Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A World Cup flashback

Before the All Whites, there was another team of underdogs who’d captured the world’s imagination, and mine.  And I don’t mean the 1982 New Zealand soccer team.

Sure, it was great to see them in the World Cup in Spain—and since I was holed up in hospital at the time getting a knee repaired, I managed to see all their games.  But since the team and its management was largely made up of itinerant poms, rather than Kiwis, the excitement was more than a little muted.  And the results of all those games were, let’s face it, embarrassing.

But this time it’s different, isn’t it. Today’s All Whites are not exactly all local boys, that’s true—no-one could really call naturalised Dane Winston Reid a local, not without crossing their fingers and all their toes—but in Reid and Tommy Smith and sundry other Kiwi irregulars plying their trade overseas (don’t call them amateurs) coach Ricki Herbert has scoured the world to make up a cracking team from our diaspora. A team with real character.

Just like that other team of footballing underdogs who took a whole nation on a great sporting ride in the early nineties: the Irish. As a ride, that was a hell of a good one too. I remember it well.

Honorary Irishman Jack Charlton had put together a team made up from the Irish diaspora, from anyone who’d ever had a drink in Kilburn. From that famous game in 1988, when they beat the English 1-0 in the Euro champs in Stuttgart, to reaching the Quarter Finals in the 1994 World Cup, it was a haze of success and celebrations that I was lucky enough to follow. I blame my Irish drinking companions for that. Too many years drinking with Irishmen in London got me bitten with their World Cup bug, but sure and everything it was a great time to follow Irish soccer.

And until last week, that 1994 tournament was the last time I watched a soccer game. But as I wandered home on Monday morning after yelling my head off in an Italian restaurant in Auckland (thanks to everyone at Gina’s), the parallels almost made my smile wider.

Houghton The time in the morning was the same, and it was still an Italian restaurant. But that time it had been in a little village in the west of England, and the Italian staff were far less gracious than the fine people at Gina’s when that famous first-half goal by Glaswegian Irishman Ray Houghton followed by seventy minutes of resolute defence gave Ireland their famous victory over an Italy featuring football icons such as Roberto Baggio and Roberto Donadoni, neither of whom were able to score. “Ooh aah Paul McGrath, Say ooh ah Paul McGrath!!

That morning, the staff threw us out before the game was over (probably because of our singing, to be fair) so we had to enjoy the 1-0 victory over the Azzuri over the radio.  But we sure as hell did enjoy it. “We’re all part of Jackie’s Army!”

You can get some idea of how much fun it all was—and could be here—from this YouTube clip celebrating Saint Jack’s team song. “Put ‘em under pressure!”

From this hilarious scene from the Roddy Doyle movie, The Van.

And from this Christy Moore song harking all the way back to that famous Irish victory over England in Stuttgart in 1988.


PS: For all the fun that was, this is why I haven’t watched soccer since then: Soccer Players Faking Injuries.

Power, power-lust and where the real power lies [updated]

buffetwarren-100x129There are people around who think that real political power lies not with governments, but with corporates and rich businessmen.

Think again.

When a Warren Buffett declines an “invitation” to come to Washington to “share his thoughts on a variety of financial matters,” a minor, mid-level bureaucrat can demonstrate to the third richest man in the world and head of the powerhouseedelbergwendym-100x114 Berkshire Hathaway corporation who’s really the boss in that relationship. A click of the fingers, the issuance of a subpoena, and a piece of paper beginning with the words “YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED” is thereby delivered to his door by the police.

Turns out the gun really does trump the dollar, at least when it comes to making threats.

Simon PowerThe latest local example is Simon Power-Lust’s peremptory ministerial decision to invade the businesses of the South Island’s richest man, Allan Hubbard, and his wife—and to place they themselves under “statutory management.”  As Mark Hubbard (no relation) explains,
_Quote Allan Hubbard's company Aorangi, and seven underlying charitable trusts, would not have needed a prospectus … but have regardless become the subject of a probe by the Serious Fraud Office, and they, along with Allan and his wife, are now under statutory management by the Nanny State. Aorangi never solicited for funds from the public, it was simply Hubbard's business associates and friends who had traveled with him over the last thirty years, most of whom he has made rich men. Unfortunately, it seems to have allowed a snake in, who has turned on him for who knows what personal vendetta, or trying to make up for losses he/she was not prepared to stand (after the event).
   “As Aorangi did not need a prospectus, these were investment transactions between consenting adults: the government had no right to be involved here: none.
Allan Hubbard. Photo / The Listener    “This is an historic day. Not because we drew 1-1 with Italy, but for the first time we have seen that a politician, and a bunch of no-hoper parasite bureaucrats can decide to take, to all extents and purposes, your life according to their whim. One second he’s the richest man in the South Island, the next (due to the ruthless intrusion of the State), because all of his private bank accounts are frozen, he can't even buy a pie at the local dairy.”
So where does the real power lie?

UPDATE: "Oh, but the finance industry couldn't be unregulated!" It isn't.
    "Financial services [in the States] have long been subject to detailed regulation by multiple agencies. In his book on the financial crisis, Jimmy Stewart is Dead, Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff counts over 115 regulatory agencies for financial services. If more hands in the pot helped, financial services would be in fine shape. Few believe such is the case."
We don't have all the regulatory agencies here in EnZed, but  we do have all the regulations.

Shame Jones and friends

Guest post from our Tauranga correspondent, Graham Clark, aka The Tomahawk Kid

What’s the difference between Shame Jones, Chris Carter, Len Brown and all the other thieving politicians running amuck with taxpayer money, and the Tauranga couple caught recently ripping off $250,000 worth of benefits?
There is only one difference: the couple got an eighteen-month jail sentence. The politicians didn’t.
OK, in the case of the benefit fraudsters the total may have been a bit larger, but the sentiment behind the theft was the same, that being: “I want something for nothing”—I want something that belongs to somebody else, and I don’t care how I get it.”
No morals, no principles, just pre-meditated theft and a rampant case of Entitlitis.
And the end result of all these thefts was the same, i.e.. in a time of recession, hard-working, honest, tax-paying individuals had their money taken from them by force and deceit, by people either unable or unwilling to earn it.
The moral position is the same.  Perhaps the only difference is that the political creeps pretend to work, whereas the creeps in Tauranga do not. These creeps were happy, knowing they were taking food from the mouths of my children, just so they didn't have to go to work themselves.
The tragic thing is that the Tauranga creeps will still be entitled to vote at the next election for the political creeps who promise to give them more of the same.
Oh yes, they will all pay it back I’m sure. The couple at 50c a week (taken from their benefit probably) and Shame Jones from money taken from other people in the form of tax--hardly a just punishment at all.  
Jones and the rest should get at least the eighteen months in jail the beneficiary fraudsters got. But no. He will be back to ripping us off (legally of course) in no time at all.
Vote for No Shame.

Graham Clark is a self-employed graphic artist, and the writer, singer, harp player and prime mover of the fabuous, most groovy Brilleaux, delivering Maximum R’n’B.  Proudly NOT taxpayer funded.  Come and see them in Auckland on the 30th. (NB: No discounts for the unemployed, but maybe a few job offers.)

Brill Live poster

Sack the Censor

So Chief Censor Bill Hastings is stepping down, and after twelve years in the job he maintains the steady diet of sex, violence and bestiality he watches in his day job has left him wholly unaffected.  Since the argument for the Censor's office consists largely of saying that repeated exposure to that sort of material is going to turn you into a beast, seems to me that makes him a walking refutation of his own position.

Seems to me, therefore, that Hastings stepping down is an ideal opportunity to ask, "Why have a censor at all?"

Whose business is it what I watch in the privacy of my home? Not a government flunky, that's for sure.

Whose business is it what a private cinema-owners chooses to show on his own screen?  Not a government-appointed busybody, that's for sure.

Whose business is it what consenting adults choose to make in the privacy of their own motel rooms? Not some prissy puritan arguing that he speaks for all of us.

The resignation of Bill Hastings offers an ideal opportunity to recognise the foolishness of having a bureaucrat whose job it is to determine what your neighbour’s standards are, and then to enforce them on you.

So grasp the opportunity with both hands. Don't appoint a new chief censor, shut the damn place down.

TWA Terminal -Eero Saarinen, 1962

DCF 1.0 Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal, now sadly abandoned while awaiting its relaunch.

Talking of curves, as a commenter was a few weeks back, inspired me to think about all the post-war enthusiasm for all those gorgeously expressive buildings using the potential of concrete shell, including Eero Saarinen's beautifully expressionistic 1962 TWA Terminal--designed to express the new age of jet travel back when that age was in its very infancy, and and which has been long outgrown by developments since.

The sculpted, naturally-lit spaces seemed to perfectly express the spirit of the new age of the post-war travel explosion.  As architect Stephanie Stubbs said about the building when renovations began being planned a few years back:

_Quote Saarinen's TWA Terminal—the great, swooping concrete bird—captured the essence of flight poised on the threshold of the Jet Age. It is fitting that all efforts be made to preserve its beauty for us, and for future generations. However, it is apparent that the building just cannot function as an airline terminal anymore.
The proposals shown here with the original terminal building at its centre give just a small idea of how much jet travel has changed in forty-odd years, and how flexible and easily-altered the modern airline building needs to be.
And just see what else has changed, based on present requirements:
_Quote...the Port Authority [the present owner] does not feel the whole building can be a modern terminal with "no room for curbside check-in, no way to move baggage efficiently through the building and no place to put security equipment like bulky explosive-detecting devices...the gently arched tubular bridges do not meet modern requirements for people with disabilities." But PA does say it could become an airport centerpiece, pending the future AirTrain system, as well as a place for the airport's employees.

Sadly, it seems that Saarinen's terminal managed to express and to fit the new age of jet travel so well that when jet travel moved onwards and upwards, as it has done every decade since, changing the way we see the world in the process, that the building itself could not easily be changed to fit the new era—or, at least, the owners of the building would not hire those who could make it so.

It takes a little more thought to expand a terminal like this one than it does the ever-expanding super-boxes so favoured these days, but the process can be far more rewarding all round.

However, even by the early seventies Saarinen’s bird was starting to find its feathers a little frayed. As bureaucracy took over the traveller and long delays at airports weighed down the spirits of every would-be passenger, surveys were already suggesting that Saarinen's beautifully soaring terminal was often cited as the one causing frequent flyers the most dissatisfaction. The reason? Apparently, the building itself gave the expectant traveller such a magnificent feeling of being up-up-and-away that all the hassles and problems associated with modern jet travel – the paperwork, the bureaucracy, the delays—that that the contrast proved too much for too many, and too frustrating for most.

A true story, I swear. Just another way bureaucracy kills off excitement.

LINKS: Saarinen's TWA Terminal and the moment of truth
- AIArchitect (Sept, 2001)
Saarinen's beloved TWA Terminal and air travel for the future: can this marriage be saved?
AIArchitect (Sept, 2001)
Saarinen's TWA Terminal to reopen?
- The Gothamist (Oct, 2003)

3d Visuals
- JonSeagull.Com

twa2-713270Just the sort of space you’d expect to find Emma Peel & John Steed lurking. Or James Bond on his way from Key Biscayne (Live and Let Die depicts James Bond arriving at JFK on a Pan Am 747—just one film defining an era that leaned on the terminal’s good looks.)


Monday, 21 June 2010

Mysticism in the Gulf

The strife in the Gulf of Mexico really is revealing people’s flawed fundamental premises. Last week the Obamessiah, this week there’s this abject idiocy from Sarah Palin.


As Trey Givens observes (from whom I pinched this) she really is serious.

Which says everything, really.

How New Zealand refutes the decline of the west [update]

I was musing amusedly about the post below this one, and the one below that, and figured I had good grounds to flog the PJ O’Rourke title I very nearly quoted above. PJ O’Rourke used a red-hot Italian car to refute the decline of the west; I’m going to use a red-hot embarrassment of Italy’s soccer heroes. So listen up.

For years we’ve been bleating that NZ has gone PC; that we’ve forgotten how to win; that we’ve become a nation of whingers who need their hands held even to be able to show up. For the most part, it’s the All Blacks that have provided the litmus test for that critique—the brainless, brawnless, limp-wristed loss to France in the Quarter Finals of the last Rugby World Cup being the most-cited piece of evidence for the prosecution—but while the mascaraed and cossetted rugby heroes have been having their hands held and complaining about “burn out” and other rigours of the professional sporting life, other New Zealanders have been getting out there and playing well above what the local talent pool would suggest would be our station.

Two cases in point:

  1. the Tall Blacks under Tab Baldwin, who played out of their skins at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, including completely unexpected wins over Russia and China to finish up with fourth place, two ahead of the United States.  At basketball!!
  2. the All Whites, under Rikki Herbert, who just played out of their skins to humble the world champions into throwing embarrassing theatrics to steal a draw.

How can you look at results like that and say New Zealand is as mired in political correctness as we might have thought?

These were two national teams without any of the natural skills and talent to be anywhere near the results they achieved, but who pulled down success out of the clouds by courage, clear-sighted appreciation and application of their skills they did possess, and a fierce all-encompassing will to win. 

It’s like a philosophy lesson in miniature.

Faced with the reality of competing above their station, they refused to fake reality and instead focussed on what they could do, and set out to do it.

Looking at the talents and skills their team with which their team was endowed, they dug deep into their reservoirs of character to make themselves resolute in their performance, succeeding by focus and sheer willpower.

Never mind the vicissitudes of the All Blacks, let’s celebrate the spirit of those Tall Blacks and these All Whites.  Between them they help refute the claim that all NZers have learned in recent years is how to lose.


UPDATE:  Reader “Gantt Guy” reminds me that perhaps the finest refutation is provided by the stunning victory over the weekend of the Nude Blacks over the Welsh Leeks.

I crave his pardon.

Watch it on video to see grass roots rugby at its best. If you know what I mean.

The Decline of Civilization

Gus Van Horn linked to this graphic illustration of the west’s philosophical decline “in terms of the kinds of questions we are asking.”


Woohoo! Italy 1, NZ 1!! [update 2]



A 1-1 draw against the world champions of falling the fuck over.  A hard-fought draw against the leading exponents of taking a dive.  A shared World Cup point—only New Zealand’s second ever-- against the undisputed masters of milking a penalty.

And frankly, that’s all the Italians had to show for themselves in ninety-five minutes of soccer: twenty-five ham-fisted Hollywoods and seven shots on target, all but one of which New Zealand resisted.

That’s got to be goddamn good for the sport!  And goddamned fantastic for New Zealand!


PS: And it made ‘em go awfully quiet in Gina’s Pizzeria, I can tell you.

Some reaction from round the world:

  • ESPN: All Whites shock champs
    “The biggest result in New Zealand's football history. They were immense.”
  • TEAM TALK: Heroes of the Day:
    Step forward the mighty All Whites of New Zealand, who were outstanding in their 1-1 draw with reigning world champions Italy in Nelspruit.
  • IRISH TIMES: Champions upended by minnows
    “Defending champions Italy have been held to an embarrassing draw by an extraordinarily industrious New Zealand side…”
  • (UK) TELEGRAPH: New Zealand shine to claim notable point
    “Italy dominated a compelling Group F contest thereafter but could not find a way past outstanding goalkeeper Mark Paston.”
  • CBS: Italy 1-1 New Zealand
    “The New Zealand defence led by Ryan Nelsen and goalkeeper Mark Paston deserve much of the plaudits for keeping the world champions out. Meanwhile New Zealand coach Herbert, who claimed last week's draw against Slovakia to be the best result in their history, has another major scalp to add to his list.”
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS: Italy held to stunning 1-1 draw by N. Zealand
    ”At the final whistle, however, the celebration was located in one corner of the Mbombela Stadium, where a small section of New Zealand fans marked their country's historic result by taking off their shirts and waving them around deliriously.  ‘I'm very very proud,’ coach Ricki Herbert said. ‘We knew we'd be up against it, but we had great resilience and stayed organized.’”
  • GATHER.COM: New Zealand Stuns Italy With 1-1 Draw
    “In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, unheralded New Zealand has worked Italy to a 1-1 draw.”
  • THE ROAR: All Whites: What a story!
    ”The night the bunch of mostly part-timers did ‘The Italian Job’. Italy don’t even deserve a mention – it was incredibly New Zealand’s night.”
  • BELFAST TELEGRAPH: Italy held to shock 1-1 draw by N. Zealand
    ”A controversial Vincenzo Iaquinta penalty spared champions Italy from World Cup embarrassment against minnows New Zealand this afternoon.”
  • GOAL.COM: World Cup 2010: Italy 1-1 New Zealand -
    “ Group F minnows hold defending champions in another shock result. Holders in danger of early exit after draw...”
  • YAHOO EUROSPORT: Tiny New Zealand defy Italy
  • Comment in NEW YORK TIMES: Great result for NZ; Red faces for the Azzurri
    ”New Zealand, which earned its first-ever World Cup point with a tie in its opening game, adds its second against the defending world champions. It’s hard to underestimate how stunning the result really is: the teams are divided by about 70 places in the FIFA rankings, with New Zealand behind the likes of Uganda and Panama.”
  • GUARDIAN: New Zealand hold defending champions Italy to a draw
    ”…though New Zealand did their share of dogged defending they created at least as much as their opponents did in terms of opportunities to win the match.”
  • THE SUN: Sweet Smeltz of Success
    “The All Whites came under increasing pressure as the clock ticked down but Paston stood firm to ensure they claimed a famous result.”


UPDATE 1:  Glad to see a few others felt as sick as I did at all the blue jerseys rolling around on the grass clutching parts of their anatomy.

NZ captain Ryan Nelsen called the Italian propensity to fall on the ground at the first sign of contact “a joke,” and the referee who rewarded the crybabies with over two-dozen free kicks for the ploy, including the penalty by which they equalised, a chap overawed by Italy’s apparent star power.

The Monsters and Critics website sums up some related reaction with this headline: Italy's Hollywood stars and referee roasted in New Zealand:

_Quote Italy's theatrical footballers, and Guatemala referee Carlos Batres, who fell for their acts, were roasted by New Zealand sports writers reporting their country's 1-1 draw in the World Cup.
    'Make no bones about it - Italy, winners of four World Cup crowns - cheated to get back into the game' after New Zealand opened the scoring, wrote Tony Smith, on the Stuff news website.
    He said the referee fell 'for the worst dive of the World Cup by the most theatrical Italian since (director) Federico Fellini,' when Daniele De Rossi flopped to the ground in the New Zealand penalty area alleging he had been pushed by defender Tommy Smith.
    'Smith had had a little tug of De Rossi's blue shirt, but he'd let go long before the Italian floundered on the floor,' he wrote, dubbing it an act unworthy of a world champion.
    New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen told New Zealand Herald writer Michael Brown: 'The penalty was ridiculous. Even De Rossi was laughing to me. He couldn't believe he (the referee) had given it.'
    Nelsen said he thought the referee 'got stars in his eyes' because the Italians were the world champions. 'The referee just buckled. If he's the best that FIFA offer up, then, gee whizz, I would hate to see the worst. It was very sad to see. He ruined the game.
    'For me, FIFA have to start looking after the game for guys who are diving and guys looking for fouls. They have to look at guys who are faking or conning the referee.'
    Smith wrote that it added salt to a raw wound that De Rossi won the Man of the Match award.
    'What a joke. If a team ranked fifth in the world has to resort to deception to subdue a side ranked 78th, then what hope is there for the World Cup?'
    Brown wrote: 'Every team is culpable of 'simulation', as it's known in official circles, but some countries are better than others. The Italians are masters of the dark art and milked it as every opportunity this morning.'
    Another report on the Herald's website said, 'If the World Cup is a stage, Italian footballers are clearly the best actors.
    'Every time forwards Rory Fallon or Chris Killen came within three feet of the ball, the nearest Italian player clutched a part of their body, grimacing in pain.
    'Azzuri players littered the field at Nelspruit in several histrionic retakes of the 'dying swan', as they traded knocks with All Whites players in the hustle and bustle of the group F match.'

The “dying swan” is one reason soccer generally turns me off.  It nearly turned me off again last night.

UPDATE 2: Sydney Morning Herald gets it right: Italian theatrics cost New Zealand famous win over defending champions Italy

_Quote Central American referee Carlos Batres has fallen for the worst dive of the World Cup by the most theatrical Italian since Federico Fellini. By doing so, he cost New Zealand's All Whites a famous win over football's reigning world champions … Make no bones about it - Italy, winners of four World Cup crowns, cheated to get back into the game.
    “Smith had had a little tug of De Rossi's blue shirt but he'd let go long before the Italian floundered on the floor. Only one person in Mbombela Stadium fell for the risible ruse - referee Batres who pointed to the penalty spot. Adding salt to a raw wound, De Rossi won the man of the match award. What a joke.”

Friday, 18 June 2010

Friday morning ramble: The “First World Cup Point” edition

Aren’t we getting damn sick of everyone saying sorry?! As if a bland expression, a studied turn of phrase and a few well-timed tears can make up for (in BP’s case) several billion dollars worth of damage they’ve done to people’s livelihoods and property; and (in British PM David Cameron’s case) for the violent deaths of 14 people on a Bloody Sunday in Derry.
Or does it?
Still, the distaste over yet another hand-wringing apologia is well overtaken, still, in this part of the world, by the New Zealand soccer team managing to pull down their first ever World Cup point.  That pretty much puts into better perspective everything else that’s happened this week round here—a proposition you can test for yourself by casting your eye over what we’ve got for you in this week’s ramble round the ‘net.

  • The "“voluntary” deal between BP and the Obama administration was nothing less than a continuation of President Barack Obama’s ongoing assault on the rule of law. Capitalism only succeeds if it is a profit and LOSS system. Well-managed firms should have every right to keep their profits, but mismanaged firms must be allowed to suffer losses." [Thanks to reader Sally for the link]
    An Offer BP Couldn’t Refuse – MORNING BELL
  • But guess what?  Kris Sayce makes a strong case that it’s not BP that’s to blame for the disaster.  (Excuse me, did I say “disaster”? I should have said “annoyance.”) Don’t direct your anger at them, he says, direct it at where it lies … did someone say Tragedy of the Commons?
    Why the Oil Spill isn’t BP’s Fault – KRIS SAYCEImage
  • A further point: The federal government's paltry $75 million liability cap distorted the insurance market and played a key role in the BP disaster.
    The BP Gulf Disaster: the Proximate vs. the Ultimate Cause – PRINCIPLED PERSPECTIVE
  • The big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough in itself. But politics can make anything worse.
    In the Gulf and around the globe, rhetoric is no substitute for reality.
    Obama’s Snake-Oil Spill- THOMAS SOWELL
  • The damage of the BP oil spill is a drop in the bucket compared to the destruction of the Obama administration.
    This Future – STEPHEN BOURQUE
  • “The tragic explosion that killed 11 people and led to millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico has many people, even die-hard auto enthusiasts, arguing that we should undertake a crash program to find alternatives to petroleum to fuel our transportation system. While it is nice to fantasize that some sort of ‘race-to-the-moon’ research program will uncover magically new energy sources and technologies, realistically it isn’t going to happen.”
     Power for Future Mobility – Randal O’Toole, THE ANTI-PLANNER
  • Peter Schiff comments on the BP sage, Obama’s use of the BP saga, and where the bigger outrage should be about:
  • The inquiry report into the Derry massacre rips events from their historical context: the conflict between Irish nationalists and the British state.
    Bloody Sunday: history reduced to psychodrama  - Mícheál Mac Giolla Phádraig, SPIKED
  • The malignant, evil philosophy that blends religious hatred, tribalism and scape-goating has left Northern Ireland still full of many who think the poverty, desolation and decay of the region is due to what the ‘other side’ did….
    Bloody Sunday reprise  - LIBERTY SCOTT
  • Speaking of religious hatred, the proposal of imams to build a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan has provoked both outrage and defence from Objectivists. Edward Cline says Islamists converting a building just a stone’s throw from Ground Zero makes it a “give America the finger” mosque--little more than the foreign-funded front for the expansion of jihad in America.
    Diana Hsieh reckons however that “people should not be judged guilty by the law and stripped of their rights just because they accept or advocate certain ideas… Totalitarian Islam is a major threat, but that threat needs to be fought by the military -- by destroying the states that sponsor terrorism -- not by violating private property rights in order to prevent a mosque from being built.”
    NYC Mosque: Respect Property RightsNOODLE FOOD
  • “If there is real evidence that the builders of the mosque actively plan to forcibly overthrow the United States government or harm its citizens, then they should be prosecuted and imprisoned by the government. I have seen no such evidence.”
    Let Them Build the Mosque  - ARI ARMSTRONG
  • A good time to listen (ore re-listen) to philosopher Leonard Peikoff’s podcast answering the question: “What is the proper U.S. policy in regard to Muslims, in light of recent events…?”
    What is the proper U.S. policy in regard to Muslims? – LEONARD PEIKOFF
  • This is, or could be, good news:
    An Anti-Terrorist Fatwa? – GUS VAN HORN
  • Oh dear.  Even Jon Stewart’s starting to make fun of Obama’s authoritarianism.

  • David Cameron’s Con-Dem Government has now confirmed that it is no more friendly to capitalism than the last one.
    Con-Dem anti-reason anti-business coalitionLIBERTY SCOTT
  • In Kentucky, they’re talking about an “Office of the Repealer.”  This is good.  Could we have one here please?  One with great big teeth—and a spine.
    Office of the Repealer - THRUTCH
  • While all attention locally, deservedly, is focussed on uncovering those with their snouts in the trough and their head in the clouds (yes, I’m talking about you, Len Brown)—looking at those who suck up hundreds of dollars of your money they shouldn’t be—the National Party appears to have cooked up a scheme to deliver millions of dollars,  4.8 million of them, to the two Samoan ex-All Blacks who just happened to help them get out some of South Auckland’s P.I. vote last election.
    The PEDA files ar looking more and more like plain old-fashioned corruption.
    Smelling worseNO RIGHT TURN
    Explosive: Pacific Affairs Ministry Warned of Risks and Implications(audio) – PACIFIC EYE WITNESS
  • No wonder National’s token Maori Georgina Te HeuHeu would rather go back into hiding, where she’s been for the last four parliamentary terms.
  • This is a point that simply can’t be made too often:
    Your Home is Not an Investment – David Lewis, TWIN TIER FINANCIAL
  • Paul Walker at the Anti Dismal blog links to a fascinating talk by Johan Norberg on the imminent prospect of new economic bubbles, especially in emerging markets.
    Just another consequence of bailouts, stimulunacy and cheap money.
    Johan Norberg on the Financial Crisis – ANTI DISMAL
  • “On top of the devastation it wreaked on markets, jobs and human lives, the global financial crisis has turned the field of economics, and particularly the study of finance, on its head.
    “Nearly three years after the crisis began, business school academics are sifting through the wreckage of long-held theories and developing new ideas.
    “Certainties about the healthy functioning of always-efficient, rational markets were shattered by the upheaval. B-school professors, along with their colleagues in university economics departments, are now rethinking models that businesses, investors and government saw as sacrosanct for decades.
    “Rewriting the textbooks and developing new approaches to replace those that no longer seem credible will be a long process.”
    But as Beth Gardiner reports, it looks like that process is under way… [thanks to reader Julian D.]
    Back to school: Economists rethink theories in light of global crisis – Beth Gardiner, WALL STREET JOURNAL
  • Screen-shot-2010-06-17-at-09.01.28 This is good.  Since the mid-fifties, the neoclassical synthesis in economics has harnessed Keynesian(Cambridge) and Neo-Classical (Chicago) into a mongrel melange beyond which textbook writers and central bankers simply can’t see.  Nonetheless, the world’s financial collapse—and the collapse with it of the mainstream economic model—it’s surely time now to admit that Austrian macro-economics should be admitted to the top table. (The article comes with this illuminating summary, right, of the differences and similarities of the three main schools.)
    Is there room for Austrian Ideas at the top table? – Toby Baxendale, COBDEN CENTRE
  • That trillions of dollars of Keynesian stimulunacy was followed by a nightmarish sovereign debt crisis was as inevitable as night following day.  Only somebody blinded by Keynesian nonsense could not have see it coming.
    And the even sadder fact, obvious again before the event, is that the greater the Keynesian stimulus the worse performing an economy was.
     Keynesian Fiscal Stimulus Policies Stimulate Debt -- Not the Economy  - J.D. Foster, HERITAGE FOUNDATION
  • After seventy years of intellectual rot created by the Keynesian delusion, Say’s Law is finally coming back. Not before time, since it describes the most fundamental integration in all economics.
    “They used to write that there is no such thing as a general glut. In today’s jargon, this would be: demand deficiency is never the cause of recession.
    “Or they would say that demand is constituted by supply. To translate this into modern discourse: to increase demand in aggregate it is first necessary to increase value adding supply in aggregate…
    ”The evidence that Say’s Law is an absolutely necessary part of any economist’s understanding of the world is everywhere to be seen. The lessons of Say’s Law will come back, it seems, rather quicker than many had thought it would.”
    Say’s Law is Coming Back – Steven Kates, CATALLAXY FILES
  • Investment guru Marc Faber looks at the economic future, and see’s a very ugly stepmother of a problem.  This is a lecture well worth an hour of your time. [Thanks to reader Ashley]
  • It’s always delicious when the politically correct opposes the politically correct, which is what has happened now that a new strain of genetically-engineered clover has been produced to lessen the production of greenhouse gases from cows. In other words, this is clover that will produce fewer farts, and (if you believe that line) less global warming. 
    A good test, you would have thought, for the earnest and the politically correct.
    And look: Greens leader Russel Norman fails the test completely; while erstwhile Greens leader Nandor Tanczos manages to fudge it with some mangled grammar. Russell Brown and Eric Crampton analyse.
    Clover It – RUSSELL BROWN
  • Trevor Loudon has the biggest filing cabinets in the land, all filled to the brim with facts and figures on everyone who’s ever waved a red flag.  And he’s now putting them all online in his KeyWiki project. Latest targets:
    • Green Party co-leader and "former" Marxist, Russel Norman 
    • Race Relations Commissioner and "semi-respectable and oh so reasonable" Marxist, Joris de Bres
  • Oh, and several weeks after the media’s dog-and-phony show has moved on, we’ve finally discovered how the Ministry of Health made up that $1.9 billion cost for smoking they wafted around with such powerful political effect.  Turns out the phrase “made up’ isn’t just a metaphor.
    Excess excess costs of smoking – ERIC CRAMPTON
  • As both Britons and New Zealanders debate lowering blood-alcohol levels for drivers, Rob Lyons argues that reducing how much we can legally drink before driving is an imposition on our freedom that makes little difference to safety.
    Why we need a limit on drink-drive laws – ROB LYONS, SPIKED
  • Somalia continues to throw up questions for anarchists that David Friedman’s Machinery of Freedom is never going to be able to help them with.  Latest example:  What do you do when a competing “police agency” declares that watching soccer is “un-Islamic” and “a Satanic act,” and claps you in irons? 
    Still, Tim Blair has some good advice.
    Watch AFL instead TIM BLAIR
  • Different religion, same barbarity. “A South African man who wanted to watch a World Cup football match instead of a religious programme was beaten to death by his family in the north-eastern part of the country.”  Another piece of evidence for the ‘Those-Who-Believe-Absurdities-Will-Commit-Atrocities’ file. [Hat tip Imperator Fish]
    Man beaten to death over Socceroos match – STUFF
  • Crikey, here come the Bronte Sisters Power Dolls: the feminist super-hero version! [hat tip Noodle Food]

  • “Comments made by Nick Smith in 2005 highlight the monumental hypocrisy of the National Party. Back then, when the economy was booming they campaigned against a carbon tax stating that the country could not afford one, while now, in 2010, when the economy is emerging from the worst recession in years, they are claiming that the country needs one.”
    Nick Smith hypocritical? Who would have thunk it?
    Time to Make a Stand – MURIEL NEWMAN
  • Andrew Bolt rips warmist moonbat Tim Flannery a new one.
    Bolt: But, Tim, I’m just wondering, there has been a rise in scepticism. That’s precisely why the Liberals, for example, have switched from supporting an ETS to opposing it ... and they dumped their leader over it. Now I’m wondering to what extent are you to blame for rising scepticism about some of the more alarming claims about global warming…”
    Flannery vs Bolt transcriptANDREW BOLT
  • It’s the Power of Glenn Beck again.  Check out the AMAZON TOP 100, and count just how many of the Top 21 can be attributed to Beck.  (Okay, I’ll count them for you. it’s eight.)
    Little wonder he’s being called “the new Oprah Winfrey.”
     Glenn Beck Overturns The World Of Book Publishing  - MEDIA ITE
  • 0 And after his re-launch of Hayek’s ‘Road to Serfdom’ last week on his TV show, this week he attempted the same with Atlas Shrugged.  Unfortunately, however, his verbal diarrhoea got in the way.  Still, the Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook did manage to inject a few word into parts three and four of the fifty-minute programme.  Well, one or two.  And it did lift Atlas back into number on spot on Amazon’s ‘Fiction’ and ‘Classics’ list, and number fifteen overall.
  • Jane Eisenhart has a few thoughts on Glenn Beck's interpretation of the importance of fiction writers, in particular Ayn Rand…
    Glenn Beck on Fiction – HOMETOWN GROTESQUE
  • Speaking of great books, C. Bradley Thompson’s Neoconservatism: An Obituary For An Idea has been InstaPunditted. If you remember the summary I gave of it here at NOT PC, you’ll realise that this is a book you need to read, especially if you think conservatism is your friend.
    Neoconservatism: An Obituary For An Idea – AMAZON
    The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism - C. Bradley Thompson, The Objective Standard
    Summary at NOT PC:
  • And speaking of Hayek, here’s a great interview he gave with Reason Magazine back in 1992, just after the “late 20th century decided to provide a reality check” on all those academic scribblers who’d been ignoring him since the thirties. [Thanks to reader Falufulu Fisi for the link]
    The Road from Serfdom: Forseeing the Fall - REASON
  • Clearly, productive work can and ought to be personally fulfilling. But where does this put one’s career in comparison to one’s personal relationships?
    The Spiritual Value of Work – Daniel Casper, THE UNDERCURRENT
  • Looks like Argentine coach and living legend Diego Maradona has found a new use for those annoying vuvuzelas [sent in by reader Russell W.] :
  • Frank Furedi explains why he will always stand up for permissiveness—and why you should too.
    Why I will always stand up for permissiveness – FRANK FUREDI, SPIKED
  • Struck down by his own thunderbolt?! You’d think God would take better care of himself, really.
    Oh Dear, Goblinites! – LINDSAY PERIGO
  • There’s a far more intelligent Peter Cresswell blogging in Canada. His latest post is a reflection that the standard interview question, “Give an example of a mistake you’ve made,” is actually a valuable opportunity for self-reflection.  So much so the answer may be more valuable to you than it is to the person asking it.
    I Was Wrong – Peter Cresswell (another one), PUNISHED BY REWARDS
  • Is love a zero-sum game? Well, no.  Not really.
    Is Love a Zero-Sum Game? – JASON STOTTS
  • The Atlas Shrugged movie has begun filming ... and already people are less than pleased.
    Atlas Shrugged Movie Filming – NOODLE FOOD
  • One of those people is not Lew at KiwiPolitico, however. He’s looking forward to seeing Grant Bowler, who played Wolf in NZ TV show Outrageous Fortune, as Hank Rearden! Certainly not the news I expected to hear this morning! (For my American readers, Outrageous Fortune was the NZ TV series that you guys made into ‘Good Behaviour,’ and then ‘Scoundrels.’ Though without the class.)  Bowler is the convict with the beard.
  • And finally, I don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to Freddy Kempf playing the Rach 3 with the NZSO tomorrow night at the Town Hall.  And here he is last year in Sweden, playing that very thing, under the NZSO’s own conductor-in-chief Pietari Inkinen. (Bad visuals, too many cuts, but too serendipitous a find not to post.)

  • And just for Terry, here’s ‘The Moldau’ by Bedrich Smetana—who, coincidentally, was born in what is now Slovakia!  UPDATE: No, of course he wasn’t.  He was born in Litomyšl, Bohemia, which is still in the Czech republic.
  • And Wagner’s ‘Forest Murmurs’ (for which, you’ll need to turn your sound up):

Enjoy your weekend

‘Roll it’ experimental housing - University of Karlsruhe

1274297030-741-750-500-528x352 Here’s another variation on the theme of small and adaptable spaces.

1274297036-678-750-500-528x352 This time, rather than sliding panels cunningly designed to tranform a 32sqp apartment into 24 different layouts, we have an experimental house that transforms the space by rotation.

1274297037-681-687-500-528x384 Sort of in the way a hamster might do it.


But this is way more ingenious than a hamster could do.

For more on the house, check out the story and pictures at Arch Daily [hat tip NZ Wood].

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The schadenfreude of the postmodern president

"Politician's logic: We must do something. 
This is something.  Therefore, we must do it."
            - from Yes Minister! by Antony Jay & Jonathan

Obama told the American nation last night that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will change politics as much as 9/11 changed foreign affairs.

There is one respect in which that is right.  It has permanently burst the bubble of President Hope-And-Change, the man who boasted that just by his nomination, the oceans would lower and the world would begin to heal. Now, in the words of Tim Minchin (writing at TIA Daily), “he can't even prevent them from carrying the spill of a single oil rig.”

Obama, meet schadenfreude.
The bubble is bursting for him not because he has disappointed real expectations but because he dealt in unreality all along, and his followers are betrayed because the unreal is the unreal and never had any value….
    “Obama…promised a world where the government can control everything. Like [Kevin] Rudd since the failure of [Australian] cap-and-trade, he will not even be able to control his own followers when the truth of his impotence over the Gulf oil spill stands fully revealed.”
Every president has a defining moment.  Washington’s moment was his stepping down after two terms “to head back to the plough,” setting a precedent that every subsequent president (but one) then followed. Lincoln’s moment was signing the Emancipation Proclamation into law, giving  meaning to six years of carnage. And Jimmy Carter’s, of course, was his endless hand-wringing over the Tehran hostages.

The defining moment of Obama’s presidency, the moment when his balloon really began deflating, may well turn out be his tantrum over the oil spill—yelling “Plug the damn hole” as if his anger by itself could create metaphysical change. That was the moment at which the post-modern president confronted the reality that his whole charade was designed to conceal, especially to his supporters and even to himself: that reality doesn’t respond to threats.  That was the inconvenient truth his post-modern presidency hadn’t bargained for, and it deserves to be his epitaph, and that of the Postmodern Left, of which both Kevin Rudd and Obama are (or were) standard-bearers. It’s important to understand why an oil spill is so uniquely damaging to the aura of the Postmodern Left:

Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd both belong to a new class of leftist leaders: postmodern ones [explains Tim Michin]. This distinguishes them from either the Old Left or the New Left. The Old Left (led by men like Franklin Roosevelt) were class-warfare-focused but claimed to believe in economic progress: they said they wanted a modern world with the government in control of the means of production. The New Left (the hippies and their contemporary descendants, the Greens) witnessed the failure of that socialist/fascist ideal in every country it was tried and, in bitterness, threw economic progress overboard to adopt a policy of living at the mercy of nature.
    “Unsurprisingly, the New Left failed to attract wide support. Its contempt for human survival was too apparent. Thus the postmodern left was born. The Postmodern Left combines a thirst for an ever-growing centralized government power with cunning levels of disguise to appear to be all things to all men. Hostility to science is wrapped in the language of science (global warming theory). The shackling of capitalism is dressed up as saving it (the stimulus packages). Hostility to US predominance is dressed up as a desire for a new world order in which US strength is ‘restraint.’ In fact, under all its disguises, the postmodern left believes in nothing but power for itself and the weakening of the institutions of the West.”
Power.  The Postmodern Left promised power could do all things.  If you ask, “Why is it the president’s job to deal with the oil spill?” then the answer has to be that his own all-encompassing power-lust made it so. His will to power makes his micro-managing of the crisis necessary. But the nature of the crisis reveals his impotency.

You see, power over men is not the same thing as power over nature. What the oil spill and its still unfolding aftermath reveals is that the power the postmodern left seeks for its own sake is well able to issue threats and to throw tantrums, but utterly impotent to effect reality. Threats, however powerfully delivered, just don’t work against a gushing oil well.
The spectacle of watching an actual physical fact of reality playing out before this kind of mindset is both humorous and tragic [explains Doug Reich at the Rational Capitalist]. After all, there is no option in the leftist playbook for dealing with a fact of reality. Can Obama pass a law forbidding the oil to leak? The oil can't be put in prison. Can he expropriate BP's cash or imprison the BP executives? BP needs money to pay for the clean up and he needs the technical know how of the company. Can he convene a panel of experts and central planning apparatchicks? He has appointed an oil cleanup czar which Matthews and Olbermann rightly excoriate as ‘a lot of blue-ribbon talk’ accusing Obama of being a mere ‘Vatican observer’ and threatening to ‘barf’ if he mentions the Nobel prize credentials of his Secretary of Energy again. In other words, they recognize this is all talk and no action.
    "Yet, the oil continues to spill.”
And threats are all they have as a remedy.

So ends the aura of the post-modern president.  Not with a bang, but with a gusher.

Get yer vuvus out!

As a guide to your Soccer World Cup pleasure and enjoyment, here are a few tips on using your uniquely versatile vuvuzela.


More vuvu humour here.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Socialist Studies at Avondale College

Guest post by Paul Van Dinther

If you thought that socialist brainwashing only happens in American schools, think again. It happens right here today under our very noses.  Avondale College, for example, where my 14-year-old son attends and is subjected to "Social Science" class—more accurately called "Socialist Studies." If you want single-sided socialist  indoctrination, this appears to be the place to come.

My son has grown up in a family with a healthy level of scepticism towards whatever the media dishes up, and my own critical views towards global warming feature regularly at the dining table. A few weeks ago, however, he messaged me that the class was being required to watch Al Gore’s thoroughly discredited film Inconvenient Truth as a lead-up to an assignment on the Kyoto Protocol. (And by “thoroughly discredited,” I mean to a High Court standard.)

My son's critical mind kicked in immediately, and he asked if they would also show The Great Global Warming Swindle as a counterbalance to Gore’s propaganda, but his request was dismissed, except to say it might, may, could, perhaps be shown after the assignment was handed in. Maybe. Several other students voiced equally critical comments about the single-sided view on global warming being presented, which was promptly silenced by a 3 page handout full of highly technical counter-arguments against global warming scepticism. These pages were handed out without either comment or discussion. We now wait with bated breath to see how his assignment will be marked.

But they are not done yet. Today again, another message. This time the class is being shown the controversial and equally one-sided The Story of Stuff—a twenty-minute polemic against capitalism of which Michael Moore would be embarrassed. Already thoroughly exposed, and even banned in at least one State of the US, it is still still apparently suitable to be shown in New Zealand’s compulsory Socialist Studies classrooms, without any opposing views being allowed. Once again a single-sided view is presented.

I don't mind having long-established views challenged, as it only serves to test our own, but this is not a fair fight. This is not learning or education, it is indoctrination pure and simple. Kids in schools are highly impressionable, and this uncritical barrage of indoctrination from those whose wisdom our children are supposed to respect is so overwhelming, and so slanted, that it looks like nothing so much as taking advantage of those that teachers have within their control. One from which only impressionable young kids with careful parent guidance will be able (we hope) to emerge with their thinking matter intact.

It is a type of child abuse of the mind. And the worst of it is, I actually am forced to pay for the brain damage being inflicted.