Saturday, July 30, 2005

Futuna, by John Scott


An unsung New Zealand masterpiece, sadly now in a state of deterioration: John Scott's Futuna Chapel, unloved and undeserved by the people of Karori.

Gotcha!


All four 21/7 London bombers arrested last night.
As the Sun once said, "Gotcha!"

ACT autopsied on 'Agenda'

Rodney Hide's appearance on 'Agenda' this morning prompted a dissection of the ACT Party's prospects, and as always these days the dissection turned into an autopsy. (Transcript here when it's ready.)

What all the commentators seemed to agree on is that ACT are gone unless they can find a King Hit, and Rodney's mission to "Stop-Winston" is just not it. Those voters are not theirs.

Which reminded me of my public spirited advice to ACT Party supporters back at the start of June:
If you're going down anyway -- as you are -- why not use the public platform you've got, eschew compromise and scandal-mongering, and start saying what you really believe? Or at least say what you say you really believe? What have you got to lose that the polls are saying you haven't already? If not now, when?

Here's five things you could try saying that at the moment you're too scared too ...
Read on here.

Judicial activism v rights

As George W.'s Supreme Court nominee John Roberts awaits confirmation, Tara Smith offers some thoughts on what a Supreme Court nominee should know as a minimum, and she takes a tilt at the notion of judicial activism as being in any way meaningful.
As the battle over John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation begins, the one widely agreed upon measure of qualification is that he not be a "judicial activist." While conservatives have long railed against "activist" judges "making" law by legislating from the bench, many on the left in recent years have similarly criticized the Rehnquist court as "activist" (on behalf of executive powers, for instance). Charges of "activism" have essentially become a smear intended to discredit any decision with which one disagrees. More damaging, however, the use of this label, on all sides, fosters a serious confusion about the role of the judiciary.
What the job of the justices is, contends Smith, is the understanding and upholding of the individual rights and freedoms of its citizens, which is after all the reason that governments are constituted, and the recognition and protection of the fact that governments properly act only by permission.

And why are rights-based systems so sound? Well, as Tibor Machan explains here, they're not at all sound if they're misunderstood, as they are by those such as the present US Supreme Court justices in their egregious Kelo v New London decision. But when properly understood, a rights-based systems is sound because
it fits human beings better than the alternative, which would have a legal system constantly promote welfare or well-being in an ad hoc fashion. The fact is, no one can ever devise a legal system and public policies that guarantee good results. Putting people in charge of this massive project will backfire in a big way. Politicians are not gods (or even angels), so their plans are bound to contain many mistakes, and when they plan for others whom they do not know, that likelihood is overwhelming.
The question then is either a rights-based system or a centrally planned one, and that particular question was well-answered for all of us when the Berlin Wall fell. Or so you might have thought...

Free screen cleaner

Download your free MS Monitor Cleaner here.

[Hat tip Silent Running]

Friday, July 29, 2005

Slainte!


It's been one of those weeks when only whiskey will do. And when only whiskey will do, the only whiskey that will do is Jameson's.

Slainte!

223,000 voters still not enrolled!

It looks like the 'No Confidence' vote and the 'None of the Above' votes are secured for the election. The Herald reports that 223,000 voters are yet to put their name on the electoral roll. I don't know about you, but that makes me smile.

As they say, don't vote, it only encourages them.

New Poll: Who is the most odious MP?

Based on the fact that people don't vote new governments in, but instead vote the last government out, I'm offering a new poll there on the sidebar to give us a guide to which of the present crop of power-lusters in parliament you find most repellent. For reasons perhaps obvious only to myself, I've excluded the party leaders from the poll.

Feel free to let me know your choice of 'Other' in the comments below.

Site poll results - Libz the winner on the day

My site poll to establish who reads this blog -- which is a poll that does really matter to me -- has now finished.
Selection
ACT 108 votes
Greens 55 votes
Labour 33 votes
Libertarianz 272 votes
Maori 7 votes
National 106 votes
Bigots 6 votes
None of the above 16 votes
With a total of 603 votes cast, I've established that I have 6 readers that are Bigots and 7 that are Maori Party supporters; as we have no Maori seats here at Not PC and both parties are under the 5% threshold, all bigots are out. I wish it were that easy. :-/

The Labour-Green coalition has 15%, with the Greens as senior partner with 9% support. Act and National have 18% each, meaning that at this site at least there will be other ACT MPs who will have the chance to deliver a valedictory speech one day. In real life however ...

Anyway, the undisputed winner, to nobody's surprise I'm sure, is the Libertarianz-None of the Above coalition with 48%, meaning they will still be needing a coalition partner. Perhaps one or two from the Press gallery could help out? ;-)

So, all that remains then is to give full credit to all the opposition, and to note that 'Not PC' was the winner on the day. Thanks to all those who took part, and I invite you all to participate in my 'Which is the Most Odious Parliamentarian' poll, up there shortly. :-)

As if they would

Former PM Mike Moore was expressing concern this morning that with the closeness of the polls (The Polls! The Polls!) he is worried that in search of votes politicians will be "making promises they won't keep."

You have to laugh.

The polls! The polls!

Unlike every other blogger in Christendom I won't be commenting on 'The Polls!' this morning.

It's not that they're irrelevant but there's never any test of their accuracy, they are in many respects self-fulfilling, and in the end there's only one poll that matters anyway.

Crikey, with all the noise about them elsewhere though it's enough to make you put your head in your hands and run around maniacally... "The Polls! The Polls!"

[Q: BTW, what whiskey does Quasimodo drink?
A: Bells. ]

Fordham Spire will stand tall


One of the most exciting international architects practicing today is Santiago Calatrava, who has just unveiled his plans for the Fordham Spire, the tallest skyscraper in the US, to be built on Chicago's lakefront (above). When completed, it will be the second tallest in the world, behind the Burj Tower presently under construction in Dubai. The Herald quotes the head of Fordham Co. Christopher Carley, who clearly has a sense of history: Good on him. Chicago's skyline is like an art collection; it's wonderful that Chicagoans value these art treasures so visible in their city. Naturally the design has attracted knockers, from a Donald Trump apprehensive of the competition -- "a total charade" The Donald calls it -- to people suggesting it will be "a target for terrorists." Carley and Calatrava brush off both claims. Of the latter, Calatrava says:
Chicago was America's birthplace for modern architecture, nurturing the genius of Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe," Carley said in a statement. "We want to carry that tradition into the 21st century and give our city a masterpiece by one of today's indisputable geniuses."

"The target was not skyscrapers," he said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. "The target was the human lives within them. That's what made it so horrible. But what is my weapon to react against this thing? This building is my weapon! It is a way to say we build in our culture a respect for human life and for a pluralistic society. We have to make an effort to continue inventing the book of life."

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Leaky homes 'suck it up'

Intelligent guest commentary here from a retired builder who says "architects are part of the leaky homes problem[s]." [Pluralisation is my own.]

I don't necessarily disagree with him, as I pointed out when I heard that Richard Priest Architects Ltd went into liquidation. In my opinion too many of the architects who do have culpability for these and other problems are too often protected by their Institute -- and of course the 'solution' proposed is that more of us join the various institutes and bodies to which so many of the culpable people already belong.

Anyway, here's the guest commentary (lightly edited just for punctuation):

"The houses of the last century are still up and serving their owners well. They didn't treat wood in those days. The problem is they don't have a clue about design, or any of the more scientific reasons that create this problem. Pressure treated timber is far superior to painted treated timber, but that has nothing to do with the problem. The problem lies in the fact that design is completely wrong. Build a house with untreated wood exactly as your great grandfather did, and it will last 150 years. Let the timber breathe; no stupid insulation in the wall.

All this treated timber, or untreated timber, or bad builders has very little to do with the problem. The problem lies solely with the people that make the rules. The rules up to the seventies never encountered the leaky home problems that we have today. They had bad builders, idiot designers, untreated wood, so lets concentrate on what changed.

The 'Spanish' look was born, that's when the rules changed. We had air tight walls full of insulation like it was the Arctic Circle. That in itself is a great mistake: the pressure inside the wall is less than the pressure outside the wall, so that the wall will suck water up hill like drinking with a straw. They still don't know that, that is the problem they run round like headless chooks each blaming the other.

If you want a ROLLSROYCE job don't try and do it with LADA parts. If you want a Spanish house build it with blocks the way the Spaniards do, not like these clowns on a timber frame. "

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The 'deregulated' building industry...

My first post this morning is by way a comment at DPF's on the source of the problems with leaky homes, and some of the myths that have been fomenting around the problem. The first myth is that the building industry was "deregulated" in 1991 ...

That's a sample on the right of some of the paperwork that accompanied the 1991 'deregulation.' The new bureaucracy was of a similar size.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

'Cathedral' by Rodin Posted by Picasa

Defiant school still offering Mallard two fingers

The brave trustees of Orauta School were smacked around the head yesterday by the courts and the Ministry of Education who, acting under instruction by Minister Trevor Mallard, had taken them there in a further attempt to close them down. Background here; two of my earlier comments on the case here and here.

Julian Pistorius has the full story of yesterday's action, a few reflections on whom to blame for the trustees' plight, and the defiant assertion "that parents should have the right to choose and take responsibility for the education of their children."
The parents and teachers from Orauta School have done nothing wrong. They have entered into a mutual, voluntary agreement and are educating their own children. There are no victims here. Why is the State persecuting them and treating them like criminals?
Ask your own MPs when he knocks on your door why such parents are being persecuted.

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Plunge in Not PC's Blogshare price!

I've just found out that my Blogshare price took a savage drop at the start of July from a high of B$804.70 to its present price of B$354.91, which surprised me, particularly as I wasn't even aware my blog had a share price. How 'bout that!

You've probably got one too. Check it out.

I see the big drop was from a major sell-off by Idiot Savant, but it hasn't yet recorded any drop in share price from the recent sell-off by one previously large holder of Not PC paper who failed to accurately read the various company reports sent to her. You do get that on the big jobs.

That's got the students...

From one of my guest commentators:

"That's got the students - beneficiaries next !! Won't bother with the tax payers - there aren't enough of them anyway."

That's true! As one of the young intellectual giants interviewed on Campbell Live said, "I don't care about the future anyway." Sadly, there's too few votes in those that do.

Election bribes for students

If you're still wondering why Cullen insists his $7 billion surplus is not a surplus, hints are emerging all the time. You might recall some weeks ago it was announced he 'found' an extra $500 million to pay for new roads. Yesterday there was enough left over to pay for $300 million of election bribes so that students can take out no-interest loans at taxpayers' expense.

Labour says it will ease the brain drain. But Dr Brash said the Government could "just as easily give every New Zealander $1000 to stay in New Zealand". "This is the Government that said just a couple of months ago there wasn't enough money for any kind of tax relief for hard-working New Zealanders." Labour's scheme would also cause an explosion in student debt. "Why would you not borrow to the limit of your capacity, to the limit of the rules if you're not going to pay interest on it?", Dr Brash said.

Indeed, why not? The Dominion points out that, so far at least, National promises "more money in the hand through tax cuts": that's your money in your hand (although it is so far not so much a promise as a promise of a promise). Labour's strategy on the other hand is to promise more of someone else's money in your hand, while the government's own hand dives deeper into your pocket.

This won't be the last time this election that election bribes are rolled out, nor will it be the last time you have me reminding you of H.L. Mencken's comment that "an election is an advance auction of stolen goods." Just don't forget whose money it is with which you, or your children, are being bribed.
[UPDATE: GMan and Cathy are questioning the "rather conveniently round" $300 million figure. As Cathy says, "The costings should be redone on the basis that every student maxes their student loan every year. They will....just watch." Why wouldn't they?]

No power

Shit, I hate saying 'I told you so,' especially when what I was offering was a warning. Seven years ago I pointed out that "Auckland’s current power crisis is only a dry run for worse to come." Remember Auckland's power blackouts in February 1998? Remember the crisis when a few crucial cables broke, and we learnt how tenuous was the power supply to our largest city?

With this in mind, did you notice this week Genesis Energy's appeal over the decision to deny them a secure right to take water from the Whanganui River to generate hydro power? The reason Genesis Energy's water rights were cut from 35 to 10 years by the environment court (acting under the RMA) was because Ken Mair of the Whanganui River Trust Board says he wants to "ensure the well-being of our river." Specifically, he wants to ensure the 'mauri' or 'life force' of the river. Yes, that's right, this is mystic nonsense recognised in law by the environment court.

A ten-year water right is not a secure right. As Genesis said when the decision was handed down, “We cannot plan for sustainable operation of the Tongariro hydro scheme with a ten year time horizon. Like other power generators, long term commercial certainty over the operation of our assets is essential to meet New Zealand's energy needs.”

So in Owen McShane's words "Now we have a sort of precedent that says rivers in New Zealand have a life force and generating stations take that life force away." Alan Jenkins from the Electricity Networks Association warns that the principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. "It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word...hydro is suddenly becoming too hard...what's left?...we can't do everything on windpower," says Jenkins. And if there's no power, there's no industry. And industry is our real lifeblood. So this decision demands that our own real lives are being sacrificed for the mystical life force of Ken Mair's river. Such is the RMA.

Which is what I was saying seven years ago during Auckland's power crisis:
Future restrictions on industry arising from ‘The Green Dream Team’ will dwarf [Auckland's] current problems, according to the Libertarianz Party. The Dream Team’s two players are the Resource Management Act and the Kyoto Protocol: The RMA we know about by now; the Protocol, signed by Simon Upton earlier this year... extracts promises that governments of wealthy, industrial nations will ‘work towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions’ - the inescapable by-product of the burning of fossil fuels. Stripped of its worthy glow this means nothing less than a promise for the reduction of industry!

“The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol, promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure (like power stations and industrial plants). [Auckland's 1998] power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us," said Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell today.
Lest you think the Green Dream Team have throttled industry by accident, allow Robert Bidinotto to try and persuade you otherwise:

Typically, the person who calls himself an "environmentalist" is really just a nature-loving "conservationist." Appreciating the earth's natural beauty and bounty, he is understandably concerned about trash, noise, pollution, and poisons. Still, he sees the earth and its bounty as resources--resources for intelligent human use, development, and enjoyment. At root, then, his concern for the earth is human-centered: he believes that this is our environment, to be used by people to enhance their lives, well-being, and happiness.

But the leaders of the organized environmentalist movement have a very different attitude and agenda.

Their basic premise is that human activities to develop natural resources constitute a desecration of nature--that, in fact, nature exists for its own sake, not for human use and enjoyment. By their theory of ecology, they see man not as the crowning glory of nature, nor even as just another part of "the web of life"--but rather as a blight upon the earth, as the enemy of the natural world. And they see man's works as a growing menace to all that exists.

Their basic agenda, therefore, is to stop the "assault" and "onslaught" of human activity: to place every possible impediment to man's further development of the earth and its resources. They pursue this anti-human agenda tirelessly and consistently. Their fanatical activities have led not just to enormously increased financial burdens on us all, but--demonstrably--even to the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children worldwide.

And the ugliest aspect of all this is that while causing so much harm, environmentalists posture--and are generally accepted--as idealists.
I'm not just talking about so-called "extremists" within the movement: I'm talking about its mainstream organizations, leaders, and spokesmen. Their public faces of moderation mask private attitudes and goals that are radically, irreconcilably opposed to the requirements of human life on earth.
I couldn't put it better myself. Exaggeration? In his evidence for his view, Bidinotto quotes numerous environmentalists including David Graber, a biologist with the US National Park Service:
Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line—at about a million years ago, maybe half that—we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth . . . . Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.
Here are some more quotes from anti-human-life luddite whack-jobs. These are the people with whom we are compromising when we give Kyoto house room, when the RMA is tinkered with and not abolished, and when we allow them both to throttle industry.

As I said during Auckland's power crisis, “The environmentalists’ false claims for disasters that ‘might’ occur will be dwarfed by the disasters that will occur if we continue to blindly accept their rantings. You think that the loss of power to our industrial capital for nine weeks is bad news? Just wait until the Dream Team kicks in - you ain’t seen nothing yet!”I do hate saying 'I told you so,' but don't say I never warned you.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Don v Helen: Game on

Speaking on Breakfast News this morning Helen Clark was asked to say something about her opponent Don Brash. "He's an intelligent man," she said, "but beyond that I have no comment."

He is indeed an intelligent man. In fact, Don and Helen between them are the two most intelligent, astute and principled representatives of their respective parties that a New Zealand election campaign has seen for some time -- perhaps ever?

The sheeple will be coralled whatever the final outcome, but if the mudslinging stops and the minor players can keep out the headlines for a while then I for one relish the prospect of watching a presidential style election campaign in which these two intellects debate each other and debate the issues. As NZ elections go and however bad the result on election night, that spectacle at least will be a rare pleasure. If the mudslinging ever stops.

The only poll that counts

Now that the date has been set for the only poll that counts, my site poll can be changed. It's been very useful to me to see who has been reading me here: particularly to find that National supporting readers are second only to Libertarianz readers, that 'None of the Above' performed so poorly, that the Greens performed so well, and that Labour supporters are mostly elsewhere.

So I'll give it one more day and then I'll put up a new poll. Any suggestions? Should I have a poll on the subject of the next poll?

Monday, July 25, 2005

An election day practice ballot Posted by Picasa

Running the rule over the Nats

A winning but high-risk strategy in sport is to attack your opponent directly at their strongest point rather than identifying their weaknesses and attacking those. When you can pull it off it's a winning strategy since once the opponent's strength is demolished, or at least nullified, the rest should follow. It's high risk because if you can't pull it off you lose. Big time. As DPF pointed out last week, "The most stupid thing a party can do is set expectations that their leader will crush the other leader. This is Politics 101. It means that a draw becomes a loss, a win a draw, and a bad performance could spell game over."

Labour have explicitly adopted this very strategy in their decision to target Don Brash in a series of, well, odd billboard attacks. The idea is that if they can take him out they take out National's main strength. In doing so they've chosen not to attack the many weaknesses behind him, and as Saturday's Herald's article looking at National's possible front bench demonstrates, those weaknesses are legion.

John Armstrong runs the rule over the Nats behind Brash, and as those of us who can remember the Nats when they were in power might testify they come up three feet short of a yard.

In every respect apart from the obvious one Gerry Brownlee is a lightweight, and only in a caucus with the paucity of talent of this one would such a buffoon have the job of deputy. Bill English was a dithering waste-of-space as party leader, deservedly leading his party to their worst electoral defeat ever, and more recently criticising Labour for the NCEA disaster, apparently unaware that his own party introduced the whole mess. Onya Bill.

And then we have Nick Smith. Idiot. The man that called the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation" when he was previously minister in charge of it. The man that John Armstrong points out "as Environment Minister... would have the crucial task of rewriting the Resource Management Act." Uh oh! As Lindsay Perigo describes him he is "a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with." Expect to see no change however "substantive" to the RMA from Nick the Dick, especially now that Labour have stolen the window-dressing he proposed for it.

Remember Tony Ryall promising to end the presumption of innocence for crimes of his choice when he was Justice Minister back in 1998? Remember Vile Ryall defending the revenue-collecting of his police officers, and instructing them to continue with it. Some of us still do. And then there's John Key, who has spent the last few weeks contradicting his leader: when Brash says in the morning "tax cuts by Christmas" John says in the afternoon maybe by Easter, or Christmas 2007, or in nine years. With talent like this around him, Don Brash must walk into his caucus room some days and just shake his head, and wonder how he ever got involved with them.

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One from the vaults...

One from the vaults to send Chris Lewis on his way. (News and background below; tribute to Chris from Lindsay Perigo here.)

Photograph courtesy The Free Radical, from Issue 30.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunday brunch music

The Not PC research and development department has after many years of research found two candidates for your perfect Sunday morning and Sunday brunch music.

The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions has just the right amount of light and space for a hungover Sunday, and Margo Timmins smoky mezzo complements wonderfully the smell of pancakes and maple syrup from the kitchen. Gerry Mulligan's quartet album with Chet Baker is the perfectly breezy follow up. Togther they make me ready to face the afternoon. :)

[NOTE: I'm updating the Ellington links below. I'm told some weren't working, so I'll be changing them for some that do. :-( ]