapers and what we see on TV, or what we experience firsthand as victims, it is growing. Bugger reported crime levels. Look at victims of crime surveys.

Then if you looked at WINZ records most of these people are there. They abuse welfare, they abuse or neglect their children, they abuse each other. But most of all, they abuse opportunity.

This country, with its passion for egalitarianism, has bent over backwards to give each and every person opportunity and many have simply hurled the opportunity back in the faces of well-meaning people.
That's true, isn't it, and no amount of blathering -- however well-intentioned -- can change that. As the Libertarianz spokesman to deregulate welfare Peter Osborne says,
"John Key's mumblings of 'The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All' is typical PC speak for further political meddling into our lives and more disastrous social engineering.... If life is to have any meaning or value people must help each other by choice, not through involuntary redistribution."
That's the basic truth that all the talk of government assistance for the underclass fails to address, isn't it: that if anything has created this underclass, then it is government assistance and forced redistribution. More of the same will only bring more of the same.

LINK: On the nature of politics - Cafe Hayek
Key's speech "ho hum" - Lindsay Mitchell
More government. More programmes. More violence. - Not PC (Peter Cresswell), Sept, 2006
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop

Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Welfare
, Auckland, Libertarianism

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Anthony Chapel - Maurice Jennings + David McKee

The stunning Anthony Chapel at the University of Arkansas in Hot Springs, Arkansas -- recently opened, and designed by Maurice Jennings + David McKee.
Anthony Chapel architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee are partners in the Fayetteville, AR firm founded by E. Fay Jones, an internationally recognized architect who once studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones, who died in August 2004, created the inspirational Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR, which was selected by members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the best American building constructed since 1980. In 1990, Jones received from Britain's Prince Charles the prestigious AIA Gold Medal award for his design.

Jennings was Fay Jones' partner for over 25 years and was involved with many of his designs, including Thorncrown Chapel. In recent years, chapels designed by Jennings + McKee can be found in Ann Arbor, MI and Sewanee, TN at the University of the South; however, both architects agree that neither of these structures compare to the Anthony Chapel. According to Jennings, "it is our finest creation to date." We can't tell you how excited we are to see the "new" Chapel section on the web site.
And to those people who say, "What's an atheist doing posting chapels on his website?" I can best answer that by repeating what Ayn Rand said when someone asked her why she didn't object when someone said "God bless you" to her. Replied Rand: That person was wishing her the highest possible. Why would she object?

In a chapel such as this, in a setting such as it has, it is possible to see the architect's aim in a similar way -- as a wish for the highest possible on this earth. Why would anyone in his right mind object to that?

Maurice Jennings Architects
Garvan Gardens to unveil landmark chapel - University of Arkansas News

RELATED: Architecture

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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Outflanking Labour on the left, and heading straight for the bottom

I don't usually comment on polls, but many National Socialist supporters have argued that John Boy Key needs to outflank Helen on the left in order to attract more support -- to which I've pointed out to you that at 49% under Don Brash (in the last TVNZ poll before he was ousted) you lot already had that support, and for policies that weren't just warm and squishy and as insubstantial as the John and Billy team can make them.

So I will occasionally comment on these polls, just so I can rub your noses in what a mess your Dweam Team is making of their job. In fact, I'll let the new Roy Morgan poll, taken from Jan 3-21 tell the story:
In January, support for the New Zealand Labour Government is up 3.5% to 41% (0.1% below its 2005 General Election result). Support for the National Party is down 3.5% to 41%...
Spin that, suckers.

LINK: In NZ: Support for Labour up 3.5% - Roy Morgan

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Hollow Men

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Ralston quits

Having done to the TVNZ newsroom what he had previously done to Metro magazine, Bill Ralston has just been sacked has resigned has been asked to go ...

Bill Ralston has now left the building. [Story: NZ Herald]

Work. Dole. Alms. Key. Platitudes.

It's as impossible for to summon up any enthusiasm for John Boy Key's impending 'State of the Nation' speech as it is for John Boy to speak a whole sentence that means something.

Today is apparently the day he talks about New Zealand's "underclass." About work-for-the-dole. Lindsay Mitchell asks the relevant questions:
Why work-for-the-dole when employers are crying out for labour?

Why not work-and-no-dole?
Why indeed? Why give alms to the idle -- alms taken from the energetic and productive against their will. Liberty Scott has a more radical and -- let's face it -- a more honest solution:
Personally I'd start reform of the dole by putting a one-year limit on it, and you wouldn't be able to claim more than three years in your life. I'd also stop inflation-indexing it, so that as people's backstop it gradually becomes less and less attractive, encouraging people to save or to take out income insurance... That reform would be in the context of a coalition government, and it would just be start; serious reform would put a one-year time limit on the dole, after which it would be abolished.
Naturally, this could only take place in an economy in which the labour market is freed up by removing restrictions on hiring and firing -- encouraging labour mobility -- and by removing restrictive minimum wage laws, which help keep the low paid out of a job.

And wouldn't it just be nice if beneficiaries were grateful for those giving them money for nothing -- money extracted from the rest of us by force?

UPDATE 1: Here, for what it's worth, is John Boy's speech. If you had to take a drink every time you spotted a platitude, it'd be a very messy afternoon indeed.
  • "We have, over generations, evolved a set of essential New Zealand values, attitudes and shared experiences. These represent what I call 'The Kiwi Way'."

  • "I want to get alongside the amazing groups that make a difference to our communities."
  • "I know we can do better. We have to do better. Because, left unchecked, the problems of a growing underclass affect us all."

  • "National will use the welfare system, on behalf of all New Zealanders, to motivate long-term beneficiaries to change their lives for the better. Where we give opportunity we will expect responsibility."

  • "These are tough problems. But I have no intention of being a Prime Minister who tackles only the easy and convenient issues."

  • "Today, I say to all Kiwis that I want you to dare to think what New Zealand can be like and what all our lives can be like."

  • "I believe the best years for New Zealand are ahead of us. As a nation, we have everything to look forward to."

  • "We can be a country that is coming together; not a country that is coming apart."
  • Blah, blah, blah. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I believe that children are our future. Going forward together. A hand up, not a hand out. Apple pie and motherhood.

Nothing that either Jenny Shipley or Helen Clark or even the Women's Weekly wouldn't be heard saying, but in John Boy's case he actually believes this waffle. The man's a walking platitude.

But so much for the platitudes, what about the solutions? What about the policies? He has got some policies, hasn't he? Hasn't he? You know, something to show that there's a reason he wanted the leader's job, beyond just really, really wanting the leader's job?

Policies? Any at all?

Ah, no. Not yet. Not just at this precise minute. But they are going to work really hard on that real soon. Really hard. You see, "these are tough problems," says John Boy -- really, really tough problems -- so "in all areas of social policy," he says, "I am tasking [tasking?] National's spokespeople to come up with policies to address the deep-seated problems in some of our families and communities." Oh good. I look forward to hearing back from the 'tasked spokespeople' when they have 'completion on their spokes-tasks.' That should be really exciting. Just think, if they stay up all night, they might even come up with some really good solutions!

Well, at least the Herald's John Armstrong will be excited. I look forward to his panegyric to John Boy's wisdom in tomorrow's rag. As for me, this is just another smug, platitudinous, policy-free nail in a very empty coffin.

Don Brash when he left Parliament listed as one of his achievements that he had changed Orewa from a location into a date, so that people began talking of pre-Orewa and post-Orewa. I don't think anyone will be talking about pre-Burnside or post-Burnside any time soon, but if the hollow platitudes continue, how long before they start talking about pre-Key and post-Key?

UPDATE 2: Plenty of bloggers already running their rules over all the platitudes. In a first for me, I did enjoy this comment from Labour hack Jordan Carter.
This is Key's fifth year in parliament. The only policy suggestions he's come up with is school breakfasts, and accessible sports opportunities.
Perhaps the most damning is this, again from Jordan:
The fact that I would struggle to disagree with much that is in the speech... seems to me to be a slight misjudgement on Key's part.
LINKS: Working for other people's money unfair - Liberty Scott
Questions for the Maori Party - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Welfare

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Ownership and state sovereignty

Here's an interesting exercise for you libertarian types. A chap called Charlie Tan has posted an interesting challenge over at a 'Compulsion Touters on Campus' post on The Philosophy of Liberty, in which he makes the argument that property rights are not absolute, and nor can they be absolute, and that, therefore,
[the world in which we live] turns out to be a very Libertarian one after all, not because each citizen should be free to do what they want, but because the state is free to set the rules that its sovereign or sovereign representatives decide is best.
Sounds like a recipe for statism to me.

Now, answering such a challenge properly is time-consuming, but should be bread and butter to an intelligent libertarian. Which intelligent libertarian reading this would like to engage Charlie's argument?

You can do so right here in the comments section of Not PC, at the 'ACT on Campus' blog where Charlie's responses were posted, or even on your own blog -- in the last two cases you might like to let me know if you do respond so I can link to the best responses here.

Get to work. (You may or may not find useful this post and the subsequent responses on the so-called 'problem of initial acquisition,' and this one on the roots of property and libertarianism, although reading them back now I'm not sure if they're as clear as I thought they were back when I first posted them a couple of years ago.)

LINKS: The philosophy of liberty - ACT on Campus
The ‘problem’ of initial acquisition - Peter Cresswell (June, 2005)
The Roots of Property and Libertarianism, or, Why libertarians don’t own their own bodies - Peter Cresswell (June, 2005)

RELATED: Libertarianism, Property Rights


What's with all the religious material?

Observant Not PC readers will have already noticed a new section down there on my blogroll, which I've called The Religious Material, with links to mostly atheist websites and blogs.

Why have I bothered, and why do I bother to take the piss out of religionists at least once every week, and always on Sundays? Well, it's true that the idea of an imaginary friend who created the entire universe (yet is always around to help you out of your little jams) is just a little embarrassing in the Twenty-First Century, particularly when that idea is promulgated with all the accoutrements of modern science and technology. But it's more than just embarrassing when you realise that this fatuous nonsense is used increasingly and all too frequently to justify murder, war and worse.

And I don't care here what brand of superstitious,mystic nonsense you subscribe to, they're all equally fatuous, and just as destructive:
  • The idea that there is another realm which is more important than this one undercuts this world, and this life -- the only one we have.
  • The idea that a consciousness -- a supernatural consciousness -- is what underpins reality suggests that reality somehow needs an explanation for existing. It doesn't. Reality itself is what underpins all explanation.
  • The idea that' faith' is somehow a shortcut to knowledge is, as Ayn Rand observed, "a shortcut destroying the mind" -- it serves only to undercut the certainty derived by reason looking at this world.
  • The idea that our rules for living are "given" to us by some authority -- and given as intrinsic, arbitrarily proscribed duties or obligations -- is death to any morality that is based on reason, and derived from and designed for life on this earth.
  • The idea that martyrdom in this world brings paradise in another can only be justified by theistic nonsense, and brings with it the worldwide destruction any person awake in the last few years will already have seen.
The claims of religion and of mysticism are as destructive as the are false. Arbitrary claims, all asserted entirely in the absence of any evidence, and all as fatuous as they are destructive. As Blaise Pascal summarised, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction."

It's not enough any more just to laugh at religionists, since in everything from opposition to voluntary euthanasia and life-saving stem-cell research to terrorism and calls for worldwide dhimmitude, the forces of theocratic unreason are on the loose, and demanding of a response.

The clamour around the undeveloped world, and even increasingly in the US, for tearing down what Thomas Jefferson called "a wall of separation" between church and state is a sign and a foretaste of the thousand years of Dark Ages that Europe experienced before that separation was effected -- a time when Attilas and their witchdoctors ruled the world, and which the Islamic World for one wishes to reinstate.

It's not enough any more just to laugh at religionists.

As Ayn Rand observed,
Philosophy is the goal toward which religion was only a helplessly blind groping. The grandeur, the reverence, the exalted purity, the austere dedication to the pursuit of truth, which are commonly associated with religion, should properly belong to the field of philosophy.
So they should. In the name of life on this earth, it's high time those ideas were taken back from both the charlatans of philosophy and and the witchdoctors of religion.

That, in essence, is the reason for the religious material here at Not PC. Thanks for asking.

RELATED: Religion, Philosophy, Objectivism, Cartoons

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Monday, 29 January 2007

'News' from The Herald

Russell Brown's Hard News/Public Address site and David Farrar's Kiwiblog are "worthwhile reads, maintained by a dedicated group of talented writers and thinkers."
But most bloggers - and we're talking 95 per cent - are fly by night, gutless wonders who prefer to spit venom under inarticulate pseudonyms…

These bloggers, operating under their own misguided belief of self-freedom rarely research any offerings and have little knowledge of defamation laws and other publishing restrictions. Journalists, broadcasters, columnists and politicians are common targets - and this week we've seen the boundaries stretched intolerably far.
So says the Herald's editorial yesterday, written (ironically) by an anonymous editorial writer. Hat tip for this delightful piece goes to Russell Brown himself, who notes:
Ironically, the editorial appears above a column by Ms Coddington, who accused one or more of the Public Address team of being "insane bloggers." Mediawatch ran a good report on the controversy that provoked the insult: the response to Codders' dodgy Asian Angst story for North and South. The audio is here.
Now, back to spitting venom at journalists, broadcasters, columnists and politicians.

UPDATE: Speaking of Herald columnists who are just crying out to have bloggers spit venom at them, the vicious Cactus Kate has a highly entertaining and thoroughly deserved go at the vacuous Rachel Glucina. (Who she?) RESULT: Cactus 10. Herald on Sunday columnist, 0.

LINK: In other news, the sky is falling - Hard News

RELATED: Politics-NZ

A sporting great

Crikey, last night's Australian Open tennis final was a cracker, wasn't it? And isn't Roger Federer a great winner. Sporting contests such as this really do bring out the best in the human spirit.

I remember one year that my newspaper had been left open at a double spread giving dates and locations for that year's major sporting finals around the world. A friend observed that if he won Lotto, he'd simply circle all the events he wanted to attend, and give it to his travel agent. What a perfect way to spend a year.

Pity I don't buy Lotto tickets.


Foul weather? It's all your fault.

More on the Weather Channel warmists, smoking guns, exploding data, melting icecaps and Al Bore here at cartoonists Cox and Forkum: Foul Weather.

RELATED: Global Warming, Cartoons


The culling fund

David Farrar blogs about the culling of people from NZ's die-while-you-wait health system last year.
People got so upset over a cull of a few hundred horses, yet relatively little protests over 35,000 humans being culled from hospital waiting lists last year. It is mind bloggling that Labour can literally throw billions and billions of dollars into this black hole [what you might call the 'Culling Fund'], and not get any significant improvement in terms of elective operations. No wonder so many people have private medical insurance.
I wonder how many of you have private health insurance? (Yes, I do.) How do you feel about it? And how do you feel about paying twice -- once for your health insurance, and once for a die-while-you-wait health system which is slowly becoming a die-while-you-wait-to-get-on-their-list system.

LINK: The big cull - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)

RELATED: Health, Politics-NZ


Defending what's yours from the grey ones

When I first arrived in Britain back in 1990, an old man was on the news being harassed by bureaucrats. Having knocked up a house on his own land that had been declared by the bureaucrats to be against their planning code, they grey ones had begun threatening the chap with demolition of his life's work. In plain language, he told them that if anyone came on his land to tear down his home, he would shoot them. The threats and his response carried on for some time, and his response -- that he would shoot them -- was unwavering.

The grey ones did come ... and he did shoot them. If memory serves, one bloke with a clip-board was wounded, another died, our hero was arrested, and the public came out overwhelmingly in favour of our hero, the chap who was defending his castle against The Man.

What a great introduction to the UK, I thought.

Something similar is happening in the US as we speak. A New Hampshire family is holed up in their fortress-like home having refused to pay income taxes -- about $625,000 of them. That's the 'good' news. As Luke at Pacific Empire put it,
While I don’t want to see another Waco, an armed confrontation would certainly demonstrate that taxes are taken at the barrel of a gun. The problem is the stated reasons for refusing to pay tax - they believe that the collection of income tax is unconstitutional.
Oh dear. As the title of Luke's post summarises: "Right Idea, Wrong Reason."

Mike E and the Mises blog have more.

LINK: Tax protestors: Right idea, wrong reason - Pacific Empire
Another Waco? Over tax? - Mike E's Blog
New Hampshire man will shoot tax collectors; Calls come for supporters - Mises Economics Blog

RELATED: Budget & Taxation, Politics-US

Anniversary day in Auckland: Something to celebrate

Today in Auckland and Northland it's Anniversary Day.

One-hundred and seventy-seven years ago today, Governor Hobson and a crew of hangers-on arrived in the Bay of Islands. It is this that is celebrated on Anniversary Day. It was a few months later that Hobson and co. arrived in Auckland itself, climbed what we now call Mount Hobson, looked out at an isthmus hung between the sparkling waters of two natural harbours and declared, "This looks pretty good," and decided to make it the site of the new country's new capital.

Thankfully, the politicians left this fine city in 1865 for a windswept city further south, where we wait in vain for a big quake to knock them off. It's a better place without them.

But here's an Anniversary Day question for you to ponder. Mount Eden (or as it was known then, Maungawhau) was as desirable then as it is now. These days, properties on Mount Eden are some of the most expensive in the country - expensive because Mount Eden's slopes are so desirable. Yet when Hobson's small group climbed Mount Hobson and looked around, they were looking at an isthmus that had only just been resettled. Indeed, when Europeans first arrived in NZ, when Mount Eden's slopes were as desirable as they are now, they were empty. Why was that, do you think?

Notes David Simmons, in, Maori Auckland: "When Europeans came to Tamaki-makau-rau, they saw only a wilderness of scrub, for all the isthmus had been gardens and was in various stages of regeneration." Kiwi Tamaki's Waiohua tribe had spent the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries living and slash-and-burn gardening around Mount Eden (Maungawhau). These slopes had everything a seventeenth-century estate agent could dream of -- great defensive positions, fantastic northern slopes for kumara pits, and a wonderful location with an outlook over two sparkling harbours. Yet, because they were so desirable, they were empty.

Why were those slopes empty then, despite being as desirable as they are now, yet so expensively occupied today? Do you have the answer? I'll give you my own answer later today, and as a clue I'll suggest to you that it's a reason that makes colonisation, and Anniversary Day, something worth celebrating.

[UPDATE: The difference in essence is between ownership by right and ownership by conquest. I explain the difference more fully, and in the context of the Mount Eden example, in this article : Property Rights: A Blessing for Maori New Zealand.

In essence, I argue that whatever else it brought with it, colonisation brought with it what author Tom Bethell describes as the four blessing of secure property rights: peace, justice, liberty and prosperity. (You can find a link here to the opening chapter of Bethell's superb book 'The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages.')

That property rights in New Zealand have been only partially secure since 1840 is the reason we've all -- including Maori -- been only partially blessed.]

RELATED: Auckland, History, New Zealand


Montessori centenary media coverage rolling in

Speaking of anniversaries, this year represents the centenary of the Montessori movement. It was one-hundred years ago on 6 January that Dr Montessori opened her first school, in the slums of Rome. Today, one-hundred years later, there are thousands of Montessori schools around the world, and hundreds of thousands of people who have received the benefit of a Montessori education.

The local and international Montessori movements are celebrating over the course of the year, and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), set up by Dr Montessori (pictured right, speaking in 1949), have a fabulous centenary website with comprehensive information about the Montessori system, and they're also keeping track of the considerable media coverage of the centenary, including from the BBC, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, The Times, Die Zeit and a very good piece in The Hindu, India's national newspaper.

To keep up with it all, just head to the Montessori Centenary site and click on 'Media.'

LINKS: Montessori looks back -- and ahead - USA Today
100 years of Montessori education - BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour (Part 1)
100 years of Montessori education - BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour (Part 2)
Montessori, now 100, goes mainstream - Washington Post
A milestone for Montessori evokes a mother's appreciation - Boston Globe
Montessori brings calm to second state primary - Times Online
The Montessori phenomenon - The Hindu

RELATED: Education, History


Sunday, 28 January 2007

Money down the Eden Park drain?

The Herald speculates that now the second-most-expensive Eden Park stadium option has received a conditions-laden Resource Consent (that's the gold-plated option at left that's projected at the moment to cost us $320 million; the solid-gold option costing us $385 million-plus is now being applied for), that a combination of temporary and preferred seating at Eden Park is probably the Government's preferred option.

Mine too.

My own preference is given added weight by the fact that Mother Hubbard is dead set against it -- and when has he ever been right about anything? Reports the Herald:
Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard is also concerned about the potential for major embarrassment on the world stage. "What we have to ensure is that we don't have something halfway between temporary and permanent. That would be the worst of all options," Hubbard said.
In fact, what we taxpayers do have to ensure is that we aren't paying far too much for an over-the-top stadium development in a location that's just no good for a decent stadium (and with too many conditions attached) for just two internationals in one Rugby World Cup tournament. Much as I myself like a really good stadium, that really would be stupid.

And if Dick Head is truly worried about embarrassment, he should keep his mouth shut and his unattractive mug off the television. That really is embarrassing, for all of us.

LINKS: Blow for stadium upgrade - NZ Herald
Stadium choice: Two false alternatives - Not PC (Nov, 2006)

RELATED: Stadium, Politics-NZ, Auckland


'Bad guys'

A NZ HERALD headline above a Reuters story: Muslims complain of 'bad guy' movie image.

Gee. Do you think there's a reason for that "image"?

RELATED: Religion, War, Films

Some Christian music

Oh yeah, and here's another treat for the few remaining religionists still reading this, for those perhaps who've missed out on the nice Christian Rock Festival happening at Mystery Creek this weekend: a nice, polite Christian song about how God hates fags. (My favourite line: "There's no back door to heaven..." Genius!) As the singer says, Love God's Way.

LINKS: Christian Rock - College Humour
Love God's Way Ministries

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense, Humour

Today's Bible story: "Some qualifying questions"

For today's delectation, a cartoon for those of you who get your moral guidance from a dusty old book of fairy stories. [Hat tip Diana at Noodle Food].

So how many of you lot get through? How many of you have sold all your possessions and given it all to Te Poor? (And just what happens when Te Poor gets to heaven, and it's revealed that they haven't given away that boon? Have you damned them to hellfire, you evil bastard?)

LINK: Cartoon from Russell's Teapot (where you can find many more of the same)

RELATED: Religion, Cartoons