Saturday, June 07, 2008

Voting advice

"I did not vote for any presidential candidate in the last election. There is a limit to the notion of voting for the lesser of two evils."
- Ayn Rand, speaking at the Ford Hall Forum, April 26, 1981, explaining why she didn't vote for Ronald Reagan.  [Hat tip Joe M.]

Discuss.

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Fire, fire!

If you want some lively discussion & good TV tomorrow morning (Sunday), tune in to Libertarianz firearms spokesman Peter Linton discussing Police, Guns & Tasers on Eye to Eye, TV1 at 11-30 AM,  with Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Marie Dyhrberg, & Hone Harawira.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

NOT PC: The week that was

The authors of the Double Standard have a good idea: a double-plus ungood weekly summary of their top five subjectively awesome posts for the week, posted on Fridays, because "even though we try to keep posts pithy, it can be too much to catch up on."

Same here, methinks.  Sometimes I can't even keep up myself with what I've written.  So to help us all out, here's the top six Week That Was at NOT PC that everybody else has been enjoying while you weren't paying attention:

Beer O'Clock: What's the Craic on Stouts & Porters?

Stu takes you through the subtle differences between Stout and Porter, a distinction requiring the most thorough and demanding research ...

pc_stout_and_porter It’s not all that clear where Porter ends and Stout starts but the two beers are so inextricably intertwined that I’ll leave the untangling to the late great 'Beerhunter' Michael Jackson, who sums it up well in Porter casts a long shadow on ale history.

To keep things simple: both styles of beer are black (or at least very dark brown) and can range from sweetish to dry, toasty to roasty, and malty to very bitter. They are not always heavy and filling, though they do tend to reside at the more robust end of the spectrum (as opposed the the leaner black lagers like Black Mac and Monteith’s Black). Stouts tend to be darkened by the grainier, coffee-like roasted barley with Porters being darkened by ashy black malt.

To taste Stout and Porter in their very best form, one should experience them hand pulled through a beer engine. This gives the beer a silky, creamy character from the lower level of carbonation – like you’ll have most likely experienced in a Guinness - but in this form the beers will tend to be a lot fresher, more flavoursome and showing far more vitality (Guinness is actually pumped full of nitrogen, which keeps the beer from going off, but severely dulls its flavour). That favourite ale house of mine in Mt Eden always has the exceptional Galbraith’s Grafton Porter on handpull. The Malthouse, right in the heart of Wellington, has a couple of handpumps that currently carry Tuatara Porter and either Three Boys Oyster Stout or Invercargill Brewery’s Pitch Black (the two best black ales in New Zealand according to the results at BrewNZ last year). The Twisted Hop in Christchurch occasionally brews a scrumptious Oatmeal Stout.

Slightly easier to find, though fizzier and unfortunately no longer available in bottles, is the very fine Speight’s Porter. Full of chocolate and fruity coffee notes, it is on tap at all of the Speight’s Ale Houses littered around the country and is certainly the best example of mainstream black ale in New Zealand. It is possible the only one left since DB Vita Stout went AWOL.

As for bottles on the supermarket or bottle store shelves: You can’t go wrong with trusting the simple descriptive labels on Emerson’s London Porter and Oatmeal Stout, and there is still one keg of their excellent, hop-filled May Day Stout left on Regional Wines and Spirits fill-your-own taps. I got a pleasant surprise from the strong Green Man Stout the other day, this strong export-style stout is a beer that I’m spotting more and more around the place. Renaissance Elemental Porter is a strapping version full of ashy black malt and a big wad of hops and is recommended for the more daring amongst you. For those lucky enough to have a very special beer retailer, or bar, seek out the Townshend No 9 Stout (from the tiny Townshend Brewery in Upper Moutere) which was recently awarded best Stout/Porter at the NZ International Beer Awards.

On the import front: Young’s delectable Double Chocolate Stout graces plenty of retail shelves and if you are very lucky, you might just come across the amazing Fuller’s London Porter – an absolutely outstanding and complex example of porter (possibly my beer of the year, so far).

So put another log on the fire tonight and pour yourself a stout or porter… Once you go black, you might never go back.

Next time I’ll take a midwinter break from the beer style crusade, and respond to Neil Miller’s The Best Beer Names in New Zealand, with The Next Best Beer Names in New Zealand.

Slainte mhath, Stu
SOCIETY FOR BEER ADVOCATES (SOBA)

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Our weekly oil woes

It's worth reminding ourselves once a week who's responsible for the rise of oil prices. It's not oil companies, it's the government, who takes more out of each litre than local retailers:
                         Petrol_Taxes[3]

If that pisses you off, then joining in Callum's email campaign is just one small thing you can do for mankind. And it's not just governments taking taxes who are to blame -- that's just the big fat red chunk band above -- it's also governments restricting refinery capacity and restricting new drilling and exploration who have made the blue band fatter than it needs to be, and oil resources lower than they should be.   And why do you think they've done that?  Brian Simpson explains:

    What do oil companies do? They spend hundreds-of-billions of dollars each year exploring for, drilling for, and transporting oil. They also spend vast sums refining oil into gasoline. Without oil companies there would be no gasoline, no plastics for myriad products (including appliances, packaging, and pace makers), no electricity generated with oil, and so on.
    In other words, our standard of living would be drastically lower. 
    What do environmentalists do? They prevent drilling in Alaska and offshore, which leads to less supply and higher prices...
    Environmentalists have also prevented new refineries from being built in the U.S. through lawsuits and regulations, to the point where no new refineries have been built in over thirty years. As a result, refining capacity has actually declined in the last few decades while demand has increased. This has contributed significantly to the high gasoline prices we now experience.
    In short, environmentalists have done everything they can to make oil and gasoline more expensive and our standard of living lower...

It's all a worryingly familiar parallel to New Zealand's own energy woes, isn't it?  And entirely consistent with the explicit misanthropy of modern environmentalism

Meanwhile, on the subject of refineries, the redoubtable Gus van Horn records that a county in South Dakota has approved via referendum the construction of what would be the United States's first new refinery since 1976.  1976! That's the good news.  However, while the large print giveth, the small print notes:

Despite a favorable referendum outcome ... opponents say the refinery has many hurdles to clear before construction begins...
    "There's probably a hundred pressure points that they have to pass through," said Ed Cable of Citizens Opposed to Oil Pollution, which currently has a lawsuit pending against the rezoning decision, Cable said.

Shades of New Zealand's Marsden B non-power station, don't you think, permanently mothballed by ecstatic local Greens.  Think about them this winter as the country struggles to maintain any semblance of a power supply.

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The problem with the New Atheists

The 'New Atheists' have got the religionists publicly on the run -- the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the wonderfully blunt Christopher Hitchens have taken the battle to the mystics in books like The God Delusion, The End of Faith and God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and given rational people much entertainment as they've made the defenders of faith-based superstition squirm.

So why are they taking a beating from inanities like these from Christian Dinesh D'Souza:

Thanks to the astounding discoveries of modern science, I think the God hypothesis has a lot more going for it today than it did in the eighteenth century.

Why is that so difficult to counter?  As Greg Perkins explains, their stumbling point is their failure to account for one seemingly simple question: "How do you explain the existence and order of the universe, the staggering complexity of life, the existence of morality, and so on -- without God?"  In the third part of a series exploring the key weaknesses in their philosophical foundations that effectively disarm the 'New Atheists,' Perkins suggests there is still much for them to learn -- and illustrates how D'Souza "wouldn't stand a snowball's chance against an Objectivist."  [Hat tip Nick Provenzo and this week's Objectivist Carnival]

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Drunk History

It's not the drinking, it's how we're drinking ... for your delectation to that end, Derek Waters presents 'Drunk History.'  Frankly, if it's history you want, then you might find Scott Powell more accurate -- but Waters is a far more entertaining drunk.

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Don't underestimate Saddam - Gore

Sanctimony comes easy to Al Gore, even when he's right -- as he is here in 1992 berating the Administration of Bush the Elder for ignoring the threat from Saddam Hussein: his cooperation with terrorists, his genocide, and his stock pile of WMD.

So, who lied?

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Battersea Power Station - Gilbert Scott et al

                      WA3189318~Battersea-Power-Station-Lit-up-at-Night-1951-Posters

Gilbert Scott's magnificent Battersea Power Station on the banks of the Thames.  Dubbed the Cathedral of Power, and captured here in its pomp in 1951, it is sadly now known chiefly only as a prop for a third rate rock band.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

WARNING: Auckland hasn't got the power

An urgent email from the EMA puts my two recent posts  on NZ's creaking electricity supply into context:

    Contact's Otahuhu B power station was brought off line at 6.00pm last night and will be out for at least 4 days. The 400 MW plant has been operating at near maximum capacity lately and is vital for Auckland.
    The issue is with a boiler tube requiring immediate repair. 
    The outage comes at the worst time with our hydro storage levels at near record lows, and with tight electricity supply conditions as a result. All available generation is now being brought into the market.
    The problem is particularly critical for the Auckland area....

You got that right.

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There's lots to celebrate on World 'Environment' Day

Since it's World Environment Day, let's celebrate all the many achievements made in improving the human environment over the last three millennia -- in other words, in improving the surroundings of man, and making the external conditions of human life better.  If the concept "environment" is to have any meaning, then this is it.  After all, taken literally, as Ross McKitrick points out [pdf], the phrase 'the environment' as popularly used is a "vacuous truism."

[It] includes everything between your skin and outer space, and as such it covers too much to be meaningful. I can understand being “pro-environment,” since this amounts to being in favour of the world’s existence. The difficulty is trying to picture someone being against it...

I think he's too kind there.  He's right however to say that this popular usage of the term 'environment'  is "insufficiently precise," and amounts only to a bland generalisation waiting for someone to fill it with nonsense and scaremongering:

... [U]sing the general word “environment,” instead of more specific terms, tends to detach any ensuing discussion from the prospect of measurement with real data. We can measure specific types of pollution, biological conditions, resource scarcity, etc. But there is no way to measure the “environment” as a whole...  In the absence of specific measurement, or even agreement on what we ought to be measuring, the discussion too readily seems to get framed in the language of crisis.

He sure got that right.  If we want to be specific, if we want the term 'environment' to actually mean something, then it's not this bland generalisation we should refer to, not the preservation of things that have no value at all to man, but the valuing of things that do.

If the concept 'environment' is to have any meaning, then this is it -- and contrary to the claims of self-declared 'environmentalists,' mankind has been hard at work since time began making our environment better.  This is, after all, why most of us get up and go to work in the morning: to make our immediate environment better for ourselves.  As George Reisman puts it,

   It is important to realize that when the environmentalists talk about destruction of the "environment" as the result of economic activity, their claims are permeated by the doctrine of intrinsic value. Thus, what they actually mean to a very great extent is merely the destruction of alleged intrinsic values in nature such as jungles, deserts, rock formations, and animal species which are either of no value to man or hostile to man. That is their concept of the "environment."
    If, in contrast to the environmentalists, one means by "environment" the surroundings of man--the external material conditions of human life--then it becomes clear that all of man's productive activities have the inherent tendency to improve his environment--indeed, that that is their essential purpose...
    Thus, all of economic activity has as its sole purpose the improvement of the environment--it aims exclusively at the improvement of the external, material conditions of human life. Production and economic activity are precisely the means by which man adapts his environment to himself and thereby improves it.
 
    So much for the environmentalists' claims about man's destruction of the environment. Only from the perspective of the alleged intrinsic value of nature and the non-value of man, can man's improvement of his environment be termed destruction of the environment.
 

We've been improving our environment since recorded time began, since the first man and woman shooed a bear out of its cave and began building a fire on which to roast it; from the time our benefactors first began making beer back in Mesopotamia; from the time when we began planting crops to eat, and breeding animals to serve our needs; from the time we began building roads and bridges to take our goods to market; and mines and factories and power stations to produce goods to be taken there ... what we've been doing all this time -- or at least, what our predecessors were doing, since we've been falling down on the job, has been making our living environment better.  Which means taking what nature has provided, and putting it in a more useful relationship to ourselves. 

This is what it means to live as a human being -- what it means to improve the environment -- not denouncing our productive ability and seeking forgiveness from Gaia for having the temerity to inhabit her surface, but transforming nature's bounty to our ends.

Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Taliesin East' To make the point another way, just reflect for a moment on the survival prospects of a bare naked human being in a place like the deserts of Arizona, or the tundra of Siberia, or in the cold, rainy drizzle of a West Coast winter.  None of these environments offers much immediate comfort to that naked beast. But now see what happens when we improve these environments for human habitation: We build sheltering houses to keep out the rain, and to combat the extremes of temperature we build fires and install air conditioners, and truck in the fuel to keep these running.   And, since self-sufficiency in desert or tundra is not possible, and even in moderate Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Taliesin West' climates hardly desirable, we truck in food too to fill up our cupboards.  Instead of sleeping on the ground we install beds; instead of relying for conversation on the same stories that have been told for thousands of years, we stock a library, or install a flat screen television hooked into as many channels as we can afford; instead of relying on random berries to get us merry, we build liquor cabinets and buy fridges and stock them with all the necessaries of good living.

This is what it means to improve the environment, and this is what human beings have been doing and working towards since recorded time began.

And since it's World Environment Day, let's just pause for a minute to reflect that the doctrine of so called environmentalism that World Environment Day promotes  puts this all at risk. The doctrine that says trees, rocks and mud puddles (and snails) take precedence over living, breathing producing human beings puts at risk the wealth, success and livelihood of every human being on the planet.

So in this context, let's pause to give credit to the Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, who proudly declares  that his company views it as its "corporate social responsibility" to continue to supply the world with fossil fuels.

If only New Zealand's Energy minister could say the same with respect to his portfolio.
NB: I'm indebted to George Reisman for most of these important points.

UPDATE: Poneke says it more plainly:

The posters boldly proclaiming KICK THE HABIT were mildly puzzling. ...  Today’s campaign is World Environment Day, and the habit we’re meant to kick is carbon dioxide. I kid you not. How extraordinarily bizarre. The United Nations is campaigning against carbon dioxide, was the news. Verily, the lunatics have taken charge of the asylum. Carbon dioxide, as every schoolkid knows, is what we exhale as we breathe, and which is absorbed by trees and other plantlife to enable them to grow, giving out the oxygen we need to live. Declaring war on carbon dioxide is declaring war on ourselves, and the trees. Without it, there would be no environment, or at least, no environment as we know it, Jim.

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Remembering the butchers of Tiananmen

It's not just World Environment Day today -- a day when those in favour of governments cracking down on people celebrate the opportunity environmentalism gives them -- it's also the nineteenth anniversary of the massacre of three thousand peaceful people in Tiananmen Square by the "People's Liberation Army" under the orders of Chinese leaders fearful of what political freedom might do to them.

On May 30, 1989, protestors in Tiananmen Square erected a papier-mâché ‘Goddess of Democracy’ which for a time faced down the iconic portrait of Chairman Mao hanging from the gates of The Forbidden City. It lasted just five days before the killing began.

There has never been any public commemoration in mainland China of the massacre, or even an acknowledgement of it.

The prolific Scott Wilson has the appropriate memorial over at SOLO: Remember Today, 1989, in Tiananmen Square!

And Human Rights in China (HRIC) has "a podcast series of interviews with participants of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement," and the BBC have have archive reports including Kate Adie's on-the-spot reporting from the China of 1989.

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It's cold outside!

It's not just  New Zealand that had a cold May.  Satellite data is just out, showing that the whole world was colder in May: "The global anomaly was -0.17 °C, the coldest reading after January 2000," summarises Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame, "and the third coldest monthly figure after September 1993."

And even though the northern hemisphere is going into spring, the temperature in the northern troposphere (the part of the atmosphere that warmists' models say warming will occur) was 0.21 °C cooler than it was in April, and in the southern hemisphere  was cooler by 0.17 °C.

This confirms, as Lubos says wryly, "a warming trend" for the Southern Hemisphere during the last 30 years of 0.00 °C per decade -- so quite how David Wratt and NIWA can extrapolate this 'trend' to predict  "hot, dry Auckland summers, a wetter West Coast and plummeting frost-days await us" we can only guess.  Perhaps their careers are on the line?

So just to summarise: May was cold.  Colder than a well digger's arse.  Colder than it's been since September 1993.  Colder even than all the cool months in 2008 - and January 2008 "experienced the sharpest January-to-January global temperature drop - three quarters of a degree Celsius - since records began in 1880."  Colder than a ticket-taker's smile at the Aotea Centre on a Saturday night.

Lubos has a graph showing temperatures for the last seventeen months, including those two extreme Januaries:

And Anthony Watts provides an even broader context to this latest seventeen-month trend:

the change since the last big peak in global temperature in January 2007 at 0.594°C [gives] a 16 month change in temperature of -0.774°C which is equal in magnitude to the generally agreed upon “global warming signal” of the last 100 years...

That graph, by the way, shows all the years of the 'modern warming' era, and the drop over just seventeen months that more than equals the hundred-year rise of 0.6°C that is the "global warming signal" that launched several thousand warmists on the world.

Something to think about on World Environment Day.  If "global warming" exists anywhere, it's looking less and less likely that it exists around the globe.

[NB:I'm indebted to Tom Waits for the quips.  They were his first.]

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Bastard of a thing

Annie Fox gives readers an update on her cancer, which you can see right here:
                                          

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Some NOT PC stats for May

Some good stats here for NOT PC's last month:

NZ Political Blog Rank for NOT PC: 4th (Feb, 6th)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 569th (last month 645th)
Alexa Ranking, world: 275,373th (last month 300,467th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1,019/day (1,044)
Unique visits [from Statcounter] 28,672 (30,025)
Page views [from Statcounter] 45,240 (46,767)

Top posts:

Top referring sites: 
   Search engines, Kiwiblog, 1324 referrals; Libertarianz, 603;  Whale Oil, 533; Libertarian Front, 266; No Minister, 198; Mulholland Drive, 185; The Hive, 153; Anti Dismal, 134;  Rod Drury, 127
Top searches:
    not pc, 482; broadacre city, 154; studionz, 104; china olympics, 93; peter cresswell, 70; nipcc, 66;  ipcc bali, 62; john key me too, 61; objectivism montessori, 60; sustainability not pc, 57
They're reading NOT PC here:
NOT_PC-Map0508
Top countries (measured by Statcounter):
   NZ, 51%; USA, 16%; Australia, 5.2%; UK, 3.5%; Italy, 2.4%; Canada, 1.8%;  Germany, 1.1%
Top cities (Statcounter):  
   Auckland, 14.2%; Wellington, 3.6%; Melbourne, 2.6%; Christchurch, 2.4%; Palmerston North, 1.2%, London, 1.8%; Sydney, 0.9%; Tel Aviv, 0.8%; Paris, 0.7%; Bronx, 0.7%; Toronto, 0.7%

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading and linking to NOT PC, 
Peter Cresswell

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The Guardians - Michael Newberry

                         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part of Newberry's 'Shadows' series - which I suspect relates strongly to his and Martine Vaugel's 'Spirit' works.  Prints of 'The Guardians' are proving to be one of his best-sellers.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reading Recovery doesn't

I found this fascinating listening this morning:

Professor Bill Tunmer from Massey University and Mary Chamberlain from the Ministry of Education discuss the Ministry's Reading Recovery Programme. Tunmer says it's a failure. The woman from the Ministry disagrees. He points to failures in the Government's literacy strategy in general [who knew there was one?] and, in particular, the Reading Recovery Programme, which "are not delivering" -- or at least are delivering failure. The woman from the ministry talks jargon.

Tunmer points to OECD surveys showing New Zealand plunging down the literacy ranks (from 1st in 1970, to 6th in 1990, to 13th in 2001, to 24th today - ref IEA Reading Literacy studies), and the huge and increasing gap between those who can read, and those who can't. The woman from the ministry ignores them.

Listen here: NZ Children's Reading Ability[audio] - RADIO NZ: Nine to Noon (duration: 28′11″)

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Reasons for voting Libertarianz

Elijah offers ten good solid reasons "based on the basics of day to day life" in answer to the question "Why should I vote Libertarianz." Here are ten things Libz policies would produce:

  1. Cheap food.
  2. Cheap petrol.
  3. Cheap alcohol [and tobacco].
  4. Abolition of the Resource Management Act.
  5. No income taxes on most (or all) of your income.
  6. We are the best friend of miners, fisherman and forestry workers, farmers and businessmen by greatly encouraging those activities.
  7. Lower interest rates as we will stop the Reserve Bank Governor engaging in gross stupidity.
  8. Those in the South Island will no longer have their taxes used to subsidise Auckland motorways.
  9. Increased choices for users of healthcare and education services.
  10. Public Servants will be servants of the public, not the Masters.

These are some of the main reasons you should vote Libertarianz: practical solutions to day to day problems.

UPDATE: Latest One News poll shows Libertarianz equal to Peter Dung's United No-Future, and one percentage point ahead of Neanderton's Progressive Party. Results here at Scoop.
Time to get on board now folks, now that momentum is starting!

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Snarling warmist hatred - updated

The Greens's website links to a snarling interview of Great Global Warming Swindle maker Martin Durkin conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Tony Jones after the Swindle screened in Australia.  [Lubos has the same links, and an infinitely superior commentary.]

Just so you know, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government TV station.  Just so you know, this is the same Australian Broadcasting Corporation that has on its website a game for kids that tells them they deserve to die if they use too "more than their fair share of the earth's resources": Planet Slayer's Greenhouse Calculator

ABC_EvilBear in mind that this is a game for children.  Imagine a young seven-year-old (my own mental age) clicking on the government website and finding out that (as in my case) they should have died at the ripe old age of five.  As  Diana says at Noodle Food, this is "Pure Environmentalist Evil."   On this same theme is Flibber:

    I know people like to cut environmentalists some slack and say that not everyone who considers themselves an environmentalist is a dirty hippie like Greena who wants people to live in the dirt and mud.  But that's where it always goes...
    You nice people who think, "Well, I do think litter is bad and it's not difficult to recycle, so why not?" you're keeping company with people who really do consider human beings pests who should just die out.  And slowly, it's moving from "Don't Litter" to asking children to find out when they should just die to keep from spoiling the earth.
    These people aren't joking.  They do not have anyone's best interests at heart.  They want you to die so the weeds can get on with taking over your garden.

They really aren't joking.  As Patrick Moore points out in 'Swindle,' hardcore environmentalists really do think human beings are pests -- and the level of 'contamination' of the environmental movement by misanthropy is certainly less than one part in ten.  Ethically, they're anti-human.  Politically, they're  anti-freedom.  Just look at the proposal being seriously considered in Britain to bring in rationing to limit your travel, your food and your household energy use -in other words, your entire daily life.  The "ultimate green fantasy"!  And as Bob points out, "note that this nightmarish scheme is being advanced not by the British far left, but by the Tories."

This is serious.  They really do want a Blue Planet in Green Shackles, as Czech President Vaclav Klaus titles his latest book, which has just been translated into English  (Full title: Blue Planet in Green Shackles - What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?).  Said Klaus at the book's launch, he is no skeptic - with him "the word "skeptic" is an understatement" -- and he's all ready to debate Al Gore, although skeptical of Big Al ever showing up.

    Klaus, an economist, said he opposed the "climate alarmism" perpetuated by environmentalism trying to impose their ideals, comparing it to the decades of communist rule he experienced growing up in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia.
   
"Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality," he said.
   
"In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat - this time, in the name of the planet," he added.
   
Klaus said a free market should be used to address environmental concerns and said he opposed as unrealistic regulations or greenhouse gas capping systems designed to reduce the impact of climate change.
   
"It could be even true that we are now at a stage where mere facts, reason and truths are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda," he said.

I suspect Klaus would enjoy Carbon Belch Day -- June 12 -- when you can save the planet one Belch at a timeBelch Day organisers want people "to waste as much energy as possible on June 12 by hosting a barbecue, going for a drive, watching television, leaving a few lights on, or even smoking a few cigars.  The point: the group wants to help [people] break free from the 'carbon footprint guilt' being imposed by Climate Alarmists."

Blue Planet in Green Shackles
by Vaclav Klaus

Read more about this book...


UPDATE 1
:  By the way, May 2008 was NZ's coldest May since 1992.  Just thought you'd like to know.  I wonder how NIWA's David Wratt felt when he released the figures.  [Hat tip Mulholland Drive.]

UPDATE 2: New blogger Jeff Perren (add him to your sidebar) adds another instance to the 'Blue Planet in Green Shackles' file:  America's so called Climate Security Bill -- "one of the biggest efforts to date to chain industrial civilization since its birth":

    Individuals, which is what the people who work for and invest in businesses are, have a right to use the Earth for their own benefit. Nothing in what they're doing is having nor will have the severe impact on the climate that the bill's advocates claim make it necessary.
    No one's health or well-being is going to be significantly harmed by producing CO2 at projected levels over the next 100 years. Even if it did, contra science, this bill will not do anything to change that. It will only further the takeover of the economy by
the new Communists — the Greens and their partners-in-crime in Congress.

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UN & Anderton learn good economics! (updated)

Crikey! Jim Anderton and the head of the United Nations -- the head of the godamned UN! -- are both on the correct side of the economic argument on food production! Liberty Scott has the stories on this amazing development:

They're both far better than the raving lunatics at last weekend's Greens conference like Jeanette Fitzsimons, who has built a career on "fear, irrationality and ignorance," and Sue Kedgley, who has gone to argue the opposite of good sense at the UN food conference.

UPDATE: Paul Walker sees me agreeing with Neanderton and the UN and asks, "Has Peter Cresswell gone completely mad?"

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Temptation too much for top cop(s)

When Eddie Ellison visited  New Zealand a few years ago, he related that when he was head of Scotland Yard's Drug Squad, he used to tell new recruits at every induction to look at their colleagues either side of him.  "If both of them aren't corrupt in two years, then you will be," he'd say.  That was the expected extent of corruption in police Drug Squads, Ellison explained -- the result of a collision between low-paid law enforcement and huge amounts of illicit money.  The money is the result of the War on Drugs.

So it's no surprise to hear that the assistant director of the powerful New South Wales Crime Commission, Mark Standen, has been corrupted by contact with a A$120 million international drug ring.  Whatever an erstwhile crime fighter is being paid, it's always far, far less than the amount of money washing around as the result of the War on Drugs.

That's just one reason that law enforcement officers like Ellison are now part of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Here's Heaven 17, with Temptation.

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The day Bo Diddley died

When Bo Diddley played his guitar, he used to say, he wanted to play it just like he was a drummer.  And Maureen Tucker, drummer for the Velvet Underground, reckoned that when she started drumming she wanted to sound like Bo Diddley on his guitar.  For good or ill, he changed music.  Says the New York Times this morning, "The singer and guitarist invented his own name, his own guitars, his own beat and, with a handful of other musical pioneers, rock ’n’ roll itself."

Bo Diddley died overnight.  Here's his early hit, "Who Do You Love?' played just the way he wanted to sound.

                   

And here's my favourite cover of the song: the Patti Smith Group, live on the Letterman show.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Greens invoke the 'spirit of the flame'

Reports have been coming in of a unique start to the weekend's Green Party conference:

    The jiggery-pokery which started the Greens' annual conference on Saturday morning effectively confirmed in advance what the subsequent two days of debate and discussion more obliquely indicated - the Greens and National are never going to be a serious item.
   
Any party which begins its conference by lighting a candle so it can be guided by the "symbolic gesture of a flame" while "calling in the spirits" of Rod Donald, the Treaty, the sun, and just about everything else bar the kitchen sink would seem to be in fruitcake territory, as in nutty as.

NOT PC has now received video footage of the opening fertility dance, although we're unable to clarify the precise reason for Christopher Lee's attendance ...  ;^)

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Meet the enfeebled, Part 2 (updated)

“It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word... hydro is suddenly becoming too hard... what's left? ...we can't do everything on windpower.”
– Alan Jenkins, Electricity Networks Association, 2006

ELECTRICITY IS THE LIFEBLOOD of every industrial country.  Electrical power allows human beings to multiply their relatively feeble muscular strength many times, putting that enormous productive power to use in transforming our world to make it a better place in which to live.  Says George Reisman:

    It is vital to recognize the enormous contribution that the essential vehicle of economic progress, namely industrial civilization, has made to human life and well-being since its birth over two centuries ago in the Industrial Revolution.
    Industrial civilization has radically increased human life expectancy: from about thirty years in the mid-eighteenth century to about seventy-five years today. The enormous contribution of industrial civilization to human life is [dramatically] illustrated by the fact that the average newborn American child has a greater chance of living to age sixty-five than the average newborn child of a nonindustrial society has of living to age five. These marvelous results have come about because of an ever improving supply of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and all the conveniences of life . . .
    In the last two centuries, loyalty to the values of science, technology, and capitalism has enabled man in the industrialized countries of the Western world to put an end to famines and plagues, and to eliminate the once dread diseases of cholera, diphtheria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever, among others. . .
    As the result of industrial civilization, not only do billions more people survive, but in the advanced countries they do so on a level far exceeding that of kings and emperors in all previous ages . . .

Trade and the fruits of industrial civilization beat all the conquests made by all the kings and emperors throughout all history into a cocked hat.  At the most concrete level, the root of the success of industrial civilisation has been making it possible to multiply and direct our own muscular strength exponentially to produce what's needed to make our lives better.  For an industrial country, electrical power is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Technology is man's means of staying alive. Human existence without technology is characterised by squalor, disease, plagues, starvation, drudgery, and helplessness in the face of natural disasters. This is the state to which the eco-freaks would return us.

When you look at the change in average life expectancy since James Watt invented his steam engine and Richard Arkwright installed them in his cotton mills -- from thirty-five years of age then to well over seventy now -- you might realise that everyone over the age of thirty-five now owes their lives to technology, and to the Industrial Revolution that made it possible.

TECHNOLOGY THESE DAYS NEEDS ELECTRICAL power (and most reliable electrical power is still generated by steam).  Nationally, the demand for power is growing by 150MW per year.  The graph below charts that rise.

                         NZ-PowerConsumption-1975-2003

Note that the primary growth is not in residential demand, but in industrial demand -- in supplying power to produce new wealth -- which puts  into context the claims from sandal wearers that if we all turn off a few lights and have a cuddle our power problems will all go away.

They won't. 

As it happens, over the years from from 1980 to 1998, the growth in New Zealand's generating capacity matched the growth in demand, growing at an averaged rate of about 150MW per year.  Despite this, regular power shortages such as the famous outages of 1992 showed that even at this time capacity was near its limits -- partly because of the lack of backup generation for the occasionally fickle hydro generators.

What  has changed since then is the National Party's introduction of the Resource Management Act (which was introduced in 1993) and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol by National in 1998, which was ratified by Labour in 2002.  The former made the construction of new generating infrastructure all but impossible; the latter (which under David Parker comes with an Emissions Limiting Scheme and a ten-year moratorium on the construction of new thermal power stations) makes the construction of any serious generating capacity immoral.  Together they make an anti-industrial dream team that has made every anti-industrialist in the country red-eyed with excitement.

As I said here last week, energy demand in New Zealand has increased at an annual rate of roughly 150MW, but, since the onset of the anti-industrial dream team, energy generation hasn't.  Energy generators have wanted to produce more power, but for the most part they haven't been allowed to.  We've enfeebled ourselves by a lack of industry's lifeblood.  The table below shows the slowing of capacity growth:

                 NZ-PowerCapacity-1965-2005-Bertram-ElectricityMarketReform

Have a look at what's been built since the Resource Management Act was launched by National's Simon Upton in 1993, (arranged from north to south):

          NZ-PowerStations_93-08

Now, looked at baldly that looks pretty impressive, doesn't it. 

TOTAL NEW CAPACITY 1993 - 2008 = 1850.5 MW .

That's almost 125MW per year for the last fifteen years.  You can see how that capacity was used over the last year in this graph showing the contributions of each of those thermal power producers over the last few years [e3p and HLY p40 are the new Huntly additions):

                NZ_Power-Generation-By_CO2-ToMay08

So, 125MW per year, mostly from new thermal stations like Taranaki's Combined Cycle Station, Huntly's new gas and co-generation plants, and the Otahuhu B station (Pete Hodgson's new Whirinaki station is just too expensive to run).  Not quite the 150MW demanded (nor quite the figure claimed by an 'Insider' here last week.) 

We could even go back to 1990 if we like and add the Clyde dam, finally commissioned in 1992, contributing 432 MW to the grid (giving us a total of 2282.5 MW, or 127 MW/year new capacity from 1990 to now).  But all this new power production must be balanced against those plants that were decommissioned, either because they were too old, too inefficient, or just too damned expensive to run.

POWER STATIONS DECOMISSIONED 1990-2008:
New Plymouth, 2007 (580 MW)
Stratford, 1999 (200 MW)
Marsden A, 1992 (114 MW)
Otahuhu A, 2002 (90 MW)
Whirinaki ‘a’, 2002 (216 MW)
Meremere, 1990 (133)

TOTAL DECOMISSIONED 1990-2008:           (1333 MW)

TOTAL NETT NEW CAPACITY SINCE 1990: 949.5 MW

That's pathetic.  Looked at like this, we can see just how sick we are. If we'd kept up with demand we'd have produced over 2700 MW of new capacity.  Instead, we have just one third of that.  

Here's what we relied on last month (Waikato, Tongariro, Waitaki, and Clutha are the four main hydro contributors to add to the thermal production shown in the previous graph):

NZ_Power-Generation-May08NZ_Power-Generation-By_Type_May08

And just look at what we could have built.  In recent weeks we've heard about the ban on new thermal power stations, and in recent years we've heard the Environment Court and the High Court knocking back and delaying Resource Consents for several high profile projects, and killing stone-dead the planning of many more we'll never know about:

Projects Abandoned/Delayed/Restricted due to Resource Management Act :

· Project Aqua, hydro (520 MW) - abandoned 2000-2004
· Marsden B, coal (320 MW) - abandoned 2007
· Wairau Valley, Marlborough, hydro (75 MW) - abandoned 2007
· Whanganui/Tongariro, hydro – Environment Court effectively reduced the Tongariro capacity by one-third due to the “mauri” of the Whanganui river …
· North Bank Tunnel, hydro (260MW) - delayed until at least 2016
· Makara, wind - reduced from 210 to 140MW in 2007
· Project Hayes, wind (150MW) - still in delay
· Te Uku Wind (72MW) - awaiting consents
· Te Waka Wind (111MW) - consent overturned by Environment Court in April, 2007

Leaving aside the effect on the Tongariro catchment of restricting water flow from the Whanganui, which is difficult to quantify, this looks like 1580 MW of power generation that we could have producing power now ... if it weren't for the Resource Management Act.

This is just some of the 'surplus capacity' that energy analysts in the late nineties were beginning to talk about coming on stream, and it hasn't.  This is surplus capacity that hasn't come on stream, and in most of these cases never will come on stream.  (Instead of this, we have one line of the dirty, asbestos-ridden hulk of New Plymouth's burner cranked up one more time to try and avoid the election-year ignominy of a shortage of electrical power bringing down those with political power).

The result of this undercapacity was only noticed by government last week when the power went off in the Beehive, but that rest of us have already seen it in news last week that factories from Bluff to Auckland aren't just switching off heaters and changing a few lightbulbs, they're already running fewer shifts and producing less wealth, all because of the parlous state of the present system, and with no new real generation capacity in sight beyond a few windmills.

This is what it means when we say that the effects of global warming are already upon us: the effects, that is, of government throttling industry to keep our Kyoto commitments.

Fact is, we either meet that increasing annual demand of 150MW per year, or we make ourselves poorer.  If we're going to have any show of meeting that continually increasing demand -- which means, to remain as an industrial economy -- we need to build new power now.

Which means putting paid now to the Resource Management Act, and abandoning urgently the commitments we've made under Kyoto to throttle ourselves and our energy production.

UPDATE:  Some arithmetic errors amended, Thursday 6 June, 9:10am.

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Why the left likes MMP

If you want to know the reason the left are solidly in support of MMP, then listen to Laila Harre on Kathryn Ryan's show this morning [audio here]. 

The ostensible reason the left supports MMP is because First Past the Post is "undemocratic," delivering government too often to parties that didn't receive the majority of votes cast.  "Under FPP, plurality and majority were synonymous ... thanks to the distortions of the undemocratic election system," says No Right Turn, "we live in a proper democracy now, under MMP."  "Pro-FPP respondents" are "less inclined to show any sympathy for the principles of broad-based majority government than [are] supporters of MMP," says political 'scientist' Jack Vowles.  "What is the problem with MMP?" asks the Green Party. "Could it be the way MMP means everyone’s votes count rather than just those in swing seats?" 

The clinching argument for many people supporting MMP was this idea that FPP was essentially undemocratic, that, for example, in 1978 and 1981 "Muldoon retained power ... despite National receiving fewer votes than Labour in both elections."  A commenter at the Double Standard sums up the unspoken feeling, that "in the last 36 years, the only occasions National has really beaten Labour are 1975 and 1990. National’s other wins have either been with fewer votes than Labour (1978 and 1981), the result of extreme vote-splitting (1993), or betrayal (1996). And even in 1990, an MMP election would have resulted in a hung parliament..."

And there you have the real reason the left supports MMP, and why the red blogosphere reacted en bloc when John Boy raised the trial balloon of a referendum on MMP -- a referendum that voters had voted for back in 1993! It's nothing to do with democracy at all, it's because MMP is more likely to keep the Tories feet from under the Treasury Benches. (And remember, any corruption is justified in doing that job!  After all, to a certain type of mind, ""Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war.")

Hence Harre on Nine to Noon this morning, eagerly doing her sums this morning to show everyone scared of Tory Government that if Labour can pull down 35% of the vote in November and if National gets less than 50% then with a little bit of overhang courtesy of the Maori Party and Anderton's Progressives the Red Team could still form a government.

Based on previous criticisms by the left of how FPP helps parties retain power despite them receiving fewer votes, one would think that such a situation would outrage them.  One might think that, except that it is transparently clear that the reason for MMP (and the Electoral Finance Act)has nothing to do with delivering "democratic government," and everything to do with keeping the Tories from the Treasury benches.

UPDATE: I should point out two things here that I"d have thought were obvious, but a couple of emails have suggested otherwise:

  1. The fact that the left are terrified of the Tories getting the Treasury benches doesn't mean there's anything for them to to be terrified about.  The fact is that the difference between a government led by Labour and one led by Labour-Lite is like the choice between Fosters and XXXX.  However you slice it, it's both unpalatable and indistinguishable.
  2. That the Greens co-leader person says comparing National and Labour is like comparing Coke to Pepsi, and that the Greens can "work with either," doesn't alter the truth that it's the Tories they see as the Great Satan. As Vernon Small said yesterday in The Dom's headline, "Greens' fears of old enemy colour views."  Says Small  “However they slice it and dice it, there is no real chance of the Greens ever preferring National over Labour. Pretending otherwise defies the policy reality," and every Green supporter knows that. Green posturing now is more about creating pre-election illusions of "independence," and a pre-negotiation position of being nobodies lapdog -- but everyone knows in which lap they'll be basking once the blocs start forming.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Boheme at Aotea

When a performance of Puccini's 'La Boheme' comes to Auckland, it's too exciting an opportunity to pass up.  But if you're contemplating buying a ticket to this 'Boheme' (now playing at Auckland's Ayatollah Centre before heading to Wellington) my advice on the strength of Saturday's show is "Don't bother." Or at least make sure you're tanked before you go."

The modern setting does nothing but detract from the story -- the dramatic pathos of burning one's manuscript is eliminated by the presence of a laptop; the freezing cold is vitiated by the summer-weight wardrobes of the men; and the addition of stormtroopers in the second act makes one think the director thought he was producing Janacek, not Puccini.  Which is to say nothing of the 'modern' attitude of 'gum-chewing nihilist' adopted by the performers.  At the moment of Rodolfo's passionate confession of love for Mimi, for example -- "Oh! Lovely girl! Oh, sweet face/ bathed in the soft moonlight./ I see you in the dreams/ I'd dream forever/... Already I taste in spirit the heights of tenderness" -- which thematically is the dramatic 'consummation' of their love, we see him leaning on the door, hands in pockets, looking bored. And we hear this passionate blast of love delivered at a volume so low it can hardly be heard, for in tenor Jesus Garcia we have a Rodolfo whose voice is as weedy as Mimi's consumptive lungs. This is the modern cynic par excellence, but it's not the red-blooded Rodolfo that Puccini ordered.

In fact, all the men apart from Marcin Bronokowski's Marcello lacked projection -- Bronokowski's fine baritone was the only male voice regularly able to be heard (and worth hearing) above the orchestra, which under conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak at least knew what they were doing: the music was exquisite, as was the singing of Tiffany Speight and Antoinette Halloran who played Musetta and Mimi respectively.

Both women were head and shoulders above their male counterparts, with Musetta's second act 'Momus' scene the real showstopper on the night.

If you've already bought tickets, then keep your eyes closed and your ears open for the two women and the orchestra.  For the rest, your time is better spent in the bar.

PS 1: The Herald's William Dart appears to have seen a different show.

PS 2: Here's the weedy Jesus (pronounced Hey-Zeus) singing what should be the first act showstopper at Bordeaux last year:

And here's Jose Carreras and Teresa Strattas showing how it should be done (this is the whole scene -- from introduction to ecstasy in nine minutes):

And here's Mario Lanza.

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Swindle feedback

Here's scientist Vincent Gray's assessment of  The Great Global Warming Swindle, screened last night on Prime.

"First: the programme itself is much improved," says Dr Gray of NZ's Climate Science Coalition. "All the objections to the original programme have been cleaned up. [Crawler Carl Wunsch, for example] who claimed he was railroaded into contributing, has gone... This version [which was quite a bit shorter that the original - Ed.] should replace the one already circulated whenever possible."

I have to pause here to note Eric Young's simpering disclaimer at the start of the show -- "Prime TV and Prime News wash our hands of this while thing" he almost said, before announcing that Swindle's maker Martin Durkin doesn't debate with warmists so the panel discussion later didn't include hime [a lie, as it happens; it's Warmist-in-Chief Al Bore who doesn't debate].  Anyway, back to Dr Gray's review:

Then, to the discussion. In  Australia they had a fanatically biased interviewer [Tony Jones] grilling poor Martin Durkin, who had difficulty standing up to him. Here, it was almost fair. Only two scientists to our one. But we won out on the non-scientists. Leighton Smith was the most experienced broadcaster present and he made most of the telling points.  His best one was when he exposed  the lie that very few scientists were critical of global warming theory. The two IPCC scientists ganged up to interrupt as soon as valid  points were made, and the chairman had difficulty controlling them.

Willem de Lange did an excellent job, but it tested his knowledge several times.

David Wratt [from NIWA] put over the same line that he did at his lecture last Wednesday and he honed in on the chief weakness of the Durkin programme, the reluctance to challenge the "Mean Global Surface Temperature Anomaly Record" which was accepted as authentic even by Fred Singer. While Durkin was accused of "cherry-picking," the MGSTAR is consistently chosen by the IPCC as the only authentic temperature guide, and all others are carefully downgraded. For example, Manning quoted the IPCC about "the warming of the last fifty years", carefully omitting mention of the satellite and weather balloon records which do not quite make it, and failing to mention that there was cooling for the first half of the period.  When the USA was mentioned somebody should have said that the corrected temperature record for the USA shows no warming [and that the warmest year in recent times is not 1998, but 1934].

Wratt even dragged out the Son of Hockey Stick which, again depends  on their cherry-picked MGSTAR. Willem made a good point in saying that [in this cherrypicked factoid] the "proxy" measurements stop as soon as they do not agree with the surface readings.

It is unfortunate that Pat Michaels , in The Great Global Warming Swindle did not mention his part in the paper with Ross McKitrick , 2007 which shows that the MGSTAR is biased by "socioeconomic factors".  This paper is published in the peer-reviewed prestigious Journal of Geophysics Research.

Wratt makes great play with how the IPCC only deals with peer-reviewed publications, unless, of course, if it is a Journal they do not approve of, like Energy and Environment. He does not mention that the IPCC controls the Editors and the peer-reviewers  of most of the Journals...

Insufficient play was made by the point made in The Great Global Warming Swindle that everything written by the IPCC has to be approved by the Government Representatives. With the "Summary for Policymakers" they have to approve each line. David Wratt is a "Drafting Author" taking down dictation. They like to pretend they are independent of the politicians and they are not.

Cindy Baxter was a disaster for her supporters. She obviously did not understand a word of the film or what the others were talking about and she made a feeble attempt to accuse us all of being paid off by big oil. The reality is she is paid how to think by Greenpeace Headquarters.

Martin Manning [a 'professor of Climate Change' at Victoria University] has aged considerably from when I first knew him. He looks like a possible suitable candidate for the role of Count Dracula  and did not come over as very convincing.

I find it difficult to believe that anybody who witnessed the programme could possibly still believe that the science behind the global warming theory is settled. I wonder how many watched, anyway?

Anyone like to answer him?

PS: I'm curious how many of you know the reason behind the film's title?  Who can be the first one to post the reason here? (Clue: there's a link to an infamous movie of the seventies.)

UPDATE 1: More comment and debate around the blogosphere, from NZCPR, Poneke, The Hive, Life From Right Field, Grim Planet, Political Animal, I-Shades, Kiwi Biker, the other Save the Humans site, and the communist who posts at the Ethical Martini.  Meanwhile, after failing to ban Prime's screening, the Greens's Frog Blog maintains a studied silence ...

UPDATE 2: A little bird gives me these audience figures for last night's screening:

    It did quite well for Prime, which probably has an average channel share of around 5%.
For Great Global Warming Swindle last night Prime scored an 8.4% share of "all viewers 5+" watching TV at that time.  It followed one of Prime's top shows, Top Gear, which last night recorded a 10.3% share.   The Prime News special debate afterwards itself rated a 10.4% share (slightly fewer viewers, but a higher share of people watching TV at that time).  The number of viewers increased slightly when TV3's Criminal Intent finished.
    As a comparison, TV One had a 16.6% for most of the night with Sunday Theatre, CSI and Criminal Intent on TV3 had around 20%, and Lock Stock on C4 had a 3.1% share. 

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Songs of Praise (with subtitles)

For your Sunday morning viewing pleasure, here's a hymn -- with subtitles for the hard of hearing.

                

And more 'Songs of Praise' from 'Not the Nine O'Clock News.'

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