Saturday, 18 August 2007

Weekend Ramble #24

Another random walk through sites, sounds and smells that caught your editor's eyes, ears and funnybone over the last week.
  • If there's one complaint Arrol Gellner hears again and again from contractors, tradespeople and anyone else involved in the practical end of building, it's this: "Why don't architects have to serve an apprenticeship in construction?"

    His usual two-word answer is, "Good question." It seems self-evident, he says, that a person entrusted with designing an entire building should have at least a passing knowledge of how that building will be put together--a proposition that's always made sense to me; it just seems incomprehensible that people directing construction teams so often have literally no idea what they're doing.
    See: Best Architects Get Down in the Ditches - Arrol Gellner.

  • The Anti-Planner has spent the last week demonstrating that US rail transport is more wasteful of energy than your average fleet of private cars. His conclusion: "Building rail transit provides no assurance of saving any energy." Go visit and learn, and then for Galt's sake take Russel Norman and John Banks aside and give them the news.

  • And now, something for warmists and skeptics alike: If you hated Martin Durkin's film The Great Global Warming Swindle then there's something new to despise. If you thought it the perfect rejoinder to Al Bore's ninety minutes of lying, then you're going to love all the new supplementary video material that's now been released.
    Visit Google Video for: The Great Global Warming Swindle - Supplementary Material (60 min.)
    Infuriate a warmist now: Send them the link with your compliments.

  • Speaking of infuriating warmists, ask the one nearest you which year has been the warmest year on record? If they say 1998, they're wrong. NASA has now admitted (very, very quietly) that the warmest year on record is actually 1934. The man who forced NASA's admission of an error in their gathering and manipulation of surface temperature data is mathematician and Hockey Stick debunker Steve McIntyre, who has been infuriating NASA's James Hansen for some time.
    As readers of Not PC will know, his latest enthusiasm has been tracking down errors in the surface temperature record that's used to provide the evidence for the warmists' creed, and he spotted a strange dislocation in the record about 1999 that he discovered was caused by a change in the method of temperature that had been unaccounted for.
    NASA has wriggled, but admitted the error. Stories everywhere, but the most reasoned sources are these:
  • NASA spokesman and Real Climate blogger Gavin Schmidt admits the error, but sniffily dismisses these adjustments as only "very minor changes." (Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me ... ) Perhaps minor scientifically, but even the uber-smug Schmidt isn't so disingenuous not to know the major political capital that's been invested in alarmist claims based on his organisation's provably shonky statistics.

  • So just for the record then:
    • The period between 2002 and 2006, where the average was 0.66ºC above the century's norm, is still warmer than 1930-1934, where an increase of 0.63ºC was the largest in the early part of the century.
    • But both periods are beaten by the 1998-2002 period, in which average temperature was 0.79ºC hotter than normal.
    Make of that what you will--as I'm sure you're going to.

  • What happens when Brit motoring writer Jeremy Clarkson and his two sidekicks try to motor through Alabama with cars daubed with slogans such as "Man Love Rules," Hillary for President," and "Country & Western Sucks"? Watch this YouTube video and find out. [Hat tip Clint Heine]. It's not too much to say they almost died laughing...

  • "Colonisation and slavery have created a sentiment of culpability in the West that leads people to adulate foreign traditions. This," says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "is a lazy, even racist attitude."Pascal Bruckner agrees, condemning the very idea of contemporary multicuturalism as "chaining people to their roots."
    See: Enlightenment Fundamentalism, or Racism of the Anti-Racists? - Pascal Bruckner.

  • A new essay from the Ayn Rand Institute argues that neoconservative foreign policy is fundamentally flawed and incapable of achieving America's true national interests. The authors offer a rational and comprehensive foreign policy alternative here: The Rise & Fall of Neoconservative Foreign Policy.

  • I'm often asked about the difference between libertarians and Objectivists. I'm proud to say that in NZ the answer is "very little"--most NZ libertarians realise that liberty without philosophy is illusory. Not so in North America however, where the difference between the two is one unbridgeable chasm wide. These two posts and the subsequent exchanges between Peter Jaworski and Paul McKeever of Ontario's Freedom Party highlight the differences between Objectivists and US libertarians, and I think help to demonstrate that without a philosophical foundation, politics is a dangerous pursuit of empty words, floating abstractions, and range-of-the-moment compromises.
    See Libertarians & Objectivists, and What Do You Have to Believe to Be a Libertarian?, and the subsequent exchanges to both.

  • In fact the point for which Objectivists argue is the importance of what blogger Noumenal Self calls "Philosophical Infrastructure." That's such a good turn of phrase says Gus Van Horn that he finds himself jealous. Gus notes particularly NS's "interesting point about privatization":
    The same pragmatism that causes today's politicians to prioritize welfare spending over infrastructure also causes today's businessmen to prioritize short-term financial gains over long-term ones. Both act on the range of the moment, seeking to satisfy whichever constituency (voters or stockholders) is making the loudest demands. I think if we privatized infrastructure today, some of it would be run quite well. But some of it would also be run like Enron, which, if you'll recall, actually owned energy-distribution infrastructure.
    Also, be sure [says Gus] to read Galileo Blog's thoughtful comment just after the post.

  • Objectivists argue that the main battle for liberty is not at the political level but at the level of philosophy--the primary battle is the battle for reason. "To save the world is easy," says Leonard Peikoff wryly. "All you have to do is think."
    Now Richard Dawkins is by no means an Objectivist, but he is at the forefront of the public battle for reason--and Galt bless 'im for that. In his latest BBC TV series he takes on that battle explicitly, and you can see the first episode already at Google Video: Richard Dawkins - The Enemies of Reason (Part 1).

  • By the way, should you suddenly find yourself surrounded by fundies heading off to the rapture, then EAC Labs have the peace of kit you need to keep your feet on the ground: it's their most popular seller, the Anti-Rapture Helmet Mark II. "The mark 2 features a variety of impovements," EAC Labs explains, "including an auto-timer which will activate the helmet in the event that you should be so surprised by the ascending Christians that you forget to turn yours on. All recent models have been tested in artificially simulated rapture to ensure that no atheist need spend an eternity with the Christians and their god." And thank god for that.

  • As regards principles in politics, by the way, this cartoon pinched from Pharyngula makes the point better than I could in one-thousand words. That said, Leonard Peikoff makes a fair fist of explaining the point in detail in this brilliantly grounded lecture: Why Should One Act on Principle? [60 min., audio, requires free registration: Listen here on Real Player or here on Windows Media Player. More details here.]

  • What's wrong with income inequality, asks Objectivist Alex Epstein? Income inequality is a desirable consequence of a free and prosperous society.
    See: Celebrating Income Inequality - Alex Epstein, Capitalism Magazine.

  • Oh, before I forget, with all the piss poor journalism coming our of Iraq (here's one of the latest examples) let me put in a plug for two on-the ground journalists on whom you can rely: Michael J. Totten, and Michael Yon. These two are on the ground and they know what's going on. Read them regularly.

  • Meanwhile, Australian David Hicks who was on the ground worshipping with the Taleban is now back home and in thrall to another destructive world-destroying religion: as Tim Blair notes, he's now in thrall to Tim Flannery's warmist religion. As Tim says, maybe the bastard just likes beards?

  • The most recent Free Radical challenges young socialists to watch as their ideology destroys yet another country--as Venezuela collapses into dictatorship and poverty before their eyes. The Venezuela News and Views blog is a good one to bookmark to watch that descent from a distance. Blogger Daniel says he began the blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, and now: "Unknowingly, I have written the diary of Venezuela slow descent into authoritarianism, the slow erosion of our liberties, the takeover of the country by a military caste, the surrendering of our soul to our inner demons."

  • Speaking of destructive ideas, and following up on our friend who woke up in Poland to find that communism had gone and the world is now a prettier place, have a look at this pictorial essay of where the petrolhead culture hangout in Murmansk, in Russia's Arctic Circle, and try and imagine how it could have been even less pretty in the days before communism. Apart from the enormous difference that there's now cars and food in the garages, it looks exactly as I remember it from my own visit there in 1991. A sad and lonely place. See: Murmansk's Gorgeous Garages - BBC News.

  • Architect Carlo Scarpa is one of architecture's unsung geniuses, and one of the few organic architects to successfully tackle the unlikely challenge of funerary architecture. Have a look at this photo essay of his masterful Brion Cemetery. Just beautiful:
    The Brion Tomb by Carlo Scarpa, a Photo Essay by Gerald Zugmann.

  • Bad writing alert: The Bulwer-Lytton Memorial Award for Bad Writing has been awarded for 2007 to Jim Gleeson of Madison, Wisconsin for an exemplary performance from an incipient novel that begins like so: "Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee."
    Marvellous stuff, no? Visit the Bulwer-Lytton Memorial Award site to enjoy the entire selection of award winners.

  • And finally, Craig announces the birth of an important minority group: Wellington libertarian homebrewers. See: The Birth of FLAWHB - Beer Croggles.

  • And Helengrad's libertarian homebrewers get right on to answering that important and age-old question: just how the heck do you produce the perfect freedom-loving homebrew?
    See: Homebrew in Pictures - Pacific Empire.
That's me all done. Enjoy your weekend everyone!


  1. PC said...
    And now, something for warmists and skeptics alike: If you hated Martin Durkin's film The Great Global Warming Swindle then there's something new to despise. If you thought it the perfect rejoinder to Al Bore's ninety minutes of lying, then you're going to love all the new supplementary video material that's now been released.

    Dang, it emphasized in one section about real science where Prof. Tim Patterson of Carleton University of Canada, in his lecture described the use of Wavelets algorithm in time-series analysis of sediment they collected. I do use wavelet for financial modeling similar to the type of analysis mentioned in this paper : Wavelet Multiresolution Analysis of High-Frequency Asian FX Rates. Wavelet algorithm is quite a popular algorithm in today's technology development.

    Patterson mentioned the 11-year cycle when they applied wavelet, to their data. Is this coincidence? 11 year sunspot cycle has been known for over a hundred years.

    Any Matlab user here, just note that 11 year sunspot spectrum is available in the "Data Analysis" demo folder. Matlab uses Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to identify the 11-year cycle from the data that comes with Matlab. FFT can only deal with stationary data (data with defined periodicity or with regular defined frequency), while wavelet can deal with non-stationary data. Intelligent analysis from Patterson and group.

    I know that there is one guy at NIWA who uses wavelet (ONLY ONE GUY). I doubt that any one from the RealClimate knows wavelet analysis.

  2. By the way, does anyone else think that chap in the cartoon looks like John Key?


  3. Falafulu Fisi said...
    I know that there is one guy at NIWA who uses wavelet (ONLY ONE GUY).

    Just to mention that I had put a challenge to Dr. David Wratt (NZ government adviser on Global Warming) via email, if I (Falafulu Fisi) can debate (perhaps a public one) with his NIWA scientists on the validity of climate mathematical modeling. That is ,the assumptions formulated in building a model, shortfall & limitation of algorithms, science facts versus mathematical facts which exist only in equations but not reality (reality in Physics) . He hasn't replied back with an answer. I know, that I am gonna massacre any one of his guys, if they accept my challenge, based on the fact that I have read more (my blind assumption) scientific peer review papers on climate modeling than them (NIWA) people. I also know, that they don't know much about dynamical systems modeling, which is one of the most difficult area in climate computer modeling, since real scientists (ones who have a clue about climate numerical modeling) have identified this monumental task to overcome, when they came together in a NASA workshop a few years ago to discuss and devise methods to tackle in huge challenge in front of them. I also know, what they (NIWA) don't know, in terms of recent advances in climate numerical modeling and data analysis algorithms. This taxpayer funded body (NIWA) must be challenged in AGW since they are giving the government ill advise regarding climate change issues. They have excellent scientists but there is a difference between objective science and consensus science as they seem to adopt.

  4. "as Venezuela collapses into dictatorship and poverty before their eyes."

    Newsflash to PC: It was already one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere before Chavez got on the scene, and that wasn't thanks to socialism.

    Furthermore, it is strange calling him a dictator, seeing as he was democratically elected several times, and survived a coup that was supported by that great champion of democracy and freedom, the United States.

  5. "Furthermore, it is strange calling him a dictator, seeing as he was democratically elected .."

    Yep. As was Hitler. As was Clark.

    ".. and survived a coup that was supported by that great champion of democracy and freedom, the United States."

    Democracy is not synonymous with freedom & never was. And the US govt is as big as most western govts, nor do I approve of all of its actions.

    But I'd still rather live there than any tinpot socialist/fascist poor country, thanks.

    Bet you would, too, given the choice.

  6. "Yep. As was Hitler. As was Clark."

    This is such a pathetic line to run. Hitler won one election and then cancelled the rest. Clark has won multiple elections. As has Chavez. There is simply no comparison.

  7. 'Pathetic', is it, Nameless One?

    I'll tell you what's pathetic. Continuing to support a liar and thief. A woman who spent months denouncing allegations that she used monies specifically allocated for administration for the purpose of electioneering, and then changed the law to right a wrong - instead of having her day in court in order to prove her much-touted innocence.

    Don't you *get* it? She lied, denounced her accusers and then changed the law at the eleventh hour to suit herself. It's a bloody good start in the Dictator Stakes.

    If she had her way, she'd muzzle free speech during election time in the guise of CFR. And woe betide the media for daring to make fun of her! Well, well. Political satire's now seditious, is it?

    The woman is vile. She's a member of the Socialist Sisterhood .. that motley collection of old bra-burners who are permanently stuck in the 70's. Their philosophy is still predominately Marxist and anti-western, in spite of the designer glasses. Or they've *found* Environmentalism. Same lyrics, different tune.

    They are the Thought Policewomen. The good news is that they're all getting older. They're days are numbered, thank God.

    And as for winning multiple elections, that's not true. She's technically 'won' nothing. No outright victory. She's cobbled together several coalitions via MMP, a system of which I believe the many who voted did not fully comprehend.

    Clark's days are numbered. It happens to them all eventually. The three-yearly chequebook-bribes won't save her this time.

  8. Sorry, mistake: Their days are numbered.

  9. You're not going to get me to defend Helen. I want her gone as much as the next nameless commenter. I'm just saying that it is ridiculous to compare her and Hugo Chavez to Adolf Hitler.

  10. Hear what you're saying, Anon, but we must agree to disagree.

    I'll never forget the pics of Clark & Wilson draped - literally - in the red flag. Hammer & sickle or swastika: call me old-fashioned, Possum, but it's all the same to me. Dictatorial. Chilling.

    Comparisons might be exaggeratedm but they are not 'ridiculous'. It's all just a matter of degree.


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