Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Experience? In what?

I love Ed Cline's piece on 'Demagogues and Circuses,' which includes a pithy observation on the latest American issue du jour: political experience, As you'll see, it has a local resonance, perhaps even to John Key's claim in this interview to be like Obama.

    Much has been made during the presidential campaign of the candidates' experience or lack of it, in both domestic and foreign affairs. This is a straw man...  not a single candidate lacks experience in corruption, venality, malfeasance, concession, logrolling, compromise, theft, and a multitude of other misdemeanors.
    Obama is not the stainless prophet ready to lead the country in a "new direction." He is as guilty as any of the rest of them.
    John McCain is an enemy of freedom of speech. His campaign finance law has made it more difficult for any one to oppose the collectivist policies that his alleged opponents "across the aisle" regularly propose...
    What all the candidates seem to have lacked are any commitment to freedom, and the integrity to proclaim it and act on it. But, it would be an error to think that. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party is a friend of those things. In point of fact, both parties are committed enemies of freedom. Whether McCain or Obama wins the White House in November, there would be no "change" and no "new direction," but more of the same movement in the same direction, which is statism. The only difference between the candidates is the preferred rate of acceleration in that direction.

Et tu John Boy?

Scampi

I wasn't in the country when the scampi inquiry was under way, but the "secret" documentary on the inquiry that Rodney Hide claimed had been destroyed has in fact not been destroyed, but is alive and well and featuring on Whale Oil's blog.

Perhaps someone could summarise the main points for me, and tell me why it matters.

UPDATE: Looks like Rodney only claimed that TVNZ destroyed the doco, not that all copies had been destroyed in toto. My mistake.

And it seems, according to you, the readers, the'scampi tape' matters because it allegedly provides incontrovertible evidence that Winston Peters and the highest levels of the Labour Party corruptly collapsed a select committee inquiry - after they and NZF received hundreds of thousands of dollars from participants in the scampi industry who were trying to get around the quota system -- this being being yet another example of what occurs when a group of professional politicians attains power over other people, which is what the quota system represents.

As LGM says, "In such situations there is always the likelyhood of cronyism and fraud and theft. Even if it doesn't actually occur, the taint exists."

In such situations by the way, the "taint," if it exists, is not a product of businessmen who are just trying to get rich by producing more of what customers want, but of the politicians who try to put an oar in the way of that benevolent process.

Let the bullshit begin

The National Party's billboard campaign, now started, is singularly weak.  Not because the issue is not an important one -- NZ's loss of some of its most talented people to the convicts on the western island is a slowly unwinding disaster for this country -- and not just because the the billboard's style lacks clarity or force. See:

               natbillboard1

It's singularly weak because National itself must shoulder a fair share of the blame for the continuing exodus of some of our best and brightest, and not just because they were responsible in the past for the likes of the Resource Management Act and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, but for what people think they'll do in the future -- which in just two words, is very little.

You see, if the Labour Government's campaign against prosperity is what is pushing New Zealanders in their droves to leave in search of something better -- a poll back in May suggested as many as 1 in 10 adult New Zealanders is "fed up with high interest rates, worried about the housing market, and want better wages," and is thinking about leaving the country to get them -- then the National Party's promises and their campaign against their own party's principles is doing nothing to make anyone consider changing their plans -- and I'd suggest National's cheerleaders and their strategists (if such a species exists) reflect on that point. 

If the Labour-led Government is driving them away, then the prospect of a National-led government is doing nothing to arrest the flood.  Ask yourself why?

Emigration isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision -- it's a life-changing decision most people make based on long-term expectations.  For most of the last year those expectations would include the quite reasonable assumption that National will win the November election,  yet that assumption is doing nothing to stem the flow.  

They're not just showing a lack of confidence in what Labour is already doing to the country, they've already factored in their expectations of how little a John Key administration will do to change the country, and they're expressing almost equal lack of confidence in what National will do -- which as we know is to do nothing and change nothing. 

In short, they've realised that Labour-Lite will be just is as bad for their future as Labour was.  And that's singularly tragic.

I'll say no more now, since I said much more back in May.  I'll conclude instead with a line from an excellent piece by one John Gardner, a North Shore voter who's only leaving the country temporarily, but who articulates well the wary plague-on-all-your-houses departing NZers must feel about the politicians who make their lives a misery:

    But come election time and the truth is nakedly revealed. In their heart of hearts they think we are backward infants rather than thinking adults.
   
I'm glad to be freed from being treated with such disdain for a while.

Gardner is returning.  1 in 10 won't.  And National has nothing up their sleeve to stop that besides a billboard.

"Full & final." Yeah right.

Last night's full and final deadline to lodge Waitangi claims saw over two-thousand new claims come flooding in.  Not that this is a "full and final" deadline -- there's still time for electronic applications to come in: the deadline for these is Friday.

So that's well over two-thousand new claims to get on the gravy train that the Waitangi Tribunal needs to sort through.  At their current rate of settlement, that should take them ... about five-hundred years.

So much for seeing the end of the gravy train.

In any case, neither fullness nor finality have been features of previous settlements, as evidenced even in last night's avalanche which saw yet another claim come in from Ngai Tahu (who have already in their history agreed to four "full and final" settlements from the taxpayer for things those taxpayers didn't do)*, claiming this time that the government's Emissions Tax Scam will rob their forestry assets of "tens of millions of dollars" -- which of course it will, just as it will rob nearly everybody in New Zealand. 

Perhaps we should all make a Waitangi claim?  And then another ... and another.  Or should we just pay homage to Sir Douglas Douglas Graham, lord of the taxpayers' pocket, who when handing over a large wodge of taxpayers' money to the moochers from Ngai Tahu told taxpayers "The sooner we realise there are laws for one & laws for another, the better."

As a standard for both fullness and finality, and for how the law treats those tangata whenua on the mooch, we should remember National's Douglas bloody Graham and the legacy of separatism and paternalism he left behind; and we should certainly remember this sort of serial reneging when we think something as trivial as a deadline will put a stop to the gravy train.   Our memories might be jogged by another serial recipient of "full and final" settlements, Tainui, who were on the mooch again just a fortnight ago-- coming away from their recent negotiations with the guardians of our wallets with their begging bowl full of cash and management rights to the Waikato River.

"Full and final." Yeah right.
                                                                                         * * * *
* On this point, see Alan Everton's three-part Free Radical article 'Ngai Tahu's Tangled Web,' here, here and here.  The Waitangi Tribunal's report on Ngai Tahu's 1997 settlement, said Everton at the time, "is a 1.254 page doorstop of rare abstruseness and mind-numbing repetitiveness which is strewn with assertions in search of a supporting fact." Thus was the pattern set for all the Tribunal reports that have followed.

Trotsky beset by blog "fascists"

Not content with starting small blog wars to get his new blog noticed, Chris Trotter is now going wider. After listening to "a fascinating interview" on Radio NZ -- an interview between a blowhard and a blonde "about the blogosphere’s malign influence on the quality of public discourse" -- Trotter now declares war on the whole blogosphere. "There is indeed a 'fascist' quality to the blogosphere," he says.

Certainly we find the same levels of misogyny, anti-intellectualism, and aggression. And, even more worryingly, what I would call “ideological exterminism” -- the notion that your opponents' ideas should not simply be refuted, but annihilated.
Thomas Mann’s famous observation about burning books leading to burning bodies springs to mind.
We live in worrying times.

Worrying times indeed, when the country's most quoted leftist critic is unable to distinguish between the annihilation of ideas and the annihilation of human lives -- between a dagger thrust through a syllogism and an ice pick thrust into a human heart -- and is willing to talk airily of "virtual fascism" just because a large number of bloggers think he talks bollocks.

Has he seen the books heaped up under his window? Can we just ascribe it to the nonsense new bloggers say just to get noticed? Or is he now feeling the chill wind of a new oppression -- of a culture in which corruption can be "courageous," and where principle has given way to the flexing of political power?

Here's Christy Moore with 'Burning Times.'

NB: For the record, 'fascism' is nothing to joke about, or to devalue through over-use of the term. The word "fascism" comes from the Italian fascismo, from fascio, meaning "group." Rather than being the opposite of communism, fascism is simply another vicious variant of the same ideal of collectivism; where the Marxist bases his collective on "class," the fascist's grouping is one of race, or of nation. Where Marxism is a totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies "class war" and assigns to the state control over every aspect of private life, fascism is a totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies the state and nation and assigns to the state control over every aspect of national life.

The result is the same: one neck, ready for one noose.

As Ayn Rand observed, the so called opposition of communism and fascism is a malodorous myth -- they are simply two jackals hoping to fight over the same corpse. "For many decades, the leftists [ propagated] the false dichotomy that the choice confronting the world is only: communism or fascism—a dictatorship of the left or of an alleged right—with the possibility of a free society, of capitalism, dismissed and obliterated, as if it had never existed."

It is obvious what the fraudulent issue of fascism versus communism accomplishes: it sets up, as opposites, two variants of the same political system; it eliminates the possibility of considering capitalism; it switches the choice of “Freedom or dictatorship?” into “Which kind of dictatorship?”—thus establishing dictatorship as an inevitable fact and offering only a choice of rulers. The choice—according to the proponents of that fraud—is: a dictatorship of the rich (fascism) or a dictatorship of the poor (communism).

Essentially, it's a choice between a dictatorship that nationalises factories, and one that nationalises people.

The effect is the same -- human destruction. Only the slogans are different.

UPDATE: Owen McShane disagrees ever so slightly:

There remains much confusion between communism and fascism. They are quite distinct philosophies.
Socialism is the dark side of the Enlightenment Tradition. (If science helps you design a bridge then science helps you design society.)
Fascism is the dark side of the Romantic tradition. (Reason is trumped by feelings. Primitive people have greater wisdom than intellectuals.)
Socialism is econocentric. Fascism is not.
Communism combines the two by drawing on the "charismatic leader" of fascism.
Go to "The Rise of the Urban Romantics"
here.

I heartily endorse Owen's excellent and thought-provoking article (go read it here), but respectfully suggest however that while agreeing that the two political ideologies have differing origins -- and on this I think Owen makes his case brilliantly -- the source of their power is the same, that is, the overarching philosophy of collectivism that was endemic in the Europe of the nineteenth century; it's no accident that both the communist Marx and the proto-fascist Fichte owed intellectual allegiance to GWF Hegel (whose idea of the authoritarian state as the "divine idea on earth" is one of those "big ideas" one wished had perished with the arsehole who devised it), and nor is it a surprise therefore that the ultimate result of both sick systems is essentially the same: dictatorship in the name of a collective.

It should be clear, then, that the antidote to both these variants of collectivism is their polar opposite: a good healthy dose of individualism.

Architectural Mini-Tutorial: 'Capturing a View Alive'

Inspired by my good friend Michael Newberry, from whose mini-tutorials on art I've learned so much, I've decided to post regular mini-tutorials on architecture to help interested readers learn a little of the elements of honest architecture.

I'm starting my first mini-tut by looking outside - which is is in fact the essence of good architecture: to link inside and outside. The very best demonstration of that principle at work is in traditional Japanese garden design, where it is considered essential to make the viewer part of the landscape.

The starting point with Japanese garden design (and in fact all good garden design), is to start from inside looking out. The main methods used to "capture a view alive" are either to link foreground and background with a middle ground, or by dynamic lines and forms leading the eye out into the landscape to capture it alive and make it part of your own space. In the words of one Japanese garden designer, the scene must lose its "thereness" so as to put the viewer into the frame.

These methods have been formalised under the principle of shakkei, or the art of using "borrowed scenery." These are some of the main elements used:

Trimming of the view eliminates non-essentials, allowing one to focus on the essence, ie., the distant view. It is traditionally common to use low clay walls, pruned hedges or low hills or embankments, but the same principle can be utilised with any material, or even (as Frank Lloyd Wright so often does) with a house ...

Capture with tree trunks. This is the most common method of linking intermediary objects -- the aim is neither to obscure the landscape nor to frame it, but to slow the eye's movement across the landscape ...
Capture with a woods. The woods itself can be a trimming line ...

Capture with the sky. Often with the sky reflected in water, or with the sky assymetrically related to a large element in teh composition, such as a mountain or, as here, a tree. The effect is much like the famous Japanese prints of Mt Fuji, where a part of the mountain sits at one side of the frame, with one side trimmed to give a thrust into empty sky (and often, as below, with the distant view trimmed by the low plantings) ...

Capture with an eaves. Often used as the culmination of an entrance progressional, in which the psychological feeling of containment is instilled in the processional, then release is suddenly discovered, attained at the discovery of the open vista. The broad eaves trim the sky from the composition -- often parallel to a hedge as a trimming line (or here, at Fallingwater's guest house, trimmed by the walkway canopy leading to the main house below). The essence is the broad eaves thrusting out into the landscape, stressing the horizontal open vista.Capture with a 'stone lantern.' The lantern itself is optional, but when faced with very simple scenery, with the foregrund of a moderately complex garden, the link can be made by placing an object such as a stone lantern in the foreground, and also amidst the distant scenery -- due to the simplicity, the lantern stands out, and the two objects unite foreground and background. Look closely, and you'll see it ...

You will notice that 'capturing with a picture window'does not feature here, and with good reason: In Japanese garden design, this method is considered rather vulgar.

I hope this discussion of the elements of 'capturing a view alive' has been helpful.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Sarah who? [updated]

Sarah Palin, that's who. Unless you're my one of my two regular readers from Anchorage, Alaska, I don't know Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin any better than you do -- but that doesn't stop everyone talking about her.

Conventional wisdom is already saying it's easy to understand why Palin was picked since she challenges so many of Obama's own tick-boxes: she's young -- three years younger than Obama; she's a looker -- better to half the population than Obama; she's not a Washington insider -- unlike the buffoon knows as Biden ("change" you can see); with a Governorship of two years she does have political experience -- more, perhaps than Obama, who can only boast three years in the Senate; she's helped clean up corruption in her state -- unlike Obama, whose friends n his state are the sort who need cleaning up; and of course, she's a woman, which it's presumed might help steal votes from disgruntled Hillary supporters who care only that their political leaders have a vagina; and a member of the NRA, which might help confirm votes from NRA members who care only that their political leaders have a gun -- and that they know how to shoot bears with it.

As Thales says, to many this will be "the grand slam in the bottom of the 9th" -- the moment when John McCain wins the Presidency.
* He will get a significant portion of disaffected Hillary voters who are desperate to vote for a woman
* He calms the GOP's base who want a conservative
* He undercuts a major reason that many are voting for Obama - he's black.
* The "change" message now flows to both sides.
* He gives cover for those who feel that they have no choice, morally, but to vote for Obama
"None of which," as Thales points out however, "is a good reason to vote for anyone. So that's modern politics in a nutshell."

As for her policies, which is the reason to vote for someone: she's pro-drilling ... but she's anti-abortion. She delivered Alaskans a significant tax rebate worth several thousand dollars each ... but at the expense of raising taxes on oil companies. She believes anthropogenic global warming in a hoax ... but she wants creationism taught in schools, and opposes birth control even for married couples! A very mixed MILF then. (Or, perhaps, the first VPILF.) An anti-abortion, creationist wacko who begins to make sense when she gets her head out of the Bible.

Fact is, as Myrhaf says, the way her character is already being assasinated by the left suggests they see her as a threat to nationhood under Obama.
The left is trying to do to her what they did to Dan Quayle in 1988. There was a media frenzy when Bush the elder picked him to be his Vice-President. The media and the Democrats defined Quayle unfairly as an airhead. The left has a long history of attacking Republicans as stupid: Reagan, Ford, Eisenhower, and I believe even Wilkie and Coolidge were attacked thus.
And all this talk about her being "one heartbeat" away from the presidency, covertly raising the spectre of McCain's age and fragility -- while ignoring that his mother is still alive and well and living in Peoria* -- and Palin's supposed inexperience -- but "inexperience" compared to what? Obama's lack thereof? Barack Obama has never governed or run a business. He has no major legislative accomplishments. He is a socialist community organizer with zero understanding of economics -- whose Obamanics look very much like an Americanised version of Hugo Chavez's -- whose career has was kick-started by the corrupt Chicago political establishment because of his "glamour" and his ability to make gown women cry.

However, how is Palin significantly better? As George Reisman points out, Obama and Palin are both ignorant of economics, and her career has been elevated primarily because she's a babe with the zeal to make abortionists cry.

When it comes to "the question of experience," Myrhaf responds with another question that's worth considering:

Taking experience alone as a qualification, then the most qualified man to be President is Jimmy Carter... Would you want Jimmy Carter to be President?

Ideology is of supreme importance. Experience is a minor factor compared to what a man believes. Barack Obama is ideologically a lot like Jimmy Carter. Neither has a good understanding of America's enemies in this dangerous world. Obama, you could say, is Carter without the experience.

Which of the two inexperienced candidates, Obama or Palin, would you rather have answering that 3am telephone call announcing China's invasion of Taiwan? A lifelong member of the NRA or a man who holds collectivism as his ideal? A woman who once worked as a commercial fisherman or a man who once worked as a community organizer (a job that is by its nature altruist-collectivist-statist)?

Ideas get little discussion in American politics, and that is a shame.... But however bad she might be, I have a hard time believing she could deal with the invasion of Taiwan worse than Obama or even the supremely experienced Jimmy Carter.



* I confess, I have no idea where Mrs McCain lives. Peoria sounds good.

Peters sacked. Who really cares?

I don't often find myself in agreement with the Ninth Floor Blog, aka, The Standard, but for differing reasons to the writers of the Ninth Floor Gazette, I do this morning when they say this:

It’s a bizarre world view that finds the suspension of [Winston Peters as] a minister more important than the state of the financial sector and related government policy. It’s a world view that sees politics as about personalities, not how government should be used to improve the lives of people.

Now, the authors of The SubStandard and I differ substantially as to "how government should be used to improve the lives of people" -- they think government should suffocate you; I think government should get the hell out of the way -- but they're right in this respect: the sacking of a minister and last week's shenanigans in parliament are of less importance to Joe and Joanne Punter than the effect governments have on their cost of living.

And while the DoubleStandard clearly just wants to downplay the importance of the sacking because it embarrasses the venal shambles of a government they blindly support, but even so, the fact remains that to most rational people the sacking of a minister is simply entertainment that doesn't touch them at all, whereas a rise in the cost of living can be a disaster.  Rational punters know which of the two is more important to them, and it's not really the hoped-for demise of the Bauble-Meister.  Politics is politics, but it only affects the daily life of most people when it gets in the bloody way.

That said, here then is some advice for rational candidates are trying to woo would-be voters.  You'd be much better placed not wasting voters' valuable time making fun of Winston Peters (an easy but unproductive job), and explain instead how having governments in their face makes their lives more expensive (and the likes of the Emissions Tax Scam should make this both easy and productive) and that getting government out of their face, out of their pockets and out of their lives will make their lives much better, and their cost of living much cheaper.

And I don't just mean to be metaphorical.  Be specific, like Libertarianz Tamaki candidate Elijah Lineberry who says:

Move away from personalities and a broad range of opinions, and get down to the basics of day to day life; in answer to the question "Why should I vote Libertarianz" here are some reasons:

  1. Cheap food.
  2. Cheap petrol.
  3. Cheap alcohol.
  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.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Beer O’Clock: The Shakespeare

This week, a sobering experience at the Shakespeare for our RealBeer beer writer Neil Miller  ...

Billed as New Zealand’s first modern brewpub, The Shakespeare Tavern and Brewery on the corner of Wyndam and Albert Streets in central Auckland has a long and illustrious history.  Their fame has been always based on the quality of their beers.  All About Beer magazine even rated it as the 98th best place in the entire world to drink beer!

I’d visited a few times and always enjoyed their beers.  Sadly, a recent visit to “the Shake” confirmed reports that beer quality has been in a major slump for some quite time.

In order to get an overview of the beers, I ordered the tasting tray. The last time I was there I polished off the tray and had lengthy internal debates about which brews were my favourites. No such luck this time.  Here are my tasting notes from the latest visit:

Barraclough Lager – Billed as a true lager stored for two months, this is a bright gold, good-looking beer. Low aroma, sweetish body, light bitterness.

Bohemian Lager – Described as “incomparable”, it is sweetish, light aroma again, fuller, hint of spice but the late bitterness just saves it.

Falstaff Real Ale – Surprisingly clear and fizzy for a real ale. Caramel, not overtly hopped. I would struggle to distinguish this from Tui to be honest.

Regan’s Raspberry Weiss – Immediate hit of raspberry but is more like raspberry cordial. Soft middle then some sourness which is actually the best bit of the beer.

Willpower Stout – Chocolate, coffee, mellow, surprisingly thick for the modest strength. Distinctly better than I recall.

Pistol’s Old Soldier Ale – Listed as more dangerous than a minefield, it is actually very underwhelming. Soft coffee nose. This hides the high alcohol well but also hides the flavour well too.

King Lear Old Ale – Tangy – which is a little surprising and not terribly welcome. Very disappointing because this was great last time.

Puck’s Pixilation – I should have picked the signs were not good when the barman told me this was a honey beer. The sweetness is now cavity-causing. All the subtlety is gone. It has fallen from Belgian to Bus Stop. What have they done to you my lovely, graceful fairy? The plight of Puck is a true Shakespearian tragedy.

I left most of my tray sitting on the table.

Cheers, Neil
REAL BEER

A day is a long time in politics

Seeing this is my million-day, and this is my blog, here are pics of two of my favourite people, Frank Lloyd Wright and Diana Rigg.

     diana_rigg002 flw

And the politics?  Today, you'll have to head to other places to keep track of today's continuously changing political events.  I'm a blogger, not a journalist.  ;^)

Million-morning open slather

So much to talk about, and so much to say,  so how 'bout on my millionth morning you tell me what you want to talk about, and what you'd like to say.  You tell me what's on your mind for a change.  Feel free to post and vent in the comments, and I'll post the best of what I see here on the front page.

How's that for a deal?

NB:  Here's a few things to kick you off

  • This rambling interview from Winston Peters [audio] might suggest a few things to say, along with its companion piece here: the earlier interview with Bob Jones [audio].
  • PledgeCardAndBananas_small Or the observation from my colleague Greg Balle that Peters and Clark were over in the islands only last week telling Bainimarama how to run Fiji, when the pattern developed by Clark with her electoral finance abomination, Glenn's money and his New Years Honour, and her retroactive legislation to protect pledge card thieving -- and from her SFO-investigating Foreign minister, who wants to disband the SFO -- is a tinpot drama that fully vindicates 2006's Banana Republic Day pronouncement by Libz leader Bernard Darnton, and raises NZ's rank to that of an official South Pacific type of banana republic.
  • Or perhaps you'd like to comment on NBR editor Nevil Gibson's argument that the events in Georgia are not the signs of a new Cold War:  Instead, he argues, "Russian aggrandisement in the Caucasus is part of a revanchism that was bound to occur when America’s enemies detected the end of the Bush era would leave a considerable lack of backbone in the next administration."
  • Or to sink your fangs into the Emissions Tax Scam, which looks like it will become law next week!
  • Or into the multiply-qualified David Cohen (who once sank his own fangs into this mid-grade hack by calling me just "an office worker"), who wades into the bloggers as journalists/journalists as bloggers debate with a simple twenty-point test.  Do you scrub up?  If David walked down a street in the area in which you live and asked the first 20 people he met if they had heard of you, is there much chance that at least one would say yes?
  • Or the revolutionary new heart procedure successfully introduced at Waikato Hospital, that looks to be as life-saving as the now routine 'stent.'
  • Or the news that Ken Livingstone, Red Ken, the former mayor of London, has found a new role as an adviser to the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his political allies [hat tip Lance].
  • Or perhaps just take the opportunity to tell me I'm an arsehole.  Best insults get the front-page treatment.

BEST COMMENTS SO FAR:

[Nothing to report so far.]

UPDATE [12:04pm]:  I have to say, I'm sorely disappointed at your responses so far.  At this stage I see one good question about inflation, one suggestion that David Cohen would fail on his point number fourteen, and no other contributions at all.  It's shameful.

I'm a million-man blogger

                          Million-ManStats

Somewhere a few weeks back, in between posts on architecture and morality and politics and sport, this blog had its millionth reader.  As  of this morning (according to Statcounter), 1,035,076 of you have visited NOT PC since its birth in April, 2005, and hopefully found yourselves better for the experience -- or at least a little more informed.  I can't say that I write solely for your pleasure -- I quite enjoy the experience for its own sake, you understand -- but as Tom Waits has been heard to say, it'd be kinda lonely 'round here if none of you showed up: and you have, in steadily increasing numbers (as the graph above indicates) from all over the world (as the picture below shows) for which I'm mighty thankful.

Thank you.  Champagne has been ordered.

It's funny to reflect that just three years and six months ago, like many of you I barely knew what a 'blog' was, yet now -- hopefully like you -- I wouldn't know what to do without them.  My thanks to everyone who's helped make this one work, especially Dr Richard Goode, who called my bluff three years and four months ago and set up the blog for me after getting heartily sick of hearing me banging on about how I should start blogging.

Thanks Richard.  I have.

                           pc.blogspot.com-world

Gas station - Frank Lloyd Wright

  06wrigxl

For a man so in love with the possibilities of the automobile, especially with the human habitation they make possible, it's no surprise architect Frank Lloyd Wright was only too happy to be asked to design a gas station, and disappointed it was never built exactly as intended (here's one that was erected).

Nearly fifty years after Wright's death, the city of Buffalo is about to remedy the problem with the Wright-designed gas station rendered above to be constructed and housed - complete with overhead dispensers (deemed 'unsafe' at the time by building bureaucrats) -- inside a purpose-built building.  But don't try driving in and filling up:  these bowsers will all be empty.

Some Wright enthusiasts are less than happy however with this and other new 'Wright buildings,' based on little more than sketches.

    Robert Twombly, a Wright biographer, has accused the architect's former apprentices of muddying his legacy with mediocre "Wright'' buildings.
   
As for the Buffalo projects, he said: "I recognize the good intentions. But why tarnish Wright's reputation with ersatz buildings when there are so many real Wright buildings for people to see?''

Story here and here [hat tip Prairie Mod].

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Let's do it.

In case you were wondering what all those athletes get up to in the Olympic village once their events are over ... the answer is yes, they do.  A lot. It's all here in the Times story: 'Sex & the Olympic City.'

As 'Joe' says in the comments, it should be all the news teenagers need to take sporting success more seriously.

Tasers

Tasers?  Said it all before.  Don't get distracted by the smokescreen of the taser issue, which the Clark Government hopes will shoot the far more substantive issues from the front page.

UPDATE 1The Greens, oddly enough, have the most instructive observation on the government's game playing in introducing the taser filibuster to the house yesterday -- introduced "by a government that, up until now had been unwilling to politically debate the issues around tasers – claiming it was an operation matter for police, not a political one for MPs." Yes yesterday, the decision required not the operational expertise of the police, but the urgent attention of parliamentarians.

UPDATE 2:  And this, from the Police Association, who (as DPF reports) "attacked Police Commissioner Howard Broad for letting the taser decision (which is his) be used as a political delaying tactic in Parliament yesterday."

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said that while frontline officers should have been celebrating, the decision instead “highlights the politicisation of the highest levels of police”.

This decade's attack on prosperity: the Emissions Tax Scam

With all the hooping and hollering over Winston Peters, it's vitally important you don't overlook the reason Helen Clark is keeping Winston on the leash -- ie., his pledged support for Labour's Emissions Tax Scam.

It's vitally important because the Emissions Tax Scam is this decade's Resource Management Act, with everything that implies.

I've said before that National's Resource Management Act is the greatest attack on New Zealanders' property rights since the war, and it is. First introduced to parliament nineteen years ago, any honest New Zealander who's encountered it can only weep for what it's destroyed: the freedom to act as of right on one's own land.

We've had to endure National's Resource Management Act now for a decade-and-a-half, under two governments who've done nothing to mitigate the misery it's causing. And for a decade now, we've been waiting for the implications of National signing up to the Kyoto Protocol to hit home -- and now with the Emissions Tax Scam (a version of which both big parties are promising), it's really and truly about to.

The Emissions Tax Scam is the bastard child of Kyoto that will tie the prosperity of this and subsequent generations down to the level desired by the likes of Russel Norman, Mike Ward and Nick Smith. It might not yet be very high on your list of loathsome things, but like the RMA it will steadily creep up as its stultifying effects on your wallet and well-being become fully apparent over time.

The Emissions Trading Scheme, to give it its 'proper' name, is a type of 'cap and trade' scheme -- as I've tried to explain before, 'cap and trade' gives politicians and bureaucrats near-absolute control over what Lenin used to call the commanding heights of production, giving them power to limit producers that they haven't had since Brezhnev was a lad. Not only that, it gives them the power to force producers to redistribute profits from those who've earned them to those who can't. From each according to their production ability; to each according to their need for cash.
And it does this all to the loud applause of the world's markets! Using the market to introduce world socialism. What could be more ingenious?

For a decade now, I've been warning that when you marry the RMA to the Kyoto Protocol and its own bastard children, the issue of that incestuous union will be a destructive anti-industrial runt. Here's what I said in 1988 in the midst of Auckland's power crisis:

New warnings today that Auckland’s current power crisis is only a dry run for worse to come. Future restrictions on industry arising from ‘The Green Dream Team’ will dwarf our current problems... The Dream Team’s two players are the Resource Management Act and the Kyoto Protocol: The RMA we know about by now; the Protocol, signed by Simon Upton earlier this year, came out of a Government talk-fest in Kyoto, Japan, and extracts promises that governments of wealthy, industrial nations will ‘work towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions’ - the inescapable by-product of the burning of fossil fuels. Stripped of its worthy glow this means nothing less than a promise for the reduction of industry!
The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol, promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure (like power stations and industrial plants). The current power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us...
The environmentalists’ false claims for disasters that never happen will be dwarfed by the disasters that will occur if we continue to blindly accept their rantings. You think that the loss of power to our industrial capital for nine weeks is bad news? Just wait until the Dream Team kicks in - you ain’t seen nothing yet!

No, you ain't. You want to throttle NZ industry? You got it. You want to shackle wealth creation and tie it to the whims of anti-industrial zealots? You got it. Between them, the introduction of the Green Dream Team's dream couple to New Zealand's law books represent the greatest legal attack on New Zealand prosperity ever.

And you lot are about to go and vote for the pricks who will do it. As a particularly astute commenter pointed out last year:

[The Emissions Trading Scheme] will fail to achieve its stated aims, but it will succeed in diverting resources to ineffective and non-productive uses. People will be impoverished and will suffer. If you are tight on money now, just wait. You are in for a rough life.

Baubles not ruled out

This morning I have a very rare two cheers for John Key.

One cheer for finally saying something, anything, that distinguishes his party from the other party.

Another cheer for what it was he said: ruling out Winston Peters from being a minister in a Key Government.

So why not three cheers? Because on TVNZ's 'Close Up' last night [click 'Donation Questioning'], he confirmed under questioning -- albeit rather sheepishly -- that this didn't mean he would rule out a coalition deal with Peters. Did you get that? He wouldn't rule out a coalition deal with Peters.

So despite what you've taken Key to say, just remember that if Winston's party is still there next year, Key hasn't ruled out making a deal with him. What sort of deal, I hear you ask? Who knows, but it would have to be a deal that a lazy end-of-career gland-handler would appreciate. How would you feel about a deal that saw Winston with a different bauble -- say, a plum High Commissioner's role?

UPDATE 1: Lindsay Mitchell is equally unimpressed:

Johnny come-very-lately steals the show by almost, just about, very nearly, ruling Peters out of participating in a National cabinet. (Note that is not government and not necessarily the Peters' Party). It's a decision about as bold and decisive as another he made yesterday earning him the headline, Key slams bill - but has backed it for now.

UPDATE 2Paul Walker sees a "time inconsistency" problem here:

Key can say what he likes now but if after the election Peters is the difference between National being able to form a government and not being able to do so then Peters will be in the cabinet. Key can not credibly commit to never giving Peters a place in cabinet, and you can bet Peters knows it.

UPDATE 3: Meanwhile, David Farrar has a question people should be asking the Greens:

    The Greens position themselves as a party of integrity.
    So my question for the Greens, is this:

Will you rule out supporting on confidence and supply a Government which has Winston Peters as a Minister, after the election?

UPDATE 4: And The Standard (yes people, The Standard,), argues that Key's not courageous, he's poll-driven.  With Winston First's slump in the polls, from 4.1% to 2.1%, "it is now in National’s interest to see NZF not return to Parliament and create a large wasted vote; the larger the wasted vote, the less close to 50% National needs to poll to govern. Hence, Key’s change of stance on Peters..."  Makes sense, doesn't it.

UPDATE 5:  By the way, Peters's "I wasn't in Karaka in 2006" story is blown out of the water here, and here, with pictures.

An apology

I have an apology to make. On July 9 this year I said of Mr Peter Lyons, teacher, that parents of St Peters College students "should be grateful they have such an insightful chap teaching their youngsters." "Thank goodness for good economists like Mr Lyons," I said.

As yesterday's Herald column from Mr Lyons demonstrates however, I was wrong. Horribly wrong. Mr Lyons is not an economist's nutsack. He has in fact bought every pseudo-economic nostrum that the likes of Paul Krugman and Susan St John and all the "failed-policies-of-the-past" crowd have ever served up, fallacies that are best summed up in the title of his piece: 'Free Market Trip to Lower Wage Future.'

Wages are low and prices are high, he says, and all because "In the past few decades New Zealand has embraced the global marketplace with an enthusiasm matched by few other countries." "Kiwis are struggling to own their own homes and pay the weekly bills," he argues, because "We have applied a textbook economic model of capitalism to a real society" -- a "free market model [that] prescribed controlling inflation," "privatisation" and the implementation of "perfect competition" and "unfettered financial markets," based on a model in which "people base economic decisions on full information."

Really? I'm not sure about either you or Maurice Williamson, but I haven't noticed any unbridled cross-spectrum support for privatisation recently. Have you? If you're not sure, just ask David "Telecom" Cunliffe and Michael "Fail Rail" Cullen.

Nor have I noticed a full-blooded drive for free markets. Barely twenty-four months of the past few decades have seen reform that even paid lip service to freer markets, and in the final analysis many of the reforms, including those Mr Lyons criticises, were actually destructive of freer markets and a freer country.

And if our financial markets are so free and "unfettered," as Mr Lyons seems to think, then what's all that stuff that Alan Bollard gets up to all about -- how come we're not free of him? In fact, the very idea of "controlling inflation" through meddling by bureaucrats like Bollard is the very antithesis of an unfettered financial market.

And this notion of "perfect competition": it's not only horribly wrong, but with power given to the likes of Paula Rebstock to enforce the foolish notion -- giving her wholly unchecked power to be judge, jury and executioner over her moral superiors -- it's also horribly destructive, and hardly demonstrative of a free market.

And what of this ridiculous notion that "people base economic decisions on full information"? That's not the argument of genuine free-market economists, who recognise that people always act in a context, but the insistence of the state-worshipping "market-failure" branch of economics begun by Alfred Marshall and embraced by the likes of Paul Krugman and the text-book writers (for more on this particular nonsense see here and here; and more on "market failure" here).

Where, in the New Zealand of today -- a place where politicians are about to embrace a savage fiscal attack on industrial emissions and where talk of toll roads is enough to get everyone hyperventilating -- where, oh where is this free market of which he talks? A more sensible Herald columnist, Fran O'Sullivan, sensibly points out that "As the toll-roads fiasco demonstrates, New Zealand has become an economic cul-de-sac when it comes to the willingness to openly debate policies that are run-of-the-mill as far as most of our trading partners are concerned."

In other words, we're not even as free in our markets as as most of the people overseas with whom we do business, or would like to, and our position in the economic cul-de-sac has come about precisely because of our our unwillingness even to debate policies that are run-of-the-mill as far as most of our trading partners are concerned!

A free market in New Zealand? Never really had one, more's the pity. It's still, like the subtitle of Ayn Rand's best-seller on the subject, An Unknown Ideal.



UPDATE: In response to my claim that "Barely twenty-four months of the past few decades have seen reform that even paid lip service to freer markets ," commenter Stephen says, "That's a meaningless comparison when the quality and rate of that 24 months is taken into account..."

Well, yes and no. Given that Mr Lyons talks about "decades" of "embracing" the free market, at least we do agree he's talking horse shit. But the quality? Really? I've made a brief comment in the comments on that, but the best detailed response can be found here: Lindsay Perigo's overview of it all 'In the Revolution's Twilight' -- a summary of New Zealand's market reforms from one who was at the coal face, countering some U.S. libertarians who believe these reforms represented a veritable revolution, explaining how the various reforms have ultimately failed — and describing the philosophical revolution it will take for liberty to succeed.

I strongly commend it to your attention

Te Wero Bridge - the winner!

The winner of the competition to design the new opening bridge for Auckland's Viaduct area has just been announced, and it's this beauty above. As you know, I don't like to say "I told you so," but I did pick this as a winner way back in March.


Head here for more information on the winner, and a neat video showing how the movable blades work to open and close the bridge -- and also to find out how much it is estimated to cost ...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Winston: A joke

Q: What do Winston Peters and Graham Capill have in common?
A: They're both guilty of everything of which they always accused others.

Unlike Winston Peters, Owen Glenn has no reason to lie. The letter from Glenn relating the details of his donation to Winston Peters is entirely in concert with the story told by Bob Jones over his donation to Winston First, specifically of Winston's own involvement in soliciting the donations, and utterly at odds with the very cute story concocted by Peters and his lawyer Brian Henry of 'Chinese Walls' between them.

Sometimes one can be too cute. This is one of those times.

Q: Does this mean Peters is finished?
A: Have you not noticed how desperately Clark's minority Labour Government needs him and his vote? Have you not noticed the decision on which she needs to hear his support today?

This is neither justice nor a demonstration of the rule of law, this is politics. Feel free to insert your own adjective. Whatever the rules are, the only guideline for Peters the Politician is what he can get away with -- and with a fragile goverment and a core constituency of voters to braindead to discern right from wrong (and all he needs is a constituency amounting to five percent of available voters), Peters has been and will be able to get away with a lot. But to anyone with a brain, which now demonstrably excludes that five percent, Peters and his lawyer are a joke. Speaking of which:

Winston Peters and Brian Henry and a mathematician and an engineer were all asked the result of adding two plus two. Said the mathematician, "The answer's four." Said the engineer, "The answer's four, give or take a little tolerance either side." Said Winston Peters, "The media wouldn't know the answer!" Answered his lawyer, after checking he wasn't overheard, "What would you like it to be?"

UPDATE 1: David Farrar has The Letter.

UPDATE 2: Owen McShane further fleshes out my opening joke:

Thinking of Winston only one observation comes to mind:
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230
Shakespeare was advising us to always be suspicious of people who rail against faults in others.

The American sense of life? It's gone.

CARI.Obama It's said that "A country gets the political leaders it deserves." What then does the candidacy of Barack Obama say about America, and what's happened to it in the last thirty-seven years? Lindsay Perigo looks to an essay written by philosopher Ayn Rand just before the 1972 American presidential election, in which she drew a crucial distinction between the European and American sense of life and implored readers, "Don't Let it Go!"

"The emotional keynote of most Europeans is the feeling that man belongs to the State," she noted, "as a property to be used and disposed of, in compliance with his natural, metaphysically determined fate. ... A typical American can never fully grasp that kind of feeling. An American is an independent entity. ... Emotionally, an American has no concept of service (or of servitude) to anyone. Even if he enlists in the army and hears it called 'service to his country,' his feeling is that of a generous aristocrat who chose to do a dangerous task."
A year later, Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern proposed giving every American $1000 a year, raising taxes on income over $12,000 and virtually confiscating income over $75,000.
Proving Rand right, McGovern was buried in a landslide.
Thirty-seven years of ongoing philosophical corruption later, and Day One of the 2008 Democratic Party Convention is an orgy of Eurofascism....

"The difference between 1972 and 2008," says Perigo, "is that Barack Obama won't be buried in a landslide; he's more likely to be elected in one." The American sense of life that saved it from McGovern's collectivist state worship? Gone, says Perigo, buried by "generations of cultural corruption." Read his analysis here. It's one of his best pieces. (Head here to understand what Ayn Rand means by sense of life.)

CARI.McCain But what of McCain? Given that the candidate who buried McGovern in a landslide was Richard Nixon, don't things look a little better now? No, not really. As Rand pointed out at the time, the landslide defeat of McGovern was not an overwhelming vote of approval either for Nixon -- "Nixon is not a popular President" -- or for his policies -- "these are so contradictory that approval on some issues necessitates disapproval on others." It was a vote on a single point, "a matter of a single, fundamental issue: the imperative necessity to defeat George McGovern, i.e., statism.

For once, people had an opportunity to vote on an abstract principle and on a long-range issue—though they were guided not by full, conscious knowledge, but by their sense of life. In a way, McGovern deserves a grim kind of negative credit: he did make the issue clear—even though he spent the entire campaign struggling to evade, disguise and deny it. But a sense of life is impervious to sophistry—it responds only to essentials. What people grasped was not merely the explicit content of McGovern's program, but the emotional vibrations he projected; not merely his gross defiance of individual rights, but the fact that he seemed unaware of there being anything there to defy—as demonstrated by his casual proposals to redistribute wealth, to limit income, to bribe the entire nation with thousand-dollar handouts, and to disarm unilaterally.

American voters "saw the obscene spectacle of altruism's essence: sacrifice and surrender," she says, and they rejected it utterly. (Unfortunately what they embraced instead was not what the dishonesty of pragmatism, but that's another story.) This election they won't have that opportunity.

Both McCain and Obama are unfortunately cut from very similar cloth -- both of them thrown up as perfect expressions of the new 2008 sense of life -- or lack thereof. As Edward Cline has pointed out (see Cline's thorough three-part analysis here, here and here), they both offer up the same sacrifice and surrender syrup. When asked to define themselves, what is missing from both "is any reference to the freedom, political liberty, or individual rights that made America's enormous wealth and scientific achievements possible" -- and what both replace that with are references to sacrifice as both "a moral imperative" and "a touchstone of moral virtue."

"For all [McCain's] purported 'patriotism' for America," says Cline, "he is not by any measure a friend of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness."

This election, then, American voters have the choice between (to use the terms proposed by a commenter here) either a sacrifice-worshipping statist or a multiculturalist New Lefitist America-hater. Which is to say, they now have the candidates they deserve. Unfortunately.

Political correctness is destroying New Zealand - Lochore

The only man to have coached the All Blacks to victory in the Rugby World Cup says that political correctness is destroying New Zealand.  "We are living in a PC world which is destroying us," he told a breakfast meeting hosted by educators Parents Inc. yesterday. 

"We are living in a PC world which is destroying us, where you actually can't put the hard word on people when they have digressed and committed bad blunders," he said.

Story here in the Herald

His story could be that of any decent parent in the country who sends his children or grandchildren away to one of the state's factory schools as decent human beings in the making, only to see them gradually captured by today's dripping wet orthodoxy. 

The country's teachers colleges have a lot to answer for.

UPDATE: Just to show it's not just New Zealand being destroyed by the dripping wet tide comes the story of a nine-year old pitcher who's too good for the Youth Baseball League of New Haven, Connecticut.  See Nine-Year Old Told He's Too Good.

Not afraid to do what's wrong

Does anybody else find it ironic that a party opposed to today's gold-plated employment grievance laws is using those same laws to force a union into "talks" over their sacking of an employee?

Or that it claims "racism" by the union because they supposedly discriminated on the basis of race in sacking the employee, when the chief reason the party themselves is interested in the chap is his race.

Perhaps the main irony is that this is a party that claims, on occasions, to put principle ahead of politics and to have put scandal-mongering behind them ... as we saw demonstrated so cogently in parliament yesterday.

Lunugunga - Geoffrey Bawa

                                2208643162_45174c507b                   

  The Lunuganga residence is the masterwork of the late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, who John Balasoglou at Newmarket's Aalto Books reckons "was among the most influential figures in South Asia in the latter half of the twentieth century."Lunuganga-Small-Two

     In houses, hotels, public buildings, and perhaps his greatest achievement, his residential complex in Lunuganga, Bawa achieved the harmonious and pleasurable fusion of local building traditions with modern forms.
ft4-1    His legacy lives on in current architectural practice and remains an important source of inspiration for generations of architects. Bawa was the principal force behind what is today known globally as "tropical modernism," and examples of his ideas can be found in Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Bali, and in resorts and residences throughout wider Asia.

0500342385 You can read more about Lunuganga here and at the official site, and you can buy David Robson's new book on Bawa's work (right) at Aalto Books, 8 Railway St, Newmarket.  Let them know I sent you.  :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Green scam

Anybody reading this who thinks the Greens haven't already decided their position on the anti-industrial Emissions Tax Scam? Who doesn't think the 'consultation' was always a sham -- a ruse by which they can sign up to a scheme they opposed without looking like they've backed down?

Anyone? Then I have a toll road I can sell you.

UPDATE: And here they go, emerging from this morning's caucus to pretend they considered your view and announce ... they're supporting Labour's Emissions Taxing Scam. Quel surprise.

Spineless wimp

National's Maurice Wimpianson has been hoist upon a petard of his party's own making, just as Bill English was last month, as Kate Wilkinson was the month before that, and as every National MP with both a a viewpoint and a mouth will inevitably be before this election is over.

It's a petard made entirely of timidity -- of a policy of being too scared to ever say what they mean, or to mean what they say. It's a policy that means that National politicians are required to be saying less and less, which means their every bland utterance will be examined for more and more of what they might signify. It's a policy that means every time a National politician stick their neck out it's immediately and embarrassingly withdrawn amidst headlines of wimpishness and wowserism.

It's a policy born of desperation for power, and a the typical Tory tendency to appeasement, but it's a policy that presents a seasoned politician like a Clark or a Cullen everything they need to make a meal from -- as they already have -- and that requires every position the Tories might eventually wish to adopt remains essentially undedefended.

That's not a recipe for real substantive change, is it.

If there's anyone to blame for the accusations of National's 'secret agenda' being flung around it's the National Party themselves -- not because they have one, but because their public timidity and instant backtracking when challenged suggests they've got something to hide. And frankly, they have: their spinelessness.

UPDATE: The Dim Post's Daryl mercilessly satirises the 'secret agenda.'

Why we have no power

You'll surely be aware by now that New Zealand is short of electrical power -- and if a winter in which businesses had to shut down for lack of power doesn't convince you, then nothing will. And you'll surely have noticed that for years now, environmentalists have opposed all new power stations, and insisted that "we" should instead be using "renewable" energy, and you'll have observed that now the government has effectively banned the construction of new thermal power stations, the environmentalists have succeeded in forcing us to rely upon their favourite means of power production. Yet something's clearly going on here that needs explaining, since every time new "renewable" projects to produce real power are proposed, those same environmentalists have opposed them.

The latest example is on a tributary of the Buller River on the West Coast, the Mokihinui, where environmentalists are now gearing up to fight a hydro scheme proposed by Meridian - gearing up to oppose it with the same ferocity they opposed Meridian's 'Project Aqua' hydro scheme for the Waitaki. Hydro, say local environmentalists, "is an outmoded concept."

So hydro is now out too, it seems, which means no hydro and no thermal -- which between them presently account for over ninety percent of New Zealand's increasingly enfeebled energy generation.

So what's left? By what means then does one produce the power that is an indispensable component of everything we do in our lives? Geothermal is too feeble (and even with new projects proposed would represent barely five percent of our current power demand), and meanwhile wind farms like Project Hayes have also been deemed unacceptable to environmentalists (too damaging to the landscape, they say); tidal power stations, like Crest Energy's proposed tidal power station in the Kaipara, are about to be deemed unacceptable (too damaging to the dolphins and to the mauri of the harbour); hydro dams like the Mokihinui are now "outmoded" (too damaging to the eels); and, it should be noted, even in places where solar energy is viable, like California's Mojave Desert, environmentalists are opposing that too.

The point to take here is that environmentalists will be gearing up for a fight whatever the means by which a power station is to be powered, whether it's thermal or 'renewable' or whatever -- their opposition is all too obviously to human power as such. As Project Hayes protestor Brian Turner put it,"Our economy should be required to serve the natural environment, not the other way round. Everything we do should be in accord with that rule... We've long been too big for our boots [continues Turner]. Which is what Eugenio Montale, the Nobel prize-winning poet, meant when he wrote:

Twilight began when man thought
himself of greater dignity than moles or crickets."

Take a moment to note the sentiment -- this is an environmentalism that puts "moles or crickets" ahead of human beings -- and another moment to reflect that this environmentalism is now mainstream.

We're now seeing some of the results of that "we're too big for our boots" environmentalism.

The protest in the Mojave Desert over solar power finally got even the Governator exasperated."If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert," said California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I don't know where the hell we can put it."

But, says Keith Lockitch at the Ayn Rand Institute, that's the whole point. "This just shows the true objective of green activism. Environmentalists don't actually want us to find alternative ways of producing energy; they want us to stop using energy altogether.

The basic premise of environmentalism is to leave nature alone. Capturing and utilizing any source of energy--even ones that are supposedly green and renewable--will necessarily have some impact on nature, and will therefore inevitably be subject to environmentalist attacks and condemnation.
Since the use of energy is an indispensable component of everything we do in our lives, the greens' opposition to even such ridiculous, impractical sources of energy as solar and wind reveals their basic animus against human life.
On green philosophy, there is literally no place on earth for mankind.

Readers should draw the necessary lesson here. You must realise that human modification of the environment is the means by which human beings survive and flourish. The only means. And you must understand that when environmentalists say they're opposed to human modification of the environment they mean it.

What's needed, as I've said several times before, is a stake through the heart of the Resource Management Act [pdf] (which gives anti-human environmentalism so much house-room and so much legal power by which to obstruct development), and above all a new environmentalism that puts humans first, above moles and crickets and snails -- one that recognises we should be exactly as big for our boots as we need to be.

What stopped the Russian tanks?

Why did Russian tanks stop outside Tbilisi, Georgia? What made the Russian bear withdraw?

It wasn't the power of negotiation, observes Jack Wakeland, and it sure wasn't the sanctimony of the 'international community.'

Did the Georgian army destroy Russia’s armored columns? No. The tanks were stopped because the Georgians put up a fierce fight for Tskhinvali, the provincial capital of South Ossetia (and for the Kodori Gorge in northeast Abkhazia Province). Georgia’s brief defense of Tskhinvali served as a deterrent, not because it was successful (it wasn’t), but because it was fierce. The only defense that the small nations of Eastern Europe have ever had against the “big dogs” of Russia and Germany is to make themselves into fierce little porcupines and hope that enough quills delivered into enough noses will cause the dogs to give up the quarry as not worth all the trouble.

In the end, the Georgians might just have taught all of us a crucial lesson:

Do not be in awe of evil. Do not tremble when its power briefly rises to equal a fraction of our own. This is an invalid perspective, and it is a betrayal of confidence in what we all know is the deep well of power that the good can always draws from: that we are right.

We should know our own power. Being right matters.

Hoping against hope? That's just a place bet on Biden

In Obama's VP selection we see the audacity of 'hit and hope,' and the fatuity of change you can't believe in -- or as 'Write Ups' says:

In Barack Obama we have the candidate who is campaigning on the need to change Washington selecting a Vice Presidential candidate who is the epitome of Washington establishment in the form of Joe Biden.

This selection of a representative from the Washington establishment as his running mate represents neither change nor hope; with the harnessing of the apostle of 'change' to a poster-boy for the status quo, what we see here is not change, but the sound of politics as usual.

Obama's choice of VP candidate was being looked to with interest as a means by which to deduce what, if anything, Obama's mantra of 'change' might look like in practice. In fact, as Obama offers voters less and less in the way of policy or of anything substantively different to the prevailing status quo -- or even any idea of what he might actually stand for beyond the viciously altruistic directive, "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper"-- it is now more and more obvious that the only 'change' an Obama presidency would represent is little more than a change of skin colour in the White House.

Is this any sort of 'change' that's worth 'believing' in?

The only reason to get excited about the prospect of a black man in the White House would be the ready indication that in the America of the twenty-first century, a candidate's character is a more important measure of his suitability for the job of President than the colour of his skin -- but in paying attention to the colour of a man's skin instead of to the content of both his character and his policy platform, it's only too clear that that colour is still being made more important than character.

To say that again a different way, to vote for the black man in order to send a message that racism is no longer an issue has the paradoxical effect of proving that race really is the issue, since what your vote says is that you're unable to separate the non-issue of a candidate's race from the very real issue of his character, and whatever policy positions his character leads him (eventually) to adopt.

And once you do separate Obama's race from his policy positions, what exactly is it that one's left with? Nothing at all, really, beyond some faded signs reading 'hope,' and a tattered banner crying 'change.' Nothing, in other words, to believe in.

UPDATE: Robert Tracinski's opinion of Joe Biden is priceless:

I have occasionally referred in [my columns] to a congressional hearing being dominated by the fulminations of Senator Blowhard. I mean it as a generic name for any preening, grandstanding politician. But the concrete example I always have in mind is Joe Biden. He is the kind of politician who thinks that the purpose of any congressional hearing is not its nominal topic, but rather the opportunity for everyone to hear the great and important things that the senator has to say. He's not always sure what it is exactly that he has to say—and his listeners aren't always sure, either—but Biden is always sure that it is great and important. ...
This vice-presidential selection confirms my overall judgment of who Obama is. He is Peter Keating, the bright, ambitious young conformist from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. Like Keating, he is handsome and charismatic and good at figuring out how to make people like him. But he has no substance of his own to offer, so when he actually has to make a decision, he panics and tries to figure out what everyone else thinks he should be doing.