Friday, 10 November 2006

Beer O’Clock – Emerson’s APA

More talk about weather and beer from Neil at Real Beer, the leading online source for beer information in New Zealand. Some cities have climate. Wellington has weather, but they do have Emerson's American Pale Ale ...

I love spring time in Wellington. The gentle zephyr blowing by at 93km/h, 9 whole degrees at lunchtime and the gentle hum of hail bouncing off the roof…

This kind of wrecked my plan to talk about good barbeque beers.

So I decided instead to talk about a beer which comes out every spring – Emerson’s American Pale Ale.

Brewer Richard Emerson was inspired to make this beer by a 2002 trip to Oregon in the United States where he tasted first hand their insanely hopped American Pale Ales. These were beers you could smell from literally across the room. He liked them.

APA is (logically enough) the US interpretation of the English beer style called India Pale Ale. It a robust beer made with pale ale malt and is heavily hopped – usually with American hop varieties. These are often strong and have a pronounced grapefruit character.

Emerson’s APA was first made for the festive brew contest at Brew NZ in 2004. It won both the judging and the people’s choice in its category and has appeared every October since.

The beer provided one of my favourite quotes from Richard: “It’s extremely expensive to make. But why not put lots of hops in? We’re brewers, not accountants.”

Hear, hear. APA contains a number of American hops including Cascade and Amarillo.

It pours an inviting cloudy copper/orange. The nose is big with plenty of spicy and fruity aromas - particularly grapefruit and pine - dancing above the glass.

It’s full-bodied and biscuity with lashings of citrus and grapefruit followed by a dry, resinous finish which is nicely in balance.

It’s not as wild and raw as it used to be. Some people find it a lot more approachable. I guess I kind of miss the crazy beer I first met in 2004.

That said, it’s one of the ten best New Zealand beers on offer this year (again) and is an absolute stunner!

LINKS: Emerson's Brewery

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

New Mark Inglis TV

A new development promises to throw more light on what happened on Everest that day, and just how close to his limits Mark Inglis really was when he climbed that mountain ...

From Stuff today: TV shows Inglis' bloody trail in Everest's snows
New Zealand mountaineer Mark Inglis is the focus of a Discovery Channel documentary set to start screening in the United States.
The documentary, by filmmaker Dick Colthurst, tells the story of Inglis' becoming the first double amputee to summit Everest, on carbon-fibre legs with spiked feet. The TV series, Everest: Beyond the Limit, shows Inglis inching upward on his spindly black prosthetics, blood from his raw-rubbed stumps staining the snow. "It's hard to know whether to feel inspired by his guts or infuriated at his foolhardiness," said a report on the documentary in the Chicago Tribune.
It's his life. As I said before: Mark Inglis. Hero.

TAGS: Heroes, New_Zealand

Auckland's RWC Stadium: Another pitch for Carlaw Park

We will today be told by our betters where they intend to spend our money on a stadium for Rugby World Cup 2011. The signals given by the politicians -- 'signals' being all we peasants deserve at this stage -- suggest that the bedpan on the waterfront is the preferred option. What a nonsense.

Said Geoff Vazey of Ports of Auckland about a waterfront stadium:
  • it simply cannot be constructed in time. He says the risks of pushing it through would be overwhelming.
  • He says before any land could be set aside for a stadium, the port would need an alternative site to conduct its business and it would be 2009 before building could even start.

And Sky Tower architect Gordon Moller said "it would wreck the waterfront." He's right. And Institute of Architects president Ian Athfield says it is is "important it fitted into its environment." That can't be done if it's put between city and harbour.

I still maintain that if you're going to spend this much of our money -- about a thousand dollars per taxpayer -- then we're entitled to have a say in what's going on. I don't think that's unreasonable. And I still maintain that of the options we know about, the Carlaw Park option is by far the best. (Pictured above is just one quickly-sketched example of what might be done there, and how it might appear from Grafton Gulley. )

Richard Simpson provided an excellent argument of the benefits of a Carlaw Park stadium, which I excerpted here a few weeks back. [See his powerpoint presentation here -- go on, take a good look], and it really is worth considering seriously (the site is pictured below, looking from Parnell towards the city).

Done right, a new stadium should enhance the city on a much wider scale than just its immediate location, and a good Carlaw Park stadium offers the following benefits and opportunities which are good for both the stadium, for its surrounds, and for the long-term benefit of the city (you can see at the top of the page and just below an example of how it might be done):

  • there is immediate access to motorways north, south and west, with ample provision for parking under the stadium
  • immediate access also to rail lines north and south, with stations developed as part of the stadium, and an easy walk to a Kingdon St station for trains heading west -- all up easily twice the capacity of Britomart can be added with ease
  • the stadium can be accessed on up to three sides through large concourses, as shown in the plan above
  • few noise or residential problems
  • superb views from the stadium itself out to the city, to Rangitoto and the inner harbour -- a great advertisement to broadcast to the world
  • opportunity to link domain, Stanley St Tennis, new Stanley Circus precinct, and new Vector Arena into one sports and entertainment precinct -- an exciting new part of the city
  • the Carlaw Park site is already in a natural bowl, so there is no blocking of existing views, and it offers the opportunity to produce something spectacular rather than something that needs to be hidden
  • there is an opportunity to enhance and develop all areas around the stadium to the long-term benefit of the city: the university edge; the 'armpit' of Grafton Gully, which with the development of a new 'Stanley Circus Precinct' makes this a destination rather than an eyesore; the 'backside' of Parnell, which by linking up with the domain makes this area the 'front lawn' of Parnell
  • opening up Parnell to the domain by bridging the rail line, and developing domain-edge cafes
  • opens up the university to the domain, and to domain-edge cafes, and brings the lower domain back to the city by making it more easily accessible
  • linking Parnell and the city through the stadium by bridging the rail line, offering a new footbridge and stadium access
  • introduction of a travellator in existing tunnels under Albert Park and Constitution Hill from the end of the footbridge to Victoria St, in the heart of the city, works for both easy game-day stadium access and, with the addition of ample under-stadium parking, allows for easy everyday 'park-and-slide' access to and from the city right at the foot of a convenient motorway connection
  • a city stadium, rather than a suburban one, offers all the pre- and after-match pleasures pleasures we already associate with the already successful Cake Tin in Wellington -- pleasures which would be made even more local by development of a new Stanley Street Circus Precinct, and enhancement of the links to Parnell and city as described.
As I've suggested before, despite the history of Eden Park it's time to recognise that as a severely constricted suburban stadium it no longer fits the needs of a world-class city. Other cities have realised when it's time to let historic stadiums go in order to create something truly worthwhile in a better location. Time to bite the bullet and use its assets as financial fertiliser for something truly world class that enhances the city for the long term. Carlaw Park is the place for that, not the waterfront -- a waterfront stadium is a short-term solution with too many attendant and expensive difficulties.

If that is given as today's answer, which we all now expect to the case, then the wrong questions are being asked. And whichever location is chosen, there is still time, albeit briefly, for a competition to choose a design. This is too important, and too bloody expensive, to rely simply on the closed group of designers presently being talked about behind closed doors.

UPDATE 1: Cullen's comments yesterday about the stadium decision provide some of the only details to date that anyone outside the elect has to go on. Says the Herald, "He dismissed the Carlaw Park option as affecting the Domain..." I think it's clear enough from what I've shown above that any affect on the Domain can only be positive. Maybe that's why it's being dismissed?

UPDATE 2: David Farrar highlights the problems with the decision-making-by-Nomenklatura currently being imposed on us. As he says, given the secrecy and he attendant concerns, "the potential for disaster seems high."
I think about this stadium proposal, developed in secret by politicans, and look at what is missing:

* There is no agreement with the sporting codes on whether they would use the stadium
* There is no agreement with the local authorities
* There is no agreement with the owners of the land
* The exact location seems to change by the day
* There is no owner (such as the Trust in Wgtn) and manager for the stadium!!
* There is no agreement on who will pay
* There are no sponsors
* There are no planning consents

As far as I can tell, and I await the official announcement, every single pillar necessary for a sound decision is absent.
He's right you know. Read on.

UPDATE 3: When Keith Locke and Peter Dunne both talk sense you know something's up.
United Future Peter Dunne said today he was "seriously alarmed at what is looming as a complete shambles over the location and funding of the new national stadium."
No one knew who the experts were the Government kept referring to and many people who should have been consulted had not.
And Keith had this to say about the notion of the waterfront bedpan:
We do have concerns... that it might end up like a blot on the seascape and undermine the good work that's been done along the Auckland waterfront to make it more people-friendly...
And, gosh-darn it, both Dunne and Locke are right -- and given that under normal circumstances both would be needed to vote for the Clark Government's solution, it would suggest McCully has already sold out on behalf of his party.

UPDATE 4: Just so you know, Parnell and Newmarket businesses are right behind Carlaw Park:
Parnell Mainstreet Inc, Newmarket Business Association, Parnell Community Committee and Friends of the Domain believe rebuilding Carlaw Park is a better option. "We've got an existing derelict downtown venue, a landowner that hasn't ruled such a proposition out, and the ability to claim a fraction of the Domain for public use.

"So as far as we're concerned it's a no-brainer," groups spokesman Cameron Brewer said. "It's in a natural amphitheatre, a motorway runs to it and the main trunk line runs past it. "It has all the CBD advantages the Bledisloe option has. In fact it's better because it's even more strategically located and is not to be a 35-metre high giant box on the water's edge."

UPDATE 5: And cost?
Newmarket Business Association spokesman Cameron Brewer said the Government should reconsider redeveloping Auckland's Carlaw Park, which was located at the bottom of the city's domain. A proposal three years ago put a $100 million pricetag on building a 25,000 seat stadium there. A 60,000 seat stadium would cost more, but significantly less than the $700,000 touted for the waterfront.

UPDATE 6: (2:25pm) It's the Bedpan: And now they "want your say." They say. From the Herald report:
  • The Government said today it strongly prefers a new $500 million-plus stadium on the Auckland waterfront for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
    But Sports Minister Trevor Mallard has also called on Aucklanders to give it a clear indication whether the city wants a new stadium or whether Eden Park should be upgraded.
  • The preferred waterfront site is over Marsden Wharf between Captain Cook and Bledisloe wharves
  • The Government has been advised by a technical panel led by Ken Harris the chief executive of Wellington's port [my emphasis]
  • [They want] building work on the stadium underway by December 2007 and are prepared to rewrite various laws to clear the way for the development.
  • ...architects Warren and Mahoney ... envisage a translucent 37 metre-tall structure, similar to the Allianz Stadium bult in Munich, Germany, for this year's soccer World Cup (ie., the bedpan).
  • ...the Eden Park Trust Board has an assessment from its own quantity surveyors that says a new waterfront stadium could cost more than $1 billion...
  • Mr Mallard wants Aucklanders and local bodies to have their say on which [of either Eden park or bedpan] they prefer within two weeks...
UPDATE 7: (3:25pm) Government's full announcement including 'Fact Sheet' is here at Scoop: Waterfront Stadium is Government Preference.

LINKS: Hang on, what about Carlaw Park? - Richard Simpson, Public Address
Carlaw Park: Rugby World Cup Stadium [Powerpoint presentation] - Richard Simpson, Public Address
A site for a Rugby World Cup stadium - Not PC (Oct, 2006)
Mallard ready to go with stadium - NZ Herald

RELATED: Stadium, Politics-NZ, Auckland, Sports

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Mini-tutorial: Colour - Michael Newberry

Here's another mini-tutorial from artist Michael Newberry, this time on the Integration of Colour, using as his 'model' his own painting Counterpose, from 1990 (above). He begins:
In the tutorial, Integration of Light, I mentioned that the theme of Counterpose is about a harmony of contrast. I showed how I painted extreme contrasts in light and dark. In this tutorial I am showing how, keeping to the theme of contrast, I painted extremes of color contrasts...
Read on at this link. And enjoy the redhead.

LINK: Mini-tutorial. Integration, part 2: Colour - Michael Newberry


Thursday, 9 November 2006

'Don't Vote' was the winner on the night

CBS Broadcasting: Voter Turnout Higher Than Expected
(CBS 42) A preliminary analysis of voter turnout across the U.S. was higher than expected.

More than 40-percent of voters came to the polls, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Which means, I guess, that just like the British elections last year the winner on the night was the 'Don't Vote, Don't Encourage Them' party, with fully-sixty percent of prospective electors supporting them. Won't stop them all claiming a "mandate" to speak on everyone else's behalf, though will it?

RELATED: Politics-US

Doom, gloom and fume

A while back I was challenged to post anything showing that there were man-hating environmentalists about in the mainstream of environmental thought. So I did. [See this post: 'QUOTE: "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing..."']

Today I figured readers might like to see some, just some, of the fatuous environmental predictions made by worry-worts and misanthropic headline-hunting doomsayers.

  • Britain's industrial growth will come to a halt because its coal reserves are running out “… it is useless to think of substituting any other kind of fuel for coal... some day our coal seams [may] be found emptied to the bottom, and swept clean like a coal-cellar. Our fires and furnaces ... suddenly extinguished, and cold and darkness ... left to reign over a depopulated country."
    --Economist William Stanley Jevons, writing in 1865
  • Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions....By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.
    --Peter Gunter, a professor at
    North Texas State University. Spring 1970 issue of ‘The Living Wilderness.’
  • …some scientists estimate that the world's known supplies of oil, tin, copper, and aluminium will be used up within your lifetime.
    --1990s school textbook The United States and Its People, quoted by Ronald Bailey in testimony to US House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources,
    Feb 4, 2004
  • The period of global food security is over. As the demand for food continues to press against supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise, but how much.
    --Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, 1981
  • The world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed the projected additions to the world's population.
    -- Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, State of the World Report, 1994
  • The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population.
    —Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology;
    Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)
  • The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.
    —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb
    (Ballantine Books 1968)
  • I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1969)
  • In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.
    —Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)
  • Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)
  • There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production—with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon… The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it… This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.
    --Science writer Peter Gwynne writing in ‘The Cooling World,’ ‘Newsweek’ magazine,
    April 28, 1975
  • This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.
    —Lowell Ponte in his book The Cooling, 1976 (which was endorsed by US Senator Claiborne Pell and current Bush adviser on global warming Stephen Schneider)
  • If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.
    —Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, speaking on Earth Day 1970. Watt is
    Editor in Chief, Encyclopedia of Human Ecology Advisory Board Member, Center for the Study of CO2 and Climate Change
  • Indeed, when we wake up 20 years from now and find that the Atlantic Ocean is just outside Washington, D.C., because the polar icecaps are melting, we may look back at this pivotal election.
    --New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, writing in NY Times,
    Dec 8, 2000.
  • Frostban -- a harmless bacteria genetically engineered to protect plants from freezing temperatures -- "could irreversibly affect worldwide climate and precipitation patterns over a long, long period of time.
    -- Founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin, 1986
  • The economic impact of BIV (Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus) on the beef and dairy industries is likely to be devastating in the years to come.
    --Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef 1992
  • Biotech crops will "run amok"; they will create "super bugs"; they will lead to farmers using "greater quantities of herbicides."
    --Jeremy Rifkin, 1999
    Boston Globe
  • The use of biotechnology might "risk a fatal interruption of millions of years of evolutionary development? Might not the artificial creation of life spell the end of the natural world? ... cause irreversible damage to the biosphere, making genetic pollution an even greater threat to the planet than nuclear or petrochemical pollution?”
    -- Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century 1999
  • Current estimates that a flu pandemic could infect 20% of the world's population and cause 7.5 million deaths are "among the more optimistic predictions of how the next pandemic might unfold.”
    Osterhaus et al. Nature May 2005
  • The next flu pandemic could kill as many as 150 million people.
    Dr. David Nabarro. WHO spokesman Sept 2005.
  • As many as 142 million people around the world could die if bird flu turns into a "worst case" influenza pandemic and global economic losses could run to $4.4 trillion - the equivalent of wiping out the entire Japanese economy for a year.
    Report entitled Global Macroeconomic Consequences of Pandemic Influenza, from the Lowy Institute in Australia. Feb 2006.
UPDATE: If you've read this and asked yourself, "Where's the misanthropy?" as some commenters have, you might like to now read (or re-read) the post linked above, which is a differently focussed list of related quotes: <'QUOTE: "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing..."'
RELATED: <Environment, Conservation, Ethics, Quotes

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"Significant delays in getting building consents" sinks homebuilder

I'll post this without comment lest I give those who berate me for offensive language have even more evidence for their cause:

NZ HERALD: Builder's collapse devastates homebuyers
A company that builds houses from Waiuku to Whangarei has gone into liquidation, leaving customers wondering whether they will get back their deposits of $25,000 to $50,000.

Meridian Homes Ltd of Orewa had 30 contracts for homes, with half under construction, said joint liquidator Paul Sargison.

Managing director Dean Hopper blamed the collapse of the six-year-old company mainly on significant delays in getting building consents for homes.

By the time the council gave consent, he said, the cost of the building had exceeded the original contract price and profit was lost....
High and higher regulation. High and higher house prices. - Not PC (Oct, 2006)
"The building is the easy part" - three stories of red tape and resource consents - Not PC (Sept, 2006)
Frank Lloyd Wright on building codes and education - Not PC (June, 2006)
The house that Norm could no longer build - Not PC (June, 2006)
Building Act brings building delays - Not PC (Oct, 2006)
Architect v Bureaucrats - Not PC (Dec, 2005)
Council 'asks' nicely for more money. Yeah right. - Not PC (Nov, 2005)
Who'd be a builder? - Not PC (Nov, 2005)
Councils to builders "More red tape please." - Not PC (Nov, 2005)
The 'deregulated' building industry... - Not PC (Nov, 2005)

RELATED: Building, Politics-NZ


112 MPs vote for 120 MPs

What better day for turkeys to refuse to vote for Christmas than one in which the high-profile drinking-age bill was debated, and the higher-profile US elections were held. With those two headline-hogging happenings happening, who would have noticed that one of the most overwhelming votes for a political measure by electors was given the big two fingers by those they elect?

Yep, despite an overwhelming 81.5 percent of voters declaring in a nationwide referendum that they wanted fewer MPs rather than more, said MPs have said, "We know best," and thrown out Barbara Stewart's bill to cut the number of Beehive bludgers by twenty. "Mrs Stewart says it is ironic that MPs are quick to implement the will of the people on election day when it suits them but have cast aside a referendum which had the support of over 80 percent of voters." But "opponents of the bill said a drop in numbers would mean less diversity in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation." [Insert appropriate expressions of opprobrium here.]

My congratulations to the nine MPs honest enough to vote the way their employers had instructed them to.

LINKS: Bill to reduce number of MPs rejected - Stuff

RELATED: Politics-NZ


NZ HERALD: Texting abbreviations 'allowed for NCEA exams'
Students will be able to use text abbreviations in this year's exams, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has said. Bali Haque, NZQA deputy chief executive of qualifications, said credit would be given in this year's NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) exams if the answer showed the required understanding
To be frank, why don't we just abandon any pretence that the state's factory schools are there to teach, or that the NCEA system is intended to encourage excellence and to kickstart careers.

Far more honest, surely to simply accept that the factory schools are simply there to turn minds to mush, to promote "desired social ends," to create a broadly compliant underclass, and to keep the braindead off the streets.

Why carry on pretending?

LINK: Texting abbreviations 'allowed for NCEA exams' - NZ Herald
NCEA: Stick a fork in its ass, it's done - Not PC (July, 2006)
NCEA resignations: Et tu Billy - Not PC (May 2006)

TAGS: Education, Politics-NZ

* SHID = Slaps Head in Disgust

Frank Lloyd Wright - V.C. Gift Shop, interior

Photo courtesy Elliot Who?

A small brick-fronted Sullivanesque San Francisco store, designed in 1948, which I understand is now a 'folk art museum.'

The interior is considered a precursor of Wright's 1959 NY Guggenheim Museum.

RELATED: Architecture

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Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Sense from Parliament

Some sense from Parliament tonight:
Strong vote against raising drinking age
The bill to revert the liquor buying age to 20 has been soundly defeated by MPs in a conscience vote. After weeks of lobbying and debate, MPs voted 72 to 49 to kill the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill on its second reading.
Congratulations to all the campaigners advocating that adults are treated as adults.

UPDATE: The Herald has the list of 72 MPs who voted for personal responsibility last night, and also the 49 Nannies. (And I note that Richard Worth has been promoted by the Herald to be MP for Epsom.)

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere, Libertarianism, Politics-NZ

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Should adults be allowed to drink?

I could write another pithy post on how wrong it would be to ban eighteen- and nineteen- year-old drinkers from pubs, but since the good Dr Goode from the Libertarianz has already said every thing I'd want to say, I'll point you to what he's said.

"Should adults be allowed to drink," he asks. And that's the whole question really, isn't it -- and when put that way, the answer is fairly obvious. Of course adults should be, and if they don't think adults are up to it then let's see them either take all rights away from adults as well, or all adult rights away from all eighteen and nineteen year-olds. Let's see them also vote to raise the driving age, the voting age, the marrying age, the age of consent, and the age for joining the military-- in short, the age for taking responsibility for our own lives since the clear view expressed in a negative vote will be that no eighteen and nineteen year-old is mature enough to think for themselves.

But when would these politicians consider anyone is mature enough to get our from under Nanny's skirts? Perhaps they should just raise the drinking age to forty-one and have done with it altogether?

UPDATE: Keep It 18 have Twelve Good Points for keeping it 18.

LINKS: Should adults be allowed to drink - Dr Richard Goode, Libertarianz
Select Committee supports raising drinking age to 41 - Lyndon Hood, Scoop

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere, Libertarianism, Politics-NZ, Libz


Why freedom? What freedom?

A chap called Terence has taken a tilt at libertarianism, the substantive part of which Idiot Savant has conveniently summarised. Here's what we libertarians apparently get wrong:
  • "...the deification of property rights and markets, rather than a recognition that they are simply a useful tool and therefore can be changed depending on the desired social end"
  • "... [our] monomaniacal fixation on the state as the sole limitation on liberty"
  • "... the hypocrisy of many libertarians who proclaim the sanctity of absolutist property rights while opposing even token restitution by the government towards the descendents of this country's original indigenous owners... What [we]’re really advocating is ‘start from now’ libertarianism which, funnily enough, almost-always finds its strongest advocates amongst those who are doing pretty well at present thank you very much."
I'll only reply briefly, since these represent two errors and one straw men that have been dealt with at length before.
  • Property rights are a subset of rights, but just as only ghosts are able to live without property (as Ayn Rand noted) so too it is property rights that make all other rights possible ("without property rights," said Rand, "no other rights are possible.") They represent an integration of real ethical-legal principles, not a nominalist fiction, and are not confined only to property in land but to all the property we have in the values we ourselves create.
    They are a recognition that unlike other animals our human means of survival is our minds; specifically our minds put to use to reshape the things in the world into a form in which they can further our life – in a form in which they we make them valuable to us. This is the fundamental difference between ourselves and other animals: unlike them we have to produce the things we need in order to survive and to flourish – we must produce our own values -- and we must use our minds to guide us in what we produce, and how we may produce it. We must identify our values, produce them ourselves and, in order to plan long-range (the distinctive human mode of existence), we must be able to have long-range protection for those values we've produced for our survival.
    That long-range protection of the values we ourselves have created is what property rights represent.
  • Markets are simply the sum of voluntary choices taken by individuals seeking to better themselves. Those individuals might be wrong in the choices they make -- such as commissioning Frank Gehry or buying Jackson Pollock paintings for example -- but they are their choices to make, not yours or mine, since it is the values they themselves have produced that they are seeking to trade. Markets reflect the truth that voluntary interaction reflects a harmony of interests that is both benevolent and beneficial, the 'miracle' of Adam Smith's invisible hand that is no less a miracle for being explicable.
  • Freedom is not the absence of want, but freedom from physical coercion. Rights themselves may not be removed except by physical force; whenever a man is made to act against his voluntary consent, his right has been violated.
    Misunderstand this point -- of what freedom actually constitutes -- and you find that the incorrect view of freedom (absence of want) wipes out the true one, in which all human interaction can be voluntary rather than coercive -- a point reflected in the basis for libertarianism being viewed by many libertarians as 'voluntarism.'
    The chief problem with positing freedom as something different to this, as for example some variant of 'freedom from want,' is that reality itself provides no guarantees on that score, and the state is in no position to fake reality any more than you or I or Jacques Derrida. What the state does have unique to itself however is a legal monopoly on the use of force. It has power. Freedom is better than power. If providing 'freedom from want' is considered to be the state's job, then coercing those who provide the means of life is what the state is required to do, and (as history shows) there goes that whole voluntary interaction deal...
  • Libertarianz supports the right of anyone at all, regardless of colour, to front up seeking a court's recognition of and protection for their rights in common law, meeting the legal standard of proof for such things. I refer you, for example, to the Libertarianz submission on the Foreshore and Seabed Act. What we do not support however is a racially-based welfare system or an indigenous state gravy train. Make of that what you will.
I'd like in conclusion to just point out to both Terence and Idiot Savant that I am not a Nozickian, and I know no libertarians outside academia who are. There is a reason that Nozick is popular in university politics departments, and it's not because he provides robust arguments for liberty. Quite the opposite. As I've said here before:
Nozick is considered by academics to be the leading advocate for libertarianism and freedom amongst modern political philosophers, but his weak arguments are too easily trumped by self-serving intellectuals who only feel obliged to answer Nozick, rather than more substantial political thinkers like Rand....

But perhaps it is the very weakness of his arguments that add to his attraction, he is the ideal libertarian straw man - easy to knock down, and to burn while he's down.

But Nozick does have value. He shows us that if your arguments lack foundations you will undo your conclusions, no matter how true they might be.
A more robust libertarianism can be seen in my own Cue Card Libertarianism, a work still in progress, and to which I've provided some relevant links above.

[I'll answer I/S's other straw men about 'freedom only for the strong' and private footpaths leaving us imprisoned in our homes if you really want me to, but why not try and answer them yourself.]

LINKS: Cue Card Libertarianism - index at
The Roots of Property and Libertarianism, Or, Why libertarians don’t own their own bodies - Peter Cresswell

RELATED: Libertarianism, Philosophy

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What's with the 'we,' Brian?

Two good posts from Rodney Hide in the last two days criticising Bryan Gould (far left), erstwhile leader of the British Labour Party and now the self-important vice-chancellor of the University of Political Correctness in the Waikato.

Gould expressed the view
that “We” should control our own economic destiny, not foreign executives in a globalised world, to which Rodney replied (in part):
Given the choice between having someone else control your destiny, or for you to control it yourself, the answer is simple. We want control for ourselves.

But that’s not the choice that Mr Gould is referring to. He fudges the real choice he’s presenting. It’s easy to see why.

The real choice is about people making choices themselves in a free market versus government making choices for us. For Mr Gould the “We” he refers to is government. But what puts us most in control of our own destiny? We as individuals deciding how to spend our own money or governments doing it for us? Whenever you hear socialists speak of “we” be afraid. Be Very Afraid.
Too true. A respondent however criticised this response in these terms:
The political debate is now shaped and constrained in the interests of a small, self-interested and ideologically unrepresentative group of immensely powerful investors who could never have secured support for their extreme positions if they had had to seek a democratic mandate.
"But just how powerful are these investors?" responds Rodney far more politely than I might have, offering four points in response. "First, they only have money to invest if savers provide them with their money, i.e. they have to satisfy their customers. They have no power to make people invest with them—it’s all voluntary. Second..."

Well, read on here for all four of his points. He deserves a visit for his display of good sense.

LINKS: Economic destiny - Rodney Hide
Economic destiny II - Rodney Hide
We? - Not PC

RELATED: Politics, Economics

Stadium decision-making is management by blundering around

G-Man notes that the high-handed and secretive decision-making over the Rugby stadium for the 2011 World Cup is "further proof thathe only difference between the bigspending socialists in Labour and the bigspending socialists in National is purely in the semantics and the rhetoric."

No consultation (except between politicians).

No information given to the peasants on what's going on.

Requests for information airily dismissed

Little (if any) expert advice taken.

A billion-dollar bedpan for a stadium?

Ever felt like a mushroom? Fed bullshit and kept in the dark? Welcome to decision-making by government without the people, paid for by the people, over the people. As G-Man summarises, the only apparent problem either Clark, McCully or Mallard have is whether or not they can spend our money in time.

LINKS: Nats v Lab - G-Man
A billion-dollar bedpan - Not PC

RELATED: Auckland, Sport, Politics-NZ


US mid-term elections: A house divided?

With US now at the polls in the mid-tem elections, I'm reposting FWIW my own voting guide posted here a fortnight or so ago.

* * * * *
One of the beauties of the American system of government is the check on power created by enabling the executive and both houses of the legislature to be controlled by different parties. Which lovers of small government, for example, cannot recall with a smile the shut-down of government that happened under the fortuitous combination of a Democratic Clinton Administration and a Republican House?

This is just a prelude really to saying that all things being equal I prefer to see power divided, rather than having all elected arms of government in the hands of the same party, and so just on that basis alone would not be unhappy to see the Democrats take control of either the Senate or the House of Representatives. On top of that, and given the disgraceful statism in recent years of the conservative side of the aisle (examined in some detail in this series here), it's hard to see that the Democrats could do a worse job.

Objectivists are divided on the question of whom to vote for in the forthcoming mid-term elections. Given the theocratic thrust of so much of recent Republicanism, philosopher Leonard Peikoff argues that not to vote Democrat for both Houses is immoral:
How you cast your vote in the coming election is important, even if the two parties are both rotten. In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.

Socialism—a fad of the last few centuries—has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades... Religion, by contrast—the destroyer of man since time immemorial—is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.

Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”

[...] What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor.

The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican.
Peikoff's view on the religiosity of America's right is given added credence by this international survey showing believers in supernatural nonsense country by country. The US scores poorly (right): That's them, second from bottom.

"The results of surveying 32 European countries, the US and Japan reveals "that only Turkey is less willing than the US to accept evolution as fact." You might view it as a 'sanity ranking.' Said the study's author of the US's position:
American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalists, which is why Turkey and we are so close.
Worrying news.

However, Objectivist writer Robert Tracinski disagrees with Peikoff's thesis. Unsatisfied as he is (and I am) with the Republican Congress and with the apparent rise of the supernaturally challenged, he still suggest the best result is a "humiliating defeat" for the Democrats. "The best thing we can do in this election is to crush the left," he says, "because the Democratic Party adds nothing of value to the American political debate." All the important debates are now happening on the right, he argues, and so "the more the left fades from the scene, the more the national political debate will be a debate within the right."

It sounds a little Pollyanna-ish to me. He does however allow:
In the American system, of course, we don't vote for parties but for individual candidates. So if your local congressional candidate has championed a particularly evil political agenda, is under indictment, or is named "Katherine Harris," then by all means vote for the other guy.
Good advice in any election.

UPDATE 1: Even as I was writing this Mike Mazza was writing an almost identical post with even the same linked articles over at SOLO, where a healthy debate has ensued: Election '06 - SOLO.

UPDATE 2: Debate at SOLO has now been continued on this thread: Why I'm Voting for the Democrats

UPDATE 3: Fox News reports that "libertarians — people who cringe at intrusive government, high taxes, nation-building and politicians telling them how to behave — could turn out to be the key swing voters in Tuesday's contentious midterm election."

LINKS: Peikoff on the coming election - Leonard Peikoff, Capitalism Magazine
The Democratic Party adds nothing to the national debate - Robert Tracinski, Real Clear Politics
CONSERVATISM - A NEW OBITUARY: Part 5: The Neocons in practice - Not PC
Cartoons by Cox and Forkum

Politics-US, Objectivism


An architecture quiz

What is this a picture of?

a) A useless pile of trash.
b) A model for a US$127 million piece of trash.
c) A Rorshach test for pretentious poseurs.
d) A new creation by Weta Workshops for Alien V
e) A new museum for Louis Vuitton in Paris.
f) All but one of the above.
Answers on a postcard, please.

RELATED: Architecture


Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Quantum Physics Debate, 1: The 'Many Worlds' Interpretation

The earlier thread on The fatalism of entropy. The dynamism of spontaneous order ended up in a discussion about the claims of the Many World Interpretation to explain the observations made in quantum physics experiments. Put simply, the claim is that each time a choice is made, a new universe springs into existence. This is meant quite literally. Brian Scurfield argued this Many World Interpretation is both real, and required to explain free will -- to which I and others objected (you can visit the thread to see that debate).

Brian wished to open a thread on which to argue directly his claims for the Many World Interpretation. This is that thread. The following is Brian's opening salvo.

The Many Worlds Interpretation is the claim that Quantum Mechanics is a true description of reality and that this description applies at all scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. It is the claim that not only atoms are subject to quantum phenomena but also observers such as you and me. Taken seriously, the Many Worlds Interpretation implies that physical reality is a vastly bigger thing than we perceive and that reality is partitioned into entities that to a very good approximation are classical universes identical to ours. In the Many Worlds Interpretation, other universes exist and affect each other and we can observe the results of this experimentally - for example when we carry out interference experiments.

The entire ensemble of universes in the Many Worlds Interpretation is contained in an entity called the 'multiverse.' Each universe in this multiverse obeys exactly the same laws of physics and there is an infinity of universes. Universes differ in how events turn out. When two previously identical universes become different because events turn out differently we say the universes have differentiated. The multiplicity of each identical universe in the multiverse is infinite. We can speak of the measure of each universe. Basically it is the relative proportion of one set of identical universes with respect to another set of identical universes. Measure is an important concept in the Many Worlds Interpretation - it means that things do not turn out equally. It means that our choices in the multiverse are important because they govern the future measure of ourselves. And it means that we need not be concerned about the possibility of giant Sperm Whales appearing in orbit around the Earth.

The original version of the Many Worlds Interpretation was put forward by Hugh Everett III in 1957. In its original conception, universes did not differentiate, they split. This creates a number of problems with measure and also in reconciling the MWI with existing physical law. For these reasons the idea of splitting was dropped and replaced with the idea of differentiation by freedomist physicist David Deutsch. It was Deutsch's interest in the Many World Interpretation that led him to discover the almost thaumaturgical possibility of a universal quantum computer, laying the foundation for the modern field of quantum information theory. Universal quantum computers are probably just years away from realisation.

Peter has asked "why the Many Worlds Interpretation is a meaningful physical explanation and not just a useful concept or method". My outline above hints at some reasons. In the equations of Quantum Mechanics we have a tool that describes and predicts our observations in precise detail. We are entitled, therefore, to regard these equations as telling us something about the nature of reality for where does that predictive power come from if the equations do not reflect truths about reality? When the mathematics of quantum mechanics tell us that a quantum computer can perform prodigious feats of calculation in real time by differentiating into, say, 10^1000 versions of itself, then what are we to conclude? That those 10^1000 versions are just mathematical conveniences? How are we to explain the calculation when the entire observable universe contains just 10^80 atoms?

But we don't need complicated mathematics to tell us multiple universes exist. We can infer it from a purely non-mathematical, physical argument, as David Deutsch does in Chapters 2 and 9 of his book The Fabric of Reality when he considers various single-photon interference experiments (see also this video).

Another reason to regard the Many Worlds Interpretation as an explanation is that we have begun to elucidate in detail the structure of the multiverse and how it is determined by information flow (the multiverse is rather more than just an ensemble of universes!). If the multiverse were not real, it seems inconceivable that we could do this. Furthermore, the Many World Interpretation can be used to derive the Born probability rule of Quantum Mechanics. If correct, then even this in itself indicates that the Many World Interpretation has deep explanatory power for previously the Born rule had to be assumed.

A popular criticism of the Many Worlds Interpretation is that we cannot see or communicate with other universes. We can only infer the existence of other universes from things seen in this universe. The reason for this is that interference occurs when universes that had become different become identical again. The more different the two universes have become the more unusual it is for them to come together again - although this is happening all the time. Controlling interference between two universes requires that we control all the particles that have different states in the two universes and for practical purpose this means that we can control interference only in universes that are very nearly identical. For you to communicate with your doppelgänger would require controlling an astronomical number of particles, including all those in your brain. This is not even a remote possibility. That we infer the existence of other universes indirectly should be no more controversial than that we infer the existence of, say, neutrinos indirectly. We can't be absolutely sure that neutrinos really exist, but the concept provides the best explanation for things we do observe.

Another popular criticism of the Many Worlds Interpretation is that it cannot be distinguished from the philosophically lame Copenhagen Interpretation, which is another popular scientific explanation for the observations of quantum experiments. But the criticism may not stand. David Deutsch proposed the first test to distinguish the Many World Interpretation from the Copenhagen Interpretation in 1977 (see Quantum Concepts of Space and Time, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, pp. 204-214) and there have been a number of other proposals put forward since then. Unfortunately these are not yet technically feasible (and some may be conceptually wrong), but we should not be surprised that the Many World Interpretation makes different predictions to its rivals for it has different assumptions.

I'll quickly summarise some other reasons why you should regard the Many Worlds Interpretation as an explanation. In the Many World Interpretation, a particle is a particle; it is not both localized at a point and spread out over the whole universe. Explanations that invoke the latter idea have only ever caused confusion! The Many Worlds Interpretation does not require "spooky action at a distance" or that, in Einstein's words, "God plays dice." Quantum mechanics turns out to be, after all, local and deterministic, as all good explanations are. In the Many World Interpretation, reality exists independently of consciousness and although we are differentiating into countless versions all the time we can reconcile this with identity and free will. Finally - as implied by the other points - the Many Worlds Interpretation requires no collapse of the wave function (the wave function doesn't even seem to collapse in the Many World Interpretation) so this postulate can be dropped from quantum mechanics and Ockham's Razor slices in favour of the Many Worlds Interpretation.

The Many Worlds Interpretation is not without possible non-trivial problems. But these problems are not obvious objections stemming from incredulity to the whole idea of multiple universes, they are technical problems (and some [pdf] may already have been resolved). The Many World Interpretation has matured [pdf] in the last two decades and many critics have not caught up. We need to think what it would mean if the Many Worlds Interpretation were true, for so far it is our only tenable explanation of the strange quantum reality that we observe.

Feel free to either comment below, or to send me your own substantive five-hundred word response for publication here later in the week.

As Falufulu Fisi suggested, I have re-posted Mark Sadgrove's substantive comment below as number two in this series. You can find it here:
Quantum Physics Debate, 2: The Many Worlds Interpretation rebutted - Mark Sadgrove, at Not PC

The fatalism of entropy. The dynamism of spontaneous order - Not PC [thread]
Many Worlds Interpretetation - Wikipedia
Advances in reserch - Hitachi Global
Hugh Everett bio - MIT
David Deutsch - Wikipedia
Quantum computer - Wikipedia
Quantum computers: march of the Qbits - New Scientist
Shor's algorithm - Wikipedia
'The Fabric of Reality,' by David Deutsch - Qubit.Org [book review]
Lecture 2: Interference - David Deutsch video lectures [video lecture]
The structure of the multiverse - David Deutsch
Quantum theory of probability and decisions - David Deutsch
The Quantum Aristotle - Peter Cresswell, SOLO
Copenhagen Interpretation - Wikipedia
An extension of 'Popper's Experiment' can test interpretation of quantum mechanics - R.Plaga
The wave function "does not seem to collapse" - 'Fabric of Reality' message board
The basis problem in Many World Theories - Henry P. Stapp [21-page PDF]
There is no basis ambiguity in Everett quantum mechanics - Mark A. Rubin
100 years of the Quantum - Tegmark & Wheeler [9-page PDF]

RELATED: Philosophy, Science
, Ethics

A billion dollar bedpan?

Who on earth would want this on the Auckland waterfront?

Not Gordon Moller, who knows a thing or two about architecture. Not Geoff Vazey of Ports of Auckland, whose wharf it is that the Clark Government have been trying to usurp. Not taxpayers, surely, who will be feeling the government's hand in their pocket to the tune of $1,000 each to pay for it. And not me.

If taxpayers really have to be dunned to pay for this or something like it, and wherever it ends up going (and I have to say I still favour Carlaw Park myself), why not have a competition to design something of some worth instead of a bedpan.


Humour for lexophiles

For lexophiles. Read carefully, and groan only once you've finished.
  1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.
  2. A will is a dead giveaway.
  3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
  4. A backward poet writes inverse.
  5. In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.
  6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.
  7. If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
  8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
  9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
  10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
  11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
  12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulting in Linoleum Blownapart.
  13. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
  14. Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.
  15. He would often have to break into song because he couldn't find the key.
  16. A calendar's days are numbered.
  17. A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.
  18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  19. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
  20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
  21. A short fortune-teller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large
  22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
  23. When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.
  24. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
  25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye !!!
  26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
  27. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
  28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.

What 'everybody knows' about Tuvalu

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died... - Leonard Cohen

What else does everybody know?

Well, we all know sea levels are rising, don't we. We know that sea level rises are going to sink Tuvalu with ten years, don't we. We know that 'climate refugees' from Tuvalu are going to flood New Zealand, don't we. We all know it. The BBC knows it. Oxfam knows it. Australian politicians all know it. Pacific Islands leaders know it (and they want compensation). Nick Smith, Gordon Copeland and David Parker know it (scroll down to Q. 5). Helen Clark knows it. Al Gore knows it. And Al Gore's movie-goers all know it.

Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows it, so it must be true, mustn't it? Well, guess what. In fact, don't guess, have a look at that graph below, based on data from National Tidal Facility, Adelaide, who confirm that "there has been no significant rise in sea level in Tuvalu over the past 22 years."

As John Daly reported a few years back,
The reported `plight' of the Tuvaluans is not about sea level rise at all - it's about over-population. With such a high population density, the fresh water table on the atolls is subject to rapid depletion, especially in dry years. In addition, the development which would follow from such a high density will bring the inevitable coastal erosion, a problem which the Tuvalu government falsely blames on climate change and sea level rise. Tide gauge data from all around the South Pacific shows the same pattern as the one at Funafuti - no sea level rise. It is, and always was, a bogus claim, with few in the outside world bothering to check the accuracy of the claim.

Dr Vincent Gray & Michael Field update the fairy tale here [pdf]. Compensation? In their dreams.

LINKS: Lyrics: 'Everybody Knows' - Leonard Cohen
Tuvalu cons the Kiwis - John Daly (Oct, 2001)
Don't boo-hoo for Tuvalu - Patrick Michael, Cato
The truth about Tuvalu - Dr Vincent Gray, Climate Science Coalition [5-page PDF]

Politics, Global Warming, Science,

Labels: , , ,

Global warming: "...a god-send for politicians"

Why do so many politicians want to so much to insist upon a scientific consensus over global warming when that consensus just doesn't exist? Dr Gerrit van der Lingen of NZ's Climate Science Coalition has a convincing theory [hat tip Lindsay Mitchell]:

"I always say the issue is a god-send for politicians. It's fantastic to say we are saving the planet but they will never be held to account in 30 to 50 years time. I call it a very convenient diversion for them." He said the evidence was not overwhelming. "This is one of the biggest myths or lies. It is not certain at all. We want evidence, very simply. "I give lots of lectures and I always say climate change and sea-level change only happen in computer models. Time and again, if one checks the real world against what I call the virtual world, they don't stack up at all." Insulting the [Climate Science] Coalition's views was the easy way out and avoided the debate, he said.
It's worth recalling however that not everyone proposes an authoritarian solution for any climate problems that do exist. However, and very conveniently, former Margaret Thatcher advisor Christopher Monckton summarises for the Sunday Telegraph the climate chaos over the claims for climate change -- and this is perhaps the clearest, most succinct summary of the rational skeptics' view that I've read. He begins:

Last week, Gordon Brown and his chief economist both said global warming was the worst "market failure" ever. That loaded soundbite suggests that the "climate-change" scare is less about saving the planet than, in Jacques Chirac's chilling phrase, "creating world government". This week and next, I'll reveal how politicians, scientists and bureaucrats contrived a threat of Biblical floods, droughts, plagues, and extinctions worthier of St John the Divine than of science.

Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the economics of climate change, which was published last week, says that the debate is over. It isn't. There are more greenhouse gases in the air than there were, so the world should warm a bit, but that's as far as the "consensus" goes.
Read on here for the first of what promises to be two excellent pieces by Monckton on this increasingly topical debate.

LINKS: Climate frenzy a diversion, say scientists - The Press
NZ Climate Science Coalition
What would a libertarian do about global warming? - Not PC (October, 2006)
Climate chaos? Don't believe it - Sunday Telegraph

Politics, Global Warming, Science, Politics-UK