Friday, 13 January 2012

Don’t try this at your next lecture

"How (not) to communicate new scientific information: A memoir of the famous Brindley lecture."

[Hat tip Geek Press]

Golfing on top of the world

If you’re going to play golf, then this is probably the way to do it.

Like Rory McIlroy. On top of the Burj al-Arab.

Education as an aid to life

Here’s a recommendation from our friends at NZ’s Maria Montessori Education Foundation:

Dear Friends and Advocates for Young Children.

The new website Aid to Life is now on-line and it is superb!

It is primarily a resource for parents, guiding them through how to support their young child’s development from 0-3 years. A wonderful parent resource!

There is information about movement, independence, dressing, and more—complete with videos to help parents.

Highly recommended. Please pass this it on!

Kind regards,
Carol Potts

I have.  Smile

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

No blogging


No blogging today.

I’ve been assassinated by a crazed Ron Paul supporter.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What would entice them back?

Ayn Rand Campus

The Ayn Rand Institute’s ‘Online Campus’ has just gone live, a major new educational initiative promising “free courses on Ayn Rand and her ideas in an innovative and interactive learning environment!”

That’s what it says on the label, and it’s looking pretty good.

Initial course offerings include: 
•       Ayn Rand: A Writer's Life
•       Ayn Rand: Radical Thinker
•       The Ayn Rand Bookshelf
•       Anthem
•       We the Living
•       The Fountainhead
•       Moral Virtue
•       Philosophy of Education
•       Philosophy: Who Needs It

New courses will be added regularly—the first release post-launch will be an in-depth look at the novel Atlas Shrugged, taught by Dr. Onkar Ghate and appearing in February. The full, public launch of ARI Campus is slated for September of 2012.

Looks like a great online resource!


Organon Architecture’s 2011 Top 10

imageYes, I know it’s 2012 already. But 2011 ended so busy for me I didn’t have a chance to do my semi-regular Top 10—i.e., in the spirit of Epic Beer’s own Top 10, listing the top ten things we achieved at Organon Architecture did in 2011:

image1. New offices!
2011 started badly for me, for reasons many of you know. But productivity picked up in July when I opened my new office on Dominion Road—about halfway down, as it happens.  Safely sequestered therein, we’ve produced a mountain of work and lots to celebrate.
And being about 400m from Eden Park, it wasn’t a bad location from which to enjoy the World Cup!

2. ‘Art & Architecture Afternoons’
The new offices, corner of Valley and Dominion Rd, now play host to informal Friday afternoon ‘Art & Architecture Afternoons’ from 4pm every Friday. The “art” part is supplied chiefly by local artists Jasmine Kamante and Jesper Sundwall, whose studio is fortuitously just up the road, and between us we have a few plans for presentations in 2012—starting on the 20th. Feel free to drop in and chat.

3. Orders!
Order books are still full, with some exciting new work and renovations going on—and not every architecture practice can say that this year!

image4. Bungalows!
In the words of Paul Litterick, “Man is born free, yet everywhere is in villas.” And this year again, no one’s asked me to renovate a villa—folk are getting more excited instead by California Bungalows. Good news, and a very healthy trend indeed. That said, there was one reluctant sale by a client of a very special California Bungalow (right)—news made better by the sale price which more than covered our fairly extensive renovations.

5. Kebyar
I’m still really enjoying my Kebyar membership, which keeps me in touch with like-minded architects overseas (since there’s few enough of them locally).

imageimage6. Home Show
Thanks to my sister, a landscape architect, I was persuaded to share a stand at the Whangarei Home Show—the first time I’ve tried that method of promoting the practice. It was fun, and from it came two delightful clients and the prospect of a few very interesting things emerging…

image7. Topping out
I was delighted that a project first begun back in 2003 (right) is finally seeing the light of day, with topping out on the top storey all but complete in the last days of 2011. It’s all set now for completion in 2012.

8. New website
Yes, I know, I’ve been promising this for years—pretty much since the year I first cobbled it together--but this year it’s not just long, long, loong overdue (one client suggested if I don’t update it I should just unplug it) but will actually emerge.
Or so I’m promised.

9. New logo
With the move to new offices, I was persuaded by hotshot graphic designer Graham Clark from Clark Design & Marketing that I should change my logo. Quite frankly, I think what we came up with is pretty damn striking.
You can see it at the top of the page.

If you like it, give Graham a call and he’ll do something just as sharp for you.
Tell him I sent you.


10. Good Work
Not that I’m one to boast, but I think 2011 finished with good variety and some pretty good work in the bag—both renovations and new work.  Here’s a small selection.









So it didn’t start too well, but in the end not a bad year at all, really.

I look forward to topping it this year.

Hope you had a good year too. Keep enjoying the good life--and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Peter Cresswell

[Cross-posted at my Organon Architecture blog]

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Horrors!  I’ve gone through nearly this whole holiday period without a post on beer!

My apologies, gentle readers. Let me remedy that now.

Let me remedy that by talking about affordable beer. And “by talking about affordable beer” I mean talking about what someone else has said about affordable beer. About affordable good, tasty beer.

In fact, let me just quote that someone else, who from hereon in I will call Kevin---chiefly because that is Kevin McLellan’s name. So let’s talk about good beer value, and New Zealand’s best value beer: and Kevin’s detailed, meticulous, rigorous study of this critically important subject.

I enjoy drinking quality beer [says Kevin]. That doesn't mean that I need beer brewed by a silent Belgium monk and costs as much as a pint of saffron… I need to pay the mortgage and I need to know that the beer in my fridge is value for money.
    So how do I know that I'm getting value for money? Up until now it has been calculated on-the-fly based on experience, gut-feel and some badly applied maths. I was having a bit of a slow day recently so I decided to devise the beer value formula. I had no idea how this formula would work. All I knew is that it would need to prove that Epic Pale Ale is the best value beer that money can buy in New Zealand…
    I worked out a standard cost - $per/100ml – … [and] added a new column to show the Ratebeer overall score. Seeing that Epic scored 97/100 and Heineken 7/100 I knew I was onto something. Now for the formula - I simply divided the Ratebeer score by the cost. The result of this division is effectively how much quality is bought with every dollar spent.

A good start. And what he found—Hallelujah!—is at least half-a-dozen easily available, good value, tasty bottled beers to help the daily restocking of your fridge, with the aforementioned Epic Pale Ale (which took no manipulation whatsoever to achieve top spot with a score of 95.1) and Little Creatures Pale Ale, 82.4, on top spot, and Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (co-brewed by former NOT PC beer columnist Stu) holding up third place with a score of 77.0.

And with shops full of Coopers’ Sparkling Ale (65.6) and Original Pale Ale, and a new local $2.50 “craft” beer hitting the shops since Kevin’s definitive, scientific, peer-reviewed study, there’s no shortage of ways to keep your fridge fully stocked.

It’s summer. So why not start your restocking this afternoon?

PS: My own beer of choice over our holiday break was fill-your-own flagons of Leigh Sawmill Pale Ale, collected regularly direct from the brewer. Good value with a score of 76.1—and, if you’re in Auckland, available in fill-your-own flagons at the Herne Bay Cellars in Jervois Road.

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

“Let them eat bonds!” Before they eat themselves.

Despite conventional wisdom, government bonds are not a good investment. The endgame for government bonds is either default or default—either outright default or default by central bank-created inflation.

And as the Euro crisis (really a govt debt crisis) plays out, it’s clear enough that endgame is coming soon.

“The government bond market is still skating on thin ice,’ says Detlev Schlicter, and with it “the entire financial system.”

Read about it here at Detlev’s ‘Paper Money Collapse’ blog.

And learn about his thesis here, in his recent talk to London’s Adam Smith Institute, described by 'Libertarian Home’s Andy Janes as “very impressive, if terrifying.”

He argues that the present financial crisis is far from over; generally misunderstood and misrepresented, it is far from being a ‘crisis of capitalism’. Detlev traces the history of failure of paper money systems and lays out why present policies pursued by various governments and institutions are misdirected and counterproductive.

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Thank Galt for warming, eh.

A reader (thanks Greg) has spotted the warmists’ latest spin, trumpeted by no less than their favourite outlet the BBC.

They are now not trying to hide the decline [notes Greg]. In fact they admit that things are getting colder--but now the spin is that global warming [sic] is slowing down an ice age. This is somewhat like Obama claiming that while unemployment under his watch has sky-rocketed under his administration, it would have been worse if not for him.

So now that the warmists’ religion is collapsing under patently transparent nonsense, what’s going to replace it as the chief weapon in the anti-industrialists armory?



‘Body and Soul’

Could this be the greatest jazz solo of all time? The good folks at Jazz on the Tube sure think so.

Coleman Hawkins, ‘Body and Soul’


Monday, 9 January 2012

Ron Paul

I’ve had to discuss Ron Paul frequently over the holiday break. Not because I brought him up. For some reason, friends wanted to talk about him. Here below are links saying a little of what I tried to say about him in response, summarised by those more knowledgeable about the subject than I.

Short summary? Ron Paul is not a libertarian. He

  • rejects the Jeffersonian principle of a "wall of separation" between religion and government;
  • is anti-immigration (“to the right of most Republicans” says Vodka Pundit Steve Green);
  • is anti-abortion (Paul describes "the rights of unborn people” [sic] as “the greatest moral issue of our time," and "abortion on demand" as "the ultimate State tyranny");
  • “plays footsie” with racists and kooks;
  • is a hypocritical supporter of pork-barrel earmarks for his own congressional district;
  • is opposed to free-trade agreements (like NAFTA); and
  • is appallingly “blame-America-first” on  foreign policy.

In addition, he is a Creationist—a point of view disqualifying the holder from intelligent discussion of, well, virtually everything.

In short, then, and to repeat, he is not a libertarian: he is a “states-rights” religious conservative, with all the intellectual confusion that implies—yet his growing public prominence as a self-proclaimed spokesman for the ideas of liberty gives grave concern for the fate of those ideas.

UPDATE:  Clearly, Ron Paul is far from the secular freedom lover many would like him to be. Argues Gus Van Horn,

   he functions as a Trojan horse for the religious right even as he pretends that personal freedom is as obviously good and uncontroversial as breathing on a regular basis. (Personal freedom is good, but this is neither obvious nor uncontroversial.)
So what then about his claims to being a lover of freedom? What exactly is Paul's vision of "a free society"?  On that subject, this Open Letter to Ron Paul is an eye-opener, written by one Duncan Bayne in response to this article by Paul criticising the 1993 BATF & FBI assault on the Branch Davidians in Waco. Says Bayne:
   While I agreed with many of your criticisms of BATF and FBI tactics & strategy, it became apparent to me that your article was not primarily concerned with those criticisms: the main thrust of the article was to whitewash the monstrous evil committed by David Koresh and his followers. You wrote:
‘The community of faith that once lived at Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas, believed the promise of a free society.’
“This is the "community of faith" that sacrificed twelve-year old girls to Koresh so they could serve as his 'wives' - some of whom bore his children. If that level of barbarism - a religious community complicit in the slavery and rape of young girls - represents anything approaching your idea of what is a ‘free society,’ then I don't want you having any say in how society operates.

    Too true. There is no need to defend the barbarism and paedophilia of Koresh’s supporters in order to attack the BATF and FBI goons who killed them. Yet Paul is happy to embrace the barbarity, and in doing so demonstrates the Objectivist argument against irrational libertarianism.  Without a rational philosophical foundation, argue Objectivists, without a decent "philosophical infrastructure," politics becomes a dangerous pursuit of empty words, floating abstractions, and range-of-the-moment compromises. How can you call libertarians allies in freedom, ask hardcore Objectivists, when libertarians such as Ron Paul can't even agree on what the word "freedom" stands for?  And how can you call someone an advocate of freedom at all when their vision of a "free society" apparently includes the the freedom to rape twelve-year-old girls?

It's clear, just as Van Horn charges, that freedom is neither obvious nor uncontroversial. In fact, personal freedom can and does (and must) be predicated on the base of reason, not of subjective whim.  As Michael Berliner points out in this article on Ayn Rand,

    She understood that to defend the individual she must penetrate to the root: his need to use reason to survive. ‘I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism,’ she wrote in 1971, ‘but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.’ This radical view put her at odds with conservatives, whom she vilified for their attempts to base capitalism on faith and altruism. Advocating a government to protect the individual's right to his property, she was not a liberal (or an anarchist). Advocating the indispensability of philosophy, she was not a libertarian.
The point could hardly be clearer. Van Horn concludes:
   The fight for freedom is, as I have pointed out, a war on two fronts: the political and the intellectual. Of the two, the intellectual is the more fundamental, and cannot be lost. The longer enemies to freedom like Ron Paul can masquerade as friends, the longer it will take for people to become aware of the actual requirements for a society that respects individual rights.

That he can masquerade as a friend to freedom at all demonstrates how far the intellectual battle for freedom still needs to travel.

Because the harsh fact about Ron Paul is that on the few occasions he takes off the tinfoil hat and talks Austrian he’s damn good. But when he’s wearing the tinfoil headwear, as he does the rest of the time, he’s rotten.


Why Wikipedia doesn’t make money

Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales explains why making money isn’t his primary goal—to the surprise of those who think it should be for an Objectivist.

[Hat tip Diana Hsieh, who Jimmy quotes in his Ford Hall Forum speech]

Welcome back

Welcome back everyone.

How was your holiday?

Mine was a beauty.

And thanks for asking.

So what’s been happening with everyone?

“Balloon Race,” by David Knowles


“Balloon Race” by Wairarapa artist David Knowles is posted this morning to mark the tragic accident over the weekend—and to remind us of the spirit that animates the sport, and produces this sort of spectacle.

Let the tragedy not destroy it.