Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Bird Flu, or not?

Is the Bird Flue pandemic another Spanish Flu disaster in the making, or just a Y2K for 05 -- all talk? The always thoughtful Jack Wheeler has his own doubts about the predictions of pandemic:
One more calamity to freak out about now, it seems, is an impending “pandemic” of the Asian Bird Flu virus known as H5N1. Every day we read about five billion more chickens or turkeys or geese in China or Romania or some other country being infected and killed.

A batch of folks in Vietnam have died of it, and the scare stories mount about how any day now, the virus will mutate, enabling not just bird-to-human infection but human-to-human. Then, the stories claim, the pandemic is on.

Well, maybe. All these comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 are shaky.
Read on to see Wheeler's reasoning, and the measures that he's taking for personal protection. And read on here to see Tim Selwyn's sneezy update to the 'Dead Parrot Sketch': "Why did the chicken cross the road? To spread bloody bird 'flu everywhere, apparently."

Top 40 magazine covers

A panel from the American Society of Magazine Editors (yes Virginia, there is a society for every breed of committee-joiners) has voted on the 40 best magazine covers from the past 40 years. There are some goodies amongst them, and also some donkeys (sorry).

There is a 6mb Powerpoint available here if you want larger images.

BTW, did you know that surveys have shown that nine out of ten men who've tried Camels preferred a woman? Just thought I'd share that.

[Hat tip, The Goodness]

New site poll: TVNZ?

Cripes TVNZ is a shambles. The argument for a state broadcaster is apparently that they're neutral and independent. Bzzzzt. Wrong. That they provide a quality product, one that private broadcasters wouldn't bother with? Bzzzzt. Try again. Um?

What would you do with the state monolith if you had the chance? Don't let my line of questioning influence your vote. ;-)

Sketch models -- Organon Architecture

Some 'sketch models' I'm playing with at the moment for what promises to be a very interesting project...

Monday, 31 October 2005

New Zealand in Iranian sights

Cox and Forkum's cartoon (right) highlights the most commented upon threat made by Iran's new president in his recent 'Kill them all' speech: his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map." But that wasn't the only threat made; as Amir Taheri reports, "the new generation of Iran's Islamic revolutionaries" now wants to "play chicken" against the entire West, including New Zealand.

Blogger RegimeChangeIran points out (with pictures) that Iran's chief strategic guru and the architect of the so-called "war preparation plan" currently under way in Iran, Hassan Abbassi, has us here in New Zealand in his sights. In a lecture given in Tehran,
he claimed that the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the Gulf states were all "children of the same mother: the British Empire." As for France and Germany, they are "countries in terminal decline", according to Abbasi.
"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization," said Abbassi in 2004, and he has now made clear that we Kiwis are included in those plans.
We must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them. Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover.
As we know, the Clark Government ran for cover long ago, but it's about time they woke up to this threat. Although our new foreign minister has leapt into action, calling Ahmadinejad's threat "unhelpful" -- that should put the wind up the mullahs! -- he and others seemed to have overlooked Abbassi's comments. It might be time for the Clark Government's previous position of crawling appeasement (coupled with the assertion that we here in Godzone enjoy an "incredibly benign strategic environment") to be seriously rethought. Urgently.

[UPDATE: Just so you're clear about the nature of who's threatening whom, Atlas Shrugs offers a comparison between 'The Week in Israel vs the Week in Iran.' While Israel enjoyed a busy week of achievement, scientific advance and medical breakthroughs, Iran endured another week of bloodshed, murder, threats and death. Said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Oct 30 cabinet meeting, “if we were permitted to hang two or three persons, the problems with the stock exchange would be solved for ever.” ]

Welfare's inhumanity to immigrants

Two recent cases have made Julian reflect this morning how New Zealand's welfare state has made an inhumane mess of our immigration policy. "Isn't it incredibly inhumane," he asks "how the socialists treat people like cattle - as a cost-benefit calculation?" It sure is.

I had similar thoughts a few years ago when the Tampa refugees were being shunned by all parties, thoughts summed up in the titles of two pieces I wrote: " Welfare State Leaves Boat-People to Die," I said, leaving "Bloodstains on the Refugee Red Carpet."

And Tibor Machan makes a similar argument, that the biggest problem withe the welfare state is not that it might lead to even greater control by government, but that it habituates people to brutality like that seen in these immigration cases above:
    Sure, a problem with the less Draconian evils of the welfare state is partly that they could habituate people to accept coercion from governments, making the march toward a dictatorship more probable.
    However, that’s not the biggest problem. It is far more serious that the welfare state is a lingering political, moral, and economic malady already—it constantly violates individual rights, and people suffer from that plenty. Never mind how much worse it all could get.
Linked article: The Inhumane Immigration Policy of our Welfare State

Tragedy of the Bunnies

Here's a good, short, colourful online game to help you understand the subtle concept of the Tragedy of the Commons. It's called the Tragedy of the Bunnies.

As the person who sent it to me warned: "You might want to turn the music off though..."

[Hat tip Robin]

Liar, liar your credibility is on fire

Not every property owner rolls over when they're targeted by environmental activists intent on deception. When the Center for Biological Diversity posted a series of photographs on their web site purporting to show "the supposedly 'devastating' impacts of ranching, mining, lumbering, and just about any other productive use of the Western lands that you can think of," one Arizona rancher cried foul.

Some of the posted photos ostensibly 'demonstrated' the destruction caused by rancher Jim Chilton's 425 cattle. Trouble is, the photos were a complete pack of lies, as Chilton proved in court. The Center is now $600,000 poorer.

Linked Article: VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Nature cult's devious tactics exposed

Teaching economics

Pete Boettke at The Austrian Economists suggests there are just a few important lessons freshman economic students need to be taught. "Focus on first principles (opportunity costs and spontaneous order), and the interpretation of a wide variety of human relationships that can best be explained with the use of these principles" he suggests, " and you will make the subject matter of economics come alive and be exciting to students and leave them wanting more. "

He has two book recommendations which follow this menu: The Economic Way of Thinking by Paul Heyne, which explicitly promotes the above view, and Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist. "The persistent and consistent applications of opportunity cost reasoning and explaining how order emerges out of the behavior of individuals even though it is not anyone's intention to promote the overall order is revealed throughout The Undercover Economist in a vareity of illustrative stories from throughout the developed and developing world."

Personally, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (complete book online here in PDF) would be my recommendation, but then I haven't yet read the other two.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Ralston next

After doing for TVNZ what he had previously done for Metro magazine, Bill Ralston's days as news and current affairs boss at the state broadcaster look to be numbered after network head Ian Fraser reportedly heads for the exit door. No great loss.

Let's make Australia a nuclear waste dump!

Bob Hawke's suggestion last month that Australia should offer itself as the solution to the world's nuclear waste storage problem has, naturally, fired some controversy. As Christopher Pearson said at the time, "Some will say that Hawke was just floating an unsaleable idea on a whim or, as one green activist put it, saying something outrageous because he was suffering from relevance-deprivation syndrome. I think he meant exactly what he said, and it was a premeditated and well-timed intervention into a national debate that was in danger of going nowhere."

Hawke's proposal has been taken seriously. An ABC-Radio podcast at Ockham's Razor hosts a physicist going through the reasons why, as a friend who sent me the link says, "the Aussies would be mugs NOT to allow a nuclear waste storage facility to be built inland from Perth." Says the physicist, it would be in Australians' self-interest. Feel free to comment.

Bring on the activist judges

"Those goddamn activist judges!" That's a complaint frequently heard around the traps, and with the question of the next Supreme Court appointee still unanswered, one being hotly debated in the States at present. The complainst about judicial activism and the debate around it frequently features two apparently opposed ideas: that of original intent -- a theory often supported by conservatives -- and the idea that law, treaties and constitutions are 'living documents' that empower an activist judiciary to feats of ultra vires legerdemain. (Students of the Treaty of Waitangi will be familiar with this debate.)

Tara Smith blasts that dichotomy sky high. As Don Watkins summarises her argument, "'judicial activism' is a package deal. The question is not whether a jurist is 'activist' but what their activism consists of. Proper judicial activity, she says, should involve the interpretation and application of abstract legal principles -- fundamentally, the basic principle of 'rights'."
The salient question in assessing any nominee, then, is not whether a judge takes action, but the factors that guide his actions. To be qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, a person must, at minimum, understand three basic facts: First, that individual rights are broad principles defining the individual's freedom of action. The familiar rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness subsume a vast array of particular exercises of this freedom, some explicitly named in the constitution (e.g., the freedom of speech) and some not (the right to travel). Second, he must understand that the government's sole function is to protect individuals' freedom of action. As Jefferson explained, it is "to secure these rights, [that] governments are instituted among men." Third, he must recognize that our government properly acts exclusively by permission.

Articles I, II and III [of the US Constitution] specify the powers of the three branches of government and the 10th Amendment expressly decrees that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved by the states or by the people. The government, in other words, may do only what it is legally authorized to do.

These, correspondingly, are the considerations that should guide a judge's decision-making. It is precisely because action from judges is often needed that principled action--action premised on the basic principles of our republic--is essential. Only a nominee whose record demonstrates that he is so guided is fit to be entrusted a place on the Court.
Linked article: The Need for an Active Supreme Court Justice

'Prisoners Dilemma,' & other crap

Ayn Rand hated chess. That surprises me, but her reasons were interesting:
I could never play chess. I resent it on principle. It involves too much wasted thinking. Chess is all ifs,' and if there's one thing I cannot do mentally, it's handle anything more than two 'ifs.' In chess, you must consider hundreds of possibilities, it's all conditional, and I resent that. That is not the method of cognition; reality doesn't demand that kind of thinking. In cognition, if you define the problem clearly, you really have only one alternative: 'It is so' or 'It is not so.' There is not a long line of 'ifs' -- and if your opponent does this, you will do that. I can't function that way, for all the reasons that make me a good theoretical thinker: it's a different epistemological base.
Rand was not one who thought in 'conditionals' -- as she says, for her the accurate definition of a probem is the key to its solution. How unfashionable. As Don at Noodle Food muses, Rand's reasoning parallel his own "total disdain for game theory and much of modern economics (I'm speaking of the economics that tries to analyze all individual decisions in terms of cost/benefit analyses). Such theories do not refer to anything in reality. Take the classical prisoner's dilemma... In every analysis I've ever read, one question is never even considered..."

Read on here to find out just what that question is.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Random Quotes

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
--Dante

"We are reluctant to admit that we owe our liberties to men of a type that today we hate and fear -- unruly men, disturbers of the peace, men who resent and denounce what [Walt] Whitman called 'the insolence of elected persons' -- in a word, free men."
-- Gerald W. Johnson

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-- Edmund Burke

"Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
-- George Orwell. Oft quoted as: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm them."

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear."
--Mark Twain

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
--Frederick Douglass

"We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents."
--Mark Twain

"Ugliness corrupts not only the eyes, but also the heart and mind."
--Henry Van der Velde

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."
--Oscar Wilde

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak."
--Robert Heinlein

"High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."
--Oscar Wilde

"First God created idiots, this was for practice. Then He made School Boards."
--Mark Twain

"The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them."
--Mark Twain

"The rule is perfect; in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane."
--Mark Twain

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."
--Mark Twain

"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry."
--Mark Twain

"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault."
--Oscar Wilde

Maths Tests for UK Schools, both state & private

A: MATHS TEST FOR STATE SCHOOLS

Name _____________________________
Nickname__________________________
Gang Name_________________________

1. Simon has 0.5 kilos of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Matt for 300 quid and 90 grams to Ollie for 90 quid, what is the street value of the rest of his hold?

2. Damon pimps 3 bitches. If the price is £40 a ride, how many jobs per day must each bitch perform to support Damon's £500 a day coke habit?

3. Crackhead wants to cut the kilo of cocaine he bought for 7,000 quid to make a 20% profit. How many grams of Strychnine will he need?

4. Trev got 6 years for murder. He also got £350,000 for the hit. If his common law wife spends £33,100 per month, how much money will be left when he gets out? How much more time will Trev get for killing the slapper that spent his money?

5. If an average can of spray paint covers 22 square metres and the average letter is 1 square metre, how many letters can be sprayed with eight fluid ounce cans of spray paint with 20% extra paint free ?

6. Liam steals Jordan's skateboard. As Liam skates away at a speed of 35mph, Jordan loads his brother's Armalite. If it takes Jordan 20 seconds to load the gun, how far will Liam have travelled when he gets whacked?


B: MATHS TEST FOR 'PUBLIC' (IE., PRIVATE) SCHOOLS

Name________________________________
_____________________________________
_____________________________________
_____________________________________
_____________________________________
(If necessary please continue on a separate sheet)
Prep School _______________________________________________
Daddy's/Mummy's Company ____________________________

1. Harry smashes up the old man's car, causing x amount of damage and killing 3 people. The old man asks his local Chief Constable to intervene in the court system, then forges his insurance claim and receives a payment of y. The difference between x and y is three times the life insurance settlement for the three dead people. What kind of car is Harry driving now?

2. Fiona's personal shopper decides to substitute generic and own-brand products for the designer goods favoured by her employer. In the course of a month she saves the price of a return ticket to Fiji and Fiona doesn't even notice the difference. Is she thick or what?

3. Tristram fancies the arse off a certain number of debutantes, but he only has enough Rohypnol left to render 33.3% unconscious. If he has 14 tablets of Rohypnol, how is he ever going to shag the other two thirds?

4. If Verity throws up 4 times a day for a week she can fit into a size 8 Versace. If she only throws up 3 times a day for two weeks, she has to make do with a size 10 Dolce and Gabbana. How much does liposuction cost?

5. Henry is unsure about his sexuality. Three days a week he fancies women. On the other days he fancies men, ducks and vacuum cleaners. However he only has access to the Hoover every third week. When will he stand for parliament?

Friday, 28 October 2005

Capitalism is colour-blind

Thomas Sowell shares a 'non-mainstream' view on the death of Rosa Parks. (Who'd have thought it.) Sowell points out that the racially-segregated seating she won deserved fame for opposing barely existed in the American South until municipal transit systems operated by the state replaced privately-owned transit systems:
Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races.

These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about.

It was politics that segregated the races because the incentives of the political process are different from the incentives of the economic process. Both blacks and whites spent money to ride the buses but, after the disenfranchisement of black voters in the late 19th and early 20th century, only whites counted in the political process.

The lesson: Capitalism is colour-blind; governments aren't. As Owen McShane commented, this is "the history we seldom hear."

[UPDATE: Article link added: Rosa Parks: Pursuit of Profit vs. Racism. (Sorry to those who were looking for it earlier.)]

Adding to my Blogroll

I'm just adding two new sites to my BlogRoll, Keith Windschuttle's SydneyLine -- like Denis Dutton's Arts & Letters Daily although nowhere near as prolific with it, but still with some great links -- and Lib on the United Kingdom, another pommy libertarian. [Hat tip Julian]

Supporting unemployment for women

With the exception of the economically illiterate and the Greens (but of course I repeat myself) most people these days accept that minimum wage laws make no economic sense: to the extent that they raise wages for low-paid workers beyond what employers can otherwise afford to pay, they also raise unemployment for low-paid workers. Not much good for low-paid workers, then. Linda Gorman provides chapter, verse and history on the topic in the Concise Encycopedia of Economics...
Unfortunately, neither laudable intentions nor widespread support can alter one simple fact: although minimum wage laws can set wages, they cannot guarantee jobs. In reality, minimum wage laws place additional obstacles in the path of the most unskilled workers who are struggling to reach the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
So much, so straightforward: Minimum wage laws cause unemployment.

But here's an interesting thing. While liberals these days support minimum wage laws despite the fact they cause unemployment, Marginal Revolution points out that at the turn of last century 'progressives' supported them for precisely the opposite reason: because they do. These progressives wanted their women 'kept where they belong' -- at home -- and the unemployment caused by minimum wage laws was one tool to achieve that.
Unlike today's progressives, the originals understood that minimum wages for women would put women out of work - that was the point and the more unemployment of women the better!

Much more on the secret history of the minimum wage in Tim Leonard's paper, Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work.
[Hat tip Stephen Hicks once again]

Victa Horta -- Horta House

Victor Horta designed this Brussels house for himself in 1893, and with its design he invented Art Nouveau.

His intention was to use the new materials of steel and glass to begin to liberate architecture from the past. 

His treatment of the traditional European house form is still just pure delight. A film exists that "describes the development of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels, Vienna and Germany and introduces the viewer to fascinating personalities - Horta, Hoffmann, Van de Velde, Ohlbrich, Mahler, Klimt and Schiele."

You can download all 65MB of it here, if you're keen, like I am. :-)

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Thursday, 27 October 2005

PC, & 'The Great Postmodern Essay Generator'

Seen this? The postmodern essay generator -- ideal for embattled students who can now generate gibberish at the push of a button. Try generating one for yourself and just revel in the nonsense. [Hat tip here to Keith Windschuttle, the author of The Killing of History, and proprietor of TheSydneyLine website, both highly recommended. Hat tip also to Stephen Hicks, who recommended Windschuttle's lectures and essays on postmodernism. Both Hicks's book and Windschuttle's work provide invaluable real help for embattled students caught in the ibid thickets of postmodernism.]

And given the talk about "eradicating political incorrectness" around the traps today, Windschuttle's links to Jim Ball's list: antidotes for political correctness and reading lists for every young woman might come in very useful (you might compare the suggested lists with my own suggested reading list for a young man). Hicks's own book, Explaining Postmodernism, might also prove useful, particularly as it points out so well the connection between postmodernism and PC. As I argued at 'Blog Central' when this subject came up before once before:
Political correctness is not just harmless stupidity; it is the imposition of pre-digested opinions, usually by those in some position of power. It is the replacing of thought with rote.

Author Stephen Hicks argues that political-correctness comes from post-modernism, and is simply post-modern relativism applied to speech and personal beahavious.

In his book 'Explaining Post Modernism,' which I highly recommend - especially to students - Hicks contrasts the Enlightenment view of the world with its nemesis, the post-modern politically-correct position that seeks to overturn Enlightenment values:

"The contemporary Enlightenment world prides itself on its commitment to equality and justice, its open-mindedness, its making opportunity available to all, and its achievements in science and technology. The Enlightenment world is proud, confident, and knows it is the wave of the future.

"This is unbearable to someone who is totally invested in an opposed and failed outlook. That pride is what such a person wants to destroy. The best target to attack is the Enlightenment’s sense of its own moral worth. Attack it as sexist and racist, intolerably dogmatic, and cruelly exploitative. Undermine its confidence in its reason, its science and technology. The words do not even have to be true or consistent to do the necessary damage.

"And like Iago, postmodernism does not have to get the girl in the end. Destroying Othello is enough."

Does any of that sound familiar?
Do you think 'Political Correctness Eradicator' Wayne Mapp knows what the hell I'm on about? (Do you, dear reader?) Given what Mapp said in his speech about the subject that got him his new job job, probably not, as Rodney explains.

The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2

Continued from yesterday...

NZ HERALD: Zero Tolerance on Youth Gangs: Counties-Manukau police have imposed an "always-arrest" policy for anyone caught carrying weapons or committing acts of violence, in the wake of escalating gang feuds.

I bet you're surprised, aren't you, that police are only now announcing an 'always-arrest' policy for anyone committing acts of violence. [UPDATE: Duncan points out the absurdity of the other half of the police's new policy.] I bet you thought that was what the police have been doing all along: protecting the rest of us by arresting thugs who commit acts of violence. Nope. Not for some years. As the culture of violence has increased, the response of the police and the courts to young thugs has been risible. They haven't just failed to punish the young thugs, they've censured those who have punished them-- as the unfortunate former-Senior Sergeant Anthony Solomona (photo above right) is now aware. The courts have been releasing the thugs while the police tie their own hands and prosecute their own people for assault, and only now are they announcing an 'always-arrest' policy for young thugs committing violence. It hardly needs any comment, but I'll do so ayway.

To paraphrase Tana Umaga, the young thugs that South Auckland's police deal with are not playing tiddlywinks. If the police don't get tough with the thugs when they do commit crimes, then it's all over for South Auckland. Who would want to live in a place where the police are intimidated by the criminals, and hamstrung by their political masters?

As I said here yesterday, take away the consequences of people's actions and the ability for their choices to make a tangible long-term difference in their lives, and pretty soon people won't be making long-term choices for themselves -- short-term thrills wil replace them. Take away the consequences of people's action, and over time their actions will become less and less desirable. South Auckland's violent young men are the product of a culture and a state factory school system that has brought them up to value 'others,' to devalue choice, and to disregard consequences. Today we see the result. They've been let down by their culture, they've been let down by the police, they've been let down by their teachers and by welfarism. The 'others' have all let them down... who do they have to look to in the end? Themselves. And they're making a mess of it.

Can't education help? Sure can, if it's done right. The road to independence begins with having the tools to understand the world. Dr Maria Montessori recognised long ago that the child is father to the man; she argued that education is a great force for peace and understanding, but only if education is done on rational lines.
Children are the constructors of men whom they build, taking from the environment language, religion, customs and the peculiarities not only of the race, not only of the nation, but even of a special district in which they develop.

...The child is the forgotten citizen, and yet, if statesmen and educationists once came to realise the terrific force that is in childhood for good or for evil, I feel they would give it priority above everything else. All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved.

...Man must be cultivated from the beginning of life when the great powers of nature are at work. It is then that one can hope to plan for a better ... understanding."
'Cultivation' must beign with a recognition of man's nature, and its power for both good or ill. How were Mangere's young men and women 'cultivated' by the state and its educational philosophies? Let's look at one example.

When Nga Tapuwae College opened in Mangere East in 1977 it was a blank slate, a Brave New World: a new state college in the middle of a new state-built suburb. And foundation principal Ann Gluckman was a liberal's dream. From the outset Gluckman's policies were laid out and followed. All students were treated equally, no matter whether they were successes or failures or just flat-out thugs. Gluckman had the notion, still fashionable in liberal circles, that all the thugs and failures needed was love and attention; the thugs just laughed, and carried on beating the failures. Smoking, swearing and regular attendance in class were all optional; punctuality as well was optional -- if students could make it into school at all that was considered a bonus. And if you did make it in to class, literacy and numeracy skills barely featured on the curriculum.

Pretty soon, only the failures and the thugs were left; the successes had either left for other schools, or been beaten back into the pack.

If you did want to come to school on time, work hard and so find a way out of the shithole you found yourself in, Gluckman's policies didn't help you. If you wanted to be a young criminal, they didn't hinder you. Gluckman's ultimate disciplinary sanction, I was told at the time by a group of amused young thugs I knew, was to sit down with miscreants in a room dripping with tapa cloths and hug them. And talk. A lot. The young thugs pissed themselves laughing just telling me this. Last I knew most of them were just another South Auckland gang member. The other graduates of Gluckman's school are bringing up the young thugs of today.

Gluckman and her ilk never understood that mercy to the guilty is injustice to the innocent; the hugs-and-inaction policies of Gluckman and her ilk ensure that the innocent stay under the thumb of the guilty, and the violent contine to flourish. And they ignored those who wanted to work and to escape.

Nga Tapuwae College was recognised as a failure as early as Tomorrow May be Too Late, the 'Ramsay' report of 1981. By January 1995, an ERO Report was so scathing that Nga Tapuwae's Board of Trustees was sacked. Auckland Grammar's John Graham was brought in to effect a rescue, which included a name change to the Southern Cross Campus. Ann Gluckman meanwhile, after destroying a generation of Mangere's youngsters, was awarded an OBE in 1994 for "her contribution to education and the community," and when receiving a Senior Achiever Award in 2000 was described as "a popular and respected lecturer, & a role model for older people, who has a positive influence on everyone around her." I would use different words. Gluckman, however, is just an example of how liberal idiocy is at least partly to blame for the current culture in which success is impugned, and the 'warrior culture' awash with wall-to-wall losers is encouraged.

Some cultures deserve censure, and the 'warrior culture' of South Auckland is one. This is a culture that values fighters over thinkers, and groups over individuals; Attila over Aristotle, and the mindless gang over the intelligent loner. You don't change such a culture overnight, but you can continue to encourage it by rewarding the violence.

There is no room in such a place for individual effort or individual achievement. Tennis ace Chris Lewis has described the mentality perfectly: the 'crab bucket mentality':
Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is.
So can I. In such a place, one looks not to oneself but to others: 'Don't stand out, fit in!' becomes the siren cry. And this is the tragedy, and with it -- I suggest -- the link with religion. It is no accident that South Auckland is as awash with churches as it is with social workers, but the churches themselves appear to have no solution; indeed, their numbers have grown even as the problems have. The latest young thug arrested for belting other teenagers around the head with a baseball bat is described as a "church-going, youth-group-attending schoolboy" -- the church-going didn't stop his brutality. The number of churches only mirrors the number of community problems. Is there a link? Ayn Rand describes one; the link she says is essentially the 'crab bucket mentality' plus renunciation: the result is mysticism.
A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others. Somewhere in the distant reaches of his childhood, when his own understanding of reality clashed with the assertions of others, with their arbitrary orders and contradictory demands, he gave in to so craven a fear of independence that he renounced his rational faculty. At the crossroads of the choice between 'I know' and 'They say,' he chose the authority of others, he chose to submit rather than to understand, to believe rather than to think.

Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others. His surrender took the form of the feeling that he must hide his lack of understanding, that others possess some mysterious knowledge of which he alone is deprived, that reality is whatever they want it to be, through some means forever denied to him.
South Auckland urgently needs a change of culture, and effecting such a thing takes as long as it did to produce the present culture of destruction. Youngsters there need to begin looking to themselves, with their own grasp of reality as their starting point. And if they are to climb out of the crab bucket themselves they need both an ally and a goal. The goal must be their own, a path they find for themselves; their ally is not Ann Gluckman and her ilk, it is a philosophy of individualism, the tools with which to understand it, and protection from the thugs so they can follow it.

More tomorrow...

State of Fear

I've just read Michael Crichton's State of Fear, reluctantly I confess since I thought Jurassic Park was a donkey, but I'd been recommended it by a number of people as 'a great exposé of the global warming charade,' and I thought I should give it a go.

I was disappointed. Chrichton can't write, can he? He really can't. And just like Jurassic Park, the plot is wafer-thin with holes you could poke a fork of lightning through, and his plot devices -- Reggie Perrin-like disappearances and reappearances, and a secret list foreshadowing all bad things to come -- look like something dreamed up by a committee. His writing itself is weak, and his characters would embarrass the production manager at a cardboard box factory. Frankly, the only reason to read this book is that he skewers global warming, but as that's been done better elsewhere, that's no reason to subject yourself to it. Don't waste your time.

The book was thrown into shaper relief because I bought it together with the new Lee Child thriller, 'One Shot.' Child's writing is everything Chrichton's would like to be: it's sharp, taut, and unlike Chrichton, Child expects you to read with your brain switched on -- all angles have been thought through, and Child expects you to get to his revelations and plot twists just as he does.

My advice is to reward yourself with Child's latest, not to punish yourself with Crichton's -- unless you're just reading it for the science, I guess.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Useful tips

Richard has some good tips on better browsing, and better blogging. It all begins with Firefox...
And Alan has thirty tips -- 30! -- on being more creative. The first tip is, "Ignore everybody."

The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 1

There's all sorts of tut-tutting going on about those nasty South Aucklanders and the culture of violence there that occasionally pops out and disturbs the equanimity of the chattering classes elsewhere. Let me say from my own experience that South Auckland is a shitty place in which to grow up. The problem is not poverty, it's a culture almost calculated to produce a violent underclass -- and so it has. As former detective inspector Graham Bell says, "people have to stop pussy-footing around the issue."

The underclass and the gang culture have been there in South Auckland for years, ever since the state housing ghettoes were built there in the early seventies. It's not poverty that created the underclass -- there was always money in Mangere -- it's a culture that celebrates sullen dependency and 'warrior values': swaggering mediocrity, aggressive non-achievement, and a brutal, futureless, range-of-the-moment, fit-in-at-all costs secondhandedness.

In these state-built ghettoes it's not cool to either stand out or to achieve; survival comes instead by keeping your head down, fitting in and making big friends -- by being a follower, and not a leader. And leaders, when they do emerge, generally don't challenge the status quo -- they reinforce it.

There are good kids there who do want to escape. Teenagers are still whingers (and probably still lie to survey-takers as much as they did when I was a youngster), but according to a Herald story back in August one thing hasn't changed: a recent survey whose results ring true shows "the Have Nots from South Auckland ... dream of escaping poverty" and getting the hell out of South Auckland. Plus ce change... What person with a soul wouldn't.

Let's look at the landscape: This remember is the place that delivered the Labour faithful -- those doyens of nannying --- their slim victory on election night; a place in which individuals look largely to churches, the envoys of Nanny Government and an unlikely Lotto victory to deliver them from evil and lead them into the promised land. It hasn't worked for them.

The churches have delivered large buildings, rich pastors, and young church-goers that are charged with attempted murder; Nanny Government has delivered social workers, welfare, full jails, and factory schools that discourage learning in favour of fitting in; and Lotto has given nothing but the hope of some sort of escape that can be delivered without effort. One thing this culture never encourages is to look to oneself to solve the problems; solutions there are always provided by others. It just doesn't work.

It's not 'lack of facilities' in South Auckland that's the problem, as some do-gooders suggest; brutality is not something chosen because there's nothing else to do, it's chosen because it's a way of life. This is a place in which taking control of one's life is actively discouraged -- where things happen to people, not by them; in which the mysterious 'they' do things that affect most aspects of daily life. Ironically, even as you read this, 'officials' will meet to discuss gang violence and what they can do about it. They have done enough. A culture which encourages people to always look to 'others' to fix their problems, to define their values and to look after them engenders eventually the uneasy feeling that your own future is beyond your own control and you are powerless to affect it; when your own future is beyond your own control, the natural conclusion then is to forget about the future and look instead for range-of-the-moment thrills. Such thrills come without apparent consequences.

Like an anorexic seeking to assert control over some part of their existence when all decisions are controlled by others, the need to be an individual emerges in an odd form. In an anorexic the need to assert oneself emerges with the insistence that 'I can at least control this part of my life, my food intake,' and continues even to the extent of self-destruction; in South Auckland, it emerges too often in the form of young men enacting violence on each other just to pass the time. Take away the ability for free will to be asserted productively, and it will assert itself destructively instead -- that' s the message that the do-gooders of welfarism would do well to learn.

As Thomas Sowell points out, "Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives." The prevailing culture in South Auckland is not working. Tomorrow I'll try and suggest what might.

Continued tomorrow...

A great service

If any of you have aged relatives, then I can highly recommend the St John's Lifelink system. Three times in the last five years my mother has activated it, I've been rung, and an ambulance has been dispatched with friendly and quiet efficiency. The service is excellent, and a great reassurance.

Shame you can't say the same for the emergency departments to which the patients are then delivered. 'Zoo' is the best word I can find to describe the latest one...

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Sick of noise...

"Sick of noise and short of breath" -- that's how Howard Devoto described himself when he left the Buzzcocks and formed Magazine. 'Sick of crap and short of patience' -- that's essentially how Ruth described herself over the weekend when she password-protected her blog after stirring up a storm by dissing Cathy's views on rape and who is 'asking for it,' and losing patience with neanderthals visiting her site to sling shit.

Oddly, the password-protection is being taken as confirmation that she's been slam-dunked. Isn't it great just how rational disagreements on the blogosphere are.

PS: Wonder what they all think about George Carlin's routine 'Rape Can Be Funny'? You can hear a snippet at Amazon.

Top ten movies for liberals

Hah! Jason Roth at SaveTheHumans has taken up my challenge to start being funny again -- here's his Top 10 Must-See Movies for Liberals which might stop some being liberal & miserable.

My favourite: 'Castraté: The First Woman Dictator of Cuba.'

Write like you talk

Hey, you lot: if you want fame, fortune, riches and people beating a path to your blog-haven, then don't write as if you've got a stick up your arse, write like you talk. Good advice, just as long as you don't, like, talk like a twelve-year-old. Kathy Sierra has studies on this and everything. [Hat tip, Stephen Hicks]

Linked article: Conversational writing kicks formal writing's ass

Good weekend

I had a great holiday weekend in Raglan. Thanks for asking.

I'll write later about the seabed mining controversy that's stirring up a little controversy along the North Island's West Coast. As the protest website of KASM (Kiwis against Seabed Mining) says, "The ecological consequences are absolutely unknown." And naturally, with the Crown assumption of forehore and seabed ownership, so are the property rights issues involved.

The October Revolution

The Bolsheviks were pissweak murdering liars. Today, October 25* , commemorates the day these pissweak murdering liars came to power in a pathetic, cowardly coup; one later re-invented into a grand and heroic revolution. It wasn't grand, and neither was it heroic: it was cowardly, destructive and disastrous.

The Bolsheviks were liars.

They later became masters at 're-inventing' history, but the glorious October Revolution was their first grand re-invention.

See that picture to the right: it didn't happen. It wasn't they who swept away the Czar in a heroic seizure of power; they came to power instead in a squalid little coup that stabbed in the back Russia's first chance at real freedom. Remember all those stories and images of people rampaging across Palace Square and storming the Winter Palace? That wasn't the Bolshevik hordes storming the citadel of Czarist oppression -- that was a lie. There were no hordes; there was no storming of the Palace -- not by the Bolsheviks anyway; and the Czarist oppression had already been swept away some months before in the 'Good Revolution' of February. The Bolsheviks didn't sweep away oppression; they brought it back.

The oppressive Czarist regime had been swept away in a largely bloodless revolution in Spring 1917. The so called 'February Revolution' deposed the authoritarian ancien regime, gave power to a democratic Parliament (Duma) under Alexander Kerensky, and swept a breath of free Spring air through Russia's stale and oppressive ordure. By contrast, the Bolshevik Putsch (which is all it was) took place in October 1917, just as the country was heading for Winter; the seasonal metaphor could not be more precise: where the February Revolution was a brief taste of the freedom of Spring, the October Revolution brought on an oppressive, marrow-chilling Winter that lasted nearly three-quarters-of-a-century.

The Bolsheviks were pissweak.

The Bolsheviks relied on others to do their work for them. If ever there was a time when one muck-stained tail wagged several dogs, this was it.

The Bolsheviks used democracy against itself: A small Bolshevik-dominated Petrograd Soviet (ie., Workers Council) wagged the larger Union of Soviets (essentially a national Council of Trades Union); by a series of calculated moves, the smaller Bolsheviks simply made themselves the mouth of the larger Union of Soviets. Meanwhile, as the Workers Councils disrupted the country, a Bolshevik minority coalesced with a larger rump to disrupt the democratic Duma, in an attempt to make the Soviet the greater seat of power. Come the October Putsch, the Bolsheviks simply dissolved the Duma, called the Petrograd Soviet the centre of power, and let democracy go hang.

The Bolsheviks used the February Revolutionists. They didn't just borrow the success of February to produce their phoney myths; without the Good Revolution the October Coup would never have happened. The February Revolutionists took the risks and did the donkey work of ending the Czarist oppression; when the time was ripe the Bolsheviks then happily stabbed the February Revolutionists in the back..

The Bolsheviks used the Germans, who Russia was fighting in a war of survival. 1917 was the third year of World War I, and conditions on the Russian Front were as bad as legend remembers them. Seeking some advantage from the Czar's overthrow, in April the Germans sent Swiss-based cafe-dweller Vladimir Lenin back to Russia through Germany in a sealed carriage -- "sealed in like a bacillus" as one astute writer put it. The Germans got their advantage -- once Lenin had others sieze power for him, he gave the Germans all they had wanted: Complete surrender. The capitulation sold out the Baltic States, sold out those Russians who had died defending their country, and left the Germans free to throw their resources being used on the Eastern Front into the meat-grinder of the Western Front, extending the carnage there for nearly another year.

The Bolsheviks used the workers. The Workers Soviets were the platform for their grab for power. Once power was achieved, the workers and their organisations were however of no more interest to the Bolsheviks than were their political opposition -- executed without trial in the Red Terror immediately following the Bolshevik assumption of power -- or the Ukranian Kulaks who were left to starve in Stalin's famine. The 1921 Kronstadt Rebellion and accompanying general strike was the last major attempts by workers to gain back some of their own freedom: like all the other attempts, it ended in bloodshed. The Bolsheviks didn't want to free the workers; they wanted to enslave them

The Bolsheviks were murderers.

The killing started with the Cheka, set up by Lenin immediately on assuming power (it later became the GPU, then the NKVD, and eventually the KGB). When the killing ended nearly three-quarters-of-a-century later, 62 million Russians had been murdered, and several million more around the world had their lives cut short or made into a living hell by the bloodstained influence of the Soviet regime. And that's just the murders -- epidemics, famine, fighting and the general breakdown after the October Coup meant that some twenty million died in just a few short years after the Bolsheviks siezed power. The Soviet Union began just the way it was to continue: in cowardice, in destruction, and in death.

The Bolsheviks were pissweak murdering liars. About the October Revolution, there is nothing to celebrate.
---------------------------------------------------
*The October Revolution didn't even happen in October: it happened on November 7, 1917. The date that's now remembered and commemorated is the one from the Julian Calendar then being used in Russia, rather than the Gregorian Calendar used in the rest of the world.

Telecom breaks bread with murderers

Here's a nice heartwarming story: RSA killer on prison debating team
Convicted RSA triple murderer William Bell competed in a formal debate in Paremoremo Prison last week against a team of Telecom executives... The training exercise was designed to improve the communication and leadership skills of the executives, while at the same time teaching the inmates to accept other points of view.

Isn't that nice. White liberal apologists for violence giving respect to murderers, rapists and other thugs who have destroyed, ruined or taken the lives of good people.
Telecom spokesperson Ken Brophy told Herald on Sunday that Bell, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for the RSA killing spree in Auckland in 2001, had been "very articulate" on the debating team. He said the other prisoners were also "amazing, impactful and informative".
Let me say this very clearly so there's absolutely no confusion: Ken Brophy and the Telecom executive who thought this was a great idea are fuckwits. The Telecom executives who took part in the debate, and who stayed behind afterwards to "talk about last week's rugby league match over cake, crackers and dip" are all fuckwits.

I'm with Garth McVicar on this: "It horrifies me for the families involved," says McVicar, "that William Bell killed their loved ones and he is treated with the respect of being involved in a debate."

Murderers are people too? Not once they've become a murderer they're not. They're inhuman maggots deserving of all the respect due to something you might scrape off your shoe. If you were thinking of changing from Telecom to Vodaphone, now might be a good tiome to do so, an to let Telecom know why.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Test Friends

Cripes, I'm either completely open and transparent, or you lot are reading my mail. Or could it be that the questions I asked are just so obvious that even people I don't know score well? Whatever or however, my Friends Test has shown me that some people who know me best I don't know at all, and some who I do know know more about me than I do! It's a worry. A real worry.

Top five scores are:
1. Peter 96
2. Mac 84
3. Andrew B. 82
4. Richard 78
5. andrew h 78

So just who the hell is Mac?

Some end-of-week business

I've been up to my eyes this week, so I haven't been able to respond to comments here and to other bloggers as I'd have liked to. Feel free to do so on my behalf.

# Here for instance is one from Richard that I was pleased to see, on the subject of Intrinsic Value.
I'm inclined [says Richard] to think that only sentient beings can have intrinsic value in the strong sense. We are the creators of value, so without us there simply would not be any value in the world. Nothing that happens in a consciousless (I would say 'material', but that's not quite right) universe matters at all, one way or another. Hence my skepticism about intrinsic environmental value.
I'm inclined to agree with him, and for the very reasons he gives. Not so however when he then goes on to say: "Nevertheless, I think that we ought to value many things - and perhaps the environment among them - intrinsically, for their own sake." If I was to criticise this latter statement, I would probably start by saying much of what's said here. Value only makes sense when it has a valuer: if we value something, then we're saying it's a value to us. That might make it many things -- either a subjective value or an objective one for instance -- but it doesn't make it an intrinsic value. Nothing does.

# Moving on: now this just cries out to be corrected: Ruth objects to ending the War on Drugs, not because -- as she's previously complained -- dirty druggies would take over town, but because instead of arresting them and sending them to jail, the State instead would be regulating and taxing them. "That sounds like a real increase in personal freedom doesn't it?" blusters Ruth. "Think of all the money it would save us! As a taxpayer I'd rather keep paying for the War on Drugs - it's the lesser evil by a long shot." Makes no sense. Feel free to tell her why.

# And Berend has asked me a few good questions over the last few days. One I must respond to is his question about Montessori: "You must like the freedom part, but it seems you studiously avoid giving an opinion on the philosophy behind it. But we're not afraid to hear it..." And I'm not afraid to give it. With only the very mildest of disagreements, I am enthusiastically and philosophically in agreement with the Montessori philosophy. It is conceptual, reality-based education that encourages independence, clear-thinking, and an ongoing love of learning -- and it does that by responding precisely to the way humans acquire, store and use knowledge. IMO there is no pedagogical system to touch it. (Hope that didn't frighten you. :-) )

# (And to the chap who's wondering why his comment was just deleted: this site doesn't host endorsements of professional racists. Think on that if you visit here again.)

Raglan success

I'm heading to Raglan tonight, so I'm damn glad this thing (right) was caught and killed, and not left to swim free. Herald story here.

And for what it's worth, a few surfers and some Hector's Dolphin might be equally pleased.
[Fisherman Warwick] Harris said the marine monster probably went a long way to explaining the fall in numbers of rare Hector dolphins - which had been blamed on commercial fishermen.

"Hector dolphins would be Mallow-puffs to something like that," he said.
Photo: NZ Herald

Stossel on guns & charity

Does Big Government discourage private charity? Sure does. Does gun control reduce crime? Betcha life it doesn't. ABC journalist John Stossel argues both cases, and pretty well.

In the first instance, Stossell talks about mutual aid societies and the like that flourished before state welfare did:
In the 1920s -- the last decade before the Roosevelt administration launched its campaign to federalize nearly everything -- 30 percent of American men belonged to mutual aid societies, groups of people with similar backgrounds who banded together to help members in trouble. They were especially common among minorities.

Mutual aid societies paid for doctors, built orphanages and cooked for the poor. Neighbors knew best what neighbors needed. They were better at making judgments about who needs a handout and who needed a kick in the rear. They helped the helpless, but administered tough love to the rest. They taught self-sufficiency.

Mutual aid didn't solve every problem, so government stepped in. But government didn't solve every problem either. Instead, it caused more problems by driving private charity out...
More here. And how about gun control? Surely guns are dnagerous. They are "But myths are dangerous, too," says Stossel. "Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people." Gun control is bad law says Stossel. Challenge yourself and see if you agree with him.

[Hat tip Stephen Hicks and Zen Tiger]

Montessori School Project -- Organon Architecture

Thursday, 20 October 2005

A Round Table

I just heard Radio Live's political reporter describe what she saw in the middle of the room when she went into the Beehive's Cabinet Room this afternoon for the first session. "It's a big round table," she said, "with a great big hole in the middle."

Not a bad way to describe the new Clark Administration really, is it?

New Game: How many can you abolish?

Here's a new game, proposed by Mike Heine at Act on Campus. He's come up with fifteen Ministers and their associated ministries, departments and real estate that coud face the chop without the world being any the poorer for their loss -- indeed, quite the reverse! -- and he's wondering if anyone might have a longer list.

Well Mike, I guess mine is bigger than yours...

MMP or not?

The MMP electoral system used in New Zealand and Germany is a mess. Sure, we can look forward every three years or so to several weeks of no government -- something for which we can at least be thankful -- but when the new Government is inevitably formed it frequently looks like a mongrel combination of both fish and fowl, and it frequently ends up spending even more than it would otherwise due to the need to buy off smaller parties (did someone say Families Commission, solar panels and Superannuation?).

Political paralysis is one of the features of the MMP system; while all the MMP-generated ducking and shoving does perhaps discourage significant reform, when the appetite for reform is mostly in the direction of more government rather than less, it seems to me that any paralyis is a good thing. When 'reform' means the imposition of more meddling, as it usually does in Helengrad, then a handbrake is what you need, not the promise of an open road. Frederic Sautet of the Austrian Economist has surveyed the landscape after the recent German and NZ elections however, and he disagrees:
Germany and New Zealand are in difficult situations: they both have similar electoral systems and they both have coalition governments. Whether Merkel will be able to implement social change à la Ludwig Erhard is difficult to say. While this is what Germany badly needs, my guess is that it won’t happen. As for Clark, she will be in the hands of her coalition partners and more backsliding is to be expected for the next three years in NZ.
In Clark's case, 'backsliding' is to be encouraged; imagine what she'd be doing if she really had her druthers.

A new school

I went to the lauch last night of a new secondary school in Parnell, the Montessori College of Auckland, part of a worldwide movement developing new Montessori secondary schools in response to overwhelming parent demand (read about one of the standard-bearers, David Kahn's Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio). Maria Montessori's first elementary school, the Casa dei Bambini, was set up by her in Rome's slums in 1907, and there are now literally thousands of elementary and primary schools around the world offering the Montessori philosophy of "freedom through a prepared environment."

New Zealand's first use of the Montessori Method was in 1912 at an elementary school in Wellington run by Suzanne Aubert. We now have just over eighty elementary Montessori Schools and twenty or so primary Montessori schools (some history here). The Montessori College of Auckland will be New Zealand's second Montessori secondary school -- the first, Athena College in Wellington's Willis St, was opened in 2002; Athena sees "the city as its campus," and offers students access to such resources as Te Papa, the Wellington Library and Victoria University's Science department. Students take their lessons around the city, each carrying a mobile phone to keep in touch, a concrete expression of Maria Montessori's educational philosophy of encouraging student's independence.

Parnell's Montessori College is being set up by some inspirational parents who want the very best for their own children, and who have worked for some years to set up this school so they can get it. I wish them well.

Secession Building, Vienna -- Josef Maria Olbrich

Built in 1897 to house and publicise exhibitions by the Vienna Secessionists, which included such characters as Gustav Klimt, Otto Wagner and (originally at any rate) Josef Hoffman.

Klimt's poster for the first exhibition is below.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Congrats

Congratulations to TinCanMan -- he's a new Dad. Call in to his site and give him your best now before he's too sleep deprived to notice.

Top ten searches

Haven't done this for a while, so here's a look at what searches are landing up here. As usual there's some odd ones in the top ten or so searches for this last while (all rankings are for Google unless otherwise indicated):

plan halle-neustadt (16th)
fordham spire (not on front page)
differences chinese schools and australian schools (not on front page)
carl weiman (not on front page)
lesbian oppression (1st, Google Images)
last person out of britain please turn out the lights picture (1st)
serj tankian engaged to red-head australian (not on front page)
rothbard environmentalism (not on front page)
free hardcore lesbian porn (26th at search.earthlink.net)
brian tamaki (not on front page)
troglodyte cartoon (not on front page)
nick kim cartoons (not on Google's front page -- check out the 'Cartoons' on the sidebar if you're looking for more of Nick's fine cartoons)
helengrad (26th)
ayn rand bogus rights (12th)

How well do you know PC?

How well do you really want to? If you have the misfortune to call me a friend, then you might like to see how well you really know me...

Have a go here at the FriendTest. [Hat tip Andrew Falloon]

Glasgow School of Art -- Charles Rennie Mackintosh











Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art of (designed 1906-7; completed 1909) was one of the twentieth Century's first true architectural masterpieces. Mackintosh designed it at the age of just twenty-eight.

That's a model (above) of the completed building, the Library (below, left and right) and the West facade (left)

A film showing some of Mackintosh's work is available at this site. And a 3d 'tour' of Mackintosh's beautiful light-filled Hill House Drawing Room is available at this site. It's amazing what you find on the old Interweb when you decide to really look.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Bad joke Foreign Minister for Kiwis

There's a somewhat common theme in many of the reports of this new Government from overseas centres. This is what is being read about this Government by those who are or would be thinking about investing in New Zealand:

Bad joke Foreign Minister for Kiwis
Australian, Australia
WINSTON Peters - an outspoken, anti-immigration protectionist who promotes racial profiling of Muslims - will become the public face of New Zealand on the world stage. [Cartoon right.]

Labour's Clark forms NZ coalition
BBC News, UK
New Zealand's Labour party has made a deal with smaller parties on leading a coalition government... The leader of the anti-immigration, nationalist New Zealand First Party has been named foreign affairs minister.

NZ's Labour Party ready to form new gov't
Japan Today, Japan
SYDNEY — New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Monday that her Labour Party has finalized arrangements with minor parties to enable it to form a new government with a majority in Parliament.

New Zealand's Clark forms govt
News24, South Africa
As part of the extensive deal-making, populist New Zealand First Party leader WinstonPeters - who once claimed New Zealand was being "colonised" by Asians - has been appointed foreign minister.

Protectionist Peters may get top NZ post
Manila Times, Phillipines
A REPORT by Ray Lilley of AP seems to bode ill for the growing number of Filipino migrants and contract workers in New Zealand. The leader of a small nationalist party is likely to receive three Cabinet posts in New Zealand’s new Labour-led government, including the key post of foreign minister...

NZ's Clark Will Form Government With Minor Parties (Update2)
Bloomberg - 15 hours ago
Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark will form a new government with support from three minor parties after offering ministerial positions to their leaders... ``Clark and Cullen have proven they are good at making governments work,'' said [the National Bank's Cameron] Bagrie. ``No one will be in a hurry to call an early election.''

Clark retains power in NZ
Sydney Morning Herald (subscription), Australia
Prime Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand with a deal clinched by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister.

New Zealand Labour PM Clark wins historic third term
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates
WELLINGTON - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark wrote herself into the nation’s history books on Monday as she announced the formation of her third consecutive government...Clark is a steely social democrat with an austere image that critics label arrogance. Opponents have sometimes referred to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital and seat of parliament, as Helengrad - hinting that her tough control of the strings of power has a hint of the former Soviet Union about it.

Populist Peters in NZ power exchange
Brisbane Courier Mail, Australia
PRIME Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister...

NZ gets new Labour-led government
Aljazeera.net, Qatar
Acting Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced a deal with minor parties to form a new Labour-led coalition government, naming an outspoken anti-immigration

NZ: CONTROVERSIAL APPOINTMENT
Special Broadcasting Service, Australia - 11 hours ago
Prime Minister Helen Clark has retained power in New Zealand with a deal clinched by making outspoken, anti-migrant populist Winston Peters her new foreign minister.

Protectionist Peters may get top NZ post
Australian Financial Review, Australia

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And isn't it interesting how even the Hard Labour bloggers have been rather unamused about their Government, the one that's been Frankensteined together with a wish, a prayer and a load of messy promises. Jordan Carter is representative: "The Third Term begins - in an arrangement marked by constitutional innovations and odd people in odd places." And Roy at About Town says " Oh great, I should have voted National"! Good solid support there for these unique constitutional innovations.