Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Pylon pressure ignorant and unnecessary

TVNZ: Controversial pylons get go-ahead
Transpower has been given permission to build its controversial pylons from the Waikato to Auckland... The decision by [the Electricity Commission] was not unanimous, but all agree that an upgrade of the transmission grid is essential to maintain a reliable power supply to Auckland... Landowners affected by the proposal remain bitterly opposed as they will have to play host to the giant pylons.
Let's have a look at the decision:
  • Yes, Auckland does need the power.
  • Yes, landowners should be pissed off that they have been forced against their will to play host to something they don't want.
  • No, no government should have the power to bully landowners.
  • Yes, this is a government action: Transpower is fully government-owned, and last year the Clark Government sacked the then Electricity Commissioner in order to get the result made public today.
  • And no -- as I've said before here -- bullying isn't necessary to get a power line from one place to another. As I've said before, there is no reason it can't be done voluntarily except ignorance of the alternatives, and that as a government bloody department Transpower can't be bothered respecting property owners -- much easier for these assholes to wield the big, bullying stick of big government.
I've described before one type of voluntary mechanism used historically for ensuring a route through private property while respecting property owners:
When railroading was at its peak in 19th century America, railroads used to purchase 'options' from land-owners along their three or four preferred routes - options that would only be picked up once one of the routes became 'live' by having purchased 100% of the necessary options along that route. The Kapuni gasline that went through some years ago made use of similar undertakings.
Little wonder that bloody-minded ignorance and Big Government bullying is this government's preferred option, even when recognition of property rights and voluntary cooperation was always possible.

As Daryl Kerrigan from the film 'The Castle' used to muse, power lines are a reminder of man's ability to generate electricity. In the Waikato, they are now a reminder that the government's big stick may still be used to force pylons and powerlines across unwilling farmers' property.

The big stick seems to be all the Clark Government understands.

LINKS: Government bullying over pylons - Not PC, Jan, 2006
Pylons v property rights - Not PC, May 5, 2005
Piling on the pylon pressure - Not PC, July 20, 2005

Property_Rights, Energy
The evil that men do

God didn't actually rest on the seventh day. Instead, he discussed evil with his assistant...

LINK: Mr Deity Episode 1: Mr Deity and Evil - YouTube [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

RELATED: Religion, Humour

The evolution of the bathroom

The easiest place to spend over your budget when you're building or renovating these days is in your bathrooms -- and just try to sell a house without an en-suite! To find out how the bathroom has become (for some) the most expensive, and most loved, small room in the house, Slate has a wee slide-show on the evolution of the American luxury bathroom. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks].

Who created the underclass?

If John Key is the solution, then we're really in the shit. Feeling annoyed this morning that anything as vacuous as John Boy's blatherings of yesterday can be taken any way but with a laxative, I stumbled up on this over at Cafe Hayek, which I've changed only slightly, as is 'The Kiwi Way.'
Call me cynical but I doubt that most politicians who promise to solve (real and imaginary) problems by passing statutes and peddling policy truly believe their own rhetoric. They might not disbelieve what they say, but I'm convinced that politicians don't ponder the complexities of reality deeply enough to convince themselves of the truth of what they proclaim. They say what they say and promise what they promise chiefly as a means of ascending to power and glory.

I suspect that people self-select into politics because they have an unusually large lust for being in the limelight and an unusually small concern for the ethics of the actions they must take to get there. And because enough voters stand ready to blame their own (real and imaginary) misfortunes on the evil doings of "the rich" or "the corporate elite" or unprincipled power-seekers eager to ride this ignorance into office.
If John Key's underclass exists anywhere, I reflected that it surely exists in South Auckland, and I thought back to a comment I made last year after the seventh homicide in South Auckland in just three months and on the back of a new government programme that was launched then "to take on South Auckland's street violence problem" (and that predictably has had no discernible impact):
Let me give you something to think about: No part of New Zealand has had more government than South Auckland. Most of South Auckland is government-planned, government-designed, and built with government money -- and every new problem attracts more government action plans and even more "resources."

Government houses fill the suburbs, people overwhelmingly on government benefits fill them, children go to government schools where the latest fashionable government curricula and government educational programmes are delivered, and (if anecdotal evidence is correct) there are more government programmes, government plans, government agencies, and government-employed welfare agents per-square kilometre than anywhere else in the country outside parliament and its surrounds.

The result has not been good. In fact, it has been catastrophic.

Might I invite readers to have a really good, hard think about that.
Do you think that more government programmes, or more government-sponsored programmes -- peddled by whichever party in whatever fashion -- are really going to fix the problems that too much government in the lives of people has already helped to create?

When government is the solution, there's every chance that it was government that created the problem. Will even more government remedy that? Lindsay Mitchell puts it bluntly: Whatever the arguments about the legitimacy of the dropping unemployment figures, "[don't] forget there are still almost 300,000 working age beneficiaries - double the number we had 20 years ago..."
The underclass isn't everybody on a benefit. It's a group of people who refuse to live in society in a peaceable, co-operative and constructive way. Their thoughts are only for today and themselves. If they aren't already criminals of some kind they are on the fringes. And it isn't an "emerging" class of people. But, judging by what we read in the newspapers and what we see on TV, or what we experience firsthand as victims, it is growing. Bugger reported crime levels. Look at victims of crime surveys.

Then if you looked at WINZ records most of these people are there. They abuse welfare, they abuse or neglect their children, they abuse each other. But most of all, they abuse opportunity.

This country, with its passion for egalitarianism, has bent over backwards to give each and every person opportunity and many have simply hurled the opportunity back in the faces of well-meaning people.
That's true, isn't it, and no amount of blathering -- however well-intentioned -- can change that. As the Libertarianz spokesman to deregulate welfare Peter Osborne says,
"John Key's mumblings of 'The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All' is typical PC speak for further political meddling into our lives and more disastrous social engineering.... If life is to have any meaning or value people must help each other by choice, not through involuntary redistribution."
That's the basic truth that all the talk of government assistance for the underclass fails to address, isn't it: that if anything has created this underclass, then it is government assistance and forced redistribution. More of the same will only bring more of the same.

LINK: On the nature of politics - Cafe Hayek
Key's speech "ho hum" - Lindsay Mitchell
More government. More programmes. More violence. - Not PC (Peter Cresswell), Sept, 2006
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop

Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Welfare
, Auckland, Libertarianism

Anthony Chapel - Maurice Jennings + David McKee

The stunning Anthony Chapel at the University of Arkansas in Hot Springs, Arkansas -- recently opened, and designed by Maurice Jennings + David McKee.
Anthony Chapel architects Maurice Jennings and David McKee are partners in the Fayetteville, AR firm founded by E. Fay Jones, an internationally recognized architect who once studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones, who died in August 2004, created the inspirational Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR, which was selected by members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the best American building constructed since 1980. In 1990, Jones received from Britain's Prince Charles the prestigious AIA Gold Medal award for his design.

Jennings was Fay Jones' partner for over 25 years and was involved with many of his designs, including Thorncrown Chapel. In recent years, chapels designed by Jennings + McKee can be found in Ann Arbor, MI and Sewanee, TN at the University of the South; however, both architects agree that neither of these structures compare to the Anthony Chapel. According to Jennings, "it is our finest creation to date." We can't tell you how excited we are to see the "new" Chapel section on the web site.
And to those people who say, "What's an atheist doing posting chapels on his website?" I can best answer that by repeating what Ayn Rand said when someone asked her why she didn't object when someone said "God bless you" to her. Replied Rand: That person was wishing her the highest possible. Why would she object?

In a chapel such as this, in a setting such as it has, it is possible to see the architect's aim in a similar way -- as a wish for the highest possible on this earth. Why would anyone in his right mind object to that?

Maurice Jennings Architects
Garvan Gardens to unveil landmark chapel - University of Arkansas News

RELATED: Architecture

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Outflanking Labour on the left, and heading straight for the bottom

I don't usually comment on polls, but many National Socialist supporters have argued that John Boy Key needs to outflank Helen on the left in order to attract more support -- to which I've pointed out to you that at 49% under Don Brash (in the last TVNZ poll before he was ousted) you lot already had that support, and for policies that weren't just warm and squishy and as insubstantial as the John and Billy team can make them.

So I will occasionally comment on these polls, just so I can rub your noses in what a mess your Dweam Team is making of their job. In fact, I'll let the new Roy Morgan poll, taken from Jan 3-21 tell the story:
In January, support for the New Zealand Labour Government is up 3.5% to 41% (0.1% below its 2005 General Election result). Support for the National Party is down 3.5% to 41%...
Spin that, suckers.

LINK: In NZ: Support for Labour up 3.5% - Roy Morgan

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Hollow Men

Ralston quits

Having done to the TVNZ newsroom what he had previously done to Metro magazine, Bill Ralston has just been sacked has resigned has been asked to go ...

Bill Ralston has now left the building. [Story: NZ Herald]

Work. Dole. Alms. Key. Platitudes.

It's as impossible for to summon up any enthusiasm for John Boy Key's impending 'State of the Nation' speech as it is for John Boy to speak a whole sentence that means something.

Today is apparently the day he talks about New Zealand's "underclass." About work-for-the-dole. Lindsay Mitchell asks the relevant questions:
Why work-for-the-dole when employers are crying out for labour?

Why not work-and-no-dole?
Why indeed? Why give alms to the idle -- alms taken from the energetic and productive against their will. Liberty Scott has a more radical and -- let's face it -- a more honest solution:
Personally I'd start reform of the dole by putting a one-year limit on it, and you wouldn't be able to claim more than three years in your life. I'd also stop inflation-indexing it, so that as people's backstop it gradually becomes less and less attractive, encouraging people to save or to take out income insurance... That reform would be in the context of a coalition government, and it would just be start; serious reform would put a one-year time limit on the dole, after which it would be abolished.
Naturally, this could only take place in an economy in which the labour market is freed up by removing restrictions on hiring and firing -- encouraging labour mobility -- and by removing restrictive minimum wage laws, which help keep the low paid out of a job.

And wouldn't it just be nice if beneficiaries were grateful for those giving them money for nothing -- money extracted from the rest of us by force?

UPDATE 1: Here, for what it's worth, is John Boy's speech. If you had to take a drink every time you spotted a platitude, it'd be a very messy afternoon indeed.
  • "We have, over generations, evolved a set of essential New Zealand values, attitudes and shared experiences. These represent what I call 'The Kiwi Way'."

  • "I want to get alongside the amazing groups that make a difference to our communities."
  • "I know we can do better. We have to do better. Because, left unchecked, the problems of a growing underclass affect us all."

  • "National will use the welfare system, on behalf of all New Zealanders, to motivate long-term beneficiaries to change their lives for the better. Where we give opportunity we will expect responsibility."

  • "These are tough problems. But I have no intention of being a Prime Minister who tackles only the easy and convenient issues."

  • "Today, I say to all Kiwis that I want you to dare to think what New Zealand can be like and what all our lives can be like."

  • "I believe the best years for New Zealand are ahead of us. As a nation, we have everything to look forward to."

  • "We can be a country that is coming together; not a country that is coming apart."
  • Blah, blah, blah. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I believe that children are our future. Going forward together. A hand up, not a hand out. Apple pie and motherhood.

Nothing that either Jenny Shipley or Helen Clark or even the Women's Weekly wouldn't be heard saying, but in John Boy's case he actually believes this waffle. The man's a walking platitude.

But so much for the platitudes, what about the solutions? What about the policies? He has got some policies, hasn't he? Hasn't he? You know, something to show that there's a reason he wanted the leader's job, beyond just really, really wanting the leader's job?

Policies? Any at all?

Ah, no. Not yet. Not just at this precise minute. But they are going to work really hard on that real soon. Really hard. You see, "these are tough problems," says John Boy -- really, really tough problems -- so "in all areas of social policy," he says, "I am tasking [tasking?] National's spokespeople to come up with policies to address the deep-seated problems in some of our families and communities." Oh good. I look forward to hearing back from the 'tasked spokespeople' when they have 'completion on their spokes-tasks.' That should be really exciting. Just think, if they stay up all night, they might even come up with some really good solutions!

Well, at least the Herald's John Armstrong will be excited. I look forward to his panegyric to John Boy's wisdom in tomorrow's rag. As for me, this is just another smug, platitudinous, policy-free nail in a very empty coffin.

Don Brash when he left Parliament listed as one of his achievements that he had changed Orewa from a location into a date, so that people began talking of pre-Orewa and post-Orewa. I don't think anyone will be talking about pre-Burnside or post-Burnside any time soon, but if the hollow platitudes continue, how long before they start talking about pre-Key and post-Key?

UPDATE 2: Plenty of bloggers already running their rules over all the platitudes. In a first for me, I did enjoy this comment from Labour hack Jordan Carter.
This is Key's fifth year in parliament. The only policy suggestions he's come up with is school breakfasts, and accessible sports opportunities.
Perhaps the most damning is this, again from Jordan:
The fact that I would struggle to disagree with much that is in the speech... seems to me to be a slight misjudgement on Key's part.
LINKS: Working for other people's money unfair - Liberty Scott
Questions for the Maori Party - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Welfare

Ownership and state sovereignty

Here's an interesting exercise for you libertarian types. A chap called Charlie Tan has posted an interesting challenge over at a 'Compulsion Touters on Campus' post on The Philosophy of Liberty, in which he makes the argument that property rights are not absolute, and nor can they be absolute, and that, therefore,
[the world in which we live] turns out to be a very Libertarian one after all, not because each citizen should be free to do what they want, but because the state is free to set the rules that its sovereign or sovereign representatives decide is best.
Sounds like a recipe for statism to me.

Now, answering such a challenge properly is time-consuming, but should be bread and butter to an intelligent libertarian. Which intelligent libertarian reading this would like to engage Charlie's argument?

You can do so right here in the comments section of Not PC, at the 'ACT on Campus' blog where Charlie's responses were posted, or even on your own blog -- in the last two cases you might like to let me know if you do respond so I can link to the best responses here.

Get to work. (You may or may not find useful this post and the subsequent responses on the so-called 'problem of initial acquisition,' and this one on the roots of property and libertarianism, although reading them back now I'm not sure if they're as clear as I thought they were back when I first posted them a couple of years ago.)

LINKS: The philosophy of liberty - ACT on Campus
The ‘problem’ of initial acquisition - Peter Cresswell (June, 2005)
The Roots of Property and Libertarianism, or, Why libertarians don’t own their own bodies - Peter Cresswell (June, 2005)

RELATED: Libertarianism, Property Rights

What's with all the religious material?

Observant Not PC readers will have already noticed a new section down there on my blogroll, which I've called The Religious Material, with links to mostly atheist websites and blogs.

Why have I bothered, and why do I bother to take the piss out of religionists at least once every week, and always on Sundays? Well, it's true that the idea of an imaginary friend who created the entire universe (yet is always around to help you out of your little jams) is just a little embarrassing in the Twenty-First Century, particularly when that idea is promulgated with all the accoutrements of modern science and technology. But it's more than just embarrassing when you realise that this fatuous nonsense is used increasingly and all too frequently to justify murder, war and worse.

And I don't care here what brand of superstitious,mystic nonsense you subscribe to, they're all equally fatuous, and just as destructive:
  • The idea that there is another realm which is more important than this one undercuts this world, and this life -- the only one we have.
  • The idea that a consciousness -- a supernatural consciousness -- is what underpins reality suggests that reality somehow needs an explanation for existing. It doesn't. Reality itself is what underpins all explanation.
  • The idea that' faith' is somehow a shortcut to knowledge is, as Ayn Rand observed, "a shortcut destroying the mind" -- it serves only to undercut the certainty derived by reason looking at this world.
  • The idea that our rules for living are "given" to us by some authority -- and given as intrinsic, arbitrarily proscribed duties or obligations -- is death to any morality that is based on reason, and derived from and designed for life on this earth.
  • The idea that martyrdom in this world brings paradise in another can only be justified by theistic nonsense, and brings with it the worldwide destruction any person awake in the last few years will already have seen.
The claims of religion and of mysticism are as destructive as the are false. Arbitrary claims, all asserted entirely in the absence of any evidence, and all as fatuous as they are destructive. As Blaise Pascal summarised, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction."

It's not enough any more just to laugh at religionists, since in everything from opposition to voluntary euthanasia and life-saving stem-cell research to terrorism and calls for worldwide dhimmitude, the forces of theocratic unreason are on the loose, and demanding of a response.

The clamour around the undeveloped world, and even increasingly in the US, for tearing down what Thomas Jefferson called "a wall of separation" between church and state is a sign and a foretaste of the thousand years of Dark Ages that Europe experienced before that separation was effected -- a time when Attilas and their witchdoctors ruled the world, and which the Islamic World for one wishes to reinstate.

It's not enough any more just to laugh at religionists.

As Ayn Rand observed,
Philosophy is the goal toward which religion was only a helplessly blind groping. The grandeur, the reverence, the exalted purity, the austere dedication to the pursuit of truth, which are commonly associated with religion, should properly belong to the field of philosophy.
So they should. In the name of life on this earth, it's high time those ideas were taken back from both the charlatans of philosophy and and the witchdoctors of religion.

That, in essence, is the reason for the religious material here at Not PC. Thanks for asking.

RELATED: Religion, Philosophy, Objectivism, Cartoons

Monday, 29 January 2007

'News' from The Herald

Russell Brown's Hard News/Public Address site and David Farrar's Kiwiblog are "worthwhile reads, maintained by a dedicated group of talented writers and thinkers."
But most bloggers - and we're talking 95 per cent - are fly by night, gutless wonders who prefer to spit venom under inarticulate pseudonyms…

These bloggers, operating under their own misguided belief of self-freedom rarely research any offerings and have little knowledge of defamation laws and other publishing restrictions. Journalists, broadcasters, columnists and politicians are common targets - and this week we've seen the boundaries stretched intolerably far.
So says the Herald's editorial yesterday, written (ironically) by an anonymous editorial writer. Hat tip for this delightful piece goes to Russell Brown himself, who notes:
Ironically, the editorial appears above a column by Ms Coddington, who accused one or more of the Public Address team of being "insane bloggers." Mediawatch ran a good report on the controversy that provoked the insult: the response to Codders' dodgy Asian Angst story for North and South. The audio is here.
Now, back to spitting venom at journalists, broadcasters, columnists and politicians.

UPDATE: Speaking of Herald columnists who are just crying out to have bloggers spit venom at them, the vicious Cactus Kate has a highly entertaining and thoroughly deserved go at the vacuous Rachel Glucina. (Who she?) RESULT: Cactus 10. Herald on Sunday columnist, 0.

LINK: In other news, the sky is falling - Hard News

RELATED: Politics-NZ

A sporting great

Crikey, last night's Australian Open tennis final was a cracker, wasn't it? And isn't Roger Federer a great winner. Sporting contests such as this really do bring out the best in the human spirit.

I remember one year that my newspaper had been left open at a double spread giving dates and locations for that year's major sporting finals around the world. A friend observed that if he won Lotto, he'd simply circle all the events he wanted to attend, and give it to his travel agent. What a perfect way to spend a year.

Pity I don't buy Lotto tickets.


Foul weather? It's all your fault.

More on the Weather Channel warmists, smoking guns, exploding data, melting icecaps and Al Bore here at cartoonists Cox and Forkum: Foul Weather.

RELATED: Global Warming, Cartoons

The culling fund

David Farrar blogs about the culling of people from NZ's die-while-you-wait health system last year.
People got so upset over a cull of a few hundred horses, yet relatively little protests over 35,000 humans being culled from hospital waiting lists last year. It is mind bloggling that Labour can literally throw billions and billions of dollars into this black hole [what you might call the 'Culling Fund'], and not get any significant improvement in terms of elective operations. No wonder so many people have private medical insurance.
I wonder how many of you have private health insurance? (Yes, I do.) How do you feel about it? And how do you feel about paying twice -- once for your health insurance, and once for a die-while-you-wait health system which is slowly becoming a die-while-you-wait-to-get-on-their-list system.

LINK: The big cull - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)

RELATED: Health, Politics-NZ

Defending what's yours from the grey ones

When I first arrived in Britain back in 1990, an old man was on the news being harassed by bureaucrats. Having knocked up a house on his own land that had been declared by the bureaucrats to be against their planning code, they grey ones had begun threatening the chap with demolition of his life's work. In plain language, he told them that if anyone came on his land to tear down his home, he would shoot them. The threats and his response carried on for some time, and his response -- that he would shoot them -- was unwavering.

The grey ones did come ... and he did shoot them. If memory serves, one bloke with a clip-board was wounded, another died, our hero was arrested, and the public came out overwhelmingly in favour of our hero, the chap who was defending his castle against The Man.

What a great introduction to the UK, I thought.

Something similar is happening in the US as we speak. A New Hampshire family is holed up in their fortress-like home having refused to pay income taxes -- about $625,000 of them. That's the 'good' news. As Luke at Pacific Empire put it,
While I don’t want to see another Waco, an armed confrontation would certainly demonstrate that taxes are taken at the barrel of a gun. The problem is the stated reasons for refusing to pay tax - they believe that the collection of income tax is unconstitutional.
Oh dear. As the title of Luke's post summarises: "Right Idea, Wrong Reason."

Mike E and the Mises blog have more.

LINK: Tax protestors: Right idea, wrong reason - Pacific Empire
Another Waco? Over tax? - Mike E's Blog
New Hampshire man will shoot tax collectors; Calls come for supporters - Mises Economics Blog

RELATED: Budget & Taxation, Politics-US

Anniversary day in Auckland: Something to celebrate

Today in Auckland and Northland it's Anniversary Day.

One-hundred and seventy-seven years ago today, Governor Hobson and a crew of hangers-on arrived in the Bay of Islands. It is this that is celebrated on Anniversary Day. It was a few months later that Hobson and co. arrived in Auckland itself, climbed what we now call Mount Hobson, looked out at an isthmus hung between the sparkling waters of two natural harbours and declared, "This looks pretty good," and decided to make it the site of the new country's new capital.

Thankfully, the politicians left this fine city in 1865 for a windswept city further south, where we wait in vain for a big quake to knock them off. It's a better place without them.

But here's an Anniversary Day question for you to ponder. Mount Eden (or as it was known then, Maungawhau) was as desirable then as it is now. These days, properties on Mount Eden are some of the most expensive in the country - expensive because Mount Eden's slopes are so desirable. Yet when Hobson's small group climbed Mount Hobson and looked around, they were looking at an isthmus that had only just been resettled. Indeed, when Europeans first arrived in NZ, when Mount Eden's slopes were as desirable as they are now, they were empty. Why was that, do you think?

Notes David Simmons, in, Maori Auckland: "When Europeans came to Tamaki-makau-rau, they saw only a wilderness of scrub, for all the isthmus had been gardens and was in various stages of regeneration." Kiwi Tamaki's Waiohua tribe had spent the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries living and slash-and-burn gardening around Mount Eden (Maungawhau). These slopes had everything a seventeenth-century estate agent could dream of -- great defensive positions, fantastic northern slopes for kumara pits, and a wonderful location with an outlook over two sparkling harbours. Yet, because they were so desirable, they were empty.

Why were those slopes empty then, despite being as desirable as they are now, yet so expensively occupied today? Do you have the answer? I'll give you my own answer later today, and as a clue I'll suggest to you that it's a reason that makes colonisation, and Anniversary Day, something worth celebrating.

[UPDATE: The difference in essence is between ownership by right and ownership by conquest. I explain the difference more fully, and in the context of the Mount Eden example, in this article : Property Rights: A Blessing for Maori New Zealand.

In essence, I argue that whatever else it brought with it, colonisation brought with it what author Tom Bethell describes as the four blessing of secure property rights: peace, justice, liberty and prosperity. (You can find a link here to the opening chapter of Bethell's superb book 'The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages.')

That property rights in New Zealand have been only partially secure since 1840 is the reason we've all -- including Maori -- been only partially blessed.]

RELATED: Auckland, History, New Zealand

Montessori centenary media coverage rolling in

Speaking of anniversaries, this year represents the centenary of the Montessori movement. It was one-hundred years ago on 6 January that Dr Montessori opened her first school, in the slums of Rome. Today, one-hundred years later, there are thousands of Montessori schools around the world, and hundreds of thousands of people who have received the benefit of a Montessori education.

The local and international Montessori movements are celebrating over the course of the year, and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), set up by Dr Montessori (pictured right, speaking in 1949), have a fabulous centenary website with comprehensive information about the Montessori system, and they're also keeping track of the considerable media coverage of the centenary, including from the BBC, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, The Times, Die Zeit and a very good piece in The Hindu, India's national newspaper.

To keep up with it all, just head to the Montessori Centenary site and click on 'Media.'

LINKS: Montessori looks back -- and ahead - USA Today
100 years of Montessori education - BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour (Part 1)
100 years of Montessori education - BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour (Part 2)
Montessori, now 100, goes mainstream - Washington Post
A milestone for Montessori evokes a mother's appreciation - Boston Globe
Montessori brings calm to second state primary - Times Online
The Montessori phenomenon - The Hindu

RELATED: Education, History

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Money down the Eden Park drain?

The Herald speculates that now the second-most-expensive Eden Park stadium option has received a conditions-laden Resource Consent (that's the gold-plated option at left that's projected at the moment to cost us $320 million; the solid-gold option costing us $385 million-plus is now being applied for), that a combination of temporary and preferred seating at Eden Park is probably the Government's preferred option.

Mine too.

My own preference is given added weight by the fact that Mother Hubbard is dead set against it -- and when has he ever been right about anything? Reports the Herald:
Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard is also concerned about the potential for major embarrassment on the world stage. "What we have to ensure is that we don't have something halfway between temporary and permanent. That would be the worst of all options," Hubbard said.
In fact, what we taxpayers do have to ensure is that we aren't paying far too much for an over-the-top stadium development in a location that's just no good for a decent stadium (and with too many conditions attached) for just two internationals in one Rugby World Cup tournament. Much as I myself like a really good stadium, that really would be stupid.

And if Dick Head is truly worried about embarrassment, he should keep his mouth shut and his unattractive mug off the television. That really is embarrassing, for all of us.

LINKS: Blow for stadium upgrade - NZ Herald
Stadium choice: Two false alternatives - Not PC (Nov, 2006)

RELATED: Stadium, Politics-NZ, Auckland

'Bad guys'

A NZ HERALD headline above a Reuters story: Muslims complain of 'bad guy' movie image.

Gee. Do you think there's a reason for that "image"?

RELATED: Religion, War, Films

Some Christian music

Oh yeah, and here's another treat for the few remaining religionists still reading this, for those perhaps who've missed out on the nice Christian Rock Festival happening at Mystery Creek this weekend: a nice, polite Christian song about how God hates fags. (My favourite line: "There's no back door to heaven..." Genius!) As the singer says, Love God's Way.

LINKS: Christian Rock - College Humour
Love God's Way Ministries

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense, Humour

Today's Bible story: "Some qualifying questions"

For today's delectation, a cartoon for those of you who get your moral guidance from a dusty old book of fairy stories. [Hat tip Diana at Noodle Food].

So how many of you lot get through? How many of you have sold all your possessions and given it all to Te Poor? (And just what happens when Te Poor gets to heaven, and it's revealed that they haven't given away that boon? Have you damned them to hellfire, you evil bastard?)

LINK: Cartoon from Russell's Teapot (where you can find many more of the same)

RELATED: Religion, Cartoons

Saturday, 27 January 2007

A weekend ramble: Sex, murder and multiculturalism

It's Saturday, which means offering you a selection of good weekend reading.
  • Fancy a visit to the world's largest sex theme park? Then you'll need to get to South Korea's Cheju Island, which is where you'll find "Love Land," and more of what you see in this rather tame pic at left. Der Spiegel has the story.
    A Phallus garden in "Love Land"

  • What do you do if you're a resident of a small rural town in which the mayor "puts a stop to the centuries-old custom of herding livestock through village," refuses to issue hunters with shooting licences, and causes local drinkers to revolt after he prevented the settlement's only bar from setting out tables on the terrace in summer -- in other words, if your elected employee begins thinking he's your boss? If you're a resident of the small Italian town of Fago, you shoot your mayor. True story.
    Police believe Mr Grima was the victim of a meticulously planned ambush involving at least three perpetrators and, in a move worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, the police are considering the entire population of the village as suspects.
    Read more here. Busybody nanny staters who like to mind everyone else's business might like to reflect that everyone has their breaking point. A harsh judgement? The boys at Pacific Empire don't think so: "Petty tyranny is still tyranny. He might not have ruined an entire country, or executed or tortured dissidents, but his policies were unjust, and he incurred the hatred of all his subjects. I hope the killers are never captured, and that one day tyrannicide will be considered a just defense against a murder charge." LINK: Entire village suspected of mayor's murder - Telegraph-UK.

  • The heroic Ayaan Hirsi Ali (left) is still a lightning rod for many of the worst ills of the modern world, and for many of the arseholes who peddle what makes the world ill. Pascal Bruckner defends her against her latest critics, the apostles of moral equivalence who would make her morally equal to those who murdered her colleague Theo van Gogh, and whose creed of multiculturalism would deny people their chance to breathe free, and would instead chain people to their roots. LINK: Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists? - Pascal Bruckner.

  • Now for some frivolity. Paula has a meme where she compares "twelve words you'd hate for others to apply to you, though you know they fit like a glove," with twelve words you'd use to describe yourself. You know the kind of thing: I am principled, but you are dogmatic. Feel free to use her meme yourself, or to help me compile twelve adjectives to describe myself. LINK: The grapes of meme, and The grapes of meme II - Ultrablog. [UPDATE: Oops. Links fixed.]

  • And now, back to our ruling classes. Insolent Prick has a list showing the "combined backgrounds of Labour's caucus and party list from the last election; their qualifications for office and their careers prior to entering Parliament." These are overwhelmingly not the sort of people who move the world: it is a lists of committee-joiners; a slate virtually overflowing with sanctimony and busybodiness. You will look in vain for anything like running a business, being self-employed, or personally taking (and succeeding with) an entrepreneurial risk, and you might care to ask yourself what attracts people like these to politics... LINK: Real New Zealanders - Insolent Prick. [UPDATE: Cactus Kate says in thirty-three words what it took me nearly a hundred to say:
    You have an actual job, are not a Union organiser and desire the horizontal company of those of the opposite sex, what chance have you got of getting on the Labour Party list?"
    I guess pithiness like that is why the Dom is paying her the big bread.]

  • Lest you have delusions that the bluer side of the aisle is any better, Blair offers further evidence that whatever entrepreneurial ability the Blue Team has, it's pissed away that advanteage in an utter abandonment of principle. The latest case in point: National's refusal to back private property rights -- said to be one of National's "core values" -- specifically, a refusal to back the Maori Party's Bill for the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed legislation, which effectively nationalised the seabed and foreshore. The Bill if passed would would reinstate the right for anyone, regardless of colour, to prove their ownership of specific stretches of foreshore or seabed before a properly constituted court. Blair's letter to John Boy Key is a masterful explication of why, if National is to have any claim to being a party of principle, it must support the Maori Party's Bill. LINK: Unbelievable! - Mulholland Drive.

  • It sometimes takes a while for news to hit the news, but last week the news that houses in New Zealand's cities are amongst the most unaffordable in the western world finally hit the news. The MSM news. Rather than rewrite what I would humbly suggest are several very well put together posts on the subject of why NZ's cities are so goddamn unaffordable, I'll simply relink to some of them now.
    - Some Auckland mayors realise ring-fencing the city is 'unsustainable'
    - Sustainable cities are unaffordable cities
    - Dream of home ownership is just that
    - Decentralisation, and Those Who Oppose It
    - East Germany in East Auckland
    - Sprawl is good
    - Sprawl is good; regulation is not

    - Sprawl has always been good
    - NZ Housing affordability "in crisis" says report
    - Housing un-affordability - denying the obvious
    - Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City

    That's just a small selection from the, ahem, seventy-three posts I've written on this and related subjects. Once you've digested them -- and iff they don't stick in your craw too badly -- then you might like to visit planner Tom Beard's site (especially this post, and this one) to see how risible are his arguments against letting people free to build and live where they wish. Feel free to respond in his comments section. And speaking of risible, feel free to lob some decent intellectual ammunition on this subject in Jordan's direction, since he's clearly short of a few truckloads himself. ;^)

  • "In the wake of PC campus "speech codes," media self-censorship over criticism of Islam (recall the "Muhammad cartoon" and "South Park" controversies), and "campaign finance reform" efforts to forbid certain people from funding political ads with their own money," Robert Bidinotto links to an ugly campaign to silence global warming skeptics.
    As he says, those who still like to associate the word "liberal" with die-hard support for free speech need a reality check. LINK: Weather Channel climate 'expert' calls for decertifying global warming skeptics - Senator Inhofe's blog.

  • "Theory is all." "Integrated ideas are simply meta-narratives." "There is no reality." Post-modern wankers are as stupid as they sound, and Bruce Boyd deservedly takes post-modern-wanker-in-chief Jacques Derrida to task in this highly enjoyable evisceration of the wanker. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks] LINK: Getting it all wrong - The American Scholar.

  • Should you say "nice things" about your competitors? Why not. Good business is like good blogging, argues Garr Reynolds.
    Good bloggers operate from an "abundance mentality" rather than a "scarcity mentality." They are more concerned with being linky than being sticky. Readers trust a blog that happily points them to other cool and useful sites. Likewise, people respect someone who has enough confidence in themselves that they are not afraid to introduce you to others who are perhaps even more talented than themselves.
    Stephen Hicks calls this "positive competition." You might see it as a reflection of the harmony of men's interests in a free, capitalist society. LINK: Love thy competitor (and it wouldn't hurt to say nice things about them either) - Presentation Zen.

  • And finally, a crucial question ... what's your ideal pet? Here's mine:

    Your Ideal Pet is a Big Dog

    You're both energetic, affectionate, and a bit goofy.

    And neither of you seem to mind very slobbery kisses!

"New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray


I don't normally post entire press releases here at
Not PC, but I'm reposting below a press release from Dr Vincent Gray because of its importance and incisiveness on a subject in which statists are looking to warmists to justify an increase in their power. Dr Gray is, in effect, saying, "Now hold on just a moment..." -- PC


The draft “Summary for Policymakers of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been widely leaked to the Press. Its crucial conclusion is as follows:
“It is very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.”
The widely available graph of the globally averaged annual temperature anomalies between 1857 and 2005 shows, for the period since the mid-20th century:
  • No warming between 1950 and 1978.
  • No warming between 1998 and 2005.
  • The only ”observed” warming over the period is from 1978 to 1998, 20 years only, out of the 55 years.
  • The actual warming involved over this short period of 1978 to 1998 was 0.53ºC.
The above statement considers that it is very likely that most of this 0.53ºC was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.

This temperature rise is negligible. None of us would notice if it happened instantly, let alone over 50 years.. It is below the amount considered in the weather forecasts. Yet this small temperature rise over 55 years is routinely blamed for all manner of climate disasters.

The IPCC pronouncement is not a certain one. The term “very likely” is defined as amounting to a probability above 90%. In other words, there is one chance in ten that they are wrong. Also, the probability is based on the opinion (or guess) of “experts” who are financially dependent on an expectation of positive results.

Finally, there has been no “warming” at all since 1998, now eight years. “Global Warming” seems to have come to an end.

This temperature record is quite incompatible with the computer climate models [which are now the only place in which warming exists], so why should we believe their pessimistic forecasts for the future?

It should also be noted that there has been negligible warming in New Zealand since 1950. The mean temperature for 2006 was 0.7ºC below that for 2005. According to the temperature record for Christchurch, there was no warming since 1910, with a maximum temperature in 1917.

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

NB: Comments on this post can be found here.

Friday, 26 January 2007

A Burns Night Beer O'Clock Special: Scottish Export

Stu from Real Beer gives you some good advice for Burns Weekend...

January 25th was Burns Day, and for someone with a proud Scottish heritage it is pretty much a national day (certainly more so than the official St Andrew's Day). It's certainly a good excuse to come together on the nearest weekend for haggis, Burns's poetry, single malt whisky and bagpipes - and we Scots don't need much prodding to get involved in something like that. One can't (or "canny", as we like to say) drink whisky all day long, so before the prized single malts come out (and the debates rage as to which is the finest) we'll be sure to warm up with some Scottish ales.

Scotland has a brewing history as proud as any other nation, with it's fantastic brewing water and long period of lower malt taxes giving it a great export advantage over it's neighbours. Recent years have seen the same kind of "consolidation" that we've seen in most other nations, and a similar re-emergence of craft brewing. Traditionally ales from Scotland are generally brewed to a similar malt-balanced style and go by names such as "light", "heavy", "export" and "wee heavy" in ascending strengths. They are also commonly known as 60/-, 70/-, 80/-, 90/- (where "/-" means shilling and denotes an old British pricing system that rose alongside the strength of the beer).

In NZ you are unlikely to come across much from the smaller craft breweries, although the wonderful Harviestoun, Orkney and Traquair beers can be found from time to time. We tend to mostly see the major breweries export or wee heavy examples (or the pantomime donkey filtered Tennents Lager).

Two beers I'm partial to pick up when I get the chance are Belhaven's Wee Heavy and Caledonian's 80/-.

Belhaven's Wee Heavy, with it's distinctive lion rampant label, pours a deep ruby red and is malt rich and relatively simple (as is traditional for Scottish-style ales). The beer displays a subtle perfume reminiscent of caramel, dark rum and Christmas cake. These luscious aromas follow through in the clean flavour, which also displays a very lightly warming alcohol note and a lingering sweetness after the lightly bitter finish. It's a kind of beer that most New Zealanders can easily adapt to, due to the low hopping levels, and you find it in a lot of good supermarkets and bottle stores.

Not to take anything away from the very good Belhaven beer, but in my opinion Caledonian's 80/- is even better. (That's their brewery over there on the right.) It's a harder beer to find but will certainly reward the keen hunter. It pours a paler brilliant copper colour and looks a treat with it's creamy white lacing. The delicious malt aroma has underlying hints of marmalade and toasted fruit bread. The flavour is balanced slightly in the favour of malt, again, with roasty grain shades of smoke and wood creeping out from the caramelly base. There are dark fruit undertones in this mostly clean beer and the woody notes invite further drinking by lingering in the finish. Quite complex, perhaps because of the brewery's rare gas-fired copper kettles, and most certainly very sessional (i.e. I think I'll have another one of these, thanks).

Burns day comes at a perfect time for me. Just as the summer is heating up, and the popular hop-fuelled pale ales and lagers are becoming a bit ho-hum, I sit back and refresh my palate with an easy session of mellower, scrumptious Scottish ales. Try some yourself; most people enjoy the fact that they're neither overtly bitter or too fizzy (two things I know that put a lot of folk off "beer").

Have one or two for Robbie Burns this weekend.

Slainte mhath, Stu
LINKS: Scottish beer - Wikipedia
Burn's Night - Wikipedia
SOBA - Society of Beer Advocates

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Saving the planet? Who do you call?

Here's an interesting point made here at CapMag that warmists and environmentalists might want to consider. Environmentalists have said for years that "we" need to create "alternative" forms of energy. But how have "they" gone about creating them?
Well, they support like-minded politicians -- who've invented nothing but obstacles to innovation. They march in protests -- that have created nothing but vandalism. And they rage against capitalism -- the only system by which worthy creations can effectively be financed, marketed and widely distributed... Clearly, a viable, cleaner form of energy (if you buy into the faulty premise that one is needed) will not be created by some snarling rock-hurler, nor some land-confiscating government official, nor some loafer who nests with squirrels.
Innovation cannot be forced, and nor can it be created by political edict. No, if alternative energies are going to emerge, they'll only do so if there's real and genuine demand for them; and if they're going to come from anywhere, they'll come from the same place that all innovations have come from -- from the brain of a creator -- and they'll be produced and distributed by the very profit-oriented capitalist system that too many environmentalists profess to despise, and even while being shackled by controls and regulations dreamed up the loafers and rock-hurlers and government officials.

Ironically, as CapMag summarises, "it's the profit-oriented, productive achiever-types that the 'save the planet' crowd most despise and desire to shackle" who are the ones the 'save the planet' crowd most need.
The men and women who possess the ingenuity, personal ambition, and business acumen that a successful new energy venture would require, environmentalists lob eggs at. Yet it's businesspeople, not "Friends of the Earth," who, by translating scientific discoveries into practical reality, actually advance human life and eliminate pollution.
Give it some thought.

If you're still not convinced by Beer O'Clock-time this afternoon, then ponder the author's concluding thought:
If the planet truly did require ecological salvation (and there's plenty of evidence indicating it doesn't), ask yourself who'd be more apt to achieve a solution: one million bureaucrats or "Earth First!" members compelled by their "love for nature"? Or one creative genius of the caliber of Bill Gates or Henry Ford driven by the profit-motive? You know the answer.
LINK: Environmentalism vs creativity - Wayne Dunn, Capitalism Magazine

RELATED: Environmentalism, Ethics, Politics

Still cold.

The warmist response to NZ's cold summer is summarised by the Greens's Frogblog: "The cold December set the climate change deniers chattering but is not surprising," says the Frog: It's all due to El Nino.

Well, of course that's correct. But it's still a bloody cold summer -- the coldest in sixty years or so.

And isn't it true that the warmists are still chattering about 1998 being "the warmest year ever" (which it wan't, by the way, and after which temperatures have all been downhill)? But wasn't that also due to El Nino -- indeed, the "strongest El Nino on record"? Does that mean the warmists will stop chattering about that now? Any chance at all?

And just for your interest, here's a graph below from the Global Historical Climatology Network dataset for NZ's latitude and longitude (unlike NIWA, GCHN has no political axe to grind) so you can see for yourself the "general warming trend in NZ" that Frogblog is talking about. Does 0.02 degrees/decade sound catastrophic to you?

1880-2005 Temperature Time Series
Latitude Range -90 to -60, Longitude Range 165 to 180
(from the Global Historical Climatology Network dataset)

And if you want to generate your own graphs from your choice of datasets from various sources, from balloons to satellites to land-based stations, then CO2 Science is probably the place to go.

LINKS: El Nino in NZ - Frogblog (Green Party)
There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1988 - Bob Carter, Telegraph (UK)
Links to dataset descriptions - CO2 Science

RELATED: Global Warming

School photographs...

RELATED: Religion, Cartoons, Humour

Berrymans' lawyer faces court on contempt

I'm told that the lawyer for Keith and Margaret Berryman, Dr Rob Moodie, himself faces two days in the Wellington High Court at the end of January over the issue of contempt, in relation to his release of the Butcher Report. I wish Dr Moodie well. More details at a supporter's website.

You can find background on how action by successive governments has done over the Berrymans at the supporter's website, and in my own posts on the subject.

LINK: NZ Army-built bridge disaster - Supporter's website

RELATED: Berrymans, Politics-NZ

Answering the Stern gang on global warming

A new report answering one of the warmists' favourite friends is now online.

The Blair Government's 'Stern Review on the Economic Effects of Climate Change' was released in October last year to great fanfare, following which Sir Nicholas was briefly flavour of the months for warmists everywhere -- economic consequences "worse than the Great Depression" shouted the Report; "the economic effects could be as dire as the last two world wars," burbled Helen Clark; The Guardian meanwhile described the author of the report Sir Nicholas Stern as "the first climate change rock star" -- after which fanfare, Gordon Brown invited Sir Nicholas Stern to spend more time with his family.

Bjorn Lomborg, George Reisman and Christopher Monckton were among those who issued significant criticisms of the Stern Report. And now, a substantive report in answer to the Stern Gang has been authored by a team of skeptic scientists and economists, and published in the Journal of World Economics. The team includes Climate Science Coalition scientists Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter, and prominent American skeptic Richard Lindzen. Concludes the report:
Two distinct aspects are relevant here. First, there is the question of whether it can indeed be said, as the Review asserts in its opening sentence, that
The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very
serious global risks, and it demands an urgent global response.
Second, there is the related issue of how far the Stern Review, in the sections that it devotes to them, gives an accurate account of the scientific issues. We consider that the Review is doubly deficient. The scientific evidence for dangerous change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective.... Overall, our conclusion is that the Review is flawed to a degree that makes it unsuitable, if not unwise, for use in setting policy.
The whole 60-page report can be found here. [PDF]

LINKS: The Stern Review: A new critique - World Economic Journal [60-page PDF]
Stern review: The dodgy numbers behind the latest warming scare - Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal
Climate change author quits Treasury after Brown freezes him out - Times
Britain's Stern Review on global warming: It could be environmentalism's swan song - George Reisman
Climate chaos? Don't believe it - Christopher Monckton, Sunday Telegraph
Too Stern a view of climate change - Scientific Alliance (UK) [Word Doc]

RELATED: Politics-UK, Environment, Global Warming

Sounds awful

What's the worst sound in the world? British acoustic engineer Trevor Cox reckons he has a good idea.
People being sick, squeaky see-saws and screaming babies have been voted some of the worst sounds in the world. Over the past year, more than a million people have been voting on the noises that drive them nuts so researchers can work out what makes them so annoying. People being sick topped the list, with violins being played badly and whoopee cushions also making the top 10. But for kids under the age of 10, the world's worst sound was the dreaded sound of the dentist's drill. Eurgh! [Source: CBBC Newsround]
For me, the worst sound in the world is of a clip-board wielding bureaucrat on the doorstep saying, "I'm from the Government; I'm here to help" -- but I guess that's a different quality of sound, right? Anyway, find out for yourself at Cox's website which sounds you dislike. The Guardian has more.

LINKS: Sick and babies are worst sounds - CBBC Newsround
World's worst sound? - The Guardian
Bad vibes - Sounds101 Research Website

RELATED: Science