Saturday, February 17, 2007

Queen Mary 2's dramatic dawn entrance into Auckland

The Herald has pictures of the Queen Mary 2's dramatic dawn entrance into Auckland harbour this morning.

Another weekend ramble: Slavery, warming, cooling, quantum and lust!

A ramble this morning through a few things that caught my eye this week, and saved up for you for the weekend.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Beer O’Clock – Coopers Pale Ale

Sense on real beer in this week's Beer O'Clock post from Neil at Real Beer.

When I was last in Sydney I totally fell for Coopers Pale Ale. I’m not good with hot weather and so the frequent stops in cool, shady pubs were purely medicinal. Many of the pubs served only the cold, over-fizzed mainstream 'beers' like Toohey’s or Castlemaine (and interestingly, none sold Foster’s in the distinctive blue can…)

However, an encouraging number of places stocked Coopers Pale Ale on tap. This was a most wondrous and revitalising tonic.

I was delighted when it made an appearance on our shelves a couple of years ago but, like the winners of New Zealand Idol -- in which cases their disappearance was a blessing -- the sightings of Coopers quickly faded out of sight. Far from a blessing, and much unlike those “winners,” this beer was sorely missed.

Happily it has now returned, and in even greater numbers, and seemingly with much greater security of supply -- even if at this stage it is only available in bottled form. Thank your god for small blessings.

Coopers is the only privately owned and family controlled large brewery in Australia (despite a rather determined effort from Lion last year). It was founded by Thomas Cooper, a Methodist Preacher from Yorkshire, who made his first beer from an old family recipe to cure his wife’s illness in the 1850s. The beer become so popular locally that he established the brewer in the new colony of South Australia in 1862.

The irony is that Thomas Cooper the preacher frowned on dancing, card games and pubs even as he made thousands of litres of beer.

Coopers specialise in natural ales and stouts fermented with no preservatives or additives. Many are bottle conditioned with the yeast still in the bottle and the Pale Ale does have a light cloudiness as a result.

There is a story that you do not get a hangover from bottle conditioned beer because of the Vitamin B in the yeast. Sadly, this is not true. Not true at all. Goodness knows how such a story got about.

This Pale Ale pours an attractive slightly cloudy gold in the glass. It has a firm nose of orange and green apple which the body is robust and fresh with plenty of citrus and just a touch of vanilla. It has a delightfully crisp and bitter finish.

It’s a lovely drop, and now you don’t have to cross the Tasman to enjoy it.

Cheers, Neil

LINKS: Coopers Brewery
Society for Beer Advocates
The Real Beer Blog

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

New blog: Quatsch

New blog here for you to bookmark, by someone called 'Aunty Q':
Quatsch* A sometimes pernickity and curmudgeonly assessment of modern New Zealand under the (shop) stewardship of Gewerkschaftler Clark and the Arbeiterbewegung.
Let me know what you think.

I'm going to school tomorrow.

It's true. I'm going to school tomorrow: Montessori School.

It's now one-hundred years since Dr Maria Montessori (left) established her first school, a Casa dei Bambini, in the slums of Rome, and from there it spread right around the world. The Montessori Centenary website celebrates the achievement.

Right around the world this year the centenary of that happy event is being celebrated. New Zealand Montessori schools around the country celebrate tomorrow by opening their doors -- why not join them?

You can find what your local Montessori school is doing, along with more information about Montessori education, at the Montessori Association (NZ) press release on the centenary events.

As for me, I'll be in Torbay joining in at the Titoki Montessori School celebration. Why not join me?

LINKS: National open day as Montessori celebrates - Montessori Association of New Zealand, Scoop
100 years of Montessori - Montessori Association of New Zealand
Centenary of the Montessori movement - Association Montessori Internationale

RELATED:
Education, History-Twentieth Century

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Quantum computing kicks into life

Brian S. emailed me to with the news that "the world's first commercial quantum computer has been demonstrated." Quantum computers use the quantum nature of matter to exponentially expand the computing power presently possible in a machine, even with today's super-computers. News here, at the Daily Tech site.
The demonstration of the technology was held at the Computer History Museum [in Mountain View, California], but the actual hardware remained in Burnaby, British Columbia where it was being chilled down to 5 millikelvin, or minus 273.145 degrees Celsius (colder than interstellar space), with liquid helium.
If true, this is massive news. This "breakthrough in quantum technology represents a substantial step forward in solving commercial and scientific problems which, until now, were considered intractable," says the CEO of the company whose computer this is.

LINKS: World's first quantum computer demonstrated - Daily Tech

RELATED:
Science

US global warming hearing cancelled after "ice storm"

A note from the US House of Representatives for those who enjoy irony:
HOUSE HEARING ON 'WARMING OF THE PLANET' CANCELED AFTER ICE STORM
HEARING NOTICE
Tue Feb 13 2007 19:31:25 ET
The Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality hearing scheduled for Wednesday, February 14, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building has been postponed due to inclement weather. The hearing is entitled ³Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?²
The hearing will be rescheduled to a date and time to be announced later.
DC WEATHER REPORT:
Wednesday: Freezing rain in the morning. Total ice accumulation between one half to three quarters of an inch. Brisk with highs in the mid 30s. North winds 10 to 15 mph...increasing to northwest 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.
I figured some of you might enjoy that. I certainly did.

RELATED: Global Warming

Greens pay up

From our PayItBack Watch:
The Green Party yesterday presented a cheque for $87,082 to cover the amount identified in the Auditor General's report as being outside his interpretation of the rules... "The Green MPs and Co-Leader Russel Norman each paid their share of the amount from their own pocket while the party itself also contributed a large amount."We are incredibly grateful to our members and supporters who rallied around and helped to raise about half of the total amount.
Who's next? Anyone?

UPDATE: Still $1,054,325 of your money to be paid back (and, you might argue, a stolen election to return), and only 136 days until the "end of the financial year"when Helen has promised to pay back her lump -- whenever exactly "end of the financial year" is for the Clark Government.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

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"The invisible hand of the market doesn't deliver a sustainable nation." True or false?

"The invisible hand of the market doesn't deliver a sustainable nation." So said Prime Minister Helen Clark on Tuesday in her Statement to Parliament setting out her priorities for the year ahead.

IS THAT TRUE? If we assume here that "sustainable" means something like, "good for the environment," is it really true to say that the invisible hand of the market doesn't deliver a good environment?

Well, no it's not. In fact, quite the reverse. As Czech president Vaclav Klaus pointed out earlier this week:
We know that there exists a huge correlation between the care we give to the environment on one side, and wealth and technological prowess on the other side. It's clear that the poorer the society is, the more brutally it behaves with respect to Nature, and vice versa. It's also true that there exist social systems that damage Nature - by eliminating private ownership and similar things - much more than the freer societies.
It's indisputably true that the wealthier the country and the better its respect for property rights, the better its environment. Think about the environmental basket-cases that were Soviet Eastern Europe -- those places where the market's invisible and benevolent hand had been absent for nearly a century when the Berlin Wall fell in 1990, and compare that to how Western Europe looked.

Message to Helen then from Vaclav Klaus: It is the invisible hand of the market that delivers wealth: The wealthier a country, the cleaner its environment. Nevil Gibson continues the lesson in the NBR:
The government’s commitment to sustainable energy policies pales by comparison with what is already being achieved in the [US, the] nation Labour’s supporters most like to hate. And it was done before Helen Clark embraced the green cause...
The answer is the opposite to Helen Clark’s claim that the market cannot deliver. In the US it clearly has, through the adoption of cleaner technologies and a vast amount of investment.
Gibson points out that while Helen Clark blathers, the US is already doing better than both talk-is-cheap NZ and regulation-happy Europe in Kyoto emissions growth, in using more efficient and cleaner fuels, and in "the actual achievements" of the US and its partners in the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which is made of up countries that account for about half of the world’s population, economic output and energy use.
The partnership is based on market principles and has embarked on 100 projects that will deliver reduced greenhouse gases, cleaner air and less poverty in the industrialised areas of Asia.

In [bureaucrat Kurt] Volker’s words, ‘…the only way for these [developing] countries to minimise the increase in greenhouse gas emissions as their energy demand soars with economic growth is through the market application of cleaner technologies. We need to develop these technologies and bring them to the marketplaces of the developing world.’
Message to Helen, courtesy of Nevil Gibson: "[The invisible hand of the market offers] a far better and more realistic solution than believing a government’s ‘visible hand’ will best deliver a sustainable nation." Too right.


LET ME OFFER Helen two further examples from unlikely places. The first is from Sand County, Wisconsin (above), the home of the father of Deep Ecology, Aldo Leopold, and the base from which he wrote the founding text of Deep Ecology, his Sand County Almanac. The area around Leopold's estate are now run not by a government department, but by a private foundation. This is intentional. Leopold’s belief was that conservation had to be a voluntary proposition, that no other arrangement can work (and DoC's many conservation failures are testament to that too, aren't they).

As this article and interview notes, the Sand County Foundation "has become a world leader in free-market environmentalism, setting an example of sound science and voluntary private action well worth emulating." According to the Foundation, in this they are simply following Leopold's principles, when he said:
Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land. When both become poorer by reason of their coexistence, we don’t have conservation. When both are richer, we have conservation.
So contra Clark, Leopold himself seemed to believe that the visible hand of the state is not the way for serious conservationists to proceed, and that perhaps the invisible hand of the market provides better environmental outcomes. As the Leopold Foundation's president Brent Haglund affirms, in a further lesson for Helen:
Good habitat management doesn’t cost, it pays. Good habitat management that takes advantage of science can be a cost-effective means for improving wildlife and wildflower populations and communities.
THAT SAME LESSON has just been learned in Niger, Africa. As The Commons Blog points out, even the traditionally pro-bigger-government journalists at The New York Times have noticed "how property rights to trees growing on farmers' land have contributed to both economic growth, agricultural productivity and conservation in Niger at virtually no cost."
In this dust-choked region, long seen as an increasingly barren wasteland decaying into desert, millions of trees are flourishing, thanks in part to poor farmers whose simple methods cost little or nothing at all...
[D]etailed satellite images and on-the-ground inventories of trees, have found that Niger, a place of persistent hunger and deprivation, has recently added millions of new trees and is now far greener than it was 30 years ago.
These gains, moreover, have come at a time when the population of Niger has exploded, confounding the conventional wisdom that population growth leads to the loss of trees and accelerates land degradation, scientists studying Niger say...
What contributed to the success? Apparently greater rainfall and property rights! As the article elaborates:
Another change was the way trees were regarded by law. From colonial times, all trees in Niger had been regarded as the property of the state, which gave farmers little incentive to protect them. Trees were chopped for firewood or construction without regard to the environmental costs. Government foresters were supposed to make sure the trees were properly managed, but there were not enough of them to police a country nearly twice the size of Texas. But over time, farmers began to regard the trees in their fields as their property, and in recent years the government has recognized the benefits of that outlook by allowing individuals to own trees. Farmers make money from the trees by selling branches, pods, fruit and bark. Because those sales are more lucrative over time than simply chopping down the tree for firewood, the farmers preserve them.
As Sean Corrigan summarises at the Mises Blog, "no expensive and ill-used Western aid, no high tech inputs, no government planning, no Malthusian doom" -- indeed, beyond the protection of property rights, the visible hand of the State is entirely absent. And the result: "just a simple tale of human ingenuity, incentivised by the small matter of better property rights, overcoming an ecological disaster."

SO THE LESSON for Helen Clark from around the world is the same:
  • More market equals better environmental outcomes.
  • More secure property rights equals better environmental outcomes.
  • "The invisible hand of the market doesn't deliver a sustainable nation"? Don't believe a bloody word of it. The truth is entirely the reverse.
It shouldn't really be a surprise. After all, the science of economics is often defined as "the analysis of how finite resources are used to meet infinite wants"; you would think then that if sustainability really means anything, it must surely be the case that the science of economics has something to say about it.

Do you think there's a lesson here that Helen really wants to learn? Or that you might want to? Or even one that John Boy Key might care about? What do you think, customers?

LINKS: Vaclav Klaus: A great politician - Not PC
Who is the greenest of them all? - Nevil Gibson, NBR
Good habitat management doesn't cost, it pays: an exclusive interview with Brent Haglund, president of the Sand County Foundation - Heartland Institute
How property rights have greened the Sahel in Niger - Commons Blog
Human action in Niger - Mises Economics Blog
In Niger, Trees and Crops Turn Back the Desert - New York Times
John Key's tactics - Rodney Hide

RELATED ARTICLES: Conservation, Environment, Property Rights, Economics, Sustainability, Politics-World

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Is Nanny State uncool?

Has Nanny State become uncool? Lindsay Perigo spotted former MP Mark Peck on Mark Sainsbury's show the other night bemoaning the fact that "he doesn’t expect the push from his Smokefree Coalition for a tobacco tax hike to be successful," poor dear. The chief reason for his pessimism, he says,
is the “Nanny State” argument, which he said is “huge” and was the cause of Finance Minister Michael Cullen calling the proposal “political suicide.”
Get that? The “Nanny State” argument, and this is according to a whiny, lemon-sucking life-hating, professional puritan of the genre, is “huge.” Huge!

Does this mean we're winning? Has the soft fascism of Nanny State really become "uncool"? has it? How about we celebrate anyway with some Nanny ridicule, courtesy of the readers of B3TA.Com [hat tip Jameson]?

LINK: Nanny State is uncool - Lindsay Perigo, SOLO

RELATED: Libertarianism, Politics-NZ, Libz

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'Rainy Season in the Tropics' - Frederick Church, 1866

RELATED: Art

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My God is bigger than your God

Wanna see five-thousand years of religious history in ninety seconds? Wanna see where and when the big 'my-God's-bigger-than-your-God' battles took place? Then the 'History of Religion' at Maps of War.Com is just the place.

Five-thousand years of history in just ninety seconds. Even readers with the very shortest span of attention can manage that.

RELATED: History, Religion

What's sauce for the goose...

Hope from the Kiwi Herald:
Large numbers of MPs were today sent home with a note to their electorate committees saying that they could not return to the House until public money owed for the last election campaign is paid. The move from Speaker Margaret Wilson comes just a few days after Fielding Principal Roger Menzies barred students who owed it money from the school.
You can always hope for consistency.

LINKS: MPs sent home until they pay up - Kiwi Herald

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark

Children's wellbeing: New UN report

Not everything that's important can be measured; and not everything that's measurable is important. And of course, not everything the UN does is worth a damn. (Or indeed, is anything the UN does worth a damn? Discuss that one in the comments section if you like.)

Those opening remarks are made in the context of a UN report on 'children's well-being' released overnight and splashed all over this morning's news. It begins with this highly questionable assertion: "The true measure of a nation's standing is how well it attends to its children." You can discuss that one in the comments section too, if you like.

Already the usual suspects have emerged to make hay from the survey. Director of the Public Health Association Gay Keating, for instance (the text is from a literal transcription of her radio interview this morning):
We really devalue our chooldren... We've forgotten that chooldren are important.. We really aren't looking after our kuds... Too many of our chooldren don't get to adulthood. We kool them off!
What's the "we," white man? I didn't kill those kids. Did you?

But what about the report? There are certainly elements here that are important:
  • "Only 82 per cent of Kiwi infants are now immunised against polio by the age of 2, compared with the OECD average of 94 per cent."
  • NZ is at "absolute bottom on the proportion of young people who were still in fulltime or part-time education aged 15 to 19 in 2003 - only 67 per cent against 82.1 per cent in Australia and an OECD average of 82.5. Far more young people continued in education in this age group in central and northern Europe - 89 per cent in Germany, 90 in the Czech Republic and 94 per cent in top-ranking Belgium."
  • "New Zealand's teenage birth rate has now passed Britain's, moving us up from third to second-highest among developed countries."
But not everything that's important can be measured, so in all such surveys, proxies are used as substitutes for the real thing. Take for example what the report titles "Relationships." NZ children are badly off in this respect, says the report. Why?
Asked "how often do your parents eat the main meal with you around a table?", only 64.4 per cent of Kiwi 15-year-olds answered "several times a week", compared with an OECD average of 79.4 per cent. Only Finnish youngsters eat with their parents less often.
Not everything that's measurable is important. This is not important.

And how about this?
New Zealand scores even worse - worst in the developed world - on the number of children under 19 killed in accidents and injuries, including violence, murder and suicide.
Now that doesn't sound good, does it. Are you sure? Without the report in front of me it's not possible to see how the accidents/injuries/violence/murder/suicide ratio is made up, but I suspect many of these could be considered 'adventure' deaths -- part of the 'cost' associated with living in an outdoors-loving country. New Zealand children are more active than, say, the English; probably spend more time having adventures outdoors than, say, the Dutch or the Beligians; and despite the best efforts of many government agencies, NZ children aren't yet completely wrapped up in a nannying, cotton-wool culture as they are in, say, England, or the States, where warnings and worry about every damn thing abound.

And what the survey wouldn't measure, for example, is the number of children turning themselves braindead by sitting inside fiddling with their Playstation -- which is bound to be higher in places like, say, the States. Or places where you can't go outside all winter, like Canada, or Scandinavia.

And how accurate is the report anyway? Says welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell, not very.
First, some of the figures are hopelessly out of date, and second, some are quite dubious.
So if Mitchell can be believed -- and I believe her -- it's not very accurate at all. As an example, Mitchell takes issue with this assertion:
On average, 95 per cent of the children in developed countries live in homes where at least one parent is in paid work. New Zealand fell slightly below the average when these figures were gathered in 2000, with only 93 per cent of children living with a parent in paid work. Only six countries, including Australia and Britain, scored lower.
Get that? "Only 93 per cent of [New Zealand] children living with a parent in paid work." But these figures were produced using estimates, notes Mitchell, and using census figures -- and UN reports calling for more government meddling are just the sort of thing census advocates advocate such figures should be used for -- she suggests that the figure could just as easily be 79 percent. Or even 71 percent.

And does this report really call for more government meddling then? You don't think the conclusion is a coincidence?
The Netherlands topped the report issued by UNICEF, followed by other European countries with strong social welfare systems - Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
So despite some interesting reading, perhaps this report should be filed with the failed report on the cost of building materials released yesterday by Councillor Richard Northey -- which neglected to take into account the different exchange rates for different currencies [Duh!] -- and with most stuff produced by the NZ Qualifications Authority -- whose latest confession is that they might have neglected to mark some of last years exams.

Just file them all under "Not Achieved," I say.

UPDATE: Everyone loves bad news. Looks like the glass is half-full in British and American newspapers as well. See:
Is Britain the worst place to grow up? - The Scotsman
British kids bottom of UN welfare league table - Daily Record (Scotland)
British children unhappiest in the Western world - The Times
UNICEF: US, British children worst off - Miami Herald (AP)

LINKS: A great place for kids. Oh really? -- NZ Herald
Dubious UNICEF statistics - Lindsay Mitchell
Annan UN disgrace - Not PC (Dec, 2006)
What's with the 'we'? - Not PC
Excusing the bash - Not PC (July, 2006)
Bad maths put house contrast way out - NZ Herald
Non-marking of NCEA papers seen as one-off incident by NZQA - Radio NZ

RELATED: New Zealand, Politics-NZ, Health, Education, Building, Housing

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Two Renovations - Organon Architecture



Two renovation projects currently on the boards at Organon Architecture -- one in Mt Eden, and one further south.

RELATED POSTS: Architecture

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Libertarianz - Fighting for your right to party!

There have been five cracking Libertarianz press releases in recent days that intelligent Not PC readers will want to catch up with:
  • Lib Nik Haden is face-to-face with the Grey Ones in court this afternoon, being prosecuted for burning his Census papers. Nik Haden: Census Prosecutions Morally Wrong.
    It is a shocking indictment on the state of our society that political protesters who have harmed nothing and nobody can be hauled before the court in this manner," Mr Haden said.
  • "David Benson-Pope's trumpeting of low unemployment rates is ill-conceived tripe," says Peter Osborne in Stick a Tennis Ball in it David.

  • "The fundamental fallacies of state-run saving and investment schemes have become apparent with the fight over the merits of the Cullen Fund's investment in 'unethical' corporations," explains Greg Balle in Labour's Profound Monetary Ignorance.

  • And leader Bernard Darnton sagely observes that, not for the first time, Labour is Confused Over Doing the Right Thing.
And of course today Richard Goode has launched a petition to save party pills. Read about it here at Scoop: Libertarianz launches Party Pill petition

The Party Pill petition can be downloaded from the Libertarianz website: www.lp.org.nz. Please give it your support.

Libertarianz - Fighting for your right to party!

UPDATE 1, CENSUS: Nik Haden talked to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB this afternoon about his appearance in court today for burning his census form. It's a great interview. Audio here courtesy of Newstalk ZB. [MP3 Audio]

UPDATE 2, PARTY PILLS PETITION: From Libz leader Bernard Darnton:
Please everyone, go the Libz website, download a copy of the petition and, at the very minimum, sign it and send it back. Better still, get plenty of other people to sign it. This is a live issue that urgently needs your support.

To get get maximum impact, please print off a bunch of copies and take them round to your local party pill shops and ask them to keep a few copies on the counter for their customers to sign. If we can get this petition into the places where BZP users buy their pills we can get far more signatures.

Another good way to gather signatures would be to take the petition out on a Friday or Saturday night to places where party pills are sold and ask for signatures directly. The more the better. Here's a real live opportunity to stand up against the busybodies and strike a blow for freedom.
RELATED: Libz, Politics-NZ, Victimless Crimes, Welfare, Darnton V Clark, Economics

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A great politician

While Helen Clark was awash in a feel-good sea of sustainability yesterday -- blathering ineffectually about biofuels, climate change and how many trees six government departments are going to plant to save the planet -- another world leader was making much more sense.

Since 1990 (and in distinct contrast to our own unfortunate history in this regard) the Czech Republic has been blessed with two wonderful leaders: first 'velvet revolutionary' Václav Havel -- described by Reason magazine as "our era's George Orwell" -- and now Václav Klaus.

Václav Klaus is not a warmist. Speaking to a Czech economics daily, Klaus deconstructed the IPCC climate panel of the United Nations, and their latest Summary for Policymakers released in Paris earlier this month. Harvard physicist Luboš Motl translates Czech to 'Czenglish':
  • [Questions and answers about European politics are omitted]
  • ...
  • Q: On Wednesday, the European Commission has approved carbon dioxide caps for new cars. One week earlier, the U.N. IPCC climate panel released a report that has described, once again, the global warming as one of the major threats for the whole civilization. The Stern report about similar threats was published before that. And you suddenly say that the global warming is a myth. Try to explain, how did you get this idea, Mr President?
  • A: It's not my idea. Global warming is a myth and I think that every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It's neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment. Also, it's an undignified slapstick that people don't wait for the full report in May 2007 but instead respond, in such a serious way, to the summary for policymakers where all the "but's" and "if's" are scratched, removed, and replaced by oversimplified theses.
    This is clearly such an incredible failure of so many people, from journalists to politicians... If the European Commission is instantly going to buy such a trick, we have another very good reason to think that the countries themselves, not the Commission, should be deciding about similar issues.

  • Q: How do you explain that there is no other comparably senior statesman in Europe who would advocate this viewpoint? No one else has such strong opinions...
  • A: My opinions about this issue simply are strong. Other top-level politicians do not express their global warming doubts because a whip of political correctness strangles their voice.

  • Q: But you're not a climate scientist. Do you have a sufficient knowledge and enough information?
  • A: Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me. The second part of the sentence should be: we also have lots of reports, studies, and books of climatologists whose conclusions are diametrally opposite.
    Indeed, I never measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica. I really don't know how to do it, I don't plan to learn it, and I don't pretend to be an expert in such measurements. However, as a scientifically oriented person, I know how to read science reports about these questions, for example about ice in Antarctica. I don't have to be a climate scientist myself to read them. And inside the papers I have read, the conclusions we may see in the media simply don't appear. But let me promise you something: this topic troubles me which is why I started to write an article about it last Christmas. The article grew in size and it became a book. In a couple of months, it will be published. One chapter out of seven will organize my opinions about the climate change.
    Environmentalism and green ideology is something very different from climate science. Various findings and screams of scientists are abused by this ideology.

  • Q: How do you explain that conservative media are skeptical while the left-wing media view the global warming as a done deal?
  • A: It is not quite exactly divided to the left-wingers and right-wingers. Nevertheless it's obvious that environmentalism is a new incarnation of modern leftism.

  • Q: If you look at all these things, even if you were right ...
  • A: ...I am right...

  • Q: ...Isn't there enough empirical evidence and facts we can see with our eyes that imply that Man is demolishing the planet and himself?
  • A: It's such a nonsense that I have probably not heard a bigger nonsense yet.
  • Q: Don't you believe that we're ruining our planet?
  • A: I will pretend that I haven't heard you. Perhaps only Mr Al Gore may be saying something along these lines: a sane person hardly. I don't see any ruining of the planet, I have never seen it, and I don't think that a reasonable and serious person could say that he has. Look: you represent the economic media so I expect a certain economical erudition from you. My book will answer these questions. For example, we know that there exists a huge correlation between the care we give to the environment on one side and the wealth and technological prowess on the other side. It's clear that the poorer the society is, the more brutally it behaves with respect to Nature, and vice versa.
    It's also true that there exist social systems that are damaging Nature - by eliminating private ownership and similar things - much more than the freer societies. These tendencies become important in the long run. They unambiguously imply that today, on February 8th, 2007, Nature is protected incomparably more than on February 8th ten years ago or fifty years ago or one hundred years ago.
    That's why I ask: how can you pronounce the sentence you said? Perhaps if you're unconscious? Or did you mean it as a provocation only? And maybe I am just too naive and I allowed you to provoke me to give you all these answers, am I not? It is more likely that you simply present your honest opinion.
  • ...
  • [Questions and answers about Czech politics omitted]
Oh for similar sense from a NZ politician -- from any side of the aisle!

LINKS: Václav Klaus on global warming - The Reference Frame
Such timidity - DPF
Retirement of a velvet revolutionary - Peter Cresswell, SOLO

RELATED: Global Warming, Politics-World, History-Modern

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The Vampire Economy

From 1939 comes an on-the-spot account of "how the Nazis crushed the private sector and hamstrung the economy with vast regulations, violations of property rights, inflation, price controls, and taxes..." So much, so familiar for a modern-day reader. The book is now available as a free PDF, and also as a print on demand book, thanks to the Mises Institute.

The book, The Vampire Economy: Doing Business Under Fascism contains a fascinating diagram (reproduced below) describing the process whereby simple purchases were made in this complex regulatory maze. Anyone familiar with New Zealand's Resource Consent process will feel quite familiar with it.

LINK: The Vampire Economy: Guenter Reiman - Mises Economics Blog
Cue Card Libertarianism - Fascism - Not PC
Nazism = socialism = totalitarianism - Not PC

RELATED: Politics, History-Twentieth Century, Economics

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Non-nuclear aid is propping up a slave state

DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): North Korea to "end nuclear programme"
North Korea has promised to wind down its nuclear programme in return for a package of international aid and the normalisation of relations with America.
Comments Liberty Scott,
Unless it can be verified, this deal is nothing more than a way to prop up a slave state, a slave state that gets little criticism or protests from those who claim to give a damn about human rights.
I doubt you'll see this "diplomatic success" described so bluntly elsewhere. But it's true, isn't it.

Rugby, soccer, and AFL.

Two stories this morning on three sports.

First, soccer. David Beckham is to star in some movie or other: Doubts are raised over his acting ability; Helen Mirren says he might make a silent movie actor, and Beckham tells a television interviewer he has no doubts about his acting ability since he has to "act on the field."

That pretty says all you need to know about soccer, doesn't it. Acting wins. Just ask Italy -- a Hollywood won them the Soccer World Cup.

Now to rugby, and today's Herald headline: .
Rugby: Game is poor entertainment says departing Wallaby coach
Departing Wallabies kicking coach Ben Perkins has unleashed a withering broadside on rugby.
Perkins, who quit his post on Sunday... said rugby was poor entertainment... A part-time kicking coach for AFL side Port Adelaide, Perkins worked with Wallabies goalkickers Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau and John Eales among others over a decade.

"If you go to training, like I have in rugby for the last 10 years, it is a struggle because there's such a lack of creativity there," he said.

"It's so bent on, 'oh, it's scrum time, it's lineout time, it's defence time, it's rucks and mauls time', whereas if you go to Australian Rules training ... it's exciting, there's so much activity and there's balls and running everywhere. For me, it's a much better game."
He's right you know. Maybe when Perkins moves to Queenstown to "ski and play golf" the NZAFL could offer him a job as Development Officer?

LINKS: The head butt felt around the world - The bastardly smile
Rugby: Game is poor entertainment says departing Wallaby coach - NZ Herald

RELATED: Sport

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Hapua St townhouse - Claude Megson



A 1974 Claude Megson townhouse currently for sale, and going under the hammer 7 march. Details and more pictures at the Barfoots' sale site.

LINKS: Remuera Townhouse: Living Sculpture - Barfoots
The Claude Megson blog

RELATED: Architecture, Auckland

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

V-Day

A potentially far more important question than what Helen Clark is proposing in her Speech to the Throne this afternoon -- tax and tax, spend and spend; more spin, more 'sustainability' and less carbon seem to be the predictable order of the afternoon -- is what to do about Valentine's Day tomorrow.

Idle Vice's Mrs Smith has the answer for blokes.
"For at least the first Valentine's Day with someone, you have to front up with goods. If you don't, you look like a cheap, clueless bastard... It doesn’t have to be flowers, but if you don't give her something that will make her friends eyes pop out with envy, the relationship will be over within a fortnight.
Thoughts may at this moment run wild.

If it's not the first, however, then Mrs Smith says don't bother, "as the occasion is an American vulgarism that really should not be encouraged." And if you haven't already ordered the flowers, you're stuffed anyway, she says. In which case then, there's always beer.

Any advice for the ladies? Or from?

UPDATE 1: I love MikeE's comment below:
Personally I like Clark's suggestion of carbon neutral govt.
I'm assuming we achieve that by shutting the government down.
UPDATE 2: Cactus Kate has V-Day advice for, well, all of us. I won't be taking mine.

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Seeing spiders

A friend called in yesterday who's just returned from a year living on Pitcairn Island.

It cost her a large part of her life savings to make the move, and sadly it didn't go too well for her. Among the many interesting stories she had to tell, the very worst thing about the place, she said, is the spiders. That's a 'small' one there on the right. Click on it to see it closer to full size -- unless of course you're arachnophobic. Like my friend.

These are the ones that Stephen Spielberg should have used in Arachnophobia, she reckons. They're everywhere, and they're enormous -- and unlike other spiders that run away when you move towards them, these ones move towards you.

Wafa Sultan: "Cracks in the Islamic prison"

Here is an interview with the always inspirational Wafa Sultan which is well worth the nine minutes it takes to view -- it is demonstrably better than any nine minutes seen on NZ television thus year. She makes several important points about the nature of Islam, and what it will take to change it:
  • "We Muslim people have been hostage to our own belief systems, for too many centuries. We have been hostages in our own prison."
  • Islam itself is a prison. Salvoes from outside, such as the publication of the Danish cartoons, are the only way to effect cracks in that prison.
  • Many people who are trapped in the prison of Islam welcomed the publication of the Danish cartoons; they live in hope that such things will eventually overturn the prison walls.
  • It is important to realise that Islam is not just a religion; it is a religious movement combined with a political movement -- a political movement based on violence. The two parts need to be severed, and the violence expunged.
  • Islam can't be reformed, it must be transformed.
It reminds me of two points made by black Americans. The first is the reminder by Thomas Sowell, that cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life, and we should judge them by how well they work for those within them.

The second is an argument that Malcolm X used to make: Too many American blacks, he said, still suffer from "the slave mentality; the slave mind." "Some of you," he said, "are still in prison. The prisons of your mind."

"You got to free your own mind," he demanded of them.

Wafa Sultan appears to be saying that the belief systems associated with Islamic culture are not working for those within Islam, however by the nature of that culture, Muslims will need "voices from outside" to help free themselves from the prison of their own belief systems.

Watch the interview here at You Tube, and if you want more there are many more excellent interviews with Dr Sultan linked from the same page. [Hat tip Jeremy LeRay]

LINK: "A crack in the wall" - Wafa Sultan on the Mohammed cartoons - You Tube

RELATED: Religion, Multiculturalism, Politics-World

The sprawling argument continues.

'Smart Growth' fan Tom Beard challenged my encomia to sprawl the other day. As I summarised at the end of last week, my argument was essentially that in lifestyles and the places where we live, we should be Pro-Choice:
  • Let people live where they will.
  • Restricting where and how people live is wrong, and reflects the use of force to impose the regulators' values on people who don't agree with those values.
  • The result of this imposition has been to make houses in the most regulated cities mostly unaffordable, and those in the least regulated cities most affordable.
Tom disagreed. I still intend to reply to his arguments, but I happily concede to Liberty Scott who makes several points today in response to both of us. Tom makes several claims about the effects of sprawl on transport and infrastructure; Scott, whose specialist area is transport and infrastructure, dismisses them.
  • Tom says, “More homes further away means more cars coming into the city, which means more space taken up by motorways, "bypasses" and carparks, thus impacting on the quality of life of those who've chosen to live close to the city.”
    Scott replies:
    Well hold on. If highways were privatised, these motorways wouldn’t be collectively funded by all motorists, but paid for by those using them.
  • Tom objected to the claim that ""the key factor that affects driving habits isn't population density, public transit availability, gasoline taxes or even different attitudes. It's wealth." In response, he claimed: "In Wellington, the well off use public transport as much as or more than those on lower incomes."
    Scott replies:
    He is correct and there is a very good reason for that. The higher income jobs are concentrated in downtown Wellington and the public transport system was designed so that state servants and council employees could easily get to work. Lower income jobs are in the Hutt, Porirua and the suburbs. It is far more difficult to get to these jobs by public transport, so public transport subsidies in Wellington are about subsidising the middle class and high income earners to get to work in downtown Wellington from their homes in Karori, Khandallah and Kapiti. [And I note that in Auckland, decentralisation of employment means that the final destination for the vast majority of commutes is not the central city, even though roads and public transport require most commuters to go through the city.]
Scott gives a number of examples of how "changing the pricing of transport would, in my view, make an enormous difference to how cities function and grow," and concludes, "Tom is right to suggest that there is plenty of potential for different forms of housing, including higher density to be attractive." Here we all agree. "The fundamental point is whether the market should be skewed by planning restrictions to coerce development to being in that direction... Some people want to live downtown in apartments - good for them - but if you want a house on a quarter-acre section, why is it anyone else's business as long as you pay for it, and for the associated infrastructure?"

That's it in a nutshell: Internalise costs, and let Pro-Choice principles rule.

You can read Scott's substantial response here. I highly recommend you do.

LINKS: Sorting out sprawl - Liberty Scott
A sprawling argument - Tom Beard, Well Urban
More sprawling arguments - Peter Cresswell, Not PC
Envy is making housing unaffordable - Peter Cresswell, Not PC
Sustainable cities are unaffordable cities - Peter Cresswell, Not PC

RELATED: Sprawl,
Urban Design, Politics-NZ, Housing

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NZ's 101 Must-Do's

The AA have released the results of their '101 Best Places in NZ to Visit' survey which are listed below, and like DPF, I've emboldened my own conquests -- which just to clarify means visiting Mt Cook and Mt Ruapehu rather than climbing them.

1.Mitre Peak and Milford Sound
2.Doubtful Sound
3.Bay of Islands
4.Fiordland National Park
5.Abel Tasman National Park
6.Aoraki Mt Cook
7.Coastal Kaikoura
8.Hanmer Springs
9.Camping
10.Tutukaka/The Poor Knights
11.Marlborough Sounds
12.Fox and Franz Josef glaciers
13.Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro
14.Waitomo Caves
15.Travelling the Southern Scenic Route
16.Otago Rail Experience
17.White Island (marine volcano)
18.Stewart Island
19.Arthurs Pass National Park
20.Tongariro Crossing
21.The Blue Pools of Haast Pass
22.South Westland
23.Waipoua Forest
24.Mt Taranaki
25.Lake Tekapo Observatory and Church of the Good Shepherd
26. Ulva Island (Stewart Is bird sanctuary)
27. Otago Peninsula
28. Canterbury Plains
29. Punakaiki (Pancake rocks)
30. Cape Reinga
31. Auckland Gulf Islands - Waiheke, Great Barrier, Rangitoto and Tiritiri Matangi
32. Kicking the autumn leaves (walking Outlet Track along the Clutha River, Wanaka)
33. Akaroa and Banks Peninsula
34. Glenorchy and Dart River
35. Farewell Spit
36. Queenstown (adventures)
37. Hokianga (Northland’s west coast)
38. Whanganui National Park
39. Cape Kidnappers
40. Lake Waikaremoana, Te Urewera National Park
41. Fine wines and fabulous foods
42. The Queen Charlotte Track
43. Lake Matheson (Fox Glacier)
44. Arrowtown
45. Orakei Korako (geothermal attraction, near Taupo)
46. TSS Earnslaw (vintage steamship)
47. Rotorua
48. Night skiing and riding at Coronet Peak
49. Dunedin City (architecture)
50. Mt Maunganui
51. Karangahake Gorge
52. Eastland SH35 (scenic coastal road journey)
53. Getting up close and personal with marine and wildlife
54. Hollyford Valley (and the Hollyford Track, Fiordland)
55. Hot Water Beach
56. Auckland’s west coast
57. Rotorua Luge, Skyrides, Skyswing
58. Kapiti Island
59. Marlborough wine trail
60. New Chums Beach, Coromandel
61. Christchurch City (beat that Auckland & Wellington!)
62. Mt Tarawera
63. Te Papa Tongarewa museum
64. The Bridge to Nowhere (Whanganui National Park)
65. Coromandel Township
66. Lake Taupo’s water attractions and Tongariro River
67. The Pinnacles
68. Te Mata Peak (Hawkes Bay)
69. Rotorua rafting
70. The Forgotten World Highway (between Taumarunui and Stratford)
71. Lake Wanaka maze
72. Moeraki Boulders
73. New Plymouth’s coastal walkway
74. Seafood City
75. Castlepoint (old seaside town)
76. Wainui Beach (Gisborne)
77. Ahipara and Shipwreck Bay
78. Buller Gorge
79. Taranaki Gardens
80. Cape Palliser (southernmost tip of the North Island)
81. Auckland War Memorial Museum
82. Raglan
83. Takaka Hill: Rameka Track Mountain (Abel Tasman National Park)
84. Whakarewarewa traditional Maori village, Rotorua
85. Waitangi Treaty Grounds
86. Rere Rock Slide, Gisborne
87. Spa and well-being (Nelson)
88. Auckland’s Sky Tower and Skyjump (not the jump)
89. Devonport and North Head
90. The Interislander
91. Auckland volcanoes
92. Central Otago
93. Port Waikato
94. Golf in an Alpine Amphitheatre (Queenstown Golf Club)
95. Hundertwasser toilet (Far North)
96. Wellington Writers’ Walk
97. Cross-country skiing (Lake Wanaka)
98. Stonehenge Aotearoa (marking the winter solstice Downunder)
99. Rugby Museum (Palmerston North)
100. Beehive and Parliament buildings
101=. Attend a Must-Do Event, North Island
101=. Attend a Must-Do Event, South Island

What a great bloody country this is. Personally, I'm a little concerned about the Karangahake Gorge (left) ranking so highly -- I'd quietly hoped that one was a closely guarded secret. Damn.

And I'm frankly appalled to see Te Papa ranking at all. In a country with so many special places, what kind of person votes for that hotbed of mediocrity as a must-do unless they're marketing the place!

LINK: 101 Must-Do's for Kiwis - Automobile Association

RELATED: New Zealand

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