Friday, September 05, 2008

NZvPNG at MCG

int-cup-gf-image
No live coverage, I'm afraid, but the main game at the MCG will be on Sky Sport 3 from 10pm tonight -- you'd have to expect some highlights from the earlier final ...
UPDATE 1: Just finished ... NZ lost by eight points after leading for most of the game!
Bugger.
UPDATE 2: Game report and pictures here from 'World Footy News,' and the Brisbane Courier Mail has news of the International Cup's World Team selection -- the tournament's equivalent of an 'All-Australian' team -- which included three New Zealand players: forward Richard Bradley, full back Andrew Chrighton, and captain and ruck rover Andrew Congalton. Congratulations, guys.
Here's NZ & PNG lining up at the MCG for the anthems:


It promised so much ...

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Top posts, top week!

For those who disgracefully failed to keep up here at NOT PC this week, here's what visitors seemed to like:

  • Sarah Who?
    "Sarah who?" That's the question most of us were asking at the start of the week, and we've been running to keep up ever since. Some were saying this will be "the grand slam in the bottom of the 9th" -- the moment when John McCain wins the Presidency." [Other Palin posts here, here and here.]
  • Beer O’Clock: The Shakespeare
    New Zealand’s first modern brewpub has a long and illustrious history, and Herald journalists three-deep at the bar -- but what about the beer?
  • What's the evidence for strangling prosperity?
    The Government is rushing to impose an Emissions Trading Scheme, and the Blue Team has their own to impose if that doesn't work out, but where the hell is the evidence that there's any need for either? And why does the organisation supposed to be providing the "unequivocal" evidence of warming wash their hands of responsibility for it?
  • Trotsky beset by blog "fascists"
    There is "a 'fascist' quality to the blogosphere," says Chris Trotter -- electrons full of "misogyny, anti-intellectualism, and aggression" and, "even more worryingly," what he would call “ideological exterminism.” Strong words from a man who not so long ago came out strongly in favour of corruption.
  • Let the bullshit begin
    The National Party's billboard campaign, now started, is singularly weak -- and not just because the campaign's so-called "brain," Glenn Jameson (right, avec moi), is a duplicitous respectability-worshipper as slippery as a snail crawling under a snake -- but because it shoots its own self right in the foot.
  • Bill Bored
    Here's one we laughed at more.
  • Architectural Mini-Tutorial: 'Capturing a View Alive'
    And finally, something much more edifying: the first of a series of "mini-tutorials" on the basic elements of architecture. Do you know how to capture a view alive? It's easy when you know how.

Have a great weekend. I'm off the Macs' Brewhouse for one.

UPDATE: As always, plenty of good reading too in this week's Objectivist roundup. Don't miss out, now.

Beer O'Clock: Tuatara crowned best NZ brewery

tuatara_20145_20pixel New Zealand's new champion brewery is now, officially, Wellington's Tuatara Brewery. 

Reports NZPA, Tuatara Brewing was crowned the best brewery in New Zealand at the latest BrewNZ awards, the first time a "champion brewery" had been selected.  Its victory came from it beers being judged "highest overall across all entries."

     Tuatara won from among 46 breweries from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Malaysia and Singapore, which entered more than 200 beers.
    The international panel of judges deliberated for three days to select the overall winner, as well as awarding Best in Class winners in the following categories:

  • Classic NZ Styled Beers: Biman, Invercargill Brewery, Invercargill.
  • Amber and Dark lagers: Hereford Bitter, Dux Brew Co, Christchurch.
  • International Golden Lager: James Squire Pilsener, Malt Shovel Brewery, Australia.
  • French & Belgian style ales: Tuatara Ardennes, Tuatara Brewing, Wellington.
  • New world/American style ales: Epic Pale Ale, Epic Brewing Company, Auckland. UK and other European style ales: Tuatara IPA, Tuatara Brewing, Wellington.
  • Stouts and Porters: Clydesdale Stout, Harringtons Brewery, Christchurch.
  • Strong ales and lagers: Monteith's Winter Ale Doppelbock, DB Mainland Brewery, Auckland.
  • Wheat and other grain beers: Emerson's Weizenbock, The Emerson Brewing Company, Dunedin.
  • Fruit, spiced, herb flavoured beers: Boysenbeery, Invercargill Brewery, Invercargill.
  • Packaging award: Monteith's New Zealand Lager, Monteith's Brewing Company.
  • Experimental and non or low alcoholic beers: Enrico's Cure, Green Man Brewery, Dunedin.

Congratulations to Tuatara -- and naturally, beer was the winner on the night.   And plenty of good beer there to choose from for your weekend drinking.

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Going for a 'P'

Q: What’s the best thing about using 'P'?

A: Only 3 sleeps ‘til Xmas!

But enough of this flippancy!  'P' is a serious issue; it is causing serious damage to many people!

Well, yes it is serious, which is why unlike every other political party since the War on Drugs(TM) began, Libertarianz has a serious plan to deal with it.

Yes, that's right, just like Libz plan to actually defend New Zealand (unlike all those other tossers who thing hand-wringing and hakas are enough to do the job), Libz also plan to actually deal with the scourge of P -- the ideal prohibition drug -- instead of, like every other party, continuing to make the problem worse.

If I say so myself, it's an excellent plan.  Read it here.

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More, please.

Speaking of things that should be banned on publicly "owned" footpaths, as some people have been, there are politicians about who'd like to ban this:

                                                    girlskissing
The fools.

What say we make a concerted effort instead to make bans unfashionable?  Who's with me here?  Let's Ban Bans!

If you don't like something someone's doing, what's wrong with persuasion for goodness' sake.

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A tale of two speeches [updated]

You've got to hand it to Sarah Palin -- that was a great speech. It's got the whole world talking, and with good reason:

It's easy to forget that this [Obama] is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate. This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.

Read it in full here, or watch it (again) here.

So that's one Palin speech, a great speech -- a speech that has gone around the world -- and boy, doesn't she come across well. Hannah Strange in London's Times sums up reactions:

Conservatives are swooning, liberals terrified - that's how I would sum up the media reaction to Sarah Palin's big moment in St Paul last night. Never mind that she told a fair few porkies - both about her own record and Barack Obama's - the young governor of Alaska issued a rallying cry to the conservative Republican base that will go down in the annals of the culture wars as one of the most energising opening salvos of recent times

See the rest of Strange's piece for a round-up of reactions. Here's another recent Palin speech however that might innoculate you from all the swooning [hat tip Noodle Food]. If Palin's speech last night made my eyes slightly moist (yes, I confess; how rare it is to see such forthrightness) then this speech made my skin crawl. It's Palin talking a few months ago to the Assembly of God church by which she says she was "saved." (From what exactly she was "saved" is never quite clear.)

She says repeatedly, like a point for the audience to remember, "that God's Will be done." She says that people, you and I, "can't do any good unless their heart is right with God"! She says that U.S. soldiers in Iraq, all of them, are "on a task that is from God." Se says "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." This is worrying stuff. But then in part two of the video the pastor says quite seriously -- and Palin is on stage for this, smiling through it all -- that "God wants Alaska to be a refuge for people from the 'lower 48' during the Last Days, and this church must be ready to receive them." Wow. Just, wow.

PZ MYers at Pharyngula calls it "a terrifying video ... going on and on in front of her Assembly of God church, talking about the war in Iraq as "a task that is from God", promising the congregants the gift of prophecy, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus … it ought to make any rational human being ill."

I'd like to hear how you react. Watch both parts of the latter speech here.

UPDATE 1: Just to head off an obvious objection: If it's okay to criticise Obama for his choice of guru -- and I believe it is -- then so it's okay to criticise Palin's. If Jeremiah Wright is fair game, then so too is Pastor Ed Kalnins of the Wassila Assembly of God, where she was baptized at the age of 12 and which she attended most of her adult life until 2002 when she left for Juneau -- maintaining, in her own words "a friendship with [this] special, special place." Nico Pitney and Sam Stein reckon "A review of recorded sermons by Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God since 1999, offers a provocative and, for some, eyebrow-raising sketch of Palin's longtime spiritual home."

Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."

How do you feel now?

UPDATE 2: "Christians and other mystics sometimes argue that religion makes people moral. I disagree: morality is a practical science which can only be understood by rational consideration, not emotionalism ... One particularly despicable influence of religion was out on display when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate." Read on here.

UPDATE 3: I said above that "if it's okay to criticise Obama for his choice of guru -- and I believe it is -- then so it's okay to criticise Palin's." Nick Provenzo reckons there's a significant difference between McCain plumping for Palin, pastor and pentacostalism and Obama defending Wright:

While Obama has his own religious demons to contend with (such as his bigoted and raving anti-American ex-pastor whose sermons Obama was all too willing to sit though), Obama's religious background serves to discredit him, while McCain's recent moves are intended as a pragmatic effort to strengthen his chances of winning in November.

UPDATE 4: You saw all those signs at the Republican National Conventions: "Country First," "Service," "Sacrifice." Myrhaf saw them too: "When you put service first," he notes, "then freedom comes second at best." This is the real tragedy, he says:

[At this conference] we watched the beginning of the end of freedom in America, brought to us by well-meaning Republicans who have not the slightest idea that their perverted hierarchy of values will lead to destruction of individual rights. They were all good people we saw on TV tonight. Good, solid Americans.
Their ignorance of economics and philosophy will be the end of the country they love.
If the Democrat Party is a mad farce, the Republican Party is a tragedy. In striving to serve the land they love, America, they will end up destroying it.

The real difference between Obama and McCain? "McCain wants Americans to sacrifice to country; Obama wants Americans to sacrifice to the whole world." But they do both demand your sacrifice.

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Zoning out education

Since 'zoning' has worked so 'well' for New Zealand's school children, and has so much support, why not apply it to other areas so other NZers can get the benefit of enforced stratification?

Lindsay Mitchell reveals how 'well' it would work for supermarkets and their customers ...

Meanwhile, National has turned their attention to zoning.  They intend to ... what do you think? ... "tweak" zoning.  As Lindsay says, "Archetypal Nat policy. To 'tweak'. Remove the 't' to reveal what their policies really are."

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The Discovery of America - Salvador Dali

                                  D202~Discovery-of-America

The discovery of the New World, symbolised by the youthful Christopher Columbus, unfortunately accompanied -- not to say dominated, as here above in Dali's painting and at both recent political conventions -- by the Old Time Religion of the Old World, a bacillus which still infects and undercuts America today

There is of course an alternative view; that "Religious teachers predominantly in America, compared to Europe, are good healthy materialists. They ... go with common sense."  Guess who had this view, 47 years ago at least.

[Image taken from AllPosters.Com]

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The futile sacrifice of 'Emissions Trading'

GoreFaints News just in that Al Gore fainted when he heard that despite truckloads of CO2 being belched into the atmosphere there is still no evidence to support his hysterical profit-making, and that nutbar scientist James Lovelock -- who invented the "Gaia" nonsense so beloved of climate witchdoctors, and who wails "Before this century is over, billions of us will die"  -- says that New Zealand's proposed Emissions Trading Scheme is "a waste of time." 

"New Zealand, says Lovelock, "is wasting its time passing an Emissions Trading Scheme." Listen here.

Fact is that any ETS from either big party, is little more than a futile sacrifice -- government action that will stop private action, and have no other effect.  If Al Gore actually were right and the worst does happen, the best thing governments could do is get the hell out of the way so free people could adapt to changing circumstances, just as free people always have.  Shackling prosperity now not only doesn't do anything to avert the supposedly coming catastrophe, it makes us much less able to adjust, and much poorer withal.

Could someone please listen?

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Those arresting vagrants

"Homeless" is one of those marshmallow modern euphemisms people use these days to avoid saying something real -- a bit like saying "wetlands" when what you're talking about is a swamp; or "investment" when what you're talking about is government spending; or that you "need resources" when what you're after is a handout.

We didn't used to describe people who sleep on the street as "homeless" -- we'd call them what they were: bums and tramps and vagrants.  "Homeless" suggests that fate has swooped down and overnight swept away home, fortune and sacred honour from those unfortunate few who just wake up one morning and find themselves "sleeping rough."  It takes away responsibility from the "homeless" for their own choices that saw them end up on the street.

That said, it's not right at all to arrest people for something as essentially harmless as putting a sleeping bag on a footpath, as Auckland City Council Community Services Committee chairman Paul Goldsmith would like to do.  Goldsmith (who to fit on his full job title must have a business card bigger than a vagrant's backpack) says that mattresses on footpaths, puddles of urine and people behaving offensively, especially near Aotea Square in the central city is "unacceptable."  To him.

    He said it was frustrating the council could order people around in all sorts of ways, but could not do anything about the people sleeping on footpaths.
    "At the moment the approach seems to be that we can't do anything.
    "You can't just stick a cafe on the footpath, but it seems you can stick a mattress on the footpath and leave it there until 9.30 in the morning and make the place look a mess."

Notes Radio NZ: He says "council is determined to improve the situation," and "is not ruling out the possibility of arresting vagrants."

Well, yes, it is "frustrating," but this is not Singapore or China.  This is Aotea Square, not Tiananmen Square. Some of us think it's enormously immoral, not to say frustrating, that small-arsed sawdust caesars like Mr Bloody Goldsmith and his committee have the power to "order people around in all sorts of ways."  Some of think that a few mattresses would be a small price to pay for getting rid of a few jobsworths as offensive to freedom as he and his ilk.

As long as the bums neither neither break my leg nor pick my pocket, then the long arm of the law (and of Mr Goldsmith's proto-fascist committee) should leave them the hell alone.

In any case, perhaps Mr Goldsmith might reflect (if he ever does such a thing) that he is looking at this backwards.  Perhaps his little committee could take up their own beds and get the hell out of the way so people could stick a cafe on the footpath -- giving cafe and shop owners an interest and some power in keeping their frontage clean and secure. 

Perhaps he could realise that this problem always existed, but only became evident when the City Mission moved its soup kitchen to its latest location, almost on Aotea Square, and since the council started spending its valuable time harassing shop owners (whose footpaths these should be) instead of working on their behalf. 

Perhaps he could recognise too that arresting people simply because "the authorities" don't like them is not the free society some of us would like to inhabit -- there's nothing wrong with beggars on the street (and it's true that many of them like the life), but there's a lot wrong with arresting beggars for being there, and with the buggers who'd like to lock them up. 

Perhaps Mr Goldsmith might understand that in places like London, for example, where the problem is much greater, shop owners and small businesses frequently "adopt" their vagrants, giving them a cup of tea and a sandwich in the morning when opening up for business before shooing them off for the day.  There was one such tramp who in winter used to sleep at the front door of our construction company in Shepherd's Bush, and on some mornings when our building sites were short-handed, all he had to do quite literally was stand up to get a job. But he couldn't do it.  The very idea of work repelled him.  Arresting him for his choice would have helped nobody, but a cuppa and a sandwich and a small broom made "our" tramp just another part of life in the big city.

Auckland is a big city, Mr Goldsmith, not your feudal fiefdom.  Perhaps you should remember that.

Here's Christy Moore, with 'Go, Move, Shift.'

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NZ through to Grand Final at MCG!

NZAFL-SemiI'm sure all readers will be overjoyed, just as I was, to hear that New Zealand walloped Ireland in last night's semifinal in the AFL International Cup by 57 to 15, and will be playing Papua New Guinea in the final at the MCG on Saturday, 5pm local time.  (PNG beat South Africa 62-15 to make the final.)  Results here, brief story here.

Says PNG coach Andrew Cadzow, it will be a closely contested match.

    We play more of a running game, they're a very structured side, so certainly they're going to be very, very hard to beat because their ... strengths are our weaknesses and probably the opposite are ours.
   
So it'll probably be a game of two different sort of styles of play more than anything else, so I think it'll be who's on the day ... hot and ... who gets it right. It'll be an interesting ... game.

It will be.  Having played against PNG back in 1997, when we were well beaten, I have to say they're damn quick!  Should be a great contest to watch. 

Just get there late so you can avoid another bloody haka.

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Toro!

Crikey.  I never thought I'd see the day: Chris Trotter comparing John Key to ... a matador!

Somehow, the imagery just doesn't work for me.

Can't fly, can't sail, can't fight

A new report on NZ's arthritic 'defence' force concludes the air force can't fly, the navy can't go to sea, and the army couldn't knock the skin off a rice pudding.  In other words, NZ's defence policy amounts to 'God Defend New Zealand,' since nobody else is able to.

It gets worse.  Defence minister, Phil Goff, told punters not to worry, this is "not out of the ordinary," it's "nothing new."  Fact is, he says, he's been seeing reports like this for years.

Comforting, don't you think, in the world's present less-than-benign strategic environment?

Fact is, there have been reports like this for years, and Phil Goff isn't the only one to blame. Despite the latest Government throwing a miserly $8.6 billion at the moribund military, one of the very few legitimate branches of government, the previous National Government had run them down to such a level that the $8.6 billion was like a small piss on a very big desert -- and given that they're happy with the "enduring consensus" on defence (or lack thereof) they have no plans now to change that come November.

Which makes National's Wayne Mapp's bleating about the latest report just more of the crocodile tears he so easily sheds.

Be nice if there was at least one political party who recognised the crucial importance of actually defending the country, don't you think?

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What's the evidence for strangling prosperity?

A blog reader contacted me this morning to tell me he'd just got off the phone to NIWA. He wasn't happy.

Given that parliament is currently under urgency to make room to pass the Emissions Tax Scam Bill next week (despite the Greens' Russel Norman saying only a week ago that they wouldn't support the Bill if it was pushed through under urgency), and since this is a bill that will strangle industry for this generation as successfully as the Resource Management has strangled development, my reader figured he'd check out the local research that backed up this anti-industrial bulldozer.

After all, David Wratt, NIWA's General Manager Climate Change, is on record as saying the evidence for global warming is "unequivocal."  Get that?  Unequivocal.  And being NIWA's General Manager for Climate Change, one would expect that he's just the chap to whom the politicians would go to seek the evidence.

So this is what my reader set out to do too. What he was after was a local data set that unequivocally illustrates this unequivocal warming trend (or lack thereof) -- in other words, the evidence from NIWA on which the politicians are relying.  The raw evidence that hasn't been tampered with.  The woman he spoke to at NIWA however was very evasive on the point.  What she had for him, in a word, was nothing.  Unequivocally nothing.  (Don't take our word for it, try it yourself on +64 4 386 0300, or email: climate-enquiries@niwa.co.nz, or fax: +64 4 386 0574, attention “Climate Enquiries.”  Details here.):

"I mentioned to her the website john-daly.com," he says. "I pointed out that one can go to the 'What the Stations Say' page on that site, and see what sort of warming trend there is (or lack thereof).  There is a world map there. You click on the area of interest, and the actual stations are presented with their corresponding records."

My reader spent about an hour on this site, clicking all over the world, and was unable to find anything, anything at all, that substantiated David Wratt's "unequivocal" warming trend. The records for New Zealand, Easter Island, and Antarctica are particularly interesting, he told the telephonist at NIWA. Here for example is the record for Christchurch and Invercargill to 2001:

c-church

Says my reader: "What I reasoned was that if these data are fiction, then Wratt should be able to produce the actual sets.If these were presented to the public, perhaps the warmist
perception can be corrected. Some local 'undoctored' data might be more convincing than Al Gore's propaganda."

Sadly, he wasn't successful.  NIWA's telephonist had nothing to offer him.

But you can find NIWA's own raw data yourself, online, if you sign up to NIWA's National Climate Database (go to www.niwa.co.nz and choose National Climate Centre) -- which I did -- and a very nice lady emailed me with comprehensive instructions on how to use the system -- which I did.

Now, just recall that the government is rushing through an Emissions Trading Scheme based almost solely on advice from NIWA that New Zealand and the rest of the planet is warming. But curiously, when signing up online to access this data one is given the caveat that "NIWA does not make, and the Recipient acknowledges that NIWA has not made, any representation or warranty (express or implied) as to: (i) the accuracy or completeness of the Data; (ii) the use to which Data may be put; or (iii) the results or outcomes which may be obtained from using the Data."

A curious thing to say, don't you agree, when it is data such as theirs -- in fact, data that is theirs -- on which the future prosperity of this country is now being made to hinge, yet they can offer no representation or warranty (either express or implied) as to the accuracy or completeness of the Data?

Curious indeed.

Curious too that when one downloads data for some of NZ's longer-term recording stations, one is at a loss to find the trend that Wratt and and the ETS rats claim is "unequivocal."  (See here for example for the raw temperature record for Kelburn from 1928 to 2005.) 

So New Zealand isn't warming.  No surprise, really, since our entire hemisphere shows no sign at all of warming.

However, it turns out that Wratt is neither relying on local data nor global data for his warning of unequivocal warming.  His case rests not on actual evidence of existing warming, but almost solely on the IPCC's "projections" of future warming, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their four successive reports. 

That is to say, not on evidence of warming, but on evidence of projections of future warming.

(Note that this is an organisation more political than scientific. "Its brief," says Christopher Brooker, "has never been to look dispassionately at all the evidence for man-made global warming: it has always taken this as an accepted fact. -- helmed by what John McLean calls an "incestuously linked ... core group of academics whose models underpin everything the IPCC wishes us to believe about global warming.")

These "projections" -- note, these are explicitly not "predictions"  -- are enormously complex to calculate. Explains one modeller,

one needs to estimate a multi-dimensional probability distribution that quantifies how likely different model parameter combinations are given knowledge of the uncertainties in our observations. The computational cost of mapping a multi-dimensional probability distribution for a climate model using traditional means [requires] 104 to 106 model evaluations for problems involving less than ten parameters...

Given the complexity, the answers delivered by the models have a tendency to be written by the limited number of assumptions, fudge factors and parameters one is able to build in.  In other words, "the answers are written in the assumptions."

Which leads one to ask, just how good are these ultra-long-term weather forecasts?  Since they've been making them for nearly twenty years now, a simple method is to see how how good they've been.

Simple answer: they've been crap at looking forward, but great at looking back.  As Marlo Lewis says when looking at how well projections match observations, "despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations" "there’s been no net global warming in the 21st century. Although seldom reported by the mainstream media, it’s quite a story, because no climate model predicted it."

                               ipccchart

Just to show you how crap, the "projection" from the IPCC's last report, the Fourth Assessment, of a temperature increase of 0.2 degrees per decade already overstates the amount of warming we have seen -- or in scientist-speak, "based on measurements since 2001, and the four statistical models described above the central tendency for projections communicated in the IPCC AR(4) falls outside the range consistent with real earth weather data." See:

falsifythroughjuly

And here:

        2595643364_fce52c1376

Remember, this is despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations.

They've been making these projections now for nearly twenty years , yet despite being able to "backward project" quite well with later reports (as the other three trend lines produced from later reports in 1995, 2001 and 2007 all manage to do), they're not quite so good when they try projecting forward.        

A series of articles by Roger Pielke Jr published in January, before this year's temperature dip, shows just how crap the previous future projections have been. In Pielke's words, "It seems pretty clear that the IPCC in 1990 over-forecast temperature increases" [see below where he even tries to help by nudging the starting point], while the later record "is clouded by an appearance of post-hoc curve fitting."

              1990 IPCC verification

If you're about to vote to strangle New Zealand prosperity on the basis only of these projections, then may I urge you first to take the time to check Pielke's analyses from January this year:

               AR4 Verification Example

And if you're taking advice from David Wratt, then ask him to show you NZ's unadjusted temperature record, and don't take no for an answer.

I urge you: Don't strangle New Zealand's prosperity on nothing more than bullshit and pseudo-scientific guesswork.

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'Walkure' - Mario del Monaco

When I posted Mario del Monaco's majestic version of 'Nessun Dorma' not so long ago, it seemed to me his beautifully dark voice would be ideally suited to Wagner, and I wondered if he ever indulged.

To my delight, the latest Wagner Society newsletter tells me that indeed he had, and it's right there on YouTube!  Here he is,  in a scene from Die Walkure,  singing Ein Schwert verhiess mire de Vater (My father promised me a sword).  [Click the pic to go to YouTube]

There's a few shaky moments, but as one commenter at YouTube says 
Finally, Wagner sung with warm blood and a pair ofballs. Never will we see his like again. I think this kind of singing is what I miss most when I go to the opera; that tightrope, full-throttled, edge-of-your-seat, 'maybe won't make it to the end of the opera' singing.
Just listen to him sing "Walse! Walse!" To give you a bit of context, he's preparing for battle, girding his loins for teh fight of his life -- and ours.  Imagine Muhammmed Ali before his bout in Zaire with George Foreman, if our lives depended on it.

And if you think Wagner's not for you, then just read this from Sex'n'Drugs'n'Wagner by Peter Bloch, editor of Penthouse magazine:
“The Ring, now being performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, violates just about every modern taboo imaginable. Moreover, history proves it dangerous. Consider a warning label that was once proposed: Warning: Contains lyrics or matter which describes or advocates one or more of the following: suicide; explicit sexual acts including but not limited to rape; sodomy; incest; bestiality and sadomasochism; murder; morbid violence; or the use of illegal drugs.” Wagner’s epic manages to include almost all of these offences, often cloaked in seductive,
heart-pounding music whose rhythms all too often can move an incautious listener to be carried away by - even identify with - the evils being acted out on stage.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More thoughts on Sarah Palin

The world's shortest philosophy books

Researchers at Mississipi University have uncovered some largely unknown 'shorter classics' of the world's best-known philosophers (in fact, shortest classics) that might challenge the view that they're largely humourless. They include:
  • Coping with Change by Parmenides
  • Watch Your Waistline by Peter Abelard
  • How We Can Make this a Better World by Gottfried Leibniz
  • The Wit and Humor of Immanuel Kant
  • What I Learned from the Noumena by Immanuel Kant
  • Nietzsche's Logic
  • What Next for Capitalism? by Karl Marx
  • Our Natural Rights by Jeremy Bentham
  • Things I Haven't Reconsidered by Bertrand Russell
  • Ethical Theory by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Things to Say about Whereof One Cannot Speak by Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • What I Really Meant by Jacques Derrida, and
  • Our Duties to Others by Ayn Rand
If you need to, ask a passing philosopher to explain the jokes.  [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

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NZ tops table in International Cup

After three rounds of play, and having wiped the floor with Samoa, India an
d Japan, New Zealand emerges from pool play at the AFL International Cup as tournament leaders, with Ireland and Papua New Guinea snapping at their heels.  

Don't know anything about the AFL International Cup? No surprise if all you follow is mainstream media and mainstream sport.  But as this report from
 the Victorian tournament base describes it, "I there were such a thing as a United Nations of Australian rules football it would have looked something like this - 700 players from 17 nations crammed into the grandstand at the Warrnambool Racecourse."

The winners of the trophy in 2005, NZ's 229-o demolition of India on Monday sets
 them up as tournament favourites once again, and their top-of-the-table finish has them in good heart going into the finals series, -- where New Zealand faces Ireland in the first semi-final at 5:30 AEST time this afternoon (which is +10 GMT), just after PNG squares off against South Africa in the other semi -- and hopefully for the final, to be played at the MCG this weekend!

Check out some of the highlights videos here, and keep up to date at the tournament home page and the NZ AFL site.

NZ captain Andrew Gongalton soars high against the Japanese Samurais.
UPDATE: For those wanting to follow progress in the two semi-finals (and all the 'plate' games), World Footy News is updating scores each quarter as games progress here.  They report a cool day down in Warnambool, "around 14 degrees Celsius, but fine after early fog. Partly cloudy with light to moderate southeasterly winds. The overnight low is then supposed to be zero degrees Celsius, so the evening will turn very cold very quickly - no need for ice baths for the players!"

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Just browsing, thanks

A few of the geekier readers amongst you will have noticed I started adding figures for readers' browsers to the blog stats below.  If you're the sort of person who notices that sort of thing, then you'll be overjoyed with Zen Tiger's analysis of Google's new browser: Google Chrome.

Why oil is like pistachio nuts

Over at Anti Dismal, Don Boudreaux demonstrates (using pistachio nuts) why we'll never actually run out of oil.  What happens, you see,  is that unless technological improvement saves the day, what's left (whether it's oil or gold or pistachio nuts) simply becomes increasingly difficult to extract.

And no, this isn't a 'wriggle.'  It's actually an important lesson in resource economics.

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"The dog ate my homework"

WinstonPetersNo He accused Bob Jones of losing his memory. He told the Herald's Audrey Young she was incompetent, and should resign. He sprayed venom at anyone who questioned the increasingly incredible stories he was spinning ... and now, just when the Serious Fraud Office is sniffing around, the necessary pieces of paper have fallen miraculously out of the back of Winston Peters' file. They show that Bob Jones donation did find a home; the law was broken (though it's too late now to prosecute); and the problem all along was that the dog ate Winston's homework.  His helpers stuffed up.  It was just "an administrative error."  Or in Peter Brown's words, "people make mistakes," "we're all human," "those sorts of things do happen." (Where was Winston when the shit hit the fan? He was still out looking for the dog.)

One wonders just what short of things were happening when the all too inhuman Dail Jones saw $100,000 sailing into an account, and then disappearing before his very lies.

One wonders whether Winston will now apologise to all he impugned, and renounce the baubles he mistakenly assumed.

One wonders whether the taxpayers, or even Parliamentary Services on behalf of taxpayers will ever see the $158,000 he stole to help buy the last election, and which he is still required to return.

Or, as a caller suggested on Leighton Smith's show, perhaps Winston's little helpers could try donating it all to the Alzheimers Trust?

Naturally, behaviour such as this is still sufficient to ensure Winston a place close to Helen's heart.  Clearly, even breaking the law is no bar to Helen's good graces, nor is being suspended as a minister any barrier to the retention of one's baubles, making it clear that:

    billboard_for_kiwiblog [Hat tip Clint Heine]

UPDATE 1: Lindsay Perigo tries to unravel the riddle of Winston.

UPDATE 2: Farrar updates the latest developments, including who's been ying to whom, who's been paid to lie and is not doing very well, and who's just plain incompetent.

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NOT PC's blog stats for August '08

Another good month here at NOT PC, in which Olympian goddesses were feted, political dullards were impuned and some strange blog searches found a home -- and the blog received its millionth visitor.  Here's some of the main stats for NOT PC's last month:

NZ Political Blog Rank for NOT PC: 6th (June, 6th)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 687th (last month 590th)
Alexa Ranking, world: 252,163rd (last month 255,026th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1091/day (996)
Unique visits [from Statcounter] 30,481 (28,783)
Page views [from Statcounter] 47,029 (45,051)

Top posts this month:

Top referring sites
   Search engines 2729 referrals; Kiwiblog 1426; No Minister 1064; Libertarianz 827; Whale Oil 512;  AntiDismal 280; Lindsay Mitchell 265; Liberty Scott 241; SOLO 241; Mulholland Drive 231; NZ Capitalist 214; Cactus Kate 202; Chris Trotter 157; The Hive 155; Tumeke 135; Real Estate Blog 127;
Top searches landing here:
    not pc 689; nude olympians 542; boobs on bikes 324; elijah lineberry pinochet 92; archicad 12 90; nipcc 86; beer songs 82; peter cresswell 69; falufulu fisi david farrar telecom kiwi expat 58; sean fitzpatrick libertarian nz 55; broadacre city 49; china ready olympics 62; odd questions 42
They're reading NOT PC here:  
ClustrMap-0808
Top countries (measured this month by Google Analytics):
   NZ 53%; USA 21.5%; Australia 5.7%; UK 3.7%; Canada 1.9%; Germany 1.2%; India 1.0%; Italy 0.7%; Brazil 0.7%; Sweden 0.5%; Holland 0.5%;  Malaysia 0.4%; France 0.4%;
Top cities (measured by StatCounter):  
   Auckland 16.5%; Wellington 7.4%; Melbourne 5.1%; Christchurch 2.0%; Palmerston North 1.5%; Gothenburg 1.4%; Tacoma 1.3%; Sydney 1.2%; Chicago 1.1%; Miami 1.1%; London 0.9%
Readers' Browsers
   IE Explorer 48%; Firefox 41.9%; Safari 7.8%; Opera 2.3%
Readers' Connection Speeds
   Unknown 37.7%; DSl 34.9%; Cable 18.9%; T1 6.0%; Dial-up 3.9%

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading and linking to NOT PC this month, 
Peter Cresswell

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Bill bored

Every bullfrog and his leg-rope has posted a parody of National's  new billboard.  Peter McCaffrey has posted one that's actually funny.

                                   wavegoodbye-greens3

And accurate too.

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Climate Porn - AJ Hunter

16-permanent-recess-bg

Take a look at Utopia.   Or, to put it another way, Wellington's parliamentary complex under Libertarianz rule.

One can but dream.

Sadly, it's none of the above. It is instead one man's notion of how Wellington would look with global warming, courtesy of Frog Blog -- specifically: "an interpretation of Wellington in 2200 after climate change has returned the swampy pre-colonial shoreline to the steps of Parliament Buildings."

Frog is frankly reluctant to post it, having sufficient insight to realise that "people" -- especially people like myself -- might "take it as an encouragement for more global warming."  You couldn't be more accurate, Frog.

That said, it's not everyone's idea of climate porn.  Perhaps a picture of topless young women bathing at Oriental Bay might be just the thing -- particularly for all of parliament's old men; it might be all that's needed to discourage them from voting for Aunty Helen's Emissions Tax Scam.

(Oh, it should be noted that the title I give for the post is not Mr Hunter's.  He's called it something worthy like 'Wetlands in Lambton Quay,' or 'Warming to Wellington.'  Frankly, I think it's missing a few wildebeest, myself.  And if you's like a real curiosity from Mr Hunter, check out his idea for Keith Locke on Mt Rushmore.)

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Experience? In what?

I love Ed Cline's piece on 'Demagogues and Circuses,' which includes a pithy observation on the latest American issue du jour: political experience, As you'll see, it has a local resonance, perhaps even to John Key's claim in this interview to be like Obama.

    Much has been made during the presidential campaign of the candidates' experience or lack of it, in both domestic and foreign affairs. This is a straw man...  not a single candidate lacks experience in corruption, venality, malfeasance, concession, logrolling, compromise, theft, and a multitude of other misdemeanors.
    Obama is not the stainless prophet ready to lead the country in a "new direction." He is as guilty as any of the rest of them.
    John McCain is an enemy of freedom of speech. His campaign finance law has made it more difficult for any one to oppose the collectivist policies that his alleged opponents "across the aisle" regularly propose...
    What all the candidates seem to have lacked are any commitment to freedom, and the integrity to proclaim it and act on it. But, it would be an error to think that. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party is a friend of those things. In point of fact, both parties are committed enemies of freedom. Whether McCain or Obama wins the White House in November, there would be no "change" and no "new direction," but more of the same movement in the same direction, which is statism. The only difference between the candidates is the preferred rate of acceleration in that direction.

Et tu John Boy?

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Scampi

I wasn't in the country when the scampi inquiry was under way, but the "secret" documentary on the inquiry that Rodney Hide claimed had been destroyed has in fact not been destroyed, but is alive and well and featuring on Whale Oil's blog.

Perhaps someone could summarise the main points for me, and tell me why it matters.

UPDATE: Looks like Rodney only claimed that TVNZ destroyed the doco, not that all copies had been destroyed in toto. My mistake.

And it seems, according to you, the readers, the'scampi tape' matters because it allegedly provides incontrovertible evidence that Winston Peters and the highest levels of the Labour Party corruptly collapsed a select committee inquiry - after they and NZF received hundreds of thousands of dollars from participants in the scampi industry who were trying to get around the quota system -- this being being yet another example of what occurs when a group of professional politicians attains power over other people, which is what the quota system represents.

As LGM says, "In such situations there is always the likelyhood of cronyism and fraud and theft. Even if it doesn't actually occur, the taint exists."

In such situations by the way, the "taint," if it exists, is not a product of businessmen who are just trying to get rich by producing more of what customers want, but of the politicians who try to put an oar in the way of that benevolent process.

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Let the bullshit begin

The National Party's billboard campaign, now started, is singularly weak.  Not because the issue is not an important one -- NZ's loss of some of its most talented people to the convicts on the western island is a slowly unwinding disaster for this country -- and not just because the the billboard's style lacks clarity or force. See:

               natbillboard1

It's singularly weak because National itself must shoulder a fair share of the blame for the continuing exodus of some of our best and brightest, and not just because they were responsible in the past for the likes of the Resource Management Act and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, but for what people think they'll do in the future -- which in just two words, is very little.

You see, if the Labour Government's campaign against prosperity is what is pushing New Zealanders in their droves to leave in search of something better -- a poll back in May suggested as many as 1 in 10 adult New Zealanders is "fed up with high interest rates, worried about the housing market, and want better wages," and is thinking about leaving the country to get them -- then the National Party's promises and their campaign against their own party's principles is doing nothing to make anyone consider changing their plans -- and I'd suggest National's cheerleaders and their strategists (if such a species exists) reflect on that point. 

If the Labour-led Government is driving them away, then the prospect of a National-led government is doing nothing to arrest the flood.  Ask yourself why?

Emigration isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision -- it's a life-changing decision most people make based on long-term expectations.  For most of the last year those expectations would include the quite reasonable assumption that National will win the November election,  yet that assumption is doing nothing to stem the flow.  

They're not just showing a lack of confidence in what Labour is already doing to the country, they've already factored in their expectations of how little a John Key administration will do to change the country, and they're expressing almost equal lack of confidence in what National will do -- which as we know is to do nothing and change nothing. 

In short, they've realised that Labour-Lite will be just is as bad for their future as Labour was.  And that's singularly tragic.

I'll say no more now, since I said much more back in May.  I'll conclude instead with a line from an excellent piece by one John Gardner, a North Shore voter who's only leaving the country temporarily, but who articulates well the wary plague-on-all-your-houses departing NZers must feel about the politicians who make their lives a misery:

    But come election time and the truth is nakedly revealed. In their heart of hearts they think we are backward infants rather than thinking adults.
   
I'm glad to be freed from being treated with such disdain for a while.

Gardner is returning.  1 in 10 won't.  And National has nothing up their sleeve to stop that besides a billboard.

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"Full & final." Yeah right.

Last night's full and final deadline to lodge Waitangi claims saw over two-thousand new claims come flooding in.  Not that this is a "full and final" deadline -- there's still time for electronic applications to come in: the deadline for these is Friday.

So that's well over two-thousand new claims to get on the gravy train that the Waitangi Tribunal needs to sort through.  At their current rate of settlement, that should take them ... about five-hundred years.

So much for seeing the end of the gravy train.

In any case, neither fullness nor finality have been features of previous settlements, as evidenced even in last night's avalanche which saw yet another claim come in from Ngai Tahu (who have already in their history agreed to four "full and final" settlements from the taxpayer for things those taxpayers didn't do)*, claiming this time that the government's Emissions Tax Scam will rob their forestry assets of "tens of millions of dollars" -- which of course it will, just as it will rob nearly everybody in New Zealand. 

Perhaps we should all make a Waitangi claim?  And then another ... and another.  Or should we just pay homage to Sir Douglas Douglas Graham, lord of the taxpayers' pocket, who when handing over a large wodge of taxpayers' money to the moochers from Ngai Tahu told taxpayers "The sooner we realise there are laws for one & laws for another, the better."

As a standard for both fullness and finality, and for how the law treats those tangata whenua on the mooch, we should remember National's Douglas bloody Graham and the legacy of separatism and paternalism he left behind; and we should certainly remember this sort of serial reneging when we think something as trivial as a deadline will put a stop to the gravy train.   Our memories might be jogged by another serial recipient of "full and final" settlements, Tainui, who were on the mooch again just a fortnight ago-- coming away from their recent negotiations with the guardians of our wallets with their begging bowl full of cash and management rights to the Waikato River.

"Full and final." Yeah right.
                                                                                         * * * *
* On this point, see Alan Everton's three-part Free Radical article 'Ngai Tahu's Tangled Web,' here, here and here.  The Waitangi Tribunal's report on Ngai Tahu's 1997 settlement, said Everton at the time, "is a 1.254 page doorstop of rare abstruseness and mind-numbing repetitiveness which is strewn with assertions in search of a supporting fact." Thus was the pattern set for all the Tribunal reports that have followed.

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Trotsky beset by blog "fascists"

Not content with starting small blog wars to get his new blog noticed, Chris Trotter is now going wider. After listening to "a fascinating interview" on Radio NZ -- an interview between a blowhard and a blonde "about the blogosphere’s malign influence on the quality of public discourse" -- Trotter now declares war on the whole blogosphere. "There is indeed a 'fascist' quality to the blogosphere," he says.

Certainly we find the same levels of misogyny, anti-intellectualism, and aggression. And, even more worryingly, what I would call “ideological exterminism” -- the notion that your opponents' ideas should not simply be refuted, but annihilated.
Thomas Mann’s famous observation about burning books leading to burning bodies springs to mind.
We live in worrying times.

Worrying times indeed, when the country's most quoted leftist critic is unable to distinguish between the annihilation of ideas and the annihilation of human lives -- between a dagger thrust through a syllogism and an ice pick thrust into a human heart -- and is willing to talk airily of "virtual fascism" just because a large number of bloggers think he talks bollocks.

Has he seen the books heaped up under his window? Can we just ascribe it to the nonsense new bloggers say just to get noticed? Or is he now feeling the chill wind of a new oppression -- of a culture in which corruption can be "courageous," and where principle has given way to the flexing of political power?

Here's Christy Moore with 'Burning Times.'

NB: For the record, 'fascism' is nothing to joke about, or to devalue through over-use of the term. The word "fascism" comes from the Italian fascismo, from fascio, meaning "group." Rather than being the opposite of communism, fascism is simply another vicious variant of the same ideal of collectivism; where the Marxist bases his collective on "class," the fascist's grouping is one of race, or of nation. Where Marxism is a totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies "class war" and assigns to the state control over every aspect of private life, fascism is a totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies the state and nation and assigns to the state control over every aspect of national life.

The result is the same: one neck, ready for one noose.

As Ayn Rand observed, the so called opposition of communism and fascism is a malodorous myth -- they are simply two jackals hoping to fight over the same corpse. "For many decades, the leftists [ propagated] the false dichotomy that the choice confronting the world is only: communism or fascism—a dictatorship of the left or of an alleged right—with the possibility of a free society, of capitalism, dismissed and obliterated, as if it had never existed."

It is obvious what the fraudulent issue of fascism versus communism accomplishes: it sets up, as opposites, two variants of the same political system; it eliminates the possibility of considering capitalism; it switches the choice of “Freedom or dictatorship?” into “Which kind of dictatorship?”—thus establishing dictatorship as an inevitable fact and offering only a choice of rulers. The choice—according to the proponents of that fraud—is: a dictatorship of the rich (fascism) or a dictatorship of the poor (communism).

Essentially, it's a choice between a dictatorship that nationalises factories, and one that nationalises people.

The effect is the same -- human destruction. Only the slogans are different.

UPDATE: Owen McShane disagrees ever so slightly:

There remains much confusion between communism and fascism. They are quite distinct philosophies.
Socialism is the dark side of the Enlightenment Tradition. (If science helps you design a bridge then science helps you design society.)
Fascism is the dark side of the Romantic tradition. (Reason is trumped by feelings. Primitive people have greater wisdom than intellectuals.)
Socialism is econocentric. Fascism is not.
Communism combines the two by drawing on the "charismatic leader" of fascism.
Go to "The Rise of the Urban Romantics"
here.

I heartily endorse Owen's excellent and thought-provoking article (go read it here), but respectfully suggest however that while agreeing that the two political ideologies have differing origins -- and on this I think Owen makes his case brilliantly -- the source of their power is the same, that is, the overarching philosophy of collectivism that was endemic in the Europe of the nineteenth century; it's no accident that both the communist Marx and the proto-fascist Fichte owed intellectual allegiance to GWF Hegel (whose idea of the authoritarian state as the "divine idea on earth" is one of those "big ideas" one wished had perished with the arsehole who devised it), and nor is it a surprise therefore that the ultimate result of both sick systems is essentially the same: dictatorship in the name of a collective.

It should be clear, then, that the antidote to both these variants of collectivism is their polar opposite: a good healthy dose of individualism.

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Architectural Mini-Tutorial: 'Capturing a View Alive'

Inspired by my good friend Michael Newberry, from whose mini-tutorials on art I've learned so much, I've decided to post regular mini-tutorials on architecture to help interested readers learn a little of the elements of honest architecture.

I'm starting my first mini-tut by looking outside - which is is in fact the essence of good architecture: to link inside and outside. The very best demonstration of that principle at work is in traditional Japanese garden design, where it is considered essential to make the viewer part of the landscape.

The starting point with Japanese garden design (and in fact all good garden design), is to start from inside looking out. The main methods used to "capture a view alive" are either to link foreground and background with a middle ground, or by dynamic lines and forms leading the eye out into the landscape to capture it alive and make it part of your own space. In the words of one Japanese garden designer, the scene must lose its "thereness" so as to put the viewer into the frame.

These methods have been formalised under the principle of shakkei, or the art of using "borrowed scenery." These are some of the main elements used:

Trimming of the view eliminates non-essentials, allowing one to focus on the essence, ie., the distant view. It is traditionally common to use low clay walls, pruned hedges or low hills or embankments, but the same principle can be utilised with any material, or even (as Frank Lloyd Wright so often does) with a house ...

Capture with tree trunks. This is the most common method of linking intermediary objects -- the aim is neither to obscure the landscape nor to frame it, but to slow the eye's movement across the landscape ...
Capture with a woods. The woods itself can be a trimming line ...

Capture with the sky. Often with the sky reflected in water, or with the sky assymetrically related to a large element in teh composition, such as a mountain or, as here, a tree. The effect is much like the famous Japanese prints of Mt Fuji, where a part of the mountain sits at one side of the frame, with one side trimmed to give a thrust into empty sky (and often, as below, with the distant view trimmed by the low plantings) ...

Capture with an eaves. Often used as the culmination of an entrance progressional, in which the psychological feeling of containment is instilled in the processional, then release is suddenly discovered, attained at the discovery of the open vista. The broad eaves trim the sky from the composition -- often parallel to a hedge as a trimming line (or here, at Fallingwater's guest house, trimmed by the walkway canopy leading to the main house below). The essence is the broad eaves thrusting out into the landscape, stressing the horizontal open vista.Capture with a 'stone lantern.' The lantern itself is optional, but when faced with very simple scenery, with the foregrund of a moderately complex garden, the link can be made by placing an object such as a stone lantern in the foreground, and also amidst the distant scenery -- due to the simplicity, the lantern stands out, and the two objects unite foreground and background. Look closely, and you'll see it ...

You will notice that 'capturing with a picture window'does not feature here, and with good reason: In Japanese garden design, this method is considered rather vulgar.

I hope this discussion of the elements of 'capturing a view alive' has been helpful.

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