Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Conservatism nailed

Conservatives, listen up. Brad Thompson tells you in detail how and why American conservatives are doing wrong -- he explains the apparent mystery of why conservatives have been in control of all three of the executive branches of American government for years, and the result of all that "compassionate conservativism" and "neo-conservativism" is to have made American government bigger now than it ever was!

Thompson's article is long, but very, very good. I'll post a summary of it in a day or so, but do yourself a favour and read it all now: the good folks at The Objective Standard are letting the online version out of the house free. Don't take my word for how good it is; here's Greg at Noodle Food raving about it:

Wait, let me try that again: freakin' wow!

It is eye-opening and jaw-dropping, a stunning analysis that gathers up the oddities we have been seeing in the rise of the Republicans, explains them with some wonderful philosophical detective work, and frames it all in terms of fundamental principles having life and death importance to us all. C. Bradley Thompson brings the goods, and I now understand the cryptic, stammered, rave reviews of his lecture -- along the lines of, "It was amazing: I kept thinking it couldn't get any worse, and then he would reveal a whole new level of badness!"
Go see for yourself.

LINK: The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism - The Objective Standard
I laughed, I cried, it changed my life! - Noodle Food

RELATED: Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century

Ian Wisearse

Oh look, investigative journalist Ian Wisearse has an alternative blog. Expect lawyers' letters to be flying around very soon...

More myths about inflation

If oil prices keep falling, that'll be good for inflation, right? Well, not exactly. Frank Shostak points out here that it is not increases and decreases in oil prices that drive the inflation rate, it is actually increases and decreases in the money supply -- and we know who controls that. Check out his analysis here. As the Mises site summarises:
The idea that increases or decreases in oil prices are what drives the inflation rate ... is an ancient Keynesian-style myth, based on the idea that producers have exorbitant power to make consumers shell out no matter what the economic conditions. Of course the myth has a convenient advantage for [central banks], in that it completely removes the [central banks] from blame, which is why you often find [central bankers] promoting the myth--most recently [Alan Greenspan's successor] Ben Bernanke.
As Milton Friedman has always said, "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." Think about that. And here's another related myth: the one that says "inflation is under control."

Is it? If inflation is "under control" how come some prices (energy, housing, medical care, education, interest rates) have been going through the roof, while some other prices (computers and computer accessories, wireless phones, watches, shoes and clothing) have been gently and benevolently been falling over recent years?

The answer of course, as Lew Rockwell explains here, is that the official inflation figure, the Consumer Price Index, is simply an artificial fiction designed to conceal these changes -- but is an artificial fiction on the basis of which our central bank is strangling the economy and exporters with higher interest and exchange rates than would otherwise be the case.

Can anyone tell me why we put up with it? Why are even mainstream economists these days happy to accept that the markets for shoes, clothing and computer can be managed by the market, but the market for money has to be managed by a government department, even when it's demonstrably destructive? And as a supplementary question, why is it that it is the freer markets are the ones in which prices have been gently and benevolently falling, while it is the more controlled markets in which prices are increasing?

Have a think about that.

LINKS: Will an oil price fall push inflation down? - Frank Shostak, Mises Institute
What government is doing to our money - Lew Rockwell, Mises Institute
Exporters pay price for inflation fighting - Not PC (Jan, 2006)
Consumer Price Index - Statistics Department
Price stability, inflation and deflation - Reserve Bank

RELATED: Economics

"Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards."

A question for you: Who said this?
We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times. There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths. Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.
Answer here, at Crusader Rabbit. I'm sure you'll be as surprised as I was.

LINKS: "....The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism" - Crusader Rabbit

RELATED: Religion, War, Politics-World

Music meme

Here's a challenge from Paula you might want to pick up.


Song(s) That I Loathe to the Core of My Being
God Defend New Zealand (the world's worst anthem)
- Ten Guitars (the world's second-worst anthem)
- Staying Alive, Bee Gees
Musical artist(s) That I Loathe to the Core of My Being
- Barry Manilow
- Elton John
- Pink Floyd
Rolling Stones Song(s) I Like
- Sympathy for the Devil
- Pay it Back ;^)
Beatles Song(s) I Love
- Taxman
- And My Bird Can Sing
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Who Song(s) I Love
- Love, Reign Over Me
- I Can't Explain
- Can You See the Real Me
Dylan Song(s) I Love
- It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
- Every Grain of Sand
- Ballad of a Thin Man
Lou Reed/Velvet Underground Song(s) I Love
- Coney Island Baby
- It Wasn't Me
- Pale Blue Eyes
Reggae Songs I Love
- Johnny Was, Bob Marley
- Police and Thieves, Junior Murvin
- Sonny's Letter (Anti-Sus Poem), Linton Kwesi Johnson
Country Song(s) I Can Stomach
- This Drinking Will Kill Me, Dwight Yoakam
- One, Johnny Cash (proof that every singer and every songwriter might just have one good song in them)
Movie Soundtrack(s) I Love
- Cotton Club, John Barry
- Amadeus, Wolfgang Amadeus Someone or Other
- anything by Ennio Morricone
- anything by Nino Rota
Cover Song(s) I Love
- Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael, performed by Louis Armstrong
- Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, performed by John Cale
- Sweet Jane by Lou Reed, covered by Cowboy Junkies
Contemporary Top-40 Artist(s) I Secretly Love
... I don't think I even know any contemporary top-forty artists...
Song(s) That Bring Me To Tears
- Papa's Song, Les Miserables
- Missing You, Christy Moore
Rap/Hip Hop Song(s) I Can Stomach
- Original Wrapper, Lou Reed
Blues Songs I Love
- 32:20 Blues, Robert Johnson
- Stomp Boogie, John Lee Hooker
- Killing Floor, Howling Wolf
Novelty Song(s) I Love
- Big Bottom, Spinal Tap
- Monkey Song, Hoagy Carmichael
- Ying Tong Song, The Goons
Soul/R&B Songs I Love
- Try a Little Tenderness, Otis Redding
- Land of a Thousand Dances, Wilson Picket
- Motown Junk, Manic Street Preachers ;^)
Power Ballad(s) I Love
- Because the Night, Patti Smith
- Nothing Else Matters, Metallica
- Passion Play, Hello Sailor
Pre 1950s Song(s) I Love
- Ain't Misbehavin', Louis Armstrong
- Im Treibhaus, Richard Wagner
- Body and Soul, Coleman Hawkins
Singer/Songwriter Songs I Love
- From St Kilda to Kings Cross, Paul Kelly
- No Man's Land, Eric Bogle
- Your Ghost, Kristin Hersh
Songs I Still Love From When I was Fourteen
- Smash it Up, Damned
- Transmission, Joy Division
- Search and Destroy, Iggy & the Stooges
Song(s) to Have Sex To
- Leibestod, Richard Wagner
- Roll Up to My Bumper, Grace Jones
- European Female, Stranglers
Drinking Song(s)I Love
- Vagabond's Drinking Song, Mario Lanza
- Billy Bold, Graham Brazier
- Boys from County Hell, Pogues


Monday, 25 September 2006

Can Maoris be racist?

"CAN MAORIS BE RACIST?" That was the question seriously considered on TV's Eye to Eye on Saturday with guests Tariana Turia, Lindsay Perigo, Ron Mark and chainsaw specialist Mike Smith.

"No!" is the answer given by Tariana Turia, Mike Smith and Atareta Poananga (the woman who made the claim and who's like a little wind-up toy on this issue) - Maoris can't be racist, they claim, because racism implies a power structure, and as Maori aren't part of the power structure then ipso facto, they can't be racist. According to Atareta then, it's only those nasty whiteys that can be racist, and it's not racist to say that.

"Yes, of course they can!" is the answer given by Lindsay Perigo. Racism is a repudiation of individualism, and a concrete expression of the collectivism and tribalism with which Maori culture is rife.

You can watch the show being repeated again on Tuesday night on TV One, or you can go here and check it out now.

And don't forget Willie Jackson and Lindsay Perigo are together again for one more week on Radio Live, noon to 3pm. Good combative radio. Listen online or check out your local frequency here.

LINKS: Eye to Eye, 23 September, 2006 - TV One [Quicktime movie]
Radio Live

RELATED: Racism, Maoritanga, Politics-NZ

"I see a red card and they got to pay it back."

I'M NOT SURE who's behind it (and I'm pretty sure it's not Mick Jagger) but this You Tube video seems to be 'playing the red card' -- they want Helen to "pay it back." Check it out.

All together now:
I see a red card and they got to pay it back.
They stole from public funds now they must pay it back...
UPDATE: Turns out there really is a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy ...

LINK: Pay it Back - Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, You Tube

Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

Schwarzenegger bets the state

GEORGE REISMAN RECKONS that if California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was a poker player, then his latest gamble may be a bet too far -- and with his announcement that by the year 2020, California will emit 25 percent less carbon dioxide, it's the economic future of California itself that he's placed on the table. Explains Reisman:
The bet is that somehow, merely by virtue of the bet’s having been made, new technologies will be developed that will make it possible to comply with the law without any great increase in cost or major economic loss.
Read on here. Meanwhile, over in the UK the Royal Society is getting headlines for putting politics before science.
There is a “false sense somehow that there is a two-sided debate going on in the scientific community” about the origins of climate change, said Bob Ward, the senior manager for policy communication at the Royal Society.

The reality is that “thousands and thousands” of scientists around the world agree that climate change is linked to greenhouse gases, he said, with “one or two professional contrarians” who disagree.
But this is just dishonest, says Reisman:
The Royal Society is totally dishonest in its claims and is out to intimidate and silence those with whom it disagrees. There are not one or two “contrarians” who dispute the claims of the Greens concerning global warming but over 17,000 scientists.

These scientists in fact have actually signed a petition stating their opposition in no uncertain terms. As the organizers of the petition point out, the signers “so far include 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists who are especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth's atmosphere and climate.”

As they further point out, the signers “also include 5,017 scientists whose fields of specialization in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and other life sciences make them especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide upon the Earth's plant and animal life.”

(The complete list of signatories is on line, organized both alphabetically and by state of residence of the signers, at
http://www.oism.org/pproject/pproject.htm#357. The list of the 2,660 signers who are physicists, geophysicists, et al. is on line at http://www.oism.org/pproject/a_sci.htm. The list of the 5,017 signers who are scientists specialized in chemistry, biochemistry, et al. is on line at http://www.oism.org/pproject/b_sci.htm.)

The petition was organized by
Frederick Seitz, who is the Past President of the National Academy of Sciences and President Emeritus of Rockefeller University. The petition itself is online, at http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p37.htm...
UPDATE: Britain's International Policy Network, included in the the Royal Society's front-page attack, have struck back:
Several recent news reports have carried claims relating to IPN’s work on climate change. Here, we seek to set the record straight.

In a recent front-page story in The Guardian (“Royal Society to Exxon: stop funding climate change denial,” September 20), the following statement is attributed to Bob Ward of the Royal Society: “It is now more crucial than ever that we have a debate [about climate change] which is properly informed by the science.” We could not agree more. The letter continues “For people to be still producing information that misleads people about climate change is unhelpful.” Again, we agree entirely and believe that both statements are consistent with the Royal Society’s mandate to promote science.

However, according to the story, Mr Ward then asserts that “The next IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report should give people the final push that they need to take action and we can't have people trying to undermine it.” This seems to be quite the opposite of “a debate which is properly informed by the science.” It suggests that – at least from the perspective of the Royal Society – the purpose of the IPCC is to promote a political agenda for action. Without wishing to prejudge what the IPCC will produce, there is I think a legitimate concern that under such circumstances the IPCC might fail accurately to portray the science...
Read the whole response from IPN here.

Betting the State - George Reisman's blog
Britain's Royal Society
seeks to squelch opposition to greens on global warming - George Reisman's blog
Response to article in Guardian, 20 September, 2006 - International Policy Network

Politics-US, Environment, Global Warming

Angelina signed for 'Atlas Shrugged'

LOOKS LIKE ALL debates about who should play Dagny Taggart in the forthcoming movie of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged are now just academic, as Variety magazine reports the film-makers have just signed their Dagny: Angelina Jolie.

Who's next?

LINKS: Jolie takes on Atlas - IGN
Jolie shoulders Atlas - Variety
Who is John Galt? Brad Pitt, apparently - Hit & Run (April, 2006)
Atlas Shrugged, the novel - Objectivism Reference Center

RELATED: Films, Objectivism


LIBERTY SCOTT IS back in action with a backgrounder on Heather Simpson, H2, H1's chief of staff, the woman who it was revealed last week bullied Parliamentary Services to pay for the Labour Party's pledge card. "Heather Simpson," he says, "has perhaps one of the lowest profiles in New Zealand politics but paradoxically is one of the most powerful."

Find out more here about the ultimate back room boss.

LINKS: H2: The power behind Clark - Liberty Scott
H2 might bury her boss - Not PC

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Monster deficits and economic nationalism

BUSINESS HERALD: Monster deficit worst in 31 years

New Zealand came up a whopping $15.16 billion short in its dealings with the rest of the world in the year ended June - the biggest shortfall, relative to the size of the economy, since the oil shock days of 1975.

Wow! That's a really bad thing, isn't it? Certainly, this guy seems to think so: ANZ National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the current account deficit was "monstrous."
"We have been saying it is close to a turning point for 18 months, but it keeps on getting worse. Will a lower dollar really turn it around materially? I suspect not. I think the only way to get it back down below 5 per cent [of gross domestic product] is to have an outright domestic recession."
Well, he might be an economist, but unless he's simply pointing out the dangers inherent in trying to 'fix' such a thing -- which is possible, I admit -- I would have thought "moron" would be a better description for him.*

According to conventional wisdom, the country's current account deficit gets "worse" as it gets higher. But does it really? After all, this isn't the balance sheet of some trading entity called New Zealand Inc (which entity exists only in the imagination of economic nationalists), this figure represents private transactions, ie., the sum of all private transactions freely entered into that cross the New Zealand borders over the last year, with the level of the figure representing nothing more than the money that's heading offshore in return for the goods and services bought with it. These are transactions that have been voluntarily entered into by individuals in the full expectation of either making a profit from them, or being able to afford them.

In short, it's a measure of the degree to which foreigners want to trade with us and invest in us, and to which we can afford to trade with the rest of the world. The money going offshore didn't come from nowhere -- as supply creates its own demand (think about that for a minute) the money going offshore to buy imported goods and services was first produced here, often by virtue of previous imported goods and services used in the service of producing more wealth.

It's a "problem" only to extent that a protectionist sees all interaction with foreigners as a problem when it involves us handing over money to those nasty people, a "problem first invented by sixteenth-century mercantilists who sought to make their countries great by restricting imports and subsidising exports. But it's a problem only if one ignores what we get with that money, as this aggregated figure does.

As Ludwig von Mises notes of the "balance of payments problem":
While an individual's balance of payments conveys exhaustive information about his social position, a group's balance discloses much less... No provident action on the part of a paternal authority is required lest a country lose it whole money stock by an unfavaourable balance of payments. Things in this regard are no different between the personal balances of payments of individuals and those of a soverign nation. No government interference is needed to prevent the residents of New York from spending all their money in dealings with the other forty-nine states of the Union [or of Aucklanders in dealings with the residents of the rest of New Zealand]. As long as any American [or NZer] attaches any weight to the keeping of cash, he will spontaneously take charge of the matter.
Perhaps this is why, despite the monstrous headline and the talk of needing a depression to "cure" the problem (another example of a "cure" being worse than the disease) the Herald itself reports,
the ratings agencies [upon whose say so many of these private decisions are made] always more relaxed about current account deficits that were not the government's doing but reflected private sector transactions.
So why do people and headline-writers get so upset about these figures? After all, we don't get excited about the balance of payments problem that Auckland has with Wellington, do we? And as Walter Williams points out in this classic debunking of the 'Trade Deficit Fallacy,' we don't get excited about our 'trade deficit' with the grocer either:
I buy more from my grocer than he buys from me, and I bet it's the same with you and your grocer. That means we have a trade deficit with our grocers. Does our perpetual grocer trade deficit portend doom? If we heeded some pundits and politicians who are talking about our national trade deficit, we might think so. But do we have a trade deficit in the first place? Let's look at it.

Insofar as the grocer example, there are two accounts I hold. One is my "goods" account, consisting of groceries. The other is my "capital" account, or money. Let's look at what happens when I purchase groceries.

Say I purchase $100 worth of groceries. The value of my goods account rises by $100. That rise is matched by an equal $100 decline in my capital account. Adding a plus $100 to a minus $100 yields a perfect trade balance. That transaction, from my grocer's point of view, results in his goods account falling by $100, but when he accepts my cash, his capital account rises by $100, again a trade balance.

The principle here differs not one iota if my grocer was located in another country as opposed to down the street. There would still be a trade balance when both the goods account and the capital account are considered.

Imbalances in goods accounts are all over the place: My grocer buys more from his wholesaler than his wholesaler buys from him. The wholesaler buys more from the manufacturer than the manufacturer buys from him, but when capital accounts is put into the mix, in each case trade is balanced.

International trade operates under the identical principle.
Exactly. Perhaps it's because too many economists view this place as New Zealand Inc., as one big aggregate rather than as many individuals cutting their own deals, making their own payment plans, and mapping out their own entrepreneurial path. The sum total of all these things (when the plans work out well) is an overall increase in wealth, and as Cato's Alan Reynolds explains the common factor in markets with "monstrous" current account deficits
is that they are all growing; talking in June for example about the US's "improved " current account surplus he pointed out:
The Economist's survey of world forecasters estimates the current account deficit will reach 7.3 percent of gross domestic product in Spain this year and 5.6 percent of GDP in Australia. I think the U.S. current account deficit will be about 6? percent. The flip side is that 61/2 percent of GDP measures the difference between foreign investment rushing into America minus U.S. investment flowing abroad. We have a large capital surplus, otherwise known as a current account deficit.

What do countries with large capital account surpluses have in common? Economic growth over the last year was 3.1 percent in Australia, 3? percent in Spain and 3.6 percent in the United States.
Perhaps the easiest explanation to understand all this is that given by Frederic Bastiat, "who once reasoned that a country's balance of trade can be better restored if ships carrying imports just sank rather than reach the country." Is that what New Zealand's economists would prefer?

But in the end, perhaps the best solution is that proposed by this Texan banker:
My solution is to stop keeping foreign trade statistics. We don't keep records on interstate trade between Texas and California, so we don't know which state has the deficit and which has the surplus. And we don't care. But if we kept the statistics, we would know and the deficit state would do something foolish to correct the "problem."
Let's hope the economic nationalists presiding over own "deficit state" aren't reading ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie's mail.

* UPDATE: Cameron Bagrie has confirmed to me a) he's not a moron; and b) he was pointing out the dangers inherent in trying to 'fix' such a thing, which was precisely the point, he says, that he was making to the Business Herald. Which goes to show, perhaps, just how reliable journalists are when they want a headline.

LINKS: Our trade deficit - Walter Williams, Washington Times
Our capital account surplus - Alan Reynolds, Washington Times
The Balance of Trade - Frederic Bastiat, from the book 'Economic Sophisms'
Why Bastiat is my hero - McTeer, Texas A&M
Balance of payments - Concise Encyclopaedia of Economics
Mercantilism - Concise Encyclopaedia of Economics

RELATED: Economics, Politics-NZ

Today's Bible reading on family values

It's Sunday, so here's today's Bible reading:
19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
19:33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
19:34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. The Seduction of Lot
19:35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
Try and make a sermon out of that one, folks.

LINKS: Genesis 19 - Skeptics Annotated Bible
Lot, the just and righteous - Dwindlng in Unbelief
Did Lot's daughters think God had killed every man except Lot? - Skeptics Annotated Bible
Family values in The Bible - Skeptics Annotated Bible

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense

Saturday, 23 September 2006

Thought for the day ...

"When people join my campaign, they are supporting me; I am not necessarily supporting them."
-- said by Ronald Reagan in rejecting the implied collectivism of critics lumping all the supporters of his first Presidential campaign together as ideologically identical. Can anyone see any relevance to current events?

TAGS: Quotes, Politics

Friday, 22 September 2006

Beer O'Clock: Guinness v Liberty Stout

A 'Guinness taste-off' this avo from Real Beer's Stu. Which is better, NZ Guinness or the real thing? Unfortunately, Stu couldn't find the local drop in a convenient take-home form, so he made his own wonderfully-named product ...

BrewNZ has come and gone. It was a hectic week, so much so that I hardly had time to stop and sniff the aromas.

Seeing the Kiwi beers beat out some big name imports at the beer awards, and some comments from PC, had me thinking about the New Zealand beer on the world stage. I had thought of comparing New Zealand origin Guinness to Irish origin Guinness, in an effort to test whether buying Kiwi-made was a worthwhile proposal, but I was unable to find any of the New Zealand product at off-licences (it appears that all cans and bottles are now imported from Ireland and the kegs are brewed here). New Zealand's homegrown commercial stouts tend to be sweeter English-style stouts, so these are hardly worth comparing to the inky Dublin brew.

Instead I decided to settle on one of the largest mass produced stouts versus a home made one. My brewing buddy, Brendon, and I produce 20L of beer every other week or so. We recently brewed an Irish-style stout that I've been wanting to compare to the great one. So here are the results of Stu and Brendon's "Liberty Stout" (from keg, on left in the picture) versus the great "Guinness" (from a widgetised 330ml bottle, and at right).

The Irish drop is a shade darker in the glass with a with a much paler, longer-lasting head. Both beers are full-bodied and smooth, with a nice combination of roast and flaked barley, however on the nose and in the flavour they are quite different: Guinness having a musty touch of lactic sourness and the homebrew having a drier toastiness in the mouth, with a flutter of chocolate on the nose. Both beers have a subdued bitterness throughout, rather than the late bite that many other beers carry. On reflection, I'd say the homebrewed stout is much more like Murphy's version than the Guinness one.

On price there is no comparison: about $1 per litre for homebrew, using the absolute best quality ingredients, and $7.50 per litre for the widgestised Guiness bottle. On availablity there's no comparison either: Guiness is available at every corner store in the world, let alone New Zealand, while Liberty Stout is only available just outside my back door.

All in all it's a tie. Guinness wins for all of you, since you can get one tonight. Liberty Stout wins for myself and any visitors, since it's on tap just a few steps from my sofa.

Guinness is much maligned by some beer snobs for not tasting quite like is used to, for being maore about market hype, or for no longer being Irish (it's now owned by multi-national Diageo). However, when served well and in good condition, it is still a very good drop and very sessional (as is Murphy's Stout). It's not St Patrick's day yet but there's no harm in getting in some practice.

I'd also recommend trying your hand at homebrewing, if you're at all interested in beer. The better quality kits can make some pretty good beer, while brewing like the breweries (with crushed grain and hops) can produce beers every bit as good as your favourite commercial beer at a fraction of the cost (cheers to excise free beer!). The friendly folk on the RealBeer forums can help out with advice to anyone starting up.

Slainte mhath

PS: For those beer lovers amongst you who have not yet heard of SOBA (Society of Beer Advocates), check out www.soba.org.nz soon. We are an independent, newly formed, non-profit consumer organisation whose main aim is promoting a wider availability of better quality beer in more New Zealand establishments. We want to help get better beer in the supermarkets, botttle stores and pubs near you soon. To do this we need members and critical mass, which is where you all come in.

[PPS: If you do want to sample the local Guinness and test it against the imported product, you should be able to find it on tap at your favourite local pub. Do make sure it's properly poured. Ed.]

LINKS: Guinness SOBA Realbeer

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

H2 might bury her boss

Speaking of mud-slinging, and having just seen the photograph of Helen Clark's chief of staff in today's Herald (pictured left with Margaret Wilson), I now know who Trevor Mallard must have been talking about when he referred in the House to "chinless scarf wearers."

I think he was mis-quoted. When he asked "Is it the Prime Minister’s practice to take appointments with chinless scarf-wearers out of her diary after they have been put in there...?" he was clearly referring to a chinless smarm-wearer. He was talking about H2, Heather Simpson, the woman whose curt letter to Parliamentary Services insisting they settle the Pledge Card invoice "without further delay" contradicts every one of this Government's claims that PS themselves approved Labour's taxpayer-funded spending on the "centre-piece" of their campaign. As Southern Gent describes it:
Herr letter dated 17 November, is three months after the expenditure was incurred, two months after labour Party Secretary (Mike Williams) gave a written undertaking to include the expenditure in the party’s electoral return. And one month after the undertaking was reneged upon.
Read the Herald article to find out just how deeply enmired in mud Bernard Darnton's case against the Helen Clark and Parliamentary Services has put this chinless wonder. And just imagine what that means for the mud still to come.

LINK: Pledge card invoices stamped "approved" - NZ Herald
Parliamentary Services defence - DarntonVsClark.Org
Heather said so - Southern Gent
RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

Speech rationing and mud-slinging

"Many people despair about the state of politics," says Te Radar in this morning's Herald, "who view the muckraking and sleaze as detrimental to the nation. I am not one of those persons."

Right on.

"Stop the muckraking," says Peter Dung. "Can't you both just kiss and make up?" fawns Sainsbury. "How tewwible it all is," wring the hands of a thousand wet blankets.

What's wrong with the hand-wringing of Sainsbury and Dung and the half of the media who take these two seriously? What's wrong is that they aren't able to draw a distinction between muck being raked, and an election that's been bought. They can't distinguish between name-calling and corruption, between unfounded accusations of sleaze and someone whose been caught red-handed with their hands in the till, between tittle-tattle and a serious constitutional issue -- and make no mistake it is a serious constitutional issue which has set all this off.

What the hand-wringers are guilty of here is our old adversary moral relativism. What this particular instance of moral relativism obscures is that calling everyone guilty of name-calling diverts attention from the fact that one party really and truly is truly guilty of something very, very serious, and they've been caught, and they're wriggling. Wriggling an awful lot.

A Government has been caught buying an election with taxpayers' money, having done so against the explicit advice of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Commission CEO, and having told both in writing that they wouldn't do what they did.

In order to obscure that exposure the Government has tried to sling mud (only to get spattered with it themselves), and in order to 'legalise' that the Government has then tried to sell retrospective legislation in order to sanitise what the Electoral Act itself calls "a corrupt practice."

This is the sort of thing that in Thailand tends to see the military take a keen interest.

And what else has all the moral relativism about all this obscured? It's almost removed attention from Labour's proposals for "campaign finance reform" -- in other words their proposal to get taxpayers to pay for Labour's election campaigns because no-one else wants to -- and to forbid third-party criticisms of government during an election campaign.

Taken together, these are what Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author George H. Will describes in the American context as "speech rationing," of which he said recently "there is no greater threat to liberty."
It is commonly called "campaign finance reform," but it's nothing of the sort. It is simply the assertion by the government of a new, audacious 'right': the right to determine the timing, content, and amount of political advocacy about the government. It is the most astonishing slow-motion repeal of the First Amendment anyone could imagine.
The First Amendment of the US Constitution, if anyone reading this still recalls, is the one that protects free speech. It is something about which liberals both here and abroad used to be entirely in favour.

It's much more important than a little bit of mud.

LINKS: Get stuck in Don - it'll be great on TV - Te Radar, NZ Herald
Upholding the idea of liberty - speech by George H. Will to 2006 Milton Friedman dinner, Cato Institute [8-page PDF]

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

Intolerable allegations

Steve at Vigesimal Pundit has it exactly right with this short post:
"Allegations of corruption are intolerable in a Western liberal democracy." - Helen Clark.

No, Miss Clark. Corruption is intolerable. When allegations of corruption are intolerable, it's no longer a Western liberal democracy.
Exactly right.

LINK: Grasping - Vigesimal Pundit (formerly Teenage Pundit until mathematical geekdom beckoned)

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

"Off with his head!"

Go on, who does the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland remind you of? "Off with his head!" indeed.
The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting 'Off with his head!' or 'Off with her head!' about once in a minute.

Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen any minute, 'and then,' thought she, 'what would become of me? They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here; the great wonder is, that there's any one left alive!'
[Hat tip Oswald Bastable]

More on value judgements in art

If art is a shortcut to philosophy, then just how exactly is this expressed in art?

How does art for example portray value judgments about the most fundamental questions of the universe? What values, for example, do you think that painting at the right by Albert Bierstadt expresses? (Click on the painting and scroll down to find out.)

We got a glimpse of how to begin answering that question in our architectural debate recently (summarised here, and then continued with the Winefield Critique of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin), so let's have a closer look at how it functions in paintings.

Ayn Rand argues that art is uniquely placed to express what she calls "metaphysical value judgements," ie., evaluations of the most fundamental questions abuot existence and our place in it. These value judgements, she says, take the form of answers to questions such as
: "Is the universe intelligible to man, or unintelligible and unknowable? Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does he have the power…to choose his goals and achieve them…or is he a helpless plaything of forces beyond his control? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good, or to be despised as evil?"

The connection between these questions and painting is anything but self-evident, so
tonight here at Not PC I'm posting an excerpt from artist Michael Newberry's wonderfully descriptive piece on 'Detecting Value Judgments in Painting' (that is unfortunately and inexplicably rendered almost illegible at his site by being in yellow text on a white page!) that just might help to make that connection a little clearer.

"Let's see," he says, "if I can show you some paintings that answer those very questions."

He begins with some guidelines for detecting metaphysical value-judgements (MVJs) in painting:
1. Describe what you see.
2. The canvas is the Universe.
Approach each and every artwork as if it is a universe in itself. Simply substitute "universe" for "canvas" and a whole new outlook will become apparent.
a. Look for the size of humanity in relationship to the canvas. This is symbolic of humanity's importance in the universe: is humanity larger than life or tiny and insignificant?
b. How is humanity placed within this universe? At the top, bottom or center?
c. What is the most prominent feature within the canvas/universe and what is the main focus? d. For non-figurative work, what are the outstanding things and how are they placed in the canvas?
3. What is the relationship of subject or person to their environment?
This will tell us how important humanity is in relationship to society or nature.
a. Is there a significant difference of sizes between the setting and the subject?
b. Look for the possible symbolism of the objects and/or their relationships. For example, a barrier to freedom symbolized by a chain-link fence. Or, the state buildings are all-powerful above and humanity is crushed below.
c. Is there more emphasis placed on one thing more than another? For example, is there a disregard for the setting and is all the focus on the main figure?
4. Body language.
a. What are people doing? Are they bent, awkward or upright and elegant?
b. Think about the symbolic implications of their posture: are they approaching life as a servant, a thug, or a hero?
c. What are the most notable facial features?
5. Use adjectives to describe the style, color, and light.
This is not a substitute for the facts that are represented in the painting, but using adjectives first to describe a general impression helps you find the facts. We are not analyzing whether the means of the painting are good or not, merely trying to get at the mood of the piece, just as how you might describe the weather outside as cheerful or crystal-clear.
a. Is the painting distorted, smeared, vague or is it orderly, in focus, complex?
b. Are the colors murky, dull or vibrant, bold? Are they in harmony or do they clash?
c. Is the light in the painting subdued or brilliant?
d. The symbolism of light and shadow cannot be missed: are the objects or persons dim and the unenlightened? Or are they enlightened by a radiant universe?

Our own personal evaluation of a painting (or any work of art or architecture) will depend to a very large extent on what values the painting expresses, and on how important those values are to us. It will also depend on just how well the painting expresses those values -- in other words, whether the painting has sufficient scope, depth, technique and integration to express the artist's intended value judgements.

And remember this: Expressing value judgements in art is not a bad thing, as some of you have been known to suggest here recently. Expressing value judgements is what all good art does. If it doesn't do it, it's not good art.

So with those guidelines as pointers, see what Newberry makes of how two paintings answer a fundamental evaluation of the importance of free will: "Does [man] have the power…to choose his goals and achieve them…or is he a helpless plaything of forces beyond his control?"

DelacroixLiberty.jpg (38362 bytes)
7. Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830.

In Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix notice the woman charging forward with her out-thrust arm raising the French flag aloft. Notice her location at the top of the canvas. She is inspiring a rabble of soldiers, dandies, and regular people to carry on even over the obstacles of death, which lie literally at her feet. Though we don't know whether she and they will achieve their goals, it is startlingly clear that they are not the playthings of destiny, they are acting to fulfill their aims.

GoyaShootings.jpg (31892 bytes)
8. Goya, The Shootings of May 3rd 1808, 1814.

On the other side of this volitional issue we have Goya's painting of an execution, in which the these poor men have been lead like sheep to their slaughter. Notice that in the background that the State buildings are above the scene, the implication is that the state dictates to the humans below. There is a line of faceless universal soldiers, heads bowed, carrying out their orders. The main victim thrusts his arms out in the gesture of "why". Notice how the light box is turned towards the victims, they are bathed in its sympathetic glow while the soldiers are in the shadow. Also notice that the color of the light box and the main character is identical gold and white, the implication being that he is the light. Goya paints an empathic portrait of these victims plight but victims they are; hopeless playthings of the mysterious State lurking in the background.
Read Newberry's whole piece here for much more on this important subject (and I'll try and persuade him to fix his yellow-on-white text).

I can't recommend it highly enough.

LINKS: Detecting value judgements in painting - Michael Newberry
ARCHITECTURE DEBATE: Summing up - PC and DenMT's combined Top Ten architectural favourites, 'Not PC'
ARCHITECTURE DEBATE: Response to Berlin's Jewish Museum - guest post by Robert Winefield at 'Not PC'


Thursday, 21 September 2006

Parliamentary Services defend themselves

Parliamentary Services have now filed their defence in Darnton V Clark, and Bernard Darnton has the details on his blog. Parliamentary Services are the second of the two repondents to file, the first being Helen Clark and forty Labour MPs.

And naturally, you're paying for their defence too.

LINK: Parliamentary Services's defence - DarntonVsClark.Org

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

Foreshore and Seabed and property rights

I haven't commented yet on the Maori Party's plan for a Private Member's Bill promoting the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and the reinstatement of the right to appeal for common law recognition to property rights in seabed in foreshore. The Herald reports:
Mrs Turia said the issue was a "property rights" one and she doubted that ordinary people realised what actually happened when the legislation passed because it was "sold to them" as being a battle over access.

The bill could cause a few headaches around Parliament if it is drawn from the ballot because several parties have hinted that they could vote for it.
It could cause a few headaches. And it might even help get property rights back on the agenda. Here's what I've said before on this, here and here.

As Hone Harawira said yesterday (who is unfortunately only concerned himself with property rights when the holders of said rights are brown and indigenous) ACT should support the Bill because they're in favour of property rights, National should support it for similar reasons (not that I'm convinced they are supporters of property rights however, particularly in this area), and given that United's Gordon Copeland is the promoter of a Private Members Bill to place property rights in the Bill of Rights, you would think United might also be supporters if the Bill was drawn to go before the House.

So good for the Maori Party. The debate should at least show everyone where each of the parties stands on property rights, and it might even begin a process of reinstituting legal protection for them.

LINKS: Turia bill aims to repeal foreshore law - NZ Herald
A Brash dismissal of Maori rights - Not PC (April, 2005)
Selling the foreshore - Not PC (April, 206)
Libertarianz submission on Foreshore and Seabed Bill - Libertarianz, July 2004
Support for Property Rights - Not PC (August, 2005)

RELATED: Property Rights, Maori Party, Politics-NZ, Libz, Common Law

Jared Diamond at Auckland Uni tonight

Just so you know, the author of Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse is delivering three Robb lectures at Auckland Uni, beginning last night, and finishing tomorrow, Friday. These are public lectures. Details here.

By all acounts Diamond is an intelligent and engaging speaker, and I might try and get along tonight. If I don't get there (or even if I do), feel free to ask the many questions I'd like to ask on my behalf. Here's just three posts here over the last year challenging some of Diamond's views:
There are several points of disagreement with Diamond's thesis:
  • Jared Diamond’s much praised book Guns, Germs and Steel contains erudition by the plenty, but his thesis collapses at the time of that great boon in mankind’s history, the industrial revolution, when man's mind began to tranform the world. As Julian Simon pointed out, the mind is the ultimate resource -- as Ayn Rand pointed out, the industrial revolution is the primary historical evidence for that -- and Diamond's thesis has no place for it.

  • In the end culture is a greater determinant for wealth than are geography or history alone. Cultures, as Thomas Sowell reminds us, are not museum pieces but the working machinery of everyday life – by that standard some cultural machinery is more likely to make you wealthy than others. Specifically, cultures that value property and contract rights and personal liberty are in the end going to be more successful than those that don’t, and that is a greater driver to post-industrial revolution history than geography or history alone.

  • Diamond's thesis in both books fails to understand the importance of these particular human institutions, of markets and trade, and he in no way understands the Tragedy of the Commons, which is in fact the answer to the problems he cites.

  • As John Bratland points out:
    For Diamond, societies are entities that act independent of the actions of individuals. He sees societal ascent or collapse as being contingent upon the extent to which societies embrace a centralized structure and management. But in so doing, he ignores institutions critical to peaceful, prosperous social interaction and the formation of society: (1) private property rights and (2) human action leading to division of labor and emergence of cooperative monetary exchange. With these institutions, individuals are able to avoid conflict and rationally reckon both scarcity and capital. Without these institutions, societies such as the Soviet Union and Easter Island are seen to have a common fate in that scarcity implies conflict, chaos, ‘waste’ and eventual collapse.
  • And New Scientist magazine points out that Jared Diamond's speculations on the history and geography of Easter Island, upon which he bases most of the thesis of his book Collapse, is -- not to put too fine a point on it -- just bunk:
    "Much of what has been written about Easter Island is little more than speculation," says Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii. "When you start to search for the actual evidence for some of these claims, often it just isn't there." There are ... problems with almost all aspects of [the much-cited 'Collapse'] story, say Hunt and his colleague Carl Lipo of California State University in Long Beach.
    In 2002, Paul Rainbird of the University of Wales, Lampeter, investigated the idea of eco-disaster on Rapa Nui and concluded that there is no compelling archaeological evidence for any of the key claims of societal dissolution and breakdown before the 18th century.
Since these points have been made to Diamond now for many years, it will be interesting to see if he has addressed them. It could be interesting tonight.

RELATED: Science, History, Economics, Environment, Books

Stop the mud?

I"ve heard the view expressed in recent days that politicians should stop slagging each other off and get on with running the country.

But I don't want them running the country... Do you?

Cancerous and corrosive and un-democratic and, and, and ...

Labour regards Dr Brash as a corrosive and cancerous person within the New Zealand political system. - Helen Clark, September 20, 2006.

Unbelievable! - Whale Oil, September 20, 2006

When Bernard Darnton first announced his case against Helen Clark and the Labour Party, he said that in knowingly stealing public money to fund their election campaign Labour broke the fundamental rules that separate liberal democracy from dictatorship. As week has followed week ever since, it's become more apparent how accurate that assessment is.

This Labour Government does not understand that there even is a difference betwen liberal democracy and dictatorship.

In fact, they are so convinced that it is only themselves that are the repository of liberal democratic values that as week has followed week since their corruption has been publicly raised, each attack against them has been greeted not with a a defence of their corrupt actions -- which were indefensible -- but to attack the accuser as an affront to democracy:
  • How dare the Exclusive Brethren use their own money to attack the Labour Government.
  • How dare the Electoral Commissioner tell Labour's election organisers that they couldn't spend taxpayers' money the way they did.
  • How dare the Auditor-General point out that the rules on election spending were broken.
  • How dare the Herald expose the Labour Party's spin as a venal attempt both to conceal the theft, and to buy support to retrospectively validate it.
  • How dare the Libertarianz use their own money to take Helen Clark and 40 Labour MPs to court for violating the Bill of Rights and the Constitution Act.
  • How dare 81% of the population demand in a poll that Helen and Labour pay it back.
  • How dare businessmen, accountants and golfers (golofers!) criticise her Government.
  • How dare Her Majesty's Opposition attract and spend voluntary, private donations to attack the Government!
  • How dare the Leader of the Opposition accuse the ruling party of corruption. How dare they!
It seems clear that Helen Clark does not understand the NZ political system. All of these critics, every one, has been attacked for having the effrontery to attack the ruling party. People giving money to opponents of this Government have heard this Government assert they intend to do something about that. Yesterday Pete Hodgson declared that the Labour Party is threatening to bring legislation so people won't be able to criticise the ruling party during elections. Yesterday and this morning the Leader of the Opposition was attacked by Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson for being "corrupt and cancerous" and "divisive" -- it is intolerable they maintained that such a man could be in a position to become the leader of a western democracy -- and they demanded that he go ...

Is this not incredible? It couldn't be more apparent that about democracry and liberal democratic values this Labour Government could not be less representative.

Do they not understand that it is up to the voters , not her or Pete Hodgson, to decide who the leader of this western democracy is?

Do they not understand that people are entitled to spend their own money in pursuit of opposition to her Government and their policies?

Do they even understand the concept of "their own money"?

Do they not understand that as the right to free speech must of necessity include the right to offend, so too in a democracy must the right to freely criticise the Government be protected?

Do they not understand what corruption means according to the Electoral Act -- the Act they knowingly, flagrantly and with aforethought broke.

When accused of leaking last year this Prime Minister asserted, "By definition I cannot leak." Now it seems her attitude when attacked is to assert, "By definition, we are the repository of all democratic values. Anyone attacking us attacks democracy." But as Bernard Robertson points out in the latest Law Journal:
If a government can knowingly and deliberately break the law and then ram through retrospective validating legislation then it can do anything. We have a government composed of people who simply do not recognise the concept of government under law.
That is the issue that all the noisy outbursts are designed to conceal. What they cannot conceal is that if the Prime Minister and her advisors ever understood the line between liberal democracy and dictatorship, then seven years in power have destroyed it.

Pay it back Helen. And then resign. You've had your time.

LINKS: 1688? - Darnton Vs Clark
Talking of Corruption - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)
Labour calling people corrupt- Kiwiblog (David Farrar)
"Unbelievable" - Whale Oil Beef Hooked (You Tube video)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, D arnton V Clark

ARCHITECTURE DEBATE: Response to Berlin's Jewish Museum

Tonight a guest post from Dr. Robert Winefield, responding to Daniel Libeskind's design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which was posted here by Den as his "most favourite." It seems however that Dr. Robert wasn't too impressed.

I hate Daniel Libeskind’s so-called museum. Esthetically it looks even worse than DenMT’s first entry, a building I compared unfavorably to a copper-clad rectangular turd. More to the point, it isn’t even a real museum – thus violating its brief -- rather it’s a monument to Libeskind’s own view of Jewish history.

It’s not a museum. Museums are archives; they store and exhibit historical artifacts, documents and such in a manner that allows the public to examine the real artifact (what historians term the primary source) directly. When you go to a museum, you are viewing history with your own eyes, free of much of the author’s bias and not limited by the photographer’s lens. The facts are there in front of you, undiluted, uncensored, and in 3-D ready for your cross-examination. In other words, the value of a well-curated museum, as opposed to a history book, is that the evidential basis for history is sitting right in front of you rather than simply being described to you, and the only bias you bring to your observations and deductions is your own.

If this is the purpose of a museum then the purpose of a museum-architect is to aid the punter to observe the artifact on display. His job is to give the punter enough light to observe the exhibit closely and enough space and tranquility to contemplate both the object’s meaning and the context in which it has been presented. People go to museums to become enlightened and they must be able to digest the exhibition at their own pace and in their own way, forming their own opinions independently of the curator and the crowd. Such are the key interior elements to be found in my favorite museums.

Now let us observe Libeskind's so-called architectural masterpiece. Observe how claustrophobic some of the halls are; how the odd shaped walls and low roof closes in on the observer in the picture he supplied. This punter in the photo supplied has been forced – deliberately - to examine the exhibit from one distance and at one angle. Why? Well because Libeskind has decided to set the mood for the museum. German-Jewish history according to Libeskind is an unrelenting tragedy and the exhibition requires his artistic skills to convey this. DenMT explains: “Libeskind, through form and programme, recreates the history of the Jewish people in Germany. The straight line, broken into fragments can be conceived as the Jewish presence in Berlin and Germany, punctuated by voids, absences, and silence.”

Make no mistake, the architect is unabashedly attempting to manipulate the punter’s interpretation of the exhibitions, forcing his opinions on the museum’s visitors. This is why some of this museum’s feature walls actually lean out towards the observer as if to physically assault him. This is the reason that the building has no street entrance, instead you must enter by first descending into the bowels of an adjacent German history museum and enter though a connecting tunnel containing a constricted walk-way on an iron gantry that echoes ominously with every foot-fall.

Is this a museum or a house of horrors? Is it a museum or a monument? Moreover, if it is a monument, then is it a monument to the holocaust or this architect’s ego? Excuse me for asking, but who the fuck is this jumped-up little twat and why should I care what he thinks of German-Jewish history? If I were interested in him and his, I’d be visiting an exhibition of his works not a museum of German-Jewish history in Berlin. It would be a different story were this a monument to the holocaust, but it isn’t. It is supposed to be a museum, a testament to the entire 1,700-year history of the Germany-Jewish people.

Now, the architect has a right to express himself artistically when designing the building, and I would argue that it is necessary that he do so. What I object to is when the artistry inhibits the function of the building. You see not only does Libeskind’s design interfere with the museum’s objectivity but it also pays no heed to the practical requirements of a museum.

For a start, the building has been purposely designed in a contorted, illogical, poorly lit, and constricted manner. I mean it doesn’t even have a front door for fuck’s sake! Imagine how uncomfortably crowded this building would be if a tour came through. The inside of this architectural dog-turd reminds me of a cave I once visited in Chattanooga TN.

Observe how much space there isn't for odd-shaped exhibits. It seems that only small freestanding objects and wall-mounted exhibits can be displayed here. How, for instance, could this museum do the sort of exhibitions that Auckland's War Museum or the Award-winning Army Museum at Waiouru put on? I went to the ‘Scars of the Heart Exhibition in Auckland and saw a full scale mock up of a WWI Trench system and a real Spitfire. At Waiouru, there are static displays that include an entire Infantry landing craft, artillery pieces, small arms, helicopters, entire armored vehicles as well as photographs, books, medals, uniforms and the like. The Army Museum at Waiouru and the War Museum in Auckland may not look like a hell of a lot from the outside. However, they remain true to their primary purpose: to be an objective forum for history, to be a repository for primary sources regardless of their type and size.

And not only that, well-designed museums -- places like FLW's Guggenheim for example – are set up so that the building doesn't inhibit the punter's ability to view the exhibits. Good museum architecture should allow the punter to examine an exhibit from as many angles and directions as possible: from above, below, from close in, to the middle distance, and beyond. Good museum architecture should allow the punter to flow against the tide of the crowd, to skip exhibits that he’s not interested in and reexamine others. It should also provide spaces where you can stop and contemplate what you have seen. Why? Because a museum is also a place for thought, for reflection, for comprehension and integration of the lesson that resides in the history being presented.

For these reasons ‘Between the Lines’ does not classify as good architecture. The architect has gone out of his way to make a disjointed, cramped, dingy, constricted building that unilaterally imposes ~his own~ post-modernist illogical and retarded version of German-Jewish history on everything that will be displayed in that museum.

There is one more ghastly effect of Libeskind’s that casts a further disgraceful pall over proceedings: The built-in affectations of this building are allowed to overshadow the real lesson of the holocaust.

In truth, the holocaust occurred because, in a moment of willful ignorance, the German people allowed a psychopath to become their master. As Edmund Burke put it, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Too many good Germans did nothing while a psychopath and his chums took over.

Had Libeskind been satisfied simply with allowing history do the talking, this is what would have been said. But then perhaps he wouldn’t have achieved the fame and fortune through this building that was clearly the real brief he gave himself: to get noticed.

Instead, what we have here is yet another post-modernist wank-session set in stone.
Alternatively, to use Libeskind’s own words "...two lines of thinking, organization, and relationship. One is a straight line, but broken into many fragments; the other is a tortuous line, but continuing indefinitely. These two lines develop architecturally and programmatically through a limited but definite dialogue. They also fall apart, become disengaged, and are seen as separated. In this way, they expose a void that runs through this museum and through architecture, a discontinuous void.”

What a worthless waste of space. If this is an architectural masterpiece then so is my arsehole. Unlike Libeskind’s museum it actually does the job it was designed for.

LINK: Den 5: Jewish Museum, Berlin - Daniel Libeskind

RELATED: Architecture, Art