Friday, August 29, 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

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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.  ;^)

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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.

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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

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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].

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Thursday, August 28, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 ...

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Wednesday, August 27, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  :)

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Tuesday, August 26, 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.

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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.'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Three Graces of Olympus

1896138281_94abd4e17a

1896149581_1aa52e9525 In one last Olympian fling here at NOT PC, I give you the daughters of the god Zeus and the nymph Eurynome: the three Olympian goddesses of joy, charm, and beauty who presided over banquets, dances, and all other pleasures, and who brought joy and goodwill to both gods and mortals, represented here by the second century sculpture of the three beauties now residing at the Met in New York (itself a copy of a Greek sculpture from the second century BC).

1954715425_873ae5ba5e These were the Three Graces -- special attendants of the divinities of love, Aphrodite and Eros, and together with companions, the Muses, they sang to the gods on Mount Olympus, and danced to beautiful music that the god Apollo made upon his lyre.
In some legends the FIrst of the Graces, Aglaia, was wed to Hephaestus, the craftsman among the gods. Their marriage explains the traditional association of the Graces with the arts; like the Muses, they were believed to endow artists and poets with the ability to create beautiful works of art. The Graces were rarely treated as individuals, but always together as a kind of triple embodiment of grace and beauty.
In art they are usually represented as lithe young maidens, dancing in a circle.
[Ref: Three Graces Gallery. Pics from jeepeenyc's photostream at Flickr]

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Separating school and state

Sir Humphrey Appleby and Prime Minister Jim Hacker make an amusing and compelling case for schools to be cut from the apron strings of goverment. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Fortunately, there's one NZ party with education policies that Sir Humprey wouldn't support.

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An outsider candidate?

Crikey, guess who's causing problems for both Obama and McCain ...  little old me.  Who knew that what started out as a joke would get serious!?  See this report on 'Peter Cresswell for President.'

Do you think they realise I don't have a US birth certificate -- which is a necessary condition of the job?

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NZ's most highly-paid beneficiaries

"It's a bit crude," says Helen Clark, for newspapers to be doing back-of-the-envelope calculations indicating that $10 million was extracted from New Zealand taxpayers for every medal New Zealand athletes won at Beijing.

GYI0000621598.jpg beatrice160 Bugger that.  For all that we feel good when an athlete wearing a silver fern gets to stand on an Olympic podium -- and yes, let's admit it, it's a thrill -- isn't it more than a bit crude to extract the money to pay for those moments by force?  Not to mention the failures.

At $10m per medal, and with a total sum of eighty million dollars extracted from taxpayers and doled out to athletes both successful and unsuccessful, that makes NZ athletes the country's most highest-paid beneficiaries.

That's not right.  As former Wimbledon tennis finalist Chris Lewis said in The Free Radical magazine a few years back,

whenever a problem arises that needs fixing - whether it be sport or any other problem of national concern - the most popular response is: "The government should do something." And more often than not, it does. Alas. 
    It is individual freedom that is the one thing, due to our inherent nature as thinking, choosing beings, that any proper society should recognise as man's absolute right. To survive, freedom is what man requires above all else; it is his by right, and therefore what the government should do all in its power to protect. The right to my - and your - freedom does not come at anybody's expense, whereas a "free" education, "free" air time, and government assistance with the pursuit of gold medals does; each demands and necessitates an act of government theft. Such acts are moral crimes, they are direct attacks on what life requires - individual freedom - and why I am totally opposed to government funding of sport, Olympic or otherwise, or to any other government programmes or agencies that are funded with stolen money.
    Can an athlete get to the top without stolen money?
    I did. [So has young golfer Danny Lee.]

    "To anyone who holds freedom as sacred," said Lewis, the most urgent problem facing this country is not the number gold medals we win every four years, however many or however few, but "the vile anti-individual philosophies of collectivism and statism that have given rise to this relentless onslaught of the government's violation of individual rights, which includes the proliferation of intrusive, politically correct, government agencies charged with the 'responsibility' of fixing all our problems."  Concludes Lewis,

If ever there were a problem that desperately needs fixing, this is it - and I say that the government really should do something. It should get out of the economy and out of our lives as soon as possible. What would soon follow is such a massive flourishing of the gold medal-winning character virtues - virtues of independence, ambition, determination, self-reliance and pride - that New Zealanders would soon lead the world in the most important race of all - the race of life.

Think about it.  Now that all the excitement is over, and you're left to look at your bill for it all -- eighty million dollars in total -- just sit back and reflect on the mentality that demands government take responsibility for everything, including making us feel good while watching sport.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do NOT watch this!

Please, I beg you, do not watch this video linked to below. Please do not click the link, and do not whatever you do head to LIBZ TV to watch it -- and even if you did head there and play the YOU TUBE video, then definitely do not open it full screen to make sure you can read all of the subtitles.

Ban_It

In fact, if you're an MP or member of the Green Party, then I implore you to ban it -- just like you try to ban everything that brings joy or walks tall in favour of everything that slithers.

"Ban." It's your favourite word, you know. Over recent years you've wanted to ban (and in many cases have succeeded in having banned) grape imports, alcohol ads, political speech for one year in three, ferrets, TV ads for kids, ads on TVNZ, growth hormones, native wood chip exports, native logging, pig swill, xenotransplantion trials, smacking, GE, field trials for GE, chemical trespass, property rights from the Bill of Rights, quick-fire logging, logging, fishing for toothfish, commercial fishing over much of New Zealand, whaling, 'toxic timber,' set-netting, bottom trawling, feeding animal remains to farm animals, battery cages, CCA-treated timber in playgrounds, direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs, crisps and meat pies from tuck shops, "the screening of programmes which sensationalise violence or use violence," "the routine feeding of antibiotics to healthy animals," GE maize, commercial releases of genetically engineered crops, "nuclear shipments from New Zealand's exclusive economic zone," sow crates, the dry sow stall, "weapons of mass destruction," the tooth fairy, nuclear powered vessels in our waters, beef imports from Britain to other European countries, "Japanese fishing boats from New Zealand waters," "the importation of all timber and timber products not certified as sustainable," "unsustainable" biofuels, open-cast mining, driven-shaft, gold mining, coal mining, mining, human cloning, sheep cloning, food irradiation, spray drift, all ships carrying nuclear weapons, wastes and fuel from the European Economic Zone, "backyard burning of rubbish such as plastics and treated timber," fireworks, "smoking in all workplaces including bars, restaurants and offices," "new uses of coal for energy," existing uses of coal of energy, new thermal power stations, "factory farming," dairy farming around Lake Taupo, dairy farming around Rotorua lakes, dairy farming in the Waikato river basin, "project-based approvals for the development of GE organisms," "all further building of prisons," free trade with China, junk food advertising to children, "the sale and long-term lease of New Zealand property to foreign investors," "the sale of toy tobacco products to under 18s," GM wheat, "environmentally destructive fishing methods," "uranium shipments," "the use of the antibiotic avoparcin in animal feed," "imports of cars older than 7 years," amalgam use in dentistry, the incineration of unsorted waste, unsorted waste, waste, "risky anti-depressants," "import of tissue for sheep cloning," 'trade in hazardous wastes," "'super baby' selection," plastic shopping bags, shopping bags, shopping, live sheep exports, and dihydrogen monoxide.

I'm sure you'll agree that it's a fair old list. If compiling it takes some effort, and I can assure you it did, then you might expect us to understand just how much single-minded dedication it must take to promote all that prohibition.

For all that you folks from the Green Party accuse every Tom, Dick & Harry of 'Greenwash' -- that is, "advertising, PR or spin that presents a government, company or its products as more environmentally friendly than is true" -- it's clearly you yourselves, every Russel, Sue and Keith of you, who are most guilty of Greenwash.

You see, as the leading interests of all your leading political candidates clearly indicate, you're barely environmentalists at all. You're not the light, fluffy green that your candle-worshipping and Morris dancing would indicate, you're the very deepest red, and you have been ever since you quietly and slowly took over from the hippies and stoners and reinserted the mantras of Mao and Trotsky into activists' heads.

So please, don't watch the video. Just ban it.

UPDATE 1: "Does this mean the Greens should review their policy of improving our environment by implementing a totalitarian dictatorship?" asks Psycho Milt at No Minister. "No worries there," he says, "since they don't have one."

Meanwhile, as if to prove Milt wrong, a desperate Greens leader Russel 'rustle' Norman trying to keep his his party's head above the five percent line is trying to calve off some floating NZ First voters with the unveiling of his party's latest ban: a ban on foreigners from buying property. Callum McPetrie tells you all you need to know about that.

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