Friday, April 02, 2010

It's Easter, which means ... [update 3]

IT'S EASTER. GOOD FRIDAY. A day off. A day out. A day to sing hymns, sit in traffic and eat hot cross buns and Easter eggs, and--whatever else you do--a day not to go out shopping. Because today is one day the religionists still have control over us. A day when flunkies carrying clipboards fan out around the country hoping to fine someone for the crime of selling someone else a pot plant, or a pint of milk. Seeking to sacrifice shop-owners to the God of zealotry.

Meanwhile, the Christians who still insist on this sacrifice of shop-owners to the gods of unionism and bureaucracy celebrate the sacrifice of their ideal man two-thousand years ago.

Any way you look at it, as a story to celebrate it’s hardly a happy one.

Every religion has its own myths that go to the very heart of their beliefs. The pagan Greeks told stories of their gods consuming Ambrosia and gambolling on Olympus.  The Norse heroes told stories of gods carousing lustily on Valhalla while waiting for Ragnarok.  The Christians? They tell about the time when the head God sent his son down to be nailed up to a piece of wood.

As a myth, it’s hardly something to celebrate.

The Easter Myth is central to Christianity, and all too revealing of the ethic at Christianity's heart.  And art reveals their core.

Look at that painting above, by Salvador Dali. A great, powerful, awe-inspiring, revealing piece of art.  What does it represent? It represents man-worship -- the presentation of an ideal.  Note how the main figure is larger than life and seemingly immune to pain or destruction; a figure, incongruously in this context, that appears without pain or fear or guilt. The figure at left is Dali's wife Gala, who looks up at the Christ figure with a look of literal man-worship. If we have a question here, it should be this: "How can you worship the torture and destruction of that which you revere above all?" Fair question.

Bach's St Matthew Passion musically and beautifully dramatises the same Myth, while revealing the very nature of it. The Passion’s thematic centre occurs when Jesus appears before Pilate and the mob.

    “When Pilate asks the crowd who should be freed, Barbaras or Jesus. The crowd replies, "Barabbas!" and Pilate asks, "When what should I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?" The crowd shouts, "Let him be Crucified!" This final shout is musically rendered in such an awful way that the hearer is almost struck dumb. One can feel the terrible doom being called down. Pilate then asks (in Part 56), "Why, what has this man done?" His question is answered by what is probably the loneliest Soprano ever, who says, "He has done good to us all, He gave sight to the blind, The lame he made to walk; He told us his father's word, He drove the devils forth; The wretched he has raised up; He received and sheltered sinners, Nothing else has my Jesus done."
    “Following this is an even more poignant aria that begins, "Out of love my Savior is willing to die." After that the chorus repeats the sentence, which is made worse by what we have just heard.”

Just think, Christians revere Christ as their ideal, and Bach has his chorus and soloists praise him, worship him, and eulogise Him – this, above all, was their hero (Bach tells us), the man they believe their god sent to earth as an example of the highest possible on this earth -- and then they and that god went and had him killed. Tortured, Crucified.

That's the story. This, says Bach in the true honesty that great art reveals, is what Christians revere: The murder of their ideal man.  

It’s an astonishing ethic to celebrate, isn’t it: the sacrifice of the ideal man just to appease and placate the mob.

Hans Holbein’s ‘Christ After Crucifixion’ lays bare the reality of the sacrifice.

It’s not a pretty painting, as this detail makes plain:

 

A good subtitle for this 1521 painting might be ‘A Christian Confronts Reality.’  That, at least, was how the Russian novelist Dostoyevsky felt when confronted with this naturalistic depiction of the battered Christian corpse in 1867: confronted with the horrific reality of crucifixion and its results, Dostoyevsky was struck by the importance of this confrontation for his faith, and inspired to dramatise in his next novel what that confrontation meant. Said his wife, “The figure of Christ taken from the cross, whose body already showed signs of decomposition, haunted him like a horrible nightmare.  In his notes to [his novel] The Idiot and in the novel itself he returns again and again to his theme.”

Holbein confronts the Christian viewer with a powerful choice: One must either believe that God raised this ravaged body from the dead, and that the Christian myth, therefore, “offers hope for humanity beyond this life”; or else accept that the dead stay dead, that such an event did not and could not occur, that reality is what it is – with all that follows therefrom. As Dostoyevsky has a character in The Idiot explain it,

    His body on the cross was therefore fully and entirely subject to the laws of nature. In the picture the face is terribly smashed with blows, swollen, covered with terrible, swollen, and bloodstained bruises, the eyes open and squinting; the large, open whites of the eyes have a sort of dead and glassy glint. . . .
   Looking at that picture, you get the impression of nature as some enormous, implacable, and dumb beast, or, to put it more correctly, much more correctly, though it may seem strange, as some huge engine of the latest design, which has senselessly seized, cut to pieces, and swallowed up–impassively and unfeelingly–a great and priceless Being, a Being worth the whole of nature and all its laws, worth the entire earth, which was perhaps created solely for the coming of that Being!

Good art need not be a thing of beauty, but it must have something to say.  This certainly does that. If you believe the Creation myth and all that goes with it, the idea that all this was designed by something supernatural and omnipotent, then you must believe this torture too was designed. That it was intended.  That the God who once insisted that Abraham sacrifice his own son now makes the mob insist on the sacrifice of their ideal.

Let me ask you again, Don’t you think it astonishing to celebrate this barbarity?

IT WOULD BE EVEN MORE astonishing if that were what Easter really meant.  Thankfully, it’s not.

In Pagan times you see, Easter was the time in the Northern calendar when the coming of spring was celebrated -- the celebration of new life, of coming fecundity.  Hence the eggs and rabbits and celebrations of fertility. Indeed, the very word "Easter" comes from Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, and means, symbolically, the festival celebrating the rebirth of light after the darkness of winter. 

But with the coming of Christianity, the celebration was hijacked to become this veneration of torture and sacrifice.

Such is the nature of the Christians’ Easter Myth which was supplanted over the pagan celebration--and of the ethic at the very heart of Christianity. Not peace, not love, not understanding, but sacrifice -- the murder and torture of tall poppies -- the sacrifice of the Christian's highest possible for the sake of the meanest most rotten 'sinner,' whose redemption Christ's murder was supposed to buy.

To put it bluntly, the Easter myth that Bach dramatises so well is one of suffering and sacrifice and murder, and the collusion of a supposedly omnipotent and omniscient god in the murder of his own son -- and if you subscribe to the whole sick fantasy then that is what you are required to believe—to believe in every rotten, blood-dripping detail. For in the name of religion Bach shows us that the good (by Christian standards) must be sacrificed to the rotten; the constant to the inconstant; the talented and inspirational to the lumpen dross -- the ideal to the worthless.

For Christians, then, Easter is a time to revere that sacrifice and to remind themselves (and us) of the centrality of sacrifice to their fantasy. Oh yes, there's a 'rebirth' of sorts in their fantasy, but not one on this earth realm, and not before a celebration of intense pain and suffering that supposedly bought redemption and virtue for those who possessed neither.  

As Robert Tracinski says so bluntly, "Easter's Mixture of the Benevolent and the Horrific Reveals Religion's Antagonism to Human Life." And so it does.

THERE IS ANOTHER STORY that stands in complete contrast to this one, that is in all senses its polar opposite. Unlike the anti-heroes of Bach's Passion--who murder their hero in a vain attempt to save their desiccated souls—or Dostoyevsky’s—who torture themselves with thoughts of a “malevolent universe” in which they are “trapped”--the heroes of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead shun sacrifice and venerate their own human powers on this earth. 

The hero of that novel, Howard Roark, appears in court in a similar position dramatically in which Bach has his own hero. Thrown to the mob and fighting for his life in court, rather than acquiesce as Bach’s hero does, Roark states instead—as clearly and categorically as he knows how—his own terms.

    “I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.
    "I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others.
    "It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
    "I wished to come here and say that the integrity of a man's creative work is of greater importance than any charitable endeavor. Those of you who do not understand this are the men who're destroying the world.
    "I wished to come here and state my terms. I do not care to exist on any others.
    "I recognize no obligations toward men except one: to respect their freedom and to take no part in a slave society.”

This time, the hero says, the sacrifice demanded by the mob is rejected.

The contrast to the other story is stark,wouldn’t you say?

The ethic of The Fountainhead, one for which each of the leading characters fights in their own way, is one in which genius has the right to live for its own sake.  The contrast with the demand of Christianity that The Good inheres in the act of suffering and dying for the expiation of others could not be stronger, or the question more important!  Rather than demanding and worshipping the sacrifice of the highest to the lowest -- or as Nietzsche did, retaining the ethic but reversing the beneficiary of the sacrifice by demanding the sacrifice of the lowest to the highest -- the ethic of The Fountainhead insists that The Good is not to suffer and to die, but to enjoy yourself and live -- without any sacrifice at all of anyone to anyone else.

In my book, that really is an ethic worthy of reverence.

NOW, I'M ALL TOO aware that if you believe the Easter Myth, then anything I say here is going to pass right by you.  So if you do insist on venerating sacrifice this weekend, and especially if you're intending a bit of crucifixion yourself, or even just a bit of mildly flogging or self-torture, then here are a few simple Easter Safety Tips for you from the Church, which are not unfortunately intended as satire.

And now, for all the bureaucrats who are working today while they insist that others don’t, here's that Nick Kim cartoon again ...

Easter_Trading

Have a happy holiday!

UPDATE 1:  PZ Myers takes aim at the Easter Story at Pharyngula:

    “It's Easter. Once again, the masses will gawp in awe at a bizarre and unbelievable story…because it is such a good example of how religion will piggy-back on our cognitive biases.
    “You all know the Easter story: a god turns into a man, gets tortured and killed, rises from the dead, and somehow this act makes us all better. It's a tale best left unexamined, because it makes no sense. We are supposed to wallow in an emotional thrill that taps deep into our social consciousness, not think about what the story actually says.
    “The part of the story that works for us is the idea of self-sacrifice.”

See, that’s the part that doesn’t work for me.  Doesn’t work at all, because the nobility of sacrifice is something I utterly reject.

    “ ‘Sacrifice’ [says Rand] does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. ‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. ‘Sacrifice’ is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t.

That’s why of itself it is barbaric. It is, to quote Nietzsche, a revolt of everything that crawls against everything that’s high.  That’s why the barbarity of the Christian sacrifice is so stark.

If it were true.

And if it were, there’s a few other beefs a rational individual might have with the god who set it up. 

“Because, unfortunately [points out Myers], Jesus isn't saving us from anything real, and he made no change in the world with his death.”

Read Sunday Sacrilege: The silliest story ever told.

UPDATE 2:   Said Thomas Paine “Outrageous claims require outrageous proof.”  And there are few claims more outrageous than the one on which the Christian church rests.

Former Pastor Dan Barker offers An Easter Challenge For ChristiansWho’s up for it?

UPDATE 3: By the way, did you know that Jesus was God's 111th Killing?

    “It's hard to imagine something worse than a father planning to kill his own son. Except maybe a father killing his son in order to keep himself from torturing billions of others forever.
    " ‘He that spared not his own son’ shouldn't be trusted by anyone.”

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Unsure foreshore solutions

AFTER MUCH BEHIND-DOORS backing and filling and log-rolling, the government and its apartheid party coalition partner have finally come up with solutions to the foreshore and seabed dilemma that still simmers as a result of Labour’s nationalisation.

In 2004, if you recall, Helen Clark unilaterally extinguished Maori rights to claim ownership in foreshore and seabed under common law and gave effect to the nationalisation in a hastily passed law, the Foreshore & Seabed Act.  And at the time National talked about amendments to the Act that would virtually cement it in place for all time. This was considered to be opposition.

But things have moved on. Helen Clark’s “haters and wreckers” are now ministers in a National cabinet.  And their blancmange Prime Minister has come up with the perfect blancmange solution--- a semantic one.

Make it all crown land, said Labour’s law; no, no, says National’s kick for touch, let’s call it “public domain.” And get the Maoris on side by calling this new legal concept of non-ownership "takiwā iwi whānui"—and get the lawyers onside by making the “roles and responsibilities” of the non-owners sufficiently vague that only decades of court case will be able to define precisely what it means.

But you don’t like that solution? Don’t worry, they’ve got others.

That’s right. Unable and unwilling to make a firm or principled decision themselves, they’ve put out a “discussion document” containing four proposed “solutions’ to see which get people worked up least. You don’t like “public domain”? Why, sire, why not try these three other flavours, including Crown ownership of everything, Maori ownership of everything other than the minerals- or the status quo, if too many people throw too many toys out of their cots.

Observe that in all four “solutions” the government retains all the mineral rights to foreshore and seabed.  That “iwi authorities“ will have “roles and responsibilities” akin to those of regional councils, and veto rights that (as Shane Jones points out) will invites "brownmail," where tribes receive cash from developers in return for their support. That the likes of non-Maori aquaculture operations have essentially just been told to take a long walk off a small pier. And that the well-recognised tragedy-of-the-commons continues to hover over all the areas over which no clear ownership rights and ownership interests are established like an unwelcome elephant at an otherwise elegant cocktail party.

And observe too that while in some of the four options there’s talk of “allowing” access to courts to prove rights to foreshore or seabed under common law (a right all citizens enjoyed under British law for centuries, until extinguished here by Helen Clark) it really is only talk.  Even the option of granting Maori “absolute title” is not granting title by right, but by fiat--and the “absolute title” to be granted under this solution is not to specific portions of foreshore and seabed to which specific owners my lay claim, but to all the foreshore and seabed not presently under private title, meaning that non-Maori lose whatever rights in common law they may have once been able to assert.

And since the ownership “rights” in any of these proffered solutions will be neither transferrable nor divisible, this means that any “ownership” granted is largely notional in any case.

So not so much just kicking for touch as taking away the ball under cover of turning on the lights.

It’s a series of Clayton’s “solution” by an Attorney General obviously well versed in semantic tricks—a solution that retains the body of nationalisation of foreshore and seabed, while transferring the shadow of ownership to the government and whichever Browntable groups are making the most noise.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, my own view on the foreshore and seabed issue has been consistent now for at least six years, and is based on the common law principle that everyone, no matter their colour, has a right to claim ownership rights to un-owned property if the requisite common law tests are met. 

I see no reason to change that view now.

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Nanny Joyce on camera [update 2]

6a00d83451d75d69e20120a6fadc2a970b-320wi The self-appointed nation’s nanny, Steven Joyce, today got his way forcing taxi drivers to install cameras in their cabs to, somehow, protect themselves against attack--and to increase by the cost of a cab ride, and the cost of entry to new cab-drivers.

Quite how a camera in a cab will protect tax-drivers against attack by numb nuts like the dangerous loon who killed Hiren Mohini in what seemed a spur-of-the moment attack—why a dangerous psychotic would pause in his frenzied attack for “fear” that it might be filmed--is a secret known only to Mr Joyce. 

But there was something he could have done which would have avoided intruding upon other’s business and at the same time actually done something to deter crime and protect drivers.  It’s a simple enough threesome:

  1. Remove whatever privacy restrictions exist that bar cab-owners from installing their own cameras voluntarily.
  2. Have police on the beat to deter the initiation of violence, and require prosecution of criminals for even minor crimes before they get on to bigger ones.  Broken windows, if you like.
  3. Allow cab-drivers (and the owners of dairies and bottle stores) to defend themselves, and to possess, carry and use the means whereby they can.

This last is the most important. It is outrageous that people who provide these essential public services have to place themselves at risk of their lives to serve us. And even the most foolish lunatic is going to think twice if he knows his intended victim has the ability--and the legal backing—to end his attacker’s sorry life  instead of having his own terminated.

But I guess defending hard-working new New Zealanders (which describes most of the owners of cabs, dairies and bottle stores) is less important to Steven Joyce than another nannying headline.

UPDATE 1:  Looks like I’m not the only one saying this:

    _quoteRequiring all city cabs to have cameras, regardless of their circumstances, smacks of Nanny State."
    "Like many regulations, the scheme is 'one-size-fits-nobody'.  For example, cameras will be a pointless expense for drivers who only work during the day.  Where is a Treasury cost-benefit analysis when we need one?"
    "There is also the undiscussed issue of who is going to police the taxi drivers to ensure they have these compulsory cameras, check that they work correctly, and, of course, punish drivers who choose not to install them.  Will there be a list of approved cameras which have been vetted for reliability, image quality and carbon footprint?  All this bureaucratic nonsense is totally objectionable."
    "Libertarianz believes taxi drivers and taxi companies should be free to install cameras - or not - as they see fit.  This government decree is offensive to freedom and common sense."
Libertarianz spokesman Mr Howison also noted that taxi drivers, like dairy owners, should be free to defend themselves from attackers with reasonable force.”

As they should be.  The day they’re allowed to is the day attacks on them will either stop, or at least be rewarded with the appropriate response.

UPDATE 2: And there’s more. 

Paul Walker, Eric Crampton and Matt Nolan all attack the measure in different ways—Paul asking “why does Joyce think the government has to mandate anything? If taxi drivers want extra safety equipment do they not have all the incentive they need to install it?”; Matt saying “regulating for them to put cameras in is either pointless, or forces taxi drivers to do something where the cost exceeds the benefit – and so is suboptimal”; and Eric Crampton arguing it’s just an anti-competition measure whose real cost is hidden:

    _quote The real cost of the soon-to-be-mandatory taxicab cameras won't be the 30-odd cents it adds to the cost of the typical cab ride.  Rather, it's the loss of surplus that will come when the World Cup hits in 2011 and jitney cabs will fail to come into the market because of the increased fixed cost of shifting your private car into taxi service.”

Make sure to read their various comments sections where they and their readers debate the real costs of Joyce’s intrusion.

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On this day in history . . . [updated]

To supplement Home Paddock’s usual “this day in history” series, here’s a few of the more unusual events that have happened today in history  . . .

  • On this day in 1957 the BBC announced that “as the result of a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil,” Swiss farmers enjoying what is still a record crop of spaghetti.”
  • In 1962 Kjell Stenson, Swedish television's technical expert, told Swedes that, “thanks to a new technology, it would be possible for viewers to convert their TV sets for colour reception. All they need do was pull a nylon stocking over the screen…”  Amazing.
  • EuroLenin In 1995 negotiations between Disney and the Russian government concluded in the purchase of the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, which had been on display in Red Square since his death, and its removal to Euro Disney, it said, where it was given the "full Disney treatment", including stroboscopic lights to tone up his pallid face, Lenin T-shirts for sale and excerpts from Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" speech played in quadrophonic sound. Liberal groups lobbied thereafter to keep the mausoleum empty "to symbolise the emptiness of the Communist system."
  • In 1992 Belgium was split in half, with the north, Dutch-speaking part joining the Netherlands and the French-speaking south joining France.
  • In 1996, the Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.  And the White House announced that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
  • 01sanser_thumb In 1977 the colon-shaped islands of San Serriffe, in the Indian Ocean, launched as a holiday destination.
  • In 1993 the Chinese government announced its decision to make PhD holders exempt from the country's policy of allowing only one child per couple, “the better to create a brainy population.”
  • In a surprise move in 1992, Richard Nixon announced he was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again.”
  • In 1973 the London School of Pathological and Environmental Medicine discovered that exposure to Dutch elm disease immunised people against the common cold. Unfortunately there was also a side effect: it made the hair of gingas turn yellow and fall out…
  • In 1993 the Alabama state legislature voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0.
  • In 1998 Burger King introduced the revolutionary "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. The whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers.
  • In 2007 it was discovered that global warming had been caused by the decline of New Zealand's sheep population. “Sheep are white, you see, and collectively they increase the planet's albedo, which is the amount of sunlight reflected back into space.”
  • In 1976 “a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event” occurred in Britain when the planet Pluto passed behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that counteracted and lessened the Earth's own gravity.
  • In 1965 the Danish government passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white to “increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily.”

UPDATE:  And in related news today,

  • Jeanette Fitzsimons has been appointed to the role of Secretary General of the United Nations, making her Helen Clark’s boss.
  •  The Green Party today called for horse lanes to be introduced in New Zealand towns and cities. “We need to look for carbon neutral transport options to fight climate change…”
  • David Farrar is introducing a new pay-to-comment system at his blog.  For each comment there will be a small “micro-charge.”
  • Home Paddock blogs on “Baaccoli, a new breed of sheep which combines the nutritional properties of broccoli with those of meat.” Apparently it will help encourage children who don’t like vegetables …
  • Tim Watkin points out there’s nothing like 300,000 New Zealanders on welfare. It’s all a myth.
  • In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced “a Pauline conversion,” admitting that “the Government had strayed too far from a sensible economic course, and has no business in our bedrooms”—and promising to “embrace libertarian economic principles in the formulation of future economic policy.”
    •     “Announcing a change in direction by the Government, the Prime Minister said that the size and reach of government had grown too far and must be reduced. He committed to returning the Budget to balance by 2012 through a mixture of substantial cuts in public spending and promised further income tax cuts. He promised to cut the size of the public service by 25 per cent within three years and abolish several departments with immediate effect, including the Department of Climate Change.
  • And here at home the National Party has finally announced plans to privatise TVNZ, NZ Post, the four electricity generators and to abolish the Ministries of Women’s and Maori Affairs.  And Rodney Hide has revealed plans to sell off the Ports of Auckland . . .

NB: Some of these things are true.  Or not.

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A lesson in profit

Guest post by Marsha Enright and Gen LaGreca
Addressing a joint session of Congress on health care, President Barack Obama reiterated his often-expressed aversion to the profit motive:
    _quote [B]y avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private [health insurance] companies by profits and excessive costs and executive salaries, [the public insurance option] could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better . . .”
    Is this true? Is profit wasteful, as Obama implies? Does it lead to higher prices and lower value to consumers? Can the government, unburdened by profit, do the same job as a private company, only cheaper and better?
    To answer, let’s consider one business, one product, and one profit-seeking man who lived at a time when the market operated largely free of government subsidies, bailouts, regulations, taxation, and other “progressive” intrusions.
    Henry Ford, at age 13, saw a steam-driven land vehicle, a “road locomotive,” which filled his imagination with the vision of a horseless carriage and fueled a passion to create one. As a young man, he worked day jobs, while trying to build a car in his free time. Realizing a viable car could not run on steam, he sought to develop a new kind of engine.
    On Christmas Eve 1893, the 30-year-old inventor clamped his first gasoline engine to his wife Clara’s kitchen sink. With the home’s electricity providing ignition, the motor roared into action, sending the sink vibrating and exhaust flames flying while Clara prepared the holiday dinner.
    In pursuit of his dream, Ford and Clara moved eight times in their first nine years of marriage. He quit a secure job at the Edison Illuminating Company, banking everything on his vision. He co-founded the Detroit Automobile Company—a venture that failed. Jobless, Ford moved his wife and child into his father’s home. But he kept working on his car. “It is always too soon to quit,” he said.
    Ten years passed from the roar of the little engine on Clara’s sink to the launch of the Ford Motor Company. It took five more years to produce his big success, the Model T, and additional years to master its mass production.
    Why did Ford persist through years of hardship and uncertainty? How much would his love for the work have sustained him without the hope of eventual profit? Imagine if he had lived in a system where politicians could, at the stroke of a pen, seize his profits or decide how much he could keep. Would he have risked so much or worked so ferociously to bring a world-changing invention to market?
    Would an Amtrak [or KiwiRail] employee devote a decade of free time inventing a new train, only to rise a notch on a civil-servant’s pay scale? Dream big, work hard, create something earth shaking, but be paid small is the antithesis of the American dream.
    The pursuit of profit not only motivated Ford, but also his bold investors who had the foresight to realize the horse was doomed.
    In 1903, a school teacher invested $100—half her life savings—in the Ford Motor Company. Sixteen years later, she sold her stock for a total gain of $355,000. Why would she and others place their money on a highly experimental venture, were it not for the hope of tremendous gain should the enterprise succeed? What kind of person would deny her the reward for recognizing Ford’s vision and risking her own money?
    The pursuit of profit also impacted every aspect of Ford’s business operations.
Ford didn’t need a politician’s scolding to lower prices—only the desire to make huge profits by reaching mass markets. Because early cars were expensive, people viewed them as mere playthings of the rich. But Ford sought to “build a motor car for the multitude.” This led him to develop his moving assembly line, significantly reducing manufacturing costs and, consequently, prices. The original $825 price of the Model T finally bottomed at $260. That price-lowering strategy brought him the millions of customers that made him rich.
    Similarly, Ford’s pursuit of profit didn’t result in bare-subsistence wages for employees, but in phenomenal pay increases. He shocked the world by introducing the $5 workday, more than doubling the era’s prevailing wage. Why? To attract the best workers, whose talents increased product quality and company efficiency. High pay also decreased employee turnover and training costs, again increasing Ford’s profits.
    Ford typifies the successful capitalist, whose profit-driven innovations lower prices, while raising wages and living standards for all.
    Even today’s Ford Motor Company, a much-fettered child of our mixed economy, demonstrates the superiority of private- over government-run companies. Ford refused TARP bailout money, choosing to operate without government strings. The result? Ford’s profits are up 43 percent, while bailed-out GM and Chrysler lag behind.
    In Henry Ford—a thin man who was the fattest of fat cats—we see an embodied refutation of President Obama’s worldview. Ford developed a new form of transportation vastly cheaper, faster, more convenient, and superior to the old mode. He continually lowered prices so that everyone, rich and poor, would have access to his product. He created thousands of jobs. He raised employee wages. He did all this good without government grants, bailouts, stimuli, subsidies, or coercion, but simply as a result of the honest pursuit of personal gain.
    This achievement was possible only because a private individual had the freedom to pursue his own self-interest, in cooperation with others who supported his vision and shared in the rewards, unencumbered by government.
    By eliminating profit, Obama implies that everything else about an enterprise would remain the same, only the product would be cheaper and better. Actually, by removing profit, nothing at all would remain the same.
Contrary to Obama’s notions, profit is not an overhead cost, but a vital gain sought over and above costs in order to reward a company’s risk-takers. According to economist Ludwig von Mises,
    _quote Profit is the pay-off of successful action.” And “The elimination of profit . . . would create poverty for all.”
    Eliminate the hope of profit, and you extinguish that spark which ignites the human engine and powers it to explore uncharted roads: the creative mind. Profit is the proud product of the creative mind, and the creative mind is an attribute of the individual. Obama’s attack on profit is an attack on human creativity and innovation, which is an attack on the individual.
    Obama’s antipathy for the self-interested individual is explicit.
    _quote In America, we have this strong bias toward individual action [he said in an interview in the Chicago Reader.]  But individual actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations.”

    It was Henry Ford’s individual actions and individual dreams that brought motorized, personal transportation within reach of everyone in the world.
    America is rooted in the “pursuit of happiness”—which means the right of each of us to create, to produce, to rise, to succeed, and to profit from the fruits of our labor. Contrast this worldview with that of a president who disparages the individual and seeks to limit or expropriate his profits on behalf of a faceless “collective.” Obama’s war on profit is a war against the individualist heart and soul of America.
    Profits are a badge of honor earned by someone who offers others something they value enough to buy. The first buyer of the first car of the Ford Motor Company was a doctor. He was tired of hitching up his horse and buggy for night-time emergencies. Ford’s product enhanced his life, as it later enhanced the lives of millions. Profit is the medal Ford received from his customers for a job well done.
    If our nation is to cultivate productive geniuses like Henry Ford, it must proclaim that the quest for profit is moral and noble.

POSTSCRIPT: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” This means that the federal government, with its vast powers to fund highway projects, “liveability” initiatives, and other aid programs, as well as to tax gasoline, now intends, in LaHood’s stunningly brazen words, “to coerce people out of their cars,” in favor of walking or cycling. A century ago, Henry Ford, through capitalism and the profit motive, brought motorized transportation to the world. Now, an alarmingly anti-capitalist government is reversing that historic achievement and pulling us back to the pre-industrial age.

Gen LaGreca is author of “Noble Vision,” an award-winning novel about the struggle
for liberty in health care today. Marsha Familaro Enright is president of the
Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute, the Foundation for the College of the United States. Incidents from the book “Young Henry Ford,” by Sidney Olson appear in this article.

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Handle with Care - Pauline Adair

Handle with Care Charc & Pastel 62 x 48cm

Adair, Handle With Care
Charcoal & Pastel on Paper
62 x 48cm

Michael Newberry just posted this stunning charcoal & pastel drawing by Australian artist Pauline Adair, which won ‘The Human Figure’ award at the 2009 Kenilworth Art Show

Love those hands.

Oh, and it’s still for sale, if you’re quick.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter humour

easter1

miracle

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: The world’s biggest paedophile ring, & Tuku rides the Treaty gravy train

_richardmcgrath Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories on issues affecting our freedom.

This week:
The world’s biggest paedophile ring, and Mr Morgan rides the Treaty gravy train

fatherjack01 1. Catholic concern over right to die – When priests attack!!
      True to form, the institution flatteringly described by Richard Dawkins as “woman-fearing, guilt-gouging, truth-hating [and] child-raping” –- you guessed it: the Catholic Church -- is molesting defenceless people. This time it’s the dying, who can’t even run away. Looks like no-one is safe from the world’s largest paedophile ring.
    The Nathaniel Centre, a Catholic “bioethics” agency, says dying people should be offered food and water, but it opposes assisted suicide. One of the Catholic church’s poster girls, Agnese Bojaxhiu, a.k.a. Mother Teresa, used to take perverse delight in the suffering of the unfortunate people who chose to die in her care. Perhaps the Papists oppose abortion and contraception because that would leave a smaller pool of potential victims for the priest and bishop predators? Or am I being unkind?
    In an opinion piece on abortion, the Nathaniel Centre quotes a female writer who claims that unwanted pregnancies “[belong] to the entire congregation.” Is that the sort of mentality that gives kiddy-fiddling clerics their sense of entitlement to the warm bodies of Catholic children? Frankly, I find the notion that a fetus can belong to anyone else but the person in whom it is growing hideous and a form of slavery. This is the same mob that gave us the Inquisition, who persecuted Galileo for seeking the truth about our universe, and who were complicit in persecuting Jews during the Holocaust. Their current boss, Joe Ratzinger, who likes wearing that funny hat, should be arrested if he steps foot outside the Vatican City, and extradited to the United States or Ireland to explain why he and his organisation have covered up the monstrous activities of his underlings.
    Life is not a game of chess - children are not pawns for bishops to jump. Children are not wall sockets for priests to plug into. Bedtime is not when the big hand touches the little hand. People are not the property of the Catholic Church – they are thinking individuals with rights. And it’s time Joe & Co stopped lying to them: there are no harp-playing ghosts in some sort of afterlife. What you see is what you get. The metaphysics of this universe is the objective reality that one can perceive using sensory organs whose composition is determined by DNA coding, not by the Intelligent Design of an omnipotent spook.
    Accept it, move on and make the most of this life –- the ticket only gets clipped once.

underpants01 2. Minister says Morgan was ‘inadvertently paid twice’ – Your tax money has been used to pay Tukoroirangi Morgan, (he of underpants fame), $145,000 as a “Crown facilitator”, helping negotiate a Treaty settlement on behalf of Tainui and then “move other iwi through the settlement process” – presumably telling them how to help themselves to masses of money from the working people of today, who had no hand in what was done by past governments. Shouldn’t the Tainui have paid Mr Morgan’s fee – after all he was working for them – and shouldn’t iwi be paying him for information that will no doubt net them suitcases full of cash? And just to add insult to injury, an administrative error has meant that Tuku was overpaid for his valuable work. Hope he didn’t spend all that money on underpants.

3. And finally, here’s one that will warm the hearts of animal rights activists everywhere, a man allegedly attempted to give mouth to mouth resuscitation to a piece of roadkill, a several-days-dead opossum. And got arrested for his troubles. Really, haven’t the Pennsylvania police force got better things to do? And isn’t this a victimless non-crime? Still, it’s light relief from reading about the Fellowship of the (Ratzinger) Ring.                      

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny – when
the government fear the people, there is liberty.”
- Thomas Jefferson  

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‘Battle of Trafalgar’ - William Lionel Wyllie

Wyllie-Battle_of_Trafalgar‘Battle of Trafalgar’ - William Lionel Wyllie (detail)

A detail from a massive 42 foot long panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar! The battle that ensured Napoleon would never invade Britain with his armies, painted on a scale that matches how momentous that victory was.

MP075

And when I say a “panorama” of the battle, what I mean is a full 360-degree circle of canvas, in which the observer could stand and be overwhelmed. 

  “Difficult to imagine though it may now be, panoramas were the cinemas of their day [says the Royal Naval Museum website].  Invented in 1787 by Robert Barker, they achieved the height of their popularity at the time of the 1900 Universal Exhibition.  The name ‘panorama’ is derived from the Greek and means ‘see all’.  By creating a 360º image, often adorned with mock terrain in the foreground, and on some occasions sounds and scents, the artist tried to trick the viewer into imagining he or she was actually at the scene, rather than simply viewing a painting. . .

Even small and ‘on the flat’ as seen here you can imagine the shot and cannon blasts, the destruction wrought by flying balls of metal. It looks like being there would be be like visiting a canyon of hell.

    “With typical thoroughness, Wyllie sought to make his own painting as accurate as possible.   Friends read through log books to identify the relative positions of the ships; the Navigation School was consulted to determine the correct position of the sun.  Wyllie even took a cruise off Cape Trafalgar itself to study the colour of the sea and the sky. . .
    “The huge canvas was specially made: in fact, the original was not big enough and a further piece was attached to each end, the joins hidden by watersplashes from falling cannonshot.  A sailmaker was employed to cut eyelets and the canvas was hung like a sail, with lacing at top and bottom.
    “Wyllie’s daughter, Aileen, herself a talented artist, was her father’s principal assistant with the mammoth task.  In an interview in later life, she referred to how she would ‘put on the equivalent of a pound of butter and go back and be unable to find the place’.  In all, it took nine months to complete the work, with Wyllie working most days from 10 in the morning until 5 at night, with a nap in the middle.  Much of the painting had to be done on step ladders; looking back, Aileen had nothing but admiration for her father: ‘At the time it seemed natural, but now that I am old, I cannot think how he did those hours on ladders in his 79th year.’  Such was Wyllie’s fame that people actually paid to watch him work!
     “In keeping with the style of the panorama genre, Wyllie designed the painting to be seen through the windows of the stern cabin of the French ship, Neptune. . .
    “The painting depicts the Battle at it height at 2.00 pm.  The two fleets are fully engaged.  To the left, in a haze of gun-smoke, Collingwood’s division is crushing the Allied rear.  To the right, the Allied van is trying to come round in the light winds to support its colleagues, but it has effectively been cut out of the battle by Nelson’s decisive tactics.  And in the centre is the Victory, still flying Nelson’s final signal, ‘Engage the Enemy More Closely,’ locked in a deadly struggle with the French ship, Redoubtable [a captured British ship under a French flag]. 
    “The only licence Wyllie allowed himself was to include the falling of the masts of the great Spanish four-decker, the Santissima Trinidad.  This significant event did not occur until 30 minutes later.
    “The Panorama was a great success.  45,000 people viewed it in the months immediately after it was opened.  One enthusiastic visitor even confessed to having seen it sixteen times!  When Wyllie died, less than a year later, on 6th April 1931, he will have known that his great work had struck a chord with the public and that he had more than played his part in keeping alive interest in [this turning point in European history].”

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quote of the day: On unions

Reading up on some of those folk I included the economics family tree, I came across this quote from William H. Hutt on unions, as if he were talking to the EPMU this week:

    _quote Unions gain at the expense of other labor, not capital, and
the transfer reduces total output.”

(Paraphrased in John B. Egger’s biography of William H, Hutt,
from Hutt’s 1973 book Strike Threat System:
The Economic Consequences of Collective Bargaining)

Or as Vedder & Gallaway put it in 2002:

    “Unions transfer income from the unorganized to the organized, and depress total income to such a degree that even organized workers are poorer.”

In his earlier book Collective Bargaining, Hutt quotes from William Thompson, “a friend of Robert Owen, who some regarded as the most significant founder of modern scientific Socialism and the originator of the idea of ‘surplus value’.”

    “Thompson can hardly be regarded as a biased witness against working-class
bodies. He was, we are told, of the most kindly and gentle disposition, but when he
considered the workmen’s combinations of his day he was moved to passionate
condemnation of them. To him they were ‘bloody aristocracies of industry...
[The] excluding system depended on mere force and would not allow
other workers to come into the market at any price…It matters not,” he said in
1827, “whether that force…be the gift of law or whether it be assumed by the
tradesmen in spite of the law: it is equally mere force.”
    “Gains [of the unionised few] were always ‘at the expense of the equal right
of the industrious to acquire skill and to exchange their labour where and how
they may.’ This [Hutt reminds is] is the founder of scientific Socialism speaking
- not an employer.”

And William Stanley Jevons, from whom Hutt and others learned so much, summarises the same basic points even more forcefully in his 1883 book Methods of Social Reform and Other Papers:

Firstly. The supposed struggle with capitalists in which many Unions engage, for
the purpose of raising wages, is not really a struggle of labour against capital, but
of certain classes or sections of labourers against other classes or sections.
Secondly. It is a struggle in which only a few peculiarly situated trades can succeed
in benefiting themselves.
Thirdly. Unions which succeed in maintaining a high rate of wages only succeed
by PROTECTION—that is, by levying contributions from other classes of
labourers and from the population in general.
Fourthly. Unionism as at present conducted tends therefore to aggravate the
differences of wages between the several classes of operatives; it is an effort of
some sections to raise themselves at the expense of others.”

“An effort of some sections to raise themselves at the expense of others.” Just as it is with the minimum wage--which as Eric Crampton shows assiduously in repeated posts, raises wages for those in employment at the expense of those who aren’t, while reducing total incomes all round.

At the end of the argument Jevons concluded:

    “The Unionist overlooks the fact that the cause to which he is so faithful, is only the
cause of a small exclusive class; his triumph is the injury of a vastly greater
number of his fellow-workmen, and regarded in this point of view, his cause is a
narrow and selfish one, rather than a broad and disinterested one. The more I
admire the perseverance, the self-forgetfulness, the endurance, abstinence, and a
hundred other good qualities which English workmen often display during the
conduct of a great trade dispute, the more sincerely do I regret that so many good
qualities should be thrown away, or rather misused, in a cause which is too often a
hurtful one to their fellow-men.”

One can still say the same today.

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When religionists and unionists attack together

I see the anti-Easter-trading busybodies are out early this year.  So here’s a classic Nick Kim cartoon for all the interfering wowserhood.

Easter_Trading[5]

Moral of the story: The state still owns your shop at Easter. And it still owns you all year.

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Pope should stay, says Dawkins

On the back of revelations of his complicity in keeping under wraps the pederasty that permeates his Church,  people have been saying Pope Ratzinger should resign. Richard Dawkins has some advice for the Pope. 

    _quote No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice - the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution - while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.”

‘Ratzinger is the perfect Pope,’ says Dawkins. [Hat tip Pharyngula]

And did you catch the Pope’s appointed apologist, Bishop Patrick Dunn, writing in yesterday’s Herald in defence of his boss. It’s so carefully worded it’s pathetic.  Here’s the core denial:

    _quote It is mistakenly claimed that in a letter written to bishops by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001 regarding complaints of paedophilia by priests, he required that they be treated with total secrecy and that the police were not to be informed, under penalty of excommunication.
    “In fact, he made no reference to excommunication.”

Forgive the irony, Mr Dunn, but a child could see through that cheap ruse.

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Mitchell fisks Misa [updated]

Lindsay Mitchell fisks Tapu Misa’s latest misbegotten diatribe in the Royal NZ Herald. She’s entitled to, since Misa begins by misreading Mitchell, before giving good grounds for wondering whether she can read, or write (or think) at all.

For instance:

Tapu Misa takes a trip to a private girls school to get to grips with the problem of “unwed mothers … who …  choose [the Domestic Purposes Benefit] as a lifestyle option.”

Lindsay Mitchell points out her stupidity.

Misa claims there is no evidence to say that “welfare payments provide incentives for childbearing, or discourage marriage.”

Lindsay Mitchell points out she’s mistaken.

“Women don't need to be dragged kicking and screaming off the DPB,” says Misa.

Well, maybe they do, responds Mitchell.

Misa quotes Susan St John saying "New Zealand's figures show clearly that when the job conditions are favourable and unemployment is low, benefit numbers fall."

But Mitchell shows St John and Misa are equally retarded in their use of figures.

Misa refers to some “2002 analysis by Bob Gregory, an economics professor at the Australian National University, [which] showed that most Australian women were constantly trying to get off welfare, but most ended up back on the benefit within a short time.”

Mitchell points out that not only has Misa got the facts of Gregory’s research wrong, the research itself was brought to light by Mitchell herself.

Oh irony, thy name is that of a Herald columnist. Or several of them.

Mitchell concludes her own piece, perfectly entitled ‘There is none so blind….’ by

    _quote I am not sure what Misa is trying to achieve with this column. Work and strong families are an integral part of Pacific culture. A denial that welfare can undermine both is self-defeating. But if she doesn't want to see the evidence then a private girls school is absolutely the best place to go looking for it.”

Why spend so much time pointing out facts to someone for whom facts are just so many things to massage?  Because that braindead uninformed sanctimony is the only opposition to any genuine reform, of the welfare system and beyond.

And when it’s eviscerated so compellingly, it deserves applause.

UPDATE:  Yesterday it was Misa. Today it’s Turia. Fisking the braindead is hard work.

_quoteInterviewed on Radio NZ this morning Associate Social Development Minister Tariana Turia [said] … single parents should be allowed to stay home until their children have ‘completed schooling.’ ”

Responds Mitchell:

_quotePaying single parents to stay home until their children complete school … is absurd.”

You can’t be clearer than that.

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Understanding the Business Cycle

MisesAcademy

The technology of the world wide web is now bringing you live lectures on rational economics from The Mises Academy.  First course:

Understanding the Business Cycle

A 9-week online course with economist and author of the The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal Robert P. Murphy.

    In this introductory economics course, Dr. Murphy will guide students through an exploration of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (the theory that enabled Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek to predict the Great Depression and Peter Schiff and others to predict the current economic crisis), covering the fundamentals of Austrian Economics along the way. This approach combines the careful conceptual bricklaying of an introductory course with the excitement of a real-world applications course.
    The course will integrate video conferenced lectures, live chat, forum discussions, online readings, video, audio, slideshows, written assignments and more. It is designed for both students and financial professionals, to provide a detailed look at all the moving parts of the Austrian theory, which traces the origin of cycles to manipulation of the money supply and the credit markets by the central bank. It shows how it is impossible to understand the bust without first understanding the distorted production structure that occurs during an artificial boom.
    Understanding the Business Cycle considers both domestic and international implications, contrasts the Austrian theory with alternative theories, takes on common objections in the press and economic literature, and proposes reforms to eliminate cycles in the future. Particular focus on the current economic crisis comes at the end of the course.

Check out the full description and course syllabus here to see if you can organise the time—and to see some screenshots of the sort of thing you’ll be getting.

Why would you want to enrol?  For your own economic self-defence. As Ludwig von Mises said:

    "Economics must not be... left to esoteric circles. It is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man's human existence.”

By that he meant rational economics—not the flatulent mainstream variety that just brought down the world.

    “Society lives and acts only in individuals; it is nothing more than a certain attitude on their part. Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.”

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‘The Mower’ – Hamo Thornycroft

Thornycroft-Mower

Inspired by the sight of a mower swinging his scythe while Thornycroft while out on the canal one summer afternoon, this 19xx bronze was produce from sketches drawn on the spot.

“Exhibited amongst the classical nudes and mythological figures at the Royal Academy, this life sized farmhand was viewed as a radical work of art – which it undoubtedly was.”*

“Whether it is a subject to be treated in sculpture on that scale is another matter…it hardly seems worth the dignity of art,” sniffed The Builder in their June 1884 issue.

The snobbery makes admiration ofits simple mastery all the sweeter.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

The fucking fucker’s fucked

George Carlin talked about “the seven dirty words.”

    "There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are 7 you can't say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993...to 7. They must really be baaaad. They must be OUTRAGEOUS to be separated from a group that large."

Now the Broadcasting Standards Authority—hallowed be their hold on us—have raised the ratio.  They have thirty-one words they say they have tested for “acceptability” on air and declared to be “fairly or totally unacceptable” on television and radio, most of which were used today by broadcasters reporting this report.

Crampton reckons it must have been fun doing the surveying—and that there’s probably at least one South Park episode in it.

But it turns out at least that the BSA’s bureaucrats do have a sense of humour.  BSA boss Wanda Harland challenges you to use all thirty-one in a sentence . . .

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“A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made”

Plan-9-Outer-Space_02_240210120810

It took a year and he wrote a book about them: that special type of film that is so bad it’s good. Movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space, Showgirls, Mac and Me, Transformers 2, “and any movie by Uwe Boll … ”

The-Return-of-Doctor-X-01_240210120840 And apparently one in which Humphrey Bogart appears as a vampire!  Uugh!

“So bad it’s good”? So what the hell does that mean then?

    A: “I think boredom is probably the bottom line. That’s actually perversely what I was looking for, a movie that was so terrible that you’d rather watch a blank wall for two hours. I did find a few like that. It’s probably very difficult to make a movie that has no redeeming value whatsoever. A bad movie that’s really good is a movie that’s terrible but its terribleness is consistently over-the-top, wild, weird and funny.”

Ah, now that makes some sense.  Check out the interview with said film critic here about his year-long wallow in schlock—including some clips from what he calls the best of the worst.

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Scorched Earth Hour [update 3]

It seems the wowsers’ Earth Hour this year was a bust, with few if any people, places or cities taking it seriously. That’s progress.

Mind you, Earth Hour in North Korea was a stunning success once again.

Dr Richard McGrath sent me pictures of his own efforts to beat back the darkness.  He calls it ‘Scorched Earth Hour.’

earth_hour01 earth_hour02

Anyone else got any decent pics of their own Power Hour celebrations?

UPDATE 1:  Dave Mann has sent some pics of his Power Hour celebrations on Saturday, saying:

    “We ran all our house lights on Earth Night as well as illuminating every outside security light and the deck, where we ate a delicious dinner with the stereo going. Outside in the drive we had 2 cars running with the headlights on full and the hazard lights going. Every 10 minutes or so we headed down to them and blasted the horns (2 horns are better than one because the resonance set up by the two different frequencies really carries). It was a great celebration of human achievement.”

Great stuff.

Image0087a Image0083a

UPDATE 2: Dinther sent me these photos of his contribution to brightening the planet:

    “For this [he says]I switched on 23 separate lights and added 3 500w halogen lights. I even turned up the brightness on my computer monitors screens. Just to celebrate power hour to the max I also turned on all entertainment appliances. TV's computers and stereo's. Like others invest in more Christmas lights every year, I may just keep an eye on Halogen lights on sale for next year. I did inquire to the cost of renting these big aircraft search lights to light up the Waitakere Ranges but the cost was just a tad too much. Maybe we can organise something for next year.”

powerhour 003A great idea! I think he was meaning something like this, which another punter used to keep the luddites at bay.

26417_375835641621_645886621_3815443_6157890_n

Unfortunately however, he gets points off for having a shamefully dark carport, and at least one bedroom without lights on at all.  Shame.

UPDATE 3:  Writing from Australia, where Earth Hour started, environmentalist Sara Phillips sees the light (so to speak).  Writing at the spiritual home of warmism, the ABC, she opines:

    “Sitting in the dark is hardly sustainable behaviour - what happens when you want to read a book? Or cook dinner? If it's such a great “first step” surely we should try to do it all the time. But of course, that's not feasible.
    “Sitting in the dark is not sustainable for more than a symbolic hour. And if anyone is going to understand the concept of sustainability it ought to be the green groups.”  [Hat tip Andrew Bolt]

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Wowsers ganging up on Andrew Williams [update 5]

Since when did having a couple of late evening drinks and a public piss on the way home constitute grounds for resignation from anything?

It’s hardly grounds for anything, let alone news.  Who among us can't say they haven't done the same, and wouldn't again?

And why not? A few drinks after dark and a piss against a tree when you’ve finished is hardly as bad as, say, dismembering New Zealand’s major city, now is it.

So frankly, the attacks on the North Shore mayor Andrew Williams for doing what we all do looks like something of a beat up—especially when the rag this “news” appeared in is the Sunday Star Slime, and the group of Andrew Williams’ critics seem for the most part to include that group of people firmly focussed on dismemberment.

It makes you wonder what sort of opposition from Williams those Super Shitty advocates doing the beat up are expecting?

UPDATE 1:  Oh for fuck’s sake.  Bloody Farrar is now drawing little maps showing where Andrew Williams walked, and “what many may not know … that he would have actually walked past a set of public toilets” !

Wow.

Get a bloody life, David.

UPDATE 2:  Take note that the rag in which this “revelation” first featured was the the Sunday Star Slime (a tabloid in all but name), and the alleged journalist running the story is a muckraker from way back, was sacked by TVNZ for stalking another TVNZ presenter, Mike Hosking, went on to set up a website that purported to expose celebrities doing whatever celebrities do, and was most recently to be found sneaking into Eden Park posing as a terrorist (satirised so deliciously by Chris Keall at NBR). Oh, and in a previous life was best known for spying on his now employer.

UPDATE 3:

Cartoon by EMMERSON UPDATE 4:  Colin Espiner writes on ‘Fear and loathing on the North Shore’:

    “I've seen a few hatchet jobs in my time covering politics, but this one takes the biscuit.
    “Let me say right up front that I'm no fan of North Shore Mayor Andy Williams. He's bombastic, opinionated, shoots from the lip, and makes as many enemies as he does friends. A bit like Auckland Mayor John Banks, actually…
   “But of the stitch-ups, of all the nasty, low-down, personal vendettas, of all the naked, backstabbing, below-the-belt, shin-kicking attacks, the orchestrated beat-up on Williams has me almost feeling sorry for him.”

UPDATE 5: Heh heh.  This is good satire from Imperator Fish: ‘Urinating Minister Must Go – Critics’:

    “Embattled Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has refused to resign, amid claims he is drunk with power…”

And Ruth states the obvious:

    “This Williams fool is far less a danger to the populace than Hide.”

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