Tuesday, 12 September 2006

George shoots down new breast "crisis"

George Reisman takes a shot at at a New York Times whine about breastfeeding and the absense of decent "lactation stations" at Starbucks, a "crisis," whines the Times, in which "a two-class system is emerging for working mothers."
I don’t want to say how much sleep I’ve lost in my efforts to find a solution for this newest crisis of what the left describes as “social injustice” [says Reisman]. But I have come up with a solution, in fact, three solutions. Here they are...
Read on here for all three solutions. The 'money shot' comes in Reisman's conclusion:
In fact, there’s a further lesson for the Times and the rest of the left to learn here. Namely, they need to apply their alleged support of “gun control,” which they trumpet ad nauseam, to themselves and the programs they advocate. Those programs invariably come down to having the government point its guns at innocent people. About half the time it’s in order to compel them, against their will, to do something they do not want to do but which the Times and the rest of the left want them to do nonetheless. The rest of the time, it’s a case of forcibly preventing people from doing something they do want to do but which the Times and the rest of the left don’t want them to do. The Times et al. need to stop calling for the use of guns against people, whether in connection with lactation or anything else.

LINK: The looming lactation-station crisis, and how to solve it - George Reisman's blog

RELATED: Political Correctness

Unparliamentary punishment

Kiwi Herald has a suggestion for MPs who repeatedly misbehave in the House: Make them sit next to Peter Dunne. Ouch! (Perhaps repeat offenders could be made to have lunch with Dunne, or be stuck in a lift with him for an afternoon.)

Of course, having a Government that wasn't a corrupt pack of thieves who couldn't lie straight in bed might also lead to quieter afternoons in the House.

UPDATE: This afternoon's very quiet Parliamentary session suggests the National Party's justified attacks on this corrupt Goverment have been de-fanged by last week's threat of a bucket of slime being tossed across the Treasury Benches. So it's de-fanged, de-balled, and back to boring business as usual from the Tories. What a pathetic bunch.

LINK: Parliamentary day to begin with Bullrush - Kiwi Herald

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Humour

Labour duns taxpayer to defend charge of dunning taxpayer

Called on to defend the charge that money appropriated to run the Prime Minister's office was used instead to run for that office -- and all over the media yesterday accusing everyone but the Knights Templar of funding the Libertarianz case against them -- guess how the Prime Minister and the 40 Labour MPs accused are paying for their own defence? Go on, guess.

Are they digging into their own pockets? Fat chance.

Are they calling for donations from supporters to help fund their case? Not likely.

No, as this morning's Dominion Post establishes, charged with using taxpayers like an ATM machine, they're calling on that same ATM again to defend the charge:
A spokesman for Miss Clark confirmed yesterday that Labour’s “parliamentary funding” – which includes her leader’s fund – was being used to pay Queen’s Counsel Hugh Rennie.
Says a disgusted Bernard Darnton, who as an unwilling taxpayer is being made to help fund his opponent:

That’s right, accused of misappropriating money from the leader’s fund to illegally pay for their election advertising, they pay for their defence from the very same fund they’re accused of ripping off in the first place. Absolutely shameless.

Once again I remind you: Libertarianz Asks Nicely...

So the issue is not how Libertarianz are paying for our QC -- we are doing it voluntarily. With donations. The issue today is who's paying for Labour's? And the answer is, the same people who paid for their campaign: You are.

There is a line betwen democracy and dictatorship that this litigation was designed to highlight. It is a line of which this Government is utterly unaware.

LINKS: Taxpayers to fund Labour's legal fees - Dominion Post
ibertarianz asks nicely, Labour steals - Libertarianz press release
Carry on rorting - Darnton V Clark
Donations - Darnton V Clark

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

The long, long trail of appeasement , capitulation and death

We are at war.

We, the people of the west are at war with people who wish to destroy us.

It's a different war than we're used to, an asymmetric war -- a so-called fourth-generation war -- so some folk still don't recognise we're in a state of war (or don't want to recognise it), but we are under sustained attack and have been for some time.

That's not scare-mongering. That's just the way it is. Like it or not, we are at war. We didn't start this war, but a litany of appeasement by those under attack has fanned its flames, encouraged the attackers and emboldened the growth of violence.

It's not caused bthe war in Iraq, US foreign policy or oil. It was started by Islamo-totalitarians who by their own admission "worship death" as we in the west worship life; who want the prosperous, freedom-loving west dead, as dead as their own dark souls; and who see the cowardly west as easy prey.

On this last point at least, they're right. There is an essential difference between the essentially individualistic, prosperous, freedom-loving civilisation of the west and the stone-age culture that has declared war on it. Said Osama bin Laden on behalf of those who declared war:
“We love death. The [west] loves life. That is the difference between us two.” 
On that, we agree. In the name of those who do love life and who treasure the life-loving civilisation of the west, on this anniversary of the most visible attack on the west and all it stands for, consider all that led to it: a series of snubs, trial balloons and atrocities, the tepid and pathetic response to most of which emboldened those who love death to even greater atrocities, and the supporters of the death-worshippers to even greater support, both financial and logistical.

Just as it did in the thirties, appeasement led not to peace but to escalation. Both the perpetrators and the succourers smelt the fear and they smelt the cowardice, and if they know anything at all they can tell that smell, and like cockroaches of fear they know how to feed off it--and for over fifty years they've had an awful lot of food to sustain them and make them stronger:
Each of these direct attacks on the west was met with appeasement, apology and capitulation. Each of them resulted in the (correct) assessment that the west was morally weak, that there would be no negative consequences for either perpetrators or supporter, and emboldened further escalation. The attacks on September 11 and after saw the culmination of this attitude, and an outbreak of massive, violent and orchestrated attacks on civilians.
It's not a matter of the western countries or western leaders deciding now to declare war on Islamo-totalitarians--although that should have been done on Day One. It's a matter of recognising that the west, like it or not, is already at war with Islamo-totalitarians. Fighting them isn't a matter or law enforcement, with all the strings around such a battle; it is war, and we're already in it. As SOLO Chief executive John Gagnon said, "The words of Patrick Henry are as applicable today as they were in 1775: 'Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun!'"

How to fight such an asymmetric war against an enemy like this?
  • Consider this: No terrorist organisation can survive without the oxygen of financial, logistical and materiel support. They need weapons to deliver, places to train and recruit, and money with which to fund their campaigns. It takes a government either willing to help, or willing to turn its back to provide this. It's hard to track down terrorists, but not so hard to identify those who give them succour -- what's hard is having the balls to so something about it once you do while the terrorists' 'useful idiots' and other allies bleat at home about anything that's done.
  • Consider this: this is as much an ideological war as it is an actual hot war. For the blood-soaked voices from the stone age the free and prosperous west is a personal affront; their war on the west is the last gap of the Dark Age they've submitted to themselves and wish to impose on the rest of the world. Their own ideology has failed at everything but the production of penury and death, and now it's all they have left. "They know how to die." Meanwhile, the ideological war on behalf of the west has yet to even be fully engaged, and in most of the west is undercut by the voices of "useful idiots" from the academies who use the freedom of the west only to attack and undercut it. A principled, rational, consistent, philosophical defence of the ideas that support freedom and western civilisation is long overdue; the ideas of reason, of individualism, of property rights and capitalism must be defended against their ideological attackers, but how many even know where to start? As Ayn Rand pointed out in defending those ideas herself so eloquently, "A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war." It is a battle that her philosophy of Objectivism makes the philosophical warrior very well-equipped to fight. But time's a'wasting -- as the antics of Ahmedinijad make clear enough, a real nuclear war is not entirely an impossibility.
  • And consider this too: Is it already five minutes to midnight in that particular war?
And finally, meditate on this; "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." Wilful blindness is not an argument. It's an evasion. And evasion hasn't worked. Never has.
RELATED: War, Religion, Politics-World

Architecture v Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Taliesin West'

Extreme climates are an invitation to produce radical solutions in order to make a home for man in a place that offers no welcome. Frank Lloyd Wright maintained that the aim of architecture is to make nature more human, and human life more natural. Humanising nature when all it offers is the inhospitable is a triumph indeed. Tonight here on 'Not PC' our architecture debate continues with the third of PC's top five favourites: Frank Lloyd Wright's own home in the Arizona Desert, Taliesin West.

In one of the most inhospitable habitats known to man, in the desert north of Phoenix and sitting just beneath the McDowell Mountain Range. there we find a heightened sense of life writ large; a life built in a particular context that fits SO WELL it could be nowhere else. Whereas with Fallingwater one gets the sense that there man has completed what nature had just suggested, at Taliesin West we realise that in this place man has produced something that make an oasis out of what was before only raw desert; a place with "a view of the rim of the world."

From the moment Wright saw it, he was attracted to the "vast battleground of titanic forces called Arizona." And, also, "the eternal and everlasting smile of the sun."

Built when air-conditioning was available, but not yet popular, Wright intentionally eschewed it. He wanted the house to breathe, and he created an environment in which occupants and visitors could breathe free and savour what the architecture had made of this inhospitable location.

As we walk through Frank Lloyd Wright’s own desert home, I'm reminded of Hamlet’s question: “What is a man? If the chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? Away! A beast no more.” This home is not the home of beast just barely surviving out in this inhospitable domain. This is the home of a man, a man who by means of his own ingenuity has conquered the inhospitable desert, and made out of the material of the earth on which it stands a startling oasis for the soul. A home for man in a place where nature once excluded him.

The building crouches lithely beneath the mountain range, its roof pitch, asymmetry, and construction somehow echoing the sheltering hills. The sharp features echo the small, sharp details of the desert plants.The big, strong, simple masses of ‘desert concrete’ fix the building to the landscape with material made of that same landscape.

<The large, fit stones gave the walls a raw, earthy, almost jigsaw quality. [Arnold] Roy [Taliesin Fellowship member] said: "Somebody once asked, `What did Frank Lloyd Wright have on the walls for decoration?' The walls were decoration.

The building invites you in to gentle breezes, to the smell of citrus, to water-cooled air, to canvas roofs stretched over cypress roof beams with translucent yet gentle light filtered beautifully through the material.

The visitor is invited into and through the building by the ingenuity of the architecture itself: from a distance it offers the visitor a ‘target,' and at each turning point as the visitor winds his way into the heart of the house another vista is offered up, and a choice offered: come this way or that. And at each node along the journey there is shade, and rest, and cool breezes, and a reappraisal of where one has been, and where one is going.

This is human ingenuity in architecture at its very finest, and the very opposite of classical, centralised, symmetrical, forced architecture – instead this is relaxed, organic, ingenious human architecture that "makes nature more human and human life more natural."

In this place, Wright hasn’t just ‘made do.’Instead he’s celebrated what man can do in such a setting.

It is a masterpiece. One of the finest homes ever built.

RELATED: Architecture

Monday, 11 September 2006

Hodgson attacks. Libz leader gummed.

Labour's chief veterinarian Pete Hodgson is still trying to make Labour's very sick puppies look better by pouring scorn elsewhere. In a press release today the squirming strategist and master of flatulent irrelevance had this to say:
Pete Hodgson has also raised questions about the financial support behind the Libertarianz pledge card case as it emerged over the weekend that high-priced QC Tony Molloy will be arguing the case."I'd be very surprised to learn that the Libertarianz have the financial means to pay Mr Molloy's fees. This raises significant questions about who is actually backing this case and what their motives."
Let me say just a few things to Mr Hodgson:
  1. You're a tosser.
  2. Even if the devil himself were financially backing the case, it wouldn't alter in any way that you've been caught with your hands in the till. That's the only issue that matters here.
  3. The devil is not backing the case. I believe he is on your side, Mr Hodgson. As for us, please see in your encyclopaedia: "Angels, on the side of."
  4. Is this really the best you've got in your Libertarianz dirt file? Sheesh. If you'd wanted headlines for your jibes I could have pointed to several people who could have done much better than this.
  5. I think it's clear to everyone watching that if you and your party had a defence to the charges of misappropration of taxpayers' money, Mr Hodgson, we would have seen them by now. That we have seen smear instead of substance suggests ... well, you're a smart man. You and eighty-one percent of the New Zealand public already know exactly what it suggests.
  6. I know the names of all the people "actually backing the case," and for the price of an enormous voluntary donation to the Darnton V Clark campaign fund and an all-expenses-paid trip to Runnymede and to the birthplace of John Locke for myself and twenty-four close friends I'd be very happy to divulge them.
  7. You do know what happened at Runnymede, don't you Mr Hodgson? And you do know about John Locke? If you don't then I suggest you brush up since it's the Bill of Rights he wrote under which you're being dragged into court.
I expect that Bernard Darnton will respond with his own press release at some stage this afternoon, and I'd be surprised if it didn't look something like what he said on his blog this morning in response to Helen Clark's frankly pathetic attack this morning. To repeat what I quoted of his response here earlier today:
Of course, the question is not how we have the money to hire QCs (thanks again to all the donors, by the way). The question is how the Prime Minister got the money to pay for her pledge cards. Our money has been given freely. Hers was stolen from the public purse.
Couldn't have said it better myself. I think Labour really need their vet to have a good look at their attack dogs. They need some decent teeth.

UPDATE: See, I told you. Here's Bernard Darnton's response now:

Libertarianz Asks Nicely. Labour Steals.

Labour "strategist" Pete Hodgson has been wondering out loud how Libertarianz can afford to take their lawsuit against the Labour Party to the High Court.

Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton responds, "We have been running a fundraising campaign since the case was launched in June. I'm very pleased with the response and Labour shouldn't be worried that we can't pay our bills. Pete Hodgson is trying to deflect attention from the real question: Where did Labour get the money to pay for their pledge cards? All of our money has come from freely given donations. Labour's pledge card money was pillaged from the public coffers. That's the significant point here – Libertarianz asks nicely, Labour steals."
Read on here.

UPDATE 2: By the way, I've been asked by an officially registered, fully paid-up member of the Vast Right Wing ConspiracyTM to issue an official "no comment" on their behalf to rumours that Owen Glenn, who funded Labour in the last elections, is one of the people contributing to the court case via an anonymous trust ...

LINKS: Nonsense from Pete Hodgson - Scoop
Prime Minister in a spin - Bernard Darnton, Darnton v Clark blog
Donations - Darnton V Clark
Helengrad, 1688 - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

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

Labour's cycle of financial life

I just noticed this diagram of Labour's cycle of financial life over at Andrew Falloon's place. Given we all know where the Government gets its money from, seems an accurate summary.

LINK: Labour's circle of life - Andrew Falloon

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

Security warnings

9/11 contemplation today shouldn't rule out humour. Here's a post I first saw at Noodle Food satirising security warning levels around the world.
The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved'. Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability. It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert.

Italy has increased the alert level from "shout loudly and excitedly" to "elaborate military posturing." Two more levels remain, "ineffective combat operations" and "change sides".

The Germans also increased their alert state from "disdainful arrogance" to "dress in uniform and sing marching songs." They have two higher levels: "invade its neighbors" and "lose."
Diana at Noodle Food suggests the US should consider rename their alert levels to
  1. "Refuse to identify the enemy."
  2. "Demand concessions from your allies to your enemies."
  3. "Fight half a war in the wrong place," and
  4. "Appease while quaking in fear of barbarians at the gates."
Meanwhile, here in New Zealand security warnings have the following levels:
  1. "We live in an incredibly benign security environment."
  2. "We live in a benign security environment."
  3. Huh?!
  4. Help!
LINKS: Too damn funny - Noodle Food

RELATED: War, Humour

PM: Still spinning

An interview this morning on Breakfast TV showed Prime Minister Helen Clark is still in denial about being caught with her fingers in the till.

Auditor-General Kevin Brady shouldn't be giving interviews, she said. But when the Prime Minister herself is busy spreading lies and misinformation about her party's misappropriation of public money, isn't it good that the public servant with oversight of such things is happy to set the record right, as he did over the weekend?

Because lies, spin and misinformation are in -- or they are with the PM anyway. The issue for her still -- publicly at least -- is not how she stole an election, but how "bad" everyone else is. The two bees in her bonnet this morning were respectively the Exclusive Brethren, for asking the Electoral Commission before the election how to legally spend their own money (an example the Labour Party might have emulated) and "how little right wing outfits like the Libertarianz have got the money to hire QCs" -- something of course that is neither accurate (Libz is not right wing) nor any of her business.

It seems the weekend's round of newspaper revelations, which includes the Sunday Star's belated discovery of Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton's legal action against the PM, is helping to keep the pressure on, even if she erroneously claims she can't comment on something that's before the courts (not true: because the case won't be decided by a jury she may say anything about it that she pleases).

I wonder too how she feels about Bernard's round of radio interviews this morning. [Julian has the audio for Bernard speaking on Holmes this morning (Bernard starts about seven minutes in). I'll post the audio for the Nat Radio interview as soon as the audio is available.)

UPDATE 1: It's pathetic, it really is. The "more interesting question," Helen Clark tells Paul Holmes in answer to Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton, is "who funds these attacks? [...] The question is who's paying for it and what's the National Party's role behind the scenes?" Just pathetic. Let me tell Helen Clark for the record that the National Party's role in the litigation either "behind the scenes" or in front of them is exactly the same: nothing. (But it's still not too late to send a cheque.)

Might I suggest both she and her interviewers stick to the real issue: Labour's theft of an election, and what they propose to do about it. That they have to spin and smear instead of addressing the real issue suggests ... well, you know exactly what it suggests, don't you: They can't.

UPDATE 2: Bernard Darnton responds to the Leaderene on his own blog:
Of course, the question is not how we have the money to hire QCs (thanks again to all the donors, by the way). The question is how the Prime Minister got the money to pay for her pledge cards. Our money has been given freely. Hers was stolen from the public purse.
And do feel free, whatever party you're in, to help Bernard with his legal costs. You can donate here. As one contributor said of his donation, he looks forward to telling his grandchildren, "See that smoking hole in the ground? I helped pay for that." I know exactly how he feels.

LINKS: Report on election spending almost complete - NZ Herald
Auditor-General puts 'pay it back' pressure on PM - Herald on Sunday
Top QC takes PM to court - Sunday Star
Left and right and that post-modern nonsense - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Bernard Darnton talking to Paul Holmes - Julian Pistorius
Helen Clark talks to Paul Holmes about Bernard Darnton - Newstalk ZB
Prime Minister in a spin - Bernard Darnton, Darnton v Clark blog
Donations - Darnton V Clark

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

Helen's commitment to you ...

Hat tip Murray: 'Bring It.'

Five years on: 'Civilisation under siege'

Five years ago today, the whole world changed. The unthinkable happened.

When we went to bed on September 10, 2001, it was a very different place than it would be twenty-four hours later. We all watched. We all struggled to take it all in. As the horrific scenes in lower Manhattan unfolded on the TV screen in front of me, I wrote this piece below to help collect my own thoughts. Re-writing it today, I'm not sure that I'd change a single word.

The only thing I might add is that if I was writing the same piece five years after Pearl Harbor, the dragon would have already been slain...

* * * * *

If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere, It's up to you, New York, New York!

This today was a declaration of war—but a declaration by whom, and against what?

2,500 people were killed in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today, in mainland USA, many many more have been killed in appalling scenes as America was left defenceless.

Airline security was exposed. The Pentagon was breached. The glory of the New York skyline was rent asunder; the twin towers of the World Trade Centre—shining spires of capitalism and twin symbols for man's achievement—are no more. With their destruction, that skyline now stands like a mouthful of broken teeth, and many of capitalism's best and brightest—who moments before had been going about their daily business—have been destroyed, their lives snuffed out in those formerly gleaming spires.

Manhattan and Washington were in chaos. The whole world was in shock. Almost the whole world—for this disaster was no accident. It was the result of careful and calculated cunning on the part of someone.

But whoever committed this outrage, and whatever they claim to stand for, it is clear enough what they are against: As former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said soon after the disaster, this was an attack against civilisation itself.

The New York skyline represents one of man's highest achievements—the World Trade Center towers represented that skyline's financial district—the very engine of capitalism—those working in downtown New York are capitalism's best. Today, instead of buying, selling and investing, the world's best and brightest were burnt alive, crushed, or were jumping to their deaths.

What caused this was an act of piracy by everything that slithers against everything that stands—or stood—erect; by the very lowest, against the very highest that civilisation has to offer. And, as in the days of piracy on the high seas, this modern savagery must be stamped out by a fierce uncompromising commitment to the protection and sanctity of innocent human lives.

Civilisation has today been attacked by savages armed only with carpet knives, and it must learn how to defend itself against such an enemy. It has not yet armed itself with the weapons to do so—either philosophically, or militarily. Unfortunately, it must.

The point is often made that the best defence against terrorism is a steely resolve, and an excellent intelligence service. In the last few decades both have been absent, but the lack of steely resolve is the hardest to remedy for this can only come from an uncompromising commitment to the very values that uphold civilisation, and to an unswerving defence of those values—and commitment on the level required necessitates the philosophical weapons both to understand and defend and those values.

For what makes someone hijack a jumbo jet and then fly it suicidally into a 110 storey skyscraper above teeming city streets if not their commitment to horrific ideas? What makes them want to kill on this scale? And to kill themselves in the process? Only the power of ideas can fuel such evil—evil ideas. Evil ideas can only be fought with better ones, which means philosophical self-defence. In the long term, only the philosophy of Objectivism -- the philosophy for living on this earth -- can provide the necessary philosophical weapons to the destructive poison unleashed today.

But America isn't armed. America has lost its way. America is not sure of itself or of its founding values, and instead it thrashes around on the world stage, posturing as the world's policeman and becoming instead a world pariah. In part, much world anger against America comes about through righteous disgust at such unprincipled American actions as the bombing of Belgrade, or of Kosovo, or of Sudanese pharmaceutical factories.

But that said, it is clear that much disgust with America springs also from anti-capitalist, mystic, barbaric, stone-age savagery, and it is crucial that whatever action is taken distinguishes itself by being an uncompromisingly principled action against all such forms of barbarism.

That action must be both internal and external, and there are supreme dangers with both. For nothing is surer than that this barbarism was an attack on civilisation itself, and civilisation must needs survive the barbarism....

LINKS: Refresher course - Cox and Forkum
Liberty or death - John Gagnon, SOLO press release

Politics-World, War

More embarrassment

Lord knows why, but you lot seemed to enjoy those embarrassing photos of moi I posted last weekend (they were still in the top five several days later!), so here's a few more for your entertainment. (Keep the laughter down at the back.)

I figure making them public now removes any opportunity for blackmail later. :-)

Top left: Even a libertarian looks innocent at two-and-a-half...
Top right: Summer in Karori: worryingly close to a country music look
Bottom left: Wanker alert
Bottom right: Me with nephew-in-law (and to show how long ago this was, he's now married with three kids!)


Saturday, 9 September 2006

Tropical architecture in Darwin

I'm posting these pics here partly because they help to understand the context of the 'shearing shed' that Den posted below. These are photos of one of Darwin's few remaining original, pre-air-conditioning tropical houses, restored after Cyclone Tracy. I took them about ten years ago. As you'll see, many of the features are replicated in Murcutt's own tropical house.

They do represent a quite significant achievement: the culmination of British colonial knowledge of how to build in a soakingly hot and humid, termite-ridden, climate. And there is something special about such a simple yet intelligently-designed building in such an extreme setting.

I'll quote from the photo of the signboard (above):
Designing for the tropics
Stretching west down Myilly Point [in east-central Darwin] is a group of four tropical houses designed in 1937 by B.C.G. Burnett, principal Government Architect for the Northern Territory. His previous experience in China and Malaya enabled him to understand the local climate. He designed elevated houses with steep-pitched roofs and open eaves to catch the refreshing sea breezes. Further innovations included replacing the external walls with asbestos-cement [ie., fibrolite] louvres that could be adjusted according to the weather conditions. The living areas and bedrooms were separated by three-quarter height partitions to allow for cross-ventilation. Burnett's practical and aesthetic designs established a regional architectural style that continues to influence contemporary housing designs.
Burnett's tropical designs are very well known in tropical architecture circles, and were widely emulated, as Murcutt would know and just as he would expect the readers of his own architecure to know. So, I would imagine -- and here I'm speculating-- that Murcutt was intentionally "reinterpreting the colonial response" to the Australian climate in a new "multicultural context." Or something like that. And he would expect his "readers" to be able to "interpret" what he'd "reinterpreted."All very "postmodern" in that respect, then.

But I'm posting the photographs for another reason too: simply because this was a bloody nice house to be in, even at the hottest part of the day. "Colonialist," "imperialist" or whatever you want to call him, Mr Burnett had done a very nice job of very intelligently and very simply designing a house for a bloody uncomfortable place in which to live. On this evidence I'd just call him a very fine craftsman, and a pretty intelligent architect.


What architecture is all about

Now we're at the halfway point of our architectural debate here at 'Not PC,' here's a brief meditation on what architecture is all about. In five words or less: giving meaning to our lives. To quote the late Claude Megson, "If it doesn't have meaning, then you're just wanking."

For a few more words on the subject, read on...

*** WHEN HILLARY AND TENZING reached the top of Everest for the first time, the story goes that Tenzing fell to his knees and gave thanks to the spirits that had helped their journey; he prayed to each of the four winds, and he carefully placed in the ground a small stake on which prayer ribbons were attached. While he was doing this, Hillary stuck a flag in the ground, unzipped his fly and took a piss.

We each mark our territory in very different ways. But we do each mark our territory.

We make buildings to keep the rain off, and in doing so we raise a crown over our head and mark out from the world our own space below; we mark out for ourselves a place in the world by building a campfire that we keep burning and around which we make comfortable for ourselves, or by raising high our own totem that seems to say “here I am!”; we recognise the important rituals we’ve built into our own lives by making these rituals concrete, literally making them concrete, and by doing so we are saying, “This is important.” We erect buildings to perform some useful function, and in the act of erecting them they unavoidably perform another crucial useful or symbolic function for us: they embody our values. They tell us we exist.

Buildings are a concrete expression of values – the values of the people who designed, erected and occupy them.

Like every art, architecture is a shortcut to our philosophy. In building architecture we erect an armature that will support ourselves and our important values, and offer us as well a place from which to look out on the world around us. Amongst the myriad of ways this can be done , we choose the one that does it for us. It is a shortcut to our philosophy – which is why our choices are often so personal to us. The way it does that is as an extension of ourselves.

“Architecture,” as Aldo van Eyck once said, “is about making a ‘home for man’.” The space we build is space for human life, for us to inhabit, and from which we can emerge to 'do battle.' It is a place that expresses what a home for man looks like, smells like and sprawls like; it is here that we beging to find the meaning in architecture: the meaning resides in how it makes its home for man.

In the act of making and placing our buildings in the world, we make decisions about what’s important in the world. What values need to be 'built in' and made concrete. What should we include from around us? What should we keep out? Early morning sun is good; later afternoon sun isn’t. Gentle breezes are good inside the house; heavy rain is not; views of the lake and the trees and the beautiful hills about us are wonderful – views of the local slaughterhouse are not.

Some of these things are highly contextual. Early morning sun is good in Reykjavik, but not always in Dubai in mid-summer. Later afternoon sun is bad in most parts of the world, but in Murmansk, inside the Arctic Circle, “late afternoon” extends for several months, and is always a welcome guest. Gentle breezes in Hawaii are welcome; in Siberia they’re called a draught. A view of the local slaughterhouse from your lounge window might be highly prized if you’re … okay, I’m stretching on this last one.

The fact remains nonetheless that the choices we make about how we build our shelter, mark our place and decide what functions our building serves for us define something both about us, and about the place we make -- and about the context in which we make it.

WE NEED TO BUILD. Animals adapt themselves to nature, and they’re already adapted to do that. Humans can’t. We adapt nature to ourselves. We must. Unlike animals with their multiple defences against the world, our means of survival is our reasoning brain: on its own this offers no physical defence against predation, and no guarantee of survival: we learn to use our brain to plan, to invent, to create; to understand the nature of the world around us and to make sense of it and to adapt it to ourselves, to make of it a place in which we are protected, and in which we can feel ourselves at home.

We need buildings to shelter us, and not just in the physical sense of shelter. We need a place that is a home: our place, wherein we see ourselves and our own values reflected back, including the value of the home itself.

Good architecture then is not just functional on the bare physical plane. We've been out of the caves long enough to do much better than that. “A house is a machine for living,” declared Le Corbusier on behalf of today's cave dwellers. “But only if the heart is a suction pump,’ responded Frank Lloyd Wright. Architecture is not just shelter; it is not just ‘marking a spot’: its function is also to delight.

Bread and water nourish our stomachs; we need also to nourish our souls. Thirteenth-century Persian poet Muslih-uddin Saadi Shirazi offered this wisdom:

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And from thy slender store
Two loaves alone to thee are left
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

But only if your heart is not a suction pump.

What good architecture does then is to deal with the totality of a human existence, to provide at one level the support structure to make human life possible, and at another much richer level to express back to us what it means to be human by giving a sense of place to all our occasions, by building in all our important rituals, by connecting us to what is meaningful in our lives: To sunrises and sunsets; to the sharing of food together; to relaxing with friends; to having time and space for contemplation and for conversation, and for rest, and for sex -- and for rest and contemplation (and conversation) after (and during) sex.

That’s about as important as a job gets, right?

Writing about Ferraris, PJ O’Rourke expressed it this way: “Only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one at 250mph.” THAT is the feeling good architecture should communicate! We take the material that nature provides, and the needs that we have, and those moments where we say to ourselves, “Ah, this is what being alive is all about!” and we give those needs wings and we build in and celebrate those moments, and by doing so we express our lives, and we help bring meaning to them.

What could be more important?
* * * * *

*** You can look forward to more on the architecture debate here at 'Not PC' on Monday, when I'll post the third of my own architectural favourites. In the meantime, if it's thinking about architecture that you want to do, may I humbly offer a piece written a few years back as a book review: 'What Architecture Is.'

It begins by boldly declaring what architecture is not ...

*** And if you're already emboldened to read more about architecture than this humble blogger can provide, here's a suggested reading list on architecture to help you begin your own architecture library. Enjoy the adventure.

5. Architecture V Architecture: Marika-Alderton House - Glen Murcutt

Tonight's post in this series comes from architect and blogger Den MT.

'Touch the earth lightly'...

The above is an Aboriginal phrase used as a design credo by auteur Aussie architect Glenn Murcutt, and one can see the direct translation from principle to built form in his entire body of work.

This house combines a sensitivity to local culture and heritage with a rigorous approach to energy-efficient design. This is a building which responds to its site and micro/macro-climate in a tangible, formal way, but not at the cost of visual appeal - in fact this is not a question of sacrifice, but more the generation of form through function.

The house was commissioned by an Aboriginal artist, and built in Aussie's hot and windy Northern Territory. Murcutt overcame the challenges presented by the local climate by creating a system of slatted panels on the long facades of the house, which could be opened and shut according to the internal temperatures, with fins located along the length of the house to channel breeze through the structure and keep the air moving.

The materials employed are simple and robust, as the extreme conditions demand, and are used in an un-fussy, pragmatic way that lends a sparsity and honesty to the clean lines of the house.

Murcutt takes a challenging environment, and rather than embedding an alien machine within it, complete with it's own life-support system (by way of air-conditioning and ventilation plant) he creates a responsive, organic shelter that lives and breathes with its owner, fluidly changing to suit the needs of the occupant, floating above the landscape to which it relates.

It is now fashionable across the board for architects to worm in as much 'energy-efficiency' double-talk as possible in client presentations, as people are demanding more and more in that respect, but it's easy to convince someone with no specialist knowledge that you are giving them 'low-energy' design features if you know which buttons to push. Murcutt's masterful response to challenging conditions shows exactly what is possible if one works with the conditions.

Here's the 'Not PC: Architecture V Architecture' series so far:
And related posts and threads:
And the one that started it all:
RELATED: Architecture, Art

Friday, 8 September 2006

Peter Brock has died

News just in that legendary Australian racingdriver Peter Brock has died!
MOTOR sports legend Peter Brock has reportedly been killed in an accident in Western Australia.

Brock was thought to have been driving in the Targa West rally, and Sky News has reported that he was killed during a special stage.

The channel reported Brock's car collided with a tree, knocking it to the floor, leaving him with fatal injuries.

LINKS: Brock killed in accident - report - Townsville Bulletin

RELATED: Obituary

Beer O'Clock: It's Brew Time!

Another week, another 170 beers! Yes, that's right, 170 beers. It's BrewNZ time again - New Zealand's celebration of great beer.

I've been working all week in the Scoring Room, where the judges blindly taste their way through 170 beers to work out which beers are the best we've got to offer. Tough word, but someone just has to do it.

Blind tasting is not at all about drinking so much you can't see, it's about being presented a group of beers (all in a similar style), knowing nothing more than a code that identifies each beer and it's style. The judges quietly eye, nose and taste their 60ml samples for around 10 minutes before debating which beers are great, good or have missed the mark.

It's not just a subjective process. There are very distinct style guidelines for each beer to meet. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to any beers which meet the judging criteria. Gold are awarded to truly excellent, world class beers that perfectly fit within the style. Bronze are technically well made but may miss the style in part, or just lack the perfect malt/hop balance that brewers constantly strive for. Silver, funnily enough, fit in between.

For the last two years Steve Nally, the huggable owner/brewer of New Zealand's southernmost commercial brewery at Invercargill, has spent a week of his valuable time stewarding at the BrewNZ judging. He's doing this in an effort to see what the judges are looking for and to improve the quality of his beers. He's quietly succeeding. Last year Steve won two bronze medals from his four beers. This year he's brought back improved versions of three of those beers (a roasty sweet stout, a smooth fruity pale ale and a kristalweizen) and has re-engineered the fourth (hoppy English pale ale) into a much better beer. Expect to see him pop up in the medal list again this year.

Not only is he achieving awards for his beer. Steve recently received one of the highest commendations that I could think of as a brewer - at a tasting of Emerson's beers, Richard Emerson named him as the young up and coming brewer to look out for over the next few years. High praise indeed for this passionate and committed brewer. His beers are available through mail order from the brewery or Regional Wines and Spirits, as well as Bar Edward in Newtown, but he's recently doubled the size of his plant so look out for Invercargill's beers coming your way soon. Ask your local bottle store when they will be available near you.

BrewNZ also contains a quite unique category of beer - the Festive Brews. None of these are available commercially before the event and all are modelled along a common theme. This year the theme is "All Hail - Pale Ale", and I can assure you there are a few absolutely cracking ales that should be sampled if you are out and about Wellington this weekend. Step out and look for them.

The BrewNZ awards will be announced at a fomal dinner tonight, and available on at BrewNZ's website in the next few days. All of the medal winners are truly deserving of the accolade and are well worth trying out yourself. Hunt these beers down at your local good beer retailer (and if they're not already, then go in there and demand them).

Slainte mhath Stu

LINKS: RELATED: New Zealand, Beer & Elsewhere

Architecture v Architecture: What's on tonight?

Just an update here on the ongoing Architecture V Architecture debate here at Not PC, in which blogger Den MT and myself have been posting and commenting about our five personal architectural favourites -- not stuff we're saying is the world's best architecture (since Den is arguing we can't do that), but architecture that really touches us. At least, we're not saying that yet.
  • On the Fallingwater thread Brian S. commented:
    It would be interesting to get the opinion of [Den] and PC on New Zealand's best piece of architecture and also on what each of you consider to be your own best work.
    Great idea. It will be done. I promise.

  • And look out tonight for Den's next piece, a little beauty from Australia... (I'm enjoying this.)

  • Oh, and I should also point out that Auckland Architecture Week is also on the go this week: lots of politically correct architecture and architectural debate about. Details here. Tomorrow for example you can hear a lecture at the Britomart Pavilion on 'Sustainability in Urban Design' - in other words, how the concept of 'future generations' is used to hand power to planners, and to empoverish the people of this generation. But you can also, if you book in time, head off on a "guided tour of Auckland's historic pubs." So it's not all bad.
Here's the 'Not PC: Architecture V Architecture' series so far:
And related posts and threads:
And the one that started it all:
RELATED: Architecture, Art, New Zealand

Unbundling still theft, still immoral -- and impractical to boot!

The so-called 'unbundling' of Telecom, ie., the theft and partial nationalisation of Telecoms property, is now being considered before select committee in Helengrad. Rodney Hide reckons that the best submission ever has just been made by Victoria University's Bronwyn Howell, in opposition to the nationalisation. Says she:
Even if there is some merit in pursuing increases in broadband uptake, the claims made by the [MED] Stocktake authors that mechanisms that increase competitor entry into the local loop market are strongly correlated with higher levels of broadband uptake are not only unfounded but demonstrably false.
"Demonstrably false." Very strong words those from an academic. As Rodney concludes: "Those arguing for the confiscation of property rights need to respond to Howell’s work if they are to have any intellectual credibility." Too right they do. If it's theft, and there's no good reason for theft, then what's the real reason -- is it just ideological? Just more crony-phony-capitalism -- just delivering somebody else's assets to competitors who haven't earned them. (Hello again, Annette.)

Here’s the submission and slideshow, both courtesy of Rodney Hide's blog, and both PDFs.

** And by the way, while we're talking about 'good Rodney,' what do you think 'bad Rodney' is up to with this dumb and Dunne-like comment of 'moral equivalence':
I’m not so sure that National’s tactic of getting down and dirty with Labour is smart.
What the fuck? Why do you think Rodney is wriggling over the well-deserved harassment of a Government whose been caught with their hands in the till? He knows exactly what the issues are here, so why the silence and now all the spin. Have you ever before known him to stay out of a bout of mud-slinging? I can think of three reasons why he is now, one good and two not very good at all. Do you follow?

LINKS: The truth about unbundling - Rodney Hide blog
Submission on the Telecommunications Amdendment Bill - Bronwyn Howell [167-page PDF]
Slideshow supporting the submission on the Telecommunication Amendment Bill - Bronwyn Howell [29-page PDF]
Annette Presley: Face of theft - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Down and dirty with Labour - Rodney Hide blog

RELATED: Telecom, Politics-NZ, Politics-ACT, Darnton V Clark

Supersize Auckland?

I must confess that on the question of Auckland's mayors' plans for an Auckland 'super city' I really have no opinion at present. Simply because Dick Hubbard is enthusiastic I'm prima facie against it (did I mention how much I dislike Mother Hubbard?), but how much worse could one new super city council be than the present four bloody awful city councils?

Anyway, Auckland mayoral candidate Stephen Berry does have an opinion, so go and see what he says.

LINKS: Mayors' secret city blueprint revealed - NZ Herald
Berry supports 'One Auckland' - Stephen Berry, Scoop
Stephen Berry contensting 2007 Auckland mayoralty - Scoop
Rates rant: Parental advisory - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)

Auckland, Politics-NZ

Dumbing down the Libertarian Party

Always a mongrel composition of odd-bods, the US Libertarian Party has now succumbed to strategists, spin doctors and the unprincipled wielders of spread sheets and white boards who have moved to dumb down the party's only remaining virtue: its slate of principled policies. Lew Rockwell, who is himself rather prone to odd moment of oddball-ism, has some very good things to say about this very bad development:
For those who haven't heard, the large, pedagogically useful, principled, and detailed Libertarian Platform — the best thing about the party — has been relegated to the wayback machine and is now replaced with a new one that is tiny, vague, rhetorically slippery, accommodating, friendlier to the state, and non-threatening to mainstream opinion.

Why? The small band that orchestrated this coup confesses: they want the LP to gain power.

They've admired the way the Republicans and Democrats have done it, and now they want to do it too. Gone is the posture of opposition, the radicalism, the edge, the braininess.

The debate has been framed as one between dogmatists and pragmatists. What's remarkable here is how the pragmatists are willing to concede just about every criticism made by the principled LPers of old. They admit that they have watered down the entire program. They admit to being pure pragmatists. They admit that they like certain aspects of the state, and were unhappy with the consistency and comprehensive radicalism of the old platform.

Carl Milsted — who seems to have played the major role in this — puts it this way. The LP has waffled between two separate functions. It tries to be "a radical protest organization (a PETA for liberty)" and also a "political party to get freedom lovers elected to office," so he thinks the former role ought to be abandoned in order to achieve the latter.

But you know what? The LP was not founded to get people elected to office. It was founded to oppose the regime and educate the public, and use elections as the vehicle to do so. [...]

Milsted is right that the idea of a principled political party is incongruous. So what conclusion does he come to? Let's get rid of principle and stick to politics. It's like saying there is a fly in my soup, so let's get rid of the soup and eat the fly!
As an example of the dumbing down, consider these two statements on property rights; the first is from the old platform:
We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade, especially those done in the name of national security.
Sound, clear and principled. And now from the new platform:
The right to property and its physical resources, which is the fundamental cornerstone of a free and prosperous society, has been severely compromised by government at all levels.
Uugh! The former clear statement of principle has been dumbed-down to bland feel-ggod mush. The mush-merchants who've taken over say that much-peddling will lead to vote-getting which will lead to ... well, they're not sure what since the point now is only to get their feet under the political table. To what end? Blank out. No idea. The goal now is just and only to get their feet under the table. More likely however, by peddling such mush they will fail to achieve either goal: they'll neither educate nor achieve any tangible 'power,' and even if they did, what would gaining 'power' achieve if they've lost any ability to educate?

The equation of principle is quite beyond the 'pragmatic' peddlers of mush. (I'm pretty sure I've said this before somewhere. More than once.) In politics, pragmatism is not practical. Principle is.

Perhaps the US Libertarian Party activists should have looked to what happened to the Costa Rican libertarians in their last election (about which both I and Jacqueline Mackey Paisley Passey blogged, as did hardore Costa Rican libertarian Jorge). Here's Jorge and and Jackie summarising the results of the new softcore Movimento Libertario (ML):

"Does abandoning principle “work”?

"To answer this question lets look at how the “radical” hard core ML performed four years ago. In 2002 the ML received 1.7% of the vote for President and 9.34% of the vote for the Asamblea, electing six Diputados (congressmen). To do this they spend a bit more than US$ 200,000 in privately raised funds, explicitly rejecting government funds as immoral.

"This time around, they spent roughly US$ 1,900,000 and accepted state funds. For President, Guevara received 8.4% of the vote (86.9% counted). For Diputado, the ML has received 9.08%. It seems that they have elected six, but one has a razor thin margin, which may just disappear when all the votes are counted. So far 83.4% have been processed."

So let's see... after spending 10 times as much, with 4 more years of experience and organizing time, in the end the new "pragmatic" Movimiento Libertario achieved... exactly what the old "radical" Movimiento Libertario had achieved in the previous election. Except instead of electing 5 real libertarians to the legislature they've elected 5 or 6 "mostly" libertarians.

So much for pragmatism achieveing anything. From a principled party with 5 hardcore elected deputies giving them a well-used platform to educate and enlighten people about the ideas and roots of liberty, they've now lost all their principled members, and lost also any opportunity to educate anyone, even themselves -- they've become just another dumbed-down bunch of sharks in shiny suits with no reason for being in power other than just being in power.

I trust local Libertarianz will absorb Rockwell's lesson, one they've heard so often from me: "The LP was not founded to get people elected to office. It was founded to oppose the regime and educate the public, and use elections as the vehicle to do so." Exactly right.

LINKS: The Party of vacuous rhetoric - Lew Rockwell, Mises Institute
A spoonful of principle helps revolution fire - Peter Cresswell, 'Free Radical,' 1998

National Platform of the [US] Libertarian Party - May 2004, courtesy of the 'Wayback Machine' National Platform of the [US] Libertarian Party - June 2006, US Libertarian Party website Liberty lost her principles down in Costa Rica - 'Not PC' (Peter Cresswell)
Movimiento Libertaria loses principles, gets spanked - Jacqueline Mackey Paisley Passey
...and they didn't even get the votes - 'Sunni & the Conspirators'
Putting the 'P' word into politics - Peter Cresswell, speech to Tauranga Regional Libertarianz conference, 2002

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics-World, Libertarianism, Libz, Property Rights, Politics-ACT