Friday, 18 September 2009

Beer O’Clock: American beer is like making love in a canoe

Your (ir)regular beer correspondent Neil Miller cross-posts from Wellington’s famous Malthouse Bar:

Any mention of the United States these days polarises people.  It does not seem to matter whether the discussion relates to foreign policy, hip-hop music or beer.   If you put the word “American” in front of a topic, it suddenly becomes controversial.

Me, I love America.  It’s big, it’s fun and it’s the land of the free.  As Laurence J Peter once said, “America is a country that doesn’t know where it is going but is determined to set a speed record getting there.”  Liking America is not the same as liking all Americans.  I find Oprah Winfrey more annoying than Steve Urkel and there are reasons why Canadians go to such great lengths to avoid being mistaken for southern neighbours when travelling overseas.

Talk of American travellers reminds me of an epic visit to ‘The Shakespeare’ some years ago.  Here is what I wrote at the time:

“I share the dining room with four Americans who have that amazing ability to make it sound like there are a dozen of them all talking at once through toy megaphones.  The four of them drinking OJ somehow manage to be louder than the six Canadians seriously drinking beer at the bar the night before.  One of the girls was actually called Britney and one of the guys felt it was acceptable to use ‘y’all’ a lot in everyday conversation.”

American beers have an appalling reputation internationally based on the fact that 80% of them are, in fact, nonsense on stilts.  This was certainly the reputation that Monty Python was lampooning in the line which now serves as the title of this blog post. However, that same accusation of mainstream mediocrity can be levelled at a number of countries around the world.  Often a nation’s most popular or most famous beer is hardly their best offering.  Both those generalisations apply fully to New Zealand.

I have to confess that I did try Bud Light during my stay in America.  Somewhat reluctantly, I had a taster glass of the stuff at my hotel.  Robert the Rather Excellent (Malthouse) Barman commented that this was the first time he had ever poured a tasting glass of Bud Light.  It had a faint, distant nose of apple, a watery thin body, hints of apple juice and virtually no bitterness at the end.  It was the very epitome of insipid. 

Robert agreed with every word of my tasting notes and explained that was precisely why he liked Bud Light so much.  Deep down, we all have friends like Robert.

If you move beyond the big three American breweries (Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors Brewing Company and Pabst Brewing Company), American regional, craft and micro-breweries are amongst the best and most innovative at the world. 

sierra-nevada-pale-ale1 One of the first examples of American brewing prowess to force me to re-examine my prejudices was the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6%) from the pioneering microbrewery in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, west of the Rockies.  Fragrant, luscious, bursting with fruit and brimming with bitterness, after one sip I could never honestly say all American beer was awful again.

It is still a special beer and is once again available at the Malthouse (and at other special places around New Zealand).  Joining it for the first time are a number of its Sierra Nevada stablemates including the decadent Stout, spritzy Summerfest and the wholly hoptastic Torpedo IPA. This big 7% beer uses whole cones of Magnum, Crystal and Citra hops for added intensity.

As for the punch line to the canoe joke, well, if you don’t know you will just have to look it up.  This is a family blog after all (although you wouldn’t know it sometimes).  The line is funny, but fortunately it’s not universally true about American beer any more.



Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand 
Beer and Brewer Magazine

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Friday Morning Rhamble [updated]

Hhello, good morning and whelcome. And a special whelcome to the good folk of W(h)anganui. Time for your regular Friday morning ramble ‘rhound the best of the net.  Plenty of good rheading here (courtesy of my certified Twitter collection device) that you can bookmark today and come back to over the wheekend.

  • Blogger Ryan Sproull and I cooked up a great idea at the Bloggers’ Drinks last night at Galbraith’s.  Well, it seemed like a great idea at the time . . .
    Read” A plan so cunning.
  • Stephen Hicks takes a rational look at "The 13th floor and other superstitions" and asks, isn’t it time to give it up?

  • Unethical businessmen are the result of the ethics taught at business schools – but not in the way that you’ve been told:

  • “Rockstar” economist Peter Schiff announces he’s running for the Senate in Connecticut. “At this time last year I could not have imagined that that I would be making such an announcement today,” he said in announcing his run. “I had never intended to become a candidate for public office. But these are extraordinary times. Our economy is falling apart in front of our eyes and Washington seems intent on making the wheels come off even faster. At a time when we desperately need adult supervison, the economically illiterate are running the show. As I love my country, it now seems clear that I must try to do something to help. The emotional and material support I have received from across the country has made the decision much easier.”
    See Peter Schiff Announces Run For Connecticut Senate Seat

  • English comedian Russell Brand has a field day on The View – hosts struggle to keep up. 
  • What is it with conservatives and their miserable view of human nature, asks Gideon Reich:
    Conservatives vs. Idealism

  • Something that always comes up on nearly every well-run comments thread: people asking “how do you know what you know.” Which in the end comes down to: “How do you know induction works?”  Roderick Fitts continues his investigation of induction at his blog Inductive Quest with these two thoughtful posts [hat tip Objectivist Roundup]:

  • There’s no ‘I’in team? Maybe not, says Michael Jordan, “but there’s ‘I’ in ‘win’.”
    Michael Jordan Scores One For "I"

  • Johan Norberg has a new book on the global financial crisis, called Financial Fiasco: How America's Infatuation with Homeownership and Easy Money Created the Economic Crisis. “This is essential reading for everyone who cares about our economic future,” says Harvard Uni economist Jeffrey Miron, “but especially for those who are still not sure what caused the crisis. As Norberg makes clear, private forces jumped willingly on a runaway train, but it was government that built the train and drove it off a cliff."
  • What  do these three things have in common? Hugo Chavez's red carpet junket to a Venice film festival; Van Jones's recent claim that he was the victim of a "smear campaign"; and recent comments made by Obama related to his push for a government takeover of the medical profession?  The answer is at The Rational Capitalist, who says these three seemingly disparate events “demonstrate the philosophy that is destroying the world." [hat tip Objectivist Roundup]:
    Chavez, Jones, and Obama: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions and Red Carpet
  • Atlas Shrugged is More Than Relevant for Modern Times says Ari Armstrong.
  • Here’s A Simple Principle for Politics: “ we need to re-adopt the principle of individual rights."  Good idea, I say.
  • Seen in the Washington Mall last week, perhaps the best Tea Party sign yet: A picture of George Washington with a word balloon saying "WTF?" [hat tip CordairGallery]

  • The it for tat tariff war between the US and China has started under the ObaMessiah’s tutelage. Obama's started by raising tarrifs on imported tyres. Chinese respond with threats to ban US chicken imports. Customers lose out, and economists start to raise dread spectre of Smoot Hawley . . . 18 hours ago from Flock

  • Despite what you’ve heard, the US health system is already collectivist. “By the time Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965, this view of health care as an economic product--for which each individual must assume responsibility--had given way to a view of health care as . . . an unearned “entitlement,” to be provided at others’ expense. . .  The resulting system aimed to relieve the individual of the “burden” of paying for his own health care by coercively imposing its costs on his neighbors.
     Why Are We Moving Toward Socialized Medicine? By Yaron Brook
  • President Obama, in an effort to sell his socialized health care plan, has said that what America needs is not a free market in health care, but a “uniquely American” government-controlled system. But what would such a plan really look like? “A ‘uniquely American’ government health care plan is a contradiction. In an America true to its founding principles, no aspect of any individual’s life is planned by a bureaucrat in Washington.”
    A “Uniquely American” Health Care Plan

  • A free market in money? : Anthony Evans of the The Guardian has it right.... [hat tip Mises Economics Blog
    [hat tip

  • Best motivation video ever?
  • “Education reform has long been a popular buzz phrase. But too often it's proven to be a hollow call as the education establishment kills off common sense reforms even while we watch districts struggle with failing schools and low graduation rates.”
    Indianapolis Tests Out Education Reform: A confluence of factors favors school choice—for now.

  • The Radler trademark story hits the UK:

  • Americans must prepare for deepening unemployment says Peter Schiff:
  • Inflation as we know it pretty much begins with the creation of the Fed.

  • New York's Standard Hotel has a great recession-busting idea for hotelliers with the necessaries: Get Naked!
  • 'Buy a House, Get a Green Card,' says Ayn Rand Boss, and you kill two birds with one stone.

  • What Would Ayn Do?

  • Illegal downloading: "It’s Not Stealing Because I Don’t Want It to Be." Yeah right.

  • Margaret Thatcher has disappeared -- from UK Labour's heroines, anyway.

  • 45% of doctors would consider quitting if the ObamaCare plan passes.

  • Ludwig Von Mises: The Prophet of the Great Depression.

  • Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand: Three Women Who Inspired the Modern Libertarian Movement.

  • Sneering nonsense about Ayn Rand at The Dim-Post. Feel free to chime in. I have.
    Alissa Rosenbuam

  • Queensland teenager faces 7 years in prison for breaking archaic anti-abortion laws.

  • How in hell can you send 2,300 texts in four days?!

  • If it tries to move, stop it -- when it stops moving, subsidise it. The Auckland Regional Council follows Reagan's rule to a ‘t.’

  • "Government should be limited to the protection of individual rights. Everything else was—and is—beyond its scope'."

  • Austrian 'Macroeconomics' is the answer economists are looking for: it’s the successful "middle ground" between the failures of Keynes and 'modern macroeconomics' :-)!

  • Another Look At the Remarkable Life of Norman Borlaug, R.I.P.

  • Hey New York Times, the reason Penn & Teller said that about Norman Borlaug was that it is true. R.I.P.
  • The pointless "live cross" from the news desk – Simon Pound does it better. AM

  • Credit shrinks at Great Depression rate:
    US credit shrinks at Great Depression rate prompting fears of double-dip recession

  • A Tale of Two Shortages: “With his people clamoring for their caffeine fixes, Chavez has expropriated his country's two largest coffee roasters . . .”

  • Ellen DeGeneres is sued for copyright violation. When asked why licenses weren’t purchased for the more than 1,000 songs played during the "dance over" segment of the show, her producers said they didn't "roll that way."
    "As sophisticated consumers of music, Defendants knew full well that, regardless of the way they rolled, under the Copyright Act, and under state law for the pre-1972 recordings, they needed a license to use the sound recordings lawfully," the suit states.

    Read more at:

  • Vote now to shoose your ideal “sustainable” world.  says Tim Blair: "I choose World 1 mainly because World 3 has too many wind turbines and a fish that’s larger than Japan."

  • Premature Detonation: Ordnance saved, terrorists wasted:

  • Labour’s Leanne Dalziel has called for a A Commission for Social Inclusion. Bugger that.  Opinionated Mummy would prefer quite another commission altogether: A Commission for Social Exclusion;

  • Is there anyone else who’s well over the media' fawning attention to the govt's Snail-Trail Folly?

  • "...a film where Germans are attractive, Americans sadistic, Englishmen effete, & Jews cold-blooded murderers." Why would you want to watch Tarantino’s gore-fest?

  • Did you see Tyler Cowen's review of Inglorious Bastards? Scathing. [hat tip Eric Crampton] 

  • "During the Great Depression limited government was sacrificed, & its principles compromised beyond redemption." Is history repeating itself?

  • Bye-bye Dubai?: Dubai is where the last signal downwards was given by the Skyscraper Index.

  • Jim Rogers: "Letting Lehman Fail Was Perhaps The Only Thing Governments Have Done Right"!

  • Jim Rogers: "How can the solution for debt and consumption be more debt and more consumption?" Can't be, can it.
  • Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Pay subsidies, get bludgers. Home insulation subsidy is another ‘cash for clunkers.’

  • Read: Fijian corruption, vote rigging, prostitution & blackmail orchestrated by deposed PM Qarase & his cronies.

  • "The case for legalising all drugs is unanswerable."

  • "A Republic, if you can keep it," is how Benjamin Franklin described the political system deliverd to the young nation by the Founding Fathers. America is not a democracy, and was never intended to be.
  • To address pre-existing medical conditions, restore free markets :

  • Stephen Hicks's 4-page essay with pictures on "Post-postmodern Art" is re-posted. It’s a beauty!

  • Is Paris the pervert capital of the world?

  • Anatomy of an Economic Ignoramus.

  • "The unshakeable faith in [climate] computer models ... would be the envy of any religious sect in the world. "

  • "A beautiful way to make a point." Fortunately, no longer a point that needs to be made in NZ.

And finally, can he do it?


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‘The Glistening Playground’ - David Gallup


An award winning painting by Californian artist David Gallup.  Check out his website for more great work. [Hat tip Michael Newberry]


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Cool machinery of the day: ‘Robobuilder!’

A few weeks back I posted a 3d-printer that can print out a 3d architectural model.  That’s already old hat.  Here’s a ‘concrete-jet printer’ that prints out real concrete houses, “using what is essentially inkjet technology, except on a larger scale and with concrete”! 

Never mind Robocop, this is Robobuilder! [Hat tip Oswald Bastable]

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Yep, nearly time for the impromptu mid-month Blogger’s Bar Bash at Galbraith’s – starting around 5pm this ‘evening.’   Which gives me the ideal excuse to post this cartoon I’d been saving for tomorrow – but it’s just too tempting:


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Quote of the Week: WSJ on Borlaug on exploiting the earth

    Today, famines—whether in Zimbabwe, Darfur or North Korea—are politically induced events, not true natural disasters.
    “In later life, Borlaug was criticized by self-described "greens" whose hostility to technology put them athwart the revolution he had set in motion. Borlaug fired back, warning in these pages that fear-mongering by environmental extremists against synthetic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and genetically modified foods would again put millions at risk of starvation while damaging the very biodiversity those extremists claimed to protect. In saving so many, Borlaug showed that a genuine green movement doesn't pit man against the Earth, but rather applies human intelligence to exploit the Earth's resources to improve life for everyone."
[emphasis added.}
……………………………………………………Wall Street Journal on Norman Borlaug, who died this …………………………………………………..week [hat tip Liberty Scott]

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Questions on piracy, lying, racism and more

  1. To repel the increasing numbers of pirates threatening to board them, ships plying the world’s oceans these days are often armed. Is anyone else a little disappointed that the ship heading into Tauranga and illegally boarded by idiots wasn’t?
  2. Since shouting “you lie” at President Zero, Congressman Joe Wilson a stern rebuke from the Congress – and cash and support from across the country. And since even Zero has now issued “a clarification” of his speech, is there anyone who doesn’t agree that he was doing just what Wilson said he was?
  3. Does anyone really believe that millions of people are showing up at Tea Party protests across the US because they’re all racist?
  4. Does anyone really believe that taxpayer funding for Maoris to insulate their home isn’t?
  5. Does anyone really want to be taxed to hell just so they can download porn faster?
  6. Does anyone really believe that illegally downloading and passing around copyrighted material isn’t stealing?
  7. Since socialists never admire profits, how come they’re always so eager to steal them?
  8. Since people hate gangs and criminals so much, then how come those same people keep rejecting evidence that prohibition only fuels them – that it puts them (fatally) in charge of the quality of supply – that legalisation doesn’t -- or in other words, that the War on Drugs is Immoral Idiocy and "the case for legalising all drugs is unanswerable"?


NOT PJ: A Nobel Endeavour

This week Bernard Darnton wonders who’s the best, and hosts a Nobel Peace Prize laureate smackdown.

_BernardDarnton Obituaries for Norman Borlaug, in the words of The Wall Street Journal “the man who defused the population bomb,” have made for inspiring reading. He applied a powerful intellect and ferocious hard work and saved hundreds of millions of people from hunger. He was truly one of humanity’s heroes – and yet in 1970 he won a Nobel Peace Prize.

This made me wonder: what fraction of Peace Prizes goes to heroes and what fraction goes to fu- … let’s just say non-heroes.

The obvious reason that I’m dubious about the Nobel Peace Prize is the 2007 award to Al Bore. I simply don’t understand how nagging people about their heated towel rails contributes to world peace. Also dubious is his Oscar. Regardless of whether you think it would be a good idea to invest in beach-front property in Tuvalu, you have to wonder what the Academy was smoking when it decided to give the Best Documentary award to a PowerPoint presentation. That’s like awarding a Michelin star to the Wattie’s factory.

1994 marked the Peace Prize’s low point, when it was shared by Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. The award was for “efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” So that all worked out then. Arafat spent decades running an organisation committed to shooting people. If you can get a medal for stopping shooting people, where are all the awards for those of us who never started shooting people in the first place?

To be fair to the committee that dishes out the awards, the relevant criterion in Nobel’s will is “the holding and promotion of peace conferences.” Arafat, having run out of cash to blow people up after the Soviet Union collapsed, certainly went to a peace conference or two.

Another former terrorist to get the Peace Prize is Nelson Mandela. Here we’re getting back into the realm of the good guys. Mandela is definitely the world’s favourite ex-terrorist. His armed struggle was arguably defensive and his bombs weren’t aimed to kill. He gained worldwide sympathy while spending twenty-seven years in jail; however, with the alternative being living with Winnie Mandela, Robben Island may have seemed like paradise.

Bringing apartheid to an end peacefully is certainly deserving of a medal, even if his ANC colleagues have regularly bollocksed up the running of the country since. South Africa’s banning of the New Zealand Māori rugby team on the grounds that it’s racially selected is deserving of another medal.

One of the other good guys on the awards list is Muhammad Yunus. He founded Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and popularised microcredit, the lending of small sums of money to the very poor. Critics of microcredit say that loaning the poor money to start or expand businesses and lift themselves out of poverty allows governments to cut back on welfare programmes. Supporters say the same thing. Give the man a medal.

Contrary to my initial reflexive thoughts, there are good and brave people on the Peace Prize recipients ‘roll – Martin Luther King, Jr., Lech Walesa, and Aung San Suu Kyi. There are also a similar number of warmongers whose waning powers were confused with efforts for peace. But neither group forms the longest list.

The biggest fraction of prizes goes to bureaucrats and quangoes. Most years the Nobel Committee falls back on the “holding and promotion of peace conferences” clause – the organising of talkathons – to find its laureates. The Borlaugs and Yunuses are rare jewels who achieved lasting benefits for humanity. If only we could find one person a year of their calibre.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *


Westcott House - Frank Lloyd Wright (1910)



Check out the Westcott House website for more.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It’s not racist, but . . .

It looks like  racist election bribes have started two-and-a-half years early:

Taxpayer to insulate Maori homes under ETS deal – NZ HERALD

Isn’t that nice of the Taxpayer.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Maori, Megatron and the Money-go-round

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

1. Key Under Pressure On Tobacco Price Hike - The Maori Party, brown wing of the Nicotine National Socialists, want to hurt the people they purport to represent via another increase in taxes on cigarettes. They also want a select committee to “bring these bastards from the tobacco companies out in the open.” Never mind that until the 1970s these same “bastards” used to provide New Zealanders with jobs. Never mind that many people still enjoy a smoke without hurting anyone else.
    Tariana Turia needn’t worry – although the Sunday Star Times article I’ve linked to claims the Key administration has an aversion to moves that could be seen as “nanny state,” John-Boy’s government is steaming ahead with an Emission Trading Scam and a capital gains tax (profit is such a filthy word, John - stamp it out as fast as you can).
    Tariana is fuming however that tobacco companies dropped their prices (as a lot of businesses do in a time of recession), and wants to punish them for it. One of ASH’s Obergruppenfuhrers, Ben Youdan, admits upping taxes would be a “revenue-booster” for the government. Thank you for your honesty, Ben. That’s what sin taxes are all about – stopping people enjoying themselves while gouging consumers. ASH, the Maori Party and John-Boy are a bunch of fucking morons. Don’t they realise that if Joe Average can’t afford to buy cigarettes legally, he will grow his own, or (more likely) buy some from a private “black” market source (which, of course, is illegal). And who will supply this contraband tobacco? Why, the same lovely people that supply people of all ages with cannabis, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs. The gangs. That’s it!
    Tariana must be gunning for the gang vote in 2011.

2. One in Six Now Born Into Poverty – The NZ Council of Christian Social Services delivers some chilling statistics – 20,000 more children on the welfare rolls over the past year; waiting lists for food parcels; families disintegrating under financial stress. One in six children now born into “poverty.” Unemployment trebling in the past year.
    John-Boy has the power to reverse these alarming trends, liberate the poor from welfare addiction and help them into jobs. Do it now, John: abolish GST, a tax that unfairly hits the poor hardest; make the first $50,000 of income tax-free (that way you could scrap Welfare for Families, the Labour Party’s ploy to lead middle class people to the trough and invite them to drink their own blood until they beome addicted to it); and end minimum wage laws. In other words, economic deregulation – as per Libertarianz Party policies from the 2008 election. Feel free, John – steal our ideas, we don’t mind.
    Those children who are not yet sucked into the public welfare system’s vortex of despair and misery may one day thank you for it.

Hide01 3. Hide: The Minister For Constitutional Change – What a disappointment Rodney Hide has been since he and his party joined the government benches. Supercity – one noose for the people of Auckland. Instead of scaling down and strangling the powers of the existing Auckland local bodies, Rodney Hide creates a bigger and more dangerous monster - Megatron, which will crush any resistance from ratepayers as it chews up their money.
    For 2010, Rodney proposes a Taxpayer’s Rights Bill – tying government spending increases to the rate of inflation and population increases – presumably the two multiplied together. Not cutting taxes on people who own real estate, but guaranteeing to increase these taxes. A Taxpayer’s Rights Bill is akin to a Rape Victim’s Rights Bill that doesn’t prosecute the rapist, but promises him a bigger and better violation next time.
hood01     If this is the best ACT can do, they are doomed in 2011. Rodney, you are on a suicide mission. From the ACT website, among the first four ACT “plans” are cutting government waste, reducing taxes, limiting the scope of local government and reducing bureaucracy. How the hell do Megatron and the Tax-Rape Victims Rights Bill achieve the above?
    For the first time - and I never thought I would do this - I am publicly calling for Rodney Hide’s replacement as leader of ACT. It is disappointing to see Rodney abandon principles the Libertarianz Party have always espoused, but from which ACT have departed under their current leader.

4. Public money spent on shopping – shades of Tuku Morgan, but worse; chief parasite at the Hutt Valley Youth Health Trust (Vibe) spent $21,000 on clothes about which she initially lied, saying they were for clients to wear to job interviews. Not only that, but her staff paid their children $70 an hour as cleaners. Not only that, but large wads of taxpayer money were transferred electronically (i.e. stolen) and placed into accounts belonging to the said parasite and her friend. And not only that, but money already extorted from productive people by the IRD, then handed on to bureaucrats and finally to Vibe, was not returned to the IRD fast enough by Vibe, who failed to file a declaration (“tax return”) in order to allow the IRD to estimate how much pre-stolen money they should re-steal from Vibe. The result: penalties for filing late tax returns, so that even more pre-stolen money ended up being re-stolen.
    Oh well, I guess the IRD were going to get it all eventually, anyway. Meanwhile, the chief parasite and her co-parasites were meeting in cafes, attending gyms, showering each other with gifts and throwing parties, with the money that Bob Russell (IRD’s head bloodsucker) took from you and I because we were too successful. Chief parasite’s husband says she has been “punished enough”. Apparently, “she was just hung out to dry by the board,” poor darling. Am I the only one who thinks this conniving, thieving scumbag should be sacked immediately, her name and photo circulated to every private employer in the country, and be forced to pay back every cent she stole, plus interest?                                   

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath


Quote of the Day: George Reisman on Emissions Trading Insanity

    “No matter what the assurances of scientists and engineers, based in every detail on the best established laws of physics — about backup systems, fail-safe systems, containment buildings as strong as U-boat pens, defenses in depth, and so on — when it comes to atomic power, the environmental movement is unwilling to gamble on the unborn children of fifty generations hence being exposed to harmful radiation. But on the strength of a weather forecast, it is willing to wreck the economic system of the modern world — to literally throw away industrial civilization…
    “The meaning of this insanity is that industrial civilization is to be abandoned because this is what must be done to avoid bad weather. All right, very bad weather. If we destroy the energy base needed to produce and operate the construction equipment required to build strong, well-made, comfortable houses for hundreds of millions of people, we shall be safer from the wind and rain, the environmental movement alleges, than if we retain and enlarge that energy base. If we destroy our capacity to produce and operate refrigerators and air conditioners, we shall be better protected from hot weather than if we retain and enlarge that capacity, the environmental movement claims. If we destroy our capacity to produce and operate tractors and harvesters, to can and freeze food, to build and operate hospitals and produce medicines, we shall secure our food supply and our health better than if we retain and enlarge that capacity, the environmental movement asserts.
    “There is actually a remarkable new principle implied here, concerning how man can cope with his environment. Instead of our taking action upon nature, as we have always believed we must do, we shall henceforth control the forces of nature more to our advantage by means of our inaction…
………………………………. – George Reisman in ‘The Toxicity of Environmentalism,’ written, ……………………………………remarkably, in 1990.

Guitar and Fruit Dish – Juan Gris


Colourful, stylish, well composed . . . but I’m leaning towards this being good decoration rather than great art.

Still, in 1919 – just one year after the First World war’s carnage had finally ended -- you could understand artists preferring to depict meaningless abstract complexity rather than deal with “the big issues.”


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I read their news today, Oh Boy.

The Herald’s headlines today cover their bets:

'Too soon to be certain' of economic recovery,
2:20PM Tuesday Sep 15, 2009,
SYDNEY - The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

New housing figures point to possible end of recession
4:00AM Tuesday Sep
15, 2009 REINZ

Anyone would think no-one really knew what was going on.

ETS: The hobgoblins have arrived [updated]

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
H.L. Mencken

John Key thinks you’re a prize sap.  If anything is clear from yesterday’s decision to inflict a Maori-Party-endorsed Emissions Trading Scam on you as if you’d welcome it, then it’s that he thinks you think he’s got things sorted.

What a sap.  Ross Elliot sums up what’s going on in ‘A Letter To His Subjects from Master Key’:

   Kia Ora, Taxpayer Bastards
    Today I'd like to announce that with the support of the Maori Party, we have reached
a compromise on the Emissions Trading Scheme. This will enable the government to withdraw from Labour's proposed full-shaft without so much as a kiss and a cuddle, substituting a far less arduous half-shaft with an optional reach-around.
    Power bills will now rise only 5%, fuel by only 3.5 cents, and overall household costs by $165 instead of $330. This should delay the destruction of the New Zealand economy by at least one election cycle.
    When I asked my Climate Change Minister, Nick Smith, why prices had to rise at all, he replied, and I quote, "Go fuck yourself, Honky".
    All the best.
   John Key

John has bought a pup, and if he thinks you’re going to be happy to pay for it then he’s even more stupid than he looks.  You see, John Boy still thinks that an Emissions Trading Scheme is going to “save the planet” – he really does, you know.  He hasn’t yet worked out that Emissions Tax Scams aren’t designed to save the planet, and they never will – they’re about controlling everyone on the planet.

And aren’t they doing well?

You see, environmentalists don’t really want to “save the planet.” If they were, we’d now be buried in tributes from environmentalists to the memory of the great Norman Borlaug who died over the weekend – the  great humanitarian who most of them don’t even know about – the man who saved over a billion lives, and reduced the need for so much of the earth’s acreage devoted to feeding so many. Have we heard a word passed in tribute to his passing from mainstream environmentalists? Of course not.

But human welfare is not their goal – and nor is reducing footprints.

What is the real goal then? It’s as simple now as it was when it was cooked up. Owen McShane has a story that helps illustrate what I mean:

“During my time at UC Berkeley, the New Zealand Government appointed Duncan McIntyre as the world’s first Minister for the Environment. (Sadly they failed to get rid of the now surplus Commissioner.) Flushed with national pride I alerted Professor Wildavsky to the good news. He listened to my homily without noticeable enthusiasm. About twenty minutes later as he walked past me on his way to a meeting he put his hand on my shoulder and said:

You know, Owen, if you are Minister of the Environment, eventually you are Minister
of Everything.’

“About ten years later I began to grasp his meaning.”

Do you grasp his meaning?  Do you see the ruse? It’s very simple, in fact it’s the same as every collectivists’ dream ever was: to put all necks in one noose.  Once you control “the environment” – what you’re “allowed” to put into it and what you’re “permitted” to take out – then you control everyone and everything.  As Bob Murphy points out, the ruse was telegraphed in 1954 by inveterate whinger and pro-apocalypse whiner Paul Erlich in another of his books filled with predictions of global environmental collapse that never happened, where he quoted Harrison Brown saying:

“It seems clear that the first major penalty man will have to pay for his rapid consumption of the earth’s nonrenewable resources will be that of having to live in a world where his thoughts and actions are ever more strongly limited, where social organization has become all pervasive, complex, and inflexible, and where the state completely dominates the actions of the individual.”

This, by the way, is virtually the only prediction in Erlich’s books that has ever been proved right.

And Erlich wasn’t quoting Brown like what he was saying was a bad thing – quite the reverse. Because for Erlich and his followers, reducing consumption of the earth’s resources is not their primary goal – increasing the state’s domination of the actions of the individual is.  This is not some random conspiracy theory, as Murphy goes on to point out :

    “Free-market writers such as Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman have stressed that it is impossible for a government to restrict economic freedoms while retaining civil or “personal” liberties. For example, even if a democratic yet socialist government assures its citizens they have “freedom of the press,” that assurance is hollow because the government owns all the newspapers and radio stations. It’s also naive to say that citizens have the right to protest the government, if that same government has the power to reassign workers to Siberia (because they deem it best to maximize national “economic output”).
    “Because of these realities, people who call themselves progressives should rethink their commitment to more government control over energy markets. It’s not simply a matter of abstract property rights and fairness for shareholders of oil companies. If the government can’t be trusted to snoop on our phone conversations or emails–and I wholeheartedly agreed with the progressives who were alarmed at the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush Administration–then by the same token, how can that same government be trusted to fairly administer energy markets with only the fate of the planet in mind?”

Perhaps you could ask Nicky Hager?

Just to nail his point home, Murphy quotes among other things a recent Spiegel Online interview in which “Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the German government’s climate protection advisor, [proposed] the creation of a CO2 budget for every person on the planet…”;  a new report issued by the London School of Economics concluding that “family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reductions”; and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which detailed just how Orwellian policies to ration water usage can become.   (And there are countless other examples he could have used, including the ongoing to calls to use “renewable energy” – as if you can simply plug “renewable energy” into the grid to replace real energy production; and the visceral resistance of activists to geo-engineered solutions to  global warming, or to simply leaving people free to adapt.) He concludes:

“As with the progressive complaints against Big Brother in the War on Terror, the same applies in the War on Carbon: once you concede the principle that the government can coercively interfere with people’s daily lives, then just about anything goes–and will go when the proponents can cite ‘saving the planet’ as their goal.”

For more fuel on this particular fire, read (or re-read) George Reisman’s timeless article ‘The Toxicity of Environmentalism,’ and read this panoply of man-hating quotes from a litany of mainstream environmentalistsThey do mean it.

Now do you think that our local politicians understand any of this?  I’d say not really.  They probably understand it all gives them more control, and they won’t feel bad about that. Their Maori Party colleagues will understand that it somehow controls whitey more than their own constituency, and give Maori forestry owners more money for not doing anything – and they’ll hardly feel bad about that. And the National-led Government itself is so mired in contradictions that while John Key is bouncing from cloud to heaping praise on his new scheme to tax everybody blind, his Finance Minister Bill English was telling people that that with the NZ dollar so high this government will need to do everything it can to make New Zealand businesses more competitive.

Almost unbelievable.

If you’ve ever wondered how we’ve ended up where we are, then that braindead contradiction sums it up: the men you’ve put in charge over your lives have no bloody idea what’s really going on.  All they understand is that a hobgoblin has arrived on their table that they think allows them to look good.

Pity they haven’t worked out the real stakes – or that the hobgoblin itself is largely a fiction.

UPDATE:  Global warming has now hit New Zealand -- not global warming itself, but the political response to alleged global warming.

On the policy responses to this fiction read (or re-read0 Christopher Monckton’s Open Letter to John Key on The Policy Responses to get some context. It’s a shame John Key didn’t.

And for those like Jeanette Fitzsimons who says that Nicholas Stern’s Stern Report tells us that if governments don’t act now we’ll all be worse off in the end, then they need to realise:

  1. Calls for “action” like Fitzsimons are only calls for govt action to limit private action. Nothing more.
  2. The Stern Report has been thoroughly discredited. 
    1. As Murphy himself points out, “In the climate change debate, people often forget that under all but the most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who will benefit from our current mitigation efforts will be much richer than we are."
    2. Stern’s “model” was deliberately chosen to show the worst possible outcomes: a medium high emissions scenario and with further feedback mechanisms, combined with the lowest possible estimates for future wealth to make the discounting look good.  See Tim Worstall analysis on this here.
    3. As climate scientists Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter, and prominent American skeptic Richard Lindzen pointed out thoroughly out in the Journal of World Economics, “there is [a question] how far the Stern Review, in the sections that it devotes to them, gives an accurate account of the scientific issues. We consider that the Review is doubly deficient. The scientific evidence for dangerous change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective....”
    4. Bjorn Lomborg talked more about the dodgy numbers behind the Stern Report. “Mr. Stern's core argument [is] that the price of inaction would be extraordinary and the cost of action modest. Unfortunately, this claim falls apart when one actually reads the 700-page tome. Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalized, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off.”
    5. In any case, the window for Stern’s prescription has already passed, the scenarios he posits are outlandish, the action he proposes is simply government action to ban private action, and in the end, “It’s not impossible that what we might end up with is an economic system largely destroyed by environmentalist policies plus the start of a new ice age resulting from government efforts to counteract global warming through the use of technologically inspired counter measures.”  Read George Reisman’s scathing analysis here.
  3. This is not about science.  It’s about politics and about control. Fitzsimons and her brood don’t care how Stern made up his numbers or how their tame scientists over-inflate their figures – that’s all part of the new post-modern scientific method anyway, right. 

It really isn’t about science; it’s about control.  After all, even if the IPCC’s worst prognostications came to pass, it doesn’t follow that we all need to stick our head in a noose. As Bernard Darnton says, we know that socialism doesn’t work at fifteen degrees, so why will it work at seventeen?
So what would a libertarian do about global warmingPlenty. Property rights can still work over international borders.Fact is, it’s not sacrifice and self-abnegation that’s needed, but more self-interested pursuit of technology -- and what's needed to pursue that is more freedom and less big government.

John Boy has just delivered the opposite.

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LIBERTARIANZ SUS: A tribute to the Towers

Susan Ryder has one regret . . .

susanryder It’s true what they say about it being pointless having regrets. But for a long time, there was one small thing that niggled.

It was just before I left Connecticut and eight of us had decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Windows on the World, the revolving restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center in New York City. At the last minute I pulled out citing fiscal prudence. Shortly thereafter I was leaving the east coast to backpack across the continent and decided that my money would be better reserved for that. My friends were disappointed, but accepted that they weren’t going to change my mind.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t been to the Twin Towers before, I told myself. And it wasn’t like I hadn’t seen the view from the top in spite of my dislike for heights. There are some things you must do in certain cities and a trip to the Observation Deck of the WTC fell into that category. I decided that I didn’t need to go up again and spend a lot of money to boot.

I used to spend weekends in Manhattan, courtesy of a friend who lived in a tiny apartment directly across from the United Nations on 1st & 42nd. Eileen was an Off-Off Broadway actress who spent periods of time performing out of town and generously gave me a key to her shoebox to come and go as I pleased. We’d met in London a few years earlier and kept in touch, which turned out to be a bonus for me.

My favourite time in the city was first thing Saturday morning. The weekday commuters were at home and the weekend tourists were yet to flock in, leaving the place briefly to native New Yorkers. Contrary to popular belief, I never found them unfriendly; quite the reverse, albeit brutally frank. Nor were they quiet, discreet discussion being unknown to them. And while it was often hilarious, I’m not going to talk about that today.

I went to the WTC on my first visit to the city. The financial district surrounding Wall Street has a definite ambience that doesn’t disappear when the markets close. It emits an atmosphere of power and wealth, particularly in those golden Reagan years. I found it enthralling. And the Twin Towers hovered over it all.

It’s difficult to describe just how big they were to anyone who never saw them up close and impersonal. In order to see the top while standing directly in front, I had to lean so far back I felt sick and even then, I still couldn’t see it. On paper, they were two very tall building blocks. In reality, they were majestic.

Fifteen years later I watched them disintegrate after the terrorist attacks that fateful September morning. Thankfully, I never lost a personal friend that day, but I’ll never know if any of the casual friends with whom I never kept in touch were among the fatalities. I do know of people who lost loved ones though, including the little girl who waited after school for the dad who would never collect her and the young man who started his first job in the South Tower that morning, who deliberately arrived early in order to make a good impression.

I also know that my blood boiled the next day when I heard the mother of a senior Epsom Girls’ Grammar School student report that some of her daughter’s Muslim classmates openly clapped and cheered the acts of terror. It is fair to suggest that these students will almost certainly have been echoing their parents’ beliefs, which begs the question as to the suitability of their residency. If you think that’s harsh, too bad. It is madness to bestow residency, let alone citizenship, upon anyone who would sympathise with terrorism against western culture.

I don’t think I met a New Yorker who liked the Twin Towers. In fact they loved to hate them, “butt ugly” being the descriptive term of choice. But I bet they’d give anything to be able to whinge about them again.

My friends had a wonderful time at Windows on the World that evening and were quick to let me know. I still believe I made the right decision at the time but, having said that, I’ve never missed out on anything appealing since. Life is too short for self-denial.

But after the Towers were destroyed, I was resolute. I decided that there were too many good memories upon which to dwell from those great days, as opposed to regretting an evening I never had, in a restaurant I never visited.

I wouldn’t give those murderers the satisfaction.

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column here every Tuesday. * *


Mid-month Bloggers Bash

Annie Fox reports:

There is a impromptu mid-month Bloggers Bash at Galbraiths. David Farrar from Kiwiblog and other bloggers from Wellington are in town and want to catch up with the Auckland bloggers. Kick off is 5.30pm this Thursday the 17th.

Get ye there!

Quote of the day: On those global warming computer models . . .

The unshakeable faith in computer models shown by the scientists who programme them would be the envy of any religious sect in the world.
……………………………………………………- Christopher Booker

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Victorian Space Science Education Center – Greg Burgess


This is the Victorian Space Science Education Center  -- that’s Victoria, Australia, by the way, for those who were wondering what a long-dead British Queen might have to do with space.  It’s “ a specialist space-themed school education centre, established by the Victorian State Government to encourage excitement about the learning of science.”  Architect Greg Burgess describes the building he designed for the Center in Strathmore, Victoria:

content_04 “The Centre is held within two spiralling wall-arms which act as noise buffers from the surrounding freeway and railway. At their centre is a soaring volume of deep indigo from which all other spaces are accessed (right). From its stellar apex light plays dramatically into the depths of the building. 
    Conceptually, the building forms and their energetic convergence and divergence mirror the transformative forces of spiral galaxies. The architecture is devised through its unique spatial formation, sequencing and ambience, to support the space education program by immersing participants in a challenging world of space travel, experiments, problem solving and teamwork. An educational experience both memorable and inspirational.”

Check out an introductory video for the Center here at the Center’s website.


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Monday, 14 September 2009

“Unknown hero” Norman Borlaug dies [updated]

"He was a bright, affirming flame in the midst of a sea of despair then prevailing."
………………………………-  M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India"

"Some credit him with saving more human lives than any other person in history."
- Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences, U.S.

"Dr. Norman Borlaug is the first person in history to save a billion human lives. But he must also get credit for saving the wild creatures and diverse plant species on 12 million square miles of global forest that would long since have been plowed down without the high-yield farming he pioneered. The two accomplishments combined make him dramatically unique.”
- Senator Rudy Boschwitz, former member of the US Senate Agriculture Committee

"Dr. Norman Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution that transformed much of the hungry Third World. . .  [I]n the 1960s . . . 4 million tons of food aid per year [was shipped] to India; now it can export food. Dr. Borlaug’s scientific leadership . . .  saved people from starvation. .  He is one of the great men of our age."
- George McGovern, former Democratic presidential candidate

borlaug-young If feeding the planet is your goal then your hero should not be Sting or Bob Geldof or Thomas Malthus or Jeanette Fitzsimons or (heaven help us) Che Guevara.  Even George McGovern can recognise that much. It should be that man in the picture there on the left: agricultural hero Norman Borlaug, who died on Saturday at his home in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 95.

Known around the world as the father of the real Green Revolution, despite viewing it himself as “a miserable term,” Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work to stop world hunger, for which no one did more.  Penn Jillette reckoned a few years back that Norman Borlaug was then the greatest living human being. Why?

"At a time when doom-sayers were hopping around saying everyone was going to starve, Norman was working. He moved to Mexico and lived among the people there until he figured out how to improve the output of the farmers. So that saved a million lives. Then he packed up his family and moved to India, where in spite of a war with Pakistan, he managed to introduce new wheat strains that quadrupled their food output. So that saved another million. You get it? But he wasn't done. He did the same thing with a new rice in China. He's doing the same thing in Africa - as much of Africa as he's allowed to visit. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1970, they said he had saved a billion people. That's BILLION! BUH! That's Carl Sagan BILLION with a "B"! And most of them were a different race from him. Norman is the greatest human being- and you've probably never heard of him."

So why so unheralded?  Says Don Boudreaux:

    “By saving millions of people from starvation, green-revolution father Norman Borlaug arguably has done more for humanity than has any other human being of the past century. Yet unlike Sen. Kennedy’s, his death will go relatively unnoticed. He’ll certainly not be canonized in the popular mind.
    “Alas, in our world, melodramatic loud-mouths thunder to and fro in the foreground, doing little of any value while stealing most of the credit for civilization. Meanwhile, in the background, millions upon millions of decent, creative people work diligently at their specialties – welding, waiting tables, performing orthopedic surgery, designing shopping malls, researching plant genetics – each contributing to the prosperity of the rest. Some contributions are larger than others (as Dr. Borlaug’s certainly was), but even a contribution as colossal as his is quickly taken for granted, any notice of it submerged beneath the self-congratulation, swagger, and bellicosity of the politicians who pretend to be prosperity’s source. How wrong.”

Sure as hell is.  The men of the mind achieve their heroism unnoticed, while their moochers and looters hof the headlines that should have been theirs’. 

For a sober career assessment of Borlaug’s under-the-radar great work, read the Voice of America’s tribute:

    “[Norman Borlaug’s] effort to increase crop yields has been credited with saving millions of people from starvation. . .   His advocacy of intensive, high-yield agriculture came under criticism from environmentalists in recent years, but Borlaug and those who followed his lead argued that older methods of sustainable farming could not produce enough food to prevent hunger in poorer regions of the world. . .  [Borlaug, of course, has been proved right over and over again.]
    “In 1944, when many experts warned of mass starvation in developing nations where populations were expanding faster than crop production, Borlaug began work at a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project in Mexico to increase wheat production by developing higher-yielding varieties of the crop.  By 1957, the average yield per hectare of Mexican wheat had almost doubled. 
    “Borlaug remained involved with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, even after his research took him to other parts of the globe, where he replicated the success he had had in Mexico, building his reputation as father of the "green revolution" in the 1960's. . .
    “In a statement Saturday through Texas A and M University [where he was still teaching], Borlaug's children said ‘It is the hope of the Borlaug family that his life be an example to all.  We would like his life be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind’.”

A vain hope perhaps, when arseholes still fight the introduction of new biotechnologies to increase food production, and those same empty-headed misathropic control freaks still deny the murderous effect of the ban on DDT – a ban which has killed millions, and still kills around 3,000 people every day!

Anyway, check out these tributes to the great man from those who have remembered him:

And finally, Listen to "The Norman Borlaug Rap" ‘sung’ by Rohan Prakash in honor of Dr. Borlaug's 90th Birthday., and check out Penn & Teller’s colourful tribute to Norman Borlaug on their Bullshit! TV show.

And check out the Norman Borlaug archive at AgBioWorld

As the tributes say, this was a man whose work saved more human lives than any other.  In a rational world this hero would not be unknown -- and his passing now should not go unnoticed.

PS: By the way, the ‘Ethics’ tag below is no accident.  It shouldn’t take a genius to work out why.
PPS: My thanks to the great folk at AgBioWorld for the links, most of which come from their latest newsletter.

  • Nobel winner credited with saving 1 billion lives, dies
    Scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug has died aged 95, known as the father of the "green revolution", he helped lead a movement that is credited with saving up to 1 billion people from starvation.
    Bravo TV3.

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