Tuesday, 15 August 2006

One handshake at a time


Pic from Punch. One for those who are happy to condemn Israel, the US, the UK, George Bush, John Howard, Tony Blair, Ehud Olmert, John Boy Walton -- and anyone else they care to smear -- but who can never bring themselves to say even a harsh word against scum like Nasrallah.

As Edward Cline says, it is not peace such people are so desperately seeking, but release from the responsibility of taking a moral stand -- in this instance, on the right of Israel to retaliate with force against a power seeking its destruction.

May the splinters from the fence on which they sit infect what is probably their best feature.

LINK: Our Islamic nemesis, then and now - Edward Cline, Rule of Reason
Punch for Tuesday - Punch

RELATED: War, Politics-World,
Cartoons

"It didn’t take long for the IDF to reach the Litani..."

Michael Totten has blogged his latest from the Israel-Lebanon front line -- filed now at his 'Middle East Journal,' written just before the ceasefire: The Storm before the Calm. [Hat tip Samizdata].

METULLA, ISRAEL – Israel scrapped the proposed ceasefire agreement on August 11 and launched a full-scale ground invasion of Lebanon. Presumably the Israeli Defense Forces wanted to rapidly snap up territory between the border fence and the Litani River before agreeing to the real cease-fire that’s tenuously in effect at the time of this writing. The ceasefire does not require an Israeli withdrawal. Instead it puts their military operations in Lebanon into a holding pattern.

It didn’t take long for the IDF to reach the Litani...
RELATED: Israel, War, Politics-World

Pledge Card: "The whole story"

G-man points out the Labour Party are sweating this one.
Faced with a lawsuit, a turning media and the poisoning of the ground water--they're really pulling out all the stops on this one issue... They are pulling out every single cliched political trick they can muster, all of them. The big test is whether the media will buy into it, or see it for what it is, an elaborate change-the subject-strategy.
Remember how during the election Clark told voters she was "very excited about the pledge cards, and said that it would be delivered to every household and would be the centre-piece of the campaign for them"? G-Man does. And as he says,
At the time I remember thinking (naively as it turns out) that that would cost a small fortune, and wouldn't leave much left over for other election advertising. That's the story--it's not any other side-track. It's not any red-herring they're trying to find. It's that--plain and simple. They had taxpayers' money earmarked for one purpose, and they spent it buying votes.
Read the whole post here. (And time to get those tapes digitised, G-Man.)

UPDATE: I was presuming you would have already seen David Farrar's evisceration of Helen's latest spin. It begins like this:
Good God Clark is trying to spin the issue of the pledge cards so badly, she could set herself up as a wind turbine and power a few hundred homes.
Read it all here.

LINKS: Helen Clark Mounts Diproportionate Attack on Nats - G-Man Inc.
Darnton Vs Clark website
Spin, spin, spin, spin - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)

RELATED: Darnton V Clark, Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour

'Mahmoud Pundit'

For those who've read Mein Kampf, there's a potentially similar piece of confessional literature unfolding now on the web. The portents are there. Hitler's psychotic ambitions for war and conquest were revealed in Mein Kampf; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has a new blog, on which -- who knows -- he might reveal to us his dreams of starlight and moonbeams and nuclear terror?

Click on the little Ameri-English flag up on the right to read 'Mahmoud Pundit' in English. Leave comments. Decide for yourself if it is Uncle Mahmoud (Allah at Hotair has doubts), or just a nutter with a megalomaniacal fetish.

Or both.

UPDATE: Paula has some verse to celebrate the Nut Job breaking into cyber-print. Go see.

LINKS: Mein Kampf Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's blog
Ahmedinejad starts his own blog (Update: Fake?) - Hot Air

RELATED:
War, Politics-World, Geek Stuff, Cartoons

Cartoon by Cox and Forkum

Architecture Film Festival '06

The Architecture Film Festival '06 kicks off around the country on 1st September.

I tell you this with trepidation because I haven't booked for any sessions yet, and I'm told that bookings are going "tremendously well."

Films this year on Santiago Calatrava, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe (pictured right), Norman Foster's 'Erotic Gherkin,' the energy of Lagos as seen by Rem Koolhaas, Marion Mahoney and Walter Burley Griffin (former Frank Lloyd Wright alumni and the designers of Canberra) and more, much more.

But don't let me persuade you too much of its merits, or I won't get a seat myself.

LINK: JASMAX Film Festival '06: Celebrating Architecture - JASMAX

RELATED: Architecture, Films

Poverty-causes-jihad myth exposed by 'Telegraph'

Britain's Daily Telegraph points out that those arrested in Britain for the fortunately failed plot to blow up passenger-laden planes were relatively well-off muslim university students who were recruited on campus. Indeed, "Waheed Zaman, 22, a bio-chemistry student and the president of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University, was one of 24 people arrested last week." (Zaman's sister also reports that he met 'Baghdad' George Galloway "many times.")

So if those arrested were young middle-class muslim students in touch with high-profile MPs, why does the Washington Post, a whole ocean away from the truth, describe the motivation of these would-be murders to be "young men [who] face a lack of jobs, poor educational achievement and discrimination in a highly class-oriented culture"? As The Unalienable Right Blog points out [hat tip Jihad Watch],
if The Washington Post is correct, that unemployment and rage at foreign policy cause extremism, how many Britons who are unemployed, against British foreign policy, and non-Muslim have been found to have plotted to blow up airliners? Perhaps the common denominator here is not employment status or objection to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And if the rage is being fueled by unemployment and lack of education, why are so many of the plotters tied to British universities?

The view from the Post looks like nothing more than a rehash of the old left-wing "poverty causes crime" canard, re-tooled as the "poverty causes jihad" canard.
As Jihad Watch and The Unalienable Right conclude, "the Post is simply repeating the old poverty-causes-jihad myth, and if the facts are otherwise, so much the worse for the facts."

Fortunately, some western politicians understand that. In an article in the unlikely place of The Guardian, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, a champagne socialist from way back,
told the BBC that drawing a link between government policy and the terror threat would be the 'gravest possible error'. She said such suggestions were "part of a distorted view of the world, a distorted view of life. Let's put the blame where it belongs: with people who wantonly want to take innocent lives."
Yes. Let's.

LINKS: Young muslim rage takes root in Britain - Washington Post
University students at centre of terror plots - (UK) Daily Telegraph
UK Telegraph vs. The Washington Post on roots of jihad - Jihad Watch
UK Telegraph vs. The Washington Post on roots of jihad - The Unalienable Right
Beckett rejects links between foreign policy and terrorism - The Guardian
Terror suspect Waheed Zaman met George Galloway "many times" - Gateway Pundit
Who are the 'bomb plot suspects'? - The Times

RELATED: War, Religion, Politics-World

Not 'peace,' but freedom from any moral stand

Edward Cline hits the spot:
... When one watches the frantic, contemptible relief with which the U.S. and Europe react to the least chance for "peace" between Israel and Lebanon (re the recent U.N. Security Council resolution to end the fighting, but condescending to allow Israel to defend itself), one cannot help but sense that it is not "peace" they are seeking, but release from the responsibility of taking a moral stand, in this instance, on the right of Israel to retaliate with force against a power seeking its destruction.
Read Cline's whole historic piece here: Our Islamic Nemesis, Then and Now. If you've been wondering what Thomas Jefferson would have made of today's all-pervasive policy of so-called moral equivalence toward the Middle East, Cline has some surprising revelations.

LINK: Our Islamic nemesis, then and now - Edward Cline, Rule ofReason

RELATED: War, History, Israel, Politics-US, Cartoon

Cartoon by Cox and Forkum

Lion lying down - Rembrandt


'Lion.' Sketch by Rembrandt van Rijn. Look just how much is conveyed so sparingly.

And a suitable piece to mark today's ceasefire in the Middle East. Rembrandt's lion looks pacific, but... And on the day of this ceasefire, the lion is lying down with what, exactly?

RELATED: Art

Monday, 14 August 2006

Protective vests


Just one of half-a-dozen cartoons with a similar theme here.

Cease fire? Jihad Watch suggests,
Hamas understands very well what the stationing of Lebanese troops under UN auspices on the Lebanese/Israeli border means: a victory for Hizballah.
Anyone expect Hezbollah to disarm? Not the Jerusalem Post, who report:
The Lebanese government was scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the disarming of Hizbullah south of the Litani River, but postponed that meeting following indications by the guerrilla group that they would not do so...
So ... what's been achieved then to make the Lebanese/Israel border safer? And do you think they're laughing up their sleeves in Tehran, even as they take this opportunity to re-arm and re-equip Hezbollah?

[And just by the way, what is the correct spelling for 'The Party of God'? Turns out God alone knows. 'Murderous bastards' would do it, but how then to distinguish them all the other murderous bastards around.]

RELATED: Israel, War, Politics-World, Cartoons

Some days, there just ain't no fish

Why no new posts today? To quote the philosopher Hoagy Carmichael:
(Ain't no fish, ain't no flounder, ain't no tuna, ain't no fish)

Holy mackarel!
Some days, there just ain't no fish...
And although at times you get a messful
Other days are less successful
Some days, there just ain't no fish.
There you go. Back when I get a suitable nibble, and a spare minute.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Good news for parents in search of real education for their children

Good news at the bottom of this post for parents of children who have a problem with learning. But first, a lecture (That's right, there's no such thing as a free lunch.)

"The hierarchy of knowledge is the most neglected issue in education."

Now just what the hell does that mean? Well, outside the Beehive and the bureaucracy (and the NZEI) everyone is aware of "the borderline illiteracy, the nonexistent math skills, the vast ignorance of history, and the lack of basic reasoning ability that characterize [thousands upon thousands] of students today. " You know about that bad stuff, right?

What if I were to tell you that the chief problem with education as it's presently delivered -- the prime culprit in the present-day crime of 'educating for illiteracy' -- is the failure to adequately address the hierarchy of knowledge. What today's educationalists most neglect, argues Lisa Van Damme (who runs her own private and genuinely good private school), is the recognition that knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge is hierarchical. Let her explain:
All abstract knowledge depends, for its meaning and validity, on other knowledge that sets the context for it. For example, algebra depends on addition, and calculus depends on algebra. The more complex the knowledge, the more extensive the knowledge that must precede it.

One major aspect of the fact that knowledge depends on other knowledge—the aspect most relevant to and most violated in education—is that more abstract knowledge depends on less abstract knowledge. This is
the principle of the hierarchy of knowledge.
She goes on:
A concept or generalization is more or less abstract according to its cognitive distance from the perceptual level. Concepts and generalization exist in a hierarchy, from the perceptual level to the highest level abstractions.

Highly abstract concepts presuppose a very long chain of prior conceptualizations. This is why, for example, so much knowledge must be gained for students to learn calculus.

Knowingly or not, parents encounter the issue of hierarchy all the time. When my daughter Lana was 2 ½ years old, I took her to the hospital to visit a friend of mine who had given birth that day to a baby girl named Talia. I told Lana, “Today is Talia’s birthday!” She looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, “She’s having a party?” I said, “No, it’s her birthday,” and stumbled my way through an explanation of what it meant for this to be Talia’s “birth day” and what the connection was between a “birth day” and a “birthday party.”

I quickly realized that it was impossible for Lana to grasp the connection between the birth of a baby and the cake, presents, and balloons, which to her were the essence of a birthday party. To do so, she would have to grasp, among other things, the concept of “birth,” which she did not yet really understand, the concept of a “year,” so that she could learn that the passing of a year marked the anniversary of a person’s birth, and the concept of “celebration,” so that she could understand why the anniversary of one’s birth is celebrated with a party, and so on. It was impossible for me to teach Lana a more advanced understanding of the concept of “birthday” given her context of knowledge—she had not formed and could not yet grasp the prerequisite concepts.
that's a very, very brief outline of the subject. On that more later. But now, here's the good news:

1) Lisa Van Damme's school, the Van Damme Academy, has a curriculum content and methods of teaching that fully recognises the hierarchy of knowledge in learning, and they report enormous success in actually educating their students, and teaching them how to learn. (Her students enter high school already having learned and retained much of the early high-school curriculum, and having developed a real love of learning.)

In their history programme for example, rather than teaching isolated facts that the student can only hold "because the teacher says so," history is taught in a manner that that allows the student to grasp and "integrate their knowledge of the major events and trends of history with knowledge from other fields and a wide range of personal experiences. Only then will they be able to form rational, meaningful convictions about politics [and much else]."

Now, for my New Zealand readers (who have already leaped ahead and realised that Lisa's Academy is in Laguna Hills, California) the really tremendous news is that the Van Damme Acedemy is now offering the first distance learning of its courses. Starting September 2006, their Remote History Programme kicks off.
This academic program, designed for students at the elementary school level, teaches the history of Western civilization, from the Ancient World, through the European Middle Ages, to modern America... VanDamme Academy invites you, whether you are a parent with one child, or a homeschool teacher with twelve, to learn more about this program now. (Parents and teachers should read "An Introduction to European History for Parents and Teachers.") For ongoing news relating to the program, please join the Remote History Program's Mailing List by clicking on the link below.

If you want more details of the history programme, the Anouncements page of the Van Damme Academy has a two-part audio outlining the school's unique history curriculum.

2)
Now for the second piece of good news. I've referred before to Lisa's superb article on the hierarchy of knowledge in education, and I've quoted from it above, but up to now the only way you can access the full article is by paying a yearly sub to 'The Objective Standard' (which is, by the way, worth every penny).

But now, you can listen online to Lisa's speech in three parts delivered to homeschooling parents on 'The Concept of the Hierarchy of Knowledge.' As she says, it is one of the most important topics in education." Scroll down on this Announcements page to find the speech.

LINKS:

AUDIO: 'The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education,' and 'The Van Damme Academy History Curriculum': both can be found online at the
Van Damme Academy Announcements Page.

RELATED:
Education, Objectivism

Another appointment with the Wicker Man

"You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice..."

Here's some good news about one of my favourite films (I reviewed it here a few years ago), a marvellously macabre examination of religion and sacrifice -- and just the right amount of gratuitous nudity:
IT was one of the most controversial films of its time, filled with horror, paganism and Britt Ekland dancing naked. Now, more than 20 years after it first thrilled cinema audiences, cult movie 'The Wicker Man' is being re-released on DVD. A disc featuring the uncut original film is due to come out next month ...
Wow! Great news. I think. I thought I had as complete a copy as currently existed. Anyway, the report continues with bad news for fans of the film:
... only days after a remake starring American actor Nicholas Cage is premiered in the US and Britain on September 1.
Oh gawd. I guess it had to happen. Alas poor Howie, they know not what they do.



UPDATE:
"The music to The Wicker Man is quite extraordinary. I think it is probably the best music I've ever heard in a film. All the songs are so totally different from each other and yet they sum up the atmosphere of the scenes perfectly. What Paul Giovanni achieved is quite amazing and absolutely beautiful." -- Christopher Lee, July 2002
LINKS:Review: 'The Wicker Man' - SoloHQ
Wicker Man cult burning brightly with new DVD - Scotland's Sunday Herald

RELATED:Films

Saturday, 12 August 2006

Retro parenting abuses

On this bucolic and sun-shining Saturday, I want to recommend to you three pieces from Cactus Kate on the tortures New Zealand parents inflicted on their children in days gone by. She has performed a valuable historical duty in documenting these abuses.

Retro Parenting Part 1 - The Piano
Retro Parenting Part 2 - 80's Junior Tennis
Retro Parenting Part 3 - My Child is Going to be a Lawyer

RELATED: New Zealand, Humour

A treasure trove of audio books!

Wow! I'm not a big listener myself of audio books, but I know many people who love them. If so then Learn Out Loud have a deal for you: a free download of Ayn Rand's early novella Anthem, their free audiobook for August.

And oddly enough, I found it when looking for George Reisman's Mises Lectures (which are also free).

Fill your boots up. There's loads more free stuff there too if you look from every possible field of endeavour, from Thomas Paine to Karl Marx to Shakespeare to Richard Feynman to Michael Dell to bridge-builder Robert Maillart to Tom Wolfe to Martin Luther King ...

Wow! This is a treasure trove!

LINKS: Anthem audiobook - Learn Out Loud
Free audio and video resources - Learn Out Loud

RELATED: Free Stuff, Books, Objectivism, Philosophy, Science, Art, Economics, History, Education

Fomenting free market revolution from the unlikeliest base

Wall Street Journal has a piece on the Mises Institute and its quiet achievements, and what the hell it's doing in Alabama of all places. As the author himself says, "Growing up next door in Georgia, I never thought of Alabama as a beacon of intellect." Who would? However:
The Mises Institute counts free-marketers from more than 30 states and at least 23 countries among its faculty. Its students' homes are equally far-flung: Poland, Peru, Argentina, Canada, France and China this summer alone. "Every one of them is an idealist in a very courageous way," Mr. Tucker said." A lot of people think it's silly to be an idealist these days. But Mises always taught that ideas are the only weapons we have against despotism.

For years, socialist European governments deemed those weapon-ideas dangerous. Intellectual dissidents had to leave the Continent to learn and reimport the ideas that classical liberals like Mises and Hayek -- and, going further back, Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Jean-Baptiste Say, et al. -- exported to America in the first place.

The dispersal of Europeans from Mises and other U.S. institutions is having an effect. Free-market think tanks are at last emerging in such traditionally statist places as Belgium, France and Romania. "It's a little funny, I think," said Alberto Mingardi, an Italian free-marketer who has visited the Mises Institute twice. "It's a little funny, I think," said Alberto Mingardi, an Italian free-marketer who has visited the Mises Institute twice. "How can you even imagine meeting somebody in Europe who knows about the Auburn [Alabama] Tigers?"
Read on here.

And do visit the Mises Institute online, and check out all the amazing online resources: online books and e-texts (an enormous and invaluable resource -- an easy way to get books you'd otherwise never see in NZ ... and they're free!), Mises Radio, Mises blog, Austrian Study Guide ....

And check out my own favourite Misesian, George Reisman at his own blog. His latest is on Free Market Science versus Government Science. Great reading.

LINKS: 'Von Mises Finds a Sweet Home in Alabama' - Wall Street Journal.
Mises Institute website
Free market science vs. government science - George Reisman's blog

RELATED: Economics, Politics, Free Stuff, Books

Darnton V Clark: Breaking the seal

When you're out on a beer-drinking session your first visit to the smallest room is sometimes called 'breaking the seal,' and for obvious reasons: once the 'seal' is broken the floodgates almost literally have been opened.

Audrey Young in the Herald has now 'broken the seal' on the Darnton V Clark case with her report today on the state of play regarding Labour's taxpayer-funded election spending. For the first time now in the MSM, Bernard Darnton's case is given serious treatment, and its place within the present furore laid out, including the disquieting news that "any retrospective legislation proposed by Dr Cullen is likely to cover any negative outcome from that case as well" -- a clear signal surely that what Labour did was illegal, and they know it.
[Darnton's] statement claims there was no statutory authority for the service to pay the $446,000 for the pledge card.
The appropriation to fund the card stated that party and member support was to be used to support the leader's office, research operations, whips' office and members' parliamentary operations. The card did not fit that definition, the claim argues.


Auckland lawyer Alan Dormer, acting for Mr Darnton, said that while the Solicitor-General's opinion was slightly different from his own case it was "very comforting" ...
Mr Dormer said it would be possible to draft legislation to deny his client his day in court.
"Have we really sunk so low that we are going to have political parties ripping off the system and then passing legislation about it just to stop the High Court looking at it."
National is the only party known to oppose the legislation at this stage. Leader Don Brash has been on the case all week but he stepped up his language yesterday.
"Labour has been pinged for something like half a million dollars and the bastards don't want to pay it back," Dr Brash said on Gore's Hokonui Gold radio station yesterday.
"Helen Clark says 'Oh, the rules weren't clear. Let's pass a law making what is illegal legal.' Robert Mugabe [Zimbabwe's president] would have been proud of her."
So the seal has been broken. And unlike the deathless Rodney Hide who insisted this morning that parliamentary parties should be able to campaign for office using taxpayers' money (as his party did in extremis last election), The Don is on the side of the angels with his recent comments.

UPDATE: Bernard Darnton comments on Cullen's intention to derail the court action against Helen Clark with retrospective, ie., backward-looking legislation:
That which we call a steaming pile of horseshit
By any other word would smell as foul...

Separation of powers is another constitutional nicety that Labour can do without. Don’t like a Court decision? A swift bit of legislation and it never happened. Can anyone say “Foreshore and Seabed”? Of course, separation of powers is designed to prevent corruption. Since Labour ministers can do no wrong it is clearly unnecessary.
LINKS: Labour shifts the goalposts - NZ Herald
Darnton V Clark website
What's in a name? - Darnton V Clark

RELATED: Darnton V Clark, Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour

Friday, 11 August 2006

Beer O'Clock: Cooper's

Due to popular demand (i.e. one anonymous comment), this week Stu from Real Beer has been tasting some of the offerings from the Western Isle ...

Much like the brewing industry in New Zealand and the rest of the world, Australian brewing is dominated by a few multinational giants that specialise more in marketing brands than making great beer. Not at Cooper's Brewery in Adelaide however. Cooper's are one of Australia's leading lights, and definitely the oldest, in a slowly growing surge against that tide.

Much has been made of Cooper's steadfast independence, especially after Lion Nathan failed attempt to purchase the company during the last financial year. The greatest positive of this failed attempt for me was the retention of one of the best "house yeasts" in Australasia, if not the world. The same Cooper's yeast has been used for around a hundred years and has evolved characteristics that are completely unique to their beers. A buy-out could well have seen a move in brewing operations and the loss of that unique yeast.

Cooper's beers have a distinctive round label that most of you would have seen. The Sparkling Pale Ale (red label) and Best Extra Stout (yellow label) are deservedly famous, but I often find myself drinking a couple of the lesser-known family members.

Bright yellow gold, when poured off the yeast, the Original Pale Ale (green label) is crisp and displays some subtle lime and stonefruit characteristics on the nose. In the mouth it's dry and pithy with a grassy bitterness that cleanses the palate nicely. With the yeast it's muddy gold, slightly fruitier and more rounded on both the nose and the palate. With or without the yeast it's a lovely drop - your choice.

Pouring a deep chestnut colour, with brief light tan foam, the Dark Ale (brown label) exhibits lovely cocoa and coffee notes on the nose before unveiling a whiff of cinnamon and that stonefruit yeast character. It's softer in the mouth, than it's pale brother, but is still quite dry and clean. It's very light bitterness makes it a good drinker for those who are not used to beers that are a little left (or right) of the mainstream. I've only recently discovered the Dark Ale and think it's one of the best examples of a mild ale on this side of the world.

Both beers can be drunk all year 'round and suit any occasion from barbeque to black-tie events. The Original Pale Ale is widely available in supermarkets and bottle stores, while the Dark Ale is a worthy reward for the keenest beerhunters. All Cooper's ales are re-fermented in the bottle (hence the yeast sediment) and as such remain very drinkable for a couple of years. They even contain a "best after" date instead of the usual "best before."

It's best for us that they keep on brewing...

Slainte mhath Stu

LINKS: Ratebeer opinions on Cooper's beers
Cooper's Brewery
RealBeer

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Party stooges defending Pledge Card corruption

A friend has pointed out that of all the letters in today's Herald on Labour's misappropriation of taxpayers' money to pay for their Pledge Card, only one supported the government. The author was one Graham Hill.

Who's he? Just the spouse of Joan Caulfield (who had 5 children to former husband Jim Neanderton) and who is currently electorate secretary to the MP for Mt Albert.

Surprise ! Surprise!

Is there anyone genuinely in support of this corruption? Or just Graham and Joan and other party stooges.

As my friend Bernard Darnton says, the money appropriated for the Prime Minister's Office is for the running of the office, not to run for that office, and the Prime Minister was told exactly that before the election by the the Electoral Commission. There never was any "confusion." Quite simply, the Labour Party chose to lie to the Electoral Commission then, and to the public now.

Roll on Darnton v Clark.

UPDATE 1: The normally mild-mannered David Farrar lets 'em have it in two posts today:

1. 'Legalised Theft':
The Auditor-General and Solictor-General find that Labour's $446,000 pledge cards are electioneering (wow what a surprise), so what is Labour's response? Not to pay it back, no. But to propose state funding of political parties, so they can do it again in future, without challenge.
2. 'Labour to legislate to over-rule Auditor-General':

I never thought I would read this in NZ. Michael Cullen plans to introduce legislation so that Labour do not have to pay back the $446,000 pledge card which has been deemed election advertising by almost every competent authority in the land, such as:

* Chief Electoral Officer
* Electoral Commission
* Secretary of Justice
* Auditor-General
* Solicitor-General

NZPA quotes Dr Cullen as saying on National Radio today that Parliament may have to "validate the expenditure".

If this is not corruption, what is?

... It's ironic. You buy the election by deliberating over-spending. And then you use your continuance in office to amend the law to validate what you did.
And Bernard Darnton doesn't hold back either:

Having been caught up to their elbows in the till by the draft Auditor-General’s report, what is Labour’s predictable response?

Caught illegally taking public money to pay for their electioneering, is their response to admit fault, pay back the stolen money and promise not to do it again? No; it’s to change the law to make their pilfering legal.

If this isn't corruption, then what is? I can imagine Robert Mugabe is taking notes.

UPDATE 2: Joan Caulfield's name corrected.

LINKS:
"Corruption" - Just Left (Jordan Carter, Labour Party apologist)
Darnton Vs Clark website


RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton v Clark

Airline bombing plot latest front in war

Congratulations to the British security forces, assisted by their colleagues in Pakistani intelligence, who foiled the latest sally in the war on western civilisation -- a plot that if successful would have killed more than were killed on September 11, 2001. Yes, we are at war, and have been since at least that day: at war with Islamic Totalitarianism. We might wish it were otherwise, but about that there is no question.

Note that those arrested overnight are not poverty-stricken have-nothings fighting for their physical survival, but comfortable middle-class people who have chosen to kill us in the name of the ideological hegemony of dhimmitude.

And there are people who say that ideas aren't evil. As Voltaire used to say, those who believe absurdities commit atrocities. This time at least, they were foiled. That's the good news.

UPDATE 1: I have to say, I agree with this [American] letter to the editor one-hundred percent:
Dear Editor:

If termites are weakening a home's foundation, what do we do? We call the exterminator and eliminate the problem. If armed robbers are at our doors trying to break their way in, what do we do? We defend ourselves to the best of our abilities until the authorities arrive to eliminate the threat.

If Islamic totalitarians come close to murdering hundreds of people by mixing common household materials to blow up airplanes, what do we do? Apparently, we stop carrying liquids and gels in our carry-on luggage.

What should we do? We should insist that our government eliminate the real source of the problem decisively and quickly. Islamic totalitarian groups such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, and the countries supporting them such as Iran and Syria, are hell-bent on attacking Americans [and other Westerners]. They will not stop unless we make it impossible for them to function or regroup. Their infrastructure and support networks have to be permanently disabled as quickly as possible in whatever way our military recommends. A drawn-out, five-year "War on Terror" where we help build roads, plants and hospitals in the Middle East only strengthens the resolve of our enemies.

And they'll keep trying to blow up planes in the meantime.

Debi Ghate
Anybody care to cogently disagree with that?

UPDATE 2: "If we're at war," comes the question, "then at war with whom exactly?"

"President Bush said the arrests are a 'stark reminder' that the U.S. is 'at war with Islamic fascists.' " Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein give a more focussed answer:
The group that threatens us with terrorism—the group of which Al Qaeda is but one terrorist faction—is a militant, religious, ideological movement best designated as “Islamic Totalitarianism.”

The Islamic Totalitarian movement, which enjoys widespread and growing support throughout the Arab–Islamic world, encompasses those who believe that all must live in total subjugation to the dogmas of Islam and who conclude that jihad (“holy war”) must be waged against those who refuse to do so.

Islamic Totalitarians regard the freedom, prosperity, and pursuit of worldly happiness animating the West (and especially America and Israel) as the height of depravity. They seek to eradicate Western Culture, first in the Middle East and then in the West itself, with the ultimate aim of bringing about the worldwide triumph of Islam.

This goal is achievable, adherents of the movement believe, because the West is a “paper tiger” that can be brought to its knees by sufficiently devoted Islamic warriors.

Given that the enemy ... is primarily ideological, what, if anything, can our government’s guns do to defeat it?
Read on here at The Objective Standard: ' 'Just War Theory' vs. American Self-Defence.'

LINK: Foiled transatlantic bomb plot 'was ready to go' - Times Online
London Airline Bombing Plot News (updated 4:05 pm ET)
- Counterterrorism Blog
How terrorists could have made a 'liquid bomb'
- Daily Telegraph
Just War Theory' vs. American Self-Defence - The Objective Standard

RELATED: War, Politics-World, Religion

Which blogs do you visit regularly?

I'm curious to know which other blogs you visit regularly. Which blogs do you regularly visit to feel fully informed, fully entertained, or to have your thoughts provoked?

Which three or four, say, would you try and visit either every day, or every time you log on?

And do you visit them through your browser, or through a news-reader? (Don't worry if you don't know what a news-reader is. If you're curious you can go here and find out.)

Let me know below, if you'd be so kind. (And I know that many of you have problems logging on to comment, so feel free to make your comment anonymous if it's the only way to post it.) I really am curious.

RELATED: Blog, Geek Stuff

Climate change... or sewer pipe?

The other day I watched Hutt City mayor David Ogden on Breakfast TV blaming "climate change" for the landslip in Kelson [as I blogged here]. But what's this:
Meanwhile, geologist Grant Dellow, of crown research institute GNS, said a cracked, slowly leaking [council] sewer pipe might have caused the Kelson slip...

Mr Dellow and Earthquake Commission assessors were among several experts to inspect the site yesterday. He believed a sewer pipe from one of the suburb's main lines might have cracked earlier this month, leaking water into the infill land...

Mr Dellow said the Kelson slip was the first in the area since 1997, when land was washed away about 500 metres from the present site.
And from the Herald:
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences geologist Grant Dellow said the Kelson housing area was a "cut and fill" subdivision, done probably in the 1960s or 1970s when geotechnical practices were not as stringent as they are now.
So is this another global warming myth de-bunked then? As Owen McShane suggested here the other day, 'climate change' is having an effect: that is, the belief in climate change is having an effect. Expect this incident, for example, to have an effect on council District Plans for some time to come, despite the suggestion that it was drainage, not climate change that caused it.

RELATED: Building, Global Warming, Politics-NZ

Hill House - Charles Rennie Mackintosh


The drawing room of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 'Hill House' outside Glasgow. Dating from 1902, Mackintosh's work brought British architecture into the modern world.

RELATED: Architecture

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Annette Presley: The face of ...

A friend told me I missed a beaut interview with our Annette on Mark Sainsbury's show the other night. But the editor hasn't. Check out this hilarious spoof intervew with her. As the man said, it's "seriously evil, but funny like hell." Snort!

A good thing she doesn't care what people think of her, eh?

LINK: Annette Presley interview spoof - Juha Saarinen [Hat tip Lindsay and David. Ta.]

RELATED:
Telecom, Humour

Vector: Attack of the bureaucrat

What is there to say about the decision by the Communist Commission to tell Vector who and who they can charge that hasn't already been said? Vector's shareholders have already spoken, selling it off just as Telecom was sold off after an earlier dramatically-spun announcement of government meddling. "One analyst said the commission's decision was a "kick in the guts" for the New Zealand sharemarket." Which means for all New Zealand businesses.

Libz Energy spokesman Greg Balle has also spoken, saying this morning at 'Scoop' most of what needs to be said [watch out for some odd HTML]

Something is very wrong with the electricity infrastructure in New Zealand. We have the Commerce Commission deciding to intervene in the supposedly free market to dictate pricing, costing and any other thing it deems necessary to providing cheap power to the people. Comparing state intervention in electricity with centrally-planned Communist Russia, Balle reminds us: "The last time this stunt was pulled, the people ended up largely without power, shivering in the dark."

"Tick off the bureaucratic errors to date," Balle says, and then goes on to do so. Go and have a read.

And why does the Communist Commission's Head Commissar Paula Bloody Rebstock insist on meddling? As I've said before, "Most western countries have laws against 'anti-competitive behaviour,' and most people think those laws are there to protect consumers. Think again." Last year, for example, on the subject of Telecom, former Libertarianz leader Russell Watkins said:
The only thing that needs to be regulated is the government, the only price that needs fixing and reducing is government spending, the best savings for the consumer will come when the government abolishes outfits like the interfering Communist Commission—and many more government departments besides.
Quite right. What empowers Rebstock and her fellow Commissars is the ridiculous idea of 'antitrust' - the idea that governments need to enforce 'pure and perfect competition' in order to preserve a 'free' market. As I said on that topic last year:
Nothing could better summarise the underlying anti-success motif of Antitrust laws and the motives of the meddling arseholes who infest our own local Communist Commerce Commission (who most recently announced they would be 'reviewing' Fairfax's purchase of TradeMe with a view to throwing a spanner into it). More on this in the book 'The Abolition of Antitrust' (reviewed here) and the Antitrust is Anti-competitive page of Capitalism.Org.
Does anything more need to be said? Then George Reisman has probably already said it: the model that Rebstock wish to impose is a floating, 'Platonic,' idea of competition that bears no relation to the real world. Vector's shareholders are the first to realise that. Vector's consumers will be the next.

UPDATE: There's one more thing to be said, and it's been said at Ruth's: "More shareholder wealth destroyed. Airports will be next. Shareholders seem way more upset about this than Telecom, too. Witness this late night, drunken rant from an outraged shareholder..." Read on for that rant, and for a graphic depiction of The Destruction of Wealth by Bureaucrat.

First they came for Telecom. Then they came for Vector...

LINK: Electricity regulations crippling industry - Greg Balle, Libertarianz, Scoop
Vector reels at commission plan - Stuff

Free competition at gunpoint - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Antitrust is anti-competitive - Capitalism.Org

'Pure and perfect competition' - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Platonic Competition (Part 1) - George Reisman's blog
Platonic Competition (Part 2) - George Reisman's blog


RELATED: Economics, Politics-NZ, Libz

What have you been searching online?

Russell Brown's been browsing the online internet searches of half-a-million people, and he's pulled out a few plums to titillate. Sample:

User 6760296, a 14 year-old, tells quite a sweet story: from "what a girlfriend should do" and "rulebook for dating" to "how to change my password on myspace" then "ways a 14 year old can earn money" and "can 14 year olds mystery shop" and, optimistically, "get paid to look at peoples myspace". We eventually find out what the job hunting is in aid of: "cheap ipods".

A long string of searches for Biblical topics from account 1347872 is twice interrupted by a little spate of searching for "breasts" and "small breasts". (The collision of God and - sometimes quite deviant - sexual themes actually seems to be a common characteristic of the search histories. Go figure.)

Thinks he's invading people's privacy? Well, AOL don't: it's their logs he's been browsing. "Earlier this week," explains Russell, "some people at America Online did something blindingly stupid... In a misguided attempt to reach out to the research community, AOL placed a big chunk of its customers' data online."

Oh dear. So what do you have to confess about your search habits?

LINK: Contender: Worst mistake ever - Hard News (Russell Brown)

RELATED: Geek Stuff, Blog

Irony down on the farm

What's the definition of irony?

From the fifties until the early eighties the goverment's Marginal Lands Board paid farmers to break in marginal lands to bring more land into production.

Now, a quarter of a century later, if a recent fad gets traction a Marginal Lands Board is again on the cards, but this time it would be paying farmers to retire marginal lands, to take them out of production!

You think that's ironic?

Some of you still think that governments know what they're doing. That is the real irony.

LINK: Farmers concerned by land retirement plan - Newstalk ZB
Brain slippage - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)


RELATED: Politics-NZ, Global Warming, Environment

Popular posts, popular searches

These are the top dozen most popular posts at the minute here at 'Not PC':
Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
San Marcos Water Gardens - Frank Lloyd Wright
Moral equivalence inducement to war
Trusting media reports of carnage
"The young man hoped he would not have to die..."
Will & the 'warrior gene'
Break-up songs
Beirut blogger
Ewen-Street is not on the environmental main highway
What's behind the news in 'Pallywood'?
Brain slippage
Unbuilt Piha Project - Organon Architecture, 1996
Currently popular issues here at 'Not PC':
Israel
War
Politics-NZ
Global Warming
Art
Darnton v Clark
Books
And these are the currently high-ranking searches landing here (and the pages I think they were after):
new scientist easter island
beirut blogger
victa horta art nouveau
break up songs
newcastle sweden nightclub
peter rabbit tank killer pics
been killed by palestinians and 763 palestinian children have been killed by israelis, 1,084 israeli
peter cresswell power pylons
iraqi dollar
not pc blog
production economics define art science discuss
annette presley nz
is simon poelman jewish
broadacre city
charles upham vc
"Is Simon Poelman Jewish"? What kind of question is that?

TAGS: Blog

Sandstorm over North Africa and the Canary Islands


I do love these pics of Earth from space.


TAGS: Art

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Death in Cuba

Liberty Scott's back on deck with an Obituary for one of Castro's minions. Just thought you should know.

What's behind the news in 'Pallywood'?

In war, as they say, the first casualty is truth. In asymmetric war, in which the media itself plays such a large part, it's important that those like us who have to rely on media reports for our coverage of conflicts undertand how some of those reports are put together.

Here's an example, a link that Warwick sent me (thanks Warwick) to a news piece on the conflict in Palestine and an analysis of that piece -- an eighteen-minute look at 'Pallywood' and how raw footage in the 'combat zone' has been stitched together to make news out of ... well, you judge out of what. Pallywood: "staged news filmed in real time against the backdrop of a complex conflict we all think we know."

As they also say, don't belief half of what you see, and none of what you read. Why does this matter? As the purveyors of asymmetric warfare understand, "One picture can be worth a thousand weapons."

LINK: Pallywood - You Tube
First Casualty - Cox and Forkum

RELATED: War, Politics-World, Israel

Will & the 'warrior gene'

“It’s in their genes.” A researcher has found what he called a “warrior gene” that appears more often in Maori than non-Maori (about twice as often apparently) that makes them, he says, susceptible to addiction, aggression and other generally bad things.

Before all the headline writers get too excited about that finding, let me say two things.

The first is to be aware that such a gene isn’t necessarily bad: such an obsessive gene may have helped Polynesian explorers conquer the Pacific in the first place.

The second point is to heed the warning of the researcher himself not to read too much into this. As he says, there are many factors that influence behaviour, and this is just one.

And he’s right, isn’t he. Whatever our genes say about us, it’s far from all they say about us. In the age-old argument as to whether it is genes or environment that ‘create us,’ what is infinitely more important is to realise that genes and environment are only half the actual picture. The other half of the picture – the one about which we can do something ourselves -- is the faculty that helps make us distinctively human: Free will. The choices we make to do the things we do.

Tibor Machan has a useful way of seeing how these three things co-relate: nature and nurture (in other words genes and environment) give us our personality, the things about which we as adult human beings can do nothing about. But character is what we make of this. Character is what we choose to do to make ourselves. Character, the thing that makes the us in each of us, is made possible by the faculty of free will.

We might have genes that make us potentially great at tennis or golf, at painting or at music, at intellectual pursuits or sporting endeavour – what is critical however is what we ourselves choose to do about those potentials, what we do to either make the most of them, or ignore them.

“Man,” as Ayn Rand affirmed, “is a being of self-made soul.” We are each given our own ingredients, and by the choices we make with what we’re given we go on to make ourselves. That’s what it is to be a human being, and it's on those things that we should really judge each other.

Going back to where we started then, and if we choose to take this research about ‘warrior genes’ at face value, we can see that all in all it’s an interesting little story but, as the researcher himself says, it’s only a very small part of the picture. Unless, that is, we choose to make something more of it than it deserves. I suspect we all have genes that make us susceptible to certain behaviours, both good and bad. What’s infinitely more important is what we choose to do about that.

LINK: Once were warriors: gene linked to maori violence - Sydney Morning Herald
Nature v nurture - character is all - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

RELATED:
Science, Ethics, Philosophy, Racism, Maoritanga

Brain slippage

The big news this morning on local networks is minor landslips in Lower Hutt that will see some home-owners losing their homes, and some insurance companies helping to put them into new ones. Big and very sad news for those involved to be sure, but nothing we haven’t seen before you would think, and like previous slips nothing that can't be put right with a little hard work and forethought.

Somehow, however, these minor landslips seem to have triggered an ‘unhinged’ gene in some locals. The mayor for instance. “Climate change!” asserted Hutt City mayor David Ogden as the reason for the slip. “More rain than we’ve ever seen ever before,” he said [I paraphrase only a little]. “Climate change and weather bombs are to blame. Rain, disease, pestilence, famine and death.” [Okay, I might have just overdone the paraphrasing a little.]

The four horsemen of the climate change apocalypse and “greedy developers” who want to build on hills. Between them they’ve got poor Mayor Ogden in a perfect wee storm.

Not exactly a burst of sanity from Old Oggie then.

Last time I saw Wellington, aside from Te Aro and the Hutt Valley river plain -- which have their own problems -- the place looked to be full of hills. Does he really suggest that everyone huddle together beside the Hutt River in risk-free government-provided housing? And if this is the worst Mayor Ogden has seen has he never heard of Abbotsford? Or Aberfan? Or Ruahihi? Or Ongarue? Or the 1976 storm that "caused widespread landslides in Wellington City and the Hutt Valley." Of Paraparumu in 1936? Or Waihi in1846 -- a lanslide that killed 60 people?

All tragic slips, along with many, many more floods and tragic slips that happened long before the currently fashionable harbinger of pestilence and disaster called ‘climate change’ appeared on the scene (although we all knew back then that an ice age was on the way, didn’t we).

And have recent slips in Eastbourne and the Hutt really launched a movement to put a stop to building on hills altogether? Has the ‘unhinged gene’ spread more widely? As Breakfast TV news breathlessly followed each crack as it appeared this morning in that Upper Hutt backyard, the journalist on site – who looked barely old enough to have opinions of her own – told us that there had been a recent protest march in Wellington calling for an end to building on hills.

Is that really true? Have the 'there-ought-to-be-a-law-against-it' and 'the-gummints-got-to-do-something-about-it' brigades really protested about this!?

Lord help us. If that report is true – and we all know how reliable media reports are – are there really people who think that risk can be totally removed from life? Are there really people who don’t understand the idea of choice, and about taking responsibility for those choices, and measures to minimise the risks?

And maybe, too, about getting a little perspective on things.

UPDATE: My politico-geography corrected (thanks Michael for correcting my own brain slippage). New links added.

LINK: Google news links on Kelson - Google

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Global Warming