Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Royalties, paintings and peasants

The first time National's Liberal Blue Chris Finlayson has to stand up and be counted and he's left instead standing around scratching his bollocks in indecision: Minister for the Arts Helen Clark and Minister for Helen Clark's Hand Bag Judith Tizard between them cook up a bizarre scheme in which a 5 percent royalty is imposed on on paintings resold within seventy years, and "National's arts spokesman, Chris Finlayson, said he was aware of the copyright debate, but [um, ah, well] had yet to decide which approach he favoured." "Christ Chris," says Lindsay Mitchell, "Being Liberal means promoting choice over government compulsion. No?" No?

Finlayson's leader's flaccidness is obviously catching.

A challenge for warmists

Think Al Bore is right? Think sea levels are going to rise dramatically?

Then rather than working to shackle the rest of us, rather than going to work as a council planner for example and stopping people taking their own risks on their own beachfront property, then how about putting your own money where your mouth is? How about betting on your belief? You can do it, you know.
An online gambling service has started taking bets on global warming, including whether it can submerge some of the [US] East Coast's top vacation spots. [Source: Forbes]
And there's good money to be had if you're a warmist, and you actually believe the warmist litany: odds of up to 300-1! Said Reed Richards, a spokesman for gambling site BetUs.com, "About 3,000 placed bets during the first three days on online booking. Most gamblers on the site have put down money that Manhattan will be submerged before New Year's Eve 2011. "Don't ask me why," Richards said -- he's just happy to make money off morons.

A commenter at a free-market list I inhabit has this suggestion:
[This is] a fine chance for all those with scientific certainty to enrich themselves. I would hope that Al Gore would pick up on this and bet some of his utility bills on his predictions and then buy carbon offsets with his winnings. Same for environmental groups. If they are as certain as they say they are, they should be challenged to bet and thus gain a huge windfall for financing their causes.
Why wouldn't they accept such a challenge? And what does that mean for their own belief?

32 dead.

At least 32 dead from gunshots in a "gun-free zone."

32 students dead who had no-one to defend them.

32 dead who had nothing with which to defend themselves.

MikeE says it for me:
Think about this for a minute. All it would have taken was one student or teacher who could have legally owned a firearm to stop this. One bullet. And 32 students would still be alive today. Gun control, and gun free zone laws denied 32 people a right to life.
32 people dead whom the law had disarmed, and whose would-be defenders were disarmed.

UPDATE 1: Eric Olthwaite points out below the tragedy that a year ago a Bill placed before the state legislature to give those students the right to defend themselves was defeated. Details here at the Free Students' blog.
Virginia Tech was famous for being a “gun free zone”. In June of 2005 a student, who had a gun permit, had a firearm on him when he went onto campus. He was disciplined as a result. At that time the governing board of the university approved another policy which made things loud and clear, they would never allow employees or students to carry firearms for self defense. The governing board openly, publicly, loudly, announced to the world they had disarmed every person on the campus.

Every person except, of course, any person who didn’t mind violating the law . . .
Much, much more detail on this at the Free Students' blog.

UPDATE 2: Blair quotes a comment made on the Guardian website (ironically enough) on the many misconceptions around American gun law. It's worth re-quoting.
"As a American and a NRA member let me clarify some of the misconceptions ... about gun laws in the USA. Nobody can purchase a gun without a background check to see if they have a criminal record. For handguns there is a waiting period from the time you purchase it to the time you receive it. It varies by state but between 3 and 14 days is the law. Longguns (rifles/shotguns)have an instant check were you call into the FBI in Washington, DC and they have the final say on if the deal is approved. In many states handguns are registered. Some states its difficult to get a permit for a handgun. Usually easier for a long-gun. There is a "black market" where individuals sell guns to each other without going through a background check. Just as there are with anything that is government regulated. So its not like you can pick up a 9mm Glock with the bubble gum at the local market checkout as some posters have implied.

On a side note.....a couple years ago a local schoolgirl here was found to have a tiny folding pen knife on her person and the school went crazy and tossed her out and everyone made out like she had brought a bomb to class. My father who is 72 commented to me that when he was going to school way back in the 1940s that all the boys had pocket knives and traded them and carved wood at recess and it never ever crossed anyone's mind to stab each other.

To those that think that culture has nothing to do with the violence today should remember that there were never these killings in the 20s,30s,40s,or 50 even though the same just as deadly guns WERE literally available at the checkout of many country stores in the USA. High capacity shotguns and .45 automatic handguns were invented in the early 1900s. Available everywhere. No background check. Just cash and you could carry it out. But there was nothing like the crime commited like there was today. Would stricter gun laws stop it? Perhaps it would in some instances. But one thing is clear, today's tragic events occur at this time in history not because of the easy access to guns but for some other reasons that have not been addressed. Gun control might prevent some crimes but guns simply aren't at the root cause, as history shows that these type of killings are modern in nature and never occured till about 20 years ago despite even easier access to just as deadly weapons." [Emphasis mine]
UPDATE 3: Irony alert here. Following the implementation of Virginia Tech's "gun free zone" policy in June 2005, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker declared he was "happy to hear" the bill allowing licensed students and security guards to arm themselves was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

Safe! As a commenter said here, "So its not just that no one there was able to defend themselves but also that the gunman didn't even have to worry about the possibility." As another commenter noted, "The Universities in the USA would choose to be gun-free zones regardless of the Federal, State, County or City ordinances. Do not forget that the Universities are the nurseries for every left-wing canard, including the idea that you can legislate a 'gun free society' into existence."

Seems you can't. You can legislate guns out of the hands of law-abiding people, but you can't legislation murder weapons out of the hands of outlaws.

UPDATE 4: Here's a list of the most tragic twentieth-century peacetime school killings, in order of atrocity, just so we've got some context, and we're talking from the facts.
One tragedy not on that list is the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in 20o1, in which a disgruntled former student shot and killed three people. The reason the death toll wasn't higher? As the Free Students' blog explains, when students Tracey Bridges and Mikael Gross (an off-duty police officer) heard the shots they immediately ran to their cars to retrieve their handguns locked within, and within minutes the two had him disarmed and restrained.

Fortunately for those whose lives they saved, the Appalachian School of Law had not been declared a "gun free zone."

Nor did the shooting at Pearl High School, Mississippi make the list. Another disgruntled student shot two students when Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, after ret
rieving his handgun from his locked car, stopped him on his way to kill more. Again, the Free Students' blog has details, along more stories where armed resistance put an early stop to wild killing.

: David Weigel at Reason makes an interesting observation:
Reporters take the "too many guns" tack after tragedies like these not because they're liberal, but because it fits so nicely into the "Are your kids next?" formula. Like in the stories about toys that can kill your children, tainted meat that can kill them, and MySpace pages that can kill them, these stories are like fertilizer for factual errors.
Nice idea, but I have haven't heard many arguing, "Unless you arm yourself, then your children will be be next."

Also worth reading, says Weigel, "is Roger Simon's explanation of why reporters are bringing back the gun control debate but the Democrats aren't."

UPDATE 6: Reason's Jacob Sullum notes another of the many knee-jerk responses from people ready to use any tragedy to advance a cause:
The response from Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is ... puzzling. Helmke bemoans "how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country." In what sense are the handguns Cho used, a .22 and a 9mm, especially "powerful"?
And speaking of "using any tragedy to advance a cause," how about that Barack Obama, eh? Less than twenty-four hours after the shooting, and he's already mouthing off:

"There's also another kind of violence that we're going to have to think about. It's not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways," he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of "violence."

There's the "verbal violence" of Imus.

There's "the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country."

What a fuckwit. As Radley Balko says, this
isn't just ignorant, it's exploitative and offensive... Words aren't violence... Jesus. Couldn't the politicians wait a full 48 hours before propping up the dead for campaign speeches?
UPDATE 7: Lubos has news and reflections, and a collage of some of the dead:

UPDATE 8: MikeE posts an account "written by a student at Virginia Tech, who could legally carry a concealed firearm anywhere else but campus - and his thoughts afterwards": Unarmed and Vulnerable is the title. Says Mike (i paraphrase slightly),
This is for everyone who has claimed that it's nuts to think that people should have the right to defend themselves because the police will do it for them -- ignoring the fact that the police have never, in the world's history, stopped a school shooting. What has stopped the shooting is either armed intervention by students or teachers, or the eventual suicide of the gunman.
It's the opposite of 'hit and hope' really, isn't it.

"How has a false threat overtaken a real threat?"

Our friend at the Architecture and Morality blog asks a good question: "How has a false threat (extreme climate change) overtaken a real threat (terrorist states with nuclear capabilities)?"
I am reminded that the first stage of grief is denial. We saw a pretty clear case of denial this week when the House Armed Services Committee banned the phrases “global war on terror,” and “long war.” As the offensive “surge” seems to be working in Iraq ... it seems House Democrats need to deny any ... signs of progress. The best way to do so is to ignore the reality in which we are engaged: a long, global war on terror. It reminds me of the victim in horror movies who repeat lies to themselves over and over for comfort: “He’s gone,” or “It’s going to be okay,” or “It was just a bad dream”, all the while the audience knows a madman with a knife is hiding behind the curtains. So while they are quite literally denying the real war, they are embracing a false one.
He's right, isn't he [read it all in It Was a Long Cold Global War on Terror/Terrorists/Terrorism], but he does make one error: as Yaron Brook points out so tellingly in the panel discussion and article to which I linked on Sunday, the war in which the west is involuntarily engaged is a war against the followers of another world-changing, life-hating ideology, specifically Islamic totalitarianism. In defining the enemy more clearly than the US President has done to date, Brook points out, it becomes clear that the enemy can just as easily be found close to home, as it is he suggests in organisations such as the Council of Islamic Relations.
I wish Bush would take his own rhetoric seriously, [says Brook]because understanding this fact about the killers is crucial to achieving victory in the war. Only when the political aspiration of Islam—the imposition of its religious dogmas by force—has been shown to result in the deaths of Islamists, not their victims, will we be safe. Only when the cause of Islamic totalitarianism has been thoroughly discredited, will victory be achieved.
Islamic totalitarianism is a genuine threat. A real threat. But back to that false threat for a moment, and on this Tim Blair is right on the money with a story he's spotted in The Washington Post:

Young children are easily scared, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the politics of fear peddled by apocalyptic earth doomers. The Washington Post seems to get off on this:

The boy has drawn, in his third-grade class, a global warming timeline that is his equivalent of the mushroom cloud.

"That’s the Earth now,” the 9-year-old says, pointing to a dark shape at the bottom. “And then,” he says, tracing the progressively lighter stripes across the page, “it’s just starting to fade away."

Alex Hendel of Arlington County is talking about the end of life on our beleaguered planet.

What sort of parent would decline to intervene at this point? ... Alex would be in therapy if he’d drawn a graph illustrating the increase in Islamic terrorism and staged a similar “death”.

For many children and young adults, global warming is the atomic bomb of today. Fears of an environmental crisis are defining their generation in ways that the Depression, World War II, Vietnam and the Cold War’s lingering “War Games” etched souls in the 20th century.
At least they’re not bothered by 9/11. Maybe they’ve never been taught about it.Unfortunately, that is entirely possible.
Fake threats are always easier to deal with, aren't they, than confronting the scary reality.

Scottish Parliament Buildings - Enric Miralles

The Scottish Parliament Building, by the late Spanish architect Enric Miralles.

Surprisingly, and delightfully, organic.

RELATED: Architecture

Monday, 16 April 2007

Just say ... what?

What do teens do when adults tell them not to have sex? Answer: Ignore them. The Washington Post reports:
A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration's social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.
Quel surprise. Notes Reason magazine:
The Feds spend $176 million per year on the failed program. Harry Wilson, a top official in the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Post that $176 million:
"is not that much money when it comes to offering an alternative to the other message."
Not that much money? After all, the money is really just symbolic and needn't actually accomplish anything, just so long as it garners votes from religious conservatives.
Oh yes, the old "symbolic spending," where being seen to spend rather than seen to succeed is what counts. But Reason notes something else too that might bring conservatives up short: it's not just teenagers these days who are enjoying pre-marital sex -- God love them -- "a new report, Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954-2003, finds that most Americans have been enjoying premarital sex for a long time." Goodness gracious. We've all been going to hell in a handcart for that long!

Anybody like to suggest either results or stories would be different here in NZ?

LINKS: Some abstinence programs mislead teens, report says - Washington Post
Surprise--Teens Ignore Adults Who Tell Them to Not Have Sex - Reason magazine

Open Letter to Mark Burton: Democracy Rationing

Dear Sir
I heard your recent comments in support of so-called 'Campaign Finance Reform' on The Radio Network. As a New Zealand citizen and taxpayer, I wish to register a differing viewpoint.
This disgusting plan of Labour's to not only help themselves to public money to pay for election campaigning, but also to place restrictions upon personal donations to political parties, is another direct assault on the right to exercise free speech. It should be no business of yours, mine or anybody's as to whom individuals, businesses or organisations choose to support financially. None.
How dare you try to stifle that right.

Further, how dare you use public money, ie our money - not your own, to tell us who to vote for? Do your own damned fundraising - outside the trade union movement.
Don't for a second think that the electorate doesn't realise that Labour is furious because the Opposition raise more funds privately, although God knows why anyone would support them. The Nats are only one step up the Stupidity Ladder from your lot. But I digress. The point is that the choice to fund any political party must remain with the individual or organisation alone.
This Stalinism following hard on the heels of last year's election-spending rort is really too much. Your party has again demonstrated its abject lack of morality.

Susan the Libertarian

Who's Christopher Monckton?

For those who don't know the chap who wants to debate Al Gore (about which debate I've blogged here and here), Lubos Motl has chapter, verse, and links to most of Christopher Monckton's writing on the subject, which is superb -- as Free Radical readers will already know.
[Monckton, left] has ... decided to dedicate a lot of time to a widely discussed "scientific problem" and to look at the evidence behind the popular theory of the so-called "global warming" a bit more carefully... His conclusions more or less mimic the conclusions of a vast majority of those people whom I know and whose IQ exceeds 120, who are able to think critically and apolitically, and who have looked at the technical aspects of this whole set of ideas: the "global warming" paradigm is based on roughly 10 hypotheses about the climate and its interaction with the humankind. For the policies derived from these hypotheses to be wise, more or less all of these hypotheses must be simultaneously satisfied.

However, one half of these hypotheses are almost certainly untrue, one third of them is very unlikely, and the rest is unproven.
Read on for a good summary by Lubos, and if you haven't seen them before, some links to some excellent debunking of the warmist litany by Christopher Monckton.

Too much!

I like this, from Vigesimal Pundit:
"An MSN-Zogby poll says that many Americans think they’re paying too much in taxes even though research shows the average tax burden is light compared with other developed countries."

Interesting. I've also heard that for some reason, paraplegics would like to get the use of their limbs back, even though other people are totally paralyzed from the neck down.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Beta to Zeta

Blogger has just peremptorily changed this blog to the Beta version, and a few things have disappeared, including the 'Recent Comments' field that used to be conveniently down the right of the page. I have no idea if I can retrieve it or not. Stay tuned.

: I've retrieved all the comments going back to Friday, and manually pasted them in. Let me know if I've missed any from before that you found particularly useful, or wanted to reply to.

Totalitarian Islam's Threat to the West - online panel discussion

"From the Iranian hostage crisis to September 11 to the London subway attacks to the Iraqi insurgency—it is clear the West faces a grave threat from a committed enemy. Conventional wisdom holds that the enemy is a rogue group of fanatics, who have hijacked a great religion in order to justify their crimes. It tells us there is no way to permanently eliminate these violent groups, that we have entered an "age of terror" and that we must give up the desire for a decisive victory.

"But is the conventional wisdom right?"An expert panel discussion at UCLA titled "Totalitarian Islam's Threat to the West," examined the question, and came back with a very firm answer. Watch Daniel Pipes, Wafa Sultan and Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute "provide new and illuminating answers to the most important questions of our time: Is the West ready to concede victory so easily? Are the terrorists a fringe group of fanatics, or are they part of a much wider ideological movement? What threat do they pose to the West? What can the West do to ensure victory? Is peace possible?"

The video of the event is here. Naturally, any such event attracts protest, but this time they failed to shut the event down. Coverage of the panel discussion and the protest is at LGF, Infidels are Cool, and Student of Objectivism. [Hat tip Thrutch]

UPDATE: Overwhelming interest in this presentation has the video server at full capacity. If you are having trouble (and it's working fine as I type this), then keep patient, and maybe bookmark the link and come back later when most of America is asleep.

UPDATE 2: Yaron Brook's article in the latest issue of The Objective Standard,
The “Forward Strategy” for Failure, "examines the Bush administration’s so-called war strategy and shows that its manifest failure is a consequence not of good ideas poorly implemented, but of the morally corrupt ideas motivating the administration." [Note, this article has been made accessible to both subscribers and non-subscribers.] It's backed up by several seriously good analyses along similar lines, many of which have also been made available to non-subscribers.
RELATED: War, World Politics, Religion, Objectivism

Does anyone need another libertarian straw man?

There are so many straw men flung at libertarians that we must almost be eligible for some sort of agricultural subsidy. (This, in case you missed it, is irony) Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata and some of the Samizda commentariat have between them collected up some of the most common (some of which came verbatim from this Guardian comments section):

  • Free marketeers do not believe in law and rules of any kind.
  • If you are a skeptic about global warming and other alleged environmental terrors, you care nothing for future generations and might also be in the pay of Big Oil.
  • Libertarians believe in the idea that humans are born with a mental "blank slate" and hence pay no heed to inherited characteristics of any kind.
  • For capitalism to work successfully, everybody has to be obsessed with making money all the time.
  • Capitalism can only survive in an expanding economy.
  • Libertarians are uninterested in preserving certain old traditions and cultures.
  • Libertarians tend to be loners and discount the importance of community life.
  • If you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear from a state-sponsored identity card.
  • By opposing state ownership, libertarians are taking things away from people - education, healthcare, food from their mouths etc.
  • Libertarians talk as if every family lived on its own forty acres, and that everyone is more or less an equal player.
  • Libertarianism ignores the collective power of modern corporate capitalism.
  • Libertarianism is fantasy. The world needs pragmatic political and economic thought, not some deeply rationalist philosophy that has never, and will never, reflect the reality of the world we live in.
  • Both Marxist and libertarian may congratulate themselves on their superior and enlightened understanding of how society ought to be run...
  • ...It's a case of 'every man for himself', and devil take the hindmost...
  • An easy example of market failure in this regard is homeopathy ... yet the stuff still sells. This is is not rational behaviour.
  • Libertarians deny human nature ... in the Libertarian fantasy, once Libertarianism is brought about ... everything with go swimmingly.
  • The problem with economic libertarianism, is that it has to repress the human instinct to organise into collectives.
  • Libertarians would prefer to revert to a state where hired help was cheap and the person
    cleaning the street lived in a slum and had a life expectancy of 35.
  • Libertarians evidently want a pure abstract system where people make choices purely based on me me me.
  • Libertarians are all selfish bastards who want to see people dying in the street
  • Libertarianism lauds union-busting,but ignores the power of corporate collectivism.
  • The market was created and is sustained by 'government intervention'.
  • You don't believe in public education? You must want everyone to be uneducated!
  • A Libertarian is just a dumb conservative who wants to be able to do drugs and cheat on their wives without feeling guilty.

More straw men there than a thousand-acre field in Kansas. Read rebuttals of most of those canards here in the original post and the comments thread, and feel free to post any others in the comments below.

Sunday morning hymn: 'All things scabbed and ulcerous'

A hymn this bright Sunday morning from the pen of Eric Idle, sung to the tune of ... well, it should be obvious enough:

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot

Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings

All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid--
Who made the spikey urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.

UPDATE: Speaking of God's beautiful creatures, the Creation Science Academy for Kids presents a short run down of God's Beatiful Creatures.
It is a beautiful universe that God has created for us and today we will take you on an adventure of learning. Some of these creatures are so strange that only someone as wise and almighty as God could have imagined them! Creatures like the Boto, the Candiru Fish, Arthropleura, and dof course the wonderful Giardia bacterium.
All part of 'God's great plan,' eh?

Bring on the nubiles!

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Weekend ramble, April 14

Another weekend ramble through sites and sounds worthy of a weekend's worth of exploration.
  • As Marcus says, some good news from the (UK) Daily Telegraph -- there's one British Tory who's not all pink:
    David Cameron has embraced the environmental agenda with greater ardour than any other political leader, even inviting Al Gore to address the shadow cabinet recently, after publicly lauding his film, An Inconvenient Truth.
    But one outspoken Tory, MEP Roger Helmer, is eager to distinguish himself from the rest.
    Helmer has organised a "counter-consensual climate conference" in
    Brussels next week, which will see former chancellor Lord Lawson head a line-up of sceptics, including the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming.
    "Many climatologists reject the alarmist scenario, and there have been disgraceful efforts by the establishment to silence the dissenters," Helmer
    tells Spy. "I've decided to organise the conference to give a platform to the
    other side of the issue. David Cameron wants us to put an extra focus on the
    environment and I'm delighted to help in that process."
    And Gore's Oscar-winning documentary certainly won't be showing. "The event will be followed by a screening of the recent Channel 4 film, The Great Global Warming Swindle."
  • "This year marks the 100th anniversary of science fiction writer Robert Heinlein's birth. His hometown of Kansas City is marking the occasion with special events." reports End of the Universe. "Even though he's been dead for nearly two decades, he continues to cast a long shadow on the science fiction field. Which Heinlein book are you going to read to celebrate the centennial?"

  • And on Lord Bore of Nashville's forthcoming 24-hour smugfest, Rob Lyons says, don't do it! Live Earth: Change the Record.
    If you weren’t feeling patronised enough by Live 8, the freebie gig in 2005 that called on G8 politicians to cancel Third World debt (which they were planning to do anyway), Live Earth might really tip you over the edge.
  • Tyler Cowen records something to remember about the Chinese economic miracle:
    ...of the 3,220 Chinese citizens with a personal wealth of 100 million yuan ($13
    million) or more, 2,932 are children of high-level cadres. Of the key positions
    in the five industrial sectors - finance, foreign trade, land dev
    large-scale engineering and securities - 85% to 90% are held by children of
    high-level cadres.
    As Samizdata comments, "These filial links between the commanding heights of China's supposedly private sector and its government betray the fact that China Inc. is [still] the unholy alliance of a dictatorial regime and the application of corrupted 'free' market ideals." At some stage the tension between the two will out, but with what consequences?

  • For those who find it hard to keep up with how to avoid offending the easily offended and the politically correct (but I repeat myself), here's a how-to guide to either offend or to avoid offending: A Politically Correct Lexicon.

  • Let's sing the praises of the internal combustion engine. In fact, says Dwight Lee,
    All environmentalists should be singing the praises of the internal combustion engine (ICE) instead of damning it for polluting the environment. The environmental advantages of the internal combustion engine have been obvious for a long time.
    Join him in his praise at TechCentralStation's Our Green ICE Age.
  • Architects Christopher Wren and Frank Lloyd Wright both liked to play jokes on clients, and it turns out they even played similar jokes, this one by Wren on the Windsor councillors. Can anyone tell us on which Wright building he played a similar joke with his client?

  • Better Living Through Lefty Activism. Well that's the title of this short video at any rate ...

  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism promises "to give [anti-capitalists] an in-your-face economics education that they won't forget — ever." Buy a copy for an anti-capitalist friend today.

  • Tom Beard has news about developer Terry Serepisos' plans for the tallest building in Wellington. Says Tom
    At least you can't accuse him of developing boring buildings. While the later stages of the Century City development on Tory St and the "explosion in a bling factory" planned for Dixon and Victoria streets may be the visual equivalent of a hyperactive kid force-fed with food colouring and party pills, at least they're not the grey envelope-filling cuboids currently being extruded all over Taranaki St like so many rectilinear turds.
    And he throws down a gauntlet: "In fact, and I hope none of my architect friends take offence at this, I can't really think of any New Zealand architects that I could imagine designing a truly exciting 40-50 storey skyscraper..." Any offence taken?

  • For those like me with a taste for hard-core Objectivism, the news that the archives of Stephen Boydstun's Objectivity magazine is now all online is something to sing and shout about. There is some seriously good stuff in here on science and mathematics, value and metaphysics, Aristotelianism and Newtonian physics, and from everyone from Stephen Hicks to Tibor Machan to Ronald Merrill to Michael Huemer. A great resource -- noe making it worth buying another ink cartridge for your printer.

  • Thomas Jefferson’s birthday was earlier this week. Historian David Mayer remembers Thomas Jefferson. Here are the official White House biography, the website for Jefferson’s home at Monticello, and Genevieve LaGreca’s toast to Jefferson’s achievements. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

  • What’s Wrong With Contemporary Philosophy. Answer: Lots.

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali always gives good interview. Here she is again in good combative style in Guernica magazine.

    Guernica: It seems when you talk about Islam, it's not your style to say things in a gentle way...
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I'm the gentlest of them all, honestly. (laughing)

    Oh yeah, she does irony very well too. :-)

  • Roger Kerr writes on 'The Lever of Riches,' and how we NZers aren't really getting any of it.
    Productivity, described by American economist Joel Mokyr as the “lever of riches”, is a hot topic these days, and rightly so: it's the single most important contributor to reducing poverty, increasing leisure time and meeting health, education, environmental and cultural needs.

    That's why New Zealanders should react with alarm to the news last week that the rate of growth in labour productivity (that's the amount of goods and services produced from each hour of a worker's time) was the lowest on record.
    Read on here to find out what's been going wrong.

  • We may not be as productive as we should be, but boy do we have plenty of commissioners to nanny us. Zen Tiger has some slightly tongue in cheek news of new plans to protect our commissioners in Leaving No Commissioner Behind. After all, when you have Children's Commissioner and would-be uber-Nanny Cindy Kiro as a model, then almost everything is possible.

  • Speaking of children and of nanny, Tessa Mayes reports here on how the British government is recruiting children to spy on and ‘re-educate’ the adult population. Kiro et al will no doubt be taking notes. What's Worse Than Big Brother? Little Brother.

  • The ever prolific Tibor Machan explains how to become more prolific yourself: Don't procrastinate. Tibor has tips too on how to overcome your own procrastination, in Remedying Procrastination. Watching Tibor duck out of a conversation a few years ago to use a friend's computer to produce an article on an idea produced in that conversation made me realise just how simple it is to become prolific: it can be as simple as ignoring the calls to Manana. If it worked for Tibor, it can work for you too.

  • Here's an oldie on old Ken Ring's moon madness, a three-parter by Bill Keir from the Auckland Astronomical Society. Good reading.

  • As should have been obvious, Iran's capture and subsequent release of British seamen and marines was a trial balloon that told them much about British and American resolve in the face of piracy. There isn't any. Says Charles Krauthammer,
    Iran has pulled off a tidy little success with its seizure and subsequent release of those 15 British sailors and marines: a pointed humiliation of Britain, with a bonus demonstration of Iran's intention to push back against coalition challenges to its assets in Iraq. All with total impunity. Further, it exposed the utter futility of all those transnational institutions -- most prominently the European Union and the U.N. -- that pretend to maintain international order. You would think maintaining international order means, at a minimum, challenging acts of piracy. No challenge here. Instead, a quiet capitulation.
    See Krauthammer's Britain's Humiliation - and Europe's.

  • Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill has a similar comment: "What is Britain’s role in the world today? Judging from the Iranian captives saga, it is to play the victim." See A Lean, Mean Victim-Making Machine.

  • Based on her reading of Charles Freeman's The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason, Diana Hsieh reflects on how christianity demands one substitute blind obedience for clear-headed moral responsibility.
    Toward the end of the chapter on "The Ascetic Odyssey," Freeman observes that "one can never know whether one is truly saved" in Christianity because "there is no way to judge objectively just how guilty one is in the eyes of God." Consequently, "the only true way to secure a rest from tension on earth is to escape completely from the exercise of moral responsibility; here the 'virtue' of obedience becomes crucial."
    Just another reason to abjure religionists from the field of morality, I'd suggest.

  • On that issue, and relevant to the recent discussions here on christianity and the Dark Ages, Andrew Bernstein has a brilliant full-length review of Rodney Stark's book The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Says Bernstein,
    This book, and others like it—along with their admiring treatment by the mainstream liberal press—are signs of the resurgence of Christianity in America. This is all the more frightening because the arguments are being delivered and embraced at an intellectual, not merely a grassroots, level. If such arguments were sound, their growing acceptance among contemporary intellectuals would present no problem; but, as will be shown, this pro-religion thesis, although convincing to some, is egregiously and provably mistaken.
    Bernstein then proceeds to masterfully prove the mistakes in Stark's thesis. As always with articles at The Objective Standard, the full article is available only to subscribers (but as I've said before subscription really is worth every penny) -- you can get the flavour of Bernstein's full review in the opening paragraphs, and also in his reply to two letters on his article in a subsequent issue. See The Tragedy of Theology: How Religion Caused and Extended the Dark Ages, and Letters to the Editor, Spring Edition.
    Why, you ask, did medieval Europeans embrace Aristotle and the Greeks? More broadly, why is Western culture, despite all its flaws, more committed to reason than is any other culture?
    Read on to discover his answer.

  • "America is the Nation of the Enlightenment." Philosopher David Kelly explains what that statement means, and points out who the philosophical enemies are.

  • "Why so gloomy about global warming?" asks scientist Richard Lindzen. "A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now." See Lindzen in Newsweek: 'Why So Gloomy? Learning to Live With Global Warming.'

  • Far from being a libertarian hero as Tim Wikiriwhi has claimed, Frank Bainimarama is driving a truck through Fiji's constitution. Idiot/Savant considers its prospects for restitution in Fiji: Demolishing the Constitution.

  • And finally, what does Nairobi's plastic bag problem tell us about property rights, and the lack thereof? Says Greg Rehmke, an awful lot. "Sometime symptoms are confused with the disease that causes them. Litter is one such symptom often confused with an economic disease." See Nairobi's Plastic Bags Are Barking.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Beer O'Clock: Martini (again)

No Beer O'Clock posts from our resident experts this evening, so I'll update an earlier post with my own drink of choice for tonight...

After lengthy research, and many repetitions of that research, I have much pleasure in announcing that I can now reveal the recipe for the perfect martini. It exists, it is real, it can be yours!

The perfect martini (recognising of course that the way to make the perfect martini is hotly disputed) is made with vodka, not gin -- gin is for the English -- and is made with the best vodka you can either buy or bludge, or cadge from someone who has just come through Duty Free . Absolut and Stolichnaya are good choices. Smirnoff is adequate. And yes, the martini must be shaken, not stirred (can I hear some mumbling at the back from the purists?)

Now take your shaker and fill it with crushed ice. Let it sit for a second as you prepare three glasses (you just can't drink a martini alone); into each put an olive, a cocktail onion and about a teaspoon of brine from either olive or onion. Toothpicks are good, and give you some sport while drinking (and you can always judge a drinker by how they dispose of their toothpick).

Now, accuracy is important at this point: pour over the ice in the shaker nine measures of frozen vodka straight from the freezer and two measures of extra dry vermouth. Shake vigorously, pour into the glassware and enjoy its clear oiliness as it fills the glass.

The ideal serving accompaniments are at least one friend, and the Benny Goodman Small Groups CD on your player. The Breakfast at Tiffany's soundtrack is an acceptable alternative. Serge Gainsborough if you must.

I'll leave you with this brief thought, from writer Dorothy Parker:
I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most,
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under the host!
Cheers, PC

So Kurt goes

Kurt Vonnegut is dead. The author of Player Piano and Harrison Bergeron and Slaughterhouse Five is dead. Mark for one is not mourning his passing:
Gee, everyone is all boohooing about Vonnegut's death. I guess I might as well be the one to piss in their cornflakes.

Vonnegut was a brilliant author. I read practically everything he wrote. He was fucking brilliant. Then he went and pulled this crap out of his ass lauding suicide bombers ["I regard them as very brave people," said Kurt]

Don't let the door to Hell hit you in the ass on the way in, Kurt.

So it goes.

Riding crop woman, in her own words

As I've said here before, those unable to distnguish between smacking and beating should be abjured from comment on the question, and should certainly not be seeking to pass laws limiting those who do know the difference.

Case in point: the woman who used a riding crop on her son -- the woman pilloried by Lynne Pillay, Sue Bradford, Helen Clark and numerous other people who should have known better as a "child beater" -- explains the difference herself, in her own words, in her own case, and points out that none of the many commenters who have used her case for political effect can lie straight in bed; and she points out too that three years later (in a foreshadowing of what is to come should Bradford's Bill ever be successful) CYFS are still holding her son hostage.

Three years! Even the Iranians let their hostages out sooner than that. You can see the YouTube video here, at the Family Integrity site.

UPDATE: The woman and her partner appeared in court today on two charges of assault and intent to injure, in relation to an incident involving another son. Stuff has a court report here. I have to say that I can only agree with Russell:
What kind of denial do you have to be in, when you make a video statement like
this and have it released on the same day as a court appearance where you know
there will be an account given that you and your husband punched, slapped,
kicked in the kidneys and hogtied your teenage son, who was prevented from
calling his birth father for help and escaped only by running in front of a
passing car?
But does this son's alleged beating change the basic point above?

TVNZ cuts staff -- standards already cut to the bone

Hands up all those who still get their main news from the 6 O'Clock News? And hands up all those who've been involved in something that's been reported on TV news, and found it an accurate portrayal of events? Hmm, not many hands in the air, are there.

So why all the crocodile tears then at the shedding by TVNZ of so many of their 'news' team? These people don't deliver news. They haven't been delivering news for so long, I suspect they've forgotten what it looks like.

At best they deliver reports that are a toothy once-over-lightly with occasional cuts to out-of-context (and often unexplained) images; at worst we are delivered the sort of braindead crud we saw at the height of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, when what looked like the winner of a Weet Bix competition found herself thrust in front of a camera in Tel Aviv without any discernible knowledge of why or how either she or Hezbollah's rockets were there; or the Fijian coup, when instead of real analysis -- or even decent accounts of what was happening to allow some real analyisis to take place --we saw moving pictures each night LIVE FROM FIJI of highly paid morons doing little more than interviewing each other about how many drinks they'd had at their hotel bar, and how many trucks they'd seen driving past while drinking them.

As in-depth journalism, this just isn't worth the name. Their loss is no loss.

The Sunday programme for example, which loses five people, has been tabloid so long it ranks more as infotainment than news; the Breakfast 'News' is more valuable for overnight overseas reports than it is for the sports reporter and weather girl who are being stood down - fewer staff standing around in a small studio will only improve things; most live cuts to on-the-spot journalists in the 'news' hour see viewers greeted not with real news but usually with the smiling inanity of a braindead recent broadcasting school journalist, to whom the finer points of how the world works (to say nothing of the English language) are clearly a complete mystery. News, it ain't.

Fifty-nine jobs are being cut across TVNZ's news and current affairs department? I'll wager the result will be barely noticeable, and certainly no less dire than before. How can you have a drop in standards when they are already so appallingly low.

Religion rejects the values of the west

Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute gives about as brief a review of the Pope's forthcoming book as it deserves. Since it's germane to a current discussion here, I'll post the review in its entirety:

In his forthcoming book, the Pope claims that the West, in its pursuit of earthly prosperity, has "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions. "We see how our lifestyle, the history that involved us, has stripped them naked and continues to strip them naked," he writes.

"Contrary to the Pope's statements, the Third World is not impoverished because of Western 'exploitation,'" said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand
Institute. "It is impoverished precisely because it has failed to embrace Western ideals--the very ideals rejected by Christianity.

"The root of the West's prosperity is its distinctive values of reason, science, and capitalism. Rational minds, free to pursue material prosperity, have produced an
explosion of wealth and technology--from electricity to automobiles, from medicines to personal computers--that has improved our lives and extended our lifespan.

"It is obvious that the third world has failed to embrace these values, and has instead remained mired in mysticism and tribalism. But Christianity rejects them as well; it teaches us to scorn science and earthly success in favor of prayer and religious asceticism. As Jesus counseled his followers, 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.' It is bizarre to suggest that the solution to the third world's rampant poverty is a philosophy that idealizes poverty.

"In rejecting the preconditions and goal of prosperity, the Pope makes it clear that his aim is not to see the Third World advance--it is to condemn the West for its commitment to improving and enjoying life on this earth.

"Those who desire better lives for themselves and their families should reject the Pope's immoral message and embrace the values of reason and freedom."

Beth Sholom Synagogue - Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom Synagogue, one of three Wright buildings recently declared national historic landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior. (The other two are LA's Hollyhock House, and the Bartlesville Tower in Oklahoma, Wright's only built skyscraper -- what he called "the tree that escaped the crowded forest.") Says J.H Delmar's Wright site of the 1954 synagogue, designed some fifty years after Wright's first temple,

Wright described the building as a "luminous Mount Sinai", and the structural and decorative elements of the building were designed to reinforce its relationship to Jewish ceremony and events of the Jewish faith. It is said that the sanctuary of Beth Sholom Synagogue demonstrates Wright's "unmatched capacity to translate ritual into space and experience."

RELATED: Architecture

Thursday, 12 April 2007

"The one great principle of law is to make business for itself."

I read Cactus' over-enthusiastic encomium to headbanger Paul Grimshaw (a lawyer of the old school finding fortune in a new one, and lauded for it by another lawyer of a stripe sometimes less sinister) and my thoughts turned immediately to the case in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and to Charles Dickens' telling descriptions in Bleak House of the ongoing enervation of that interminable case, of the lawyers who peck away at their clients in Jarndyce -- Grimshaw himself seems to me a 'Vholes,' a lawyer whom Dickens describes "always looking at the client as if he were making a lingering meal of him with his eyes as well as his professional appetite" -- and of English law itelf. The most telling is this:
The one great principle of English law is to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.
Spot on. Mencken would have approved. Selling the bones of people like this to a mah-jong factory would almost be too good for them.

RELATED: Law, Quotes

What about the rhyme scheme?

Black New York city councillor wants to ban the 'N' word, wants to take it out of use permanently.

Two comedians visit him to take the piss. Hilarity ensues. City councillor doesn't seem to notice; stick too far up his arse. Video here at You Tube.

Al Bore infects opera!

Oh crikey ... Al Bore is now infecting opera, and my beloved Wagner to boot! Ed Hudgins has the dastardly news.

UPDATE: A challenge has been offered, a gauntlet thrown down, and a petition has been started. As reported here previously, Christopher Monckton (whom Free Radical and Not PC readers will recognise) has challenged Lord Bore of Nashville to a debate, and a petition (below) has now been started to bring the Bore to the table.

Add your signature now!
To: Al Gore

Mr. Gore,

Numerous scientists claim that the global warming experienced in the 20th century has nothing to do with man-made carbon dioxide, as you claim. Their arguments are compelling, and a debate would allow you to address these issues and prove that your arguments are based on science, rather than politics.

On March 14, 2007 Lord Monckton of Brenchley challenged you to debate your position on global warming, but your refusal only strengthens their position. We urge you to debate Lord Monckton of Brenchley, or otherwise admit that the causal link between man and global warming is spurious.

The Undersigned

A christian nation?

What's the basis of western civilization? A commenter here at Not PC suggested that religion, specifically christian religion is the foundation for western civilisation.

Now that's a widespread view to be sure, and one that is totally wrong.

As I said in response on that thread, "I suspect the Classical Greeks might raise some objections to the proposition, as might several historians of both the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment" -- and I do intend to follow up those points sometime very soon. I'll just say briefly now that if the basis of western civilisation can be described as a focus on reason, individualism and happiness on this earth -- ideas that were a product not of theologians but of Classical Greeks, ideas which were fortunately rediscovered for the west in the Renaissance -- then far from being any sort of foundation for these ideas, christian religion is at odds with all of them. More below.

Now, my commenter suggested that as partial proof of his thesis the praiseworthy observation that the US,
a heavily Christian country ... produced 173,771 patents in 2006. Check all Islamic countries since 1700 and you might get 1000.
While this certainly reveals something, I'm afraid it doesn't prove anything like what my interlocutor would like it to prove. It's certainly true that theocracy -- any theocracy -- is bad for free-wheeling scientific research, and it's equally true that religion -- any religion -- is a hindrance rather than a help to scientific research. (Faith and mysticism are not handmaidens to truth, but they are the twin handmaidens of religion, so-called shortcuts to knowledge that are nothing but short-circuits destroying the mind, and destroying science if we would let them.)

The reason for the disparity in those quoted figures is not because there are different religions in the US and in Islamic countries, it is because the influence of religion is far less and far less all-pervasive in the US than it is in the Islamic theocracies. The separation of religion and state was well done by America's Founders.

It might be argued here that in fact the US was founded as a christian country. Well, it wasn't. The Founding Fathers never intended that. John Adams himself declared,
The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.
You can't get too much more of a blunt declaration than that. America's revolution was founded upon a declaration of human freedom, a declaration of rights, and as Thomas Jefferson explained (and he would know)"
Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than on our opinions in physics and geometry....
So declared Thomas Jefferson. The US was not a nation founded on religion, it was a Nation of the Enlightenment, that proud era in human affairs that represented an overthrow of religion and a renaissance of reason. [More quotes in this vein here, courtesy of the Ayn Rand Institute] If religion is anything to America, argues philosopher Leonard Peikoff, it is a threat, not a foundation.

What did religion bring to history? Founding Father James Madison has the summary:
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise....During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
Ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution. They do not describe western civilisation, but they do describe the Dark Ages to a 'T', those centuries over which the christian church so dolefully presided -- and they describe too the present-day Islamic theocracies -- but of western civilisation those words are at odds; the leitmotifs of western civilisation are not ignorance, superstition, bigotry and persecution, but their polar opposites: reason, freedom and individualism.

We got these beneficient ideas from the Greeks. But we had to shake off centuries of religion to rediscover them.

LINKS: Murdering tall poppies - that's what Easter is all about - Not PC
The Founding Fathers on religion - Ayn Rand Institute
Religion vs. America - Leonard Peikoff

RELATED: Religion, Ethics, History

Popular PC

  1. "Fuck you"
  2. Murdering tall poppies -- that's what Easter is about
  3. Frank Lloyd Wright - Broadacre City
  4. Bob Carter Dangerous Climate
  5. More pics from Wellington's anti-anti-smacking rally
  6. There's nothing sadder
  7. Debating Al Bore
  8. New Zealand? Or Fiji?
  9. Stephen Speicher, 1939-2007
  10. Nature unveiling herself - Louis Barrias
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  2. wright columbia broadacre
  3. peter rabbit tank killer
  4. images of female soldiers
  5. quantum
  6. the great global warming swindle
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  8. becky wants to knock her school down
  9. libertarian sustainability
  10. evening: fall of day

1, Auckland; 2, Sydney; 3, Wellington; 4, Christchurch; 5, Palmerston North; 6, Ithaca, New York; 7, New York; 8, Zurich; 9, Hong Kong; 10, Calgary, Alberta.

Zarathustra - Peter Schipperheyn

Sculptor Peter Schipperheyn began with the image of the open hand and the clenched fist, and twenty years later that image became this monumental sculpture for a Melbourne sculpture garden of Nietzsche's hero, Zarathustra. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks] Says the sculptor:
The concept of dualism, of the eternal struggle between the forces of light and dark between good and evil, "He was wise enough to recognize that all the motives of human beings are based on action and reaction" I thought that is it I have found the spiritual significance of the clenched fist and the open hand gesture that I had dreamed all those years ago, it meshed entirely in my mind with what I was trying to express.
RELATED: Art, Sculpture

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Darnton slams democracy rationing, and challenges other party leaders

Libertarianz leader and former pledge card litigant Bernard Darnton today criticised Labour's political party funding plans, calling them an attempt to ration democracy, and slammed the proposal to limit free speech during elections...
Darnton confirmed that Libertarianz would turn down any money offered under the scheme, and urged the leaders of other parties to do the same. "This scheme is intended to entrench Labour's theft of the last election. Others would do well to think hard before stooping to their level.
"Worse than the plans to put political parties on welfare are Labour's plans to limit free speech during elections," Darnton claimed.

"The plans to curtail third party spending, with an exemption designed for the unions, combined with the attempts to shut down National's main funding sources, and recent threats to charities who get involved in politics all look like steps down the road to a one-party state.

"Labour is simply trying to ration democracy, reserving the biggest share for itself, and Libertarianz wants nothing to do with it."
Excellent. I look forward to equally clear statements from other party leaders that they won't be taking money under this frontal attack on democracy, and from National (if they come to power) that they will repeal this outrageous assault if passed. Story here at Newswire.

Code Blogger

A code of conduct for bloggers? The recent Kathy Sierra case has kicked off a move by Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales to propose a Bloggers' Code of Conduct, and a thoughtful review of the move (and the Code) from Russell Brown. I generally agree in the end with Russell's own conclusions on implementing such a code on his own site, that is on not applying such an explicit code.
I reserve the right to intervene, to delete or censor posts, or strike off user accounts. Without apology. It's my site and I know what kind of environment I want it to be. I'm just not sure I need to sign up to a highly procedural "code of conduct" to assert that right.
As I've said here before, I'm all in favour of passionate debate and acerbic commentary, just as long as it's backed up with reason -- which rule I like to think I follow myself. When comments fail that basic test, then deleting deranged nonsense from the comments section is not censorship -- freedom of speech does not require that one provide the unhinged with a microphone -- it is simply asking the deranged to move along. Equally, implementing a 'Code' should hardly be necessary to let people know in advance what is and isn't likely to be considered deranged. Or should it?

"Hey mum, I'm an atheist."

A hilarious short You Tube video is posted at Richard Dawkins' site: A son tells his Catholic mother he's an atheist, and records it. "You cannot become an atheist OVERNIGHT," screams the mother. Really? Surely all it takes is an ounce of thought.

RELATED: Religion

New Zealand, or Fiji?

Is this New Zealand? Or perhaps Fiji? Notes the Herald's Audrey Young this morning on the Clark Government's plans for democracy rationing:
Labour wants to allow police to raid political party offices to gather evidence of breaches of its planned election spending laws.
As Lucyna says, "You can almost hear the jack-boots already."

The Herald's own editorial draws a lesson for the Clark Government that it "has not learned very much from its public lashing last year over election spending." Highly ironic then that a raid on Heather Simpson's office just days before the last election would have revealed her own run around the election spending laws on behalf of the Clark Government.

Where, oh where, are the left liberals who still truly value democracy?

LINKS: Police could raid political offices in election spending plan - Audrey Young, Herald
Pass the hat, and reject the handout - Herald editorial

RELATED: NZ Politics, Labour, Free Speech, Darnton V Clark

Bob Carter: A dangerous climate

The (UK) Sunday Telegraph has another fine piece from Professor Bob Carter on the latest scare report to surf the media waves.
The latest IPCC report, published on Friday [and issued yesterday in NZ], is the most alarming yet: not for its claims of human-caused global warming, writes leading environmental scientist Bob Carter, but for its lack of scientific rigour.
Graph shows the satellite record for the 1979-2006 period, "the very period that human carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing rapidly. "
We do not read about natural climate change in the everyday news. Instead, newspapers, radio and television stations bludgeon us with a merciless stream of human-caused global-warming alarmism, egged on by a self-interested gaggle of journalists, environmental lobbyists, scientific and business groups, church leaders and politicians, all of whom preach that we must "stop climate change" by reducing human CO2 emissions.

The body from which most of these groups get their information is the [UN's] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is also the organisation that advises national governments. The IPCC has issued three substantial statements, the First (1990), Second (1995) and Third (2001) Assessment Reports, each of which incorporates the research and opinions of many hundreds of qualified scientists. Its 20-chapter, 1,572-page Fourth Assessment Report was released on Friday. The full reports are detailed and compendious, and each is therefore accompanied by a short chapter termed a Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that is designed for political application.

Many distinguished scientists refuse to participate in the IPCC process, and others have resigned from it, because in the end the advice that the panel provides to governments is political and not scientific. Although at least -$50 billion has been spent on climate research, the science arguments for a dangerous human influence on global warming have, if anything, become weaker since the establishment of the IPCC in 1988.

Yet the rhetoric of IPCC alarm has been successively ramped up, from "the observed [20th-century temperature] increase could be largely due to\u2026 natural variability" (1990); to "the balance of the evidence suggests a discernible human influence on climate" (1995): to "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities" (2001); to it is "90 per cent probable" that the recent warming is "due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations" (2007). What can the evidence be for these increasingly dramatic warnings?
What can the evidence be? Carter runs his rule over the three main lines of argument in The Dangerous Climate, and finds them all wanting.

UPDATE: You can hear Bob Carter "hosing down the doomsdayers" on John Laws' radio show last Friday. Audio here.

RELATED: Global Warming, World Politics

Nature Unveiling Herself - Louis Barrias

Nature Unveiling Herself - Louis Barrias

RELATED: Art, Sculpture