Good news here in the most recent posts from Anna Woolf/Annie Fox. Did I just say "good" news? It's flaming fantastic news!
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
The day is named after Suzette Kelo, whose house and land was taken by her local council so a developer could build condominiums on it. [STORY HERE. Background here.]
If you think this "eminent domain" abuse is just an American abuse, think again. It's been ACT party policy for years. And as I pointed out earlier this year, both Helen Clark and John Key have now told us they want to force land-owners to build even when they're unwilling to build, or else.
Clark has signalled she intends to strip land-owners of their property if in the view of state goons and council planners their land isn't being used as the goons and the planners would like, and give that land to other developers to use. John Key agrees, just as he announced at last year's National Party conference.If you'd like to help the American Kelo project, then donate and then pass it on to the people you know. And maintain your vigilance here.
We knew that property rights were almost dead in New Zealand; we didn't know we'd be slapped in the face with that fact from both sides so soon. If you want a simple image of why this is wrong, think of Daryl Kerrigan in The Castle.
As is the case with the growing abuse of 'eminent domain' in the U.S., this is a signal for the government to play favourites with large private partners, giving them the power to steal from smaller property owners. Donald Trump used it to have the New Jersey legislature try and throw people out of their houses in Atlantic City, so that he could build a new parking lot for his casino. It was in the 'public interest' he argued. General Motors had Detroit City authorities condemn a whole neighbourhood to make way for a new auto plant. This too was in the 'public interest,' they argued. 70 families in Fort Trumbull, New Connecticut were targetted by the City of New London to make way for a 90 acre private development -- 'public interest' was once again (mis)quoted, and once again private interests used the government's gun to steal what they couldn't have acquired otherwise.
If you want to make both head and tail of the scary drug numbers that were poured across the front page of your Herald this morning, a so called "Drug Harm Index" that is "more or or less explicitly a public relations tool for police," then head to Russell Brown's post this morning (and the mostly sane comments that follow the post). "Spectacular but useless" is one of his nicer descriptions for an index of the costs of drug harms that ascribes all the the costs incurred due to prohibition (i.e. cost of jail, courts, policing) to the costs of the drugs themselves. The words "falsely inflated" are two more that spring to mind as descriptions of this bogus "index."
UPDATE 2: Eric Crampton, another real economist, notes that Des O'Dea, one of the authors of this new study, was also the author of a cost-benefit analysis of smoking which Crampton tore apart here. "I wonder," he wonders, "if the same errors repeat themselves...."
You've heard me talk before about Scott Powell's history course for adults. Now here's some news for home-schoolers wanting a rational history course for their students. Registration for historian Scott Powell's two courses on American History and Ancient History for home-schoolers are just about to open, and he promises incredible savings for home-schoolers who enrol their children in American history with HistoryAtOurHouse when registration opens this Friday, June 27th! Here at Scott's HistoryAtOurHouse blog are details about the upcoming registration special for new clients.
Last call here to spend a few minutes helping out a young student with his research on that most unusual species of human beings: those that regularly read political blogs. To join in, just follow this link which will take you to the survey, and also provide you with further information on how and why this research is being conducted.
Comedian George Carlin has just died. It must have been the after-effects of drinking all that water. (Some good Carlin advice on water, "If you want flavored water, pour a glass of scotch with some ice and let the ice melt. There's your flavored water.")
Despite being a bloody hippy, Carlin was also bloody hilarious. His record 'Jammin' in New York' has to be one of the funniest pieces of vinyl ever produced. Yes Virginia, vinyl.
- Check him out at YOU TUBE explaining the manifold beauties of the 'f 'word.
- Here's Carlin on Modern Man.
- Here's the Seven Dirty Words you simply mustn't use.
- And here he is on saving the goddamn planet [and again on video].
- Capital punishment.
- And if you're really keen, here's the first part of fourteen parts of Napalm and Silly Putty. Bet you listen to at least two afore you're finished...
And here's some good advice for people everywhere who say there are things you can't joke about -- been a few of those blowhards around over the last few days, haven't there:
"Ohhh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it. Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time... I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is. Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion..."
This, by the way, was by way of introduction for Carlin's monologue on how rape can be funny.
As he used to say, "These are the kind of thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools."
You have to laugh. I posted half-a-dozen gems of wisdom yesterday with several links in each to further wisdom elsewhere -- something like forty or fifty invitations to readers to surf the net to acquire erudition, knowledge and greater perspective on the news of the day -- and can you guess the link that was most popular?
Any idea at all? It was the one in this post that said "hookers."
James Hansen -- the man who last year likened the construction of a new coal-based power plant as equivalent to the holocaust; who said that trains bringing coal to the new power plant are like than the "death trains" that moving Jews to extermination camps; that Duke Energy's James Rogers is a prospective killer for supporting the new plant -- -- now tells the world that oil companies need to "be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature" -- crimes against humanity and nature, yet! -- for, quote, "putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks." Unquote.
Hansen is not a lone nutter who marches up and down Oxford St with a cardboard sign saying "We're all going to die in five minutes." No, Hansen heads NASA's climate team, and he takes his sign around the world's capitals to spread his message of doom. He is "the world's leading advocate of the idea of catastrophic global warming, and is Al Gore's primary climate advisor..." For twenty years now he's been marching around the world's capitals predicting climatic disaster with absolutely nothing to show for it* -- he recently had to admit that the warmest decade in the last one-hundred years occurred before he was even born -- and any lingering remnants of sanity are now being replaced by shrillness and increasingly vicious hyperbole.
This is a dickhead who launched his warmist place in the sun by sexing up his evidence, and looks likely to end his career exposed as a man whose organisation has had to resort to cooking the figures to make even his less extreme claims begin to look semi-sane. Christ, it's not like they're even good at that job: they even lost Wellington recently.
Frankly, if it's "misinformation" that he thinks oil company executives should be locked up for, you have to wonder why he's excluded himself and Al Gore from his fatwa.
NB: To those people who object that once can't criticise a scientist, I respond that Hansen stopped being a scientist that hot day in 1988 he started sexing up his figures in order to grab the limelight for his pet theory, and stopped being sane when he started talking about death trains. If it's not obvious to you by now that this politics, not science, then I have an engine that can run on banana skins I can sell you.
* When NASA’s James Hansen first sounded the alarm in Congress 20 years ago, says Steven Milloy at Junk Science, "he predicted that rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or CO2, would drive global temperatures higher by 0.34 degrees Celsius during the 1990s. But surface temperatures increased during that decade by only 0.11 degrees Celsius and lower atmosphere temperatures actually decreased. " He's got even worse since.
"This is not a nanny state measure," says Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel this morning, announcing the biggest nanny state measure since ... the last several. This claim has about as much veracity as the Prime Minister's claim last week that the number of bottle stores in Manukau were contributing to violent crime in the area: Exactly zero.
What Dalziel was announcing was a raft of new restrictions on bottle stores -- Not nanny state, but "something with teeth" she says limpidly. These include:
- the size, location and layout of bottle stores,
- how many bottle stores Ms Dalziel will allow in an area,
- when they will be allowed to open,
- their proximity to other premises like schools.
- something called "one way doors".
But can you spot anything there, anything at all, that would have saved the life of Navtej Singh? Because, if you remember, it was the murder of Navtej Singh that necessitated this new piece of knuckle-dragging nanny statism.
Frankly, Dalziel's crackdown on bottle stores in the wake of Navtej Singh's murder is as cynical as her 'crackdown' on oil companies announced last week -- neither is intended to achieve anything substantive (although they will both make conditions more onerous for honest businessmen); all they are intended to do is convey a picture of a government who will do something, anything, to bad news off the front page.
An Italian courtyard house in which the garden is made private by garden wall on two sides and the siting of the house on the others -- the house itself has been withdrawn from the road to make the garden larger, the garden here being an extension of the inner space.
Pictures from the Angelo Masieri blog.
Monday, 23 June 2008
News is just in from NZ's Climate Science Coalition that 1100 people have now endorsed the International Climate Science Coalition's 'Manhattan Declaration' on climate realism, including several dozen New Zealanders. News here at Scoop. Notes Vincent Gray, one of those who've endorsed it,
The high numbers of well informed signatories to the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change should help end the unjustified reverence granted the pronouncements of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Contrary to the impressions one gets from media reports, global temperatures have not been rising for eight years. New Zealand temperatures in the last 50 years have gone down with volcanoes and up with El Niños but have no signs of ‘warming.’ Christchurch has not warmed since 1917. The sea level in Auckland has been much the same since 1960.
“The claims of the IPCC are dangerous, unscientific nonsense,” concludes Gray. The Manhattan Declaration itself concludes,
Attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing human suffering.
In the face of widespread threats and bloodshed, with almost a hundred people killed already by Mugabe's thugs as they cling to power, Morgan Tsvangirai had no choice but to call off his participation in the weekend's 'election.' Any idea the elections are either free or fair is farcical. Blogger 'Adam Smith' has the cartoon above, and this comment that sums up the situation:
A madman who thinks he is appointed by God; unleashed his army of thugs on his people so that he can retain power. The world stands by and does nothing.
A correspondent writes:
I’m horrified that I have paid for God knows how many police investigators to fly to Christchurch, stay at some posh hotel – probably get tickets for the Rugby game as well -- to interview a group of people who have stated their intention not to talk to anybody in pursuit of some alleged crime about which there has been no formal complaint.
What the bloody hell is going on here ?
At the end of last week an Aston Martin DB9, a Bentley Continental and a late model Mercedes owned by former Blue Chip magnate Mark Byers were put up for auction. Bryers himself didn't show up to see his cars auctioned off; he was out playing golf. In Scotland.
Corporate trustees joke that "the acquisition of a status symbol like a jet, a Rolls-Royce or Ferrari by a company's top executive is one of the early warning signs of impending insolvency." Big swinging dicks who've built empires based on borrowed money consume other people's capital on toys, hookers and fine living, and then, once the credit on which they've splurged has disappeared, they head off to pastures (and creditors) anew -- leaving behind them a trail of creditors to pick up the pieces that still have to be paid for. Paid for with real money.
Not just the money of hurting creditors -- your money, as we'll see.
Blue Chip's modus operandi was simple, as former Blue Chip flunkie Stewart Goldstone explained in The Herald: "Bryers' answer to keep ahead [of the game] was "to go faster and faster", to sell more while "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul"."
It sounds just like a pyramid scheme, doesn't it -- and it was: A whole pyramid based on lies and phony credit that destroyed the real capital of real people.
"It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another... We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price of a paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of a hat while everybody sits around wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naïve enough to think that we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market, and you’re part of it."
Actually, that's not the free market at all that Stone is describing, and this isn't the way the free market works. Stone has an excuse for peddling this crap -- he's an ignorant Marxist -- but those who worship Gekko as the personification of capitalism need a lesson:
Gekko is not your God.
Capitalism is not a zero sum game.
At least learn that much. Economics is the science of wealth creation -- do you hear me, of the creation of genuine wealth -- which in its most basic free market form is the production of actual goods that stand in a direct causal relationship to the satisfaction of our needs and wants.
In short, it's wealth creation, not the destruction of other people's capital. It's production, not passing around money from "one perception" -- or one con man -- to another.
And deals aren't a matter or one person stealing from another -- somebody winning and somebody losing. In every deal done without fraud (something the likes of Mark Bryers knows little about), we both receive something we want more in exchange for something we want less. For example, when I buy a bottle of milk for four dollars from my local dairy, it's because I want the bottle of milk more than I want the three dollars, and the shop owner wants the four dollars more than she wants the bottle of milk. We both win, just as we do in every honest deal, which is why rational economists call trades like this the "double thank you moment." The principle is the same whether it's a bottle of milk we're talking about, or a whole shipload of refrigerated dairy products, and it's deals such as this one on which world trade is based.
It's deals such as this that Gekko is not talking about.
Oliver Stone is not talking about a free market -- he's talking about the mixed economy created by the politicians in which there are crevices for cockroaches like Gekko to flourish. As far as Stone is concerned, it's these crevices that define capitalism, but there's no reason to make Stone's vapid view your own. If you're angry at vermin like Mark Byers and Rod Petricevic and their ilk, then get angry where it matters. Get angry that cockroaches like this are only able to exist because we don't have a free market where it really matters: in money. In the words of George Reisman, "Get angry
not at the existence of a market economy and the way the market economy works but at the presence in the market of a vast gang of dishonest bidders and dishonest buyers, a gang that bids and spends dollars created out of thin air in competition with their earned dollars." [Emphasis in the original.]
Despite all the securities law and regulations on financial markets, there's a fraud right at the centre of it all that makes a mockery of all the regulators. These dishonest bidders aren't using earned dollars to blow up their bubbles -- they're overwhelmingly using this credit created out of thin air.
What allows this destruction of your capital and the presence of these dishonest bidders is very simple: there is not a free market in money. In the present setup, governments and their central banks create counterfeit capital that eventually destroys real capital. Various explanations are given for this creation, the most idiotic being the preservation of price stability -- but it's an idiotic claim, since it's the creation of all this bogus credit that creates all the inflation that central banks are supposed to be fighting.
It's important to understand that inflation is not rising prices. It's so important that I'll say it again: inflation is not rising prices. In the normal course of events, prices rise and fall according to supply and demand, and it is important for the smooth functioning of the economy that these price signals are left unmolested.
Rising prices right across the board however are more accurately the symptom of inflation. Inflation itself is the injection of currency or credit into an economy by government, ahead of productivity and production. It is the inflation of the money supply. On the back of this injection of paper into the purchase of production, producers charge higher prices for their products in response to the extra “demand,” other producers raise their prices to compensate, the labour force seeks to do likewise, and the spiral has begun. Those who raise their prices at the beginning of the spiral come out ahead (as do those who get first use of each new tranche of paper), but when the spiral is really underway one raises prices simply to keep up, and those on fixed incomes are left behind.
The direct relevance of that quote to the likes of Mr Petricevic and Mr Byers (and Mr Gekko) is that each new tranche of paper pumped out by the central banks is injected into the economy by the likes of Mr Petricevic and Mr Byers (and Mr Gekko). It's them who gets first use of each tranche of paper, before prices have risen -- going "faster and faster", to sell more and more while "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul".
In fact, it's overwhelmingly their spending of credit created out of thin air that is the direct driver of inflation -- -- and in the case of Mr Byers where it inflates first is in the markets for fast cars and faster women -- and of the destruction of real capital that is the result.
Now I hasten to point out that not everyone who borrows money is a parasite - far from it. And not every corporate raider using borrowed money is dishonest -- most of them take honest advantage of companies that are under-using their assets, and they use these resources in new ways to create new wealth. That's a good thing. No, what I'm talking about is the scum who use the opportunity of all the counterfeit capital washing around to consume the real capital of others in frauds and malinvestments like those of Mr Byers, Mr Petricevic and (in an earlier decade) Mr Hawkins. Scum like these exist in every culture, but in the present mixed economy in which the use of credit created out of thin air is encouraged, the scum rise to the top on a wave of phoney money -- their smoke and mirrors concealed by the fraud at the heart of central banks and their monetary inflation. Their bad money drives out the good, and is eventually paid for out of the genuine savings created by hard work.
If you want to get angry at these dishonest scum, get angry at those who are responsible for the scam: the politicians and the central bankers who've made fraud a central feature of the banking system.
Over the weekend, Winston Peters announced ... he announced that he will ... stand in ... [yawn] ... Tauranga ... zzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry, nearly nodding off here with disinterest -- much like most of the audience for Winston Peter's 'I'm back, I'm yours I'm Muhammed Ali' speech. TV3 has the video evidence [hat tip The Hive].
The point of political discussion is not to talk about politics -- what could be more dull -- it's to get politics out of our lives. What activism has the most impact? Amit Ghate argues that there are two particular areas of political activism in particular that would be the most productive -- "if one prefers to engage in activism on specific topics, privatizing education and legalizing drugs are among those which could have the most beneficial impact on society."
One reason for the latter is the endemic corruption the War on Drugs inflicts on police. Paul Hsieh documents the latest case of police corruption made public in Police Corruption in Chicago.
"Since falling energy prices in real terms has been the norm for centuries, it is instructive to ask: What has gone wrong in the past few years?" Economist Barry Brownstein succinctly asks and answers the question.
John Key recently said that he will not reduce the number of bureaucrats via sacking; he'll rely on attrition to reduce the numbers. Yeah right.
As The Standard notes, National has already promised to create 1000 more core public service jobs, all the while promising they would cap those numbers. And they haven’t identified a single one they would cut.
So how do you tell when a politician is lying?
Their lips move.
How one Somalian sees the warmist hysteria [hat tip Willie S.]:
...the global warming hysteria [is] an idea that has more to do with Europe’s prosperous middle class politics and media than it has to do with Science ...
We in Somaliland didn’t even know the `debate’ was taking place but we certainly did not escape its impact. Some bright spark somewhere in this green global warming swamp decided it was a good idea to put food into combustion engines instead of human mouths. Vast swathes of the world’s most productive arable lands in America and Brazil were converted into `biofuel’ farms. The result is man-made shortage of food across the globe while, ironically the biofuel mass production did not affect the price of fossil fuels at all. It, continued to go up and up. "
Christopher Brooker in the Telegraph summarises the latest state of play on the 'debate.'
Friday, 20 June 2008
Here's your chance to catch up on what readers considered was the best of NOT PC this week, as measured by how many showed up to read these posts. Catch up now if you missed out the first time round ...
- Some pics from Fieldays - photos of the Libz crew and Libz' neighbours at Fieldays. We were hard at work ... our National Party neighbours less so.
- On fuel prices - a great idea for a protest: stand outside petrol stations advertising this information to motorists.
- Where the 'New Atheists' get it wrong - the assault by the New Atheists on religion has been splendid to watch, but incompletely conceived. Here's a few things they missed.
- Anyone for a drive across Israel? - It's smaller than you think, you know.
- Curing South Auckland - six steps to curing the mire.
- Why can't the bastards just leave us alone - the latest bad idea is the very symbol of bad ideas.
- Honest Badges-- since the Ministry of Education think that wet odes to patronising racism will cure the ills that the state's factory schools have engendered, Elijah Lineberry has a more honest set ...
- What moves history? - Do you know?
Oh, and check out this week's Objectivist blog carnival over at The Crucible & Column. Enjoy!
Reading Neil Miller's list of favourite New Zealand beer names, a few weeks ago got St, our other regular beer writer, thinking about some of the ones that may have just missed out. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here they are:
Invercargill Biman – Steve Nally is a former prop, turned brewer, from Invercargill (he still lives and brews there). I wonder what he was thinking when he named his beer Biman? You can imagine what the folk in Tuatapere shaking their heads at that one (by the way, Steve is always quick to note that the beer is actually pronounced 'B-man').
Bennett's Sante Fe Lager – Maurice Bennett: world famous toast artist, supermarket owner, started a bar on a frigate that was just about to be sunk and has a beer with a stripper on the label. What more can I say? ‘Avoid the beer’ is probably a good start. (Despite the label’s references to “attractive head” and “enticing aroma,” it’s not a flash beer and it’ll cost you a $10 cover charge to get into any bar that sells it).
Emerson's Bookbinder – This low-strength bitter, a firm favourite amongst craft beer drinkers around the country – and one of the key beers in my confirmation as craft beer convert – is a nice nod from one type of craftsman to another (a theme used all over beer world: Galbraith’s Bellringer, is another local example).
Pink Elephant Mother's Bruin – I never got a chance to try this beer but the name appeals in so many ways. Is the Pink Elephant’s mother actually doing some brewin’? One would hope that the bottle isn’t full of a Pink Elephant Mother’s brown? If the Pink Elephant’s mother is brown, that would make her a brown cow? Yes, a very philosophical beer indeed.
Wanaka Brewski – I hated this name until I tried the beer. Brewski made me think of loud blokes playing drinking games at university, and I thought it was just plain gimmicky. I saw it on the shelves for years before I finally picked up a bottle. Needless to say it blew me away. A real peach amongst New Zealand’s plethora of new world Pilsners.
Renaissance Stonecutter – The folk at Renaissance, with their award-winning high-brow branding, would love you to think this is a reference to Michelangelo. It is actually a reference to the Simpson’s episode ‘Homer the Great’ (Who controls the British crown, who keeps the metric system down…).
Mac's Brewjolais – Brewjolais is fantastically crafted beer, probably the best to have come out of a mainstream brewery in the time that I have been following the craft beer scene. Its name is a hat-tip to annual hop harvest and references the harvest wine Beaujolais nouveau. It is the ‘Brangelina’ of the New Zealand beer scene and also goes under the street nickname: ‘BJ’.
Galbraith's Resurrection – A Belgian abbey-style ale from Galbraith’s in Auckland. The name goes deeper than a simple reference to the religious background of abbey-style ales, it refers to the resurrection of Australis Benediction (Australis Brewing Co., way too far ahead of their time, is a now defunct brewing company based out of Galbraith’s that produced three beers – all of which made it into Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide, possibly the only brewery in the world to achieve such a feat).
Dux de Lux Sou’ Wester – Perfect beer drinking weather: snugly camped inside, with good friends, remembering the last patch of good weather and planning for the next break in it. It also fondly reminds me of the long gone Parrot and Jigger brewpub in Lower Hutt, which had a beer of the same name with the same label.
Mussell Inn Weasel’s – The brewery website says it all: Any of our 4% beers cut 50/50 with soda water. A shandy without the sugar. Great for drivers and wowsers. NB: All of the Mussel Inn beers taste great and the names are truly fantastic. They provide an interesting service fixing cell phones too.
Here's the thought for the day from NZ's Foundation for Economic Growth:
In 1988 our M3 money supply amounted to some $43,101 million. Twenty years later our M3 money supply had expanded to $201,273 million.
This is an annual compound interest rate of around 8%.
No wonder we are experiencing inflation.
Fighting inflation isn't hard -- it's easy. All you have to do is stop the Reserve Bank's printing presses.
Here's some interesting reading with which intelligent environmentalists can challenge themselves: why one of Greenpeace's founders left the movement he helped to start. The reason in a nutshell? Says Patrick Moore: I learned "the environmental movement is not always guided by science."
The turning point for Moore was when his colleagues declared they wanted to ban an element in the periodic table ...
Paul Walker explains why the Law of Unintended Consequences takes hold of every new government programme, to the consternation of every policy-maker involved who's never learned the lesson:
[R]esearch has shown that people drive faster in vehicles that feel safer, attempt to bike on more dangerous terrain when they wear helmets and pay less attention to infants being bathed when the children are in seats that are said to reduce the risk of drowning...
When explaining these results Steven Landsburg asks, "If the seat belts were removed from your car, wouldn't you be more cautious in driving? ... Carrying this observation to the extreme, Armen Alchian of the University of California at Los Angeles has suggested a way to bring about a major reduction in the accident rate: Require every car to have a spear mounted on the steering wheel, pointing directly at the driver's heart. Alchian confidently predicts that we would see a lot less tailgating.
The fundamental lesson?
"[P]eople respond to incentives." And politicians and policymakers need to remember this when designing policy."
It's what every good coach tries to do.
The case of the mislaid file
NEWS: National MP Simon Power is calling for heads to roll after the discovery of a file on an Auckland street containing confidential parole details of convicted killers like Bailey Junior Kuariki and David Tamihere. The file is now in the hands of blogger Martin 'Bomber' Bradbury, who failed to return the file this morning to the police as he promised yesterday. Meanwhile, Corrections Department head Barry Matthews and minister Phil Goff have gone to bat to defend the department... and the employee who mislaid the file is no leave.
Everyone who's commented on this news has expressed surprise at what's happened. But what I'm surprised about is that anyone could be surprised about any of it.
Let's face it, this is what bureaucrats do -- they fuck up. They take files out of places they shouldn't, they lose files, they cover up. If they were in any way competent, they'd go out and get a real job.
And this is what the bureaucrats' bosses do when they fuck up -- they run for cover. They explain they're 'overworked.'
And this is what the Minister in charge does when his department is under pressure -- he argues everyone is performing well in a department that's under pressure.
And this is what Simon Power does when he hears news that bureaucrats have fucked up and are running for cover -- he calls for their heads to roll and makes a play for his head to appear on the six o'clock news. (Just wait until a year from now when he'll be telling us that all the bureaucrats he's been abusing for six years are now performing perfectly "in a department that's under pressure.")
So everyone is behaving exactly as you'd expect them to in the sort of story we've all seen before.
And Mr Bradbury? No surprise there either. This is what Martin Bradbury has done for most of his life -- he's taken every opportunity he can to be a pain in the arse.
So why anybody is surprised about how anybody is acting really does surprise me. Meanwhile, the names and details of two convicted killers are out in the public domain. Good. The more we learn about how these scumbags are going to be let out, the better.
Elijah Lineberry has fashioned a more accurate set of badges than the patronising Ministry-supplied set -- badges that trendy white liberal teachers can wear between macrame classes to really show their solidarity with their brown brethren. My favourites:
3. Welfare, not work
9. Give me your land
10. I believe in Taniwhas
All he needs now is $56,000 of taxpayer money to get them into classrooms.
UPDATE 1: Oops. Mustn't laugh. Might get called a "cracker asshole."
UPDATE 2: Whale Oil has the complete set of Lineberry badges in colour, to replace the dripping wet set produced by the Ministry -- one for which you might even fork out your money voluntarily. That's one of the better set up there ...
Everyone's fallen foul of the Electoral Finance Act, and now news is just in that despite his non-existence God is to be prosecuted for promoting ... some damn party or other. God knows which one.
Thursday, 19 June 2008
NOT PC beer writer Neil Miller talked to Radio NZ's Jim Mora recently about beer tours, beer songs and other things beer. He did well (audio here) but disgracefully, the best he could come up with in the way of great beer songs was Th' Dudes' 'Bliss.' Uuugh.
I figure between us you and I can do a lot better than that so the poor chap is better equipped next time he's put on the spot. Here's a list to start with:
Great songs about beer, and drinking.
'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer' - George Thorogood
'Warm Beer & Cold Women' - Tom Waits
'Pub With No Beer' - Dubliners
'Beercan' - Beck
'Six Pack' - Black Flag
'Special Brew' - Bad Manners
'Milk and Alcohol' - Dr Feelgood
'Beer' - Reel Big Fish
'I Spent My Last $10 (On Birth Control and Beer)' - Two Nice Girls
'Drink, Drink, Drink' - from Sigmund Romberg's 'Student Prince'
'Look What I Found in My Beer' - Beautiful South
'Long Neck Bottles' - Captain Beefheart
'Beer Goggles'- Brilleaux
'Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers' - ZZ Top
'Boys From County Hell' - Pogues
Two Pints of Lager' - Splodgenessabounds
'Drinking Song' - from 'The Vagabond King'
'Let Us Drink' - from Verdi's 'La Traviata'
'Beer is a heaven's gift indeed...' - From Smetana's 'Bartered Bride'
'A Long Hard Thirst Needs a Big Cold Beer' - TISM
'Last Lager Waltz' - Kevin Bloody Wilson
'Titties and Beer' - Frank Zappa
'Philosophers' Drinking Song' - Monty Python's Flying Circus
What's yours? (Remember, "a lot better than that " excludes anything sung by anybody wearing a stetson hat, meaning this is out -- and probably excludes songs you sing after a bucket load of beer. Probably.)
UPDATE: Some heavy recommendations coming in for...
Despite what you might have heard, the point of ethics is not to understand how to treat others -- the primary point of ethics is understanding how to treat yourself. Everything else comes afterwards. (Tibor Machan points out that even the 'philosophers' who write airline's safety manuals understand this, when they advise that in an emergency you put on your own oxygen mask before you try helping others.)
Using this basic insight, Burgess Laughlin explains how understanding your own central purpose gives you the foundation on which to build your life, and helps you avoid making the very common error of "the third worst sacrifice" -- a sure road to unhappiness, therefore a clear sign you're treating yourself badly.
Read on to see what he means by that...
NB: Laughlin's post is part of a series on the Central Purpose of a Life. Scroll down and read them all. The time spent won't be a sacrifice. ;^)
Given that their figures are used to support extensive government action to squelch private production, shouldn't they be examined a little more closely? And when we do, what do we find? As Steven Goddard explains at The Register, what we find is sobering. Some lowlights of NASA science described by Goddard:
- "Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998. According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941. By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880. The other two widely used global temperature data sources are from earth-orbiting satellites UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems.) Both show decreasing temperatures over the last decade, with present temperatures barely above the 30 year average."
- "NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again. The recent changes can be seen by comparing the NASA 1999 and 2007 US temperature graphs. Below is the 1999 version, and below that is the reworked 2007 version."
- "We observe that [NASA's] data has been consistently adjusted towards a bias of greater warming. The years prior to the 1970s have again been adjusted to lower temperatures, and recent years have been adjusted towards higher temperatures."
- "Prior to any adjustments, more than half the US shows declining temperatures over the 20th century - blue and green colors - i.e. the US is cooling down. However, subsequent to the adjustments the country goes dominantly warmer..."
- For the last twenty years, NASA's ground-based (adjusted) temperatures have diverged considerably from the two main sources of satellite derived temperatures. "The divergence is now quite striking. Looking closer at March 2008, NASA's data (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt) shows the month as the third warmest on record. In sharp contrast, UAH and RSS satellite data showed March as the second coldest on record in the southern hemisphere, and just barely above average for the whole planet. How could such a large discrepancy occur?"
- "... NASA has essentially no data (gray areas) in most of Canada, most of Africa, the Greenland ice sheet, and most of Antarctica. This begs the question, how can one calculate an accurate 'global temperature' while lacking any data from large contiguous regions of three continents?
So what was NASA missing?
NASA Temperatures March, 2008 - 250-mile smoothing radius - looks hot.
We can find NASA's lost continents in the UAH satellite data for March below.
"UAH Satellite Temperatures March, 2008 - looks cool.
- "Additionally, NASA reports their 'global temperature' measurements within one one-hundredth of a degree. This is a classic mathematics error, since they have no data from 20 per cent of the earth's land area. The reported precision is much greater than the error bar - a mistake which has caused many a high school student to fail their exams."
So what does this all mean?
As Goddard says in his conclusion, "What is being examined is the quality and stability of the data being used by people making [sweeping] claims. [W]hen the data is calibrated in lockstep with a very high-profile and public political philosophy, we should at least be willing to ask some hard questions. Dr. James Hansen at GISS is the person in charge of the NASA temperature data. He is also the world's leading advocate of the idea of catastrophic global warming, and is Al Gore's primary climate advisor..."
"Both of the satellite data sources, as well as Had-Crut, show worldwide temperatures falling below the IPCC estimates. Satellite data shows temperatures near or below the 30 year average - but NASA data has somehow managed to stay on track towards climate Armageddon. You can draw your own conclusions..."
If you think this is all just an academic debate, then understand that what is being questioned is the quality of the science on which calls to shut down industrial civilisation are based.
Does it stack up?
UPDATE: Naturally, the Greens continue to applaud NASA's "famous" James Hansen, the Chicken-Little-in-Chief of warmist so-called science. They have to, don't they. It's difficult to admit your hero in chief is a complete fuck up.
Every week leading Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions at his website on everything from art to politics to sex. This week's podcast includes questions on drug taking -- moral or immoral -- and on Mexican immigration into the US -- doesn't it irrevocably change the local culture? Listen in here.
NB: Peikoff is not like your usual philosopher - he thinks in fundamentals, and always says what he thinks. Here he is, for example, on global warming:
A: The global-warming movement is one offshoot of today’s mysticism and statism. As many have observed, it represents in essence the onetime pro-industrial Reds changing—with the same purpose, but to be achieved this time by different means—into the anti-industrial Greens. The global-warming call to statism will have harmful effects but, I think, the movement is going to be short-lived; too many people remember how recently we were terrorized by the prospect of an imminent, man-caused ice age, and before that by the doom of over-population, DDT, etc.
The danger to the West is not this kaleidoscope of absurd concrete-bound threats, but the philosophy which makes their common denominator stick. This is the very philosophy (unreason and self-sacrifice) which is the essence of religion
The Greens offer no solution to the disasters they predict but sacrifice for worms and forests, a big and permanent cut in man’s standard of living, and a big increase in government... The religionists, by contrast, offer as the solution to all problems a firm code of values, moral principles supposedly provided by God and proved through the ages...
To compare ecology and religion in terms of the threat to our future is to fail to understand the power of abstract ideas. No political movement, however popular at the moment, can compete in the long run with a basic philosophy.
See what I mean: firm and fully focused. And he has a sense of humour:
Q: Could competitive sports assist one’s education through the experience of executing concepts in action? For instance, my time as a wrestler, I believe, significantly assisted me in grasping concepts such as “integration,” “momentum,” “force,” and “accountability.”
A: Yes—but every form of action, if approached consciously and rationally, provides the same type of experience. Writing books, for example, helped me significantly to concretize concepts such as “organization,” “transition,” “drama,” “deadline,” and “misery,” to name just a few.
I love this comment from Tony Watkins from Owner-Builder magazine:
One person will travel the world and arrive home with nothing to say. Another person walks down to the corner dairy and comes back with a story.
When Gaylene Preston, herself a wonderful weaver of stories, made this comment, she might well have been talking about buildings.
A building may be designed by a world-famous architect. It may be documented with hundreds of sheets of drawings. It may meet the most stringent requirements of the most demanding building inspector ever cloned. It may comply with every known regulation and planning scheme. It may use the most lavish of rare marbles. The building may be flawless in every other respect, and yet have nothing to say.
It would be better if such a building had never been built. You cannot hear yourself speak for the deafening noise of buildings which only shout. They contribute nothing to civilisation or culture.
In contrast a tree-house built by a child from trash may have the most wonderful stories to tell. Owner-built homes are seldom "frozen music". Dreams and drama are the stuff of which they are made. [Read on here.]
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Helen Clark & John Key's disgraceful 'shoot the victim' response to Navtej Singh's brutal murder - which is to impugn honest shop owners and close down the shops of his colleagues -- is not just factually challenged (as Whale Oil demonstrates), it's not just punishing to all of us (as Oswald bemoans), but it's historically and demonstrably destructive. As Phil at Pacific Empire explains,
excessive restrictions on liquor outlets actually contributed to one of Auckland’s most notorious murders... [As that murder and research by Paul Christoffel demonstrates] if you criminalise something, or even just restrict the supply, you will create a black market, with inevitably violent competition. And while there is currently no, or almost no, black market in alcohol, further restrictions may well resurrect the practice of “sly-grogging”. Especially as excise tax goes up again on July 1, raising the price of spirits by up to 10%. Ill-thought-out policy will result in unintended consequences - in this case, providing another profit-making opportunity for organised crime.
Like South Auckland needs more profit-making opportunities for organised crime, right? And like the politicians really care, right?
One of the nine charities to which Winston Peters 'donated' money that didn't belong to him (that is, taxpayer money he illegally used for electioneering in 205) has returned it, saying, "it is unclear if the party 'has any right' to make a charitable donation on money wrongly spent at the last election."
I freely confess I couldn't give a flying fig for soccer's Euro '08 competition -- in my book, soccer is only beaten out by golf for the accolade of world's most boring ball game -- but this definitely looks eye catching (if not, considering the cold, eye threatening): the topless women's Euro soccer match between Austria and Germany.
This really must be what they mean by 'the beautiful game.' [Hat tip Dave Gee.]
Capitalism Magazine hosts four superb dissections of that bogus "Messiah of Change," Barack O'Bambi Obama, administered by Ed Cline. Here below are their summaries, with links. Read them.
BARACK OBAMA: THE MESSIAH OF "CHANGE" (PART 1 OF 4)
Obama has not deliberately posed as a miracle-working Messiah who promises to cure all ills for all complainants; that is how his supporters and most of the news media view him, but he is willing to meet them halfway. And his race, fundamentally, is immaterial, regardless of what importance others attach to it. Virtually every other candidate has mouthed the same bromides, cliches, and populist tripe as Obama. Why have they worked for Obama and not much for anyone else?
BARACK OBAMA: HOW A POLITICAL NON-ENTITY ROSE TO POWER (PART 2 OF 4)
Regardless of the image Obama projects, that of an independent force master of his own destiny -- and it is a manufactured image, to be sure -- it is the nature of modern American politics that he could not have moved a single square on that chessboard without being
covered by more powerful pieces.
BARACK OBAMA: OBAMA'S POLITICAL "ANGELS" (PART 3 OF 4)
There are no substantive differences between Obama's rhetoric and Hitler's. Both regard the individual as a subordinate part of the "social organism" who would be permitted his few peccadilloes but otherwise answerable to society or the State.
BARACK OBAMA: ANTI-CAPITALIST MONEY MACHINE (PART 4 OF 4)
Obama would have no presence in that debate if it were not for the gifts that keep on hurting the U.S. from the likes of Soros (seen right, seated by the stairs at with the Messiah).
I said yesterday I'd offer some solutions to the mire that is South Auckland, some simple, some not so simple. Here they are, in summary:
- A police force that protects the innocent. One that has the tools to do the job, but more importantly has the knowledge and training and backup and will to use them.
- A justice system that takes the guilty off the streets. Rudy Guiliani's successful 'Broken Windows' policy is a guide: start with the small crimes, where failure to punish leads offenders into bigger crimes, and put these right first. (And remember that justice isn't about retribution, it's about protecting the rest of us.)
- Hold parents accountable in law for the offences of their children. You have them, you take responsibility for what and whom they destroy.
- Stop paying no-hopers to breed. We are forced by government to pay people to have children they don't want. The result of all those unwanted children appears on the front page of our newspapers nearly every day.
- Have an education system that gives youngsters the tools for life -- that teaches each of them, not how fit in and how to follow (which is all the present factory schools teach them), but how to use the brain they are born with, and how to use it to give themselves wings instead of shackles.
- Perhaps most important of all is this, which is much, much harder: work towards the abandonment of the 'church-on-Sundays' thinking that infests South Auckland more than any other part of the country -- which imparts a superstitious hope that someone else will come along and can solve all one's problems -- and towards the destruction of what tennis ace Chris Lewis calls 'the crab-bucket mentality,' the hatred of achievement with which young South Aucklanders shackle themselves and damn their more successful brothers, and instead of the 'warrior values' of dependency and conflict and renunciation that are all many young South Aucklanders see, promote a philosophy of individualism that offers genuinely life-affirming value to which to aspire --
What I mean by this last is real values for living life on this earth. In one way it's the most difficult of the six points to achieve (and in another it's the easiest: all we have to do is encourage youngsters to think), yet it is by far the most important. The first four or five points are necessary, but not sufficient. The only real antidote to the bad ideas that so many young South Aucklanders have imbibed with their welfare-mother's milk --ideas that are killing them and their neighbours -- is the better ideas that will show them their true potential. Chris Lewis explains what I mean in his conclusion to his article on the 'crab-bucket mentality' that holds so many youngsters back:
....in a world where the predominant trend is toward anti-achievement & anti-success, motivational fuel is something that we all need from time to time to propel us toward our goals. Which is why I would like to commend to your attention a book that provided me with a tremendous amount of motivational fuel very early on in my tennis career.
The book is entitled The Fountainhead, by the Russian/American novelist Ayn Rand. In the introduction to her book, she tells us, "Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees & lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it ... Yet a few hold on & move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose & reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature & of life's potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them."
At a time when, as a seventeen-year-old, I was just setting out to conquer the tennis courts around the world, an attempt that demanded excellence & achievement every step of the way, it was The Fountainhead that helped to inspire me in the face of discouragement from the "crab bucket mentalities" who told me I was wasting my time.
For anyone who believes in the importance of achieving his or her values & goals, who believes that happiness is the end result of such achievement, & that happiness is the norm when independence, in thought & action is promoted, encouraged & pursued, The Fountainhead comes with my highest recommendation.
Lindsay Perigo expands on the theme in a piece he wrote six ears ao in response to a particularly egregious article in Craccum on suicide. Called Affirming Life, I post it here in its entirety.
Yesterday's furore about the 'Craccum' "How to commit suicide" article & your comments on this programme about it set me to thinking about the time I appeared on 'The Ralston Group' when we panellists were asked our explanations for the high rate of youth suicide.
I stated my own suspicion that the problem came down to a failure of philosophy. Youngsters were taking their own lives at precisely the time one asks life's big questions & searches for ideals to guide one's conduct. Religion, to which one traditionally repaired for answers, was discredited & had not been replaced with a viable secular alternative - leaving a values vacuum, leading to despair. What youngster would be inspired by the jaded cynicism so manifest in so many once-thoughtful adults?
But is a viable, secular alternative to religion possible? Can life have meaning without an after-life? If there is no god to inspire ideals & prescribe values, can there be any other source? Can man discover it? Theologians & philosophers alike have answered these questions with a resounding, No! Many professional philosophers revel in proclaiming their discipline irrelevant to the conduct of everyday life. The moral status of benevolence, they say, is no different from that of malevolence, creativity from destructiveness, honesty from deception, etc., and a belief in any of these values over their opposites is merely an arbitrary preference, with no objective validity. Ethically, it's deuces wild.
The current subjectivist/relativist/nihilist morass may seem unappetising, they concede, but that too is an arbitrary judgement. There are no grounds for seeking anything better - there *is* no "better."
The Russian/American novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand begged to differ. It is reality itself, she argued, that confronts man with the need for morality - a code of values designed to facilitate the process of living - because it confronts him with alternatives amongst which he must choose (he has no choice about choice). At the most fundamental level the choice is: life or death. If one chooses death, there is nothing more to be said; if one chooses life, the book of morality opens, & one must fill in the pages oneself, making one's choices in the presence of alternatives to the ultimate value of: life.
To the nihilist's gleeful 'coup de grace,' 'Ah! But why should one value life in the first place?' Rand replied: The question is improper. The value of life need not & cannot be justified by a value beyond life itself; without the fact of life, the concept of value would not be possible in the first place. Value presupposes life; life necessitates value.
To the existentialists' lament that without something beyond life, life itself has no meaning, she responded similarly - the very concept of meaning can have meaning *only* in the context of life. Ultimately, the meaning of life, if one wants to use that terminology, is ... *life* - one's own life, since one cannot live anyone else's - & what other or better meaning could one conceive?
A creature endowed with immortality, denied the alternative of life or death (& their barometers, pleasure & pain) would have no need of values & could discover no meaning in anything since nothing would be of any consequence to it. It is man's nature as a living, mortal entity, unprogrammed to survive, constantly facing alternatives, endowed with a conceptual/volitional consciousness, that simultaneously makes the need for morality inescapable and the fulfilment of that need possible.
For a human being, "is" is fraught with "ought"; "ought" is an irresistible aspect of "is" - the traditional dichotomy between them is false. The task of ethical philosophy is to prevent their being artificially sundered. A successful outcome - a morality derived from and consistent with the facts of reality - is, by virtue of those very characteristics, *not* arbitrary (disconnected from reality) but objective (consonant with reality).
Rand went on to argue that a reality-based, life-affirming morality would concern itself not merely with survival, but survival proper to the life of the sentient, conceptual being that man is. While life might be the *standard* of morality, *happiness*, she argued, was its *purpose*. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
In Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a young man fresh out of college, looking for spiritual fuel for the journey ahead of him, is wheeling his bicycle through a forest, when he encounters the architect Howard Roark, contemplating some breath-taking new structures - his own - in a nearby clearing. "Who built this?" he asks. "I did," Roark replies. The boy thanks Roark & walks away. "Roark looked after him. He had never seen him before & he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime."
To all this country's young people, happy & unhappy alike, I would repeat what I said on 'Ralston': Read this book - & the philosophy that produced it. You have nothing to lose but your doubts; you have your dreams to win. I repeat that advice today.
For those who agree with the prescription I've outlined here and who do wish to help the youngsters of South Auckland, I can suggest at least these three things that flow directly from my suggestions above:
- Join the only political party that is committed to points one to five above, and help us promote those ideas this election year. If not us, then who?
- Contact one of the three Montessori schools in South Auckland and tell them you'd like to sponsor a child to attend -- or better yet, sponsor the training of a Montessori teacher for one of these schools. This is precisely the sort of education that does give them wings, what Dr Montessori called education for the human potential.
- Help out those of us who want to reintroduce the Fountainhead Essay Contest next year to encourage youngsters to read The Fountainhead -- that is, to offer to a new generation the inspiration to face a lifetime that reading The Fountainhead has given some of us. (Here's what one participant in the ARI's American competition has to say, and here's the winning 2002 New Zealand essay.
|The Fountainhead |
by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff
Read more about this book...
|To Educate the Human Potential (The Clio Montessori Series) |
by Maria Montessori
Read more about this book...
READ THE EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
South Auckland, again - NOT PC (June 17, 2008)
The warrior culture of South Auckland, Part 1 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2 - NOT PC (October, 2005)
More social workers, more violence - NOT PC (November, 2005)
The great con that is social welfare - Peter Osborne, Libertarianz, Scoop, (January, 2007)
If you can't draw breasts, then you can't call yourself an artist.
But you can't start at the top: if you can't even draw an egg, then breasts are always going to be beyond you.
Artist Michael Newberry's mini-tutorial on the difficulty and importance of drawing form -- "no spectator is going to believe that the woman's breasts were concaved, or that the sphere was flat" -- offers the perfect instruction on the technique needed.
It all comes down to letting the feeling become form ...
Figure below is a study for Newberry's 'Kimberly,' in pastel.