Tuesday, 28 August 2007

What did Thomas Jefferson say about "sustainability"?

This morning I have for you yet another why Thomas Jefferson is one of my all-time heroes.

He was the author of the Declaration of Independence -- that ringing declaration of Enlightenment values in action -- and one of history's great constitutional thinkers, helping deliver the modern world's first republic; he was the first to state explicitly that the foreign policy of a free country is explicitly free trade -- insisting too that free trade requires free sea lanes uninfested by piracy, and that appeasement of aggressors was both unprincipled and impractical. In his Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, he (with his co-author Madison) insisted on the complete legal separation of church and state -- an insistence without historical precedent, and still an example of how (and why) such a separation should be effected.

Jefferson lent his great mind to almost every area of human affairs, and in each he offered important and path-breaking insight.

And it turns out too he even had something to say about today's fashionable concern: sustainability.

In common use, "sustainability" amounts to a hand-wringing concern with "the well-being of future generations" -- notwithstanding that the wishes, desires and concerns of future generations are in no way known by this one, and that everything indicates (to the extent at least that the enemies of progress are unsuccessful) that future generations will be infinitely wealthier than this one -- a concern then both irrational and unethical, sacrificing as it does the wealth, prosperity and industry of today to a future that is never allowed to arrive.

Answering this question on the possible claims of future generations on this one (in a letter to Madison in a discussion on the Bill of Rights), Jefferson said, in short, that the Earth belongs to the living.
The question whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. ... I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, "that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;" that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it...
Explains Lubos Motl in a lucid post entitled 'Was Thomas Jefferson an Alarmist,'
Jefferson said very explicitly that the past generations - the dead people - or the people who are not yet living have no right to control the resources that exist at a given moment or bind the future generations to pay any money (or land). That's a good policy because otherwise we would be governed by zombies...  
According to Jefferson (as well as any other person who understands some of the basic principles of Western democracy), a generation has no right to bind another generation, e.g. by carbon targets or a territorial debt. Jefferson declares clearly that everything about these resources should be decided by the people who live at the particular moment. The Earth belongs to them in "usufruct". The purpose of this word - meaning the right to use assets of someone else - seems controversial but I certainly assume that the actual owner according to Jefferson is God or Nature and not future generations or anything of this sort... ...[T]he first generation or generations have the right to use them. 
How it could be otherwise? The civilization would be completely dysfunctional if people who don't live right now had any rights to decide what happens tonight. Jefferson knows it, every sane person knows it - probably not only in the West. Hansen doesn't. 
According to Jefferson, should our generation try to give gifts to the future generations out of the resources that, as he has explained, effectively belong to the living generation? Do these distant generations have such special relationships with each other and obligations with respect to each other? Once again, Jefferson is very transparent - maybe too transparent for our tastes, tastes of 21st century sissies - about the relationship that should exist between different generations:
... but that between society and society, or generation and generation, there is no municipal obligation, no umpire but the law of nature. We seem not to have perceived that, by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independent nation to another.
It's the law of nature, reality itself, that the notion of sustainability seeks to flout. And it's the good Mr Jefferson to whom who we can look to point that out.

Wind turbine kills man

A reminder from Oregon that accidents don't just happen at coal mines:
Man killed after wind tower collapses - KOMO TV, Seattle.
The incident happened about 4 p.m. at a wind farm about six miles east of the town of Wasco in Sherman County . . . Portland-based PPM Energy owns the wind farm but Florida-based Siemens Power Generation manufactured and owns the wind turbine tower that collapsed. . .
UPDATE: Germany's Der Spiegel magazine has been looking at a spate of turbine troubles in recent years:
After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting.
See: The Dangers of Wind Power - Der Speigel [English language]

Monday, 27 August 2007

More Mother Teresa

Do bears shit in the woods? Is the pope a catholic? Was Mother Teresa a believer?

One of these three things is under question: CBS News reports that according to letters of hers about to be published, Mother Teresa was "tormented" by "doubts concerning her faith." Mario has some thoughts on the news that tie in with what we already know about the evil Albanian witch:
It seems that Mother Teresa wasn’t turning Atheist, but only indulging in a little self-flagellation — a perfectly Christian pastime.
Read Mario's post here: Is the Pope Catholic? - Coarsely Ground
And some previous posts on the Albanian witch here:
UPDATE: A comment on this by Lindsay Perigo rather concentrates the mind:

One would hope God has been dealt a hellish blow with Mother Teresa's letters having come to light. "... the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves but does not speak ..."

'Cos there's no one there dear! ;^)
Instructive that MT's expression of the emptiness at the heart of religion has been massaged by the faithful into an expression of faith. As more than one commentater has pointed out, when doubts such as these are used to confirm a doctrine, then what could possibly disconfirm it?

Christopher Hitchens (again) says it "as calmly as I can—the Church should have had the elementary decency to let the earth lie lightly on this troubled and miserable lady, and not to invoke her long anguish to recruit the credulous to a blind faith in which she herself had long ceased to believe."

Vote early

Over at Farrar's blog you get to vote on a name for the Labour Party's Electoral Finance Bill. Don't let me sway you, but I like the sense of history manifested in the title, Electoral Theft No. 2 Bill, but all the options are compelling.

Not guilty by association

I haven't posted on the Clark Government's attacks on John Key, mostly because the attacks have avoided all the obvious targets, but one in particular has got up my nose: the guilt by association that is supposed to be engendered by Key being a director with architect Colin Leuschke in a company owning one Auckland building. Now Leuschke's architectural style isn't exactly my cup of tea, but if you visit his company's website and watch the slideshow(for which you'll need your 'Flash' switched on), you'll realise that association with him is nothing about which to be guilty.

Funny but dumb

You know, John Stewart's a funny guy, and The Daily Show's always good for a giggle, but it's also true that Stewart's Show isn't really news. You have to get that somewhere else. Bush's very good speech to the US Veteran's of Foreign Wars for example -- to an audience, like our own RSA, who would be expected to understand something of the history about which he speaks -- is somewhat different in the reading of it than it is in Stewart's funny but dumb presentation to his TV audience, who I'd expect to know bugger all about what they're invited to laugh at.

But that's TV, isn't it.

Fisk for 'troof'

It had to happen. Robert Fisk -- the man for whom the verb "to fisk" was invented -- the man who stood on the road to Baghdad telling his worldwide television audience that Saddam's defences were "impenetrable" and American tanks would never pass -- the reporting of whom Osama Bin Laden famously declared to be "neutral," and by whom Bin Liner specifically asked to be interviewed -- has signed up to the bogus, braindead, era-defining 9/11 conspiracy theory: Bush did it. Rove did it. Osama apparently didn't do it. So suggests the "neutral" Fisk.

And there are people who still consider this entity a journalist. As Simon Hoggart once said of him, he is "not just mistaken, but reliably mistaken."

UPDATE 1: Cartoonists Cox and Forkum recommend the blog Screw Loose Change as a comprehensive rebuttal of the conspiratorial nonsense of the misnamed "truth" movement. Backing up this recommendation, they're already onto Fisk's folly.

UPDATE 2: After thoroughly fisking Fisk with a welter of specifics (and please visit and digest before you start peddling conspiratorial crap here at this blog), Ed at the 26H blog reflects on motive:
Now that the specifics are out of the way, allow me to indulge in some conspiratorial thinking of my own: According to one Robert J. Hanlon, one should “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. Wise words though they are, Hanlon’s Razor, as it is known, only goes so far. It just doesn’t seem particularly feasible, for instance, to think that an experienced journalist like Fisk could have written such a straightforwardly error-ridden and innuendo-laden article due to incompetence alone. Further, he’s also reasonably well known for both fostering and manifesting a Westerner’s self-loathing of the most wretched kind. So, it seems at least possible that Fisk wrote this piece for purely ideological reasons: To spread misinformation and doubt about the core premise for some of the United States’ least popular actions – to groundlessly and cynically call 9/11 itself into question.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Today's commandment from above: Obey or be damned

Once again we look into the book from whence believers supposedly receive their moral guidance. According to that book, the virtue of obedience is greater than the virtue of independence.

According to that book, obedience to civil authorities is a form of obedience to God himself ("anyone who resists authority opposes what God has ordained") ; and obedience to God is mandatory -- in fact, "they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." See 1 Peter, 13-17 and Romans, 13:2, if you can stomach it.

Sounds to me like a recipe for statism and inquisitions and jihad, and just another reason to look in better places than this barbaric book for your moral guidance. Here's some much better guidance:

"An individualist is a man who says: ‘I will not run anyone’s life--nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone--nor anyone to myself." - Ayn Rand
And this:

. . . The man
Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys:
Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches, and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanised automaton.
............................-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab

Friday, 24 August 2007

Beer O'Clock: Mac's Sassy Redd

Your Beer O'Clock post this week is written by Stu. Give it up for Real Beer and the Society for Beer Advocates (SOBA).

When Lion Nathan's Mac's range was rebranded just before Christmas last year, there were a fair few beer redundancies from the old range. The much lauded 'Reserve' and 'Copperhop' got the chop, as did the highly-acclaimed 'Wicked Blonde' pilsner, the effeminate 'Blonde' and a couple of other lesser known drops. Besides the old staples of Gold and Black, only one beer actually survived the cut. That beer was Sassy Red.

This was no surprise. The beer, one of the many brainchildren of Mac's head brewer Colin Paige, has beaten off formidable local and international competition to win Best In Class trophies at the last four BrewNZ competitions. In September's BrewNZ awards it'll be gunning for five in a row, an amazing feat should Mac's manage to pull it off.

Sassy Red pours an inviting reddish bronze, with a tight off-white head. A good deal of malt nuttiness and its famous fruity 'hopsack' aroma abound on the nose. In the mouth it's medium-dry, slightly toasty, and has a huge hop burst of tropical fruit and well ripened strawberry. The bitterness is firm, tending to an iron-like intensity. Delicious. It's certainly a beer that benefits from venting - I find it a little too carbonated straight from the bottle, but by the time I'm halfway through the glass it's quite superb.

Colin Paige is rightly proud of his award winning amber ale. Pound for pound, or more appropriately dollar for dollar, it's got to be one of New Zealand's best beers. Proof that the big companies can brew great beer when they trust a good brewer. Get your head in a hopsack tonight.

AS AN ASIDE, Sassy Red's brash name has been an inspiration as much as its recipe. Murray's Brewing Co, a rising Australian craft brewery with a kiwi head brewer, has a come out with a Sassy Blonde. While Harrington's, a prolific little brewery in Christchurch, has come out with a particularly cheeky name for their hoppy amber ale: Classy Red. Check these beers out if you ever get the chance. I'm hearing good whispers from the right people about both beers.

BTW, limited tickets are still available for the BrewNZ Awards Party (Wed 12 Sep at Wellington's Shed 22. Join brewers, judges, sponsors, media, beer glitterati (that's me) and Neil Miller (our beery excellent MC) as the 2007 award winning beers are announced ($75 cocktail food and drinks inclusive). See the below link for more information.

Slainte mhath, Stu

“Wow, you’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones."

As Damien O'Connor ponders introducing electronic jamming of cellphones to NZ prisons, Stephen Franks suggests the need to jam cellphones in prisons is evidence of something a little more serious. Explaining this latest move to Arizona prison officials, where he's been on a fact-finding tour on behalf of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, the following exchange ensued.
“How do you deal with the cell phone problem?” I asked.
As I said, they’re not allowed” was the answer.
“But what about smuggled ones” I persisted.
We check them in at the door, and all staff go through the metal detector.”
“No, I mean� cell phones in the hands of prisoners.”
Do you guys give your prisoners cell phones?!
“No - they just get them, perhaps from visitors, or corrupt guards” we explained. “Our Minister of Corrections has simply given up ensuring that they can’t get them. He says it’s the same all over the world.”
Wow, you’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones. Ours simply can’t have them. Don’t you do strip searches? How do you keep out drugs then? What about weapons?"
Weapons? Drugs? Cell phones? Crikey, ours is a prison system in which a NZ prison officer can smuggle in a forty-foot yacht dubbed HMS Corrections for his prisoners to work on. As the Arizona prison officer says, We’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones.

"Dynamic architecture" - David Fisher

Architect David Fisher has designed this building in Dubai, is an example he says of what he calls dynamic architecture -- architecture that moves. Very difficult to show with just a picture oor two. Visit his website and watch the short movie to get an introduction to what he means by that: some of the images are stunning.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Free speech in opposition banned "for one third of your life."

The only people I know in favour of Labour's Election Finance Bill are Labour cabinet ministers and would-be Labour cabinet ministers. The Bill is an outrage: an affront to democracy, to free speech and to freedom. It is the fact , as Lindsay Perigo notes, that if you're opposed to what the government and its minions are doing, then for one third of your life the bill will prohibit you from expressing that opinion publicly.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an outrage, and it's gratifying that so many have grasped the affront to a free country that this represents and spoken out. There is an understanding, I think, that there are lines beyond which no government in a democracy should cross, and this bill is way, way over that line.

So many are against it that John Key has now calculated it's safe to have an opinion. Continuing his policy of leading from behind, he finally delivered that opinion in a speech this week to the National Press Club. It is, as Audrey Young says, a cracker.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe you get the democracy you are prepared to stand up for. Here in New Zealand we often take our democratic freedoms for granted. We think they will always be there. We have a Bill of Rights which is supposed to protect our right to freedom of expression. What on Earth could go wrong?

I have a different view. I believe what Thomas Jefferson said – that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We cannot and we must not take democratic freedoms for granted. Because, in reality, it is not a Bill of Rights that protects our rights. It is not up to a solicitor in the Crown Law Office or an official in the Ministry of Justice. In the end, it is not up to the government at all.

The protection of rights lies with us, the citizens of New Zealand. There are times when we have to stand up for our rights, and the rights of our neighbours and friends, and indeed the rights of people we totally disagree with, or else these rights will begin to erode away. And this, I say to you, is one of those times. Because this bill is an assault on what it means to be a New Zealander, and this bill is an abuse of the trust we have in the government to protect the institutions that make us proud to call this country home.

Great stuff. It is indeed a very good speech to an audience who would be right behind it ... but I still can't help thinking when I read "National's Proposals" that I can hear a deal in the wind.

Can I see a show of hands who think that despite the fine words, that we can emphatically rule out a last-minute deal from John Boy?

Taser trials

One year of taser trialling is nearly over, and there is now a decision to be made: Do we want the police we pay for to carry tasers. Here below is what I said one year ago. I don't think we've learned anything since to change it?
* * * * *
Steven Wallace. Constable Murray Stretch. Detective Constable Duncan Taylor. Three people who may still be alive if the police had been allowed to carry tasers before now.

So tasers are a good thing. Let the trial begin!

  • Their use has been abused by police departments overseas.
  • NZ's thuggish police culture has become evident in traffic policing and recent court hearings.
  • We still have many, many laws on the books that are an affront to personal liberty, and that suggest that no matter what internal police guidelines are established for their use, tasers used by the NZ police are going to be used against some people that have committed no real crime, and some of them will be used when and how they shouldn't.
So if our police force was run by angels and we only had good law on the books, tasers would be an unreservedly good thing. Does that perhaps show the urgency of getting our laws right, and proper checks and balances over our police force?

I think so. Fine words and promises aren't enough. You can imagine for yourself how much restraint such fine words would exercise on Clint Rickards and his colleagues. If Tasers are to be introduced, proper legal checks and balance must be introduced to effect firm, entrenched, systematic and transparent restraint. Victimless crime laws must be repealed so innocent people are not 'Tased.' And as I argued here a short while ago, police systems need to urgently change to fix what most of us already know: that all is not well with the force. Trevor's ten points for fixing police systems would be something else to get on with quick-smart.

If the introduction of Tasers is urgent, as I believe it is, then all this needs to happen with speed.

And here's one further point:
  • If the police are allowed to defend themselves with pepper spray and tasers, then why can't we? Why shouldn't NZers be allowed to own Tasers to defend themselves from attack? If the police need to defend themselves as a matter of urgency, which they do, then how much more urgent is it that we who are their employers are able to defend ourselves.
LINKS: Taser trial starts Friday - TVNZ
Taser protection - Not PC (an earlier post on which this one is based)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Law, Victimless_Crimes, Self-Defence

How to annoy your graphic designer

These days everyone you meet is a graphic designer. The Tomahawk Kid -- a graphic designer, woudn't you know -- has eight ways to get up the nose of a graphic designer.

You're bound to get a chance to use the information shortly.

Only one third as warm

Alarmist science says that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to an atmospheric temperature rise of 3.3 degrees Celsius. However:
New research from Stephen Schwartz of Brookhaven National Lab [suggests] that the Earth’s climate is only about one-third as sensitive to carbon dioxide as the IPCC assumes. Schwartz’s study is “in press” at the Journal of Geophysical Research and you can download a preprint of the study here.

According to Schwartz’s results, which are based on the empirical relationship between trends in surface temperature and ocean heat content, doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would result in a 1.1oC increase in average temperature (0.1–2.1oC, two standard deviation uncertainty range).
Got that? If Schwartz's research is correct -- and like other warmists, he's using the deservedly maligned climate models to read this crystal ball -- a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will see temperature increases above natural warming just one-third warmer than warmists insist on. Warmists' crystal balls predict there carbon dioxide levels will be roughly double that of the pre-Industrial Revolution era sometime around 2070; If Schwartz's research is right, we can look forward to a 0.6 degree Celsius surcharge in 2070 due to that doubling.

If he's right, seems a reasonable price to pay for the industry that keeps us all alive.

Joel Schwartz at Planet Gore highlights three more important points of Stephen Schwartz's research:
  • Aerosols have a relatively small effect on temperature. A doubling of CO2 has an estimated climate “forcing” of 2.7 watts per square centimeter (W/cm2). In contrast, actual aerosol concentrations during the 20th Century had a forcing of -0.3 W/cm2 with a large uncertainty range that could mean either net cooling or net warming from aerosols.
  • The response time, or “time constant”, of the climate to greenhouse gas forcing is relatively small—only five years. In other words, there’s hardly any additional warming “in the pipeline” from previous greenhouse gas emissions. This is in contrast to the IPCC, which predicts that the Earth’s average temperature will rise an additional 0.6oC during the 21st Century even if greenhouse gas concentrations stopped increasing.
Schwartz is careful to include the appropriate caveats to his results. But he also shows that his estimates are consistent with much of the previous literature on the subject.
That last point is important. Although Schwartz is using the same system of climate models as other warmists, unlike those other models Schwartz's is able to explain the rising and falling and rising and falling of temperatures over the twentieth century, and the temperature decline since 1998.

Joel Schwartz has the summary at Planet Gore: Overcoming the "Consensus" in One Fell Swoop.
Stephen Schwartz has the full research paper here: Heat Capacity, Time Constant & Sensitivity of Earth's Climate System [pdf].

Usonian 2000

A modern day 'Usonian' house -- a house built in emulation of the Usonian houses that Frank Lloyd Wright built from the thirties to the fifties -- built in 2000 by an enthusiastic retired couple who had long desired to, as they put it, "experience Usonian living."

The couple's web site documenting the house and the construction is here: Red House.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Contaminated common sense

Everyone seems all aflutter over the prospect of formaldehyde in their clothes, despite the apparent ease with which one can remove the stuff by simply washing them before you put them on. Contaminated clothes is the issue of the morning for the media--the perfect "human disinterest story."

Remember though when everyone was all aflutter over contaminated soils? Auckland's councils, if you'll recall, insisted people's backyards had been contaminated by earlier horticultural use, and between them they insisted that we be all aflutter over what horrors these contaminated soils might lead to.

Councils issued all sorts of press statements and placed all sorts of legal declarations on property titles. Parents were warned not to let their children play outside, and to take particular care with washing vegetables grown in these soils, and to wear gloves while gardening. Values of sections plummeted and many sales were lost because of the scare. Newspapers were sold, television reporters looked concerned, and everyone got right into the swing (as you do) of being all aflutter.

Guess what? There was nothing to worry about. Notes Owen McShane, who at the time was one of the few to actually look at the scare story objectively:
[Recent] Auckland Regional Council minutes record that good science has now prevailed and the "thresholds" for contamination have been brought into line with international best practice with the result that hardly any properties in Auckland can be declared contaminated.

At the time of "the great panic" ARC press releases were claiming that up to 5,000 residential sites in Auckland City had been rendered toxic by their previous use as vineyards, orchards or general horticulture.

A "well informed source" tells me that, using the revised criteria, this number has been reduced to maybe half a dozen sites.
A chocolate fish goes to the first person who sees this news reported anywhere other than the usual few skeptics of this stuff. As McShane concludes, "in spite of the huge newspaper and general media coverage given to the claimed crisis of toxic soils in Auckland's back yards at the time ... the public has not been advised that those fears have now proven groundless, and that the ARC has changed its criteria. This is an unfortunate pattern. Premature science is used to scare people witless, and the news media have a field day. But when the science finally proves the fears to be totally without foundation there is no attempt to set the record straight."
So the ARC is to be congratulated for admitting error and setting things to rights.
But shouldn't someone let the Auckland public know?
The real scare story is not contaminated clothes or uncontaminated soils, but contaminated common sense.

New party logos

Following the announcement of the new United Future logo--variously described as "a striking representation of a macadamia nut in a c-clamp; the fat guy with a napkin who exploded in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life; a blocked pore; an amoeba spitting out an unpalatable particle; an iced christmas pudding; a man sitting on a skylight seen from below; the side of a bull's head; an infection of that dangly bit at the back of the throat; the miracle of birth; a man waving; a galleon with a very small sail; sunrise in the grand canyon; a slug playing volleyball with itself; Gerry Brownlee sitting in a beanbag; a couple of blobs"--Lyndon Hood, who supplied all those descriptions, has hacked into the parliamentary computers and discovered what logos many of the other party's are toying with, many of which seem a perfect fit with the directions in which many of those parties are heading...

See Scoop Satire: New Logos.

'Sp!ked' punctures the irrational

If you haven't subscribed to Sp!ked Online, then you really are missing out. Here just three recent pieces of brilliance from Sp!ked.
  • "Can you imagine anything worse than spending a day in a muddy field with a bunch of dreadlocked doom-mongerers who are busy building compost toilets and solar cookers as they preach about eco-salvation and the need for everyone to get ‘in touch with nature’? Well, that is precisely the situation – or perhaps ‘predicament’ – I found myself in as I ventured to the week-long Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow airport. There, a ragbag of green-leaning activists is protesting against the construction of a third runway, and against flying in general." Read more of Nathalie Rothschild's perceptive piece on these "dreadlicked doom-mongerers": Heathrow Protest-Not So Happy Campers - Natalie Rothschild.

  • I mentioned in my Weekend Ramble Richard Dawkins' new BBC TV series The Enemies of Reason [you can watch Part One here at GoogleVideo]. Neil Davenport suggests that while it's great that Dawkins is keeping up his attack on the irrationalists, "latest TV attack on tarot-readers and the mystic-obsessed masses lets some far more dangerous irrationalists off the hook." Who are those " more dangerous irrationalists" I hear you ask?
    Contemporary hi-tech irrationality is definitely [more of] a problem. For example, the idea that long-distance air travel should be banned on the basis of a belief that CO2 emissions = global warming doesn’t stand up to rational calculations or proof. How would cutting back on air travel make much of a difference, when aviation only contributes about three per cent of global CO2 emissions? Cutting back our carbon in order to ‘save the world’ is also a form of superstition. Or why not investigate the tidal waves of doomsday scenarios that also have no basis in reality or science - such as the headlines that were common a year ago, which claimed that ‘150 million expected to die from bird flu’? These outbursts of official irrationality have a potentially more destructive impact on society than a handful of camp astrologers and mediums.
    Good point. Read on at: Let's Unveil the Real Enemies of Reason - Neil Davenport.

  • Like many of you, I've heard the fatalistic notion that "increasing birthrates" among Muslim Europeans will lead to the Islamification of Europe. I've seen the arguments and I've thought very little of them: to my mind such notions flat out ignore the role of ideas in human society, and by focussing instead on a "barnyard" view of intellectual development it gives credence to the idea that religion is something you're born into, rather than a foolish notion you've chosen to adopt. Frank Furedi states the point bluntly:
    Blaming Europe’s decline on the fertility rates of fecund immigrants misses the point that the continent is politically, not physically, exhausted.
    Read: The End of Europe - Frank Furedi.
A Frank Lloyd Wright 'prefab' home from the 195os, the Duncan House has just been relocated and opened for business as a guest house. Book your stay online. That's the 1950s perspective, below, and (above) the house today in its new setting.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

NZ's credit boom

Bernard Hickey seeks an explanation for where the credit is coming from to buy all those houses, and why the NZ dollar lost fourteen cents last week.

One graph tells the story of where the real capital has come from, and when and why it needs to be either repaid or rolled over, but I note he fails to point out that at least some of that credit will have been used productively, and he overlooks in his all-too neat story the fifteen percent year-on-year expansion of virtual credit by the Reserve Bank . . .

Making sense of the ultimate evil

Standing under the gates at Auschwitz and trying to make sense of this place whose every shadow is the very embodiment of evil, philosopher Jon Jacobs makes this profoundly important point:
Once you accept the proposition that people can be used without their consent, this is where you end. Philosopher Doug den Uyl then added, 'And the first step towards thinking people can be used without their consent is to claim that the individual exists for the sake of society.'
Read the whole post at Stephen Hicks' site: Scroll down to those gates, stand in their shadow for a moment, and contemplate the certainty that man's proper state is to exist for his own sake, not for the sake of society. Down any other road is the path of destruction.

"Multiculturalism is no boon..."

The notion of multiculturalism permeates western classrooms, and according to those promoting it multiculturalism promotes tolerance and diversity. Does it really? Then why does it find the need to cherrypick from the cultures it promotes? Writes Elan Journo,

Many parents and teachers regard multiculturalism as an indispensable educational supplement, a salutary influence that "enriches" the curriculum. But is it?

With the world's continents bridged by the Internet and global commerce, multiculturalism claims to offer a real value: a cosmopolitan, rather than provincial, understanding of the world beyond the student's immediate surroundings. But it is a peculiar kind of "broadening."

Multiculturalists would rather have students admire the primitive patterns of Navajo blankets, say, than learn why Islam's medieval golden age of scientific progress was replaced by fervent piety and centuries of stagnation. Leaf through a school textbook and you'll find that there is a definite pattern behind multiculturalism's reshaping of the curriculum. What multiculturalists seek is not the goal they advertise, but something else entirely.
Read on for Elan's answer to what that "something else" actually is, and why that so frequently leads multiculturalists to a double blindness: blind first of all to the primitive savagery of the cultures they lionise, and blind too to the civilising virtues of reason and freedom.

Read: Multiculturalism's War on Education - Elan Journo, Capitalism Magazine.

Money quote: "Multiculturalism is no boon to education, but an agent of anti-Western ideology."

Mark Inglis, again

A brief word here from the archives on the issue of Mark Inglis, his heroic climb and the tragic death of David Sharp...

"...they want people who are wealthy to become poor and people who are poor to stay poor."

A friend spotted this, from John Key in today's Herald:
"Frankly you have to ask the question what these people [Labour] believe in," Mr Key said.
"What we know is they don't like people who are poor that become wealthy, and they don't like people who are wealthy and stay wealthy - so the only conclusion can be that they want people who are wealthy to become poor and people who are poor to stay poor."
As my friend says, it's probably the cleverest and most profound thing he's said so far. And it's true.

Racism in Outer-Roa

Another day of racism here in Outer-Roa.

A day in which people will continue to talk about a racist report prepared by a racist subcommittee about racism in Outer-Roa.

A day in which a racist supra-tribal leader will deliver a racist speech to a racist audience, amid revelations that he's a fully paid up member of the Racist Party which is intent on furthering a racist agenda.

And what do you think the racist leader will say today? He could follow Lindsay Perigo's suggestion and call for his subjects to put tribalism and racism behind them; to stop being losers demanding that others provide them with a living; to get a proper education, get a job, stop beating and killing their children, and stop living in the past and under the shadow of a self-inflicted chip on their shoulder.

Or he could make the call to further politicise racism, make demands for subsidised separatism, and to cement in for another generation a culture of grievance and entitlement.

Which path do you think Tainui's king will set out on today? Which path do you think he should set out on?

'The Teachers' House' - Meghiddo Architects

'The Teachers' House,' Tel Aviv, by Meghiddo Architects.

The architects' website describes the project:
The Teacher's House, located in [located in the midst of an affluent residential neighbourhood in] Tel Aviv, is a new building type conceived to service Israel's teachers community as a gathering center for learning and social activities, such as conferences, seminars, exhibitions and concerts.

We decided to create a garden-building where plants become a building material along exposed concrete and stone; where landscape design, totally integrated to architecture, becomes a tool of education; where human movement is stimulated by continuously changing spaces.
More details at the architect's site.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Bad news: It's nearly as warm as the 1930s!

Despite the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent worldwide to find and manufacture evidence of worldwide catastrophe, that recalcitrant evidence just resolutely refuses to surface. Instead, the bad news for warmists just continues to mount. Christopher Brooker summarises the latest four pieces of bad news for catastrophists:
  • As I mentioned here in my weekend ramble, NASA's admission that their collection of temperature data was 'merely good enough for government work' and their subsequent correction of their surface temperature record has confirmed that the hottest decade over the last century is (envelope please) the 1930s.
    Instead of temperatures reaching their highest level in the past decade, ... the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934. Of the 10 warmest years since 1880, it turns out that four were in the 1930s and only three in the past decade.The significance of this is that James Hansen, the head of [NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies], has been Al Gore's closest scientific ally for nearly 20 years in promoting the global warming scare. The revised figures relate only to temperatures in North America but the fact that the pre-eminent scientific champion of the orthodoxy has been promoting erroneous data has considerable implications...
    Sure does. Looks like all that CO2 produced since the war has made the world ... nearly as hot now as it was before all that carbon was pumped out. Can someone please point me to the catastrophe?
The other three pieces of bad news that Brooker highlights are all related to measures insisted upon by governments (at huge expense) to counter the catastrophe that isn't.
  • A study reported in Science finds that "the increasing production of biofuels to combat climate change will release between two and nine times more CO2 into the atmosphere in the next 30 years than generating the same energy from fossil fuels." Oops!
  • John Boy Key wants NZ to cut carbon emissions by fifty percent by 2050. Good luck: a leaked memorandum has confirmed "that the UK will not be able to comply with a European Council decision last March that the EU must derive 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020." The target, say officials charged to make it happen "is not remotely achievable," and the attempt to do so "could cost UK electricity users alone an additional £22 billion a year, nearly £1,000 a year for every household. This is 2 per cent of GDP, and double Sir Nicholas Stern's estimate for the entire cost of halting global warming." Oops again!
  • And it just keeps getting worse for warmists. Notes Brooker again:
    A final awkward finding comes from the world's leading expert on the financial costs of tackling global warming. Prof William Nordhaus, of Yale, has just published calculations showing that cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the scale proposed by Gore might possibly save $12 trillion (£12,000bn) - but that their cost would be nearly three times as much, $34 trillion, more than half the world's GDP. Even for those who still believe the likes of Gore and Hansen, it hardly sounds like the bargain of the century.
Proof not just that hundreds of millions of dollars doesn't necessarily buy good science, but as Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton says, "if socialist central planning doesn't work at seventeen degrees, then why would it work at nineteen?" Turns out it doesn't.

Read: Christopher Broooker's Notebook - Daily Telegraph (UK). [Hat tip, Marcus]

UPDATE: Dr Vincent Gray's recent paper 'Faking the Figures' throws much-needed light on Hansen's recent embarrassment, and on where and how that "global average temperature" figure is produced from a record in no such thing as a global average actually exists. Great background.

Won again.

Well, your team might have lost over the weekend, but mine has now won fifteen on the trot . . .

Roll on September!

Three wine spritzers and one large red Rudd, please.

Sydney Daily Telegraph: Kevin Rudd’s hopes of becoming Prime Minister have been rocked by a visit to a New York strip club where he was warned against inappropriate behaviour during a drunken night while representing Australia at the United Nations... Mr Rudd went to the club, which is a , with New York Post editor Col Allan and Northern Territory Labor MP Warren Snowdon ...
The club is "well-known haunt of UN diplomats and journalists." Tim Blair reckons "the UN connection" is the most embarrassing behaviour: "What on earth was Rudd thinking?"

Blogs in the boardroom

What would business meetings be like if they were more like blog comments? Wonder no more--this short clip has it all.

Apprenticeships: Not achieved

Tradesmen are the workers of the world. Successful tradesmen are the lifeblood of an industrial economy; their intelligent labours make possible the production and infrastructure without which there is no industrial economy.

New Zealand has too few tradesmen, too few apprentices and the number is getting fewer. Traditional apprenticeships were killed off by the so called "seamless education" promoted by Lockwood Smith's NCEA, and Labour's so called "Modern Apprenticeships" have signally failed to fulfil the headline promises of posturing politicians.

Last year it was revealed for example that only 11 percent of the students who passed their National Certificate in Politically Correct Plumbing managed to subsequently pass a genuinely testing examination that was set by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.

And this morning's Press reveals [hat tip Whale Oil] that even those students who start these "Modern Apprenticeships" are mostly failing to finish.
Figures made public suggest [only] 46 per cent of those enrolled in 2001 and 2002 completed their training in the expected four years.
A calculation that's beyond most NCEA graduates reveals that 54 percent of those starting these apprenticeships failed to finish. That's pathetic. "More than $100 million has been committed to [Labour's "Modern Apprencticeship" scheme] since its launch in 2000," yet "as at December 31, [only] 9466 active modern apprentices were in training," and barely 3000 had completed their training.

That really is pathetic. Unemployment among sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds is at fourteen percent; loads of youngsters are heading off to uni to get degrees in "visual communications design," "contemporary cultural studies," and "critical education theory." Meanwhile, the country's employers are crying out for skilled tradesmen. Has anyone idea where they're going to come from, or how it's possible to interest youngsters in learning about good tradecraft instead of bullshit?

Perhaps it might encourage them if they learned that New Zealand's richest man started out in life as an apprentice panel beater?

See also:

Sunday, 19 August 2007


Conviction alone can move mountains. That's the overwhelming feeling of the liberal, for whom deep emotions alone are sufficient proof of righteousness and scientific veracity.

Six hundred naked Swiss liberals test that theory by attempting to move mountains full of ice by means of just their genitalia and their convictions. Beyond slow grinding sounds, the glacier they confronted was not heard to comment. [Hat tip Tim Blair]

The story of the foreskins.

Another fine story from the book in which one really shouldn't seek good rules for living. Today, the story of David.

Jesus, the book tells us, was "the son of David." He was, the book tells us, born into "the Kingdom of David." So what do we know about this David that makes him so all-fired admirable? Fortunately, for you, The Brick Testament tells the story of this good bastard, and in pictures!
My own favourite is the story of the foreskins: How David slew 187 Philistines in order to harvest their foreskins (picture above) to buy himself a wife. He kept collecting wives for some reason, including having his God kill men in order get their wives, but never again did he get such a good price for so few foreskins.

Truly, you might think, here beholdeth a good bastard, and a fine example for young men to follow.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Weekend Ramble #24

Another random walk through sites, sounds and smells that caught your editor's eyes, ears and funnybone over the last week.
  • If there's one complaint Arrol Gellner hears again and again from contractors, tradespeople and anyone else involved in the practical end of building, it's this: "Why don't architects have to serve an apprenticeship in construction?"

    His usual two-word answer is, "Good question." It seems self-evident, he says, that a person entrusted with designing an entire building should have at least a passing knowledge of how that building will be put together--a proposition that's always made sense to me; it just seems incomprehensible that people directing construction teams so often have literally no idea what they're doing.
    See: Best Architects Get Down in the Ditches - Arrol Gellner.

  • The Anti-Planner has spent the last week demonstrating that US rail transport is more wasteful of energy than your average fleet of private cars. His conclusion: "Building rail transit provides no assurance of saving any energy." Go visit and learn, and then for Galt's sake take Russel Norman and John Banks aside and give them the news.

  • And now, something for warmists and skeptics alike: If you hated Martin Durkin's film The Great Global Warming Swindle then there's something new to despise. If you thought it the perfect rejoinder to Al Bore's ninety minutes of lying, then you're going to love all the new supplementary video material that's now been released.
    Visit Google Video for: The Great Global Warming Swindle - Supplementary Material (60 min.)
    Infuriate a warmist now: Send them the link with your compliments.

  • Speaking of infuriating warmists, ask the one nearest you which year has been the warmest year on record? If they say 1998, they're wrong. NASA has now admitted (very, very quietly) that the warmest year on record is actually 1934. The man who forced NASA's admission of an error in their gathering and manipulation of surface temperature data is mathematician and Hockey Stick debunker Steve McIntyre, who has been infuriating NASA's James Hansen for some time.
    As readers of Not PC will know, his latest enthusiasm has been tracking down errors in the surface temperature record that's used to provide the evidence for the warmists' creed, and he spotted a strange dislocation in the record about 1999 that he discovered was caused by a change in the method of temperature that had been unaccounted for.
    NASA has wriggled, but admitted the error. Stories everywhere, but the most reasoned sources are these:
  • NASA spokesman and Real Climate blogger Gavin Schmidt admits the error, but sniffily dismisses these adjustments as only "very minor changes." (Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me ... ) Perhaps minor scientifically, but even the uber-smug Schmidt isn't so disingenuous not to know the major political capital that's been invested in alarmist claims based on his organisation's provably shonky statistics.

  • So just for the record then:
    • The period between 2002 and 2006, where the average was 0.66ºC above the century's norm, is still warmer than 1930-1934, where an increase of 0.63ºC was the largest in the early part of the century.
    • But both periods are beaten by the 1998-2002 period, in which average temperature was 0.79ºC hotter than normal.
    Make of that what you will--as I'm sure you're going to.

  • What happens when Brit motoring writer Jeremy Clarkson and his two sidekicks try to motor through Alabama with cars daubed with slogans such as "Man Love Rules," Hillary for President," and "Country & Western Sucks"? Watch this YouTube video and find out. [Hat tip Clint Heine]. It's not too much to say they almost died laughing...

  • "Colonisation and slavery have created a sentiment of culpability in the West that leads people to adulate foreign traditions. This," says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "is a lazy, even racist attitude."Pascal Bruckner agrees, condemning the very idea of contemporary multicuturalism as "chaining people to their roots."
    See: Enlightenment Fundamentalism, or Racism of the Anti-Racists? - Pascal Bruckner.

  • A new essay from the Ayn Rand Institute argues that neoconservative foreign policy is fundamentally flawed and incapable of achieving America's true national interests. The authors offer a rational and comprehensive foreign policy alternative here: The Rise & Fall of Neoconservative Foreign Policy.

  • I'm often asked about the difference between libertarians and Objectivists. I'm proud to say that in NZ the answer is "very little"--most NZ libertarians realise that liberty without philosophy is illusory. Not so in North America however, where the difference between the two is one unbridgeable chasm wide. These two posts and the subsequent exchanges between Peter Jaworski and Paul McKeever of Ontario's Freedom Party highlight the differences between Objectivists and US libertarians, and I think help to demonstrate that without a philosophical foundation, politics is a dangerous pursuit of empty words, floating abstractions, and range-of-the-moment compromises.
    See Libertarians & Objectivists, and What Do You Have to Believe to Be a Libertarian?, and the subsequent exchanges to both.

  • In fact the point for which Objectivists argue is the importance of what blogger Noumenal Self calls "Philosophical Infrastructure." That's such a good turn of phrase says Gus Van Horn that he finds himself jealous. Gus notes particularly NS's "interesting point about privatization":
    The same pragmatism that causes today's politicians to prioritize welfare spending over infrastructure also causes today's businessmen to prioritize short-term financial gains over long-term ones. Both act on the range of the moment, seeking to satisfy whichever constituency (voters or stockholders) is making the loudest demands. I think if we privatized infrastructure today, some of it would be run quite well. But some of it would also be run like Enron, which, if you'll recall, actually owned energy-distribution infrastructure.
    Also, be sure [says Gus] to read Galileo Blog's thoughtful comment just after the post.

  • Objectivists argue that the main battle for liberty is not at the political level but at the level of philosophy--the primary battle is the battle for reason. "To save the world is easy," says Leonard Peikoff wryly. "All you have to do is think."
    Now Richard Dawkins is by no means an Objectivist, but he is at the forefront of the public battle for reason--and Galt bless 'im for that. In his latest BBC TV series he takes on that battle explicitly, and you can see the first episode already at Google Video: Richard Dawkins - The Enemies of Reason (Part 1).

  • By the way, should you suddenly find yourself surrounded by fundies heading off to the rapture, then EAC Labs have the peace of kit you need to keep your feet on the ground: it's their most popular seller, the Anti-Rapture Helmet Mark II. "The mark 2 features a variety of impovements," EAC Labs explains, "including an auto-timer which will activate the helmet in the event that you should be so surprised by the ascending Christians that you forget to turn yours on. All recent models have been tested in artificially simulated rapture to ensure that no atheist need spend an eternity with the Christians and their god." And thank god for that.

  • As regards principles in politics, by the way, this cartoon pinched from Pharyngula makes the point better than I could in one-thousand words. That said, Leonard Peikoff makes a fair fist of explaining the point in detail in this brilliantly grounded lecture: Why Should One Act on Principle? [60 min., audio, requires free registration: Listen here on Real Player or here on Windows Media Player. More details here.]

  • What's wrong with income inequality, asks Objectivist Alex Epstein? Income inequality is a desirable consequence of a free and prosperous society.
    See: Celebrating Income Inequality - Alex Epstein, Capitalism Magazine.

  • Oh, before I forget, with all the piss poor journalism coming our of Iraq (here's one of the latest examples) let me put in a plug for two on-the ground journalists on whom you can rely: Michael J. Totten, and Michael Yon. These two are on the ground and they know what's going on. Read them regularly.

  • Meanwhile, Australian David Hicks who was on the ground worshipping with the Taleban is now back home and in thrall to another destructive world-destroying religion: as Tim Blair notes, he's now in thrall to Tim Flannery's warmist religion. As Tim says, maybe the bastard just likes beards?

  • The most recent Free Radical challenges young socialists to watch as their ideology destroys yet another country--as Venezuela collapses into dictatorship and poverty before their eyes. The Venezuela News and Views blog is a good one to bookmark to watch that descent from a distance. Blogger Daniel says he began the blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, and now: "Unknowingly, I have written the diary of Venezuela slow descent into authoritarianism, the slow erosion of our liberties, the takeover of the country by a military caste, the surrendering of our soul to our inner demons."

  • Speaking of destructive ideas, and following up on our friend who woke up in Poland to find that communism had gone and the world is now a prettier place, have a look at this pictorial essay of where the petrolhead culture hangout in Murmansk, in Russia's Arctic Circle, and try and imagine how it could have been even less pretty in the days before communism. Apart from the enormous difference that there's now cars and food in the garages, it looks exactly as I remember it from my own visit there in 1991. A sad and lonely place. See: Murmansk's Gorgeous Garages - BBC News.

  • Architect Carlo Scarpa is one of architecture's unsung geniuses, and one of the few organic architects to successfully tackle the unlikely challenge of funerary architecture. Have a look at this photo essay of his masterful Brion Cemetery. Just beautiful:
    The Brion Tomb by Carlo Scarpa, a Photo Essay by Gerald Zugmann.

  • Bad writing alert: The Bulwer-Lytton Memorial Award for Bad Writing has been awarded for 2007 to Jim Gleeson of Madison, Wisconsin for an exemplary performance from an incipient novel that begins like so: "Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee."
    Marvellous stuff, no? Visit the Bulwer-Lytton Memorial Award site to enjoy the entire selection of award winners.

  • And finally, Craig announces the birth of an important minority group: Wellington libertarian homebrewers. See: The Birth of FLAWHB - Beer Croggles.

  • And Helengrad's libertarian homebrewers get right on to answering that important and age-old question: just how the heck do you produce the perfect freedom-loving homebrew?
    See: Homebrew in Pictures - Pacific Empire.
That's me all done. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Don't miss out: This week's best at Not PC

No one can read everything that appears here at Not PC, so just in case you've been unable to keep up, here's what visitor numbers have suggested as being the most popular posts at Not PC this week.
  1. It's Islam Awareness Week, so let's be aware of Islam's barbarity.
    I hear that this week has been declared Islam Awareness Week, so let's sure that as many people as possible are aware that, as Lindsay Perigo said in a recent copy of Salient, Islam is "a stinking, stupid superstition"...

  2. Cactus is Wrong.
    Cactus Kate makes a point. Unfortunately it's 180 degrees wrong. There is no problem with housing affordability, she argues; the problem is not that houses are unaffordable because of land regulation and zoning, but simply that whiney people have eyes bigger than their incomes.

    Well, talk about avoiding the relevant evidence...

  3. Farming Tiger.
    Massey University zoologist/economist Brendan Moyle argues that China needs to lift the ban on the sale of tiger parts if it wants to stop poaching and prevent extinction. Moyle believes the Chinese Government should allow tiger farms to trade tiger parts so poachers are unable to sell them on the black market. Make poaching unprofitable, he says. "We have created a monopoly for these guys and people are dreaming if they think it is going to stop. We are making them rich and it is not helping the tigers. I can't see any other way around this."

    Makes perfect sense to me....

  4. Faster Than a Speeding Photon.
    Two German scientists say they have induced particles to travel faster than the speed of light. Expect to hear all sorts of bizarre stories about time travel as the news spreads, but if the scientists' claim is true and the speed of light has at last been breached, it overturns nearly a century of physics theory on which those bizarre stories are based...

  5. Youth Rates a Win for Activists.
    TVNZ reports the "agreement" to pay children working at supermarkets adult wages as a "win for supermarket youth." It isn't. It's a win for Laila Harre's union, and for Sue Bradford's activism. In fact for would-be "supermarket youth" trying to get their foot on the first ring of the employment ladder, this is nothing less than a disaster...

  6. Air New Zealand. Ian Wishart. Beat Up.
    Not the first time you've seen the words "beat up" and "Ian Wishart" in the same heading, and as long as idiots keep giving his stories enough rope by which they should be hung for stupidity, it won't be the last.

    Air New Zealand's now much publicised charter flight to Kuwait two-and-a-half months ago was never a secret, except it seems to Ian Wishart and his braindead readers. It was a flight with reporters and an ABC TV crew aboard, a charter about which flight industry journalists were well aware, and the flight and the charter itself was reported without adverse comment in airline trade journals--which was all the legs the story really had until the recent breathless beat up...

  7. Books.
    Books: I love 'em. Our apartment here is overrun with them, they pile up on shelves, on table, beside the bed; across, under and around my desk; around the kitchen, the bathroom and in every room but the switch cupboard. I love books, and there's not one in any of those piles I could do without.

    A while back I listed what (and whom) looms largest in my musical collection here at home, which has formed itself into similar piles, so perhaps it might be fun to do the same for the books that are stacked up around?

  8. Local Architecture Awards.
    Each time I open a local architecture magazine I'm hoping that this time there'll be something there to inspire me. Sadly, perusing this list of finalists, I'm once again disappointed. It seems to me that nearly Identikit decorated boxes are still the name of the game with local magazine architecture, but clearly not everyone agrees with me...

  9. Cue Card Libertarianism: Socialism.
    SOCIALISM: Socialism is just Communism without the courage of its convictions...

  10. Just Being Bob.
    The reviews I read of Bob Dylan's weekend shows in Wellington and Auckland were mostly pissy too-cool-to-move monologues full of jokes about zimmer frames, ageing baby-boomers and how disgusting it was to hear a geriatric rocker singingabout his sex life.

    Pathetic. These mostly juvenile reviews said more about the reviewers and their milieu than they did about the man and the artist they were reviewing...

Friday, 17 August 2007

"Favourite Building"

Flicking through my copy of the latest Home and Entertaining magazine (past all those Homes of the Year posted here earlier) I was rewarded with a pleasant surprise at the inside back page (right).

The winner of H&E's Home of the Decade award for his distinctive Coromandel bach, architect Ken Crosson is invited to select his favourite building, and he shows truly admirable taste by selecting Claude Megson's Wood St townhouses in Freemans Bay [you can see the full article here at my Claude Megson Blog].

He compounds his excellent taste with this splendid observation:
Each unit is an individual, with its own courtyard and different views and a different floor plan and all are spatially rich. The top floors have amazing views of Auckland’s central city — they remind me of the main character in Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart, who is inspired and empowered by the energy of the city.
As you can imagine, Mr Crosson has just shot up enormously in my estimation. :-)

UPDATE: Speaking of Atlas Shrugged, Onkar Gate of the Objectivist Academic Centre has an online chapter-by-chapter video discussion of Atlas up at the OAC site. Highly recommended! [Hat tip Thrutch]

Beer O’Clock – The Tui Book

In which regular Beer O'Clock correspondent Neil Miller from Real Beer threatens his hard-won credentials as a beer expert with this salutary review of the first Tui book. His second review appears in a fortnight.Since 1997, Tui has been using the hugely popular and successful “yeah right” catchphrase on their iconic billboards. The phrase has well and truly entered the Kiwi vocabulary and helped launch Tui from a regional brand to one of the most drunk beers in the country.

Personally, I have drunk a lot of Tui East India Pale Ale in my time [this explains a lot-Ed]. Heck, I have a Tui couch and Tui television set.

These days, I tend to only drink Tui at sports events and each time I do I can hear a voice with a faint English accent saying “it’s not an ale, far less an India Pale Ale and I don’t believe there is such a style as East India Pale Ale”.

Leaving that aside, Tui has released Yeah Right – a collection of 100 of the best billboard slogans.

This is a light-hearted beer-table book that claims to be “endorsed by the Ministry of Culture” and to have spent “28 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List.” It is not meant to be taken seriously. There are more lies in here than David Lange’s autobiography. Fun though.

My own favourite ten “yeah right” slogans in the book would be:
  • Let your mum stay as long as she likes
  • I only read it for the articles
  • For sale: Holden HQ, peach with lavender trim
  • It’s a Swedish documentary
  • I was reading her t-shirt
  • Guys look great in Speedos
  • Make mine a shandy
  • Just popping out for a 4km swim, 180km bike and 42km run
  • Her butt walked into my hand
  • I past NCEA Inglish.
The last is definitely the cleverest. I f you don’t get it, ask a school kid to explain it.

I think this showcases the irreverent sense of humour the billboards have become known for. This easy-reading book captures some of the best examples and is well worth a read. For a comparison of the product itself, then my latest Salient review comparing nine budget beers is the place to go.

Cheers, Neil.

NB: Not PC endorses Realbeer & SOBA. No endorsement of Tui as either a refreshment or punishment is implied or accepted. Consumption of Tui should proceed only at the consumer's own risk, or under the advice of a recognised health professional.