Monday, 3 September 2007

Non-toxic toys

Brendan O'Neill has something for parents, toy importers and headline writers: "the good news is that Chinese toys are not killing our children."

So why all the scary stories, then? Says O'Neill, don't underestimate "the role of Western irrationalism in driving the toxic toys scare." See: Toxic Toys: Is China Poisoning YOUR Child? - Brendan O'Neill, Spiked.

Free Ali Panah

In my oft-declared view, the presumption with immigration should always be on the side of would-be immigrant. Unless your would-be immigrant is either a criminal, a terrorist or has proven infectious medical condition, and is prepared to sign a waiver to any claim on the welfare state (as long as such a thing still exists), then the right thing to do is to let people cross borders freely.

It's now good enough for money to cross borders freely (after many long years when that wasn't the case); it's time that the same thing be made true for people.

The hunger-striking Ali Panah is the latest high-profile local case in which people are treated like cattle by a system in which coercion and brutality are so carelessly and bureaucratically inflicted on human beings who are simply seeking a better life. Frankly, I think Blair M. has the situation nailed:

Bad news from Marseille; better news from Melbourne

The worst news so far this morning is that Keith Robinson's calf is still injured, and will be for at least two more weeks.

I'd hate to be forced to watch Reuben Bloody Thorne taking the field in every bloody game.

UPDATE: Better news from Melbourne for fans of the world's most libertarian sport, and of the AFL's best team.

Firstly, 2007 saw record crowds at AFL games:
[the final round] attendance figure of 289,440 took the 2007 season total to 6,475,521, eclipsing the previous record mark of 6,283,788 spectators, established in 2005. “The 2007 season clearly affirms the AFL as the No.1 spectator sport in Australia,” [AFL CEO Andrew] Demetriou said...

The final attendance figure for 2007 represented a rise of 4.38 per cent on the 2006 numbers. More than two millions fans attended matches at the MCG, with 2,123,400 fans at the ground seeing an average match attendance of 47,187.

Telstra Dome averaged crowds of 36,396 this year, with 1,674,219 patrons going through the gates for matches at the ground.

Sort of makes the numbers showing up at rugby league games looks pretty sad, doesn't it: 2,880,987 fans showing up to 2007's games at an average attendance of just 15,658 per match [ref Wikipedia]. A fair reflection of the difference in quality out on the field, I'd say.

So the second piece of goood news is that in finishing in top position with 18 wins out of 22 matches, Geelong look the goods :
the AFL finals begin on Friday night with most pundits agreeing on one thing - the premiership is Geelong's to win or lose.
With World Cup and AFL finals, it's going to be a busy sporting September ... and hopefully one to remember!

Victims compensation long overdue

I'm right behind the call by the Sensible Sentencing Trust to compensate victims of crime, but surprised at how little compensation they're after on victims' behalf.

"Compensation" is a bit of a misnomer, suggesting that what's proposed is money from taxpayers, when what they're proposing is that just ten percent of a criminal's fines are directed to the victims of crime to help them put their lives back together again. Ten percent? I'd be calling for one-hundred percent! It's not a debt to society or the state they need to repay, it's a debt to the people they've injured.

The principle in setting fines should be that criminals should never be able to gain a value from their crimes, and should to the fullest extent possible be forced to make restitution for their crimes to their victim(s). If setting the figure at ten percent is the only way to set those particular balls rolling, then I'm all for it.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

New Free Radical -- out soon!

Sorry not to have blogged this weekend; I"m afraid there's just been too many other things going on to have time.

I've spent most of the weekend putting the finishing touches to the latest Free Radical magazine, which should be at the printers very soon, and had two delightful evenings with friends -- martinis on Friday night, and a session last night watching Pavarotti in La Boheme and Domingo in Tosca.

So (with that preamble out of the way), here's the new Free Radical cover. All going well, subscribers should see it appearing in their letterboxes by the end of the week. Salut!

PS: If you subscribe now, you can be assured of your letterbox being in the first round of mailouts this week.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Beer O’Clock: The second Tui Book

Neil Miller from Realbeer and the Society for Beer Advocates (SOBA) reviews the second book of Tui Billboards, this one titled “Yeah right, again.” (This review originally appeared in Salient.)

Using the very simplest of formats, the Tui “Yeah, Right” billboards have reached iconic status in New Zealand because of their constantly changing and always slightly skewed take on New Zealand life and current events.

The second tome in this series gathers together over a hundred of the best billboards from recent years. As you would expect in a book about billboards, there is not a lot of text and it only takes about 15 minutes to read. The good news is that it is 15 minutes well spent.

For me, the topical billboards are the cleverest. These range from the political (“Changing the law makes it ok”), to the cultural (“NZ Idol: Ticket to stardom”) and the gastronomic (“Honestly, it was the same wine”).

Tui plays it safe and has a footnote explaining the context of the topical billboards. After all, “One cable should do the trick” is not particularly funny unless you know it is mocking Aucklanders stuck in the dark.

Other slogans will ensure you never look at everyday items the same way again. The hook here is that you suddenly realise how often you see these signs (“We apologize for the inconvenience”) and those emails (“FW: This is so funny”).

Finally, the clever people at Tui show a self awareness about their own publicity efforts with a number of billboards lampooning themselves: “I came on the tour to see how the beer’s made,” “We don’t sponsor rugby to sell beer,” and “Waiter, how many carbs are in this jug?”

Sure there are a few clichés in there (I don’t need a map, I never get lost”) and a couple of tired male/female stereotypes (“Here honey, you have the remote”) but overall, the words to laughs ratio is very high.

I’m sure this will be the last book in the series. Yeah, right

Cheers, Neil

Muldoon comparison "unfair" - Perigo

Lindsay Perigo suggests this morning that Mike Moore's comparison of Helen Clark with Robert Muldoon is unfair. It's very unfair to Muldoon.

Muldoon used to occasionally ban journalists from attending government press conferences, but Clark is much worse. She wants to outlaw any substantive criticism of government for one third of a government's term.

Which is worse? Says Perigo:

Sir Robert, as a WW2 vet, had way too much respect for the freedom of speech for which men fought and died ever to entertain an abomination like the Electoral Finance Bill. He never harboured the incipient desire Helen Clark has for perpetual rule in a one-party state...

LINK: Text and audio of Lindsay's comments here: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall - Lindsay Perigo.

Drug hell?

Shock! Sensation! Drug shame! After being picked up in London with one tab in his pocket -- one pill -- he shamefacedly confessed to Thursday night's Footy Show not just that he had intended to consume it, but that he had consumed many more before that over the last ten years or so. "Joey's twelve year drug hell," screams the headlines. "Some players should look at the humiliation and embarrassment this has caused not only to myself but more my family," says Johns.

But I have to say, why the "shock"? Why the "sensation"? Although some might cruelly suggest you only need half the brain to play league you do for most other sports, consuming the occasional pill had clearly never affected the league legend's game, or his off-field relationship with his fans and employers. The drug had never caused him to run amok.

So why the hand wringing?

Is it not possible to get this in perspective? If a grown man were to confess on live television that he'd had a glass or two of whiskey over the years -- oh my God! just imagine! -- then who (apart from the obvious killjoys) would be in shock? Where would be the shame or the humiliation? Confess to liking a whiskey or a vodka or a beer or three and sane people are likely to say "so what," but confess to ingesting an ecstacy or two -- which a study published in Lancet suggests is less harmful than ingesting both tobacco and alcohol -- and the world's headlines close in on you.

The harm (if there is any) lies not in the drug, but the hysteria caused by the illegality of the drug.

Perhaps sane people could stop and think about that? As Judge James P. Gray said of Robert Downey Jr.'s 2001 drug conviction, "How is actor Robert Downey Jr.'s problem with drug abuse any different than Betty Ford's problem with alcohol abuse? Why is it appropriate to send Robert Downey Jr. to jail but send Betty Ford to treatment? Shouldn't drug users who cause harm to others raise different questions, and answers, than users such as Downey who do not harm anyone but themselves?"

Stop! Nanny's anti-obesity red light's on.

Nanny's anti-obesity campaigners have unveiled a new way to get in our face: forcing food producers to put "traffic lights" on their food packaging. In a topical TV appearance, Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute makes a fundamental point that needs to be tattoed upon the shrivelled souls of every one of nanny's groupies. Says Harry:
It's not the responsibility of the state to pass laws to fix people's personal problems...
And that's the whole argument right there, isn't it. Debating a woman championing government regulation of business advertising to "help fight child obesity" (a woman who's a US version of Sue Kedgley), Binswanger makes another obvious point:
Parents should show … some backbone, and not give in to whiny kids, and not expect the government to send the police force into the advertising studios to substitute for their own lack of will power...

Advertisers have a right to broadcast whatever message they choose, as long as it isn’t fraudulent…It’s up to parents to decide what their children can watch and what they can eat.
He's right, isn't he. Police in the advertising studios. Police in the packaging plants. It's time to just say "Sod off!" If we're going to see traffic lights applied anywhere, then it should be a red light to nannying busybodies.

See: FTC Subpoenas - Harry Binswanger on CNBC.

UPDATE: But the 'traffic light' system proposed is "voluntary," you say? Nanny's camp follower Jordan Carter makes plain just how "voluntary" all such schemes are:
The health of New Zealanders is more important than ... ideological hatred of regulation. If companies won't cooperate voluntarily with making our food safer, then they must be forced to do so.
Jawohl, Herr Carter!!

Frederick Edwin Church


Niagara Falls by Frederick Church (1826-1900), an American landscape painter who captures the majesty and grandeur of existence.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Loathing

There's a chap at YouTube who's developed a loathing for Helen Clark. Clearly a discriminating chap.

Finance company: Reinvestment reliance killed us

Five Star Consumer Finance has collapsed, the seventh finance company in recent months. A comment attributed to the board of directors is revealing:
The board of directors says it has serious concerns about the state of the debenture market and the ability of the company to attract new funds and retain existing investments. The board has decided that Five Star is unable to operate in such a market.
As Elijah points out,
The owners and managers are [effectively] saying "The rate of reinvestment has been cut to zero and that is why we are going under." I find this absolutely shocking!
Me too. As he suggests, a finance company that requires continual reinvestment to keep its head above water is nothing more than a simple pyramid scheme,
with total reliance on using the money of new investors to repay existing ones ...with a tacit endorsement from Lianne Dalziell about this being standard business practice! Had these companies been more prudent in their lending and management there would have been no problems with redeeming investments as they fell due.

An extreme blonde moment...

As Paul says, the video speaks for itself...

What's wrong with copycat policy-making?

I've heard pundits say quite frequently that National is doing the right thing by playing what Mike Moore called "a vacuous political air guitar" -- refusing to release policy until much closer to the election for fear of what blogger Insolent Prick calls "copycat policy-making from the government in retreat."

This is a
view that freely promotes the notion of peddling all sizzle and no sausage, just in case someone steals your sausage.

I have a question for those who share that view:
What the hell's wrong with copycat policy-making?

What's the point of political activism? You're either there to change country for the better (in your view); or you're there to get a comfortable berth, a job for life and your feet under the Treasury benches.

If you're genuinely in politics to change the country for the better, then having another political party pick up your policies is a good thing, right? If you do have policies and you genuinely believe they are great for the country, then you'd be only too pleased if they're picked up, by others right?

But that's only if you're not just there for reasons of politics and power lust. It's only entities such as this who would complain about "copycat policy-making," isn't it?

Consensus? What consensus?

Science is not a popularity contest. The success of a scientific theory is not judged by how many scientists support it (just ask Alfred Wegener, the scientist behind the theory of plate techtonics and continental drift which as Wikipedia notes was "widely ridiculed" in his day), but in how successfully it integrates the evidence and explains appropriate causal factors.

Nonetheless, we hear repeatedly that there is a scientific consensus on the existence of man-made global warming, defined as "humans having at least some effect on global climate change." History professor Naomi Oreskes' frequently cited and much argued about research on which this claim for consensus is based has recently been updated to reflect recent research, and Naomi (and headline writers) will be surprised at the results.

Using Oreske's own methodology,
Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte examined all scientific papers published from 2004 (when Oreske's research was published) to February 2007:
Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

These changing viewpoints represent the advances in climate science over the past decade. While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.
See: Survey: Fewer than Half of Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory - Daily Tech.

Take the Global Warming Test

It will take you only five minutes, so take the quick online multi-choice test about what Al Bore calls "the most important issue facing the world today" and see how much you know.

My favourite answer appears in the question about the cause of the Little Ice Age; possible answer: "Global cooling occurred as a result of the Renaissance Period." Of course. Those blasted Florentians and their smog. ;^)

Link: The Global Warming Test.

Formaldehyde with your trousers?

"Formaldehyde with your trousers, sir?"
"Uh, no thanks."

In fact, "No" seems to be the actual answer to the question, "are your trousers full of formaldehyde" Worry not.

Despite the recent hysteria when TV3's Target programme "revealed" skin-scratchingly high levels of the chemical in Chinese-made clothes, the Importer's Institute points out that the only scandal here is one of shonky science:
It all started when the TV3 show Target announced that it had commissioned from AgriQuality tests on clothes imported from China. The show's producer, Simon Roy, said the results were so astounding the AgriQuality scientists thought they had made a mistake...
Headlines ensued, Sues Bradford and Kedgley spoke out, and even Judith Tizard was seen to puff her cheeks portentously. However, science and prime time TV are perhaps not ideal bedfellows, and all good hysteria comes to an end...
When the AgriQuality scientists said that the results were so astounding they thought they had made a mistake, they were on to something. It turned out that had, in fact, made a mistake. A big mistake. They tested using a method that measures a garment's total formaldehyde. This produces far higher figures than tests for free formaldehyde...
Oops!
The Government has now ordered more tests - to be done properly, this time - from the same laboratory. The Importers Institute says that TV3 and AgriQuality owe New Zealanders an apology for promoting a consumer scare based on nothing more than shonky science.
The story mirrors the "contaminated soils scandal" (which councils quietly admitted recently revealed to be equally without merit), as does the moral, something Owen McShane describes as 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.
Any bets as to how soon and how loudly you'll see this reported on the front pages of those papers whose headlines screamed the mistaken news? And how likely it is you'll see retractions from those politicians?

UPDATE: The Herald has the story online this morning, and the news that AgResearch has tested more than 50 garments from New Zealand clothing companies for free formaldehyde since Target aired, of which only garment exceeded 20ppm, with a reading of 50ppm. Very far from "a reading 900 times the level that actually causes harm" as the Target programme fatuously claimed.

Hetch Hetchy Cañon - Albert Bierstadt


Albert Bierstadt, one of the founders of the Hudson River School of painters, described his painting in a letter of November 3, 1876:

"The scene is laid in the Hetch Hetchy Cañon, California which lies some twenty miles north of the Yosemite and is rarely visited by the tourist because of its inaccessibility. It is smaller than the more famous Valley but it presents many of the same features in its scenery and is quite as beautiful. The season I have chosen is late Autumn when distant objects are mellowed by a golden haze and when the grass is dry and yellow.."
- Albert Bierstadt

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Inbox Zero

Keeping your email at "inbox zero" is the new way to go, I hear. Great. I'm happy about that. Just a shame for me personally that "inbox zero" is intended to be achieved purposely, not inadvertently: In a recent computer tidy up I inadvertently reduced my inbox to just three messages: a significant drop from the hundred or so unread messages to which I intended to respond, and the many hundred messages to which (honestly, Officer) I intended to return one day.

Oops.

Anyway let's be happy, let's be productive, let's all become "inbox zero" and get our day back. The full 1-hour video for Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero presentation at Google is available for free down here — or check out this post about the video and slideshow.

Moore goes for the throat

Mike Moore's characterisation of Clark as Muldoonist captures the headlines and the news, but his characterisations of the country's other political players and would-be players is highly amusing in a Tamihere 'straight for the throat' sort of way:
If Helen can replace half of her Cabinet and keep the show together, it will mark her out as one of the greatest political managers ever. It's very hard.

Muldoon's circle of close mates got smaller and weaker as he got older too. Exactly what does the "consort" Judith Tizard and the legion of Ministers outside Cabinet actually do? Perhaps it's good they don't do much. They manage the remarkable feat of being self-important, expensive, trivial and irrelevant at the same time.

John Key just has to keep his head down, and is happy to campaign as "Labour with tax cuts," sort of like playing a vacuous political air guitar.

As for Winston Peters, our Foreign Minister still seems to hate foreigners.He can't speak about hospitals without talking of Third World diseases and Third World people, the Central Bank policies are about, he claims, promoting speculation and money-lenders (code word), Dubai investment in New Zealand is naturally bad, but at least the anti-Asian and Muslim stuff has been shelved for a while.

Rodney Hide seems to have rejected capitalism for narcissism and is destined to be a talk-back celebrity. The Greens and the Maori Party have locked up their small market niche and go unquestioned by the media.
He might only pay NZ partial attention these days, but he's not wrong is he. ("Air guitar" -- I love it.)

UPDATE: Is it only me who finds it amusing that all the local bloggers so noisily celebrating Moore's all-too accurate skewering of Helen and her legion universally ignore his equally accurate skewering of their own vacuous and narcissistic heroes. Why is that, do you think?

Clark a "return to Muldoonism" - Moore

Former Labour PM Mike Moore wonders whether current Labour PM Clark represents a "return to Muldoonism."
This politics of personal destruction is fearful [says Moore]. Why is Labour so good at it? Because we practise on each other.
I'm sure we've all noticed the predilection for a certain area of the political spectrum to attack the messenger while ignoring the message altogether, and with the Clark Government this septic strategy has now become habitual. Does Moore's simple explanation account for that sufficiently, do you think -- that they just like fighting each other? Or is there something more fundamental to explain?

"Rates will become unsustainable in a decade if things continue as they have been."

The Local Government Rates Inquiry says "rates will become unsustainable in a decade if things continue as they have been." We all know that. They have ninety-six recommendations -- ninety-six! count them -- for local and central government to "fix" the problem: they say that the structure of rates needs to change; that councils should take on more debt; that central government should "provide some funding," including allowing councils to steal from us through the petrol pump. They do say councils should "rein in spending" and "make better decisions" and borrow more, and naturally council representatives like Mother Hucking Hubbard reach straight for the recommendations that allow them to continue their profligacy.

"Rein in spending"? Not Dick. He's excited as a little kid about getting more money from central government. Spending too much? No! says Dick, who points out that Auckland's enormous rate hikes are in line with the average level of rate hikes around the country. To Dick , this is justification, whereas too the rest of us paying for it all, it looks more like the little boy caught stealing who cries, "But everyone else is doing it!"

Let me offer again the solution to unsustainable rate rises I offered here before. It's quite simple: STOP SPENDING SO GODDAMN FUCKING MUCH!

Sandra Lee's Local Government Act handed power on a plate to councils, and now we have to ick up their tab. The Act gave jerks like Dick Whack complete freedom to charge around like a spotty boy in a sweet shop, and to give you the bill for his profligacy. What this already fucking overspending mayor wanted from this inquiry was not methods by which his flagrant overspending and sheer fiscal bloody incompetence can be reined in, but ways in which his already well-off-fucking-piste council can spend and steal and spend and steal even more!!

Unlike me, he hasn't been disappointed.

Making sense of warmist fervour

What's a global warming skeptic? Roy Cordato suggests that as far as warmists are concerned the real issue is not the science; for them what decides whether you're for them or against them, whether you're a skeptic or alarmist, "is about the policy proposals you are willing to accept and not necessarily the exact beliefs about the science. It is really about implementing the environmentalist agenda. To the extent that you disagree with that agenda you are a skeptic."

A letter to Newsweek supporting their recent global warming cover story (described by Robert Samuelson as "a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading"*) makes Cordato's point -- this is from a warmist in support of the story, but criticising Newsweek for focusing on the politics of the global warming debate, rather than the science. She ends her letter this way:
The good news is that many of the efforts put forward to reduce human contributions to warming are positive from a cultural and general environmental perspective regardless of whether they will materially affect warming. But because global warming has taken on the religious fervor of the temperance movement, it risks imposing rules that may harm developing nations and, by knee-jerk ridicule of those with differing perspectives, it creates a climate that is inhospitable to discovering the truth.
As Mitch Kokai comments,
The second sentence makes sense. But it’s the first sentence that seems to point to a reason for the “religious fervor.” The remedies sought are “positive from a cultural and general environmental perspective regardless of whether they will materially affect warming.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether these changes will actually do anything to meet the stated goal. We should do all of these things anyway. Once you understand that mindset, the vehemence of the global warming alarmists makes sense.
See: Letters Tell an Interesting Story - Mitch Kokai.

UPDATE: Regarding remedies, the best line on this was delivered by Bernard Darnton:
The only thing that needs saying about government "solutions" to global warming is this: we know that socialism and central planning are immoral and unworkable at seventeen degrees. What makes anyone think it'll be different at nineteen degrees?
-----------------------------------------------------------------
*Of the Newsweek story, Newsmax.Com says, "The one-sided editorial, masquerading as a news article ... purports to examine the 'well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry [that] has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change'. The only problem is - Newsweek knew better."

As regards the "denial machine," Bob Carter and others have pointed out that while global warming alarmists received $50 billion in research funding in the last decade, skeptics received just $19 million. "In one of the more expensive ironies of history," said paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, "the expenditure of more than $US50 billion on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one." For a common sense discussion of man's effect on climate change, read our Policy Express piece, Global Warming: What You Haven't Been Told, by Dr. Roy Spencer.

Moonrise over Manhattan Island


After watching the lunar eclipse and pondering how ancient man would have reacted when their moon turned red -- and how different the reaction today in much more sane times -- this glorious skyline above caught my eye: Moonrise over Manhattan Island. [Click pic to enlarge]

The man-made world really is something to cherish, isn't it.

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!

However:
  • 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.