Saturday, December 15, 2007

Youngest one-year-old

It's been one whole year since the world's youngest libertarian started blogging, and one year later he's still going -- and still the world's youngest libertarian!  It's frightening to think where young Callum is going to be in a few year's time, but it's sure going to be exciting to watch. 

To celebrate his blogday, he's begun to repost his series on skyscrapers.  Excellent choice.  And well done, young man.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Beer O'Clock: Stu's 2007 beer picks

beerYes, it's that time again when we look start to look back at the year that's been and, if we haven't drunk enough to forget most of them -- and as Humphrey Bogart used to say, the trouble with the world is that everyone is just one drink behind -- we begin to gather from the tangled skeins of this year's memories some sort of order.  The task this year, beer-wise at least, falls to SOBA's Stus, who's drunk enough to know what's what, and just enough to remember.  Herewith Stu's beer awards for 2007:

NZ beer of the year:
Invercargill's Smokin' Bishop. In a craft beer market so dominated by hoppy pale ales and lagers, it's fantastic to see the little brewery differentiating themselves with something completely different. Smokin' Bishop is a strong, rich and malty red lager with a whiff of manuka-fired billy-tea. A splendidly moreish drop that beat off some extremely stiff competition to win the specialty section at BrewNZ 2007.
www.invercargillbrewery.co.nz

Best brewery:
Emerson's of Dunedin
continue to amaze and astound with a wide range of year-'round beers and a fantastic range of annual seasonals (think 'Taieri George', 'APA' and this year's new addition 'JP'). Not only is Richard Emerson the most passionate brewer in New Zealand, he's now employing one of the other most awarded and passionate brewers -- Chris O'Leary, the man whose Limburg range taught New Zealanders about wheat beers.
www.emersons.co.nz

Best bar:
Auckland's 'Galbraith's Ale House' takes out a hotly contested fight - reminiscent of a classic Ranfurly Shield battle - against New Zealand's only other real ale bar: Christchurch's 'The Twisted Hop.'  These two bars are so completely different from each other, yet are both so similarly welcoming and beer-centric.  Great beer, great food, great wine, great service, great times. Galbraith's wins by a nose because of it's slightly wider variety of beer (note also that Galbraith's still remains New Zealand's best - and possibly only - example of a genuine ale house in an ex-country-and-western nightclub).
www.alehouse.co.nz

Best bottle store:
Wellington's Regional Wines and Spirits. Is there any other? Well, yes, there are a couple worth looking for: Wellington's Rumble's and the Island Bay New World; Christchurch's Beer Emporium; and, I'm hearing good things about Auckland city's Victoria Park New World. The strength of Regional's, besides their amazing drink selection and fantastic staff, is that anyone in the country can purchase from them via mail order system.
www.regionalwines.co.nz

Best beer list:
The Malthouse, Wellington, beats off some solid competition from Hallertau Brew Bar in Riverhead, the best supporter of local craft beer. The Malthouse beer list, which numbers well over 100, covers off every occasion - and every type of beer drinker - with beers ranging from Heineken, Sol and Corona, through all the best NZ craft beers, to exquisite sipping ales like Rodenbach Grand Cru and Samuel Adam's implausible Utopias (26%!!!). When are New Zealand's restaurants going to take our amazing product seriously and arrive on the 'beer list' scene.
www.malthouse.co.nz (note: don't be scared off by the Scotsman's nostrils).

Best publication:
After a bit of a shaky start, Australian magazine 'Beer and Brewer' is really starting to hit it's straps. With more than half of the articles in the last issue being written by New Zealanders, or about our beer, we lovers of kiwi beer hope they continue to improve and receive support. Look out for the magazine at your local newsagent.
www.beerandbrewer.com.au

Best beer judge:
Blenheim-based beer writer Geoff Griggs is tireless in his judging commitments this year. Added to his usual judging tally (NZ International Beer Awards, BrewNZ, Consumer Magazine and The Capital Times Beer Survey) was the inaugral SOBA National Homebrew Championships (145 entries, and Geoff tasted every single one of them over two days). Geoff's certainly tasted more beers than anyone has had hot dinners! And he's doing most of that for little more than "thanks Geoff."  Top bloke.

Best local beer blog:
Wellington cheesemonger, homebrewer and beer judge Kieran Haslett-Moore has arrived on the blogging scene with his thoughtful blog: 'Beer from the Motherland'.  It's the first local beer blog since RealBeer  that has caught my eye, and it'll be interesting to see how it develops over the next year. Cheese lovers would be advised to keep an eye on this blog also. www.themothersmilk.blogspot.com

Best homebrewer:
This highly sought award will be announced this Sunday, at the awards party for SOBA's National Homebrew Championships. Come along to the Boatshed, on Wellington's waterfront, to find out (and taste )a wide selection of home - and commercial - craft brewed beer. Some of my own beers will even be making a rare (and probably brief) public appearance.

Feel free to let us all know your own "Bests" in the comments. And keep on drinking great beer!

Slainte mhath, Stu

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Crikey, a brain!

PC_Has_A_Brain_Shock_0001 PC_Has_A_Brain_Shock_0002I've heard suggestions that I haven't got a brain, and if I did I've never used it.  I know, I've heard you.  But me baby, I've got statistics, I've got facts.  I've got pictures.

Herewith the shocking evidence: actual picture proof that I both have a brain and, from those few splodges of colour there, that I sometimes even use it.  Frightening, isn't it.

(The pics, by the way, come from a scan done as part of a stroke study, for which the researchers needed some normal brains.  I did warn them about the inherent risk in using mine, but you just can't tell some people anything.  I've learned that.)

"No consensus" says scientists' letter to UN head

An open letter to the UN Secretary General from nearly a hundred scientists and at least a dozen economists says the UN/IPCC climate conference taking place in Bali is "taking the world in entirely the wrong direction."

"It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages," say the signatories. "We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation."

The signatories say the IPCC's "increasingly alarming conclusions about the climatic influences of human-produced carbon dioxide [are] entirely unjustified," and further that it is not even established, as the IPCC's Bali delegates simply assume, "that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions."

The Summary Reports produced by the IPCC are the basis on which the world's industrial country's are to be shackled in an attempt to significantly alter global climate, yet contrary to the impression left by the IPCC, the Summary Reports "cannot properly be represented as a consensus view among experts."  Nor, say signatories, can they be considered an accurate characterisation of the science on which the Summaries are based.

Contrary to the impression left by the IPCC Summary reports:
- Recent observations of phenomena such as glacial retreats, sea-level rise and the migration of temperature-sensitive species are not evidence for abnormal climate change, for none of these changes has been shown to lie outside the bounds of known natural variability.
- The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years.
- Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate.
--Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling.

The science is not settled, they say, and the path down which the IPCC conference in Bali is heading ignores the lessons apparent from "the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, the chaotic nature of the European CO2 trading market, and the ineffectiveness of other costly initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions."

The letter and the list of signatories is here.

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So much nonsense spoken about so much nonsense

Rarely has so much nonsense been spoken about so much nonsense.   Careful not to overstate himself, our Bali correspondent tells his story: "In a speech likely to go down in history as an oratorical milestone in the fight against global warming [an "oratorical milestone" -- goodness!], Al Gore, former US vice-president and co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, electrified [electrified!] the December 3-14 UN conference on climate change on its penultimate evening on Thursday. Clearly speaking from his heart..." etc., etc., etc.  The rest of the piece gushes along in just the same breathless way.

Our correspondent is gushing about a speech from a bloke with the stage presence of a fire hydrant, and "packed full" of "wisdom" such as this:

Global warming anywhere is a threat to the world everywhere.

Sew that one your sampler and pin it to your wall.  Fortunately, such wisdom was wasted on the IPCC's noble delegates.  "The ministers who were discussing the Bali roadmap were still in negotiating rooms and probably did not hear him at all."  Alas, poor Al.

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'Twin Towers' - Michael Newberry

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For what he describes as "a change of pace" from finishing his painting, Venus, artist Michael Newberry has been working on a series of drawings of the nude interacting with his shadow, about which Michael says:

There is a lot of play on metaphor, on alter-egos, and light and dark.

This is the first one finished in the group. Twin Towers.

There is something sad about the piece. The cast shadow reminded me of the Twin Towers, but so did the flash of light, the strange combination of shapes and shadows above; the tallness of the figure and his twin shadow.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Could Skyhawks form a privateers' Air Force?

Well, why not?

Given that it's now obvious that no other Air Force is either able or willing to buy NZ's former Air Force Skyhawks; and given that they've now been shrink-wrapped in latex  so they can be parked outside in the rain; and given that they've cost taxpayers $8 million to store since the Clark Government decided they didn't have a country worth defending and didn't need a fighter wing to defend it ... given all that, why not sell the machines to enthusiasts around the country who already own several of the world's great fighter jets, most of whom are considerably more patriotic than the ministers of the Clark Government, and all of whom realise that a country like ours is worth defending and desperately in need of a rational defence policy-- and would probably be only to happy to have their planes used  as part of a privateers' Air Force.

How 'bout it?

Congratulations to Heather Roy for the suggestion.  Hat tip to Whale Oil for the news.

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No. 1 on Google

I'm sure it won't last long, but you might be amused if you type "IPCC Bali" into Google, and check out the top ranking site for what must be the world's biggest emission of hot air at present.

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Sense and non-sense from would-be world leaders

Two comments from two sources this morning for your comparison, one from a politician more braindead than normal, and the other from a very unlikely source showing more sense on the global warming charade than from many so called science writers -- and certainly more sense than is coming out of Bali at present.

Here's the first comment, from Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee who, when asked whether the global warming threat was "overblown" gave an audience his ambitious energy plan:

I think we ought to be out there talking about ways to reduce energy consumption and waste. And we ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade, bold as that is.

Free of energy consumption!  As someone said, that's like "chemical free food."  It's a pledge to repeal the Laws of Thermodynamics. It's not "bold," it's physically impossible.  Huckabee is now positioning himself as "the entropy candidate!"

Much more sense from ... the Pope.  Yes, the Pope.  He might have some unusual friends (including an imaginary one who he says is omnipotent), but he clearly has some good advisors:

The Pope condemns the climate change prophets of doom.
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering. [Read on here.]

Perhaps the (German) Pope has been listening to Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who reminded reporters at the launch of the German translation of his new book recently that "freedom, not climate, is under threat":

"Also (threatened) is the prevailing social and economic order, contemporary civilisation, the current prosperity of developed countries and the chances of developing countries to achieve a similar level of prosperity." He said the climate change movement was not based on science and that theories about man-made global warming could not be proven. "It has become a new religion or new ideology and in that sense I think it's justified to compare it with other ideologies," Klaus said.

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Fifty years ago at school ...

Situation:  Johnny and Mark get into a fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2007 - Police called, armed offenders team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. School inundated for weeks with Victim Support counsellors.

Situation:  Jeffrey won't sit still in class, and frequently disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good caning by Headmaster. Returns to class, sits still.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money because Jeffrey has a disability.

Situation:  Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car, and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normally, goes to uni, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse.  Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang.  Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison.  Billy's Mum has affair with psychologist.

Situation:  Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 -
Mark shares aspirin with teacher.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Situation:  Sione fails high school English.
1957 - Sione gets extra tuition, passes English, goes to Uni.
2007 - Sione's cause is taken up by counsellors.  Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist.  Class action lawsuit filed by John Minto against Ministry and Sione's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Sione given NZQA unit papers anyway for effort and hurt feelings, and ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Situation:  Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model aeroplane paint bottle, and blows up an ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - Local police & noise control called. Johnny charged with  domestic terrorism, parents investigated, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Situation:  Johnny falls while running during morning tea and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary.  Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in prison while Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

EPILOGUE:

** In 1957 the novel Atlas Shrugged was published.  It became a best-seller, was found in a Library of Congress survey to be the second most influential book in America after The Bible, and was recently described by The New York Times as "One of the most influential business books ever written." 

** In 2007 the best-seller was a recommendation from Oprah's book club about the author's "year-long search for spiritual meaning."

Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand

Read more about this book...

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Sunset - Fred Stevens, StudioNZ

Tarawera-StudioNZ.Com

Here's where I'm going to be for a few days over Christmas -- sipping martinis while watching sunsets exactly like this one over ... well, now that would be telling, wouldn't it.

I can't wait.

The photo is by Fred Stevens, from StudioNZ.

Beautiful, isn't it.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New blog: 'New Freeland'

New blog worth checking out is 'New Freeland,' by a chap (?) called Shea Miller.  First post, smartly enough since he wants to attract attention, is a thoughtful piece suggesting the safe, smug, "self-congratulatory liberalism" of Russell Brown's Public Address "stifles leftist blogs."

Check it out.

Still in search of a purpose?

A few months back I agreed with Gonzo calling Facebook "a tool without a purpose."  So how come I've now got a Facebook site or page or whatever it's called? 

Answer in one word:  Curiosity.  I kept hearing about and getting messages inviting me to stuff on Facebook, for which I needed an account or site or whatever it's called, so I figured I'd check my inclination that it's a pointless time waster against the empirical evidence to see if it proved otherwise.  I figured that (within reason) I'll simply press 'yes' rather than 'no' when things come my way -- as they were in increasing amounts -- and see where that leads me.  I figured that might even help me determine whether it's a purposeless tool, a tool with a purpose, or simply a new means by which tools can amuse each other.   

I guess I'll find out.  If you're so inclined and you're of a mind to find my page or site or whatever it's called, then I'm sure you know how to go about such things.

Hard lessons about the right to self-defence (updated)

It starts like a really bad joke, and ends really badly:  This bloke walks into a shopping mall with a 'gun-free zone.'  He has a gun.  He pulls gun and shoots.  Eight people are killed.

Bad joke. Bad law.

This bloke walks into a small missionary training centre in Denver. He has a gun.  He pulls gun and shoots.  Two people killed. He gets away.

Bad joke.

Here's the punchline: This same bloke walks into a church in Colorado Springs packed with 2000 people.  He has a gun.  He pulls gun and ... is shot several times in the chest by a congregant with a concealed weapons permit and a law enforcement background, saving up to 100 lives.  Story here.

I invite you to draw the necessary lessons yourself.

I invite you too to contemplate whether if that congregant with a concealed weapons permit and a law enforcement background did the same thing in New Zealand, she'd be called a hero ... or something else.

UPDATE: "Gun Free Zones.  It's Time To Stop the Madness."

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Controlling speech in order to keep it free

Attacks on free speech gather apace, even as the Electoral Finance Bill thunders through Parliament like a runaway train with the brakes gone -- and as the title above suggests, the attacks are taking on an increasingly Orwellian tone.

Not content with simply introducing and passing law that muzzles political opponents, there are now signs that, as David Farrar suggests, the Clark Government has plans to muzzle her opponents in the media -- that "her logical next target will be media regulation."  Keep that in mind, he says when you look at her words on Monday:

"She said there was little point complaining to the print media’s self-regulatory watchdog, the Press Council.

That just doesn’t get you anywhere."

Sounds like [says Farrar] she would like a system where her complaints will get her somewhere and she doesn’t have to just “shrug and say, ‘Well, that’s life,’ and get on with it.” Her Foreign Minister has labelled journalists as traitors and rails against the media and their owners.  If he demanded media regulation as the price of support, do you think Helen would resist?

Do you think she could resist for a moment?  Or want to resist?  As Phil says at Pacific Empire -- and he backs this up with several examples -- the disturbing truth about freedom of speech is that it’s just not that popular anymore!  Phil's critique of Jeffrey Sachs' toe-in-the-water for outright censorship also sweeps up in its net the method by which Clark and her allies have been spinning the Electoral Finance Bill, and describes their likely modus for the future:

Lame collectivism with the pervasive use of an all-encompassing “we.” A call for responsible journalism, which seems to mean nothing more than journalism Sachs agrees with, and a criticism of the unregulated Internet with its “blog sites.” But no call for outright censorship.

That should perhaps read "no call for outright censorship" YET.  When it comes, it won't come as an open attack, but as more slippery spin in which the would-censor acts to "protect" democracy, and from attacks upon it by "big money" -- enter stage left this point, Big Nanny, with her big stick. 

But wait, we've seen this strategy already, haven't we.  With the arguments for the EFB and it's "acceptable corruption," the stage is already being set to argue that in order to protect free speech, free speech itself must be muzzled.  It's not a big step from there to where we might be going, and the methodology is precisely the same.  Argued Chris Trotter for exaemple in support of the "ownership class" being muzzled by his favourite new law,

when these "owners" talk about the right to "free expression" [inverted commas his] what they're really referring to is the right to restrict ready access to effective mass- communication technologies to people like themselves.

Trotter's cloth cap hatred for those he derisively calls the "ownership class" allows him to believe that what he says is true: that it's "us" against "them"; that "they" hold the commanding heights of press power, and must be muzzled to protect "us" (with "us" being people like himself on behalf of people like the rest of us); that the only way to defend genuine free expression is to "restrict ready access to mass-communication technologies" to people like himself, and to place "limits on the rights to 'purchase' speech" in order ... "to protect our democracy from money politics" and "the machinations of an owning class." 

New_GoreIt's slippery spin like this and that of Sachs that is being used to justify crushing free expression, and genuine hatred of free expression like that of Winston Peters and his ilk that empowers it.  Wedge politics for speech rationing.

It's slippery spin from a song sheet prepared by the Apostle Al Bore (yes, him again)-- one from which he's already been singing for some time -- a new front he's opened in his war on western civilisation -- and in his book The Assault on Reason: A How-To Manual, he makes it even plainer than Mr Cloth Cap.  As Jason Roth summarises (in a review written for the last 'Free Radical')

It's interesting to observe the mind of a huckster -- a dimestore philosopher with the aspirations of a dictator. Gore has already been fighting a war on industrial civilization. He's now opening up a new front against free speech. As can be expected from an aspiring dictator, his war against free speech will be fought under its exact opposite premise. He wants to control speech in order to keep it free.

Taking his title from an old joke, Roth's review is entitled Al Gore Gave Us the Internet. Now He Wants to Take It Away. The first sentence is the joke.  Only true vigilance will ensure that the second sentence is too.

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Justice not yet exemplary

The timely release of the Independent Police Conduct Authority report into Clint Rickards' complaints about the "shambles" he says was Operation Austin does at least remove the usual objection of justice delayed being justice denied, but while justice may well have been done with this report -- and let's hope it has been -- we have the problem once again that justice hasn't been seen to be done.

The review into Operation Austin was carried out by former commissioner Richard MacDonald and former acting deputy commissioner and acting assistant Commissioner Roger Carson, and was released yesterday by IPCA chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard.  On the conclusion that Operation Austin was "exemplary," we have only have the judgement of Goddard, Carson and MacDonald on which to rely -- we have to take their word rather than have the opportunity to see the evidence of being exemplary for ourselves.  Goddard says, for example:

There was "no evidence at all" to support Mr Rickards' statement that Operation Austin had been a shambles.... "In fact, the opposite."

That's good.  But since the inquiry was held behind closed doors, we don't know this for ourselves.  This is justice neither to the police nor to the original complainants -- nor to Rickards.  Justice must be done, and it must be seen to be done.

It's good that the Police Complaints Authority is now independent -- at least nominally -- perhaps the next step should be that it is open, and truly independent.  It's what a mature democracy should require, and what confidence in the police demands.

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"The debate is over" ensure IPCC's Bali bouncers

Debate at the IPCC's Bali High global warming talk-fest is being kept down by having dissenters kept out (a process all too familiar to observers of the Electoral Finance Bill, and of the methodology by which the IPCC's 'Summaries for Policymakers' are produced). Newspapers opposing the party line have been refused press credentials, and distinguished scientists from Africa, Australia, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been barred from presenting at panel discussions, side events, and exhibits, and also denied press credentials. Story here:

The scientists, citing pivotal evidence on climate change published in peer-reviewed journals, have expressed their opposition to the UN's alarmist theory of anthropogenic global warming. As the debate on man-made global warming has been heating up, the UN has tried to freeze out the scientists and new evidence, summarily dismissing them with the claim "the science is settled."
James M. Taylor, senior fellow for The Heartland Institute explained, "It is not surprising the UN has completely rejected dissenting voices. They have been doing this for years. The censorship of scientists is necessary to promote their political agenda. After the science reversed on the alarmist crowd, they claimed 'the debate is over' to serve their wealth redistribution agenda."
Taylor continued, "For example, ICSC scientist Dr. Vincent Gray recently published Unsound Science by the IPCC, which proves the main claims by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are scientifically unsound. Dr. Gray is an expert reviewer for the IPCC and has submitted more than 1,800 comments on IPCC reports. He is an expert on the IPCC methodology, [on which he has] published Spinning the Climate.
"Dr. Gray is the last person the politicized UN wants speaking," Taylor noted. "He single-handedly debunks the entire alarmist theory. And there are more than 600 Dr. Grays trying to be the voice of reason and science. All are being censored."

As the Clark Government and their allies in the Green have realised here, muzzling dissenters is certainly one way to achieve "consensus". But do please remember this banning of dissent when the release of the clearly predetermined 'Bali Mandate' is releases, accompanied by backslapping, agreement, unanimity and "consensus."

UPDATE 1: The IPCC is guilty of "Dishonest political tampering with the science on global warming" says Nobel Prize co-winner Christopher Monckton.

UPDATE 2: Global warming isn't just poor science -- it's not just full of dishonest political tampering -- it's not just the case that the "anthropogenic" part of anthropogenic global warming is still unproven, and the "warming" part hasn't been true since 1998 -- that our carbon emissions being responsible for planetary collapse are still unproven -- but there's a very good reason as Roy Cordato points out at the Mises Blog that "global warming is the holy grail for socialists," and it's of the utmost importance for freedom-lovers to understand it:

It makes market failure completely ubiquitous. Everything we do emits CO2, causes global warming and is therefore evidence of market failure. Global warming raises market failure from a special case to a reason to regulate/tax every aspect of life. This is why the anti-GW movement is certainly the greatest threat to liberty in my lifetime..

UPDATE 3: Canada Free Press has several stories updating readers with ICSC happenings in Bali, and seems to be updating the page regularly. Bookmark: Skeptical Scientists Urge World To ‘Have the Courage to Do Nothing’ At UN Conference - CANADA FREE PRESS. Here's some recent highlights:

    ** Christopher Monckton ... had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday. “Climate change is a non problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing,” Monckton told participants. The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money..."

    ** IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports since its inception going back to 1990, had a clear message to UN participants. “There is no evidence that carbon dioxide increases are having any affect whatsoever on the climate. If you examine every single proposition of the IPCC thoroughly, you find that the science somewhere fails. It fails not only from the data, but it fails in the statistics, and the mathematics.”

    ** David Evans [a mathematician who did carbon accounting for the Australian government, recently converted to a skeptical scientist about man-made global warming after reviewing the new scientific studies. (LINK) ] said, “We now have quite a lot of evidence that carbon emissions definitely don’t cause global warming. We have the missing [human] signature [in the atmosphere], we have the IPCC models being wrong and we have the lack of a temperature going up the last 5 years.” [Evans authored a November 28 2007 paper “Carbon Emissions Don’t Cause Global Warming.” (LINK) ] Evans touted a new peer-reviewed study by a team of scientists appearing in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society which found “Warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence.” (LINK) “Most of the people here have jobs that are very well paid and they depend on the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. They are not going to be very receptive to the idea that well actually the science has gone off in a different direction.”

    ** New Zealander Bryan Leyland warned participants that all the UN promoted discussions of “carbon trading” should be viewed with suspicion. “We should probably ask why we have 10,000 people here [in Bali] in a futile attempt to ‘solve’ a [climate] problem that probably does not exist,” Leland added.

    ** Owen McShane said that a UN promoted global approach to economics would mean financial ruin for many nations. “Having the same set of rules apply to everybody will blow some economies apart totally while others will be unscathed and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones who remain unscathed are the ones who write the rules.”

    ** Professor Dr. William Alexander, emeritus of the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a former member of the United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, warned poor nations and their residents that the UN policies could mean more poverty and thus more death. “My message is specifically for the poor people of Africa. And there is nothing happening at this conference that can help them one little bit but there is the potential that they could be damaged,” Alexander said. (LINK)

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'Zabriskie Point' house - Paolo Soleri

Soleri-Zabriskie001At the end of director Michelangelo Antonioni's anti-capitalist, anti-life turkey of a film 'Zabriskie Point,' this house -- designed by architect Paolo Soleri and (like several scenes in Antonioni's film) based  on the house in Alfred Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest,' which was itself inspired by  Frank Lloyd Wright's desert houses -- this house is 'lovingly' exploded in montage as the 'climax' of the film; destroyed in balletic slow motion with "a final destructive glee." 

Why?  What does that accomplish artistically?

As a director, Antonioni was for sure an accomplished artist.  His films were honest demonstrations -- of essentially anti-life themes.  Antonioni's original ending to this film, which was the perfect culmination of his film's theme, was a shot of an airplane sky-writing the phrase "Fuck You, America," which was cut by MGM president Louis F. Polk.  

Never doubt that's what he meant this replacement scene to say -- "a series of slow-motion captures of capitalistic debris flying apart against a smoky blue background."  Never doubt that he meant it.

That's why the house needed to be so good.  Understand that, and you understand much of modern art.  Think about it.

And from the siting of the house you can begin to appreciate what it means to "integrate architecture with your site."

 Soleri-Zabriskie010 Soleri-Zabriskie007 Soleri-Zabriskie006 Soleri-Zabriskie008 Soleri-Zabriskie009 Soleri-Zabriskie002 

**

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"The natural order of things..."

It's no wonder that among the greatest rises in price inflation are those that come from government spending (see the graph at this post for example showing the similar US situation). Figures for the four months to the end of October show that total core crown spending in New Zealand grew 9.6 per cent in the first four months from the same period a year ago.  "The culprits," notes Bernard Hickey,

are the big ticket items of health, social security, education and the core bureaucracy itself. Health spending rose 11.1% to $3.7 billion. We’ve seen big pay increases to nurses this year, and the effects of an ageing population are inflating spending there.  Social Security spending rose 5.8% to $5.9 billion. That’s despite record low unemployment.

(Well, maybe it's not such a "record low," eh?)

But the most interesting one is core government services. That’s bureaucrats in the ministries in Wellington. That rose 7.7%.

Great.  No wonder red tape and compliance costs are expanding exponentially.  No wonder the always prescient Thomas Jefferson declared "The natural order of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."  No wonder he recognised that "a little rebellion now and then...is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government" ...

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Stopping youth employment

From the I file labelled, 'See, I Told You' comes this news:  "Supermarket employers have been advised not to hire junior staff ahead of minimum wage legislation coming into force next April," says a Picton supermarket owner.

Picton Supervalue owner Casy Smits [said] that at a meeting Christchurch Progressive Enterprises had advised its supermarkets to stop employing junior staff because of increased pay rates.  The Minimum Wage (New Entrants) Amendment Bill allows a qualifying period of three months or 200 hours work for 16 and 17-year-olds who will then move on to the adult minimum wage.  Smits said they were talking about pay rates of $13.60 an hour. "A 16-year-old is going to get nearly $14 an hour -- my checkout staff at the moment get about $12 an hour," Smits said.

Nothing like ensuring youngsters are kept off the ladder to employment altogether, is there.

The really sad thing is that there is nothing prescient in predicting this stuff.  It's just basic common sense.  Shame introducing and agitating for it wasn't.  Take a bow Laila Harre, Matt McCarten, Sue Bradford and their various paid apologists around the traps*.  I hope you feel proud.

*One of these paid apologists, Tane Wilton of the EPMU, told me back in August, "Peter, I'm amazed you lot keep trotting out the tired old line that increasing minimum wage rates necessarily leads to unemployment. If done sensibly, this is demonstrably false..."  Not just false, but demonstrably false.  Well done, Tane.  You get an 'F.'

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A low-carbon Goronation

I understand failed theology undergraduate Al Bore III flew to Oslo yesterday to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize .   The blowhard's speech called for us to "mobilize for war," without apparently even a trace of irony.

Here's a run-through of how George Bush might celebrate Big Al's award with a low-carbon awards ceremony at the White House.

It begins with an ox cart ...

UPDATE:  The Bore earned his nickname over again in London over the weekend where he delivered "a poorly received half-hour speech before a restless crowd" for which he earned was paid the princely sum of $200,000.   Accompanied by behaviour described as "precious," he naturally refused to take questions.  As Thomas Lifson wonders: "Al Gore: Doing good, or just doing well?"

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Ring this Bell

There can be few people less deserving of our concern then multiple murderer William Bell.  Why news editors think that his being severely beaten in prison is deserving of either attention or sympathy, let alone to lead the news, entirely escapes me.

Mercy to the guilty is injustice to the innocent.

Lies, damned lies and 20,000 unemployed

There are lies, damned lies, and damned Labour lies -- and these all frequently involve statistics. There are "just over" 20,000 New Zealanders unemployed, says Labour's Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson.  There are 79,000 unemployed, says the September Household Labour Force survey.

Who do you think is right?  Should we celebrate?  Or should someone investigate this further?  Fortunately, Lindsay Mitchell is on the case.

UPDATE 1: Lindsay has more today on Ruth's spin.  Spin?  That's far too polite a word for out and out lies and deception.  While only 20,000 are "officially" receiving the Unemployment Benefit, that doesn't count those receiving benefits like 'Unemployment Benefit Training' and 'Unemployment Benefit Hardship' and 'Unemployment Benefit Training Hardship' and 'Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship' (I swear, it's not me making these up)  which is a figure approximately three times the number receiving the benefit referred to by Ruth in he press release. 

As should be obvious by now, if you have to lie to support your position, that suggests you have a position that's not worth supporting.

UPDATE 2: Naturally, the paid employees of the EPMU are peddling the lie. That's what they're paid to do.

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Elrod House - John Lautner

elrod4

John Lautner's Elrod House -- on the edge of a rocky ridge in Palm Springs, Nevada, looking westwards to Mount San Jacinto and north into Palm Springs.

Extra marks for anyone who can name the movie in which it famously starred...32743_2_df1e169266_p elrod1
















UPDATE: And the answer is ... 'Diamonds are Forever':

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Monday, December 10, 2007

MEMO: To Greens' co-leader Russel Norman

The Greens are  right behind Labour's Electoral Finance Bill.

The Greens say if it was in any way an attack on free speech, they  wouldn't be supporting it.

Sadly, with this press release complaining about the Herald's deletion of a paragraph of misspelled childish whinging, you demonstrate that you don't know free speech from a hole in the ground.

In calling a simple editorial decision "censorship," you are either disingenuous or deluded.  Either way, you fully deserve derision.

MEMO:  Censorship is interference by the state in the expression of ideas.  It is not censorship if a free agent, eg., a newspaper, decides to edit or reject your copy.  There is nothing in the principle of free speech requiring that I provide you with a megaphone, or the Herald provide you with a platform   A private network refusing to publish your views is not censorship - it is their choice.  A private newspaper editing your ill-thought maunderings is not censorship, it is good judgement.

However, it is censorship if a government uses legal force to ban speech, especially political speech.  It is censorship if a government places a limit on the amount of political speech one is allowed one year in three.   It is censorship to require registration with a government agency before exercising political speech.  It is censorship if politicians can slag off private citizens one year in three with all the power of parliamentary privilege at their disposal, whereas to defend themselves those citizens will be required to file declarations about who their supporters and donors are and to keep an account of expenses to ensure they don't exceed some arbitrary amount (see here for example). 

It is disgusting that some people under the Electoral Finance Bill will be barred from fully exercising free speech one year in three while being forced to fund the megaphones of their opponents.  And it is enlightening, Russel, that you are right behind that.

As a former Green voter said to me at the most recent Anti-Electoral Finance Bill march, "I didn't vote Green for this!"

Just to help you out, Russel, here are some propositions on free speech on which you could do with some brushing up.  Why not print them out and hang them up on your wall, and then hang your head in shame at what you're about to help ram through.

Perhaps the most important principle for you to get your head around is this: Without the freedom to offend, it doesn't exist.  If you're offended by people donating to other parties who support their views, then get over it, and get some better ideas yourself.  Don't try to screw the scrum to enforce your own views on us at our expense, especially not while supporting the censoring views of that offend you.

UPDATE 1: By the way, readers can send your own memo to the semi-literate deluded whinger here at the Green's Frog Blog, where' he's reproduced his press release --  complete with spelling errors...

UPDATE 2: An anonymous commenter makes the perfect point about Russel's whinging: "

So Russel complains about having his rebuttal capped at 200 words (the same as everyone else)?
Welcome to your level playing field, Russel.

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The politics of non-energy

Muriel Newman examines the government's energy and emissions trading strategies at her NZCPR site, concluding with energy professional Bryan Leyland that "instead of a sound energy strategy NZ is being driven by political imperatives." 

The Government’s energy strategy [says Muriel] is a dangerously political document which will not only seriously damage the New Zealand economy, but will cost families dearly.

As you might recall, I've voiced my own views on just how unsound that strategy and those "imperatives" are several times before. Several.

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"What if abortion really were murder?"

What if abortion really were murder, wonders George Reisman. And how come those who claim it really is murder don't act as if that were the case?  The answer, he says, is instructive.  "Hopefully," he says, reflecting on this question will lead to reasonable people questioning the premise that abortion is murder.  "To do that, they will need to question the premise that a fetus, especially, in the early stages of pregnancy, is an actual human being... Unfortunately, persuading people of this elementary fact of perception can be very difficult... "

Read on here: If Abortion Really Were Murder - George Reisman.

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Top ten green hypocrites for 2007 (updated)

It's that time of the year for lists, and Steven Milloy at Junk Science picks his own list of "green hypocrisy’s top 10 poster children for 2007."  (Green, he reminds us, "has traditionally been the color of the deadly sin of envy.")

It's an Amerocentric list ,so Helen Clark doesn't make it for chanting "carbon neutrality" like a Hare Krishna  even as NZ moves to 31st out of 56 in the OECD's league tables of "climate change performance" (and good on us for that, eh?).  But he has pinged several thousand of the world's greatest humbugs  schmoozing down here in Bali in order to "slash" the world's carbon emissions and emitting over 100,000 tonnes of carbon just to fly there.

The important point to take here is not that we should all be doing "better," but instead as Milloy suggests, we should judge the seriousness of the warnings of these honorees more by their real-life actions than by either their insufferably smug pronouncements or their "carefully crafted green public images."   After all, if they don't take their own predictions of imminent disaster seriously, why should we?

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In Iran we trust?

We've all hear d the good news from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report  that Iran isn't working on a nuke - as quoted in Time magazine, the NIE's landmark report suggests Iran "is less determined to build nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

Phew.

Bureau_of_DisinformationHowever, just as the easy buzzwords quoted by the media don't always match the substance of the IPCC's science (see for example this note on Joel Schwartz's critique of the latest IPCC airbrushing), so too the easy soundbites of the NIE report don't match watch what the report's actual research is saying.  Notes Robert Tracinski:

The NIE declares, first, that "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program...primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure." Second, it concludes that "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs." The conclusion drawn from these two statements by most commentators is simple: all this war-mongering talk from the administration about the Iranian threat has been totally overblown. The Iranians are reasonable fellows after all, and all we need to do is just to sit down and talk with them.

The report, argues Tracinski, is not as benign as reports would have you believe.  It is instead "a stunning propaganda victory for the enemy, delivered by [America's] own national intelligence establishment.  But it is just propaganda, not backed by any actual, substantial new intelligence. It is an exercise in writing pro-Iran headlines over text that doesn't support it. . . ."

[T]he authors certainly knew that their lines about Iran allegedly suspending its weapons program and not "rushing" to produce a weapon would be picked up by the media. And they must have realized that this would eclipse the rest of the substance of the report.

And the rest of that substance undercuts the story now being trumpeted by the mainstream media. The NIE acknowledges, for example, that it has no evidence that Iran has actually halted its entire nuclear weapons program: "Because of intelligence gaps..., DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program." It acknowledged that "Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so." And: "We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."
But here is the real blockbuster concession in the report:

   "We assess with moderate confidence that convincing the Iranian leadership to forgo the eventual development of nuclear weapons will be difficult given the linkage many within the leadership probably see between nuclear weapons development and Iran's key national security and foreign policy objectives, and given Iran's considerable effort from at least the late 1980s to 2003 to develop such weapons."

. . .The full picture of Iran's activity over the past four years is that of a dangerous power seeking to assert regional dominance and to spread its ideology of radical Islam by encouraging the aggression of an "Islamist Axis" of terrorist militias across the greater Middle East. Yet all of this is completely evaded in the NIE's benevolent assessment of Iran's intentions.

And that, ultimately, is what makes this report an exercise in propaganda -- propaganda for a brutal Islamist dictatorship, composed and broadcast by the supposed guardians of the leading power of the free world.

You need to read the whole piece:   NIE Report is a propaganda victory for Iran - Robert Tracinski

Hat tip here to Robert Bidinotto, who points out that former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton also disputtes the NIE's conclusions, as do the Israelis (who have most to fear), the French, the British, the Germans, and even -- Galt help us -- the New York Times.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

MG day out

MGA MGA MBGRV8

MGTDWent out before brunch this morning along the waterfront to an MG Car Club concourse at St Heliers.  Great to see so many fine machines  on display still giving so much driving pleasure. 

Especially great to see them before the weather packed in.

Here's the beautifully presented MG TD on the left that won the overall concours prize, with some modern thing next to it ( I'm told it's an MGF).  And down to the right there is a  MGAsuperb 1958 MGA Twin Cam -- a rare and special beast that still gets around the country -- that won the 'Show and Shine' prize.  My own Midget is there behind it on the right .  And at the top there are two more beautifully presented MGAs, with an MGRV8 next door, and  a Magnette saloon behind.

A fine sight on a not so fine Sunday morning.

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