Friday, 4 September 2009

Beer O’Clock: They were in Beervana!

Fresh (or more accurately, not so fresh) from last week’s Beervana in Wellington, Neil Miller gives a wrap on the competition.

Pilsener (bottle).tifThe biggest week on the New Zealand beer calendar is over with a record number of entries in the Brew NZ beer awards and record crowds at the Beervana festival.   It was a bit of a bumper time at Malthouse too with the trusty bar propped up by an even higher than usual number of brewers, judges, stewards, writers, anoraks, experts and aficionados.

A panel of international and domestic judges sampled well over 300 beers and awarded coveted gold, silver and bronze medals.  The key Best in Class trophy winners were:

European lager styles - Baltika N7 Export
European ale styles – Harrington’s Pig and Whistle
New Zealand, US and international ale styles - Epic Armageddon IPA
Stouts and porters – Invercargill Brewery/Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black
Wheat and other grain styles – Tuatara Hefe
Flavoured and aged styles - Emerson’s JP 2009
New Zealand lager and premium lager - Emerson’s Pilsner
Specialty, experimental, aged, barrel- and wood-aged styles - Moa Dark Reserve
Packaging – Mike’s Organic Brewery
Full results here.

Alert readers will notice that many of these winning beers have featured on this very blog, not that there is any causal relationship.

The supreme awards go to the international and local champion breweries of the year based on the strength of their entire range.  This year, Deschutes (USA) was selected as the champion international brewery.  Emerson’s Brewing Company of Dunedin was rightly crowned champion New Zealand brewery for 2009.  After accepting his multiple trophies, brewer Richard Emerson urged the big crowd to be passionate about good beer and to keep the industry growing.

richard02 Perhaps suspecting that he was going to do very well at the ceremony, Richard (right) was sharply dressed.  That has not always been the case.  Emerson’s brewery manager Chris O’Leary recalls Richard arriving at a previous Brew NZ wearing two different shoes.  Apparently, Richard had gotten up at 5am in the dark, slipped on his shoes and travelled all the way to Wellington.  Chris says “being the observant, caring guy I am I let him wear that combination for a day then advised him that he was wearing one brown shoe and one green shoe.  Ever positive, Richard replied ‘Bugger – oh well, at least I’m wearing one shoe from each of my favourite pairs!’

It is hard to talk about Richard for any length of time without mentioning his irrepressible sense of humour.  When asked at a recent tasting “how do you make a dark beer,” he immediately responded with a completely deadpan “we brew it at night.”  Some attendees even apparently wrote this down.

Personally, I’m particularly delighted to see the Emerson’s Pilsner do so well. It has been one of my favourite beers for a number of years and has been tasting fantastic recently (even though it is no longer bottle conditioned).  It is more of a New World interpretation than a completely traditional pilsner but the final product is balanced and full of flavour.  It has a healthy citrus nose and a robust body bursting with delicious lush fruit (including orange and sometimes passionfruit) before a long dry finish.

The Pilsner is one of only two organic offerings in the ever-growing Emerson’s range of beer.  Unlike some producers, Richard is not content with a beer just being organic - first and foremost it has to be a good beer.  Richard has said “I’m thinking more about the flavours first.”

I wrote an article about Richard for Beer and Brewer magazine where I had the chance to ask him what he thought the secret to good beer was.  His answer was “the best ingredients and 'the good old Pint test!'  A good beer is all about flavour, balance and drinkability.  How does the beer taste?   Does it have some ‘wow’ factor?  Could I drink 4 or 5 pints of this?”

When it comes to Emerson’s Pilsner, the answers are “yes” and “absolutely yes.”

In that same article, Richard revealed that, in a cruel twist of fate, he threw away the best beer he ever made.  Here is that story:

He made a beer with Vierka Munich yeast but says it “was terrible to ferment and didn't taste that great after two months in the bottle.”  Needing the bottles for more brews, he dumped virtually all the beer down the drain.  The two dozen he kept sat forgotten for a year.

Emersons-JP When he returned to New Zealand, he recalls his Dad pouring him “this wonderful glass of sparkling clear beer with huge fluffy head.”  Even after sniffing and tasting it, Richard was adamant the beer was Duvel.  Only when he saw the actual bottles did he realize it was his abandoned beer.  He was speechless - an extremely rare occurrence.  Even today, discussing the loss of this wonderful beer provokes an anguished sigh.

Congratulations to Richard and the team at Emerson’s for their success at the 2009 New Zealand Beer Awards. 


Beer Writer
logo_yb_transReal Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Crossposted at The Malthouse Blog

PS: Congratulations too to Not PC’s former beer co-correspondent Stu McKinlay, whose excellent Pot Kettle Black was deservedly announced Champion Stout and Porter.  Well done Stu!


Friday arvo ramble

Here’s a wee ramble round the internet for you to check out over the weekend (to get these links live  head over to my Twitter page where I post them as they come in,and cick ‘Follow’)

  • DimPost goes all Samuel Beckett on Phil Goof's and Annette King's arse in 'Waiting for Voter'

  • On CNBC Yaron Brook comments on Eliot Spitzer’s efforts at a political comeback.

  • Carbon scammers use carbon scam to scam carbon dollars. Hard to distinguish from the 'real thing.'

  • On CNBC Reports, Yaron Brook discusses European demands to cap bonuses for American executives.

  • The Wisdom of Silent Cal: Calvin Coolidge used to say that nine out of ten visitors to the White House lobbyists want something they ought not to have-and if you keep dead still they will run down in three or four minutes. Reagan had a similar strategy, which outfoxed the Dead Kennedy.

  • It has to happen. You can't keep diluting your dollars by printing more and more of them and expect the value not to eventually collapse!

  • The unlearned lessons of the tragic Victorian bushfires are repeated in California.

  • Obama's bi-polar . . says The Onion.

  • Managers are typically gateways to resources. Leaders are gateways to vision.

  • "Patients with terminal illnesses being made to die prematurely under NHS scheme to help end their lives"

  • Peter Schiff on the phony recovery bought with government paper, and the new era in Japan with ‘Japan First’ – and the implications for the US dollar.

  • Avoiding the resource curse.
    It's "the Argentine delusion" all over again!

  • Pithy yet wide-ranging summary of Ayn Rand's best short answers. What a mind!

  • "Climate change is an election prayer. As an issue, it has no use during actual terms of office. "

  • Solar panels cost a fortune but deliver minimal reward. Yet people keep buying them – and keep being disappointed

  • Ethiopia is starving again 25 yrs after the last pop start left? Why? One factor is incentives. All land is state owned.

  • Just a reminder when you hear the words 'trillion' & 'dollars' in the same sentence. Here's just how big that is.

  • Prohibition kills again, evidence this time from Gujarat in India. Govt cites deaths by illicit liquor, ignores the actual cause of death: govt intervention.

  • The world's best complaint letter? Letter to British telecoms starts funny and turns hysterical.

  • From blaming AGW on modern civilization, some scientists now say it all went wrong when man took up agriculture!

  • Bailouts make money . . . if you ignore all the losses.

  • #Johan Norberg 's new book concludes: " the 'solutions' to the economic crisis are repeating the mistakes that caused it."

  • Johan Norberg:"The only thing more dangerous than financial crises may be our way of responding to them."

  • Thomas Sowell: In ways large and small, the West is surrendering on the instalment plan to Islamicists.

  • A Berkeley Professor Dares To Debunk The Popular Wisdom on Energy - and to Attack Gore and Friedman's Exaggerations

  • Good news" Labour realises they did some bad things in Govt. Bad news: they’ve selected the wrong bad things.

  • "Propagrandstanding" - the perfect description of Sue Bradford's modus operandi.

  • People with Flat Screen TVs Should Stop Whinging About Capitalism.

  • Every cost-benefit analysis done for govt misses the biggest & most important cost: the unseen cost of lost freedom

  • Now that Robert Fisk finally makes it to the Collins English Dictionary, take a look at the history of the verb "to fisk."

  • Epic Armageddon IPA reviewed at Beer Advocate. "Wheres the next one, i want more hoppy goodness"

  • Congressman says debt = wealth, threatens to defenestrate reporter ...

  • Climate Vulnerability and the Indispensable Value of Industrial Capitalism - by Keith H. Lockitch

  • If we're all morally obligated to 'others,' then who the hell are all the 'others' morally obligated to?

  • If we're morally obligated to relieve world poverty, as Peter Singer says we are, then just where exactly do you draw the line?

  • Bailout stocks soar on back of billons of taxpayers' money & investors get in bed with the govt Peter Schiff explains.

  • Stephen Hicks recommends "a good and important book”: Race and Liberty in America, edited by Jonathan Bean.

  • Ayn Rand: Radical for Capitalism — talk delivered in Guatemala in celebration of Atlas Shrugged' 50th anniversary.

  • Inflation as we know it pretty much begins with the creation of the Fed, who in just one century hav destroyed the dollar’s value.

  • America's Founding Fathers despised democracy.

  • Financial Times looks at the "new era" in Japanese politics.

  • The two biggest threats to Europe's freedom and prosperity, says Vaclav Klaus, are Europism and global warming alarmism.

  • Science shouldn't be decided by vote, says PZ Myers. Wonder why he doesn't think the same way on AGW?

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    Doing bad for doing well

    At  a time when businesses are reeling, the business of punishing success is on the uptick.

    As European antitrust investigations against Oracle-Sun swing into action, US antitrust action against a Microsoft-Yahoo merger look almost certain, and here at home ‘Communist Commission’ action against Telecom is under way, perhaps it’s time to look again at whether antitrust and anti-monopoly actions actions are even justified, or if they simply punish success.

    Clearly they’re not justified morally.  What a business does is its own business, and certainly not the business of busybody jobsworths who’ve never run a business in their own lives.

    And they’re hardly justified economically either, as Bryan Caplan succinctly points out:

        “If the monopoly came from government, then it's silly to fret about market failure and muse about antitrust remedies; you've got to unleash your inner libertarian and call for free competition.
        “If the monopoly came from superior efficiency, broadly defined, you've got to realize that antitrust "remedies" penalize excellence - which almost any economic theory admits is a bad idea in the long-run.”

    Antitrust laws punish successful businesses by branding them "monopolists" regardless of how they achieved that success – they fail to perceive the difference between a monopoly, and a coercive monopoly, i.e., between:

     Monopoly: exclusive domain over the production or provision of a given good or service.
    Coercive monopoly: exclusive domain over the production or provision of a given good or service that is maintained by government force.

    And as Caplan says, the result of anti-monopoly/antitrust legislation is that excellence is penalised, something praised these days in almost every school classroom and on every political stump, which is just one reason anti-monopoly legislation is so popular. The anti-success sentiment well summarised by the US Court of Appeals when they ordered the break-up of ALCOA some years ago, saying:

        “It was not inevitable that it should always anticipate increases in the demand for ingot and be prepared to supply them. Nothing compelled it to keep doubling and redoubling its capacity before others entered the field. It insists that it never excluded competitors; but we can think of no more effective exclusion than progressively to embrace each new opportunity as it opened, and to face every new- comer with new capacity already geared into a great organization, having the advantage of experience, trade connections and the elite of personnel.”

    51QX4SSRXNL__SS500_ You can easily see the Supreme Court’s attitude to business success when you realise this was not written as an endorsement of ALCOA’s excellence, but as a condemnation of it! As a reward for success, they were punished with an order for dissolution (an order made nugatory when three competitors sprang into action in the booming post-war economy).  As Alan Greenspan described, back when he was an economist, businesses are

    “condemned [by antitrust laws] for being too successful, too efficient, and too good a competitor. Whatever damage the antitrust laws may have done to our economy, whatever distortions of the structure of the nation's capital they may have created, these are less disastrous than the fact that the effective purpose, the hidden intent, and the actual practice of the antitrust laws in the United States have led to the condemnation of the productive and efficient members of our society because they are productive and efficient."

    And contra Caplan, this penalisation of excellence is undertaken with the full support of almost every economist – all of them in thrall to what George Reisman calls a “platonic” notion of competition, a notion used to put a figleaf on what is effectively envy-ridden intervention for the sake of envy-ridden intervention –an emotion that comes from the same place as demands to soak the rich.

    And contrary too to what’s commonly thought, antitrust beats down success even when the trust-busters lose in court, as David R. Henderson points out in his review of Gary Hull’s book The Abolition of Antitrust:

        “The book is at its most effective when the authors distinguish clearly between force and voluntary action and when they tell horror stories about antitrust. Exhibit A of the latter is the DuPont cellophane story. The book's editor, philosopher Gary Hull, tells of clear-eyed DuPont chemists perfecting cellophane in the 1920s and creative marketers marketing it in the 1930s, revolutionizing the sale of bread, cake and other items. By 1940, a national poll found that Americans' most cherished words were, in order, "mother," "memory," and "cellophane."
        “Then came antitrust. The government charged that DuPont had "monopolized" the cellophane market. Most antitrust texts point out that the government lost the case. But Hull points out something that I had never read in 35 years of reading about antitrust: DuPont helped assure its "victory" by canceling its expansion plans and actually building a cellophane plant for a competitor, Olin Industries.”

    Face it: there is no justification for anti-monopoly legislation ethically, economically, or historically.

    If anyone is looking at making tax savings, they could do a lot worse than to add the Commerce Communist Commission to their list. Promoting 'free competition' at gunpoint is not just uncivilised, unethical and unsuccessful, it's also utterly illogical.

    If it’s non-coercive and providing a service people want, which is what gives it a monopoly position, then where’s the sense in punishment?  And no non-coercive monopoly lasts for ever anyway, as the likes of ALCO, IBM and even Microsoft tend to show. (Indeed, the picture of Microsoft as an unstoppable monopolistic behemoth that cried out for antitrust Nazis to bring to book just a few years ago is now a very different puppy -- as the Los Angeles Times noted yesterday, “ it now looks as though the Internet has accomplished something that antitrust regulators failed to do -- break Microsoft's ability to monopolize software markets.”)

    So I say it’s time to shut down what should never have been opened. Or as the man might have said, how come there's only one Commerce Commission?

    NB: For a free chocolate fish, can anyone tell me which particular political pillock it was who set up NZ’s Commerce Commission just over two decades ago?  I’ll give you a clue: he thinks you should pay for all his overseas holidays.

    UPDATE:  Cactus Kate joins those who fail to fully distinguish between coercive monopolies and the other sort. Saying her “next target” is going to be monopolies, she declares,  “I am not a fan of anything to do with monopolies” Frankly, my dear, I am not a fan of anyone who bashes businesses who’ve earned their dominance in the marketplace.

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    How do **you** deal with the petty fascists?

    I’ve mentioned before a chap in England who used to show up at the local council offices with a muck-spreader every time the council hiked the rates.  Painting their windows with sewage might not have reduced his rates bill, but it sure as hell told the petty fascists inside that there wasn’t very much love for them outside.

    So cut now to Whangarei and to a chap called Alan Agnew who’ was told – told? the bastards are insisting! – that he must – MUST! – fill out his date of birth on the council’s bloody form to register his dog.

    Over and over he’s been told, and over and over he’s told the bastards it’s none of their goddamned business,  until finally Alan Agnew snaps: he shoots the dog and dumps it on the council’s steps.  Not much good for the dog, but it sure as hell made Alan feel a little better.

    We all do mad things under pressure, and those perfect bastards at council offices know how to drive the blood pressure up.

    So short of muck-spreading and dog-shooting, what to you do to release your anger when the cardigan-wearing petty fascists are on the march?  Come on, I know you’ve got some stories to tell.

    I could easily do with trying one or two myself at the moment.


    Rhythm: Art’s integrator


    If melody is what integrates sounds and makes them into music, then in a similar fashion rhythm integrates visual chaos and integrates it into art.

    Michael Newberry explains how at his new blog, An An Artist’s Voice, using his 2005 painting of Joseph, above. Read: Rhythm: A Beautiful Way to Organize Chaos.


    Thursday, 3 September 2009

    Two tragic ironies of World War II – and one crucial lesson

    junkers_ju_87_stuka On the 70th anniversary of the day that World War II was declared, effective upon Germany’s blitzkreig invasion of Poland, it’s worth observing two outstandingly tragic ironies:

    1. Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany in defence of Poland – a country that wasn’t defensible – but acquiesced in Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, which were.
      That’s just one of the practical consequences of appeasement.
    2. Britain declared war on Nazi Germany because Hitler invaded Poland, yet within two years Britain was an ally of the Soviet Union -- which was the co-invader of Poland, and the Nazi’s partner in Poland’s dismemberment.
      That’s just one of the tragic ironies of twentieth-century history: that’s what happens when you fail to identify the nature of your so-called friends: the practical consequence of which was that a war undertaken ostensibly to deliver Poland from the Nazi yoke ended by delivering the entire population of Eastern Europe to the noose of Joseph Stalin.

    Just as the moral is the practical, so too is the immoral the impractical.  The lesson of WWII is so large that it’s so rarely seen, but it’s crystal clear when you look hard enough.  In the words of Virgil, “Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.” (Loose translation from the Latin: Do not give your sanction to evil, but proceed ever more strongly against it.)

    There endeth the lesson of 3rd September.

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    Cool Machinery of the Day: Leonardo Da Vinci’s machines

    Leonard Da Vinci was the original Renaissance Man.  He was an artist, an engineer, an  inventor, a scientist . . . Here’s a neat video of just some of Leonardo Da vinci’s machines – modelled in 3d and based on Leonard’s many sketches -- from a seed drill to a machine gun, from a forge hammer to an armoured tank.


    Lying like a Central Banker

    "Over at the Mises Economics Blog, Robert Blumen slams the door on boasting by Federal Reserve Bank flunkies so thoroughly, and with the maximum of pith, that it’s worth reposting it here:

    From a presentation by Janet Yellin (of the San Francisco Fed) on June 30 to the Commonwealth Club of California,

    “I will be the first to say that it is always difficult to get monetary policy just right. But the Fed's analytical prowess is top-notch and our forecasting record is second to none.”

    The same Fed that thought there was no housing bubble? Second to none? What about all those Austrian economists who identified the bubble?

    But Yellen didn't stop there. She followed up with:

    “The FOMC is committed to price stability and has a solid track record in achieving it.

    Really? The same Fed that presided over a 90% depreciation in the purchasing power of the dollar?

    And finally, she finishes up with:

    “With respect to our tool kit, we certainly have the means to unwind the stimulus when the time is right.”

    See my thoughts on that here.

    You think NZ’s pseudo-banking inquiry is a farce? It’s no half as ludicrous as watching The Fed wriggling in the spotlight as more and more evidence emerges that The Fed’s (and the NZ Reserve Bank’s) efforts at price stabilisation have delivered only chaos

    Well done to Blumen for so effectively and summarily dismissing the leading claims of its cheerleaders. Time to shut down the Fed (and by extension the local Reserve Bank) and head back to the system that delivered a half-century of genuine price stability before money was nationalised [head here and scroll down for a discussion of the chart below showing NZ’s gently declining price levels in the late nineteenth century as it became more prosperous].

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    Banking ‘inquiry’ collapses [update 2]

    Kiwibank CEO Sam Knowles, who owes the existence of the bank he manages to Jin Neanderton’s jingoism and  taxpayers’ largesse , was not returning Old Jim or the Labour Party who extracted that largesse any favours at yesterday’s banking pseudo-inquiry.

    The pseudo-inquiry is an attempt to position the Labour lightweights as the poor man’s economic heavyweights when it comes to bashing banks.  It was ostensibly intended to “investigate claims that banks are not giving customers the full benefit of Reserve Bank rates cuts.”

    It was over however from almost the first question.

    Knowles was the only banker to show up at the pseud’s inquiry.  Asked by opposition Punch ‘n Gro spokesman Clayton Cosgrove whether other banks’ higher rates were evidence that Kiwibank's larger rivals were "rorting Kiwis," Knowles short answer was “No.” 

    His longer answer , which was  probably too long for either Punch ‘n Gro or Neanderton to digest, involved pointing out that if you already have customers (like the bigger banks do) then in order to take those customers yourself (which is what Kiwibank has been trying to do) then you have to offer a better deal.  Hence Kiwibank’s lower rates.

    And at that point the whole raison d'être of the psuedo-inquiry collapsed in a heap. Only thing was, the pseuds themselves didn’t appear to notice.

    UPDATE 1: Banks maximising profits? People say that like it’s a bad thing. But as David Rawcliffe points out at the Adam Smith Institute’s blog,

        The argument for profits is so simple as to be trivial: firms, provided they are subject to laws preventing theft and violence [and fractional reserve banking], can only gain revenue by selling things that people want; they can only make a profit if they sell these things for more than they cost to produce; and in the process of production they employ people who prefer that job to any other they could find. That is, profit-making firms create wealth (in the broadest sense of the word) for their customers, owners, and employees. They take wealth from no-one.
        FSA chief Lord Turner talks vaguely of the banks failing to be ‘socially useful’. The truth is this: any industry that makes money is ‘socially useful’, in the very concrete sense that it makes all those involved better off.

    As you can see, I only needed to add one phrase to make it strictly accurate.

    UPDATE 2: Give the state of BERL’s own economic literacy, isn’t it a bit rich for BERL’s senior alleged economist Ganesh Nana to be pointing fingers at the economic literacy of other New Zealanders?

    And if it’s true that New Zealanders are more interested in property prices and mortgage rates than another other economic phenomenon, could it be that New Zealanders are simply responding rationally to distorted incentives – i.e., to investment incentives severely distorted by the Reserve Bank’s dictatorship of the money supply and their overseeing of the profligate issue of counterfeit capitalcredit expansion (measured in M2) at the rate of over ten percent a year

    Since the dollar in your pocket is diluted every time a new tranche of money is issued, it’s no wonder that NZers prefer a “flight into goods” rather than be left with holding too much of the Reserve Bank’s risky paper.

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    Quote of the day: Thatcher on socialism

    The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other
    people's money."
    ……………………………………………………………………………………..—Margaret Thatcher


    Read Whole Foods’s John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal article with that quotation at its head, and discover for yourself why it so raised the ire of ObamaCrats that they’re now camping outside Mackey’s doors in protest:
    The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare: Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

    The leading claim made by Objectivist John Mackey is this:

    “Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every … adult is responsible for his or her own health."

    You can see why the socialists are organising boycotts in protest at his temerity to question the ObaMessiah, and Tea Party protestors are organising buycotts in response -- and people like Michael Strong are writing in the Huffington Post that Mackey is a hero of intellectual integrity.

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    NOT PJ: Living Off the Fat of the Land [updated]

    This country’s bureaucratic meddling index (BMI) is climbing ever higher, says Bernard Darnton.

    _BernardDarnton New government-funded research shows that the government should interfere in the food market more. Health economist (inveterate meddler) Des O’Dea yesterday presented research suggesting that the government should offer discount vouchers for healthy food. Apparently fresh food is too expensive.

    One idea he looked as was getting rid of the GST on some foods. Bravo! Finally, a tax cut! But, no. It would be too hard to administer. Four hundred government departments and seventy-five billion dollars a year later someone works out that red tape is bad. And then it’s an excuse not to cut taxes. I spluttered so hard I could barely get any swear words out.

    Here’s a plan. Make collecting GST on these foods voluntary. If you want to jump through the hoops and charge GST on chocolate biscuits but not on the wheaty plasterboard ones (or whatever rules the jobsworths came up with), good on you. If you think the rules are too complex, just ignore them and charge GST on everything. In theory this favours the big supermarkets over small dairies. In reality there’d be no effect because the “fresh” food section at most dairies consists of an optimistically-priced bag of damp onions and two bruised bananas.

    The favoured plan is for poor people to be given discount vouchers that they can use to buy fruit and vegetables – food stamps. If this plan is introduced I hope to pick up some of these vouchers at eighty cents in the dollar. I might get the equivalent of my tax cut that way.

    Diabetes New Zealand president Chris Baty is reported in The Press saying, “any scheme that allowed people to eat more healthy food was a positive move,” ignoring that fact that people aren’t currently forbidden from eating healthy food.

    Would this programme to make fresh food cheaper work? When I lived in Lower Hutt I used to buy my seventy-plus a week at the Riverside market. Orchardists from Gisborne, market gardeners from Levin, and everyone else in the area brought their produce almost to my doorstep. It was plentiful and cheap. And yet, when I was bagging up my 69-cents-a-kilo apples, surrounded by literally truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables, I could watch the fat kids wobbling around eating hot dogs.

    So, no. The fruit was cheap, the fried crap was expensive, and the fat dads bought their fat kids fat-drenched food. They weren’t eating it because they were poor. They were eating it because they wanted to. Try doing a sociology PhD on that.

    It will undoubtedly be as successful as so many other government plans. Sadly (for connoisseurs of the absurd at least), the government’s ‘Mission On’ programme, which encouraged children to become active by providing a web site for them to play games on, has been discontinued.

    All this latest scheme would achieve would be a massive new government department to issue and redeem the vouchers and to work out what counts as healthy food. When I was a kid orange juice was healthy. Now it’s not, because it contains sugar. Some unemployable is going to have to go through every aisle in the supermarket to work out what’s in and what’s out.

    One man they won’t be employing is Marc Ellis. In his role as orange juice magnate he was accused of peddling products that cause childhood obesity. As a remedy, he suggested “telling the fat pricks to go for a run.”

    Our response to the food fascists should be similar. Tell them to take a hike.

    * * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *


    ‘Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps’ – JMW Turner exhibited 1812


    I confess I’m not grabbed by every canvas that Joseph Mallord William Turner smeared weather over, but this one does something more for me than most.

    You can feel how much Hannibal had against him; you can sense the immensity of the challenge in doing what was thought impossible – and the distant glimmering of the triumph awaiting. him.

    Read about the history here.

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    Wednesday, 2 September 2009

    Who chugs where the most?

    Liberty Scott brings you news and brief analysis of the OECD’s report out today on young people.

    So to answer the first question first, according to the OECD (whose figures are far more reputable than the UN’s, even if their policy writers like big govt far more than is healthy):

    • UK teens drink the most (hardly surprising.  If you grew up in the UK you’d drink until you were blind too).
    • Turkish teens are the most bullied but love school the most (hot for teacher?)
    • Finnish teens have the best educational results (they keep bad teachers out of the system and pay good teachers a lot to teach larger classes)
    • NZ teens have the highest suicide rate in the developed world (by jillikers, that Ministry of Youth Affairs is doing good work,don’t you think?), but in the UK it is a fifth of that in NZ (does the alcohol help?)
    • Swiss teens take the least exercise (too much cheap public transport?)

    It also says that average NZ family incomes are low.  So no lessons at all here then . . .

    NBR on Nick the Weasel & John the Vacillator

    Not to be one to recycle editorials like some blogs do, but last Friday’s National Business Review editorial (just sent to me, for some reason I’m not on the free list and its not online) looks somewhat familiar, which is why it’s probably so good.

        The time is arriving for the business community to assert itself against a government proving itself on a rang of issues to be as bad as its predecessor and, in some cases, worse.
        John Key’s affable persona may be sufficient to keep his government high in the polls for now. This however is not a substitute for a policy programme to deliver the economic growth required for New Zealand to remain a first-world society, let alone catch up with Australia.
        After nine months in power, no such programme is apparent.  Instead, the government seems at least as determined as Labour to impose unnecessary and extravagant new costs on the business community.

    Good stuff, isn’t it (the writing I mean, not the impositions and the extravagance) even if the author has used the word “community” twice in two paragraphs.

        The worst offender is [guess who] Climate Change Minister Nick Smith.  Rightly regarded as being in the wrong party, he is colluding with the Labour Party to ensure New Zealand becomes the first and only country to impose an all-sectors, all-gases Emissions Trading Scheme on its manufacturers, electricity and fuel users, and farmers.
        Even worse, Smith and Labour are working to ensure the new system will deliver the highest possible carbon price. . .

    Disgusting isn’t it.  I’ll let you guess for yourself which party the insufferably naive Nick the Weasel should really be in – and the editorial spells out how that naivety is going to cost us all big time, especially “the crème de la crème of the country’s productive base [whose] ability to create wealth and jobs is being sabotaged in misguided desire to be the toast of the environmental cocktail circuit.”

    Ouch!  That’s that hard-hitting stuff from the country’s biggest-selling business weekly about this so-called business-friendly government.

    On the same page is the quip, “If John Key was a Viking he’d probably be called John the Vacillator.”

    I don’t think Blind Willy Johnson sang that one.  Mind you, a revelator’s not a vacillator, is he.

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    DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Smacking Sue, Tweaking Tuku, & Mocking Michael

    Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes another irreverent weekly look at some of the past week’s headlines.

    1. Bradford: Pro-smackers behind threats – According to Sue Bradford, anyone who opposed the anti-parenting legislation rammed through by the National/Labour socialist grand coalition wants to thrash and maim children. According to Sue, it’s not about parenting – by the way, Sue wants to nationalise parenting, which her Marxist study has taught her will help in dismantling the capitalist system. Sue reckons the resistance to her red plague is coming from people wanting to assault and murder their children. As I have stated previously, what inflamed people (if you would care to listen, Sue) is the fact that you and your ilk want to remove the ability for parents to be able to use physical force to keep their children safe and from doing harm to others, when all attempts to use reason and negotiation have failed.

    2. Tukoroirangi Morgan: Maori or Pakeha candidate – who’d get your vote? – The $89 man (remember the boxer shorts?) reckons that not many years ago Maori owned all the land over which Rodney Hide’s Super City Council will preside. That’s stretching it a bit. Before European colonization, land was not owned in the sense that we think of ownership. It was fought over, there was no secure title and thus there was little incentive to improve or develop land as it was likely to be pillaged and looted at the time of the next tribal raid.
        Somehow however Tuku reads in the Treaty of Waitangi a right for ‘indigenous’ people to have special representation on the Super City Council. He laments the fact that the advertising industry seems to feature rich, white people in their promotions. He does have a point in that the Maori ‘brand’ is lumped with negative or controversial extremes. But the answer is not for the government to insult Maori by treating them as powerless victims. It is to empower them by treating them as sovereign individuals, unshackling them from welfare dependency, closing down the violent and increasingly anarchic public schools in which many of them are raised, and allowing them genuine tino rangitiratanga – independence from domination by the state.
        New Zealanders should all be subject to equality under just laws, with no discrimination by race or other accidents of birth. More on this at a later time!

    3. Mayor hails first day of gang patch ban – There is now a dress code in W(h)anganui, enforceable by law. Michael Laws has made the River City a laughing stock; unbelievably, Timaru now wants to do the same (no word yet from Otara).
        The ultimate reference for new laws and by-laws should be a Constitution or Bill of Rights. Laws incompatible with this should be struck down. New Zealand has a Bill of Rights of sorts, crafted by Geoffrey Palmer, the man whose face needs punching because of his conspicuous and over-the-top wowserism. Section 14 of Geoffrey’s Bill of Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind, in any form.” To that section has now beeen added three words: “except in W(h)anganui.”     

    See y’all next week!
    Doc McGrath

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    I’m allergic to plastic-bag campaigners

    In Vienna a few centuries back they fought off the Turks and saved the West from barbarism.

    In Europe in 1815 they rallied together to fight off Napoleon's authoritarian designs on the continent.

    In Britain in 1940 they hunkered down alone to defend themselves from Nazism.

    But now in modern-day New Zealand we have so few real enemies to rail against (or so some people think) that we take up arms instead against the likes of the humble plastic bag.

    Are we insane? And by "we" here, I mean you – you and your friend with the shit-eating mien Russel Norman, and that moron who appeared on TV news last night with the title "Plastic Bag Campaigner" under his mug. How embarrassing it must be to make your one life-time appearance on TV and have that propping up you face! (If the acne-ridden nincompoop has any friends I hoped they videotaped that segment and play it back to him when he's grown up so he can see what an embarrassment he is to humankind.)

    Haven't we got some real things to worry about, that we have to start making things up?

    Haven't we? Or do these people just feel no shame telling you not just what you can put in your shopping bag, but what sort of damn shopping bag they're going to let you use.

    It’s said that more children have more allergies these days because their mothers spend too much time removing any real evils for their immune systems to resist, so they start finding unreal evils like cat hair and peanuts to be immune to instead.

    These modern-day vermin are like those They can’t see the bigger picture so concentrate myopically instead on busy-bodying things like your shopping bag and what’s in it.

    Naff off.

    And get yourselves a life.

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    Why so DeSpondre’nt [update]

    People, or at least bloggists, are saying that Cactus Kate Cactus Kate and Whale Oil Whale Oil are foolish to let themselves get Spondred (swamped with Spondre?) at their new co-blog Gotcha!

    I’ve noticed a few anti-Spondrists round the traps in recent weeks, but haven’t really worked out why they’re so De-Spondre’nt about the Link Whore.  Can anyone tell me succinctly why he makes them  so hot and Spondred?

    UPDATE: In a shock early morning announcement, Cactus Kate has now slipped out of the Gotcha!domicile and his back at her old home.  “The joint blog of myself and the WhaleOil was a concept that just didn't work. Rather than wait and give it a go and hope for the best like the Hanover investors did, I am departing now.”  She had to consult a dictionary to find out what “sorry” means, but she’s said it, she’s departed, and you can read her reasons at this post here, back at her old blog location.

    Legal aid or legal trough? [updated]

    Legal aid is lawyer aid. It’s a legitimate use of govt’s money to pay for a legal system, but nowhere does that mean it’s legitimate to make people independently wealthy on govt money.

    As a poor much put-upon taxpayer, there’s something distasteful about watching a courtroom lawyer running run a defence for a scumbag based on narcissistic whining and flatulent self-delusion (Ms Judith Ablett-Kerr defending Sophie Elliot’s murderer), or watching Michael Reed run a $2.6 milion defence-by-media on behalf of David Bain – watching all that courtroom legerdemain and knowing that I’m picking up the tab for the whole legal charade. (Not to mention Deborah Manning's McLeod & Associates who pulled down $2 million from us taxpayers a few years ago to plead for Ahmed Zaoui. Or Joe Karam, who we all applauded for putting his bankroll where his support for David Bain was, only to discover that it was in fact we taxpayers who had been bankrolling Mr Karam.)

    This is not legal aid so much as a legal trough, and as inner-city restaurant owners know those be-wigged snouts have very rich tastes – and they know how to inflate a bill. There’s no species more venal than lawyers making up their bills (un less of course it’s politicians making up their expense claims).

    Just as the injustice of prohibition keeps gangsters rich, so too does the iniquity of the legal aid system keep lawyers farting through silk.

    The just-announced radical review of the welfare system for lawyers that is legal aid is long overdue.  Regular readers of this blog would know that I’ve long been a fan of removing lawyers from sucking off the state’s tit, replacing legal aid welfare payments with a public defenders’ office. 

    In fact way back in 2005 I wrote that with some very few noticeable exceptions, the more I see of lawyers and their venality, the more I find myself in favour of nationalising the lot of them. When considering justice of removing their taxpaid path to riches, you might consider the words of H.L. Mencken:

    “All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.”
    Ain’t that the truth. Simon Power should send the country’s lawyers a copy of Mencken’s words on a piece of stiff parchment, with the advice that if they disagree with being removed from the state tit that they fold it until it's all sharp corners, and then insert it where the sun doesn't shine – and consider themselves lucky the country’s mah jong factories are oversupplied.

    So legal aid can go.  I’m quite comfortable with the concept of the public defenders’ office instead as a way to defend those who can’t afford their own counsel, or who can’t attract the attention of private organisations like the American Institute for Justice – funded by donations to fight for individual rights whenever they’re menaced. (If only New Zealand had such a place, or lawyers with such an interest.)

    Frankly, once you start ‘nationalising’ a few lawyers and take away their golden spigot we’ll soon see lawyers fees coming down. And start hacking back the intrusions of excessive and non-objective law and regulation that feed the parasites, and you’ll find that we won’t need so many of the elegant bastards anyway.

    UPDATE: I liked this comment from Bez:

    “Law is one of the few legitimate purposes and activities of the state. The question however is where to draw the box inside of which that activity must be contained. Because we don't have that clear there's just too much 'wetlands' in which leeches prosper.”

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    The future of some newspapers isn’t what it used to be

    The collapse of the Freedom Communications newspaper conglomerate in the States has a few topical lessons for us here in NZ.  Freedom Communications had followed the thinking that “going local” -- delivering good local dailies – might save papers from internet-induced oblivion.  But Freedom Communications’ bankruptcy, along with titles like the Orange County Register and the Colorado Springs Gazette, might cause a rethink on that theory.

    But political scientist Ryan McKaken reckons that there is one model that’s still working in the internet age, and as it happens it’s the one National Business Review publisher and blogger fanboy Barry Colman is following: While “the very structure and model of the daily newspaper prevents it from functioning in a world of instant electronic news, if we look at the weekly business journals that dot the landscape . . . we see that they are doing quite well at the electronic news game.”

        “They all have daily email updates which go out to readers and contain the latest news tailored for their readers. Business journal updates contain the latest news from the wire, but also contain local business stories, which are the best part of any local business journal.
    They can put out news as it happens, while dailies cannot. Dailies must constantly worry about scooping themselves. For example, when a new business story turns up, many of the dailies aren't willing to publish the story online right away because then the reader will have already read the story by the time it turns up in the paper the next morning. Obviously, advertisers don't like self-scooping because they want the news in the paper edition to be all new to the reader so he feels the need to look at every page. And, a paper filled with old news will eventually be deemed unnecessary altogether, which is definitely bad for the newspaper company. True, it might be possible to produce an online version of the story, and then a longer more in-depth version for the paper, but that requires more time and more staff.
    So, while the weeklies crank our daily stories online and disseminate them through email and other means, the dailies often hold back on news so that the news in the morning paper appears fresh. It's not hard to see who will win this game.

    Just ask Barry.  He seems to have hit on something that even local analysts have missed.

    Quote of the Day: On virtue

    I have gained this from philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.”
    ……………………………………………………………- attributed to Aristotle

    (Or to paraphrase Sean Connery when asked what was the most important thing in the world to him: "To feel good inside my own skin at the end of the day.” And to be free to.)

    And conversely, coercion is immoral because in denying individuals their moral space it denies individuals the capacity to develop their own moral sense. Or as Herbert Spencer put it,

    The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."


    Fort Apache Reservation – Melissa Hefferlin (2009)


    Part of a ‘Landscape With a Modern Edge’ exhibition opening in October at the Newberry Gallery in Santa Monica. [Hat tip Michael Newberry]

    Check out more of Melissa’s work here at her website.

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    Tuesday, 1 September 2009

    Cool machinery of the day: High-speed robot hand

    For dexterity, manipulative skill and and sheer engineering complexity, it’s hard to go past this high-speed robot hand.


    Auckland bloggers bar bash

    Just to remind you about this Thursday night’s B3 Bloggers Bar Bash at Galbraith’s – first Thursday of every month, as always.  Come along for face-to-face arguments, good beer and undoubtedly the usual death-threat or three.  And Annie Fox! will probably have a few good stories to share from a week in Brisbane – and one or two of them might even be true.

    See you there!

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    The World’s 5 most over-rated tourist sites

    The Times lists five well over-rated  “ancient and historical sites” that are on the list of most would-be travellers, and offers five lesser-known alternatives that you might want aim for instead.  The five most overrated are:

    1. Stonehenge.  A sad and inaccessible pile of stones in a cow paddock.  Very underwhelming.
    2. Petra, Jordan. Over-visited, over-crowded, and being overwhelmed by the tourism village itself.
    3. The Colosseum, Rome. Over-visited, over-crowded and now a traffic island.
    4. Machu Picchu, Peru.  Costs an arm and a leg and an uncomfortable journey to get there.  But if you do get there . . .
    5. Angkor, Cambodia. Now far too overcrowded to appreciate the majesty in the peace and quiet they need.

    I’ve only been to one of the five myself, but the problem of overcrowding exists in every major tourist site. So how does this list fit with your experience?

    Check out the full story and the suggested alternatives here.

    Economics in One Lesson - Part 1, ‘The Lesson’ [updated]

    The first in a series of twelve interviews with leading Austrian Economists discussing each chapter of Hazlitt's classic book – i.e., the book that every home should have.  Listen in to Walter Block on the introduction and ‘The Lesson’ . . .

    . . . and Thomas Di Lorenzo on ‘The Broken Window.’  You should know about that one by now, right?

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    New bloggers: Clark & Watkins take on the Bay

    Blog-Headers C&W

    Tauranga’s Sun Live newspaper is now hosting two combative freedom-loving bloggers (cripes, they’re everywhere, aren’t they!?). En garde!

        Our new blog Clark & Watkins will serve to offer you an enlightened view of what it should be like to live as an independent-thinking & free individual in a free economy.
        We’ll highlight infractions of your right to liberty, and those busy-bodies that wish to infract.
        We’ll show you what your council and its minions are up to with your money and your property rights.
        We’ll spell out where your money goes and to who.
        We’ll defend your liberty against all those that wish to take it away, whether they be private citizen or politician.
        Each day we will post our view on a current event, or general freedom issue, but we’ll also offer alternatives or solutions to the status/statist quo.
        We’ll also post on music, art, and important people that come to this nice town of ours.

    Add them to your blog roll … if you can work out what their blog’s regular damn address is. (In the meantime, head to SunLive’s blog page and look for the cool logo.)

    Louis Boulanger: "Gold is Money and Nothing Else"

    The world is turning. One of NZ’s more rational investment advisers is delivering a presentation this Friday on the subject "Gold is Money and Nothing Else."

        That is exactly what JP Morgan himself said when he was asked about the role of gold in the financial system by a US congressional subcommittee in 1913.  Modern investment portfolio managers may soon come to realise they have been imprudent to continue to ignore gold as a currency.  Real wealth is, after all, already shifting rapidly and inevitably away from the West and into the East.  That's because the United States has by now irreparably abused its "exorbitant privilege" (as it was once called by Charles De Gaulle) of US dollar hegemony (which was the result of Bretton Woods in 1944). 
        Indeed, ever since the US defaulted on its debt obligation in 1971, when President Nixon unilaterally cancelled the Bretton Woods system and stopped the direct convertibility of the US dollar to gold, the world has continued to be under the spell of central bankers.  Yet now, after years of irresponsible money creation, the global financial system is in serious trouble.  Throwing more money at the problem will not work forever.  There is no way to perpetuate a debt-based financial system in perpetuity. Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée; tout se transforme.  The ongoing transformation is yet again taking its natural course. One manifestation of this is the increasing importance of Sovereign Wealth Funds.  Will central banks survive?  
    This presentation aims to debunk the myth that the gold standard is a barbarous relic and show that, instead, we are in need of serious monetary reform and, in the meantime, gold has once again a very real role to play in the prudent management of wealth.

    This is a major presentation by a respected professional, who has been delivering this presentation round Asia, and will want to give feedback on the reaction (ie that there’s an urgent need for monetary reform and until this happens it’s prudent to look at investments in that context.)

    Louis Boulanger is the founder of LB Now Ltd, and was previously executive director of Mercer Investment Consulting, where he was responsible for the strategic asset allocation advice given to institutional clients. He also served as founding president of the CFA Society of New Zealand and remains a director. He is currently the chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Investment Performance Subcommittee of the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) Council and a member of the GIPS Executive Committee.

    The talk is that this Friday lunchtime at Auckland’s Northern Club.  Details here.

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    General debate

    Got something you need to say? Anything you want to get off your chest? Someone you need to talk about ? Questions to need to ask? Here’s your chance: have at it!

    August at NOT PC: Smack your stats up

    I haven’t done blog stats for a couple of months, so to get back on track here’s August’s – the month in which we smacked each other around over “the chooldren,” and swine flu dropped right off the radar. . . and all the while there was a steady increase in visitor numbers:
    Unique visits [from Statcounter]: 44,210 (June: 42,096)
    Page impressions [from Statcounter]: 65,826 (June: 60,437)
    Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1514/day (May: 1620)
    NZ Political Blog Ranking for NOT PC in July: 3rd (May: 3rd)
    Alexa Ranking, NZ:  1,118th (June: 1,802nd)
    Alexa Ranking, world: 302,597th (June: 348,280th)
    Top ten posts for August:
    • Quote of the day: Conservative or Liberal?
      "We don't really care whether you call yourself conservative or liberal. What we care about is whether you defend or undermine individual rights."  Still as true as when it was first posted. 
    • Pre-school non-education vs Montessori education
      While many 5-year-olds with years of mainstream pre-school education are starting school unable to count or complete the alphabet, six-year-olds in Montessori classrooms are are counting and understanding the concept of one million, doing long division and binomial equations, and reading and writing their own short stories.  How so?
    • LIBERTARIANZ SUS: No means no!
      John Key doesn’t understand that “no” doesn’t mean “yes.” 
    • It was never just about smacking, you know
      The primary focus of the anti-smacking brigade is not smacking.  Once you understand that, you will understand their reaction to the referendum.  It was never primarily about smacking, and it was never really about child abuse. It was always about control
    • Quote for a Sunday: On Christianity
      "Christianity has acquiesced in slavery and polygamy, has practically canonized war, has, in the name of the Lord, burnt heretics and devastated countries."
    • Fat fools call for new taxes on rent and mortgages
      Everyone’s got a favourite tax they want to slap on someone to stop the housing bubble happening again. But do few have any idea of what caused it in the first place!
    • Objectivist banking business
      How banker John Allison used the values of Objectivism to make BB&T Bank one of America’s powerhouses, and having fun doing it.  It was done by taking integrity seriously. . .
    • Testing the new additions to the blogroll
      A truckload of conservative commentators on the blogroll! How in Hades did they sneak in here?
    • Freedom for me . . . but I’m not so sure about ye 
      Mencken used to say that a puritan is someone possessed of the all-pervasive fear that someone, somewhere, might be having fun. Mencken would have noticed lots of puritans about today, huh, many possessing legislative power. . .
    • Raising Good Kids 
      Forget what’s legal or not legal and start looking instead at what’s good – to raise good kids into good adults you’ll want a clear sense of the good yourself.
    Most commented upon posts
    Top referring sites:
    No Minister 1760 referrals; Kiwiblog 1510; ; Libertarianz 472; Tumeke 322; Anti Dismal 271; Technoratis 256;  SOLO 248; Cactus Kate 245; Night City Trader 235; Facebook 206; MacDoctor 202; Annie Fox! 201; Liberty Scott 196; Crusader Rabbit 181; Stumble Upon 174; Whale Oil 165
    Top searches landing here:
    not pc/peter cresswell etc 891; causes of global financial crisis 191; contaminated soils owen mcshane 141; nude olympians 104; morse melling 57; wine flu 57; beer songs 54; john adams 39; boscawen amendment 35; libertarian sus incivility 31; spy novels 31
    They're reading NOT PC here:
    Top countries/territories (from Google Analytics)
    NZ 49%; US 21%; Australia 4.7%; UK 4.0%; Canada 2.1%; Germany 1.8%; India 1.5%; Italy 1.0%
    Top cities
    Auckland 28%; Wellington 7.6%; Christchurch 6.0%; London 1.9%; Sydney 2.1%; Palmerston North 1.0%; New York 1.5%; Dunedin 1.1%; Melbourne 0.8%; Brisbane 0.8%; Tauranga 0.6%; Hamilton 0.x%
    Readers' Browsers
    Firefox/Flock 44%(44); IE Explorer 35%(39); Safari 13%(11); Chrome 4.8% (4.0); Opera 1.6%(1.8)
    Readers’ OS
    Windows 79%; Mac 17%; Linux 2.6%; iPhone 0.7%
    Readers’ Screen Sizes
    1024x768 22%; 1280x800 18%; 1280x1024 14%; 1680x1050 12%; 1440x900 11%
    Readers' Connection Speeds
    DSL 37%(35); unknown 34%(32); Cable 19% (21); T1 7.7%(9.1); Dial-up 2.8%(2.7)
    Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading, linking to and talking about NOT PC this month,
    Peter Cresswell


    Quote of the Day: On certainty

    To insist, as philosophers have done for centuries, that knowledge requires some kind of “timeless certainty” is not a search for certainty – it’s a refusal to be certain.  It makes knowledge an impossible ideal -- “the perfect being the enemy of the good.”

    It is a way of always knowing less than you do know, and ensuring that you never know anything for sure.  To make yourself uncertain by means of the certain; what could be more ironic?

    But as Tibor Machan discusses, Ayn Rand made what amounts to a unique achievement.  She validated common sense. “What Ayn Rand proposed is that human beings, if they do the hard work, can obtain knowledge just fine and dandy. And there is, of course, ample evidence of this in the sciences, in technology and—let’s not forget—ordinary life. But what is this human knowledge?
    As the name of her system makes evident, the key to knowledge is objectivity. As Rand herself puts the point in her book, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”:

    Objective validity is determined by reference to the facts of reality. But it is man who has to identify the facts; objectivity requires discovery by man—and cannot precede man's knowledge, i.e., cannot require omniscience. Man cannot know more than he has discovered—and he may not know less than the evidence indicates, if his concepts and definitions are to be objectively valid.”
    ……………………………………………….Ayn Rand

    To know. Not just to trust, but to know – to know down to the root, which you need to if you’re about to bet your life on it.  That’s what astronauts do – or adventurers—or new people taking new paths down new roads---or a woman riding seven-thousand tons of steel and freight thundering along at over one-hundred miles per hour like "a great silver bullet" through great cities and along narrow mountain trails – a train held above the precipice by just two strips of green-blue metal strung in a curve along a narrow rock shelf, strips of metal no wider than a woman's arm. . .  People, that is, like Dagny Taggart.

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    Wilkinson Residence – Robert Harvey Oshatz


    wilkinson-residence-6 Dubbed the Oregon Tree House and completed in 2004, this beauty was seven years in the making, “from drawing board to completion.”

    Says the Trendir Modern Houses website,

        Nature with architecture is not an odd pairing by any means, but it’s never been done quite like this. But another factor plays heavily on this contemporary, flowing style – music. Architect Robert Harvey Oshatz has created this awesome, artistic piece of architecture in the woods of Portland, Oregon, for a client who’s love of music would be translated into a modern home. . .
         The main living level of this contemporary tree house sits in the canopy, among lush green leaves with the dewy earth rolling out below. It’s one of those designs that’s difficult to describe.
    wilkinson-residence-9    According to the architect, “One has to actually stroll through the house to capture its complexities and its connection to the exterior with the use of a natural wood ceiling floating on curving laminated wood beams which pass through a generous glass wall  which wraps around the main living room.”

    See more of the house here, and at the architect’s website: Robert Harvey Oshatz Architect

    wilkinson-residence-8 wilkinson-residence-7

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