Thursday, 31 May 2007

Call me anti-social

Law, good law, is intended to protect me from you and you from me. Specifically, it is intended only to protect me against any initiation of force or fraud by you, and you from any initiation of force or fraud by me. My freedom ends where your nose begins.

That works both ways.

There is an expectation that if you violate good law, that you will be handled under due process, and that the punishment will fit the crime. This is all part of what it means to have objective law. This is what freedom looks like. This is what Annette King wants to overturn with what is called in the UK 'Anti-Social Behaviour Orders', which give police the power to deliver summary justice, and courts the power to turn minor offences into a five-year stay in jail if they're arbitrarily deemed to be anti-social.

She means it. We should take this seriously.

Russell Brown and No Right Turn are right. This needs to be opposed. Read their posts to see why. Read the BBC's The Asbo Chronicles to see why. To paraphrase Russell, and at his express invitation, here's my short, and consciously anti-social response to Annette: you can stick your fucking ASBO up your arse.

Who sings when your mother is dying?

Not knowing all the facts is no barrier to every bullfrog and his leg-rope taking up positions on the death of Folole Muliaga. Plenty of questions about what exactly happened, few of which seem to have been answered twenty-four hours after we first heard of the apparent tragedy, and Craig asked these questions.

If Folole Muliaga died so shortly after the power to her home was cut… why wasn’t she more prepared? Power cuts are common. If the facts as the media are presenting them are correct, a car hitting a powerpole down the street or a fault at a substation could have killed her at any time.

Furthermore, if you do subject yourself to this level of dependence on the power grid, why sit waiting for four warning notices and six weeks to elapse and do nothing? Not arrange with your respiratory nurse for a portable O2 bottle, not arrange for a transport to hospital, not call an ambulance when the contractor turns up and tells you they’re going to shut off the power.

Mercury Energy may certainly have some culpability, but it seems like there’s something we’re not being told. For a person to let their very survival rely completely, 100% on an unreliable system which is out of their control, and to ignore several warnings about its impending disconnection yet failing to enact any one of several easy remedies to the situation?

All good questions that I don't think have been adequately addressed. What we do know is that Folole Muliaga wasn't completely, 100% reliant upon the oxygen machine. It was not "a full breathing machine," notes David Farrar, "where death is automatic if it stops. The machine was for people with a chronic, mildly reduced level of oxygen in their blood, typically those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder." That said, she received the machine on May 11, she needed it, and the Muliagas were presumably already behind in their bills at that stage, yet they proceeded to rely on power always being there -- just as if, in their minds, the unpaid bills and the supply of power were unconnected. That's a clue right there, isn't it?

There does appear to be a lack of responsibility all round, doesn't there. Cactus puts the questions we'd all like to ask more bluntly than most:
If you were on a home oxygen machine, don't you think you would put the electricity bill ahead of ALL the other bills? Or if you were a family member don't you think you would have helped and made sure it was paid? Or run to Social Welfare and get assistance like they are MEANT to be there for...real emergency matters of welfare. It is a horrible story but it really hits deep into the league of can lead a horse to water.....but you can't help people who don't help themselves. Or get off their arse and call for a fucking ambulance when the power was cut off?
Nope, with Middlemore Hospital just down the road, with unpaid power bills all around them and the alarm for their mother's oxygen machine loudly playing a tune, they apparently all sat around and sang a song. I find that just impossible to understand. Perhaps you could explain it to me.

UPDATE 1: I've heard people arguing there are "cultural" reasons for what this family did (and Falu. On that, I can only quote Thomas Sowell on that and invite you to reflect upon it:
Cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life, and we should judge them by how well they work for those within them.
Think about that. If reports are true, it has rarely been so starkly illustrated.

UPDATE 2: I say that not all questions have been answered, which is true, but I should give credit to this morning's coverage in the hard copy of the Herald [some of which appears here], which seems to have answered all the questions that it's possible to answer at this stage. Kudos to the Herald for that. (The coverage is so good that all copies were sold out at the three outlets I visited this morning. I was forced to buy a coffee to catch up).

It's worth noting that none of the people describing the events publicly were there at the time, and that the family spokesman who has described them is described as "a union organiser" -- so expect some (quite understandable) hyperbole. And this too seems worth noting:
Folole Muliaga was seriously ill from heart and lung disease, but her hospital doctors are surprised she died "so soon" after her oxygen machine stopped providing the life-giving gas. The 44-year-old died about 2 1/2 hours after the mains-powered machine, supplied by the Counties Manukau District Health Board, stopped working about 11am on Tuesday.

Medical experts said yesterday that home-oxygen machines were given only to patients with chronic conditions. They were not aware that any of the machines had battery back-ups. "It's not a life-critical thing as a rule," said the health board's chief medical officer, Dr Don Mackie. "There are things about this case that we don't understand," he said.
Now ain't that the truth.

NZ the way Jordan Carter wants it.

Labour hack Jordan Carter imagines and blogs an alternative history that would have resulted if the Labour Party and the Alliance re-united in 1994. (You can see it here.)

"Imagine," he imagines, breathing hard all the while, that this "more left-wing Labour Party" had taken power in 1999, but with "a wider activist base and a more radical policy and caucus, and aided by the Greens as a coalition partner." His imagination, such as it is, has served up some frankly febrile predictions about what life would be like in New Zealand in 2007 under such a collectivist's wet dream.

To help our erstwhile alternative historian (who seems to have overlooked a few things), I have added the necessary touch of realism to Master Carter's wet dream. Here is how this place would really look if the nightmare situation he describes had truly taken place:

  • Health spending would be sitting around 9-10% of GDP and, with the consequent inflation in the Government health system, surgery numbers are down, waiting lists have soared, and small medical supplies companies are listing on the stock exchange at the rate of twice a week. Radiologists are still on strike.
  • The 1991 benefit cuts would have been reversed, and beneficiary numbers increased from 270,000 to over 400,000. Shareholders in Sky City and Restaurant Brands/KFC buy condos on the Gold Coast. Meanwhile the three poor saps left to pick up the tab for this welfare explosion have just bought the last remaining flights out to Australia. There are no lights still burning to turn out: Kyoto has put paid to the power stations.
  • The industrial relations system would have been re-collectivised, days lost to strikes would have gone through the roof, and no ferries would have crossed Cook Strait since Xmas 2005. No killing has been done at any meatworks since the General Strike of 2003, and meat has been changing hands at $100 per kilo in some inner suburbs of Helengrad.
  • Tertiary, early childhood, vocational education and training have been made "free" at point of use, private schools and early childhood centres have been nationalised, and Jane Kelsey, Susan St John and John Minto are writing the curriculum. NCEA has been scrapped for being "too challenging" for students. No one can read, or write, or do sums (but they're all very good at some stick games), and teachers wear kevlar stab-proof vests to schools, which they pay for themselves out of their meagre salaries.
  • Nation-wide investment in public transport has have been far higher over the past decade, and flowers and trees now grow on NZ's (very) few motorway systems. Auckland's buses are still empty. There is no work to travel to, no rush hour to negotiate, and Queen St is being dug up again. Car imports have been banned, and the average age of cars is twenty years and rising. Petrol taxes are now set at $3 per litre to help pay for public transport and the MPs' Superannuation Fund. Mike Ward is the Minister for Transport.
  • New Zealand would have focused economic policy on local production, not acceded any further into the WTO system, and reinstuted protectionism on local industry. Sue Bradford is the Minister for Trade. Import licensing has been reintroduced (making the holders of these licenses fabulously wealthy), and families in Porirua no longer able to buy cheap imported bedding, clothing and appliances are now making underwear out of their curtains and boiling up rocks to make soup. There is no internet because nobody can afford the locally-assembled computers, and (since they've all been assembled at the Sheltered Workshops) they don't work anyway.
  • New Zealand's distribution of income would be moving solidly in a more egalitarian direction, with no one earning over $20,000pa except for civil servants and MPs. Everyone else has been made equally poor, and everyone is equally miserable. Blam Blam Blam reissues "There is No Depression in New Zealand" in a limited edition, with free packets of soma for the first 1,000 buyers.
  • Public spending would be at around 42-44% of GDP, around $17bn a year higher than it is today. Interest rates are at 20% and climbing, but still no-one is buying the dollar...
  • The country has been renamed the People's Republic of Aotearoa, the Treaty relationship has been put into a modern, bicultural context, and Co-Prime Minister Turia (head of the new Upper House, called the Council of United National Tribes) has just "negotiated" a co-management deal with Fonterra whereby tribal leaders will receive each year's dairy payout to redistribute as they see fit. Farmers are shooting and burying their sheep and cattle.
  • Immigration is no longer a problem, and the only flights now are outbound. Without a political platform, Winston Peters retires from politics and buys a corner dairy.

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"You wouldn't take the Gospels as gospel."

"There's nothing original in Christianity."

Just some of the provocative views of James Valliant, author of the forthcoming book Behind the Cross that examines the origins and early history of Christianity -- and that history is anything but what you've been told.

Last Easter, author Valliant engaged with Lindsay Perigo in a wide-ranging on-air conversation that has just come online today. Rest assured there are both lessons for and parallels to today.

Settle back and listen in here for a whole two-hours of conversation and questions. And head here to engage in discussion with Valliant. He can't wait to talk to you. :-)

UPDATE: By the way, if anybody is suitably inspired and would like to transcribe all or part of this interview so I can use it in The Free Radical, I'd love to hear from you. Email me at 'organon at ihug dot co dot nz.' Cheers.

Jumping off the warmists' gravy train

Mathematician and computer and electrical engineer David Evans explains in depth at the Mises site why, in his words "I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train" -- "making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming" -- and why he jumped off that train.

The basic reason he jumped off, he explains is that the warmists' arguments just don't stack up. "The pieces of evidence ... just kept falling away," three pieces in particular [go and see what they are]. "There is now no observational evidence that global warming is caused by carbon emissions," says Evans, who suggests we look at "the interaction between science and politics," and at a crucial change in both at about the turn of the century.
By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions.

But after 2000 the case against carbon emissions gradually got weaker. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken it. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming?

...the cause of global warming is not just another political issue, subject to endless debate and distortions. The cause of global warming is an issue that falls into the realm of science, because it is falsifiable. No amount of human posturing will affect what the cause is.

'A Song of Life' - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Concluding excerpt from 'A Song of Life' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919):

I lift up my eyes to Apollo,
The god of the beautiful days,
And my spirit soars off like a swallow,
And is lost in the light of its rays.
Are you troubled and sad? I beseech you
Come out of the shadows of strife –
Come out in the sun while I teach you
The secret of life.

Come out of the world – come above it –
Up over its crosses and graves,
Though the green earth is fair and I love it,
We must love it as masters, not slaves.
Come up where the dust never rises –
But only the perfume of flowers –
And your life shall be glad with surprises
Of beautiful hours.
Come up where the rare golden wine is
Apollo distills in my sight,
And your life shall be happy as mine is,
And as full of delight.

TAGS: Poetry

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Fisking St. Al

Al Bore: "He’s his own Leni Riefenstahl," says Tim Blair.

Read Tim's hilarious fisking of Time magazine's 'Letter from St. Pooley to St Al' here: Al's the Guy. And here's something even less laudatory about "the Al phenomenon," and a recent appearance of The Phenomenon and His Followers in Marin County.

And think about this, from Tim's Daily Telegraph column:

News flash: people can't change weather. Try stopping the rain some time.

But there is one guaranteed way to make things uncomfortably warm for our children (or at least our girl children). Require them to wear burqas every time they set foot outside.

You don't want that future for your kids? Well, quit worrying about big CO2 and be concerned instead about big Mo.

Mo? He's been trying to get you to notice him for sixty-odd years. Odd that Big Al doesn't seem to notice him at all.

Fixing your errors

Here's a list from the ever useful Economist Style Guide of unfortunately far too common solecisms you should know about, and should definitely avoid (especially if you're submitting an article to The Free Radical). [Hat tip Ceely's Modern Usage] What's a solecism? Looks like you definitely need to read the list...

SOLECISM, n., a deviation from correct idiom or grammar; any incongruity, error or absurdity; a breach of good manners, an impropriety.

Many necessary correctives here, to quote just a few:
  • Canute's exercise on the seashore was designed to persuade his courtiers of what he knew to be true but they doubted, ie, that he was not omnipotent. Don't imply he was surprised to get his feet wet.
  • Confectionary [of whatever colour]: a sweet. Confectionery: sweets in general.
  • Crisis. This is a decisive event or turning-point. Many of the economic and political troubles wrongly described as crises are really persistent difficulties, sagas or affairs.
  • Critique is a noun. If you want a verb, try criticise.
  • Decimate means to destroy a proportion (originally a tenth) of a group of people or things, not to destroy them all or nearly all. Factoid: something that sounds like a fact, is thought by many to be a fact (perhaps because it is repeated so often), but is not in fact a fact. [e.g., "global warming has already made hundreds of thousands of climate refugees from low-lying Pacific islands."]
  • Frankenstein was not a monster, but its creator.
  • Gender is a word to be applied to grammar, not people. If someone is female, that is her sex, not her gender. (The gender of Mädchen, the German word for girl, is neuter, as is Weib, a wife or woman.)
  • Hobson's choice is not the lesser of two evils; it is no choice at all.
  • Homosexual: since this word comes from the Greek word homos (same), not the Latin word homo (man), it applies as much to women as to men. It is therefore as daft to write homosexuals and lesbians as to write people and women.
  • Key: keys may be major or minor, but not low. Few of the decisions, people, industries described as key are truly indispensable, and fewer still open locks.
  • Like governs nouns and pronouns, not verbs and clauses. So as in America not like in America. But authorities like Fowler and Gowers is a perfectly acceptable alternative to authorities such as Fowler and Gowers.
  • Media: prefer press and television or, if the context allows it, just press. If you have to use the media, remember it is plural.
  • Only. Put only as close as you can to the words it qualifies. Thus, These animals mate only in June. To say They only mate in June implies that in June they do nothing else.
  • Oxymoron: an oxymoron is not an unintentional contradiction in terms but a figure of speech in which contradictory terms are deliberately combined, as in bitter-sweet, cruel kindness, sweet sorrow, etc.
  • Per caput is the Latin for per head. Per capita is the Latin for by heads; it is a term used by lawyers when distributing an inheritance among individuals, rather than among families (per stirpes). Unless the context demands this technical expression, never use either per capita or per caput but per person.
  • Propaganda (which is singular) means a systematic effort to spread doctrine or opinions. It is not a synonym for lies.
  • Rebut means repel or meet in argument. Refute, which is stronger, means disprove. Neither should be used as a synonym for deny.
  • Use and abuse: two words much used and abused. You take drugs, not use them (Does he use sugar?). And drug abuse is just drug taking, as is substance abuse, unless it is glue sniffing or bun throwing.
  • While is best used temporally. Do not use it in place of although or whereas.

AGW: It's a trust issue

Here's just the tiniest taste of the insight a fifteen-year old girl with a brain on her shoulders can bring to bear on the IPCC and the "trust" issue; a small excerpt from Kristen Byrnes' Ponder the Maunder website, (an "extra-credit assignment" for her Portland, Maine school, and perhaps the clearest-eyed look at the whole global warming charade I've seen) :
In my view, the IPCC and their public relations people have created a trust issue. One reason is that the release of their 2007 summary was accompanied by a press release claiming that the report was the product of “The world's leading climate scientists.” Who made these people the worlds leading climate scientists? The press release.

Another example of this trust problem is demonstrated in the IPCC graph below. This graph was released with the IPCC’s 2007 summary that concluded that they are 90% certain that man made CO2 is responsible for much of 20th century warming. This graph [below] is based on their radiative heat transer theory. It attempts to demonstrate how much each radiative forcing component has contributed to global warming. Now look at the column on the far right labeled “LOSU.” This is the Level Of Scientific Understanding for each component.

Notice how most components have a medium or low level of understanding. Does this make you think that they are 90% certain of their conclusion?

Now look at the last component of the climate system, solar forcing. Notice that it comes with a “low” Level Of Understanding. What bothers me is that the IPCC completely ignores the scientific understanding, studies and experiments related to the effect of galactic cosmic rays on cloud cover, such warming effect almost completely negates any warming that the IPCC theorizes is created by man made greenhouse gasses. “The 2% change in low clouds during a solar cycle will vary the input of heat to the Earth’s surface by an average of about 1.2 Wm squared, which is not trivial. It can be compared, for example, with 1.4 Wm squared attributed by the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all of the additional carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution.” (C5)
Visit Kristen's award-winning site here: Ponder the Maunder.

Tehran promises "peace in our time."

If a fox were to offer to guard the hen-house, or to help train and equip the hen-house guards, what kind of fool would any farmer be to take such an offer seriously.

So why is Iran's offer to to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure [in Iraq]" taken as anything other than what it is: an offer by the chief trainer, armourer and supplier of Iraqi insurgency to help destroy what little security there is in Iraq.

This is what comes of the foolish notion that if you don't identify your enemy and you talk with them instead, that both of you are fooled by your evasion. The US might be fooled, but the mullahs and the haters and the bombers know exactly what they're doing. [Hat tip Mike, at Primacy of Awesome]. Said Yaron Brook months ago,
Any U.S. appeal to Iran or Syria for help in Iraq would be suicidal and immoral. By evading the evil of these regimes and pretending that they're peace-seekers who share our goals, the United States would be encouraging and rewarding their aggression. Dispensing with moral judgment is not a short-cut to achieving peace; it is a sure way of unleashing and goading the killers to redouble their efforts...
It's the same 'shortcut' to peace that's been tried for the last sixty years ... and it will prove just as successful now for Bush and the Iraqis as it did once for Neville Chamberlain and the citizens of Czechoslovakia, and the world.

UPDATE: A commenter accused me here of invoking the Nazis, and equating the Nazis with the Islamofascists. Now as it happens, I wasn't doing that -- at least not here. In this post, I was simply pointing out one of the many lessons from history that if not learned we are condemned to repeat -- which is itself one of those lessons.

However, just because I didn't directly invoke it doesn't mean it isn't true, and in this webcast David Horowitz invites you to consider that the invocation wouldn't be at all out of place. See Islamic Mein Kampf.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Who's got the ball?

D'you think any of the various brands of mystics talking tolerance up at Waitangi today gave any thought to the idea that if any one of them is actually right about their particular imaginary friend, then all the others are wrong.

They can't all be right, now can they. So how would any of them judge? How would they be able to tell, for example, that it wasn't Brian who is really the Messiah?

Just asking.

UPDATE 1: Great comment on Brian's protest over at Frog Blog:
Tamaki is a Protestant Nonconformist. Several hundred years ago, when they *had* established churches in European countries (Catholic/Anglican) Tamaki would have been burnt at the stake. Especially for usurping the title of Bishop. It’s only the religious tolerance that he protests about that allows his church to exist.
Don't expect Brian to be bothered by the contradiction. If contradictions really bothered him, he'd have a different day job .. and maybe a better hobby.

UPDATE 2: This seems an appropriate moment to post this observation, from Christopher Hitchens' new book: "There are," insists Hitchens, "four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking."

UPDATE 3: A colleague makes this point:
I don't think this conference was so much about separation of church and state ... as much as it was about protecting primitive belief systems from criticism. I'm waiting for the push on hate speech laws now.

Learning from NCEA mistakes...

I was reading the latest NZ Montessori News when I heard that this Government has finally conceded the NCEA system as introduced by the previous Government is mistaken, and intends to announce this morning that they will be making changes.

Hallelujah!

Any changes made will be far fewer than required -- which is a total scrapping -- and will have far less positive effect than the headlines tell us, but I want to focus first on the highly unusual occurrence in politics that a mistake has been both admitted and seen as an opportunity to make things better, and I want to focus on that because it happens so rarely in politics, and it's exactly what I was reading about in the NZ Montessori News when I heard the news about the NCEA.

You see, in both traditional education and traditional politics, mistakes are a humiliation -- something to fear -- a reason for cover-ups, excuses and mealy-mouthed evasions on Close Up and Socialism at Seven. Not so in real life -- answering a critic on this point, economist John Maynard Keynes (whose own work is a monument to error), responded: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" -- nor in the Montessori classroom. As Nicky Chisnall points out in the article I was reading,
Dr Montessori suggests that the Montessori teacher (and by extrapolation parent, employer, employee, friend ... ) should see mistakes as an indication of some error she has made and thus seek to correct it. In a traditional school [or in politics], this would be seen as humiliating, but in Dr Montessori's approach it is just a new way of looking at things... The Montessori way emphasises that mistakes give us opportunities to learn.
If we're not afraid to make mistakes then we're more likely to experiment, to try new things, to give ourselves more opportunities to be creative, and to be much more productive than if we're motivated only by fear of failure. The thing is that when you or I or a businessman or woman makes a mistake, and we're honest about it (in the terms of my earlier post on lying today, if we're committed to focussing on reality), then recognition of error is not bad, it's a good thing. It keeps us focussed on what's real.

Mistakes are made, we fix them, and we move on and make things better by removing the error -- and things overall are improved for the better. Not so in politics, where the idea of "opportunities to learn" is no more in evidence than is the admission of mistakes, so for today's small and unusual blessing we should be thankful.

However.

The thing is that when you or I or a businessman or woman experiments, then (if we do maintain our reality focus) that process of experimentation leads to better and better things, with mistakes corrected as we go on to even better things. On the other hand, since in business and private activity people only deal with us voluntarily, any mistakes or bad results that do occur are limited. Whole countries and whole generations aren't required by force to submit to our experiments and to pay for our mistakes.

Not so in politics.

New Zealand's experiment with mediocrity in education has been a disaster. The NCEA 'system', a fragmented pedagogical experiment implemented and enforced by braindead educationalists and by both main political parties has helped turn the minds of a generation of young students to mush: a generation of young students has been delivered by force to the factory schools wherein this experiment has been taking place, and the future for all those young students is less bright as a result.

In politics, unlike in real life, mistakes like those admitted to today can have enormous and far-reaching destructive power. The real mistake we've all made is to give politicians all that power, including the power to destroy. But that too is a mistake that can be fixed -- all it takes is that first admission of error.

What kind of technology user am I?

Here you go, I'm a "Connector." See.
Defining Characteristics
Connectors combine a sense that information technology is good for social purposes with a clear recognition that online resources are a great way to learn new things. Their cell phones have a lot of features, and they also try new things with technology; more than half have watched TV programming on a device like a laptop computer or cell phone.
What gadget/geek "typology" are you? [Hat tip Craig C]

"It's a lie!"

Q: Why is it wrong to lie?
A: Because in lying either to yourself or to others, you're trying to fake reality -- and reality will always be avenged. Says Ayn Rand on this point:
The essence of a con-man's [or a politician's] lie -- of any such lie, no matter what the details -- is the attempt to gain a value by faking certain facts of reality.

Now can't you grasp the logical consequences of that kind of policy ? Since all facts of reality are interrelated, faking one of them leads the person to fake others; ultimately, he is committed to an all-out war against reality as such. But this is the kind of war no one can win. If life in reality is a man's purpose, how can he expect to achieve it while struggling at the same time to escape and defeat reality?

The con-man's lies are wrong on principle. To state the principle positively: honesty is a long-range requirement of human self-preservation and is, therefore, a moral obligation.
Note that by this reasoning the harm you do in lying is not just to others, as conventionally thought, but also to yourself and to your own grasp of existence. The "obligation" of honesty arises because human survival -- our own individual survival and flourishing -- requires an unswerving reality focus that we undercut by our own dishonesty, however small, and by our own evasions, however trivial.

So if even small lies commit you to an all-out war against reality, what then (Gus van Horn wondered yesterday) about this effort: "a propaganda effort that makes Michael Moore seem like a piker" -- a god damned "Creationist Museum" complete with a special-effects theater "with vibrating seats meant to evoke the flood, and a planetarium paying tribute to God's glory while exploring the nature of galaxies." " [New York Times story here.]

Just what the fuck kind of war against reality does something like this represent? To say nothing of the implications of the post below this one ...

Warming: It depends how you measure it...

Recent posts here at Not PC have referred to the reservations reasonable scientists have about the gathering of the surface temperature record. ( Vincent Gray summarises the problems here [pdf].)

For a wee visual hint at what some of those reservations are, Anthony Watts has been exploring Californian weather stations to examine the physical locations in which temperature is recorded. Here's one at Maryville, California, considered a "high quality" station in the station list used to calculate global "warming":

And here's the temperature chart for this location over the course of a century or so:


For comparison, here's the chart for a temperature station nearby that's out in the middle of a field:Can anyone say "Urban Heat Island effect?" When you consider that the "corrections" made by the UN/IPCC warmists to the surface temperature record to account for such abominations is anything but peer reviewed, and relies largely on the say-so of one man, Phil Jones, who insists that a correction of 0.05 degrees per century is sufficient, but then refuses to let his working be checked by reliable statisticians [story here] ... well, I'll let Anthony and Steve McIntyre and their commenters take up the explanation from there.

But just remember pictures like these when you're told by Simon and Wendy that Month X was the warmest in Y million years. And if you're passing a temperature collection location, take a photograph and send them to Roger Pielke Sr. and to Anthony at SurfaceStations.Org [perhaps see if it's already been recorded here first]. How could it hurt?

Temple of the Human Spirit - Frederick Clifford Gibson


Frederick Clifford Gibson's 'Temple of the Human Spirit,' with sculpture by Michael Wilkinson, designed for a site overlooking San Francisco Bay, for a competition that ... well, let's say that for good reasons Gibson had eschewed competitions, right up until he saw this competition brief callinging for "an architecture of laughter, in particular, a Temple of Laughter":
We do not seek a religious building per se [continued the brief]. Nor do we seek a sacrilegious building. We do, however, seek a work of profound significance, meaning, and dignity. We do not seek an ancient temple, a renaissance chapel, a tomb or a folly. We seek a brave new work that challenges history, conformity, tradition, dogma and even gravity. We seek a work of gravity that defies gravity. We do not seek a funny building or a silly structure. We seek an extraordinary new work in spirit, concept and execution. We seek an expression and embodiment of man's greatest joy and celebration of his own existence; the celebration of his own soul, the celebration of his own being, the celebration of his own mind, the celebration of his own reason, the celebration of his own life, the celebration of his own happiness, the celebration of his own body, the celebration of his own hand, the celebration of his own voice, the celebration of his own laughter. In short, we seek a masterpiece...
Such an opportunity with such a brief would be too hard for any architect of spirit to pass up! Fred Gibson recounts the tale of the design and the outcome of the competition here: The Temple of Laughter: How it Became a Joke and Ended Up in Triumph. The tale has a moral.

Monday, 28 May 2007

'Lost' & Chekhov's gun

The playwright Anton Chekhov once offered a pithy literary principle for anyone pulling together a plot. Said Anton, If a gun appears on the wall in the First Act, then it should go off the in Third.

In good drama, in other words, nothing should be unintentional. If you're not to have an audience that feels cheated when they leave the show, then questions asked of the audience in the First Act should be resolved by the Curtain.

Based on this principle, novelist Ed Cline compares my own favourite TV series The Prisoner with the series Lost, which on the face of it has many parallels. However ...

[See Ed Cline's 'Lost' and Clueless for the full story. Note that Ed "would caution the reader... about plot spoilers to follow, but there is no plot to spoil." ]

A short film at lunchtime...

Protecting yourself from vandalism is good

A company endures sabotage, disruption and destruction of property and projects by a small group of goths and vandals.

The company pays a young numb nut to infiltrate the organisation and report on when protests and disruption were planned.

Who's in the right here? The vandals? Or those trying to protect themselves from destruction and disruption?

The Greens' Russel Norman is exactly wrong to be denouncing Solid Energy (the company) for infiltrating a spy into the Save Happy Valley environmental protest group (the vandals). Not just wrong, but downright hypocritical because as Trevor Loudon points out, Russel himself was weaned by Australia's Trotskyite DSP and its former incarnation the Socialist Workers Party, both "notorious in Australia for their relentless infiltration and manipulation of other organisations."

Read Trevor's lowdown on the tactics of the Trotskyites and Russel's involvement "for several years ... in an organisation that practised manipulation of other organisations as a matter of course": Is Russel Norman being hypocritical over "infiltration" allegation.

UPDATE 1: A surveillance state? Libertarianz spokesman Greg Balle makes the perfectly sensible point that this incident illustrates a key reason why State Owned Enterprises such as Solid Energy should all be privatised. Says Greg:
While Solid Energy remains an arm of the state, activities such as surveillance of citizens takes on a very sinister element, particularly as they have the might of the sate at their disposal to protect them against legal challenges to such dubious behaviour.

If the SOE's were private corporations they would not have the protection of Nanny State's skirts to hide behind and would be subject to the rigours of the free market of industrial espionage and information, as such they would be open to court action like any other private corportation. A Libertarianz government would privatise all SOE's, like Solid Energy, and return proceeds from the privatisation to taxpayers. Eliminating the rogue arms of the corpro-state indulging in spying, intimidation and monopolistic behaviour, would be a welcome benefit from the sale of these enterprises.
Makes perfect sense to me.

UPDATE 2: Trevor Loudon provides another instructive link indicating that The Greens' have more than just an emotional connection to this issue. Young Frances Mountier, who you've probably seen on your TV news leading the rabble opposing Solid Energy, is a graduate of Sue Bradford's Kotare School project (which has been mentioned here before). Explains Trevor:
The Kotare School is openly modelled on the Communist Party USA linked Highlander School in Tennessee, famous for training martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and many other prominent "civil rights" activists.

Kotare's Green Party trustees include MP Sue Bradford (Deputy Chair), Karen Davis (Treasurer) and Sue Berman. Gordon Jackman another trustee is the partner of Green party activist, Catherine Delahunty, who tutors at the school.

Several Kotare personnel, including Sue Bradford and Quentin Jukes have Workers Communist league backgrounds. The school teaches "social activism" based on the teachings of Brazilian Marxist, Paolo Friere. It has trained many prominent youth activists, including John Darroch from Auckland Radical Youth and Wellington Palestine Group activist Tali Williams.

According to Kotare's Spring 2006 newsletter

Kotare has a Youth Advisory group of people under 25 who have volunteered to give us feedback on how we are working generally and also specifically with younger people. We are meeting with them on November 11 and 12 to discuss our work. The advisory group members are Tali Williams from Wellington, Frances Mountier from Christchurch, John Darroch from South Auckland and Tui Armstrong from Whangarei. These young people have all participated in Kotare activities since the age of 15 and have active networks and great ideas!

So Frances Mountier has trained at a Green Party linked Marxist training school since the age of 15!

The phrase "brainwashed" comes to mind.

The real story here is that Solid Energy is fighting not just a bunch of irresponsible young protestors. It is also battling the Green Party, including several of its leaders and strategies learnt in Sue Bradford's Marxist training school.

One can hardly blame them for fighting back with a little bit of espionage.
No, one couldn't. I'd suggest that the Save Happy Valley Coalition are less interested in saving snails than they are in saving and promoting Marxism.

Warmists don't like disagreement

Alexander Cockburn continues counterpunching the warmists in The Nation. Warmists don't like disagreement. Spoils the "consensus."

I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado. The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation.
"Pandybats." Good word => Pandybats were long leather-covered cane like instruments which Irish schoolmasters used as canes. Here's some of the disciplinary explosions conjured up by warmists:
  • Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists"...
  • The greenhousers endlessly propose that the consensus of "scientists" on anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. By scientists they actually mean computer modelers...
  • Peer review, heavily overworked in the rebuttals I have been reading, is actually a topic on which the greenhousers would do well to keep their mouths shut, since, as the University of Virginia's Pat Michaels has shown, the most notorious sentence in the IPCC's 1996 report ("The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate") was inserted at the last minute by a small faction on the IPCC panel after the scientific peer-review process was complete....
  • As for the alleged irrefutable evidence that people caused the last century's CO2 increase, the "smoking gun" invoked by one of my critics, Dr. Michael Mann, and his fellow fearmongers at realclimate.com, the claim is based on the idea that the normal ratio of heavy to light carbon-that is, the Carbon-13 isotope to the lighter Carbon-12 isotope, is roughly 1 to 90 in the atmosphere, but in plants there's a 2 percent lower C13/C12 ratio... once again, the greenhousers have got it ass-backward. The 100 ppm increase in CO2 can't be uniquely attributed to humans because at least as plausibly it could be the effect, not the cause, of the warming that started after the Little Ice Age denied by Dr. Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann.
Look for more in this series when Cockburn returns from flying over the Arctic to "make a direct review of the ice cap" to further annoy "committed greenhousers like George Monbiot" -- "honorary chairman of the King Canute Action Committee, committed to beating back non-existent anthropogenic global warming by tactics which would have zero impact anyway."

Here's Cockburn's complete series so far:
  1. Is Global Warming a Sin?
  2. Hot Air, Cold Cash: Who Are the Merchants of Fear?
  3. Explosion of the Fearmongers: The Greenhousers strike back and out.
UPDATE: Take the Global Warming Test: A quick quiz from 1997 that will test your grasp of global warming. It comes with a caution: "This section contains sound science, not media hype, and may therefore contain material not suitable for young people trying to get a good grade in political correctness."

Advice for Pink Tories from the Jackal author

He wrote The Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War and The Odessa File, and now Frederick Forsyth has advice for Britain's Labour-Lite David Cameron that advisers and enthusiasts of NZ's Labour-Lite John Key might want to take to heart before they get too excited about weekend poll numbers.
It may be that politics is the art of the possible but election-winning is about doing one’s sums: then persuading the maximum number in the maximum constituencies to vote for you. Turning them off, not to mention pee-ing them off, is bad arithmetic.

No one ever got to Downing Street save on the basis of two votes: their own party’s core vote (the loyalists, the traditionalists) and the floating vote – those who have no inbuilt allegiance but make up their minds near the election.

But David has a third category – the walkaway vote. Back in 1992 a staggering 14million voted Tory. Did they all love John Major? No, they knew nothing about him.

They just believed, wrongly, that he wore the mantle of Margaret Thatcher. Sixty months later they realised how wrong they had been and the Tory vote slumped by 4.5million.

Only half a million actually switched to Blair. One million when UK Independence Party/Referendum Party (now UKIP alone) and the other three million stayed at home. After four years of William Hague another 1.5 million stayed at home as the Tory vote slithered down to just over eight million. Thus, 4.5million ex-Tory voters are unaccounted for. Maybe a third have died or emigrated but that still leaves three million out there somewhere.

Dave Cameron needs at least a million of the walkaway vote to convert to the walkback vote. He needs another million of the UKIP vote (overwhelmingly former Conserv­atives) to become the switch-back vote. Then and only then does he need any Lib Dems who prefer him and his ideas to Ming Campbell to change sides.

What he absolutely does not need is to insult the UKIPers (which he has done), convince the walkaway vote to stay away (which appears to be his aim) let alone sneer at the loyalist bloc until they are so fed up they decide to leave as well. That way he will remain Leader of the Opposition for a very long time.

He is being told by the coterie of juveniles and EU fanatics with whom he surrounds himself that it doesn’t matter because offended, disgruntled and insulted Tory loyalists have nowhere else to go come polling day. Big mistake.

I know at least five Tory voters who have decided they simply cannot vote for him. Only the tip of a possible iceberg? Perhaps – but it was the tip of an iceberg that sank the Titanic.

Master David needs every damn vote he can get. Shedding them is not good mathematics.
John Boy supporters might want to think about just who John Boy's shit-eating is peeing off.

In 2002 only 425,000 voters voted National, the party's lowest vote since the invention of the steam wireless. Those voters might be regarded as the core vote, people who would vote National even if a donkey were in charge -- which is what those core National voters voted for that year. In 2005 the Nats more than doubled their vote to 890,000, sucking in an extra 465,000 voters (which included 110,000 voters from ACT, 80,000 or so from NZ First, and perhaps 200,000 or so people who'd stayed home in 2002). These would be your "floating voters."

Of these, anyone voting NZ First has to be regarded as too fickle to be considered reliable. I can't imagine that the 111,000 former ACT voters will sit still too long for policies that promise little more than muesli bars in schools and the retention of every measure that Labour ever introduced; and those voters who stayed home in 2002 can't be relied upon not to do so again. (After all, the same donkey they stayed home to avoid in 2002 will be back up there behind John Boy next year.)

And on top of that if the Nats really do want to govern on their own they'll need to pull an extra 300,000 or so in from somewhere, both new young voters (many of whom can no doubt be as easily seduced as John Boy seems to think we all are) and even some of the 935,00 who voted for Hard Labour last time. So if I were they, I wouldn't get too excited too soon about a popularity contest sans policies. Real elections need real policies more than they need honeymoon smiles.

They might reflect too on what the point would be of getting excited about a government trailing an opposition when there's barely any discernible policy difference between them. It makes no more practical sense than it does political sense.

UPDATE: The Herald's breakdown of the leading "pockets of support" for each party is instructive.
  • 54.4% of male voters prefer National, while just 29.3% of men prefer Labour.
  • Meanwhile, a whopping 50% of students (and their lecturers?) prefer Labour, that party's leading demographic indicator. Those student loan bribes last election are still paying off.
  • About a quarter of the unemployed prefer the Greens (no surprise, perhaps, for an openly anti-industrial party whose policies would see the number of unemployed explode), and 3.3% of the self-employed prefer ACT -- that party's largest "demographic."
And on that note, I suspect the demographic most strongly represented in the Libertarianz is those who like a drink. At least, that's my own experience. ;^)

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Filing by stuff that's lying around

I guess most music collectors amongst you will remember the scene in High Fidelity (book and film) when the character rearranges his record collection ... alphabetically? No ... chronologically? No .... by genre ? No... perhaps ranked according to mood? No. He's filing it autobiographically, based on when he bought it. The experience of music, says the character, is the experience of a lifetime lived. Geek heaven maybe, but possible.

So if that's true, how about the CDs, tapes and vinyl that -- no matter which way you organise the collection -- just end up regularly lying around the stereo, stuff that gets played so often it just never gets re-filed? If our autobiographical filing shows us the experience of a lifetime lived, wouldn't our regular playlist tell us more about our current selves? Or does it just tell us we should dust more often.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Here's some of what's hanging regularly around my stereo at the moment, most of which never gets back onto the shelves; the detritus of too much listening. Those of you with iPods can talk amongst yourselves for a while.
  1. Primitive Guitars - Phil Manzanera
  2. Eine Frau fur die Liebe - La Pat
  3. Benny Goodman Small Combos 1935-1941
  4. Trinity Sessions - Cowboy Junkies
  5. Lost in the Stars - Music of Kurt Weill
  6. Modern Times - Bob Dylan
  7. Wagner Choruses from Bayreuth - Wilhelm Pitz & the Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra
  8. I'm Your Fan - Songs of Leonard Cohen by ...
  9. The Time Has Come - Christy Mooore
  10. Struck By Lightning - Graham Parker
  11. Dream of Life - Patti Smith
  12. No Friend Around - John Lee Hooker
  13. Giants of Jazz: Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker
  14. Atomic Swing - Count Basie
  15. Louis Armstrong (home-made CD compilation)
  16. Sounds of the 20th Century: Django Reinhardt
  17. Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus (Vol. 5) - Serge Gainsbourg
  18. I Am the Blues - Willy Dixon
  19. Piano Sonatas 8, 14, 17, 21, 23 & 26 - Beethoven
  20. Death & the Maiden - Schubert
  21. And His Mother Called Him Bill - Duke Ellington
  22. Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington
  23. Asylum Years - Tom Waits
  24. Henry's Dream - Nick Cave
  25. Wagner Piano Transcriptions - Cyprien Katsaris
  26. Cole Porter Songbook (Vol. 1) - Ella Fitzgerald
  27. Loaded - Velvet Underground
  28. American Caesar - Iggy
  29. Coleman Hawkins - Ken Burns 'Jazz' compilation
  30. Fragments of a Rainy Season - John Cale
  31. 16 Classic Tracks - Hoagy Carmichael
  32. Della by Starlight - Della Reese
  33. Songs of the Auvergne (Canteloube)/Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (Villa-Lobos)/Vocalise (Rachmaninoff) - Anna Moffo & Leopold Stokowski
  34. Callas & Di Stefano at La Scala
  35. Tom Verlaine - Tom Verlaine
  36. Dizzy Gillespie's Big 4 - Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker
  37. Rolling Stone - Muddy Waters
  38. Pink Elephants - Mick Harvey
Yeah, it's a busy stereo, but when you work from home ...

Anyway, what does your stereo detritus say about you?

Blessed are the cheesemakers...


Cartoon by Nick Kim.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

A Saturday stroll through the stuff that life is made of

Another random Saturday morning stroll through items and sites of note. Grab your mouse, and let's have at them:
  • Let's start with a stiff drink. Fortunately, Windy City Girl has a list of rules to help with your bar room etiquette. Every drinker should have them tattoed somewhere you can find them in an emergency, since as Rule 86 says, "You will forget every one of these rules by your fifth drink." See Windy City Girl: Drinking Rules.

  • However, Nanny is at it again. There are moves afoot, if you haven't already noticed, to lower the legal blood-alcohol level when driving to zero. Zero! Taken strictly that would mean no drinks in a twenty-four hour period. But it's necessary, we are told. "Drink-driving prosecutions are up, we are told. The figures are alarming, we are told." Lindsay Mitchell, as always, has the facts:
    In 2005, there were 100 alcohol-related deaths. Apart from 2002, this is the lowest toll in the last twenty years. The following is an international comprison of road deaths per 100,000; Of the above countries, 10 have higher road deaths than NZ. Three of them have zero alcohol breath limits, 6 have 50mg limits and 1, like NZ, has an 80mg limit. The evidence is barely compelling.
    The evidence for a total ban is not compelling at all, but the evidence for a New Puritanism continues to pile up. Be afraid. Nanny is on the march.

  • As it happens, discussing the New Puritanism was on the agenda yesterday afternoon on Radio New Zealand, where I was asked to appear with The Panel to talk about anti-smoking ads. The results can be heard here, about 17:00 in. Wallace's point that Bomber Bradbury is himself one of the New Puritans was a good one: despite appearances to the contrary, there are few in contemporary NZ culture more of a conformist than Bradbury, a reactionary in thrall to every stale bromide and crackpot cliché that exists.

  • Rachel Carson: murderer. Tomorrow, if she were still alive, Rachel Carson would have been 100. Keith Lockitch 'celebrates' the centenary of her birth [See Rachel Carson's Genocide] by reminding her of what should gnaw at her soul if she were still alive.
    On May 27, environmentalists will celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Rachel Carson, the founding mother of their movement.But Carson's centenary is no cause for celebration. Her legacy includes more than a million deaths a year from the mosquito-borne disease malaria. Though nearly eradicated decades ago, malaria has resurged with a vengeance because DDT, the most effective agent of mosquito control, has been essentially discarded--discarded based not on scientific concerns about its safety, but on environmental dogma advanced by Carson.
    Carson is dead. So too are the millions killed by the abandonment of DDT. But dangerous environmental dogma lives on. See your daily headlines for the evidence.

  • If global warming was genuinely "all about the science" as I keep hearing, then why do scientific opponents of global warming keep seeing their finding, jobs and careers disappearing when they question the orthodoxy? The most recent example is Washington State Associate State Climatologist and climate scientist Mark Albright who [in Paul's account]
    was fired because he sent e-mails to other scientists containing the true scientific facts about the Cascade Mountain snow pack. These facts refuted the publications of his boss, State Climatologist Philip Mote and the speeches of Seattle’s Democrat Mayor Greg Nickels who claimed the Cascade Mountain snow pack declined 50% from 1950 to 2000 due to man-made global warming.

    Before the firing, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Dennis Hartmann tried to referee and resolve the dispute between Albright and Mote by doing an objective analysis of the data, but this failed when Hartmann found that Albright was right and Mote was wrong. This led to Mote trying to censor Albright’s e-mails. When Albright refused to allow this censorship, he was fired.

    The whole story will be published in the June 1 issue of “Environment & Climate News."
  • Speaking of global warming and persecution leads quite naturally to the makers of that fine film The Great Global Warming Swindle, who have had to endure their fair share of abuse based on the principle (or lack thereof) that if you can't attack the message then you take your boots to the messenger instead and deliver to him a fearful kicking. Enduring that kicking surprisingly well, Martin Durkin and the Swindle team now have a website for the film and related data and discussion.
    We had not intended to establish an ‘official’ web-site for the film [says Durkin]. But such is the demand for more information that we have no alternative. Over the coming days and weeks we will add more information, more links, more analysis, in the hope that the site may provide some focus for those who are still able to think independently and critically on this subject.
  • For those unable to think either independently or critically, there's always Al Bore and his political pixies like Nicholas Stern, John Key and his political hero David Cameron. Let's shackle industry by twenty-five percent says Stern; "No, I can do fifty!"says John Boy; "Hell, I can do sixty!" says Cameron. Bear in mind that these are grown men (well politicians, actually) bidding to shackle industry to stop the weather by 2050, ensuring that by that date there'll be no chance by 2050 of excessive flatulence anywhere but in the House of Representatives. "Such pronouncements can be made openly and repeatedly," notes George Reisman, "only because the immense majority of people do not take the trouble to understand their implications." As always Reisman is both right on the money, and prepared to put his calculator where his mouth is. Reisman spells out exactly what it will cost any country stupid enough to follow these flatulent Pied Pipers.
    In purely verbal terms, those implications are that environmentalism seeks the destruction of the energy base of the modern world, along with the elimination or radical reduction in the supply of all goods and services that depend on that energy base. It seeks this on the grounds that these goods and the energy on which they depend entail the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The goods and services in question are air conditioners, automobiles, airplane travel, housing, food, clothing, refrigerators, freezers, television sets, telephones, washers, dryers, books, computers—everything that depends on the production and use of oil, coal, or natural gas, which all release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in being burned. The destruction of the energy base and the production of goods and services is implied by the fact that in order to rollback the emission of carbon dioxide, it is necessary to rollback the production and use of energy in these forms. But rolling back the production and use of energy reduces the production of goods and services... the clear implication is economic devastation. It is devastation in the production and use of energy and devastation in the production of everything that depends on energy.
    Read Reisman's piece for his figures, and the full story of horror (and remember from Carson's example that the environmentalists do mean it): George Reisman: The Arithmmetic of Environmentalist Devastation.

  • Ethanol. John Stossel reminds readers of the market realities of ethanol.
    If ethanol's so good, why does it need government subsidies? Shouldn't producers be eager to make it, knowing that thrilled consumers will reward them with profits? But consumers won't reward them, because without subsidies, ethanol would cost much more than gasoline.The claim that using ethanol will save energy is another myth...
    See The Many Myths of Ethanol by John Stossel. Ethanol is not a "solution," it's a subsidy.

  • By the way, is calling Rachel Carson a murderer hate speech? Is calling Osama bin Laden a murdering arsehole "hate speech"? Ed Cline has another look at the nonsense that is "hate speech" in Wicked, Hurtful Words:
    Why is such speech called “hate speech”? What are the alternatives to that term? “Mildly resentful” speech? “Awfully irritated” speech? “A tad ticked off” speech? “Tepidly tactful” speech? The candidates are almost numberless. I will leave development of that kind of levity to Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and Pat Condell.

    I imagine that Cohen and Comrades could just as well seethe with anger at someone who exercised his freedom of speech by reciting in person or in a video, for example, the Declaration of Independence. Surely, Jefferson’s language could be deemed “hate speech,” directed against George the Third and Parliament, intended to move men to take action against those who shared the king’s and his legislators’ most profound beliefs. And, remember, they were all Anglicans, members of a state church, so the Declaration could be said to indirectly slur their religious beliefs, as well. Doubtless, George and many Englishmen found that language to be insulting, denigrating, and patently offensive. Also, radical. Perhaps, fearfully incomprehensible. Certainly hurtful.

    After all, tyrants and dictators have feelings, too.
  • Is comedian Carlos Mencia's material "hate speech"? And so what if he is? Let Prodos introduce the guy:
    Here’s a short video of stand-up comedian, Carlos Mencia, doing a piece about dealing with the taunts of an anti-American Middle Eastern guy who supports terrorism - including the destruction of the World Trade Center. This is my first exposure to this comedian. Most interesting to me was the BIG positive audience response. What Carlos Mencia deals with in this clip is really about “attitude”. Instead of being “understanding” towards those who want to kill you, or apologetic for being American, Carlos fights fire with nukes. The crowd loves it. I love it.

    Click here to view this video. Or (to paraphrase a local blogger)if you don't like strong pro-American humour, then perhaps you'd better fuck off and hug a tree instead.

  • The Four 'R's: Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic and Art. Alexandra York has always had compelling arguments for integrating art and education [see The Fourth 'R' in Education]. Now, Nicholas Provenzo explains how art and education are integrated at the new Founders College [see Learning How to Think]. In fact, what he's explaining is "the principle that all knowledge is interrelated," the very principle on which Founders College stands upon.
    At Founders, this means that what you learn in one class will apply to what you learn in another and that this integration will have practical value. A good way to describe this principle in action is by sharing an experience I had with Professor Lee Sandstead, chair of Founders' Department of Art History.

    Professor Sandstead was giving a tour at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and was showing the gallery's room of Medieval-era paintings of the Madonna and Child. Like most Medieval paintings, Mary and Jesus were presented as cold, un-lifelike archetypes placed upon a gold background intended to symbolize an other-worldly heaven. The one statue in the room depicted an infant Jesus precariously placed upon on his misshapen mother; rather than show Jesus as a real, life-like infant, the artist elected to depict him as a miniature adult complete with male-pattern baldness. This was a room filled with art that most people today would choose to ignore—regardless of their religious or philosophic disposition.

    Professor Sandstead asked the group to identify, among all the paintings in the room, which painting was different; which painting was the reason that there would be a Leonardo, Michelangelo, the Declaration of Independence, iPods and Elvis. It took a moment for us to find it, but one painting, rather than present its figures lifelessly and with no mother-child bond, gave a subtle hint that the painter actually believed his subjects lived here on Earth and that it mattered to his audience. This painting showed the baby Jesus holding his mother's finger in the same way that any child would. After a gap of over 1,000 years, here was a painting that attempted to portray life in this world, rather than the next.

    "There are two basic ways to look at reality," said Professor Sandstead. "You can choose to focus up there" as he emphatically reached toward the heavens, "or you can choose to focus out here," as he reached to signify this world. He went on to explain how this one painting resented a sea-change in how men perceived reality and how this change would lead to the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, America, and of course, iPods and Elvis Presley.

    As the lesson was reinforced by the rest of Professor Sandstead's tour, I was struck by how effortlessly he just explained a critical issue in philosophy and man's relationship with existence.
    See how revealing art history is?

  • So how 'bout them Democrats, huh? It's tough, isn't it, when rhetoric meets reality. As always, Cox and Forkum's cartoon makes the perfect commentary. Need I say more?

  • And on matters of defence, but on a personal scale, young Callum McPetrie explains why self-defence is so important.

  • And Liberty Scott offers an example in reverse of why some separation in powers ir required in government. What happens when political funder and the government department that is its primary fundee are merged? Scott looks at yesterday's announcement that the government wishes to merge Transit New Zealand (which is responsible for operating the state highway network) with Land Transport New Zealand (which allocates funding to Transit and all local authorities for land transport). His conclusion: it "will be a disaster." Read why: Liberty Scott: Removing accountability for highway funding.

  • Meawhile, while we're talking meddling by governments, lets take a brief and insightful look at inflation. We all need to know more about inflation: after all, it's still one the most devious taxes that government's inflict upon us, and we all need to know more about it -- especially Alan Bollard. Frank Shostak at the Mises Blog has two brilliant recent pieces that rip off the inflationary wound and show the raw scar beneath. A poor metaphor to introduce the brilliance of:
  • And The Australian has noticed Shostak's commentary. A recent piece noted:
    Dr Frank Shostak has a warning for investors. The [Australian] Reserve Bank's monetary policy is "out of control" and that means inflation is heading up, interest rates are set to rise and the share market is only being supported by excessive money supply.
    He believes the Reserve Bank uses incorrect definitions of inflation and even money itself. As a result, he says, the bank is actually causing inflation, rather than combating it. "The Reserve Bank claims that it does not print money, but merely accommodates demand, but printing money is exactly what it is doing."
    See RBA Policy Causing Inflation. The analysis is just the same for NZ's Reserve Bank. Remember, just because you don't see inflation directly, doesn't mean it isn't there.

  • The Pope. The defender of inquisitions is also a regular guy. Well, not really. But he is a funny guy. Notes Pharyngula:

    In an exercise that will tempt photoshoppers world wide, but makes alteration superfluous, an Italian magazine has run a photogallery of the Pope in various strange costumes. I rather liked cowboy Ratzi and the grim leprechaun, but my favorite has to be evil santa.

    When I get to be old and sunken-eyed, I promise…I will dress comfortably and tastefully, put away the frilled shirts and the puffy pantaloons, and avoid wearing garish velvet. It's a good suggestion for both pirates and popes.

  • A snippet from Christopher Hitchens' new book that appeared in Reason turns the tables on the conventional wisdom on religion in politics, and puts Ayn Rand in an unfamiliar position:
    The two leading public intellectuals of the American Right in the last two, three decades are Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss. Ayn Rand raised a huge number of free market concerns and was a libertarian, and Leo Strauss is well known to be the philosopher of what is now stupidly called neo-conservatism. Both had contempt for religion. Their attitudes toward it was the same as mine: that it's a silly man-made illusion.

    On the Democratic side, almost all their heroes are religious. Martin Luther King. The Kennedys. People like that. The left is saturated with the religious. A lot of my book is an attack on liberal religious illusions....

    You cannot prevent people from worshipping in their own way. But I think society could, through its education system and the examples of its politicians, gently suggest that reading Jefferson or Voltaire or Paine wouldn't be harmful to you.
  • Politics and religion. They don't mix. Politics and Islamic religion: now that's an explosive mixture. The father of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk knew that for the truth, and as a recent article notes he wasn't a "moderate Islamist" at all: he was a complete rejector of the concept of an Islamic State. No surprise that Ataturk's Turkey is at once the most successful of all Islamic countries, and the most secular -- and the one in which most Islamists most fiercely reject any integration of religion and politics. But as a recent article at Front Page by Robert Spencer, Turkish secularism needs support. "Turkish secularism is gravely threatened, and millions of Turks are deeply concerned that their country could become an Islamic state."
    The only response that has ever gained traction in the Islamic world has been not just a de facto laying-aside of Islam's political and social character, but a self-conscious elimination of that character -- and Ataturk's Turkey has been the site of the greatest success of this approach. Ataturk realized that there would be a recrudescence and reassertion of political Islam whenever there was a revival of religious fervor. Thus Kemalism presented itself not as "moderate Islam," nor as an Islamic construct at all, but as an explicit rejection of political Islam in favor of secularism. That is, it was never presented as an Islamic construct or justified by Islamic teachings, but was an explicit rejection of certain traditional aspects of Islam.
  • Now there's plenty of reading there for all of you, so don't push at the back. But finally, here's something to bookmark and keep going back to as often as you can; simply marvellous news for anyone with a genuine interest in reason, philosophy, cultural analysis and history -- or anyone with a passion for truth who wants to hear a genius at work (and that's all of you, I know).

    All of you should dive right into a major collection of audio and video recordings of Ayn Rand just released from the archives and placed online at the Ayn Rand Institute. Included are more than 48 hours of audio and video taken from 54 of Ayn Rand's public appearances, interviews and lectures.
    We believe this is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in ideas to experience first-hand one of the 20th century's most influential and provocative thinkers [said ARI's executive director Yaron Brook]. We are offering a great deal of incisive, original material, much of which is not available in print. We expect it to stimulate a great deal of discussion and interest in Ayn Rand.
    Dive in right here, at the registered members page. [Registration is free.]
Enjoy!