Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Country maths

All this talk about what Alan Bollard might do to the currency this week, I hope he brushes up on his arithmetic. I'd hate to see us get cheated.

Ma and Pa Kettle have the lesson for Alan, over at Noodle Food.

Jeanette plays Turandot

Jeanette asks her "three questions" as if they're a bit of cheese and her own Party's policies are the mousetrap.

Liberty Scott answers all three without springing the trap.

Cue Card Libertarianism: PARKINSON'S LAW

Formulated by C. Northcote Parkinson in his book of the same name, Parkinson's Law claims to explain and quantify the inexorable tendency of bureaucracy to expand, with the expansion powered by two inexorable forces:
1. An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.
2. Officials make work for each other.
As a result, “any government bureaucracy will grow at between 5.17 and 6.56 per cent, irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done.”

Parkinson's bureaucrats lack imagination. Since 1999, New Zealand's bureaucracy has grown at more than three times this rate, helping to increase annual govt spending by more than $20 billion more than the figure in 1999.

As Phil Rennie from the Center for Independent Studies has shown, that spending binge is greater even than a comparable blow-out under Muldoon's Prime Ministerial reign, and then as now the deluge of taxpayers' money bought no improvement at all in government services.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by New Zealand's libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.

Monday, 4 June 2007

"The increasingly warm and inclusive Mr Key said he could work with anyone..."

I do love the Kiwi Herald. From this weekend's political report comes this gem:
John Key today offered Bishop Brian Tamaki a Cardinalship should the Destiny New Zealand Party join the Key led Government following the next election. The move came shortly after the National Party leader stunned observors by saying that he was prepared to appoint a Green Party member as Minister for the Environment in exchange for that party's support.
Announcing the offer, the increasingly warm and inclusive Mr Key said that he could work with anyone...
See KIWI HERALD: Tamaki, Taito Offered Cabinet Posts.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

May Blog Stats

General Stats
Unique Visitors: 19,686
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Most Popular Posts:
Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
"Who am I to judge?"
'Exposed: The Climate of Fear'
A necessary obsession with justice
PC, & 'The Great Postmodern Essay Generator'
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Becky wants to knock her school down
Sex with chickens
"It's a lie!"
Why morality at all?

(sites sending more than 100 referrals this way, ranked in order. Thanks everyone. ):
sirhumphreys.com [guess that's all over ... anyone know what's going on there?]

Top Ten Countries Reading Not PC in May
New Zealand

And here's the Most Popular Search Terms (I kid you not):
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Clearly some of my commenters have become famous in their own right!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Bradford & McCarten: Errors apparent

A few comments this morning on Eye to Eye clarified something for me.

SUE BRADFORD ARGUED that the death of Mrs Muliaga is "an indictment" of Max Bradford's "market reforms" of the electricity industry, "an indictment" of the cold-heartedness of capitalism, and a signal that all electrical producers should be taken back into the arms of the caring state and peremptorily renationalised.

Yet neither Mercury Energy nor Mighty River Power are private companies. Nor did Bradford's reforms take these power producers away from the arms of the state: These are both state organisations. Any resemblance to anything outside North Korea is entirely accidental.

SUE BRADFORD ARGUED that access to electrical power is a right.

At the same time her colleagues in the Greens are doing everything they possibly can to make the production of power more and more difficult; everything they can to raise costs by having extensive restrictions and carbon taxes and the like placed on existing power plants; they're enthusiastic supporters of Kyoto, which guarantees to make power more expensive, and the RMA, which makes it all but impossible to reliably transport power to NZ's largest city; and they're doing everything they possibly can to stop the production of new power plants, cheering loudly every time their protests and the RMA between them sink new plans for more power (Think how they cheered when Project Aqua, Marsden B, and Genesis' Whanganui River hydro schemes were canned).

In the face of opposition such as that from her colleagues and supporters, how are the power companies supposed to keep producing cheap power and keep making it widely available, as she insists they must? How are they supposed to deliver this "right" that she talks about?

How? Somehow.

MATT MCCARTEN ARGUED that the person who switched off the power to the Muliaga's home should have known what would happen to poor Mrs Muliaga when he did that.

Yet he also argued that there was nothing wrong in the family (four sons in all, ranging from a seven-year-old to a twenty-one-year-old) sitting down for two hours with their dying mother to sing hymns, since they didn't know that she was dying... How, we have to wonder, was the poor contractor supposed to know what the family themselves apparently weren't aware of?

How? Somehow.

BRADFORD ARGUED THAT people shouldn't leap to judgement by "playing politics," and McCarten argued that people shouldn't be condemning this family before the facts are known.

Yet even before the facts are known (and in complete disregard of the facts that are known) these two between them have leapt to make political capital out of this tragedy.

There's an error here in both of them that is far more than just one of logic.

UPDATE: What did Mrs Muliaga die from? On that, as Whale Oil suggests,
the quote of the week comes from Lindsay Perigo on Eye to Eye just after one of the socialists say her death should be blamed on poverty. Quote:Well she didn't die of starvation.
As I've said here before, poverty in South Auckland is generally not a shortage of money. It's an excess of poor choices. Today's Herald highlights the result for Mrs Muliaga of some of those choices.
Mrs Muliaga was fatally ill when she left hospital last month and not expected to live much longer. The obesity-related heart and lung disease which was killing Mrs Muliaga was being kept at bay by a cocktail of powerful medication - not the oxygen machine. Mrs Muliaga had previously turned her back on using the drugs to seek traditional Samoan health care...

Mrs Muliaga was suffering from cardiomyopathy - a weakness in the muscle of the heart brought on by a lack of oxygen being carried to the organ. The illness, lung disease and associated breathing difficulties were related to her obesity. She had been admitted to Middlemore Hospital in April and was discharged on May 11...

It was not the first time she had been hospitalised since the illness was diagnosed about five years ago. On previous hospital stays for the same problem, Muliaga had been told her lifestyle had to change or her health would not improve. This time, like previous times, she was stabilised and released with medication that would help relieve the symptoms. She was also given the oxygen machine, which is intended to assist her breathing - not to breathe for her.

When doctors who had treated her heard she had died after the power cut, they were astonished. On release, she was not so ill that the machine was critical to survival...

"No one should ever die because they can't pay a power bill," [said Mighty River Power chairwoman Carole Durbin].
And in this case, no one did. Shame on those who use tragedies like this to make political capital.

Friday, 1 June 2007

BEER O'CLOCK - Taste-off: Budvar v DAB V Limburg v Mac's

Since we're still enjoying an Indian summer (and while we might be enjoying global warming they're sure catching a chill elsewhere), I figured reposting my pre-summer taste test of some good, crisp, summery lagers would be the thing for a long, semi-summery weekend that might be the last chance for some months to enjoy a cold beer in the sun...

An informal beer tasting was held yesterday here in the garden at 'Not PC Towers.' Ranged against each other in two 'semi-finals' were two New Zealand charmers, and a couple of European beauties. The tasting began informally, and ended even more so.

The two Europeans lined up against each other first. On the left the Czech beauty Budvar, and on the right a German from Dortmund, DAB. Quite a contrast to look at in the glass, with the Budvar both darker and with with much less head; both proved an equal contrast in taste. The DAB was crisper and 'deeper,' with almost a hint of mushroom, but all the tastes very subtle. If drinking the DAB was like eating an apple with a hint of mushroom, the Budvar was like a malt biscuit with a small side of hops. Very tasty. Neither had much aroma to speak of, but the tastes were superb, and beautifully integrated. The afternoon ... ahem ... the tasting had started well.

In the European semi-final then, the Czech beauty proved a narrow, but unanimous winner with its extra flavour just getting its 'head' above that of the other competitor.

So to the two New Zealand charmers, the Limburg Hopsmacker and the Mac's Reserve. Both are attractive in the glass (bear in mind the Hopsmacker is an ale) and both have full and attractive aromas -- the Hopsmacker exceedlingly so -- but after the two Europeans these local lovelies were far less subtle and much more, um, robust. My regular beer correspondents might disown me for saying so, but from the first sip it was clear that whoever won this local derby, the eventual winner would be from Europe.

Of these two locals however the Hopsmacker was the clear favourite. Taste aplenty, as there was also in the Mac's Reserve, but the Hopsmacker's flavours seemed somehow better integrated, and the Reserve's bitter after-taste lost it points by the hop-load.

So to the Final, and following the final taste-off, and then another for third and fourth, and then just a few more to make sure of the results -- and then doubly sure since we wouldn't want to make any mistakes (by which time both 'tasting room' and tasters could well fit the description implied by the phrase "a mess") the taste test results looked like this (and I really do hesitate to use the phrase "in order"):
  1. Budvar. Just like the Miss World contest, the Czech beauty got the crown.
  2. DAB
  3. Limburg Hopsmacker
  4. Mac's Reserve
And it has to be said too that beer really was the winner on the day. Hic. And still is.

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Three stages of a man's life

Ain't that the truth...

A challenge for socialists under thirty

What do you do when reality confronts your most cherished beliefs with unwelcome facts? "When the facts change," said economist John Maynard Keynes, "I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

I ask because any socialist under thirty who is reading this will, if they're honest, be looking at the collapse of petro-socialist Venezuela and asking themselves some serious questions about socialism in practice. Venezuela's agony is not unique -- anyone over forty who's ever seen a news broadcast has seen it all before. Her fate was shared by every single country anywhere that ever adopted the destructive principles of More Socialism, More Government and the demonisation of capitalism and wealth production.

Both the collapse and the spiral into totalitarianism are the inevitable results of those ideals.

Peter Schwartz suggested back in 1995 that anyone over forty who had watched the collapse of the Berlin Wall and didn't draw the necessary conclusions about the abject failure of socialism as an ideology was either deluded, dishonest or braindead. Those too young then but who share those same ideals now should have been watching current events in Venezuela with the same interest, and hopefully with your brains switched on. Those of us old enough to have watched the crumbling, the penury, the totalitarianism, and the eventual collapse of every socialist regime known to man know what socialism looks like when implemented. This is your generation's opportunity to watch and to learn.

The process is the same everywhere: First they nationalise industry, then they censor all opposition, and then slowly the people starve -- and by that stage there's no one left to speak out. For those with eyes to see, Venezuela is just the latest tragic lesson.

Chavez's nationalisation of Venezuela's energy and telecommunications industries, of oil fields, banks and steel producers, these were just his first steps. His recent ham-fisted closure of the only remaining opposition TV station is the next. In the socialist gulag, free speech is not to be trusted:

President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech. [The protests followed the] shutting-down of the country's oldest television station, the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network (RTC).

On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown, following the fifth straight day of protests... RCTV was replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station...

These events make the news. The slow, stale stagnation of life (and death) under Chavez doesn't. Jeff Perren describes life under Chavez:

Increasingly frequent reports reveal that — in true 1960s Soviet style — grocery stores in Venezuela are no longer stocking items we would take for granted, such as sugar or black beans. These items, it happens, are staples of the traditional Venezuelan diet. However, because Chavez is so determined to “help the poor,” the socialist way, soon neither rich nor poor will be able to find such items in Venezuelan grocery stores.

Chavez’s price controls are having the same effects in Venezuela they’ve had everywhere else they’ve been tried... True to form, Chavez has threatened to jail price control violators.

In addition to their gradual takeover of the media, Venezuela’s socialists, led by Chavez and his Vice President Jorge Rodriguez, are nationalizing everything in sight as rapidly as possible.

The economic effects of these socialist programs speak for themselves. Per-capita GDP in Chile is $12,600 per year. In Argentina, it’s $15,000. In Mexico — not exactly a rich country, by any standard — it is $10,600. In Venezuela, the figure is $6,900, behind even the Dominican Republic at $8,000.

Remember, this is a country that supplies 11% of U.S. oil imports, and who received over $46 billion last year in oil receipts (assuming 2.55 mb/d at $50 per barrel). Of course, as oil production continues to decline, those numbers will worsen. Revenues for Venezuela will decrease, and exports will decrease, as Chavez continues to forego infrastructure investment in favor of social welfare spending.

Like I say, to those of who saw the heyday of socialism, we look at all this with the benefit of hindsight. If we're honest about what we've seen, none of this is either unfamiliar or unpredictable. Those productive Venezuelans, for example, who went on nationwide strike four years ago to protest the imminent liquidation of their property rights and themselves under Chavez's communist revolution knew what they were about, and knew exactly what was afoot. Jonathan Hoenig makes their point:

As Ayn Rand wrote, "without property rights, no other rights are possible." Chavez’s socialism, under which private property does not exist, is bringing this once-promising country back to the third world. He might have called Bush “El Diablo”, but it doesn’t take much to see the effect of Chavez’s benevolent populism.

Simply put, he is leading his people down a pathway to hell.

And note well: It's the same pathway down which every single socialist country before them has gone. Make no mistake: this is socialism's inevitable result. As Jeff Perren sadly concludes:
Given the country’s current trajectory, it’s almost inevitable that many people will have to suffer and die, needlessly, before Chavez’s increasingly harsh and unworkable socialist policies are discarded.
I urge you not to let this suffering and despotism happen with your sanction. Socialism is a bacillus as destructive as smallpox. I implore you to learn from the suffering and dying in Venezuela; to refuse to sanction it; to help wipe the socialism that caused it from the face of the earth, just as smallpox itself was once eradicated.

Leo Tolstoy said once that everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. I'd like to turn that around. Changing yourself and your own ideals for the better is precisely where changing the world actually begins. That's where positive change begins. The battle against the destruction and human misery brought about by the ideals of socialism begins by rejecting those same ideals in yourself, and then by ensuring that what's being done to Venezuelans in the name of "people power" isn't done to you, or done in your name.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Global warming sanity from India

No one has died or is likely to die from global warming, but people have been dying in their hundreds of thousands from poverty, with India right up there as a place in which they've been dying.

Full praise then to India's environment minister, Pradipto Ghosh, who in preparation for next week's G8 meeting that will focus on global warming says "that any curbs would hold back India's economy and damage attempts to eradicate poverty."
"India will reject any attempt to put legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the G8 summit next week. Setting legal limits on CO2 emissions was "not the path we [India] want to pursue," Mr Ghosh said.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions [is] likely to have significant adverse impacts on GDP growth of developing countries, including India - and serious implications for our poverty-alleviation programmes," he said."
Good on him. That's a man who has his priorities right. See (UK) Daily Telegraph: India to Shun G8 Demands on Gas Emissions - [hat tip Marcus].

McCanns seeking something from the Pope.

Does anyone else find it ironic that the McCann family, whose child is suspected of being kidnapped by a paedophile, is reported as seeing the Pope to "find comfort." I'd like to suggest that perhaps their motive for seeing the Pope has been misreported.

Bearing in mind that the Pope's early career consisted largely of defending paedophile priests and buying off the victims of those priests -- and that as a consequence he must have a better directory of Europe's paedophiles than Interpol -- perhaps the McCann's aren't seeing the Pope to seek comfort, but to seek information.

It's a thought...

Daily Record Building - Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Brilliant Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was designing and building tall, stunning modern buildings -- to use Louis Sullivan's phrase, buildings that were "comely in the nude" --long before the idea really occurred to too many others outside Chicago, and few of those rare geniuses were able to express their ideas as deftly as Mackintosh.

1901. Just think about that.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Call me anti-social

Law, good law, is intended to protect me from you and you from me. Specifically, it is intended only to protect me against any initiation of force or fraud by you, and you from any initiation of force or fraud by me. My freedom ends where your nose begins.

That works both ways.

There is an expectation that if you violate good law, that you will be handled under due process, and that the punishment will fit the crime. This is all part of what it means to have objective law. This is what freedom looks like. This is what Annette King wants to overturn with what is called in the UK 'Anti-Social Behaviour Orders', which give police the power to deliver summary justice, and courts the power to turn minor offences into a five-year stay in jail if they're arbitrarily deemed to be anti-social.

She means it. We should take this seriously.

Russell Brown and No Right Turn are right. This needs to be opposed. Read their posts to see why. Read the BBC's The Asbo Chronicles to see why. To paraphrase Russell, and at his express invitation, here's my short, and consciously anti-social response to Annette: you can stick your fucking ASBO up your arse.

Who sings when your mother is dying?

Not knowing all the facts is no barrier to every bullfrog and his leg-rope taking up positions on the death of Folole Muliaga. Plenty of questions about what exactly happened, few of which seem to have been answered twenty-four hours after we first heard of the apparent tragedy, and Craig asked these questions.

If Folole Muliaga died so shortly after the power to her home was cut… why wasn’t she more prepared? Power cuts are common. If the facts as the media are presenting them are correct, a car hitting a powerpole down the street or a fault at a substation could have killed her at any time.

Furthermore, if you do subject yourself to this level of dependence on the power grid, why sit waiting for four warning notices and six weeks to elapse and do nothing? Not arrange with your respiratory nurse for a portable O2 bottle, not arrange for a transport to hospital, not call an ambulance when the contractor turns up and tells you they’re going to shut off the power.

Mercury Energy may certainly have some culpability, but it seems like there’s something we’re not being told. For a person to let their very survival rely completely, 100% on an unreliable system which is out of their control, and to ignore several warnings about its impending disconnection yet failing to enact any one of several easy remedies to the situation?

All good questions that I don't think have been adequately addressed. What we do know is that Folole Muliaga wasn't completely, 100% reliant upon the oxygen machine. It was not "a full breathing machine," notes David Farrar, "where death is automatic if it stops. The machine was for people with a chronic, mildly reduced level of oxygen in their blood, typically those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder." That said, she received the machine on May 11, she needed it, and the Muliagas were presumably already behind in their bills at that stage, yet they proceeded to rely on power always being there -- just as if, in their minds, the unpaid bills and the supply of power were unconnected. That's a clue right there, isn't it?

There does appear to be a lack of responsibility all round, doesn't there. Cactus puts the questions we'd all like to ask more bluntly than most:
If you were on a home oxygen machine, don't you think you would put the electricity bill ahead of ALL the other bills? Or if you were a family member don't you think you would have helped and made sure it was paid? Or run to Social Welfare and get assistance like they are MEANT to be there for...real emergency matters of welfare. It is a horrible story but it really hits deep into the league of can lead a horse to water.....but you can't help people who don't help themselves. Or get off their arse and call for a fucking ambulance when the power was cut off?
Nope, with Middlemore Hospital just down the road, with unpaid power bills all around them and the alarm for their mother's oxygen machine loudly playing a tune, they apparently all sat around and sang a song. I find that just impossible to understand. Perhaps you could explain it to me.

UPDATE 1: I've heard people arguing there are "cultural" reasons for what this family did (and Falu. On that, I can only quote Thomas Sowell on that and invite you to reflect upon it:
Cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life, and we should judge them by how well they work for those within them.
Think about that. If reports are true, it has rarely been so starkly illustrated.

UPDATE 2: I say that not all questions have been answered, which is true, but I should give credit to this morning's coverage in the hard copy of the Herald [some of which appears here], which seems to have answered all the questions that it's possible to answer at this stage. Kudos to the Herald for that. (The coverage is so good that all copies were sold out at the three outlets I visited this morning. I was forced to buy a coffee to catch up).

It's worth noting that none of the people describing the events publicly were there at the time, and that the family spokesman who has described them is described as "a union organiser" -- so expect some (quite understandable) hyperbole. And this too seems worth noting:
Folole Muliaga was seriously ill from heart and lung disease, but her hospital doctors are surprised she died "so soon" after her oxygen machine stopped providing the life-giving gas. The 44-year-old died about 2 1/2 hours after the mains-powered machine, supplied by the Counties Manukau District Health Board, stopped working about 11am on Tuesday.

Medical experts said yesterday that home-oxygen machines were given only to patients with chronic conditions. They were not aware that any of the machines had battery back-ups. "It's not a life-critical thing as a rule," said the health board's chief medical officer, Dr Don Mackie. "There are things about this case that we don't understand," he said.
Now ain't that the truth.

NZ the way Jordan Carter wants it.

Labour hack Jordan Carter imagines and blogs an alternative history that would have resulted if the Labour Party and the Alliance re-united in 1994. (You can see it here.)

"Imagine," he imagines, breathing hard all the while, that this "more left-wing Labour Party" had taken power in 1999, but with "a wider activist base and a more radical policy and caucus, and aided by the Greens as a coalition partner." His imagination, such as it is, has served up some frankly febrile predictions about what life would be like in New Zealand in 2007 under such a collectivist's wet dream.

To help our erstwhile alternative historian (who seems to have overlooked a few things), I have added the necessary touch of realism to Master Carter's wet dream. Here is how this place would really look if the nightmare situation he describes had truly taken place:

  • Health spending would be sitting around 9-10% of GDP and, with the consequent inflation in the Government health system, surgery numbers are down, waiting lists have soared, and small medical supplies companies are listing on the stock exchange at the rate of twice a week. Radiologists are still on strike.
  • The 1991 benefit cuts would have been reversed, and beneficiary numbers increased from 270,000 to over 400,000. Shareholders in Sky City and Restaurant Brands/KFC buy condos on the Gold Coast. Meanwhile the three poor saps left to pick up the tab for this welfare explosion have just bought the last remaining flights out to Australia. There are no lights still burning to turn out: Kyoto has put paid to the power stations.
  • The industrial relations system would have been re-collectivised, days lost to strikes would have gone through the roof, and no ferries would have crossed Cook Strait since Xmas 2005. No killing has been done at any meatworks since the General Strike of 2003, and meat has been changing hands at $100 per kilo in some inner suburbs of Helengrad.
  • Tertiary, early childhood, vocational education and training have been made "free" at point of use, private schools and early childhood centres have been nationalised, and Jane Kelsey, Susan St John and John Minto are writing the curriculum. NCEA has been scrapped for being "too challenging" for students. No one can read, or write, or do sums (but they're all very good at some stick games), and teachers wear kevlar stab-proof vests to schools, which they pay for themselves out of their meagre salaries.
  • Nation-wide investment in public transport has have been far higher over the past decade, and flowers and trees now grow on NZ's (very) few motorway systems. Auckland's buses are still empty. There is no work to travel to, no rush hour to negotiate, and Queen St is being dug up again. Car imports have been banned, and the average age of cars is twenty years and rising. Petrol taxes are now set at $3 per litre to help pay for public transport and the MPs' Superannuation Fund. Mike Ward is the Minister for Transport.
  • New Zealand would have focused economic policy on local production, not acceded any further into the WTO system, and reinstuted protectionism on local industry. Sue Bradford is the Minister for Trade. Import licensing has been reintroduced (making the holders of these licenses fabulously wealthy), and families in Porirua no longer able to buy cheap imported bedding, clothing and appliances are now making underwear out of their curtains and boiling up rocks to make soup. There is no internet because nobody can afford the locally-assembled computers, and (since they've all been assembled at the Sheltered Workshops) they don't work anyway.
  • New Zealand's distribution of income would be moving solidly in a more egalitarian direction, with no one earning over $20,000pa except for civil servants and MPs. Everyone else has been made equally poor, and everyone is equally miserable. Blam Blam Blam reissues "There is No Depression in New Zealand" in a limited edition, with free packets of soma for the first 1,000 buyers.
  • Public spending would be at around 42-44% of GDP, around $17bn a year higher than it is today. Interest rates are at 20% and climbing, but still no-one is buying the dollar...
  • The country has been renamed the People's Republic of Aotearoa, the Treaty relationship has been put into a modern, bicultural context, and Co-Prime Minister Turia (head of the new Upper House, called the Council of United National Tribes) has just "negotiated" a co-management deal with Fonterra whereby tribal leaders will receive each year's dairy payout to redistribute as they see fit. Farmers are shooting and burying their sheep and cattle.
  • Immigration is no longer a problem, and the only flights now are outbound. Without a political platform, Winston Peters retires from politics and buys a corner dairy.

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"Christianity was a Roman thing, not a Jewish thing."

"You wouldn't take the Gospels as gospel."

"There's nothing original in Christianity."

Just some of the provocative views of James Valliant, author of the forthcoming book Behind the Cross that examines the origins and early history of Christianity -- and that history is anything but what you've been told.

Last Easter, author Valliant engaged with Lindsay Perigo in a wide-ranging on-air conversation that has just come online today. Rest assured there are both lessons for and parallels to today.

Settle back and listen in here for a whole two-hours of conversation and questions. And head here to engage in discussion with Valliant. He can't wait to talk to you. :-)

UPDATE: By the way, if anybody is suitably inspired and would like to transcribe all or part of this interview so I can use it in The Free Radical, I'd love to hear from you. Email me at 'organon at ihug dot co dot nz.' Cheers.

Jumping off the warmists' gravy train

Mathematician and computer and electrical engineer David Evans explains in depth at the Mises site why, in his words "I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train" -- "making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming" -- and why he jumped off that train.

The basic reason he jumped off, he explains is that the warmists' arguments just don't stack up. "The pieces of evidence ... just kept falling away," three pieces in particular [go and see what they are]. "There is now no observational evidence that global warming is caused by carbon emissions," says Evans, who suggests we look at "the interaction between science and politics," and at a crucial change in both at about the turn of the century.
By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions.

But after 2000 the case against carbon emissions gradually got weaker. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken it. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming?

...the cause of global warming is not just another political issue, subject to endless debate and distortions. The cause of global warming is an issue that falls into the realm of science, because it is falsifiable. No amount of human posturing will affect what the cause is.

'A Song of Life' - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Concluding excerpt from 'A Song of Life' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919):

I lift up my eyes to Apollo,
The god of the beautiful days,
And my spirit soars off like a swallow,
And is lost in the light of its rays.
Are you troubled and sad? I beseech you
Come out of the shadows of strife –
Come out in the sun while I teach you
The secret of life.

Come out of the world – come above it –
Up over its crosses and graves,
Though the green earth is fair and I love it,
We must love it as masters, not slaves.
Come up where the dust never rises –
But only the perfume of flowers –
And your life shall be glad with surprises
Of beautiful hours.
Come up where the rare golden wine is
Apollo distills in my sight,
And your life shall be happy as mine is,
And as full of delight.

TAGS: Poetry

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Fisking St. Al

Al Bore: "He’s his own Leni Riefenstahl," says Tim Blair.

Read Tim's hilarious fisking of Time magazine's 'Letter from St. Pooley to St Al' here: Al's the Guy. And here's something even less laudatory about "the Al phenomenon," and a recent appearance of The Phenomenon and His Followers in Marin County.

And think about this, from Tim's Daily Telegraph column:

News flash: people can't change weather. Try stopping the rain some time.

But there is one guaranteed way to make things uncomfortably warm for our children (or at least our girl children). Require them to wear burqas every time they set foot outside.

You don't want that future for your kids? Well, quit worrying about big CO2 and be concerned instead about big Mo.

Mo? He's been trying to get you to notice him for sixty-odd years. Odd that Big Al doesn't seem to notice him at all.

Fixing your errors

Here's a list from the ever useful Economist Style Guide of unfortunately far too common solecisms you should know about, and should definitely avoid (especially if you're submitting an article to The Free Radical). [Hat tip Ceely's Modern Usage] What's a solecism? Looks like you definitely need to read the list...

SOLECISM, n., a deviation from correct idiom or grammar; any incongruity, error or absurdity; a breach of good manners, an impropriety.

Many necessary correctives here, to quote just a few:
  • Canute's exercise on the seashore was designed to persuade his courtiers of what he knew to be true but they doubted, ie, that he was not omnipotent. Don't imply he was surprised to get his feet wet.
  • Confectionary [of whatever colour]: a sweet. Confectionery: sweets in general.
  • Crisis. This is a decisive event or turning-point. Many of the economic and political troubles wrongly described as crises are really persistent difficulties, sagas or affairs.
  • Critique is a noun. If you want a verb, try criticise.
  • Decimate means to destroy a proportion (originally a tenth) of a group of people or things, not to destroy them all or nearly all. Factoid: something that sounds like a fact, is thought by many to be a fact (perhaps because it is repeated so often), but is not in fact a fact. [e.g., "global warming has already made hundreds of thousands of climate refugees from low-lying Pacific islands."]
  • Frankenstein was not a monster, but its creator.
  • Gender is a word to be applied to grammar, not people. If someone is female, that is her sex, not her gender. (The gender of M├Ądchen, the German word for girl, is neuter, as is Weib, a wife or woman.)
  • Hobson's choice is not the lesser of two evils; it is no choice at all.
  • Homosexual: since this word comes from the Greek word homos (same), not the Latin word homo (man), it applies as much to women as to men. It is therefore as daft to write homosexuals and lesbians as to write people and women.
  • Key: keys may be major or minor, but not low. Few of the decisions, people, industries described as key are truly indispensable, and fewer still open locks.
  • Like governs nouns and pronouns, not verbs and clauses. So as in America not like in America. But authorities like Fowler and Gowers is a perfectly acceptable alternative to authorities such as Fowler and Gowers.
  • Media: prefer press and television or, if the context allows it, just press. If you have to use the media, remember it is plural.
  • Only. Put only as close as you can to the words it qualifies. Thus, These animals mate only in June. To say They only mate in June implies that in June they do nothing else.
  • Oxymoron: an oxymoron is not an unintentional contradiction in terms but a figure of speech in which contradictory terms are deliberately combined, as in bitter-sweet, cruel kindness, sweet sorrow, etc.
  • Per caput is the Latin for per head. Per capita is the Latin for by heads; it is a term used by lawyers when distributing an inheritance among individuals, rather than among families (per stirpes). Unless the context demands this technical expression, never use either per capita or per caput but per person.
  • Propaganda (which is singular) means a systematic effort to spread doctrine or opinions. It is not a synonym for lies.
  • Rebut means repel or meet in argument. Refute, which is stronger, means disprove. Neither should be used as a synonym for deny.
  • Use and abuse: two words much used and abused. You take drugs, not use them (Does he use sugar?). And drug abuse is just drug taking, as is substance abuse, unless it is glue sniffing or bun throwing.
  • While is best used temporally. Do not use it in place of although or whereas.

AGW: It's a trust issue

Here's just the tiniest taste of the insight a fifteen-year old girl with a brain on her shoulders can bring to bear on the IPCC and the "trust" issue; a small excerpt from Kristen Byrnes' Ponder the Maunder website, (an "extra-credit assignment" for her Portland, Maine school, and perhaps the clearest-eyed look at the whole global warming charade I've seen) :
In my view, the IPCC and their public relations people have created a trust issue. One reason is that the release of their 2007 summary was accompanied by a press release claiming that the report was the product of “The world's leading climate scientists.” Who made these people the worlds leading climate scientists? The press release.

Another example of this trust problem is demonstrated in the IPCC graph below. This graph was released with the IPCC’s 2007 summary that concluded that they are 90% certain that man made CO2 is responsible for much of 20th century warming. This graph [below] is based on their radiative heat transer theory. It attempts to demonstrate how much each radiative forcing component has contributed to global warming. Now look at the column on the far right labeled “LOSU.” This is the Level Of Scientific Understanding for each component.

Notice how most components have a medium or low level of understanding. Does this make you think that they are 90% certain of their conclusion?

Now look at the last component of the climate system, solar forcing. Notice that it comes with a “low” Level Of Understanding. What bothers me is that the IPCC completely ignores the scientific understanding, studies and experiments related to the effect of galactic cosmic rays on cloud cover, such warming effect almost completely negates any warming that the IPCC theorizes is created by man made greenhouse gasses. “The 2% change in low clouds during a solar cycle will vary the input of heat to the Earth’s surface by an average of about 1.2 Wm squared, which is not trivial. It can be compared, for example, with 1.4 Wm squared attributed by the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all of the additional carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution.” (C5)
Visit Kristen's award-winning site here: Ponder the Maunder.

Tehran promises "peace in our time."

If a fox were to offer to guard the hen-house, or to help train and equip the hen-house guards, what kind of fool would any farmer be to take such an offer seriously.

So why is Iran's offer to to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure [in Iraq]" taken as anything other than what it is: an offer by the chief trainer, armourer and supplier of Iraqi insurgency to help destroy what little security there is in Iraq.

This is what comes of the foolish notion that if you don't identify your enemy and you talk with them instead, that both of you are fooled by your evasion. The US might be fooled, but the mullahs and the haters and the bombers know exactly what they're doing. [Hat tip Mike, at Primacy of Awesome]. Said Yaron Brook months ago,
Any U.S. appeal to Iran or Syria for help in Iraq would be suicidal and immoral. By evading the evil of these regimes and pretending that they're peace-seekers who share our goals, the United States would be encouraging and rewarding their aggression. Dispensing with moral judgment is not a short-cut to achieving peace; it is a sure way of unleashing and goading the killers to redouble their efforts...
It's the same 'shortcut' to peace that's been tried for the last sixty years ... and it will prove just as successful now for Bush and the Iraqis as it did once for Neville Chamberlain and the citizens of Czechoslovakia, and the world.

UPDATE: A commenter accused me here of invoking the Nazis, and equating the Nazis with the Islamofascists. Now as it happens, I wasn't doing that -- at least not here. In this post, I was simply pointing out one of the many lessons from history that if not learned we are condemned to repeat -- which is itself one of those lessons.

However, just because I didn't directly invoke it doesn't mean it isn't true, and in this webcast David Horowitz invites you to consider that the invocation wouldn't be at all out of place. See Islamic Mein Kampf.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Who's got the ball?

D'you think any of the various brands of mystics talking tolerance up at Waitangi today gave any thought to the idea that if any one of them is actually right about their particular imaginary friend, then all the others are wrong.

They can't all be right, now can they. So how would any of them judge? How would they be able to tell, for example, that it wasn't Brian who is really the Messiah?

Just asking.

UPDATE 1: Great comment on Brian's protest over at Frog Blog:
Tamaki is a Protestant Nonconformist. Several hundred years ago, when they *had* established churches in European countries (Catholic/Anglican) Tamaki would have been burnt at the stake. Especially for usurping the title of Bishop. It’s only the religious tolerance that he protests about that allows his church to exist.
Don't expect Brian to be bothered by the contradiction. If contradictions really bothered him, he'd have a different day job .. and maybe a better hobby.

UPDATE 2: This seems an appropriate moment to post this observation, from Christopher Hitchens' new book: "There are," insists Hitchens, "four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking."

UPDATE 3: A colleague makes this point:
I don't think this conference was so much about separation of church and state ... as much as it was about protecting primitive belief systems from criticism. I'm waiting for the push on hate speech laws now.

Learning from NCEA mistakes...

I was reading the latest NZ Montessori News when I heard that this Government has finally conceded the NCEA system as introduced by the previous Government is mistaken, and intends to announce this morning that they will be making changes.


Any changes made will be far fewer than required -- which is a total scrapping -- and will have far less positive effect than the headlines tell us, but I want to focus first on the highly unusual occurrence in politics that a mistake has been both admitted and seen as an opportunity to make things better, and I want to focus on that because it happens so rarely in politics, and it's exactly what I was reading about in the NZ Montessori News when I heard the news about the NCEA.

You see, in both traditional education and traditional politics, mistakes are a humiliation -- something to fear -- a reason for cover-ups, excuses and mealy-mouthed evasions on Close Up and Socialism at Seven. Not so in real life -- answering a critic on this point, economist John Maynard Keynes (whose own work is a monument to error), responded: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" -- nor in the Montessori classroom. As Nicky Chisnall points out in the article I was reading,
Dr Montessori suggests that the Montessori teacher (and by extrapolation parent, employer, employee, friend ... ) should see mistakes as an indication of some error she has made and thus seek to correct it. In a traditional school [or in politics], this would be seen as humiliating, but in Dr Montessori's approach it is just a new way of looking at things... The Montessori way emphasises that mistakes give us opportunities to learn.
If we're not afraid to make mistakes then we're more likely to experiment, to try new things, to give ourselves more opportunities to be creative, and to be much more productive than if we're motivated only by fear of failure. The thing is that when you or I or a businessman or woman makes a mistake, and we're honest about it (in the terms of my earlier post on lying today, if we're committed to focussing on reality), then recognition of error is not bad, it's a good thing. It keeps us focussed on what's real.

Mistakes are made, we fix them, and we move on and make things better by removing the error -- and things overall are improved for the better. Not so in politics, where the idea of "opportunities to learn" is no more in evidence than is the admission of mistakes, so for today's small and unusual blessing we should be thankful.


The thing is that when you or I or a businessman or woman experiments, then (if we do maintain our reality focus) that process of experimentation leads to better and better things, with mistakes corrected as we go on to even better things. On the other hand, since in business and private activity people only deal with us voluntarily, any mistakes or bad results that do occur are limited. Whole countries and whole generations aren't required by force to submit to our experiments and to pay for our mistakes.

Not so in politics.

New Zealand's experiment with mediocrity in education has been a disaster. The NCEA 'system', a fragmented pedagogical experiment implemented and enforced by braindead educationalists and by both main political parties has helped turn the minds of a generation of young students to mush: a generation of young students has been delivered by force to the factory schools wherein this experiment has been taking place, and the future for all those young students is less bright as a result.

In politics, unlike in real life, mistakes like those admitted to today can have enormous and far-reaching destructive power. The real mistake we've all made is to give politicians all that power, including the power to destroy. But that too is a mistake that can be fixed -- all it takes is that first admission of error.

What kind of technology user am I?

Here you go, I'm a "Connector." See.
Defining Characteristics
Connectors combine a sense that information technology is good for social purposes with a clear recognition that online resources are a great way to learn new things. Their cell phones have a lot of features, and they also try new things with technology; more than half have watched TV programming on a device like a laptop computer or cell phone.
What gadget/geek "typology" are you? [Hat tip Craig C]

"It's a lie!"

Q: Why is it wrong to lie?
A: Because in lying either to yourself or to others, you're trying to fake reality -- and reality will always be avenged. Says Ayn Rand on this point:
The essence of a con-man's [or a politician's] lie -- of any such lie, no matter what the details -- is the attempt to gain a value by faking certain facts of reality.

Now can't you grasp the logical consequences of that kind of policy ? Since all facts of reality are interrelated, faking one of them leads the person to fake others; ultimately, he is committed to an all-out war against reality as such. But this is the kind of war no one can win. If life in reality is a man's purpose, how can he expect to achieve it while struggling at the same time to escape and defeat reality?

The con-man's lies are wrong on principle. To state the principle positively: honesty is a long-range requirement of human self-preservation and is, therefore, a moral obligation.
Note that by this reasoning the harm you do in lying is not just to others, as conventionally thought, but also to yourself and to your own grasp of existence. The "obligation" of honesty arises because human survival -- our own individual survival and flourishing -- requires an unswerving reality focus that we undercut by our own dishonesty, however small, and by our own evasions, however trivial.

So if even small lies commit you to an all-out war against reality, what then (Gus van Horn wondered yesterday) about this effort: "a propaganda effort that makes Michael Moore seem like a piker" -- a god damned "Creationist Museum" complete with a special-effects theater "with vibrating seats meant to evoke the flood, and a planetarium paying tribute to God's glory while exploring the nature of galaxies." " [New York Times story here.]

Just what the fuck kind of war against reality does something like this represent? To say nothing of the implications of the post below this one ...

Warming: It depends how you measure it...

Recent posts here at Not PC have referred to the reservations reasonable scientists have about the gathering of the surface temperature record. ( Vincent Gray summarises the problems here [pdf].)

For a wee visual hint at what some of those reservations are, Anthony Watts has been exploring Californian weather stations to examine the physical locations in which temperature is recorded. Here's one at Maryville, California, considered a "high quality" station in the station list used to calculate global "warming":

And here's the temperature chart for this location over the course of a century or so:

For comparison, here's the chart for a temperature station nearby that's out in the middle of a field:Can anyone say "Urban Heat Island effect?" When you consider that the "corrections" made by the UN/IPCC warmists to the surface temperature record to account for such abominations is anything but peer reviewed, and relies largely on the say-so of one man, Phil Jones, who insists that a correction of 0.05 degrees per century is sufficient, but then refuses to let his working be checked by reliable statisticians [story here] ... well, I'll let Anthony and Steve McIntyre and their commenters take up the explanation from there.

But just remember pictures like these when you're told by Simon and Wendy that Month X was the warmest in Y million years. And if you're passing a temperature collection location, take a photograph and send them to Roger Pielke Sr. and to Anthony at SurfaceStations.Org [perhaps see if it's already been recorded here first]. How could it hurt?

Temple of the Human Spirit - Frederick Clifford Gibson

Frederick Clifford Gibson's 'Temple of the Human Spirit,' with sculpture by Michael Wilkinson, designed for a site overlooking San Francisco Bay, for a competition that ... well, let's say that for good reasons Gibson had eschewed competitions, right up until he saw this competition brief callinging for "an architecture of laughter, in particular, a Temple of Laughter":
We do not seek a religious building per se [continued the brief]. Nor do we seek a sacrilegious building. We do, however, seek a work of profound significance, meaning, and dignity. We do not seek an ancient temple, a renaissance chapel, a tomb or a folly. We seek a brave new work that challenges history, conformity, tradition, dogma and even gravity. We seek a work of gravity that defies gravity. We do not seek a funny building or a silly structure. We seek an extraordinary new work in spirit, concept and execution. We seek an expression and embodiment of man's greatest joy and celebration of his own existence; the celebration of his own soul, the celebration of his own being, the celebration of his own mind, the celebration of his own reason, the celebration of his own life, the celebration of his own happiness, the celebration of his own body, the celebration of his own hand, the celebration of his own voice, the celebration of his own laughter. In short, we seek a masterpiece...
Such an opportunity with such a brief would be too hard for any architect of spirit to pass up! Fred Gibson recounts the tale of the design and the outcome of the competition here: The Temple of Laughter: How it Became a Joke and Ended Up in Triumph. The tale has a moral.

Monday, 28 May 2007

'Lost' & Chekhov's gun

The playwright Anton Chekhov once offered a pithy literary principle for anyone pulling together a plot. Said Anton, If a gun appears on the wall in the First Act, then it should go off the in Third.

In good drama, in other words, nothing should be unintentional. If you're not to have an audience that feels cheated when they leave the show, then questions asked of the audience in the First Act should be resolved by the Curtain.

Based on this principle, novelist Ed Cline compares my own favourite TV series The Prisoner with the series Lost, which on the face of it has many parallels. However ...

[See Ed Cline's 'Lost' and Clueless for the full story. Note that Ed "would caution the reader... about plot spoilers to follow, but there is no plot to spoil." ]

A short film at lunchtime...

Protecting yourself from vandalism is good

A company endures sabotage, disruption and destruction of property and projects by a small group of goths and vandals.

The company pays a young numb nut to infiltrate the organisation and report on when protests and disruption were planned.

Who's in the right here? The vandals? Or those trying to protect themselves from destruction and disruption?

The Greens' Russel Norman is exactly wrong to be denouncing Solid Energy (the company) for infiltrating a spy into the Save Happy Valley environmental protest group (the vandals). Not just wrong, but downright hypocritical because as Trevor Loudon points out, Russel himself was weaned by Australia's Trotskyite DSP and its former incarnation the Socialist Workers Party, both "notorious in Australia for their relentless infiltration and manipulation of other organisations."

Read Trevor's lowdown on the tactics of the Trotskyites and Russel's involvement "for several years ... in an organisation that practised manipulation of other organisations as a matter of course": Is Russel Norman being hypocritical over "infiltration" allegation.

UPDATE 1: A surveillance state? Libertarianz spokesman Greg Balle makes the perfectly sensible point that this incident illustrates a key reason why State Owned Enterprises such as Solid Energy should all be privatised. Says Greg:
While Solid Energy remains an arm of the state, activities such as surveillance of citizens takes on a very sinister element, particularly as they have the might of the sate at their disposal to protect them against legal challenges to such dubious behaviour.

If the SOE's were private corporations they would not have the protection of Nanny State's skirts to hide behind and would be subject to the rigours of the free market of industrial espionage and information, as such they would be open to court action like any other private corportation. A Libertarianz government would privatise all SOE's, like Solid Energy, and return proceeds from the privatisation to taxpayers. Eliminating the rogue arms of the corpro-state indulging in spying, intimidation and monopolistic behaviour, would be a welcome benefit from the sale of these enterprises.
Makes perfect sense to me.

UPDATE 2: Trevor Loudon provides another instructive link indicating that The Greens' have more than just an emotional connection to this issue. Young Frances Mountier, who you've probably seen on your TV news leading the rabble opposing Solid Energy, is a graduate of Sue Bradford's Kotare School project (which has been mentioned here before). Explains Trevor:
The Kotare School is openly modelled on the Communist Party USA linked Highlander School in Tennessee, famous for training martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and many other prominent "civil rights" activists.

Kotare's Green Party trustees include MP Sue Bradford (Deputy Chair), Karen Davis (Treasurer) and Sue Berman. Gordon Jackman another trustee is the partner of Green party activist, Catherine Delahunty, who tutors at the school.

Several Kotare personnel, including Sue Bradford and Quentin Jukes have Workers Communist league backgrounds. The school teaches "social activism" based on the teachings of Brazilian Marxist, Paolo Friere. It has trained many prominent youth activists, including John Darroch from Auckland Radical Youth and Wellington Palestine Group activist Tali Williams.

According to Kotare's Spring 2006 newsletter

Kotare has a Youth Advisory group of people under 25 who have volunteered to give us feedback on how we are working generally and also specifically with younger people. We are meeting with them on November 11 and 12 to discuss our work. The advisory group members are Tali Williams from Wellington, Frances Mountier from Christchurch, John Darroch from South Auckland and Tui Armstrong from Whangarei. These young people have all participated in Kotare activities since the age of 15 and have active networks and great ideas!

So Frances Mountier has trained at a Green Party linked Marxist training school since the age of 15!

The phrase "brainwashed" comes to mind.

The real story here is that Solid Energy is fighting not just a bunch of irresponsible young protestors. It is also battling the Green Party, including several of its leaders and strategies learnt in Sue Bradford's Marxist training school.

One can hardly blame them for fighting back with a little bit of espionage.
No, one couldn't. I'd suggest that the Save Happy Valley Coalition are less interested in saving snails than they are in saving and promoting Marxism.

Warmists don't like disagreement

Alexander Cockburn continues counterpunching the warmists in The Nation. Warmists don't like disagreement. Spoils the "consensus."

I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado. The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation.
"Pandybats." Good word => Pandybats were long leather-covered cane like instruments which Irish schoolmasters used as canes. Here's some of the disciplinary explosions conjured up by warmists:
  • Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists"...
  • The greenhousers endlessly propose that the consensus of "scientists" on anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. By scientists they actually mean computer modelers...
  • Peer review, heavily overworked in the rebuttals I have been reading, is actually a topic on which the greenhousers would do well to keep their mouths shut, since, as the University of Virginia's Pat Michaels has shown, the most notorious sentence in the IPCC's 1996 report ("The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate") was inserted at the last minute by a small faction on the IPCC panel after the scientific peer-review process was complete....
  • As for the alleged irrefutable evidence that people caused the last century's CO2 increase, the "smoking gun" invoked by one of my critics, Dr. Michael Mann, and his fellow fearmongers at realclimate.com, the claim is based on the idea that the normal ratio of heavy to light carbon-that is, the Carbon-13 isotope to the lighter Carbon-12 isotope, is roughly 1 to 90 in the atmosphere, but in plants there's a 2 percent lower C13/C12 ratio... once again, the greenhousers have got it ass-backward. The 100 ppm increase in CO2 can't be uniquely attributed to humans because at least as plausibly it could be the effect, not the cause, of the warming that started after the Little Ice Age denied by Dr. Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann.
Look for more in this series when Cockburn returns from flying over the Arctic to "make a direct review of the ice cap" to further annoy "committed greenhousers like George Monbiot" -- "honorary chairman of the King Canute Action Committee, committed to beating back non-existent anthropogenic global warming by tactics which would have zero impact anyway."

Here's Cockburn's complete series so far:
  1. Is Global Warming a Sin?
  2. Hot Air, Cold Cash: Who Are the Merchants of Fear?
  3. Explosion of the Fearmongers: The Greenhousers strike back and out.
UPDATE: Take the Global Warming Test: A quick quiz from 1997 that will test your grasp of global warming. It comes with a caution: "This section contains sound science, not media hype, and may therefore contain material not suitable for young people trying to get a good grade in political correctness."

Advice for Pink Tories from the Jackal author

He wrote The Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War and The Odessa File, and now Frederick Forsyth has advice for Britain's Labour-Lite David Cameron that advisers and enthusiasts of NZ's Labour-Lite John Key might want to take to heart before they get too excited about weekend poll numbers.
It may be that politics is the art of the possible but election-winning is about doing one’s sums: then persuading the maximum number in the maximum constituencies to vote for you. Turning them off, not to mention pee-ing them off, is bad arithmetic.

No one ever got to Downing Street save on the basis of two votes: their own party’s core vote (the loyalists, the traditionalists) and the floating vote – those who have no inbuilt allegiance but make up their minds near the election.

But David has a third category – the walkaway vote. Back in 1992 a staggering 14million voted Tory. Did they all love John Major? No, they knew nothing about him.

They just believed, wrongly, that he wore the mantle of Margaret Thatcher. Sixty months later they realised how wrong they had been and the Tory vote slumped by 4.5million.

Only half a million actually switched to Blair. One million when UK Independence Party/Referendum Party (now UKIP alone) and the other three million stayed at home. After four years of William Hague another 1.5 million stayed at home as the Tory vote slithered down to just over eight million. Thus, 4.5million ex-Tory voters are unaccounted for. Maybe a third have died or emigrated but that still leaves three million out there somewhere.

Dave Cameron needs at least a million of the walkaway vote to convert to the walkback vote. He needs another million of the UKIP vote (overwhelmingly former Conserv­atives) to become the switch-back vote. Then and only then does he need any Lib Dems who prefer him and his ideas to Ming Campbell to change sides.

What he absolutely does not need is to insult the UKIPers (which he has done), convince the walkaway vote to stay away (which appears to be his aim) let alone sneer at the loyalist bloc until they are so fed up they decide to leave as well. That way he will remain Leader of the Opposition for a very long time.

He is being told by the coterie of juveniles and EU fanatics with whom he surrounds himself that it doesn’t matter because offended, disgruntled and insulted Tory loyalists have nowhere else to go come polling day. Big mistake.

I know at least five Tory voters who have decided they simply cannot vote for him. Only the tip of a possible iceberg? Perhaps – but it was the tip of an iceberg that sank the Titanic.

Master David needs every damn vote he can get. Shedding them is not good mathematics.
John Boy supporters might want to think about just who John Boy's shit-eating is peeing off.

In 2002 only 425,000 voters voted National, the party's lowest vote since the invention of the steam wireless. Those voters might be regarded as the core vote, people who would vote National even if a donkey were in charge -- which is what those core National voters voted for that year. In 2005 the Nats more than doubled their vote to 890,000, sucking in an extra 465,000 voters (which included 110,000 voters from ACT, 80,000 or so from NZ First, and perhaps 200,000 or so people who'd stayed home in 2002). These would be your "floating voters."

Of these, anyone voting NZ First has to be regarded as too fickle to be considered reliable. I can't imagine that the 111,000 former ACT voters will sit still too long for policies that promise little more than muesli bars in schools and the retention of every measure that Labour ever introduced; and those voters who stayed home in 2002 can't be relied upon not to do so again. (After all, the same donkey they stayed home to avoid in 2002 will be back up there behind John Boy next year.)

And on top of that if the Nats really do want to govern on their own they'll need to pull an extra 300,000 or so in from somewhere, both new young voters (many of whom can no doubt be as easily seduced as John Boy seems to think we all are) and even some of the 935,00 who voted for Hard Labour last time. So if I were they, I wouldn't get too excited too soon about a popularity contest sans policies. Real elections need real policies more than they need honeymoon smiles.

They might reflect too on what the point would be of getting excited about a government trailing an opposition when there's barely any discernible policy difference between them. It makes no more practical sense than it does political sense.

UPDATE: The Herald's breakdown of the leading "pockets of support" for each party is instructive.
  • 54.4% of male voters prefer National, while just 29.3% of men prefer Labour.
  • Meanwhile, a whopping 50% of students (and their lecturers?) prefer Labour, that party's leading demographic indicator. Those student loan bribes last election are still paying off.
  • About a quarter of the unemployed prefer the Greens (no surprise, perhaps, for an openly anti-industrial party whose policies would see the number of unemployed explode), and 3.3% of the self-employed prefer ACT -- that party's largest "demographic."
And on that note, I suspect the demographic most strongly represented in the Libertarianz is those who like a drink. At least, that's my own experience. ;^)

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Filing by stuff that's lying around

I guess most music collectors amongst you will remember the scene in High Fidelity (book and film) when the character rearranges his record collection ... alphabetically? No ... chronologically? No .... by genre ? No... perhaps ranked according to mood? No. He's filing it autobiographically, based on when he bought it. The experience of music, says the character, is the experience of a lifetime lived. Geek heaven maybe, but possible.

So if that's true, how about the CDs, tapes and vinyl that -- no matter which way you organise the collection -- just end up regularly lying around the stereo, stuff that gets played so often it just never gets re-filed? If our autobiographical filing shows us the experience of a lifetime lived, wouldn't our regular playlist tell us more about our current selves? Or does it just tell us we should dust more often.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Here's some of what's hanging regularly around my stereo at the moment, most of which never gets back onto the shelves; the detritus of too much listening. Those of you with iPods can talk amongst yourselves for a while.
  1. Primitive Guitars - Phil Manzanera
  2. Eine Frau fur die Liebe - La Pat
  3. Benny Goodman Small Combos 1935-1941
  4. Trinity Sessions - Cowboy Junkies
  5. Lost in the Stars - Music of Kurt Weill
  6. Modern Times - Bob Dylan
  7. Wagner Choruses from Bayreuth - Wilhelm Pitz & the Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra
  8. I'm Your Fan - Songs of Leonard Cohen by ...
  9. The Time Has Come - Christy Mooore
  10. Struck By Lightning - Graham Parker
  11. Dream of Life - Patti Smith
  12. No Friend Around - John Lee Hooker
  13. Giants of Jazz: Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker
  14. Atomic Swing - Count Basie
  15. Louis Armstrong (home-made CD compilation)
  16. Sounds of the 20th Century: Django Reinhardt
  17. Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus (Vol. 5) - Serge Gainsbourg
  18. I Am the Blues - Willy Dixon
  19. Piano Sonatas 8, 14, 17, 21, 23 & 26 - Beethoven
  20. Death & the Maiden - Schubert
  21. And His Mother Called Him Bill - Duke Ellington
  22. Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington
  23. Asylum Years - Tom Waits
  24. Henry's Dream - Nick Cave
  25. Wagner Piano Transcriptions - Cyprien Katsaris
  26. Cole Porter Songbook (Vol. 1) - Ella Fitzgerald
  27. Loaded - Velvet Underground
  28. American Caesar - Iggy
  29. Coleman Hawkins - Ken Burns 'Jazz' compilation
  30. Fragments of a Rainy Season - John Cale
  31. 16 Classic Tracks - Hoagy Carmichael
  32. Della by Starlight - Della Reese
  33. Songs of the Auvergne (Canteloube)/Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (Villa-Lobos)/Vocalise (Rachmaninoff) - Anna Moffo & Leopold Stokowski
  34. Callas & Di Stefano at La Scala
  35. Tom Verlaine - Tom Verlaine
  36. Dizzy Gillespie's Big 4 - Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker
  37. Rolling Stone - Muddy Waters
  38. Pink Elephants - Mick Harvey
Yeah, it's a busy stereo, but when you work from home ...

Anyway, what does your stereo detritus say about you?