Friday, 24 August 2007

Beer O'Clock: Mac's Sassy Redd

Your Beer O'Clock post this week is written by Stu. Give it up for Real Beer and the Society for Beer Advocates (SOBA).

When Lion Nathan's Mac's range was rebranded just before Christmas last year, there were a fair few beer redundancies from the old range. The much lauded 'Reserve' and 'Copperhop' got the chop, as did the highly-acclaimed 'Wicked Blonde' pilsner, the effeminate 'Blonde' and a couple of other lesser known drops. Besides the old staples of Gold and Black, only one beer actually survived the cut. That beer was Sassy Red.

This was no surprise. The beer, one of the many brainchildren of Mac's head brewer Colin Paige, has beaten off formidable local and international competition to win Best In Class trophies at the last four BrewNZ competitions. In September's BrewNZ awards it'll be gunning for five in a row, an amazing feat should Mac's manage to pull it off.

Sassy Red pours an inviting reddish bronze, with a tight off-white head. A good deal of malt nuttiness and its famous fruity 'hopsack' aroma abound on the nose. In the mouth it's medium-dry, slightly toasty, and has a huge hop burst of tropical fruit and well ripened strawberry. The bitterness is firm, tending to an iron-like intensity. Delicious. It's certainly a beer that benefits from venting - I find it a little too carbonated straight from the bottle, but by the time I'm halfway through the glass it's quite superb.

Colin Paige is rightly proud of his award winning amber ale. Pound for pound, or more appropriately dollar for dollar, it's got to be one of New Zealand's best beers. Proof that the big companies can brew great beer when they trust a good brewer. Get your head in a hopsack tonight.

AS AN ASIDE, Sassy Red's brash name has been an inspiration as much as its recipe. Murray's Brewing Co, a rising Australian craft brewery with a kiwi head brewer, has a come out with a Sassy Blonde. While Harrington's, a prolific little brewery in Christchurch, has come out with a particularly cheeky name for their hoppy amber ale: Classy Red. Check these beers out if you ever get the chance. I'm hearing good whispers from the right people about both beers.

BTW, limited tickets are still available for the BrewNZ Awards Party (Wed 12 Sep at Wellington's Shed 22. Join brewers, judges, sponsors, media, beer glitterati (that's me) and Neil Miller (our beery excellent MC) as the 2007 award winning beers are announced ($75 cocktail food and drinks inclusive). See the below link for more information.

Slainte mhath, Stu


“Wow, you’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones."

As Damien O'Connor ponders introducing electronic jamming of cellphones to NZ prisons, Stephen Franks suggests the need to jam cellphones in prisons is evidence of something a little more serious. Explaining this latest move to Arizona prison officials, where he's been on a fact-finding tour on behalf of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, the following exchange ensued.
“How do you deal with the cell phone problem?” I asked.
As I said, they’re not allowed” was the answer.
“But what about smuggled ones” I persisted.
We check them in at the door, and all staff go through the metal detector.”
“No, I mean� cell phones in the hands of prisoners.”
Do you guys give your prisoners cell phones?!
“No - they just get them, perhaps from visitors, or corrupt guards” we explained. “Our Minister of Corrections has simply given up ensuring that they can’t get them. He says it’s the same all over the world.”
Wow, you’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones. Ours simply can’t have them. Don’t you do strip searches? How do you keep out drugs then? What about weapons?"
Weapons? Drugs? Cell phones? Crikey, ours is a prison system in which a NZ prison officer can smuggle in a forty-foot yacht dubbed HMS Corrections for his prisoners to work on. As the Arizona prison officer says, We’ve got much more serious problems than cell phones.

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"Dynamic architecture" - David Fisher

Architect David Fisher has designed this building in Dubai, is an example he says of what he calls dynamic architecture -- architecture that moves. Very difficult to show with just a picture oor two. Visit his website and watch the short movie to get an introduction to what he means by that: some of the images are stunning.

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Free speech in opposition banned "for one third of your life."

The only people I know in favour of Labour's Election Finance Bill are Labour cabinet ministers and would-be Labour cabinet ministers. The Bill is an outrage: an affront to democracy, to free speech and to freedom. It is the fact , as Lindsay Perigo notes, that if you're opposed to what the government and its minions are doing, then for one third of your life the bill will prohibit you from expressing that opinion publicly.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an outrage, and it's gratifying that so many have grasped the affront to a free country that this represents and spoken out. There is an understanding, I think, that there are lines beyond which no government in a democracy should cross, and this bill is way, way over that line.

So many are against it that John Key has now calculated it's safe to have an opinion. Continuing his policy of leading from behind, he finally delivered that opinion in a speech this week to the National Press Club. It is, as Audrey Young says, a cracker.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe you get the democracy you are prepared to stand up for. Here in New Zealand we often take our democratic freedoms for granted. We think they will always be there. We have a Bill of Rights which is supposed to protect our right to freedom of expression. What on Earth could go wrong?

I have a different view. I believe what Thomas Jefferson said – that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We cannot and we must not take democratic freedoms for granted. Because, in reality, it is not a Bill of Rights that protects our rights. It is not up to a solicitor in the Crown Law Office or an official in the Ministry of Justice. In the end, it is not up to the government at all.

The protection of rights lies with us, the citizens of New Zealand. There are times when we have to stand up for our rights, and the rights of our neighbours and friends, and indeed the rights of people we totally disagree with, or else these rights will begin to erode away. And this, I say to you, is one of those times. Because this bill is an assault on what it means to be a New Zealander, and this bill is an abuse of the trust we have in the government to protect the institutions that make us proud to call this country home.

Great stuff. It is indeed a very good speech to an audience who would be right behind it ... but I still can't help thinking when I read "National's Proposals" that I can hear a deal in the wind.

Can I see a show of hands who think that despite the fine words, that we can emphatically rule out a last-minute deal from John Boy?

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Taser trials

One year of taser trialling is nearly over, and there is now a decision to be made: Do we want the police we pay for to carry tasers. Here below is what I said one year ago. I don't think we've learned anything since to change it?
* * * * *
Steven Wallace. Constable Murray Stretch. Detective Constable Duncan Taylor. Three people who may still be alive if the police had been allowed to carry tasers before now.

So tasers are a good thing. Let the trial begin!

  • Their use has been abused by police departments overseas.
  • NZ's thuggish police culture has become evident in traffic policing and recent court hearings.
  • We still have many, many laws on the books that are an affront to personal liberty, and that suggest that no matter what internal police guidelines are established for their use, tasers used by the NZ police are going to be used against some people that have committed no real crime, and some of them will be used when and how they shouldn't.
So if our police force was run by angels and we only had good law on the books, tasers would be an unreservedly good thing. Does that perhaps show the urgency of getting our laws right, and proper checks and balances over our police force?

I think so. Fine words and promises aren't enough. You can imagine for yourself how much restraint such fine words would exercise on Clint Rickards and his colleagues. If Tasers are to be introduced, proper legal checks and balance must be introduced to effect firm, entrenched, systematic and transparent restraint. Victimless crime laws must be repealed so innocent people are not 'Tased.' And as I argued here a short while ago, police systems need to urgently change to fix what most of us already know: that all is not well with the force. Trevor's ten points for fixing police systems would be something else to get on with quick-smart.

If the introduction of Tasers is urgent, as I believe it is, then all this needs to happen with speed.

And here's one further point:
  • If the police are allowed to defend themselves with pepper spray and tasers, then why can't we? Why shouldn't NZers be allowed to own Tasers to defend themselves from attack? If the police need to defend themselves as a matter of urgency, which they do, then how much more urgent is it that we who are their employers are able to defend ourselves.
LINKS: Taser trial starts Friday - TVNZ
Taser protection - Not PC (an earlier post on which this one is based)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Law, Victimless_Crimes, Self-Defence

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How to annoy your graphic designer

These days everyone you meet is a graphic designer. The Tomahawk Kid -- a graphic designer, woudn't you know -- has eight ways to get up the nose of a graphic designer.

You're bound to get a chance to use the information shortly.


Only one third as warm

Alarmist science says that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to an atmospheric temperature rise of 3.3 degrees Celsius. However:
New research from Stephen Schwartz of Brookhaven National Lab [suggests] that the Earth’s climate is only about one-third as sensitive to carbon dioxide as the IPCC assumes. Schwartz’s study is “in press” at the Journal of Geophysical Research and you can download a preprint of the study here.

According to Schwartz’s results, which are based on the empirical relationship between trends in surface temperature and ocean heat content, doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would result in a 1.1oC increase in average temperature (0.1–2.1oC, two standard deviation uncertainty range).
Got that? If Schwartz's research is correct -- and like other warmists, he's using the deservedly maligned climate models to read this crystal ball -- a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will see temperature increases above natural warming just one-third warmer than warmists insist on. Warmists' crystal balls predict there carbon dioxide levels will be roughly double that of the pre-Industrial Revolution era sometime around 2070; If Schwartz's research is right, we can look forward to a 0.6 degree Celsius surcharge in 2070 due to that doubling.

If he's right, seems a reasonable price to pay for the industry that keeps us all alive.

Joel Schwartz at Planet Gore highlights three more important points of Stephen Schwartz's research:
  • Aerosols have a relatively small effect on temperature. A doubling of CO2 has an estimated climate “forcing” of 2.7 watts per square centimeter (W/cm2). In contrast, actual aerosol concentrations during the 20th Century had a forcing of -0.3 W/cm2 with a large uncertainty range that could mean either net cooling or net warming from aerosols.
  • The response time, or “time constant”, of the climate to greenhouse gas forcing is relatively small—only five years. In other words, there’s hardly any additional warming “in the pipeline” from previous greenhouse gas emissions. This is in contrast to the IPCC, which predicts that the Earth’s average temperature will rise an additional 0.6oC during the 21st Century even if greenhouse gas concentrations stopped increasing.
Schwartz is careful to include the appropriate caveats to his results. But he also shows that his estimates are consistent with much of the previous literature on the subject.
That last point is important. Although Schwartz is using the same system of climate models as other warmists, unlike those other models Schwartz's is able to explain the rising and falling and rising and falling of temperatures over the twentieth century, and the temperature decline since 1998.

Joel Schwartz has the summary at Planet Gore: Overcoming the "Consensus" in One Fell Swoop.
Stephen Schwartz has the full research paper here: Heat Capacity, Time Constant & Sensitivity of Earth's Climate System [pdf].


Usonian 2000

A modern day 'Usonian' house -- a house built in emulation of the Usonian houses that Frank Lloyd Wright built from the thirties to the fifties -- built in 2000 by an enthusiastic retired couple who had long desired to, as they put it, "experience Usonian living."

The couple's web site documenting the house and the construction is here: Red House.

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Contaminated common sense

Everyone seems all aflutter over the prospect of formaldehyde in their clothes, despite the apparent ease with which one can remove the stuff by simply washing them before you put them on. Contaminated clothes is the issue of the morning for the media--the perfect "human disinterest story."

Remember though when everyone was all aflutter over contaminated soils? Auckland's councils, if you'll recall, insisted people's backyards had been contaminated by earlier horticultural use, and between them they insisted that we be all aflutter over what horrors these contaminated soils might lead to.

Councils issued all sorts of press statements and placed all sorts of legal declarations on property titles. Parents were warned not to let their children play outside, and to take particular care with washing vegetables grown in these soils, and to wear gloves while gardening. Values of sections plummeted and many sales were lost because of the scare. Newspapers were sold, television reporters looked concerned, and everyone got right into the swing (as you do) of being all aflutter.

Guess what? There was nothing to worry about. Notes Owen McShane, who at the time was one of the few to actually look at the scare story objectively:
[Recent] Auckland Regional Council minutes record that good science has now prevailed and the "thresholds" for contamination have been brought into line with international best practice with the result that hardly any properties in Auckland can be declared contaminated.

At the time of "the great panic" ARC press releases were claiming that up to 5,000 residential sites in Auckland City had been rendered toxic by their previous use as vineyards, orchards or general horticulture.

A "well informed source" tells me that, using the revised criteria, this number has been reduced to maybe half a dozen sites.
A chocolate fish goes to the first person who sees this news reported anywhere other than the usual few skeptics of this stuff. As McShane concludes, "in spite of the huge newspaper and general media coverage given to the claimed crisis of toxic soils in Auckland's back yards at the time ... the public has not been advised that those fears have now proven groundless, and that the ARC has changed its criteria. This is an unfortunate pattern. Premature science is used to scare people witless, and the news media have a field day. But when the science finally proves the fears to be totally without foundation there is no attempt to set the record straight."
So the ARC is to be congratulated for admitting error and setting things to rights.
But shouldn't someone let the Auckland public know?
The real scare story is not contaminated clothes or uncontaminated soils, but contaminated common sense.

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New party logos

Following the announcement of the new United Future logo--variously described as "a striking representation of a macadamia nut in a c-clamp; the fat guy with a napkin who exploded in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life; a blocked pore; an amoeba spitting out an unpalatable particle; an iced christmas pudding; a man sitting on a skylight seen from below; the side of a bull's head; an infection of that dangly bit at the back of the throat; the miracle of birth; a man waving; a galleon with a very small sail; sunrise in the grand canyon; a slug playing volleyball with itself; Gerry Brownlee sitting in a beanbag; a couple of blobs"--Lyndon Hood, who supplied all those descriptions, has hacked into the parliamentary computers and discovered what logos many of the other party's are toying with, many of which seem a perfect fit with the directions in which many of those parties are heading...

See Scoop Satire: New Logos.

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'Sp!ked' punctures the irrational

If you haven't subscribed to Sp!ked Online, then you really are missing out. Here just three recent pieces of brilliance from Sp!ked.
  • "Can you imagine anything worse than spending a day in a muddy field with a bunch of dreadlocked doom-mongerers who are busy building compost toilets and solar cookers as they preach about eco-salvation and the need for everyone to get ‘in touch with nature’? Well, that is precisely the situation – or perhaps ‘predicament’ – I found myself in as I ventured to the week-long Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow airport. There, a ragbag of green-leaning activists is protesting against the construction of a third runway, and against flying in general." Read more of Nathalie Rothschild's perceptive piece on these "dreadlicked doom-mongerers": Heathrow Protest-Not So Happy Campers - Natalie Rothschild.

  • I mentioned in my Weekend Ramble Richard Dawkins' new BBC TV series The Enemies of Reason [you can watch Part One here at GoogleVideo]. Neil Davenport suggests that while it's great that Dawkins is keeping up his attack on the irrationalists, "latest TV attack on tarot-readers and the mystic-obsessed masses lets some far more dangerous irrationalists off the hook." Who are those " more dangerous irrationalists" I hear you ask?
    Contemporary hi-tech irrationality is definitely [more of] a problem. For example, the idea that long-distance air travel should be banned on the basis of a belief that CO2 emissions = global warming doesn’t stand up to rational calculations or proof. How would cutting back on air travel make much of a difference, when aviation only contributes about three per cent of global CO2 emissions? Cutting back our carbon in order to ‘save the world’ is also a form of superstition. Or why not investigate the tidal waves of doomsday scenarios that also have no basis in reality or science - such as the headlines that were common a year ago, which claimed that ‘150 million expected to die from bird flu’? These outbursts of official irrationality have a potentially more destructive impact on society than a handful of camp astrologers and mediums.
    Good point. Read on at: Let's Unveil the Real Enemies of Reason - Neil Davenport.

  • Like many of you, I've heard the fatalistic notion that "increasing birthrates" among Muslim Europeans will lead to the Islamification of Europe. I've seen the arguments and I've thought very little of them: to my mind such notions flat out ignore the role of ideas in human society, and by focussing instead on a "barnyard" view of intellectual development it gives credence to the idea that religion is something you're born into, rather than a foolish notion you've chosen to adopt. Frank Furedi states the point bluntly:
    Blaming Europe’s decline on the fertility rates of fecund immigrants misses the point that the continent is politically, not physically, exhausted.
    Read: The End of Europe - Frank Furedi.

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A Frank Lloyd Wright 'prefab' home from the 195os, the Duncan House has just been relocated and opened for business as a guest house. Book your stay online. That's the 1950s perspective, below, and (above) the house today in its new setting.

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

NZ's credit boom

Bernard Hickey seeks an explanation for where the credit is coming from to buy all those houses, and why the NZ dollar lost fourteen cents last week.

One graph tells the story of where the real capital has come from, and when and why it needs to be either repaid or rolled over, but I note he fails to point out that at least some of that credit will have been used productively, and he overlooks in his all-too neat story the fifteen percent year-on-year expansion of virtual credit by the Reserve Bank . . .

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Making sense of the ultimate evil

Standing under the gates at Auschwitz and trying to make sense of this place whose every shadow is the very embodiment of evil, philosopher Jon Jacobs makes this profoundly important point:
Once you accept the proposition that people can be used without their consent, this is where you end. Philosopher Doug den Uyl then added, 'And the first step towards thinking people can be used without their consent is to claim that the individual exists for the sake of society.'
Read the whole post at Stephen Hicks' site: Scroll down to those gates, stand in their shadow for a moment, and contemplate the certainty that man's proper state is to exist for his own sake, not for the sake of society. Down any other road is the path of destruction.

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"Multiculturalism is no boon..."

The notion of multiculturalism permeates western classrooms, and according to those promoting it multiculturalism promotes tolerance and diversity. Does it really? Then why does it find the need to cherrypick from the cultures it promotes? Writes Elan Journo,

Many parents and teachers regard multiculturalism as an indispensable educational supplement, a salutary influence that "enriches" the curriculum. But is it?

With the world's continents bridged by the Internet and global commerce, multiculturalism claims to offer a real value: a cosmopolitan, rather than provincial, understanding of the world beyond the student's immediate surroundings. But it is a peculiar kind of "broadening."

Multiculturalists would rather have students admire the primitive patterns of Navajo blankets, say, than learn why Islam's medieval golden age of scientific progress was replaced by fervent piety and centuries of stagnation. Leaf through a school textbook and you'll find that there is a definite pattern behind multiculturalism's reshaping of the curriculum. What multiculturalists seek is not the goal they advertise, but something else entirely.
Read on for Elan's answer to what that "something else" actually is, and why that so frequently leads multiculturalists to a double blindness: blind first of all to the primitive savagery of the cultures they lionise, and blind too to the civilising virtues of reason and freedom.

Read: Multiculturalism's War on Education - Elan Journo, Capitalism Magazine.

Money quote: "Multiculturalism is no boon to education, but an agent of anti-Western ideology."

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Mark Inglis, again

A brief word here from the archives on the issue of Mark Inglis, his heroic climb and the tragic death of David Sharp...

"...they want people who are wealthy to become poor and people who are poor to stay poor."

A friend spotted this, from John Key in today's Herald:
"Frankly you have to ask the question what these people [Labour] believe in," Mr Key said.
"What we know is they don't like people who are poor that become wealthy, and they don't like people who are wealthy and stay wealthy - so the only conclusion can be that they want people who are wealthy to become poor and people who are poor to stay poor."
As my friend says, it's probably the cleverest and most profound thing he's said so far. And it's true.

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Racism in Outer-Roa

Another day of racism here in Outer-Roa.

A day in which people will continue to talk about a racist report prepared by a racist subcommittee about racism in Outer-Roa.

A day in which a racist supra-tribal leader will deliver a racist speech to a racist audience, amid revelations that he's a fully paid up member of the Racist Party which is intent on furthering a racist agenda.

And what do you think the racist leader will say today? He could follow Lindsay Perigo's suggestion and call for his subjects to put tribalism and racism behind them; to stop being losers demanding that others provide them with a living; to get a proper education, get a job, stop beating and killing their children, and stop living in the past and under the shadow of a self-inflicted chip on their shoulder.

Or he could make the call to further politicise racism, make demands for subsidised separatism, and to cement in for another generation a culture of grievance and entitlement.

Which path do you think Tainui's king will set out on today? Which path do you think he should set out on?

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'The Teachers' House' - Meghiddo Architects

'The Teachers' House,' Tel Aviv, by Meghiddo Architects.

The architects' website describes the project:
The Teacher's House, located in [located in the midst of an affluent residential neighbourhood in] Tel Aviv, is a new building type conceived to service Israel's teachers community as a gathering center for learning and social activities, such as conferences, seminars, exhibitions and concerts.

We decided to create a garden-building where plants become a building material along exposed concrete and stone; where landscape design, totally integrated to architecture, becomes a tool of education; where human movement is stimulated by continuously changing spaces.
More details at the architect's site.


Monday, 20 August 2007

Bad news: It's nearly as warm as the 1930s!

Despite the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent worldwide to find and manufacture evidence of worldwide catastrophe, that recalcitrant evidence just resolutely refuses to surface. Instead, the bad news for warmists just continues to mount. Christopher Brooker summarises the latest four pieces of bad news for catastrophists:
  • As I mentioned here in my weekend ramble, NASA's admission that their collection of temperature data was 'merely good enough for government work' and their subsequent correction of their surface temperature record has confirmed that the hottest decade over the last century is (envelope please) the 1930s.
    Instead of temperatures reaching their highest level in the past decade, ... the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934. Of the 10 warmest years since 1880, it turns out that four were in the 1930s and only three in the past decade.The significance of this is that James Hansen, the head of [NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies], has been Al Gore's closest scientific ally for nearly 20 years in promoting the global warming scare. The revised figures relate only to temperatures in North America but the fact that the pre-eminent scientific champion of the orthodoxy has been promoting erroneous data has considerable implications...
    Sure does. Looks like all that CO2 produced since the war has made the world ... nearly as hot now as it was before all that carbon was pumped out. Can someone please point me to the catastrophe?
The other three pieces of bad news that Brooker highlights are all related to measures insisted upon by governments (at huge expense) to counter the catastrophe that isn't.
  • A study reported in Science finds that "the increasing production of biofuels to combat climate change will release between two and nine times more CO2 into the atmosphere in the next 30 years than generating the same energy from fossil fuels." Oops!
  • John Boy Key wants NZ to cut carbon emissions by fifty percent by 2050. Good luck: a leaked memorandum has confirmed "that the UK will not be able to comply with a European Council decision last March that the EU must derive 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020." The target, say officials charged to make it happen "is not remotely achievable," and the attempt to do so "could cost UK electricity users alone an additional £22 billion a year, nearly £1,000 a year for every household. This is 2 per cent of GDP, and double Sir Nicholas Stern's estimate for the entire cost of halting global warming." Oops again!
  • And it just keeps getting worse for warmists. Notes Brooker again:
    A final awkward finding comes from the world's leading expert on the financial costs of tackling global warming. Prof William Nordhaus, of Yale, has just published calculations showing that cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the scale proposed by Gore might possibly save $12 trillion (£12,000bn) - but that their cost would be nearly three times as much, $34 trillion, more than half the world's GDP. Even for those who still believe the likes of Gore and Hansen, it hardly sounds like the bargain of the century.
Proof not just that hundreds of millions of dollars doesn't necessarily buy good science, but as Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton says, "if socialist central planning doesn't work at seventeen degrees, then why would it work at nineteen?" Turns out it doesn't.

Read: Christopher Broooker's Notebook - Daily Telegraph (UK). [Hat tip, Marcus]

UPDATE: Dr Vincent Gray's recent paper 'Faking the Figures' throws much-needed light on Hansen's recent embarrassment, and on where and how that "global average temperature" figure is produced from a record in no such thing as a global average actually exists. Great background.

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Won again.

Well, your team might have lost over the weekend, but mine has now won fifteen on the trot . . .

Roll on September!

Three wine spritzers and one large red Rudd, please.

Sydney Daily Telegraph: Kevin Rudd’s hopes of becoming Prime Minister have been rocked by a visit to a New York strip club where he was warned against inappropriate behaviour during a drunken night while representing Australia at the United Nations... Mr Rudd went to the club, which is a , with New York Post editor Col Allan and Northern Territory Labor MP Warren Snowdon ...
The club is "well-known haunt of UN diplomats and journalists." Tim Blair reckons "the UN connection" is the most embarrassing behaviour: "What on earth was Rudd thinking?"

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Blogs in the boardroom

What would business meetings be like if they were more like blog comments? Wonder no more--this short clip has it all.


Apprenticeships: Not achieved

Tradesmen are the workers of the world. Successful tradesmen are the lifeblood of an industrial economy; their intelligent labours make possible the production and infrastructure without which there is no industrial economy.

New Zealand has too few tradesmen, too few apprentices and the number is getting fewer. Traditional apprenticeships were killed off by the so called "seamless education" promoted by Lockwood Smith's NCEA, and Labour's so called "Modern Apprenticeships" have signally failed to fulfil the headline promises of posturing politicians.

Last year it was revealed for example that only 11 percent of the students who passed their National Certificate in Politically Correct Plumbing managed to subsequently pass a genuinely testing examination that was set by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.

And this morning's Press reveals [hat tip Whale Oil] that even those students who start these "Modern Apprenticeships" are mostly failing to finish.
Figures made public suggest [only] 46 per cent of those enrolled in 2001 and 2002 completed their training in the expected four years.
A calculation that's beyond most NCEA graduates reveals that 54 percent of those starting these apprenticeships failed to finish. That's pathetic. "More than $100 million has been committed to [Labour's "Modern Apprencticeship" scheme] since its launch in 2000," yet "as at December 31, [only] 9466 active modern apprentices were in training," and barely 3000 had completed their training.

That really is pathetic. Unemployment among sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds is at fourteen percent; loads of youngsters are heading off to uni to get degrees in "visual communications design," "contemporary cultural studies," and "critical education theory." Meanwhile, the country's employers are crying out for skilled tradesmen. Has anyone idea where they're going to come from, or how it's possible to interest youngsters in learning about good tradecraft instead of bullshit?

Perhaps it might encourage them if they learned that New Zealand's richest man started out in life as an apprentice panel beater?

See also:

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Sunday, 19 August 2007


Conviction alone can move mountains. That's the overwhelming feeling of the liberal, for whom deep emotions alone are sufficient proof of righteousness and scientific veracity.

Six hundred naked Swiss liberals test that theory by attempting to move mountains full of ice by means of just their genitalia and their convictions. Beyond slow grinding sounds, the glacier they confronted was not heard to comment. [Hat tip Tim Blair]

The story of the foreskins.

Another fine story from the book in which one really shouldn't seek good rules for living. Today, the story of David.

Jesus, the book tells us, was "the son of David." He was, the book tells us, born into "the Kingdom of David." So what do we know about this David that makes him so all-fired admirable? Fortunately, for you, The Brick Testament tells the story of this good bastard, and in pictures!
My own favourite is the story of the foreskins: How David slew 187 Philistines in order to harvest their foreskins (picture above) to buy himself a wife. He kept collecting wives for some reason, including having his God kill men in order get their wives, but never again did he get such a good price for so few foreskins.

Truly, you might think, here beholdeth a good bastard, and a fine example for young men to follow.

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