Friday, October 22, 2010

It was twenty years ago this way …

While I was in at the council offices this afternoon tugging my forelock in the hope of being granted the boon of lodging some plans for consent (no such luck; I’d forgotten to include a lock of hair from the seventh son of the licensed drainlayer involved) I overhead a conversation with a chap who was there asking questions about the regulations he’ll need to meet to build a long-jump pit at his school so the kids could practice long jump. 

It was a long meeting. He came away with a long list.

We went to (a late) lunch to commiserate, and drew up a list of things comparing what you need to do now to do such a simple job, and what you’d need to do twenty years ago. It looked something like this.

1. What you need to do now.

  • Assign a school project number to “long-jump” project, and write it up in “proposed projects” register.
  • Organise meeting with stakeholders to go forward together on “long-jump” project.
  • Appoint sub-committee to investigate Ministry of Education regulations on playgrounds and long-jump pits, OSH regulations on playgrounds and long-jump-pits, and District plan requirements on a long-jump pit in an area not zoned for Active Recreation.
  • Appoint working group to collate information from ACC on dangers of long-jump activies and mitigation measure and advertising campaign necessary to ensure safe use of long-jump environment.
  • Appoint working-group subcommittee to meet with SPARC to determine correct and safe construction of long-jump pits to meet competition requirements of the IAAF.
  • Appoint project team to assess sustainability options for long-jump pit construction, and to assess impact and appropriateness of “long-jump” project on existing indigenous vegetation and indigenous fauna.
  • Appoint cultural advisors to discuss cultural impact of “long-jump” project on affected persons, to draw up plans to mitigate negative effects, and an action plan to show integration of  cultural values of affected tangata whenua with values and goals of “long-jump” project.
  • Appoint psychological advisors to prepare report on impact of competitive sports on the self-esteem of students with special athletic needs.
  • Produce regulatory impact statement, environmental assessment, cultural report and sustainability study for “long-jump” project.
  • Organise working party to present proposal for “long-jump” project to all stakeholders, including but not limited to MoE, OSH, ACC, School Board of Trustees, local athletics associations and conservation groups, tangata whenua and Uncle Tom Cobley.
  • Give the fuck up and promise yourself you won’t ever get involved in such a thing again.

2. What you needed to do twenty years ago.

  • Stick a notice on the notice board saying “Parents Working Bee on Saturday.”
  • Dig a pit.
  • Fill it with sand.
  • Have a beer.

And people wonder why folk can’t be bothered getting involved down their local schools these days. Or anywhere else.

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FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: ‘Warner’s Shrugged’

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
A week of belief, ad a week of incredulity.
A week when Phil Goff nailed his new colours to the mast—new colours first painted more convincingly by Winston Peters.
It was a week in which unions in New Zealand chose to flex their muscles in an orchestrated way, and at the same time New Zealanders began to see (perhaps for the first time) how little unionists really care about those they claim to protect—and just how naked their hatred is for NZ’s tall poppies.
A week in which protestors in France, who in 1789 protested for the Right to Work, took to the streets in 2010 for the right to be paid not to.
In which German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood athwart the multicultural train yelling “Halt!”

In which more than a million US homes were threatened with foreclosure.
In which Te Reo was declared (not for the first time) dead.

A week in which it was confirmed that prices in New Zealand are taking off, and the economy isn’t.
In which the New Zealand govt was revealed as being better at fudging figures than fixing them.
It’s another week, and here’s another Ramble around it.

Found on Twitter:
“It's pretty lucky we didn't put up that Wellywood sign...”
     - montereynewtown, HT yeastieboys

  • Czech president Vaclav Klaus wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'dismantled or restructured': "I am convinced the IMF should be dismantled or radically restructured as soon as possible," he said at a conference in Prague, calling the fund "a barbaric relic from the Keynesian and fixed-exchange rate era" and "yet another manifestation of a mistaken and dangerous global governance mindset which, to my great regret, has been getting more and more support in the intellectual and political circles these days.” [HT Objective Standard]
    Czech president wants IMF 'dismantled or restructured' NEWS.MSN.COM
  • “In the land of his birth, John Maynard Keynes’s view that deficit spending is crucial to avoiding a long recession has lately been willfully ignored.” Hat tip to Capitalism, who comments, “Keynes: on the ash heap of history, where he belongs!!!”
    Cuts in Britain Ignore Views of Keynes – NY TIMES
  • The above article from The New York Times on the end of Keynesian economics in Europe is quite worth the read, says Australian Steven Kates.  “There is a major shift in the world of macroeconomics before us. The practice of macroeconomic policy has changed before our eyes. Our textbooks are complete junk to the extent that they continue to peddle this Keynesian idiocy.
        “The article itself, obviously written by someone raised on this dying orthodoxy, merely notes what can no longer be doubted. Public spending as a cure for recession does not work. These deficits have made things only worse. Getting our fiscal house in order as the necessary condition for recovery is finally being embraced.
        “As a totally related matter, the front page story in the AFR is headlined, “China rate rise rattles markets.” Even in China, with all of its financial resources, there is now a clear need to reverse the spending programs that have been indulged in since the end of 2008…”
    The Dying World of Keynesian Economics – CATALLAXY FILES
  • “In the financial markets, a lot rides on the word of a company's top executives. If a CEO tells a lie, a lot of shareholders can get hurt. Two researchers have studied earnings calls and think they know how to gauge senior executives' truthfulness.” [HT Stephen Hicks]
    How Can You Tell When A CEO Is Lying? - NPR
  • "There tends to be lots of excitement when gold costs more made-up dollars. But a broader perspective suggests that gold is much more undervalued that the current price level and its advance might indicate."
    Gold is Undervalued – KRAZY ECONOMY
  • Nothing like switching around the "inflation” index when price inflation is taking off.
    Statisticians attack UK Treasury plan to switch inflation measure – GUARDIAN
  • It’s not like they don’t know what’s a’coming…
    Art Cashin On The Coming Hyperinflation – COBDEN CENTRE

CLICK FOR THE ARTIST'S WEBSITE
"All limitations are self-imposed”
Art and inspiration from Inspirationz (Read more here)

  • Will the Tea Parties or a reformed GOP be able to champion limited government and fiscal responsibility, without also importing the religious right’s so-called “social values”?  In other words, is faith necessary for defending natural rights, or is reason sufficient?
    Values and the Defense of Freedom  - Amit Ghate, PAJAMAZ MEDIA
  • “In a recent Christian Science Monitor editorial, Vladimir Shlapentokh suggests that the popularity of Ayn Rand among Tea Partiers should ‘concern all Americans’ and recommends that Tea Partiers distance themselves from the 20th-century philosopher and novelist. Why?”
    Should Tea Partiers Abandon or Embrace Ayn Rand? - OBJECTIVE STANDARD
  • “What if a president took a different direction and sought popularity by expanding rather than reducing liberty? There is a model here they could follow, but it is not one you have thought of. It is Franklin D. Roosevelt. He repealed Prohibition!”
    The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity – Mark Thornton, MISES DAILY
  • Now this is cool. Subscribe to Oliver Sacks’ YouTube Channel, and you can hear insights on how the brain works from one of the best neurophysiologists on the speaking circuit.  Learn, for example, how music can help Alzheimers…
    Oliver Sacks MD's Channel – YOU TUBE
  • How to make the most of your time on screen, if you do get a chance to be an extra. Here’s Hollywood film extra Hrundi V. Bakshi, played by Peter Sellers, making the absolute most of his limited screen time with some freestyle improvised trumpeting. [HT Small Dead Animals]
  • Ele Ludemann reckons you have to go see Miranda Harcourt’s new play, finishing this week in Christchurch. Harcourt is part of one of NZ’s few acting dynasties, and it sounds like this was one not to have missed.  Bugger. [Warning: Contains spoilers]
    Biography of My SkinHOME PADDOCK
  • Pregnant? Take a drink. It's good for both of you.
    "Bottoms Up" Pregnant Women- HOW STUFF WORKS
  • The steep decline of Deborah Coddington continues with this confused piece of slop.
    Would it be OK if God was a Capitalist, then? - PUNDIT
  • “Never underestimate the Power of a great story,” says Stephen Fry

Things are bad? Save what you can…

Here’s Howling Wolf

It’s Dizzy Gillespie’s Birthday! So turn this one up to eleven!  Ow!!

And finally, here’s a rare (and strange) duet with Diz and Louis Armstrong. [HT Jazz on the Tube]

More to come later,
Check back soon…

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Jeff Perren Interviewed On KSKY Dallas Radio, Oct. 23 [updated]

Guest Post by Jeff Perren

I'm scheduled to be interviewed by Jon David Wells of KSKY radio 660 AM, this Friday, Oct. 22 (that’s Sat. Oct 23 in New Zealand). It broadcasts from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas, but you can listen in online.

We'll be talking about my recent Pajamas Media article, “Beyond Politics: Removing the Progressive Drag On America,” and presumably other things, for 20 minutes.

It's scheduled to begin at 6:20 pm ET [5:20 pm CT, 4:20 pm MT, 3:20 pm Pacific, about 11:20am NZ Time].

Here's a link to listen in. I hope you will. [Click the red "Listen Live" button near the top of the main text, roughly in the middle of the screen.]

It promises to be lively, since I'll no doubt be asked my suggestions for how to straighten out the mess the U.S. is in.

Your suggestions welcome.

Thanks,
Jeff

UPDATEHi Everyone,
As often happens with these things, the radio interview is to be rescheduled. Once the publicist for Pajamas Media lets me know, I'll advertise the new date/time.
Thanks to all those who sent congratulatory emails (and all those who didn't, too; I know you're busy).
I'll update you when I know more.

All the Best,
Jeff
Shaving Leviathan
http://shavingleviathan.blogspot.com

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Self Portrait – Leonardo Da Vinci

LeonardoNotebooks01fg01

Yes, he was a genius. You can see it in the eyes, in the broad sweep of the forehead, in the focus and intensity of the gaze—and you can see it in the way he depicts himself, in this sketch, with such clarity and just a few well-chosen pencil lines.

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The Hobbit: An obituary for a film industry [update 2]

It looks like Australian union MEAA has been using the New Zealand actors union to shut down the competition of the New Zealand film industry, using The Hobbit as bait. And Helen Kelly and the local union were dumb enough to play along.

Australian Simon Whipp, head of the MEAA, seemed to reason that NZ rates were lower than Australian rates, which was pushing films and post-production that “should” have been done in Australia over the Tasman to NZ. Simon didn’t like that, so he chose this big budget movie to rattle the cage. (What better time to roll your flag up the pole than when the budget is there to pay for it.)

But why did Helen Kelly and the local Actors Equity Union go along with this plan to make us move the film industry back to Australia? Because they saw themselves as part of some international power play, presumably. They wanted to “feel the power.” Whatever reason you want to pick, all they showed the world however is how dumb and self-destructive they are, essentially munting what could have become a billion-dollar industry in this tiny country.  As Russell Brown says in laying out the Anatomy of a Shambles,

_Quote If production of the Hobbit does indeed go to Ireland, there will be an extraordinary irony: the industrial relations environment around the film will be benign because Irish Equity did what New Zealand Actors' Equity would have done had it been even minimally competent.

The result of all this it not just no more Hobbit in NZ. It’s that Simon Whipp and NZ Actors Equity have between them destroyed an entire industry.  Make no mistake, says the Dim Post,

_Quotethis is a PR disaster for the union movement – whatever the reality, its going to look to the public as if they’ve bought about the destruction of a multi-billion dollar industry that was the source of great national pride, and although the instigator was an Australian union they were facilitated by the president of the CTU who went out of her way to insert herself into the dispute.

Thanks Helen, Robyn and Jennifer. I'm sure all the sound techs, prop builders, make-up people guys, and all the other thousands of people affected are real proud of you.

UPDATE 1:  IMPERATOR FISH: “Thanks Sir Peter, and All The Best”:

_QuoteIf the Hobbit films move offshore that may well be regarded by [Australian union] MEAA as a victory.

UPDATE 2:  MARK HUBBARD: “Hobbit: One ring from an Aussie union has stuffed them all.

_QuoteA film technician's placard on the protest against the actors union (an Australian union) says it all.
        'Thirty years to build an industry, one union boycott to destroy it.'

Related Posts at NOT PC:

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NOT PJ: Miracle!

This week Bernard Darnton miraculously gets round to writing another post.

_BernardDarnton The most obvious good thing to come out of the Canterbury earthquake is the swift reversal of Jim Anderton’s fortunes and the deflation of the puffed up old dullard’s ego. Not that Bob Parker is much better, given his pre-quake advertisements boasting about how much money he’d spent, but “my enemy’s enemy” and all that.

As someone whose share of the $4 billion worth of damage was some wine glasses (don’t worry - I have plenty) and a couple of picture frames, and whose child is beginning to sleep through the night again, I can see other silver linings too. Chief among them has been the outstanding entertainment to be derived from letters to the editor.

The letters page of The Press has been afire with argument about whether God’s quake-related actions have been good, bad, or indifferent. The pious have pointed out what a top chap God is for causing the quake at half-past four in the morning, when even the drunks had gone to bed, and ensuring there were no casualties. A miracle!

The less pious have suggested that God would have been better to slide the Pacific plate another four metres under the Australian plate a little more gently. Others have wondered why God’s hand shook secular New Zealand so unkillingly, while allowing Catholicism-riddled Haiti to suffer a quake the same size but with hundreds of thousands dead. The Lord moves the earth in mysterious ways.

All that we tongue-cheeked sceptics can know about mysteries is that it’s a sin to try and explain them. What we do know is that the plan is too complex for one deity. Fortunately God, at least in his Catholic incarnation, has subcontractors. He handles the big stuff, like earthquakes, and leaves the listening to prayers to the saints.

If you want a disease cured there’s one saint to pray to. If you want protection on a journey there’s another. If you’re a three year old lining up Christmas presents there’s probably a patron saint of tricycles somewhere amongst the ten thousand.

The canonisation of Mary MacKillop last Sunday left my jaw flapping. Eight-thousand Australians had travelled to Rome to witness the Pope’s announcement that one of their own had made the inner circle.

Apparently the process is that someone dies, God turns him or her into a saint, and then those left behind have to work out who made it and who didn’t, a process that can take hundreds of years.

The way to work out who’s got the nod is to look for miracles. One miracle could just be good luck, but two and you’re in. Miracles are fine for the demon-haunted pages of medieval history, or for casual chatter about a deathless natural disaster, but - come on.

Maybe it’s growing up in a modern protestant church where agnosticism is a poorly guarded secret and the church is not much more than a social club (or socialist club in many cases) but the credulity displayed on Sunday made me gasp.

It’s fine for an organisation to recognise it’s achievers with honours and titles, but surely, I thought, in this century and in a country as practical and earthy as Australia, this talk of miracles must be accompanied by a nod and a wink and a crossing of fingers.

If it was, it was kept well hidden. Either way, Australia has its first saint. Perhaps, if we’re talking miracles, a virgin and three wise men aren’t impossible.

* * Tell Bernard Darnton you’d like to read his NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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The Hoover Dam Bridge [updated]

Hoover01

The Hoover Dam is one of the most impressive human constructions on the planet. (Yes, yes, I know it was a government make-work project, but still ... )

Perhaps one of the few things to top it is this, the new 1,060 foot twin-rib concrete arch bridge over the Black Canyon, about 100 feet south of the Hoover Dam, due for completion in December.

Hoover02

If swearing at sheer awesomeness was ever justified, this bridge would be it.

Clipboard03

The pics are from a series of Bridge Folios by Jamey Stillings of the bridge under construction that you should really examine in depth.

While listening to Bob Mould.

UPDATE: Stephen Hicks sees similarities between this bridge and something by Michelangelo …

And he links to the description of the bridge’s construction at Popular Science:

_Quote Temperatures upward of 115°F, winds capable of felling cranes, an 890-foot drop below: ‘Inhospitable’ doesn’t begin to describe conditions at the Colorado River’s new Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
    A 1,900-foot span designed to divert traffic from the narrow, switchback-laden road across the Hoover Dam, it will be the longest concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere when it opens next fall, with 106 segments of ultra-high-strength concrete forming a twin-rib arch. Workers scaled the canyon’s walls, digging notches for concrete foundation columns. To construct the 1,060-foot-long arch, they cast 24 feet of concrete at a time, while a separate, temporary cable-stayed bridge held up the unfinished ends until the gap was closed this year.

It’s that cable-stayed temporary bridge that gives the new bridge so much of its drama.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prepare to be offended

I’m astonished.  Observing that bloggers and talkback callers are still talking about Paul Henry, or using him in one-liners about cocks, I just did a Google search of news over the last two days for “Paul Henry” references.There are about 77,100 results.

77,100!  Including the news that TVNZ yesterday “upheld around 1500 complaints made against Paul Henry.”

1500 complaints. 77,100 people still wanting to talk about him.

Is this insane?

I think so. So many right-minded folk going out of their way to be offended, still. Or to talk about the giving and receiving of offence. Still.

So to help the rest of us out—those who are so oafish we might inadvertently cause offence—I wonder if one of those 1500 umbrage-takers could help the rest of us out.

Perhaps you could help we less enlightened folk by drawing up a charter to ensure readers, viewers and people being sent random YouTube clips are never inadvertently assailed -- nay, assaulted -- with bad thoughts, bad jokes, or actions likely to cause offence. Can't be too careful. Might offend some right-thinking person at any moment. Best to know in advance, right, what might offend some worthy “stakeholder.”

Perhaps you could start a group, or a committee of other "right-thinking people" –- maybe with Simon Power-Lust and Geoffrey Palmer in tow, since they're both such worthy candidates for bossing us the fuck around—and they’ve both got a goddamn stick up their arse about people expressing themselves and having a good time.

Perhaps Wikipedia will already have a list they can use?

(By the way, what do you call a Welshman with a stick up his arse? Answer: A taffy apple. 
And what should you call a politician with power-lust on his breath? Answer: Inmate.)

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. But please tell me if those jokes should be banned because they’re offensive? Or if I should be labelled a wrong-thinking person for laughing at them?

(Perhaps you can tell me when you get the stick out of your own arse.)

I need to know, you see, if those sorts of jokes are just too offensive, and just too, too wrong? Because I'm only an ignorant cracker arsehole, you see and I just can't tell.

Or how about these jokes ...

Q: Why can't Helen Keller drive?
A: Because she's a woman.

Is that too offensive?  Or how about Irish jokes ...

Q: What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?
A: One less drunk.

Or Jewish jokes...

Two Jews walking down the street pass a pretty girl going the other way. "Boy," says one, "I'd like to lend her one."

Q: What's a Jewish dilemma?
A: Free ham.

Or German Jokes...

Q: How do you tell the Lufthansa planes at the airport?
A: They're the ones with hair under the wings.

Or French ...

Q: Describe the French national flag?
A: A white cross on a white background.

Or other jokes about Welshmen...

Q: What do you call safe sex in Wales?
A:Marking an 'X' on the sheep that kick.

Or Mexicans...

Q: How do you starve a mexican?
A: Hide his food stamps under his work boots.

Or Canadians...

Q: How do you break a Canadian's fingers?
A: Punch him in the nose.

Chinese...

Q: What do you use to blindfold a Chinaman?
A: Dental floss.

Q: How do Chinese name their babies?
A: When they're born they throw up all their cutlery in the air to celebrate. Baby is named by the noise the cutlery makes hitting the ground.

American...

Two families moved from Pakistan to America. When they arrived the two fathers made a bet - in a year's time whichever family had become more American would win. A year later they met again. The first man said, "My son is playing baseball, I had McDonalds for breakfast and I'm on my way to pick up a case of Bud, how about you?" The second man replied, "Fuck you, towel head."

Jokes about Australia ...

Q: Why wasn't Jesus born in Australia?
A: Couldn't find three wise men or a virgin.

Aussie chicks...

Q: What do Australians girls put behind their ears to make themselves attractive to men?
A: Their feet.

Chicks...

Q: Why did god invent alcohol?
A: So fat women can get laid too.

Q: Why did god create women?
A: Because dogs can't get beer out the fridge.

Q: What's the best thing about dating a homeless chick?
A: It doesn't matter where you drop her off.

Can we even say “chicks”?  And can we still tell jokes about mothers-in-law...

Q. What's a mixed feeling?
A. When you see your mother-in-law backing off a cliff in your new car.

Or New Zealanders...

A kiwi walks into his bedroom with a sheep under his arm and says: "Darling, this is the pig I have sex with when you have a headache."
His girlfriend is lying in bed and replies, "I think you'll find that's a sheep, you idiot." The man says, "I think you'll find that I wasn't talking to you."

Q: What do you call a kiwi with a sheep under one arm, and a goat under the other?
A: A bisexual.

Q: Why are NZ sheepdogs such fast runners?
A; They've seen what happens to the fricken sheep.

Or about Cripples.

Q: What's better than winning the para olympics?
A: Having legs that work.

Q: What do you say to a woman with no arms and no legs?
A: Nice tits!

Epileptics...

Q: What do you do if an epileptic has a fit in your bath?
A: Throw your clothes in.

Indians...

Q: How do you tell when an Indian boy becomes a man?
A: When the diaper goes from the bottom to the top.

Q: What do you say to a Paki at Xmas?
A: A pint of milk, a loaf of bread and 20 Benson & Hedges please.

Q: Why can't Indians play soccer?
A: 'Cos every time they get a corner they want to put a dairy on it.

2 Indian heroin addicts injected curry powder by mistake. Both in intensive care !!
One has a dodgy tikka, and the other one is in a korma.

Pakis ...

Q: What do you call 500 pakis running down the street
A: Hindi 500

Poms...

Q:What's emptier than the non-alcoholic beer aisle in an Irish store?
A: The toothpaste aisle in an English store.

Muslims...

I went to a Muslim birthday party last night.
Fuck me if that wasn't the fastest game of Pass The Parcel I've ever seen!

I see police have released the names of 2 of the Glasgow car bombers:
Singe Majeep and Maheed Sonfayr.

New website to investigate. It's for muslim terrorists to get in touch with long-lost pals.
It's called Friends Re-Ignited.com.

The Metropolitan Police found a carbomb outside Finsbury Park mosque. Luckily, they managed to push it inside before it went off.

Aborigines...

Q: How do you make an Aborigine pregnant?
A: cum on her feet and let the flies do the rest.

Q: What do Aborigines use for birth control?
A: Fly spray.

And blacks...

Lad comes home from school and says to his mum "I've got the biggest knob in the third year, is it cos I'm black?". She says "No its because you're 19 you fucking retard".

Q: What do you call a black man with a BMW?
A: Defendant.

And white men...

Q: what's white, hard, and 9 inches long?
A: Nothing.

And blondes...

Q: How can you tell when a blonde is having a bad day?
A: When a tampon's behind her ear and she can't find her pencil.

And Jesus:

Q: What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?
A: It only takes 1 nail to hang the picture.

Sure Jesus loves you, but does he swallow?

And Mormons...

Q: How do you circumcise a Mormon?
A: Kick his sister in the chin!

And Catholics...

Q: What's the difference between a Catholic priest and acne?
A: Acne waits until you're 13 to come on your face.

And Michael Jackson...

Victoria Beckham has announced she had an affair with Micheal Jackson; Jacko's lawyer said its all lies as he was in Brooklyn at the time.

And Stevie Wonder ...

From Rolling Stone magazine’s interview with Stevie Wonder:  "Stevie, what's it like being blind?"
Stevie: "Could have been worse. I could've been black."

And Mike Tyson...

Q: Why does Mike Tyson cry during sex?
A: Mace will do that to you.

And the Ku Klux Klan...

Q: What's the KKK's favourite film?
A: Roots. Played backwards.

And lepers...

Did you hear about the leper playing cards? He threw his hand in.

And old people...

Q: What's 60 feet long and stinks of piss?
A: A conga line in an old peoples home.

And South Auckland:

Q:Why do people in South Auckland go to garage sales?
A:To get their stuff back.

Ferrari's F1 team manager decided to employ some South Auckland teenagers as their new pit crew. This was because of their renowned skill when removing car wheels quickly. At the first practice session not only did they change all four wheels in 6 seconds but, within 12 seconds, they had re-sprayed, re-badged and re-sold the fucker to McClaren for 8 cans of Cody's, a bag of weed and an all-year pass at McDonald's.

And Arabs...

Q: Why do they call camels ships of the desert?
A: Because they're all full of Arab semen.

And lawyers...

New client asks lawyer how much he charges.
"Six hundred dollars for three questions," says the lawyer.
"Crikey, that's expensive, isn't it!?"
"Yes, it is. Now, What's your third question."

And rednecks...

Q: What's the last thing you usually hear before a redneck dies?
A: "Hey y'all... Watch this!"

Q: What does a redneck say when she loses her virginity?
A: "Gramps, you're crushin' my smokes."

Q: What's redneck definition of a virgin?
A: A girl who runs faster than her uncle.

Q: If a man and woman are married in West Virginia and move to California and get a divorce, are they still brother and sister?

And I have to presume there'd be no, absolutely no, under any circumstances, jokes like these about the sainted tangata whenua allowed. Like these ones ...

Q: What do you get when you cross a Scotsman and a Maori?
A: A pisshead who never pays for his drinks.

Q: What do you get when you cross a Maori and an octopus?
A: An shoplifter with eight hands.

Q: What does a Maori get for Christmas?
A: Your bike.

Q: Three Maoris and an Islander get into a car. Which one drives?
A: The police officer.

Scientist are trying to combat crime by combining the DNA of a Maori and a Samoan.
The are hoping to come up with a black arse too lazy to steal.

Q: In a race between a honky and a Maori through a tunnel, who would win?
A: The honky, because the Maori has to stop and write on the wall.

Q: What's black and white and rolls down a hill?
A: A Maori and a seagull fighting over a fish head.

After complaints that there aren't enough Maoris on TV, TVNZ has vowed to solve the problem.
They are now going to show Crimewatch 7 nights a week.

Maori walks into an employment agency.
"Hi. I really really wanna job. Do you have anything?" he asks.
The woman behind the desk looks up and replies; "You're in luck! One just came in. A multi-billionaire needs a driver to drive him around. He's only here one week out of the year, the rest of the time the top-of-the-line-car is yours. But you do have to look after his twin, model, nymphomaniac daughters whilst he's away. And this job pays 300k a year. Interested?"
The Maori starts to smile. "Come on... you're bullshitting me right?"
The woman looks up and says "Well, you started it."

Here's just some of the new Maori television line-up for December:
    The Young and the Jobless,
    Unmarried with Children,
    Little State House on the Prairie,
    Black Eye for the White Guy
, and
    H*A*S*H.

All far, far, far too offensive for right-minded folks, I'm sure.

In fact, why not just give up humour altogether. Far safer. Let's not even think about laughing at jokes like this:

Q: Why did Hitler commit suicide?
A: He opened his gas bill.

But even if you don't laugh you can still be in trouble. "It's great being a Jewish comedian," says Jewish comedian Josh Howie. "If people don't laugh it's not because you're not funny, it's because they're Nazis."

That's Howie's Hitler joke above, by the way. Did you laugh? That must mean you’re a bloody Nazi too. And also by the way ...

Q: What's the definition of a bigot?
A: Anyone who disagrees with a liberal.

So, point made?

Perhaps we could all simply listen to the wise advice of Hugh Laurie's former comedic partner Stephen Fry:

'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?'

Or Bill Hicks:

"And I've got something else to say to those people who say, 'I'm offended', like some five-year-old child throwing a tantrum. Ready? There are a lot of things in life that are offensive, life itself can be offensive, I myself have a large list of things that offend me...So what!? Grow the **** up! We now live in the 'Age of being offended.' Get over it. Perhaps a little open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance may be the antidote to what ails you. Try it and see if your load isn't lifted just a bit. See if your pinched face of fear doesn't relax a tad. Why don't you exercise a little of the faith you say you believe in so much etc etc....you're offended by this material? Well you offend me, where can I send my letters? Huh!?"

Or George Carlin:

"Ohhh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it. Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time... I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is. Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion"

This just before a joke about Elmer Fudd raping Porky Pig. Think about that for a moment. Then read Carlin on the English. As he says, "These are the kind of thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools":

"Are you sick of this "royal family" shit? Who gives a fuck about these people? Who cares about the English in general? The uncivilized, murderous backward English. Inbred savages hiding behind Shakespeare, pretending to be cultured. Don't be misled by the manners; if you want to know that lurks beneath the surface, take a look at the soccer crowds. That's true British character. I'm Irish and I'm American, and we've had to kick these degenerate English motherfuckers out of both our countries."

I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on the exaggeration. And if your only response to humour is to whine "I'm offended by that," then don’t be surprised if the response you get, as you should get, is “Well, so fucking what?”

In other words, grow the fuck up. And get a life. And if you don’t like it, turn it the fuck off.

And to paraphrase Johannes Brahms, If there is anyone here whom I have not yet offended, I beg his (or her) pardon.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Moochers, midwifes and a Mayor

_richardmcgrath Libz  leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories and headlines on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Moochers, midwifes and a Mayor

1. (OTAGO DAILY TIMES) “Labour’s Bold New BrandGoff and his party do U-turns from policies they thought were so important until they lost power…

  THE DOCTOR SAYS:  In full damage control after the Chris Carter debacle, Goff and King do flip-flops on some policies, while pandering to traditional parasitic Labour voters in others.  
    To quote the NZPA article:
            Their position is quite simply that Labour lost the last election and intends to win the
        next one. It won’t achieve that by dishing up the same policies voters were
        obviously unimpressed with in 2008.
   
They seem to be conflicted over whether to punish the private sector or save it. After claiming:
            An aggressive approach is needed to deal with inappropriate regulatory burdens
         which constrain businesses,
   
Labour then launches an attack on those who succeed:
            Tax avoidance will be stopped, including through trusts, and the IRD will be given
         more resources. That is … to make sure wealthy people … don’t get the chance to
        hide their income.

    I wonder if Phil Goff could give us his word that no Labour MPs in the Clark administration, or under his watch as leader, have set up family trusts or other tax avoidance schemes, and have ensured that they have paid the maximum possible tax on their family income.
    Goff is not beneath pandering to rednecks and racists:
            Labour would impose much stricter controls on overseas purchases of farmland and
        is promising to reverse the current trend.

    What trend? Overseas buyers have already been blocked from purchasing land here by bureaucrats. And would Goff punish New Zealanders who tried to buy farm land overseas?
    Labour harks back to its Nanny roots in some areas:
            Kiwisaver will be expanded and upgraded with compulsory retirement savings
        under consideration.

    Fuck you, Phil. I already have my own voluntary retirement savings plan underway – and I don’t leech off others through Kiwisaver. And I would no longer consider investing money with organisations like Fisher Funds or Gareth Morgan Investments (and, sadly, the Medical Assurance Society) who promote this sort of economic cannibalism.
    Goff plays the envy card:
            There could be a higher tax rate on top-end earners, which some delegates
        argued for.

    But here’s an idea my Libz Party could endorse:
            Tax thresholds would be rebalanced to relieve hard-working families. Tax cuts
    for low income earners are being considered.
   
Why not give everyone a tax break? Make the first $50k of income tax-free. You could then do away with Welfare for Working Families which degrades wage and salary earners by transforming them into welfare recipients (and therefore more likely Labour voters, as the framers of those tax laws intended).
    No-one can say Goff doesn’t have a sense of humour:
            Another way [to mark out Labour as significantly different from National] is to
        become the champion of those Labour says were the losers in “the great tax swindle”
        that gave nearly all the tax cuts to the wealthy.

    Now I think I’ve heard it all. Easing the tax burden on high earners, who generally work hard for their money and create wealth and jobs for others, is a “tax swindle”?? How about the swindle that relieved these earners of their private property in the first place?
    Let’s give Phil  a lesson in elementary economics. He says:
            Prime Minister John Key won’t stand up for Kiwi workers who want wages to rise
         faster than prices.

    The way to do that, Phil, is to stop the Reserve Bank debasing the currency by printing worthless paper money, to encourage industries to settle here and to raise productivity,  to ensure bureaucrats don’t get in the way, and generally to make sure businesses aren’t punished for turning a profit.
    You want wages to rise, then that’s this doctor’s prescription.

2. (DOM POST) “New Mayor Says No To Overseas TripNew Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown has turned down an overseas trip and says she will not seek a mayoral credit card…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Dear Celia: Well done! A promising start. One and a half marks out of two from the Libz Party (since we noticed you didn’t totally rule out accepting a ratepayer-funded credit card if one was offered to you).
    As you pointed out, liaising with people overseas can by done using Skype. How about pledging to remove ratepayers from the burden of funding any overseas trips or credit card use during your entire time in office?
    P.S. As a member of the Green Party, I hope you ride a bike like this to work every morning.  

3. (CHCH PRESS) “Major Changes Needed – MPsA report to parliament suggests giving the government more control over the activities of midwives following some adverse outcomes in the delivery of babies…

THE DOCTOR SAYS: Yep, doesn’t matter what the perceived problem is, according to mainstream political parties the answer is always “giving the government more control.” It’s either prohibition and/or compulsion and/or and/or regulation and/or higher taxation.
    This time in the firing line it’s midwives—already one of the most regulated no-markets in the country.
    I wonder if anyone has considered perhaps creating a free market in obstetric care for pregnant women: protecting mothers and their babies by allowing the good midwives and GP obstetricians to flourish without interference; helping to ensure the enforcement of contractual agreements between women and those who provide maternity care; allowing professional groups to discipline their membership without interference while prosecuting those who defraud or assault their customers; and allowing consumer watchdogs to advertise just who have the skills to deliver babies safely and who are simply dangerous and should be avoided.
    How about giving that a trial run?
    All too often, the free market option is ignored by people who have a low opinion of their fellow humans, but consider themselves to be of such superior intelligence and knowledge that they can decide how the rest of us should function.
    What a bunch of arrogant, supercilious bastards. “More control” indeed.

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny – when
the government fears the people, there is liberty.

- attributed to Thomas Jefferson

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Don’t miss a moment

Political junkies who don't want to miss a moment of what your political masters are doing to you down in Parliament will be thrilled about Scoop’s new "Parliament Today" service,

_Quote a new website dedicated to the timely and accurate coverage of the New Zealand Parliament … launched today by Scoop Media Limited, publisher of the website Scoop.co.nz, in association with veteran parliamentary journalist Tom Frewen….
    ParliamentToday.co.nz will feature a combination of breaking coverage of parliamentary proceedings as they happen …, as well as the daily and weekly radio-ready audio reports from Tom Frewen and Reesh Lyon covering the debating chamber and the select committee rooms.

Fill your boots up. [Hat tip No Right Turn]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Icarus – Gabriel Picart

There are many inspirational art works based on the Icarus myth.  This is Gabriel Picart’s.

66907_163478073679799_126119724082301_456175_606000_n

"Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light."
~ Oscar Wilde

Hat tip Terry V, who shared the artist’s Oscar Wilde quote.

One of the inspirational pieces of art you can buy at Inspirationz.

Sign up at the Inspirationz Facebook page for more daily inspirational art like this.

And visit the artist’s website for more work of this searing quality.

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Manchester Court, Christchurch. R.I.P.

It’s very sad writing an obituary for a building.  But in a week’s time, this building will be no more.

ManchesterCourt003

Built in 1905, and at that time the tallest building in Christchurch, it’s the sort of building that for a century helped set the tone of downtown Christchurch.  It has an elegance the boxes around it don’t have, and never will. You can imagine Philip Marlowe, or Mike Hammer, hanging out in his office in the corner window.

ManCourt002

But, sadly, it was damaged so badly in the September quake that it now has to be demolished.  This might seem strange when you see the building up close, as you can in this webcam, but there it is.

The building itself is a mongrel mixture of Chicago Style skyscraper and Grand Edwardian. A sort of low-rent visual mash-up of Gilbert Scott’s St Pancras Station and Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building.

What the architects, the Tasmanian Luttrell Brothers, have taken from the Edwardians is the lunettes, the corner “tourelle” windows, and the arched ornamentation on the lower stories.  The Chicago contribution is the tall masonry piers and the proud vertical emphasis.

It must have been something to see when it went up in 1905. It was the first reinforced concrete commercial building in New Zealand. Sadly, however the reinforced concrete only goes from the foundations to the first floor (and engineering investigations since the quake have determined the reinforcing is not anything like what engineers would do now). And those masonry piers, which in Chicago would have hidden a steel frame, have proven under engineering investigation to contain little more than more masonry.

Which means that instead of a ductile frame absorbing the motion of the earthquake, with the cracks in the brick facade being merely cosmetic, those diagonal cracks you can clearly see are the structure itself breaking up under shear.

ManchesterCourt004 Yes, there are many modern building that look no worse on the surface than this, but behind the damaged surface in most modern buildings is a structure taking the loads. But look at the surface of this building: it is the structure.  And the structure has lost its integrity.

ManchesterCourt005 So, sadly, unless either the owner or his insurers were to undertake some very expensive and very difficult strengthening, (and very time-consuming, with falling masonry all the while) the only logical decision to make is demolition, and as soon as possible before more masonry comes down.

Which means that one of Christchurch’s few defining beauties will soon disappear. It sets a high standard for the architects selected to design its replacement.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

‘The Hunted Slaves’ – Richard Ansdell

Richard_Ansdell_hunted_slaves‘The Hunted Slaves 1861
Richard Ansdell (1815 – 1885)
Oil on canvas, 184 x 308cm

Painted in 1861, when the slave trade had been abolished, but slavery still existed—and war over slavery was breaking out in North America—it depicts two runaway slaves fighting off the pack of mastiffs sent to hunt them down.

As a metaphor for that global struggle in which they were enmeshed, it’s dead on.

More about the painting and its context here.

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Saints, and scholars—and maybe a pagan or seven

So Australian Mary MacKillop has been declared a “saint” by the Pope in Rome for her “submission to the will of God.”  [VIDEO]

A farce built on a fatuity. A submission of a self to a shaggy dog story.  A veneration of nonsense over fact, and of sacrifice over self-interest.

Every time I hear of someone being declared a “saint” I think “how stupid”—since every saint must be recorded has having committed two “miracles,” a fatuous fiction that the “saint”  has the ability (somehow) to suspend or to alter the laws of reality.

I think “how wrong”—how wrong that the only life one human being will ever have has been devoted to denying their chance at happiness on this earth in the vague hope of buying themselves some happiness in another.

And I wonder “by what authority?”—since neither Jesus nor any of his disciples ever mentioned “sainthood” at all.

Which is why, at the same time, I smile quietly to myself. I smile quietly to myself because the whole institution of “sainthood” is just a throwback to the very pagan religions that Christianity claims to have usurped, and to the very idols the pagans worshipped.

Every new saint is a victory for the pagans.

You see, rather than force the good pagan folk of two-thousand years ago to abandon their golden calves, statues of Horus and keepsakes of Venus (as the rules of new religion actually demanded), the second and third century Christians instead began designating “saints” to supplant them all, which in some cases meant building new churches over the very sites the pagans venerated (S. Maria Maggiore, on the site of a temple to the goddess Cybele, is one celebrated example), inventing Christian holidays to supplant the time-honoured pagan ones (an abstemious Christmas most-famously taking over from the far more salacious Saturnalia), and in virtually every case it meant slicing body parts off the new saints to perform the same tasks a superstitious pagan’s rabbit’s foot was called to do.

As barbarous as it was nonsensical.

A “saint” makes about as much sense now as a rabbit’s foot or a horoscope ever did. Which is why the celebrations for this new “saint”—like the celebrations of every “saint”—are as farcical as celebrating the purchase of a new good luck charm.

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Affordable housing: Learning from Levittown

For almost two decades now New Zealand homes have been becoming increasingly unaffordable for would-be New Zealand home-buyers.  Even the global financial crisis and the bursting of the housing bubble has done little to arrest the growing problem.

But it’s not difficult to solve.  All it takes is realising the consequences of restricting supply while demand grows or stays the same—which as any first-year economics student could tell you, causes prices to rise.

There was some who believed that even new National ministers Nick Smith, Phil Heatley and the other bozos with building portfolios understood some of that.  There were people who thought they’d been hearing the right noises from these arrogant arseholes before the election, and were prepared to believe the noises meant something.  Until one Tuesday last month…

On Tuesday 12 September 2010, New Zealand’s Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith released the keenly awaited Resource Management Act (New Zealand’s land use law) Phase 2 Reforms, under the rather grand title “Planning reform needed for NZ cities to be competitive” stating –

            “We are not getting the right infrastructure in place at the right time” Dr
        Smith said. “Poor quality decisions on land planning are making homes too expensive.”

He got that much right, but that was all. Sadly, everything else in Smith’s document dump was a continuation of the same poor decisions from the same goddawful bureaucrats who’s caused the whole problem of unaffordable housing in the first place—or, more  accurately, an example of complete inability to make a goddamned decision, and decision at all, with the correct decision being to place a firmly wielded boot up the backside of all them. 

Instead, we got 165 pages of bureaucratic mush concluding that it’s all just too hard, so here’s some blancmange to make it better.

But it’s not that hard at all. After the Second World War a chap called Bill Levitt showed how making affordable homes could be done. 

After the Second World War ended, there was a worry that the 10 million home-coming American GIs were going to be all wanting houses at once, pushing housing prices through the roof.

It didn’t happen because of people like Bill Levitt, who out in Levittown, Long Island, “dragged the American residential construction sector from the ‘horse and buggy’ era to the modern disciplined production one we know today. Bill Levitt figured out how to supply US$7,000 - US$8,000 new suburban houses to SINGLE EARNER young families, earning US$3,500 a year. The wives/partners were not forced to be ‘mortgage slaves’ through that era either.”

A young family could buy a house in Levittown for just 2 to 2.3 times one of their salaries. This was just after the war. For young families who bought there, this set them up for life. Yet in New Zealand’s cities today, a land of peace, young families struggle to buy a home costing less than six or seven times the salary of both of them put together. And that’s before tax.

The resulting problem is almost in-human.

But it’s not insoluble.

As I’ve pointed out frequently here over past years, the simple solution is to stop ring-fencing New Zealand’s cities with planners’ edicts not to build. Take planners’ hands off people’s property so they can   have some certainty over what they can do with it—so they can free up their land to meet demand, and maybe even make a profit off it rather than a catastrophic loss. In the long term, abolish the Resource Management Act that gives these planning creatures power, and replace it with a codification of common law that gives power over land-use back to those who own it.

And in the meantime, as Hugh Pavletich points out, we can learn from the likes of Bill Levitt.  Who to solve the problem of affordable houses just went out and started building lots of them, on affordable land.

If only New Zealanders were allowed to.

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ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: Time Preference

UoA Econ Group 19 Oct

Here’s what’s on the bill tomorrow night for the Auckland Uni Econ Group:

The topic for this week’s economics presentation to our ‘Economics for Real People’ group involves one of the most important ideas in economics - and one that is rarely understood. That is, what is the key driver of interest rates? We will see that interest rates depend on the concept known as Time Preference and this implications of this concept are huge.
    We are lucky to have this seminar taken by Sean Kimpton, an economics lecturer from AUT who took us through Say's Law earlier this year. Sean will integrate the idea of Time Preference with reference to all the ideas we have covered this year, and illustrate Time Preference with reference to taxation.
    Some job!
    Gene Callahan notes that “Time preference itself is implied by the existence of human action…All other things being equal, if we didn't prefer the same satisfaction sooner rather than later, we would never act.”    
    “Time Preference” is little known, but it as the centre of all economic calculation.
    “Natural” interest rates are set by Time Preference. The degree to which people save (and consume) is explained by their time preference—this preference is subjective and different for each person and will change over time.  The difference between the Reserve Bank’s interest rates and the “natural” rate set by Time Preference is the very source of the Business Cycle.
    So come along and hear about this little known but hugely important topic.
    We will also provide more information about the November seminar being run in Auckland by Professor Fekete which we have mentioned in recent weeks.  Don't miss the opportunity to listen and learn from another interesting International Economist coming to our shores. 

    What: Presentation on Time Preference
    Date: Tuesday 19th October
    Time: 7:00pm
    Location: Engineering School, Room 3402

It’s Economics for Real People. All real people welcome.

NB: Please note the room and time change for this week.  If you are unsure, the Engineering Building is 20 Symonds St, opposite the Rec Centre.  If you walk through the Engineering School’s main doors off Symonds St and straight across the hall, room 3402 is almost directly opposite the entrance.

See you there!
Fraser, Julian & Peter

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The Risk of Republican Betrayal

_jeffrey-perren Guest Post by Jeff Perren

My new article at Pajamas Media, “The Risk of Post-Election Republican Betrayal,” is hot off the presses. It notes:

_Quote There’s been a sea change in the U.S., much quicker and more substantial than liberty lovers might have expected as recently as a year ago. Yet for some of us, it’s hard to escape a nagging question.

And asks:

_QuoteWhat happens after January when the new congressional
session begins … ?

Answers at Pajamas Media.

Jeff

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