Monday, 7 May 2007

Under the cursor...

A neat animation here demonstrates how your computer's cursor works. It's a bit like the way a friend's father always insisted that cash machines work...

What a victory!

Something to celebrate for Geelong fans: one of the biggest victories in AFL history -- a record-breaking 157 point thrashing of Richmond.

In a remarkable blitz of sustained high scoring, the Cats booted 10 goals in the first quarter, 10 in the second, nine in the third and six in the last.

They won 35.12 (222) to 9.11 (65), the margin the equal 11th-highest in league history and their total the equal eighth-highest in 111 years.

Geelong's total fell just 17 points short of the highest score in league history, when the Cats of 1992 kicked 37.17 (239) against Brisbane.

You can see highlights here, and (if you fiddle with your browser) the marks of the round here: AFL Video: Best Marks Round 6 .

Why gangs? Why shooters? The answer, my friend, is blowing through the schools.

After the events of the weekend -- youth violence, party mayhem, gang shootings -- people are asking questions: "Why do people join gangs?" "How do we put a stop to them?" "What makes someone drive through a crowd of young people with the intent to kill?" and "What the hell is happening to this country?"

The answer to the second question is simple enough: If you want to stop the rise and rise of gangs, then stop giving them an income stream. Stop giving them money. As any student of history can tell you, prohibition plays into the hands of gangsters. We've done the same thing here, and too few seem to want to recognise that.

Why do people join gangs? What makes someone drive through a crowd of young people with the intent to kill? I think the answer to both is the same, and to demonstrate the answer, let me tell you about young Katelynn Johnson (right), a student at Virginia Tech -- a 'Hokie' as they call themselves -- who had a rather enlightening reaction to a monument for the 32 dead 'Hokies' in the Virginia Tech shooting. This martyr to worthiness added a 33rd stone (to the monument, not to her weight). The 33rd stone, she explained, "was meant for the shooter."
When there was an outcry and someone removed the 33rd stone, this was Johnson's reaction:
"'To see this community turn on one of its own no matter what he did is heartbreaking to me,' Johnson said. 'If we're a community, we're a community. If we're a family, we're a family. You can't pick and choose your family.'

"'We lost 33 Hokies that day, not 32,' she wrote. 'Who am I to judge who has value and who doesn't? I am not in that position. Are you?'"
Well, I can say with certainty: "Yes, I am!" But Johnson, who is the very model of Progressive education, cannot. For her, as blogger Rob Tarr noted, her identification with the collective as a primary trumps everything; as does her complete inability and unwillingness to make any moral judgements whatsoever.

Johnson is a perfect product of modern Progressive education, in which moral relativism and socialisation -- ie., identification with the collective -- are taught almost from birth as values that trump everything. As Glenn Woiceshyn explained after the Jonesboro shooting, Progressive education is "Socializing Students for Anarchy":

According to the founder [of Progressive education], John Dewey, "The school is primarily a social institution," whose central purpose is not "science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography . . . but the child's own social activities." Our schools certainly embrace both parts of this doctrine: teachers now attend to the child's "social" needs as devoutly as they dismiss his intellectual ones. Why, then, is social conflict--rather than social harmony--escalating?

The answer is: precisely because of this doctrine.

The Progressive philosophy maintains that the cause of social strife is the unwillingness of an individual to sacrifice his convictions to the group. Dewey maintained that it is the insistence on distinctions such as "true versus false" and "right versus wrong" that generates social conflict. If only children did not hold strong ideas, disagreement and conflict would evaporate in the sunshine of social harmony. Truth, therefore, is socially fractious--while ignorance is bliss.

Hence, what the Progressives mean by "socialization" is the surrender of one's mind--of one's independent knowledge and judgment--to a "group consensus."

As you can see, moral relativism is only one part of modern failure, and Johnson isn't the only perfect product of modern Progressive education in the news. So too are school shooters, drive-through party killers, and gang members -- they're all part of the same coin. The overwhelming need to belong, the identification with a collective -- any collective -- is part of what explains the rise and rise of gangs; it is part of what makes them so attractive to members, and it is what Progressive education has succeeded in teaching these poor saps. That most gangs are tribal, and their members often Maori, is just a further aspect of that collectivism, a message of tribal socialization that would no doubt have resonated for young Maori.

For young hoods who shoot their fellow students or who mow down fellow party-goers with their cars, I think there's a similar thing going on: the collective and the need to belong trumps everything -- for these destructive bastards rejection by that collective is worse even than murder. At least murder gets them recognised.

As blogger Gus van Horn notes, to understand such an outlook, to get an inkling of how such an attitude is possible -- an attitude incubated in the Progressive education system delivered in the state's factory schools -- one need go no farther than this essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses US school shootings [emphasis has been added]:
[R]ampage school shootings are never spontaneous. Before they loaded a single weapon, [shooters] let fly with dozens of hints, ranging from vague comments like, "You'll see who lives or dies on Monday," to more-specific warnings to friends to "stay away from the school lobby." Those warnings started months before the shootings themselves. ...

Why do
school shooters broadcast their intentions? They are trying to attract the attention of kids whom they hope will embrace them as friends but who have typically denied them the social status they crave. Michael [Carneal, for example] desperately wanted the acceptance of the "goth" group in his high school, which barely tolerated his presence. He posed as a delinquent when he was actually quite intellectual, passing off CDs he owned as stolen property. He stole pistols from his home and brought them to school as gifts for the most charismatic of the goths. "Not good enough," was the response. "We want rifles." No matter how hard Michael tried to change the way his peers saw him, nothing worked until the day he started fantasizing out loud about taking over the school and shooting people. That did work. He began to get attention. And once he had announced his intention, he risked social failure if he declined to go through with it.

School shooters are problem solvers. They are trying to turn the reputations they live with as losers into something more glamorous, more notorious. Seung-Hui Cho, a student of creative writing, probably didn't get a lot of "street cred" for his artistic side. Young men reap more social benefits from being successful on the football field. When their daily social experience -- created by their own ineptness, and often by the rejection of their peers -- is one of disappointment and friction, they want to reverse their social identities. How do they go about it? Sadly, becoming violent, going out in a blaze of glory, and ending it all by taking other people with them is one script that plays out in popular culture and provides a road map for notoriety.

So the answer to that last question posed above should now be simple enough. What the hell is happening to this country? Answer: Progressive education.

Progressive education has been socializing students for anarchy now for at least half-a-century, so why should we be surprised that it is succeeding? It is exactly as Rob Tarr says, that for such misbegotten products of Progressive education, identification with the collective as a primary trumps everything else.

The antidote to this collective nihilism is course is the promotion of rational individualism, and an urgent change in the values taught that are taught every day in those factory schools -- or else, perhaps, the destruction of those schools.

And that's surely worth a thought?

Establishment entertainers defend Clark "taking the bow

Following attacks on Helen Clark by musicians Neil Finn and Bruce Lynch -- "It sort of sickens me to see Helen Clark getting up at the music awards and taking the bows," said Finn -- "(Politicians) put lots of money in and pump themselves up and ... We just create another class of people dependent on welfare," said Lynch -- there has been says the Herald a "chorus of disapproval" from the likes of establishment entertainers Ray Columbus and Sir Horrid MaoriSong.

An emotional Sir MaoriSong contacted the Herald yesterday, saying: "I'm so bloody mad."

And Columbus weighed in, saying: "In my book she can take as much credit as she likes."

Little wonder that braindead establishment artists such as these fail to identify whose money it is that Arts Minister Clark has been dishing out over the last seven-and-a-half years, and just how much fawning reverence that's bought; little wonder either that New Zealand's "arts community" has been almost "united in reverence" of Clark (as one commentator said this morning): with the sort of money being pumped into establishing this arts establishment it's no wonder "reverence" is what they feel.

As I've said here before, there's more than one way to censor a country's artists:

The first and most straightforward method of censorship is for a government to ban speech that they don't like -- that's just what National and Labour want to do at elections, and I hope you lot feel disgusted enough about that to do something about it.

The second form of censorship is one that Ayn Rand called "the establishing of an establishment," and it is no less chilling:

Governmental repression is [not] the only way a government can destroy the intellectual life of a country... There is another way: governmental encouragement... Governmental encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true: it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood...

If you talk to a typical business executive or college dean or magazine editor [or spin doctor or opposition leader], you can observe his special, modern quality: a kind of flowing or skipping evasiveness that drips or bounces automatically off any fundamental issue, a gently non-committal blandness, an ingrained cautiousness toward everything, as if an inner tape recorder were whispering: "Play it safe, don't antagonize--whom?--anybody."
If you've ever wondered where this "special, modern quality" comes from, this is perhaps one answer -- through the intellectual mediocrity advanced by this less well-known form of censorship -- a censorship of encouragement. It's a much less obvious and much more insidious method of censorship, and no less chilling for that.

This is what Rand called "the welfare state of the intellect," and the result is as destructive as that other, more visible welfare state: the setting up of politicians, bureaucrats and their minions (the establishment) as arbiters of thinking and taste and ideology; the freezing of the status quo; a staleness and conformity, and an unwillingness to speak out; in short "the establishing of an establishment" to which new entrants in a field realise very quickly they are all but required to either conform or go under.
Clark will see the defensive laager thrown around her by the conformists of the "arts community" as a well-deserved payoff for her generosity with other people's money. These are people who stay bought -- and she knows it.

Council victory

Crikey. Looks like I've just won a seat on East Cambridgeshire District Council for the Conservatives, for the ward of Chevely.

How 'bout that?

Sunday, 6 May 2007

The Key Compromise

I rarely read Michael Laws, but this caught my eye, and perfectly suits the picture above. This is Laws on the Key Compromise:
But now the question needs to be asked. What exactly does Key stand for?

Pragmatism isn't a principle - it's a modus operandi. Although a genuinely pragmatic pollie would never have let Clark plot her escape - they would have taken the defeat in the house and ridden the issue all the way until 2008...

We know Key does not want to follow Brash's philosophical lead - that he is softer on race relations, privatisation and downsizing the state. But then he's no metro liberal either - his instincts remain utterly conservative. Which is why his appeasement seems so difficult to fathom...the fact remains that Bradford's bill will still make smacking your kids a criminal offence. Whether a light tap on the bum or a ruler across the fingers.

That it has been left to the police to work out the prosecutorial guidelines is a parliamentary cop- out. It is a surrender of policy to the courts - unelected pooh-bahs at the best of times.

Which is why Bradford was grinning like a Cheshire cat on Wednesday morning. She had conceded nothing - and won, proving that the inflexible can have their way with Key and the new National party. That's a lesson lobby groups will always remember.
And so too should the electorate.

Libertarians: they're everywhere

I was surprised to see two libertarians featured so glowingly in this morning's Sunday Star Times.

Author Mario Vargas Llosa was profiled -- in a piece picked up from The Guardian no less, and online here -- supporting free markets, Margaret Thatcher and the war in Iraq, and saying that subsequent to his 1977 novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter,
his politics had decisively shifted. He says: "In my generation, it was impossible when you were young not to be very close to the left - the left seemed the way of justice, equality, the best way to fight against imperialism, colonialism, and then many things happened. I went to Cuba many times in the 60s and I started to have doubts, I became a bit critical." Having been a disciple of Sartre he went back and "reread everything, and I discovered that Camus [a staunch anti-communist] was right, not Sartre. I reread the thinkers who defended and promoted the culture of freedom. Then I was in Britain during Mrs Thatcher's revolution and I became very enthusiastic with the branch of liberalism which is libertarian, so this is what I am." A photo of him with Thatcher sits on a bookshelf.
The second libertarian to appear in the Star was local musician Bruce Lynch, who is -- or at least was, I haven't checked recently -- a Libz member, and who appeared supporting Neil Finn's view on the Prime Minister and local music that made headlines earlier in the week, that she "has hit the wrong note by taking credit for local music industry success."
No pop star, despite a stint touring and recording with Cat Stevens, Lynch works behind the scenes. He spent four years making the music for the Power Rangers TV series and is currently working on string arrangements for a new Anika Moa album.

Lynch is sceptical about the value of government schemes.

"(Politicians) put lots of money in and pump themselves up and we really haven't made much of a dent. We just create another class of people dependent on welfare."

Lynch's comments echo those of Finn in this month's Real Groove magazine: "I think there is a tendency in New Zealand at the moment, because of NZ on Air dishing out large sums of money, for people to have unreal expectations for what New Zealand music can achieve overseas or is actually achieving," he said.

"There's a perception that is somewhat hype generated at the moment that all this music's going out and making a big splash, and it's really not."

Finn's views don't represent everyone in the industry, but they are far from rare.

Lynch said there was a danger in creating too much expectation. "We've got schools for popular music, schools for engineers - we've got all those people out there with skills that nobody wants."
Libertarians: they're everywhere, and they invariably make an awful lot of sense. :-)

A Sunday morning invitation

Atheism is not another 'faith': it is not a primary; it is a conclusion -- a conclusion based on the absence of evidence for a supernatural world, and abundant evidence for this one.

There are many kinds of atheist and certainly many reasons for being one, but overall it consists in a refusal to accept the supernatural, an unwillingness to place faith above the evidence of one's own senses, a resolve to believing nothing without reasonable evidence, and above all a commitment to the existence of which we know and not to the super-existence of our imagination. Atheism is not primarily negative; it is not primarily anti-supernatural -- it is instead primarily pro-existence, pro-reason, pro-evidence.

That by the way is not faith -- it's simply accepting the fact of existence, and our means of knowing it: Existence exists. There it is. Existence itself is its own evidence. Fairies at the bottom of the garden do not exist, and there is no evidence that either they or imaginary friends do.

Existence itself requires no proof -- it is the very fact of existence upon which all proofs are based: Existence exists. There it is. That's where life and consciousness and all explanation begins.

Existence itself requires no explanation -- existence is a self-sufficient primary: it is not a product of a supernatural dimension or of a supernatural being or of anything else or anyone else. Existence is not a why, it's an is.

Existence itself is simply all that exists -- there is nothing prior to it; nothing antecedent to it; nothing apart from it -- and no alternative to it.

Existence exists -- and only existence exists -- and bOth its existence and its nature are irreducible and unalterable.

By contrast, "gods" as traditionally defined are a systematic contradiction of every form of evidence, and every form of valid logical reasoning -- all gods; all forms of supernatural superpower, from Thor to Wotan to Zeus to Io. No valid argument -- no reason -- will get you from existence to non-existence, or from existence to the supernatural, or from existence to a world contradicting existence. No valid method of inference will enable you to leap from existence to a "super-existence," and nor should it be necessary to try.

Faith -- the means by which one tries to reconcile reason and un-reason, existence and non-existence, evidence and the contradiction of evidence -- is not a means of knowledge, it is a method of rejecting knowledge; it is a means of acting against knowledge, against evidence, against existence.

Faith is not reason. "Faith" designates blind acceptance -- acceptance because it is blind; acceptance because it is unreasonable; acceptance induced in the absence of evidence or even (one might say especially) in contradiction to evidence, in opposition to existence -- acceptance induced by feeling in the absence of either evidence or proof.

Faith is not knowledge, it is an alleged short-cut to knowledge which is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.

As Thomas Jefferson affirmed, " Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."

That's my invitation to you this Sunday.
------------------
NB: I should say that in this short spiel I've paraphrased from a number of sources, including Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff, particularly from Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

NZ Music: Top Five

For NZ Music Month, the Sunday Star is asking for readers' favourite five NZ albums "of any style, from any era." Here's mine. For regular readers, there'll be few surprises.

  • Inside Out - Graham Brazier
    Quite simply NZ's finest rock album, crowned with our finest 'rebel' song, 'Billy Bold' -- an anthem worthy of the name.

  • Plugged in and Blue - Hammond Gamble
    Great electric blues and originals from a highly underrated guitarist of great expressive genius, with that guitar showcased here much better that his otherwise superb solo album 'Every Whisper Shouts.'

  • Donald McIntyre's humane Hans Sachs from the classic Sydney performance of Wagner's Die Miestersinger von Nurnburg.
    Not specifically a "New Zealand album" I guess, but the performance of this world-class New Zealander here is so magnificent and so dominates the show that it demands inclusion.

  • AK79
    For a young teenager (me) who had to steal his way into town to try and hear these songs and this attitude, the record captures a moment in time that spelled promise for me and for the musos featured. 'It's Bigger Than Both of Us' was strong competition for this, but even as a double just not quite strong enough.

  • Kiri Te Kanawa singing Richard Strauss' 'Four Last Songs' might seem a world and a lifetime away from 'AK79' (and it is), but as bookends for a life of hope and promise fulfilled, and with these four songs (as the sleeve says) "sad, serene, suggest[ing] the completion of a journey, a journey from spring to winter, from morning to evening, from youth to old age," they seem to me the perfect complement.
So that's my five. What are your five faves from Outer-Roa?

Friday, 4 May 2007

Beer O'Clock: M*A*S*H*: Drink this and you'll need a hospital.

This week’s 'Beer O’Clock' by RealBeer's Neil Miller is not a recommendation. It is a warning. It first appeared in Salient (Victoria University’s student magazine), creating a bit of a stir in beer circles with one writer saying “I think this beer review by Neil Miller has to be awarded an all time best for something, but I still haven't decided exactly what.” It may have been a compliment. We're not sure.

Normally, the sight of three colourful six-packs of beer inspires joy in my very soul. This time, I was filled with dread. The beers before me were the three new Mash lagers from New Zealand Breweries.

A weekend paper had called them “ad-wanker beers” just moments after their low-profile release. The reason for that low profile quickly became clear.

As I contemplated these bottles, all that was running through my mind were the prophetic words of philosopher-poet Han Solo: “I have a bad feeling about this.” I should have listened to Han.

I try to be positive about beer so I must note that the packaging is actually very clever. When tucked inside their packs, each of the beers appears to be a different colour. Once out, it becomes clear that the illusion of colour is produced by the cardboard pack itself.

All three beers however are pale and unappealing once poured, looking like nothing so much as something whipped up with cordial in a soda stream machine.

Mash Golden Lager (5%) is an insipid beer with a slightly unpleasant flavour. This lager is also the base for the other two concoctions. It is, broadly, a style of which the Germans might call “das sehr preiswert- este Bier“, which translates as “the very cheapest beer”. There is a hint of grassiness, which suggests that the Golden Lager has had some acquaintance with the noble hop. Perhaps it was once shown a picture?

While sampling the Golden Lager, I was watching Chuck Norris (in a bulldozer) fight David Carradine (in an armoured half track). This beer was so bad that I didn’t really enjoy the scene - but it wasn't the worst.

Next up was the lemon and lime flavored Mash Citrus Lager (5%). It has the nose of a budget dishwashing liquid, but doesn’t taste nearly as good. Those who defend the human rights of fruit will be pleased to know that it is unlikely that any real lemons or limes were harmed in the making of this beer – unless they were forced to drink it. This 'beer' can kill. Syrupy and sickly sweet, the Citrus Lager is awful ... but still not the worst.

That dubious honour goes to Mash Energy Lager (5%). This beverage (I am loathe to call it beer) contains caffeine, guarana, Food Acid 330 and flavourings. Yummo. It has the nose of a plastic mug filled with raspberry raro cordial. It is so thin it makes Bud Light taste like Guinness, and it finishes with the stomach-churning kick that only good old Food Acid 330 can provide. On a (somewhat) positive note, it certainly does give your gag reflex a good workout.

For the first time ever, my unofficial tasting panel complained bitterly about getting free beer.

These beers are probably best drunk cold. Very cold. No fridge known would get it cold enough - only the coldest place in the universe will do.

Many readers will be too young to remember the awful Fruit Hopper beers, which appeared briefly some years ago. Mash marks their unwelcome return to the market.

Hopefully, Mash beer will be like Geoffrey Palmer’s stint as Prime Minister – a brief, terrible period of history which is quickly forgotten.

LINKS: Real Beer
Society for Beer Advocates

ARCHIVES: Beer & Elsewhere

Al Bore: Creationist

A sad day for a Canadian warmist, who went along to pay homage to Al Bore and his slideshow only to find out that Warmist Bore is also Creationist Bore. Turns out The Goracle is as prone to Religio-Enviro-Babble as every other faith-based nutter. At the Neurotransmission blog the poor chap describes his moment of disillusion:
At first, I thought I was going to be in for a live repeat of the movie, but he did have some new slides, or at least slides that were not shown in the film... The real interesting part (for me anyways), was a few of his comments about a topic that I've been researching a lot lately - the battle between science and religion... he comes across as a man who is ready to accept science as the proper methodology (versus evangelical faith in biblical literalism). ... During his live slideshow today, however, he showed his true colors. One of his slides was a quote from Genesis, which he used to show that humans are the stewards of biodiversity...

The slide I found particularly interesting/shocking/sad, was his new(?) slide containing a graph of human population growth over the past couple hundred-thousand years. It started off good. He pointed at the beginning of the graph, showing the population of humans on Earth from 200,000 years ago, and referred to the "rise of humans."

Cool beans. So he believes that Homo sapiens evolved from other hominid ancestors, right? Nope. In the very same breath, he then continued to explain that according to his religious beliefs, this "rise of humans" was God's creation of mankind - apparently 200,000 years ago. His graph then changed to include the caption "Adam & Eve" above this starting point.

I started laughing, and I had to consciously blink my eyes and double-check the screen to make sure I was seeing it properly. Let me get this straight...the guy's entire presentation exists in order to present people with the scientific data showing that human-caused climate change is a fact. He does his very best to include references in all of the slides, showing to any thinking person that this data is not made up, that it comes from the forefront of our scientific research (there was many slides containing data from Science journal, and a few from Nature).

At the same time, he tarnishes his beautifully crafted presentation by not only stating his belief in creationism - but by placing the words "Adam and Eve" right on the slide (which is actually a scientific graph) as a caption explaining the beginnings of mankind.

Something doesn't add up here. On one hand, he is using science to predict the disastrous outcome of our current actions and rally support for taking proactive measures to make sure bad things don't happen, but on the other hand, he is clinging to stone-age beliefs that another very important area of science has proven wrong (that we humans evolved from other forms of life, and that every organism on Earth has a common ancestor)...

I should also note that at this point in the lecture (I'll call it the schism) he stated that there is no conflict between science and religion. He appeared as though he wanted to say more about this, and even mentioned the Scopes trial, but then decided to continue on with the slideshow instead.

Whaaaaa???? You tell me that anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fact (to the degree that science can use that word), mankind came from God's creation of Adam and Eve 200,000 years ago, there is no conflict between science and religion, refer to the Scopes trial, and then shrug it off and move on with the show?

The schism pretty much ruined the rest of the show for me. His message about climate change and our need to take action was great, inspiring even. However, I am now somewhat confused about the sort of man that is Al Gore. If you're going to be intellectually honest about issues like climate change, than why not carry through to the next logical step and apply this kind of honest thinking to everything?
That's a a question some Gore fans here might like to answer.

Beer: What we're here for.

Beer built civilisation: you know it, Beer Geek knows it, Chas Featherstone knows it, Scientific American knows it, The Economist knows it, National Geographic knows it, this woman knows it (and has a unique way of paying tribute), and Guinness Breweries surely know it too, as this this delightful ad attests [hat tip Tomahawk Kid].

The rhythm of life -- and the pull of beer -- is together a truly powerful thing.

ARCHIVES: Beer & Elsewhere, History

HOUSING: For a few thousand more

Over the last few years market conditions, gold-plated regulations, consent delays and local authority contributions have between them added thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and months of delays to the cost of building a house -- in the last eight or so years more than doubling the cost of building a new home, and more than doubling the time it takes for a consent -- and now the government wants to add "just" a few thousand more. In fact, they insist that you spend just a few thousand more --at least five thousand more according to the Master Builders Federation, and even more delays.

Why? One very simple reason, says our Leaderene:
"The Labour-led government," says Labour leader Helen Clark, "believes that New Zealand should strive to be the world's first truly sustainable nation."
'Sustainable' meaning, in this and every case, both "energy conserving" and "ever more expensive."

Bear in mind that this new increase is on top of the more than 300% increase in the cost of land in NZ cities and towns that have been over-zoned and zoned and ring-fenced by planners under the RMA -- and in the midst of what can only be called a housing affordability crisis.

Does it even make sense as a measure? Well, for my part, I like to encourage clients to super-insulate because it makes a better place in which to live; I like to design houses for the sun because that makes that house a better place in which to live -- but the key word here is encourage. Not force. People are entitled to make their own bloody choices about what it's worth to them. They're entitled to consider their own circumstances when making their own decisions.

Imposing yet another cost and more delays on new houses that are already seriously unaffordable -- that are already over-regulated, over-zoned, and experiencing enormous delays in consent processing -- and all in the name of today's buzzword, sustainability, is just bloody stupid.

As always there's a lesson here: there's something to learn about what this new buzzword means.

As John Brätland explains "sustainable" fundamentally "is a notion of... disciplining our current consumption" -- the "discipline" coming about by enforced sacrifice. Public control of industry and resources in the name of "sustainability," he explains, "is not only contradictory but also self-defeating." We can see that, can't we. Robert Tracinski explains that for environmentalists, the campaign for sustainable development is not motivated by a legitimate desire for development but a respectable veil behind which their anti-development, anti-industry, anti-technology philosophy can hide.
Thus, they tell us that there is something called "sustainability," a magic mechanism that will [allow continued] prosperity -- even as the environmentalists restrict the only known conditions for prosperity: free trade and industrialization.
There's nothing magical about "sustainability" that allows us to evade reality -- to think we can prosper while restricting all the conditions that make prosperity possible. The very idea is ludicrous. The idea for example that "energy efficiency" is a substitute for energy production in any industrial nation -- as that nation strives, in the Prime Minister's fatuous soundbite, "to be the world's first truly sustainable nation" -- is just another attempt to evade reality.

Consider for example that in the last dozen years the only thing that's grown faster than the cost of new housing has been the hysterical protests against building new power stations -- as new power plant after new power plant has been refused consent or has had conditions added to consents to make those plants unworkable and increased energy production impossible, we've been continually told that we must all make sacrifices to sustainability, and specifically to conservation of energy. As George Reisman explains, you don't need to look too hard to see either the foolishness of the notion that you can substitute conservation for production, or the the anti-industry philosophy that is concealed behind environmentalists' anti-energy fetish:
The environmental movement has been doing its utmost to sabotage energy production since the 1960s, long before it was able to latch onto the prospect of global warming. Its opposition to atomic power has nothing to do with global warming, nor does its opposition to the construction of dams to provide hydro-electric power. Indeed, if global warming and the consumption of fossil fuels, which it alleges is the cause of global warming, were really its concern, it would be a leading advocate of atomic power and of the construction of new and additional dams to provide hydro-electric power...

The only sources of power that the environmental movement is willing to allow are wind and sunlight. The first is subject to the proviso that birds are not killed by flying into the propellers of the windmills. The second makes no allowance for all of the times when sunlight is blocked, i.e., in cloudy weather and at night, when the sun has gone down.

Environmentalists like to say that there is a third alternative source of energy: conservation.

“Conservation” as a source of energy is a contradiction in terms. It is not a source of energy. Its actual meaning is simply using less energy. It is a source of energy for one use only at the price of deprivation somewhere else. Moreover, the logic of conservationism is not consistent with using energy saved in one part of the economic system to expand energy use in other parts. Those other parts are also supposed to conserve, i.e., to use less energy rather than more.

The objective of the environmental movement is and always has been simply the destruction of energy production.
That is what lies behind sustainability. When energy production decreases and housing gets ever more expensive -- as you're asked to make sacrifice after sacrifice -- to produce ever less and to "conserve" ever more -- just remind yourself that this is what sustainability really means. Sacrifice.

And that you lot keep voting for it.

LINKS: Drier homes will drive up building costs - NZ City
Toward a calculational theory and policy of intergenerational sustainability - John Brätland, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics [34-page PDF]
'Sustainable development's unsustainable contradictions - Robert Tracinski, Capitalism Magazine
The buzzword for this morning is sustainability - Not PC
It’s About Energy, Not Climate - George Reisman
Everyone's got an energy strategy: What we're short of is energy! - Not PC

Choking Al Bore's horse

Al Bore lectured an audience the other day in New Orleans, where he declared without blinking that there is no legitimate scholarly alternative to his world view.

We know the man's a liar, but such an arrogant self-deluded liar? This is much like his self-declared "science is settled" pseudo-consensus about global warming, a non-existent totem upon which he's been insisting on since 1992! No legitimate scholarly alternative to his world view? Really!? As Walter Block, Economics Professor at New Orleans' Loyola University says, "I could send them a biblio that could choke a horse."

The Commons Blog for example has a full bibliography of scholarly writing that would gore anyone with his anti-everything world-view.

And here for instance [pdf] is a full twenty-pages of scholarly books, articles and writings put together by the Political Economy Research Center in which every line is opposed to The Goracle's anti-human world view.

Then there's the whole Austrian Economics Environment Study Guide (just updated), more scholarly than you could poke a ponga at, and just the sort of resource that everyone opposed to The Bore's world view should be eating up -- and just full of references, all of them to writing that would give Al apoplexy.

Or there's all the Ayn Rand Institute's many, many exposés of the anti-human philosophy behind Big (and getting Bigger) Al, and all diametrically opposed to his shit-eating, we're-all-gonna-die world-view.

And that's just getting started!

What about all those legitimate, scholarly climate sceptics who've shown there's more hot air in Al's film (and in his house) than you would need to flood the whole planet?!

Marlo Lewis's Skeptic's Guide to 'An Inconvenient Truth' for example.

Or all those scientists who appeared willingly in 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' many of whom can be found in this series in Canada's National Post.

Or the many pro-environment pro-liberty enviro-blogs that exist, including: For just a starter on all the literature available that describes and supports a fully worked out pro-environment pro-liberty view, just to scratch the surface here, what about this short list largely put together by Walter Block himself:
  • Thomas Sowell on the great British documentary "Global Warming Swindle".
  • The Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich bet. It can be found at:
  • The definitive refutation of the IPCC's infamous hockey stick. [PDF]
  • 'Climate of Fear', By Richard Lindzen
  • Anderson, Terry L., and Leal, Donald R. 1991. Free Market Environmentalism, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute
  • Anderson, Terry L., and Hill, Peter J. 1981. "Property Rights as a Common Pool Resource," in Bureaucracy vs. Environment: The Environmental Costs of Bureaucratic Governance, John Baden and Richard L. Stroup, eds., Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
  • Block, Walter, "Population Growth: Is it a problem?", in Resolving Global Problems into the 21st century: How Can Science Help? Proceedings of the Fourth National Conference of Canadian Pugwash, Ottawa: CSP Publications, 1989, pp. 30-61.
  • Block, Walter, "Dumping on the Economy: Why Artificial Prices Encourage Waste," in Journal of Pricing Management, Vol. 14, No. 2, Spring 1991, 21-26.
  • Block, Walter, "Resource Misallocation, Externalities and Environmentalism in the U.S. and Canada," Proceedings of the 24th Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference, 1990, 91-94
  • Block, Walter and Roy Whitehead. 1999. "The Unintended Consequences of Environmental Justice," Forensic Science International, Vol. 100, Nos. 1 and 2, March, pp. 57-67
  • Block, Walter. 1998. "Environmentalism and Freedom: The Case for Private Property Rights," Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 17, No. 6, December, pp. 1887-1899
  • Block, Walter. 1990. "Environmental Problems, Private Property Rights Solutions," in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter Block, ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, pp. 281-332
  • Brubaker, Elizabeth. 1995. Property Rights in the Defence of Nature Toronto, Ontario: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
  • Cato, Leigh, ed., 1995, The Business of Ecology, Allen & Unwin
  • DiLorenzo, Thomas. 1990. "Does Capitalism Cause Pollution?," St. Louis, Washington University: Center for the Study of American Business, Contemporary Issues Series 38.
  • Dolan, Edwin, "Controlling Acid Rain," in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter Block, ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990.
  • Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. The Economics and Ethics of Private Property: Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, Boston: Kluwer
  • Horwitz, Morton J.. 1977. The Transformation of American Law: 1780-1860, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • Lomborg, Bjorn. 2004. The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
  • Machan, Tibor, 2004, Putting Humans First: Why We Are Nature's Favorite, Rowman & Littlefield
  • McGee, Robert, and Block, Walter, "Pollution Trading Permits as a Form of Market Socialism, and the Search for a Real Market Solution to Environmental Pollution," in Fordham University Law and Environmental Journal, Vol. VI, No. 1, Fall 1994, pp. 51-77
  • Moore, Thomas Gale, 1991, Central Planning USA-Style: The Case Against Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards, Stanford: Hoover Institution
  • Rathje, William L., "Rubbish!," Atlantic Monthly, December 1989, pp. 99-109.
  • Rand, Ayn, rev. 1998, The Anti-Industrial Revolution: Return of the Primitive, Signet
  • Ray, Dixie Lee, 1990, Trashing the Planet, Washington D.C.: Regnery Gateway
  • Reisman, George, 1996, "Natural Resources & the Environment," in Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, Jameson Books, Ottawa, Illinois, pp. 63-122.
  • Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. "Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution," [pdf] in Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter Block, ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990
  • Simon, Julian. 1981. The Ultimate Resource, Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press
  • Singer, S. Fred & Avery, Dennis, 2007, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years, Rowman & Littlefield
  • Stroup, Richard L. 2003. Eco-nomics: What everyone should know about economics and the environment. Washington D.C.: the Cato Institute
  • Stroup, Richard L., and John C. Goodman, et. al. 1991. Progressive Environmentalism: A Pro-Human, Pro-Science, Pro-Free Enterprise Agenda for Change, Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis, Task Force Report
  • Stroup, Richard. 1988. "Buying misery with federal land," in Public Choice, Vol. 57, pp. 69-77
  • Stroup, Richard L., and Baden, John A., "Endowment Areas: A Clearing in the Policy Wilderness," in Cato Journal, 2 Winter 1982, pp. 691-708
How does that horse look?

Birth From the Heart - Martine Vaugel


Part of Martine Vaugel's evocative 'Spirit' series.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Treating children like adults, and adults like children

We've been told over and over that children must be treated the same as adults -- that they should have the same protection under law. This, we're told, is the reason behind the Bradford/Dung/Clark/Palmer/John Boy anti-smacking bill, so children and adults are treated equally under law.

How surprised I was last evening then to hear on the radio a bureaucrat submitting to the select committee enquiry on Ron Mark's private members' bill, which would lower the age of prosecution for serious crime to 12.

If you do adult crime, then you do adult time -- that's the argument of Mark's bill.
Some children are already criminals [he says] and are getting away with crimes because they know they can... He says an age reduction would help police and courts deal with criminals and offer more protection to potential victims.
No way, said the bureaucrat (whose name I didn't get): even if they've committed serious crimes, she argued, you've got to treat children like children...

The irony appeared lost on the radio reporter, but no irony was intended by Children's Commissar Cindy Kiro, also submitting, who said treating children who commit adult crimes as adults would be wrong, instead the system should look at recognising criminal tendencies, early intervention and wishful thinking.

A different bill, a different story -- even on the same day! One day one group of people are arguing that children should have the same protection under law as adults, and the same day the same group of people are arguing that children should not have the same responsibility under law as adults.

Now, why do you think that is?

UPDATE: Further to yesterday's updates on the wording of the Smacking Compromise, Stephen Franks offers his own legal and political opinion:
Bradford wins complete s. 59 victory
Bradford and Clark must be howling with glee and derision. They’ve outlawyered (not to mention out-politicked) opponents of their Bill.

The ‘compromise’ words have no legal effect. They merely “affirm that the Police have a discretion not to prosecute“ - meaning that no new discretion is added, only the existing rules and duties apply.

Worse - to escape prosecution the smack must be “so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution“. Those words can’t have had competent legal consideration from any opposing lawyer.

At the technical level “no public interest” is ludicrous. Of course there will be some public interest in almost every incident. 20% of the population have a passionate interest in forcing the rest to change their child rearing beliefs. That 20% has made it illegal to smack...
Read on here.

To hell with John Boy.

Below is an open letter from Susan the Libertarian to John Boy Walton (seen here yesterday outflanking Helen on the left). Unlike dripping wet media morons like Colin James and sadly deluded Pink Tories like Whale Oil, Susan is not praising him for his "wise intervention." "To hell with him!" she says instead. I agree. To hell with the appeasing bastard.
Dear John

I'm so angry at what you have done this morning that I struggle as to where to begin.

Firstly, you and your party together with Clark and Bradford have thumbed your collective noses at the electorate that has consistently demonstrated strong disapproval of this bill. That you would ignore that is incredibly arrogant in the first instance, but then you worsen the situation by seeking an unwanted compromise! We didn't want the bill, per se, in the first place, let alone a pathetically vague amendment!

The fact is that parental smacking is still not illegal. You have allied yourself with the worst sort of bedfellows in Sue Bradford and Cindy Kiro, both of whom are out and out communists with odious longterm agendas. This bill will never stop monsters from brutalising children. It will still continue to criminalise good parents - which was always Bradford's plan.

From a political perspective you have well and truly cooked your own goose. Clark was seriously on the ropes with her tacit approval of Bradford's bill, particularly when her differing comments prior to the last election came to light. You have now played right into her hands and she's the winner. Had you not done so, you could have played this trump beautifully come the next election. Now you just look like the Neville Chamberlain you are. More fool, you.

I am so disgusted. Rather than attack the cause of the problem, you piss around with symptoms. Remember that when the country receives news of the next abused child, because it will happen. Remember it, too, when the Nazis at CYFS start removing children from perfectly good homes - because that will also happen.

Shame on you.

Yours sincerely
Susan Ryder

Otahuhu College fire

I was sorry to see news of the fire at my old school yesterday, in the very building in which I learned my Technical Drawing and decided to become an architect (left). Very sad. But how badly was it damaged, I wondered?

Finding out what caused it seems easy enough: "The Fire Service," reports Radio NZ ,"says a contractor fixing a leak accidentally started a fire that damaged six classrooms at a South Auckland secondary school." But six classsrooms? The Radio NZ report this morning quotes "East Auckland deputy chief, Roger Callister," who says "there has been significant damage to the roof" -- which you can see in that small picture -- and also Principal Gil Laurenson, who says that "about six classrooms were lost."

But this morning's Herald report also quotes Mr Callister, this time saying that "fire damage was contained to two classrooms."

Just another example of why we shouldn't rely on journalists too much for our information.

Clones

Our cartoon for this evening, courtesy of The Free Radical magazine:

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

'Exposed: The Climate of Fear'

With Britain's Channel 4 achieving worldwide attention and controversy for their doco 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' looks like CNN is getting in on the act. Yes, CNN, who have a new film screening tonight across the States (and presumably worldwide) -- at 7pm, 9m and midnight Eastern Time, presented by Glen Beck.

Says our friend Lubos Motl at 'The Reference Frame,'
[Beck's film] will look at the physical basis, proposed policies, as well as the somewhat Adolfian methods to impose the so-called "scientific consensus".
Many of the same scientists who appeared in Swindle return for Beck's doco -- although it's not expected that Carl Wunsch will be appearing this time.

Some thoughts for the day ...




A "Brief Guide" to American newspapers

A "Brief Guide" to American newspapers, and who reads them.
  • The Wall Street Journal is read by people who run the country.
  • The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
  • The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
  • USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but really don't understand The New York Times. They do, however, like statistics shown in pie charts.
  • The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time ... and if they didn't have to leave southern California to do it.
  • The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
  • The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
  • The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
  • The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy -- provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
  • The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
(Thanks to RC for sending on the guide.) Anybody like to try something similar with New Zealand newspapers? Or even ... blogs?

Smacking compromise

Some questions:

When exactly would prosecuting light smacking be in "the public interest"?

And WTF would an "inconsequential"smack look like?

So just WTF does this new Bradford/Clark/Key/Dunne/Palmer anti-smacking Bill mean:
the [new amended Bill] ... will state that police will have discretion not to prosecute parents or guardians for use of force on a child if that force is "so inconsequential there is no public interest in pursuing a prosecution."
Any ideas? Any at all? Does that tell you clearly in advance, in law, what you can and can't do?

Will it stop the criminalisation of good parents? And will it protect good parents from CYFS?

Answers on a postcard, please.

UPDATE 1: Craig Smith of the Family Integrity organisation has an important point to make on the Bradford/Clark/Key/Dunne/Palmer compromise:
It is not changing the re-write of Section 59 which is another clause in the Bill. So, the clause will not pass into the Crimes Act. It is simply a bit of commentary in the Bill. And as Bradford just said [on air] this is precisely what Police do now anyway.

And of course, parents who use reasonable force to correct their children do not use inconsequential force...they use force that is going to have consequences...the consequence of present and future corrected behaviour. Police will have to consider this a criminal act.

And of course, CYFS is most likely still to be advised by police, even when the force is inconsequential, for the force is technically illegal. Here is where our greatest fear lies.

This is total and complete capitulation by National. They've surrendered
completely...

Here then, unless there is some miraculous event in Parliament today, is what Section 59 will look like [subsection 2 is the kicker]:

Parental Control
(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of --
(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disuptive behaviour; or
(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.
(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).
Correcting your children, you see in (2), is a criminal offense. And (3) says that if there is a doubt as to whether the force was for correction or for prevention, the correction interpretation must prevail.

Until now, juries convict the accused of a crime when no doubt about it exists, when it is beyond reasonable doubt. Now, if charged with the crime of using force to correct your child, the existence of doubt will legally require the jury to convict you of the crime...

UPDATE 2: The Herald's Audrey Young follows in the present tradition of her paper's journalists getting it exactly backwards in saying,

Everyone's a winner in this compromise... The alternative would have seen Helen Clark force unpopular, unwanted and unclear law on the country.
What abject, unadulterated nonsense. What we have forced upon us instead is an unpopular, unwanted and equally unclear compromise, without even the opportunity for debate. If she really thinks New Zealand parents are winners in that, then there's no hope for her.

UPDATE 3: Susan has it exactly right:
John Key: "Politics has been put to one side and sanity has prevailed".

Wrong on both counts, you moron.

My God, I honestly thought I couldn't think less of the Nats than I did. I was wrong. How could anybody vote for them again?

And as for Bradford, what a liar. I heard her say earlier last month that if there was ANY amendment to her bill, she'd 'pull it' altogether. And for all her talk, a persistent 80+% disapproval rating was NOT 'robust debate.'

They really have shown their true colours, the lot of them. Illuminating as to how they forget who works for whom.
UPDATE 4: Just a reminder of my point made some weeks ago: this is about more than just smacking; as Cindy Kiro has indicated clearly enough, it's about nationalising children.

On that score too, a commenter at David Farrars' Kiwiblog reminds us of this section from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's 1848 Communist Manifesto, from which I quote:
Abolition of the family!

Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists...

The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.

And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention of society, dire or indirect, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention...
You might like to recall that Karl Marx hurled six children into the world with his much put-upon wife Jenny, but like Rousseau he never gave a thought for them or for their care. He 'socialised' his own children almost from their birth.

UPDATE 5: The Kiwi Herald has news that Clark and John Boy are to bury their few differences and will form a new Government of National Unity.
In a move that has stunned political analysts Helen Clarke announced that National and Labour will continue to work together to "advance the interests of good parents and good children everywhere -and all the other good people too."
A beaming Mr Key told reporters: "It seems so right that we should continue our new found common-cause this way."
Describing the moment when the leaders agreed to form the new Government Mr Key said that "after we had agreed on the smacking bill we went to shake hands and for a wonderful moment our eyes met. It was as though we both knew, at that instant, that our differences didn't matter anymore. In a sudden outpouring of emotion I began to say to Helen that we should unite as one, but she interrupted me and said 'John, I know. For the peoples sake let us now walk side-by-side.'

In the new spirit of co-operation Miss Clark and John Key will chair Cabinet "week and week about" while Michael Cullen and Bill English have already found a "lovely little bachelor pad to share."
Read the full 'news' here at The Kiwi Herald: Clark, Key Form Govt of National Unity.

Can't do this; can't do that.

You know, every morning I wake up, brew a coffee, browse the news, and look forward to reading fine journalism and great events to discuss with you good folk.

This morning, like far too many mornings, I'm disappointed. Instead of great news and fine journalism, we're served up this crud [hat tip AB]:

Can't do this: the "controversial" $250 million Soho Square development in Ponsonby (left), opposed by "art and fashion leaders."

Can't do that: a "railway station-themed restaurant, cafe and function centre in rural Waimauku," opposed by "officers of the Rodney District Council and Auckland Regional Council."

Can't even do this: A proposed new house for a site in St Andrews Rd, Epsom (right), couldn't even get to consent because council's drainage infrastructure is unable to accommodate even one new house there -- and even though the drainage work proposed for the house will reduce demand on their own infrastructure, it still wouldn't meet the "gold-plated" standard the council now required for new drainage work (a standard that most existing infrastructure has no hope of meeting). A clear example of the tell-tale collision I blogged the other day.

Or at least not for three years: a "$180 million 30-storey mixed use development that would be the second highest building in Takapuna" (right). After three years of "negotiation" with council permission has now been acceded to; not permission to go ahead, but permission to go through a notified resource consent process.

Sheesh! And who would believe Building Consent applications are down: down to 25,740 houses and apartments per annum -- down from a high of 40,000 per annum in the seventies, and still much fewer than the 28,000 to 36,000 residential units that need to be built per annum to reflect demand (Hugh Pavletich backs up those numbers, and explains the inflationary consequence of not meeting them).

And can you believe how economically illiterate NZ Herald reporters are? In one breath they praise those who stop the plans of these (evil) developers, and with the next they're suggesting that rising prices are the fault of developers -- and never, ever will they consider the the idea that regulation that hogties developers needs to be slashed if housing supply is ever able to increase to sufficiently meet demand.

UPDATED, 11:56am, 2 May

The 'Greenhouse House' - John M. Johansen


A very simple arrangement of spaces around a central couryard, under a great glass canopy. In this house you can have a beer in the sun without fear of being blown over. [Drawing is by Francis Ching, from the book Architecture: Form, Space and Order.]

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Worldwide Religio-Enviro-Babble

What do you get when you mix faith and pseudo-science? The answer seems to be "laughable nonsense." Religionists -- mainstream religionists that is -- are up in arms about the global warming religion, and all are equally unhinged.

You'll recall Garth George's arrant nonsense on the subject: that he knew global warming couldn't be happening because God had "sent" a rainbow after Noah's flood to show he was "keeping his promise."

To that foolishness you can now add "the diverse 50m-strong conservative evangelical churches" of the US, many of whose leaders, says The Guardian, "say they are still not convinced that global warming is human-induced and have argued that the collapse of the world is inevitable and will herald the second coming of Christ." Opposing them are younger leaders who are "redefining environmentalism as 'creation care'," and now joining them is none other than the Pope, that guardian of all that is scientific, who declares that "abuse of the environment is against God's will, and we must all "respect creation" while "focusing on the needs of sustainable development." The story of all this religio-enviro-babble is here.

This is what happens when you abandon reason, and rely instead on superstition. But how do you decide who's right about your god's wishes when you all claim a direct line to your own imaginary friend? And how do you understand or deal with your differences on the the scientific evidence when the only means of 'knowledge' you respect is not evidential, but that so-called shortcut to knowledge that is actually a short-circuit: that enemy of reason that is faith?

UPDATE 1: A big surprise: the polar bears' picnic, The Daily Telegraph
This short report from the foot of Christopher Brooker's column is worth republishing in full:
When [Tony Blair's Environment Secretary] David Miliband sends every school in the country a copy of Al Gore's ... film An Inconvenient Truth, to alert our children to the horrors of global warming, he had better instruct teachers to avert their charges' gaze from the drama making front-page news in Canada.

The May blossom may be out three weeks early in England, but for three weeks off the coast of Newfoundland, a fleet of seal boats - bent on culling the seals that are a major threat to Canada's fish stocks - have been trapped in the worst ice for decades. Thanks to global warming, it has been so cold that about 40 are frozen in, and not a few, as their crews are winched to safety by helicopter, will have to be abandoned.

As the pupils watch Al Gore's heart-rending sequence on the plight of the polar bears, doomed by the vanishing Arctic ice, their gaze will also have to be averted from the latest study by the US National Biological Service, which finds that polar bears in Alaska are increasing in numbers to the limit that their environment can sustain.

This confirms last year's report by Mitchell Taylor that, of the 13 polar bear groups in eastern Canada, 11 are increasing in numbers, only two declining - one of these, on west Hudson Bay, being the one the global warming doomsayers concentrate on.

It is clearly vital that our schoolchildren's ability to think for themselves should not be undermined by alerting them to such inconvenient truths.
Guess that old Inuit wisdom was right, huh?

UPDATE 2: Lewis Black on the Daily Show extracts the urine out of fucking Earth Day and all those polluting emissions from fatuous shit-eating fucking celebrities. As Kenny says hopefully at SOLO, "When the Green lobby is ridiculed by the liberal media, there is still hope that environmental statism can be stopped."

Foolish fallacies

More misconceptions and fallacies about capitalism and trade exploded today, this time by the Vigesimal Pundit, including old chestnuts such as 'war is good for the economy' (it's not); buying NZ-made is always better (no, not always); and profits are bad (well, no they're not.)

This was my favourite comment, on the foolish idea that we shouldn't care about growth; it concludes:
Moreover growth compounds, so if we grow our GDP at 4% a year your grandchildren will be 4 times richer than you. If we can get 6%, they'll be 27 times richer than you. If you support policies that get in the road of growth, you need to ask why you hate your grandchildren so much.

Housing minister economically illiterate

It is now clear that Housing minister Chris Carter is economically illiterate.

At the end of last week he suggested that the solution to houses being seriously unaffordable -- with the average price being roughly six or more times the average income, as opposed to three times the average income as it has been in earlier times and still is in other markets -- the solution he said is new regulation to force developers to build affordable homes on land made unaffordable by earlier regulations. Somehow he thinks developers will be queuing up to lose money on new projects.

This economic illiteracy was lapped up by an equally illiterate commentariat, including Sainsbury, Campbell, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

Then last night Carter dreamed a new dream. As the Housing NZ report issued ten days ago concluded, the problem with unaffordable housing is not lack of demand, it is serious restrictions on land supply that have pushed land prices up over 300% across a decade, and the construction of new houses some four- to twelve-thousand units fewer per year than required to meet demand. That serious demand-supply imbalance is what is driving the serious unaffordability of local housing. Carter's dream ignored that altogether. Carter's new dream is not to free up supply -- not to increase capacity, not to remove restrictions so that four- to twelve-thousand more houses can be built every year to house New Zealanders and clear the market -- but to inflate housing demand even more!

Housing Minister Chris Carter said last night [his "shared equity" scheme] would be a way to provide direct financial assistance to buyers faced with prices which would otherwise stop them getting into the housing market. "You would have partial ownership and share the results of any increase in value," he said on TV3 News. TV3 said a pilot scheme was likely to start in Auckland next year which could involve the Government paying for a 25 per cent or 30 per cent stake in a house.

Despite even a high school economics student being able to tell him what happens when you inflate demand while continuing to restrict supply, no one in the MSM has yet to call him the fucking moron that he is. Perhaps that's because they're mostly as economically illiterate as he is.

The answer is not to further inflate demand; it is to free up supply: to shred the RMA; to get the town planners' the hell out of the way and their hands off people's property; to allow the market in land to function just as every other working market does. If the housing unaffordability crisis could show us anything, it should surely be the imbecility and destructiveness of thinking that meddling mends markets. It doesn't: It makes them worse.

Economic illiteracy is not a winning strategy.

UPDATE 1: Right on cue, the economically braindead Herald columnist John Armstrong weighs in with an encomium to statist stupidity that begins by invoking the "spirit" of Michael Joseph Savage, which, says John Junior, "has been passed down through successive Labour ministers holding the housing portfolio," before sinking into a bottomless pit of nauseating stupidity when it calls the illiterate Carter both "smart" and "savvy" in succeeding sentences.

"Labour," says John, "can hardly be blamed for soaring house prices." Well, yes they can, since the Clark Government has done nothing to avert the outrageous restrictions on land supply brought about under the RMA, and everything to encourage an expanding exchange rate and soaring credit.

Armstrong just gets worse every time I have the misfortune to read him.

UPDATE 2: The economically literate Mike E is also a prospective first-home buyer, but he's no more impressed with Carter's dreams than I am.
This is the government proposing to *subsidise* 25% of a properties value. So for most places this would be about $100,000. To put this in perspective, what have I done, to make me deserve $100,000 of your money - why do I deserver it more than you do? why am I so special? The correct answer is, nothing, I am no more deserving of the money you earnt than you are. I can't support the use of force to have my assets subsidised by your work.
Frankly, who could justify that?