Friday, August 31, 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

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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.

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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?"

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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!!

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Frederick Edwin Church


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

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Thursday, August 30, 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.

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An extreme blonde moment...

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Wednesday, August 29, 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.

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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?

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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?

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"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.

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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?
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*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.

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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.

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Tuesday, August 28, 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.

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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]

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Monday, August 27, 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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sunday, August 26, 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

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