Global warming lets loose a river in Egypt

25 04 2007

Great example of global warming denial found by Open Mind. I’ve pretty much got to the point where I think open scorn and derision is the proper response to the denier foot soldiers. They obviously lack the ability to reflect logically on the holes in their arguments.


Move over, Godzilla. Knut’s in town.

17 04 2007

Too cute

Go on, click. You know you want to.

Exciting times for muckrakers

12 04 2007

Delete keyWhen the news media talks about blogs, it kind of infuriates me that they flatten the huge differences between wankfests like Red State and Little Green Footballs, and blogs like Talking Points Memo, which actually models itself on professional news outlets. TPM of course, can claim the credit for joining up the dots on the US Attorney scandal in Washington and pushing for the media to take notice of it, despite indifference and resistance from an entrenched (and mostly elite) establishment.

Now, the latest news is that the White House has lost an “undetermined” number of emails which were sought by a House oversight committee — quite be accident, you understand. These emails are suspected of detailing the planning behind the US Attorney scandal; their release would have blown the whole thing wide open.

The Politico is saying “this is a big problem for the White House”, but I’m willing to bet the White House has weighed the options, and is willing to take the short-term hit. Anyone who doubts this scandal was a major deal need look no further than this transparent attempt to feed the homework to the dog. If the White House is reduced to making this kind of desperate risk assessment, choosing indeed to let itself be raked over the coals for this — and there is no question but that it deserves to be — then the underlying offence surely rises to criminal levels.

The parallels to Watergate are obvious. These are indeed exciting times for muckrakers.

Framing links all drawn together

12 04 2007

in this valuable post by Communications professor Matthew Nisbet. READ THE PAPERS HE LINKS TO.

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People power II

10 04 2007

Jordan Carter has more on Labour’s campaign finance reform plan. Now, unlike my good friend and Smart Dude from my previous post, I’m not so sure this issue is dead in the water — so long as the message gets out there that publicly financed elections can work (are there countries/studies that can be cited?). Granted, this government has seemed ham-fisted when it comes to selling its policies, but I live in hope.

Of course, even if it loses in the policy arena, it still could win in the spin game — but it’s got to hammer the message that National gets huge amounts of money from business and off-shore interests, and that elections are already skewed towards conservatives.

I agree that the Herald seems to be in a snit about campaign reform, but it’s early days yet, and I remain hopeful. Having had a good read of Farrar’s take, I see that the only two parts of the proposal he opposes are the union/company exemption and the expat Kiwi exemption. Now, I think the union exemption is a good idea if you understand how power structures work. The sociological argument could be made that unions tend to have flatter hierarchies, unlike the trusts that funnelled money into National’s campaign coffers, so are inherently more democratic.

On the other hand, it’s not something that plays well to conservatives like DPF. He claims these two aspects of the plan are bad-faith proposals by Helen, and knowing how Helen works, I wouldn’t write that criticism off; these two proposals certainly strike a sour note. However, I think Helen is making a political horse-trading move here; by offering two proposals guaranteed to attract ire, she’s making it more likely that the basic plan without these two exemptions will pass.

Why do I say that? Because Farrar agrees with everything else in the proposal, and the only other opponents can successfully be painted as further to the right, and therefore on the libertarian, buddy-of-big-business fringe. Sounds to me like Labour have plonked a good start for discussion on the table. If they can keep the issue motoring on for a few more news cycles, we might see even the media start to report it honestly. Wait for the Campbell Live campaign reform special.

(As I mention in the earlier post, the Coalition for Open Government ( has proposed pretty much the same things that Labour has. Will DPF give it linkage love? Will John cast his deep baritone that way? Inquiring minds etc.)

People power

10 04 2007

Power to the paper peopleHelen Clark is proposing public financing of elections. I would be behind this 100%, but a good friend and official Smart Dude says it’s a political dead-end.

I’m not so sure. The Coalition for Open Government has been reformed to help raise public awareness of the importance of transparent campaign finance. One of its founders is Patricia Grace. (Yes, that Patricia Grace.)

However, early reception of the proposal has been  … weird. Take these two headlines from the NZ Herald.

“Law change hits National cash”

“Labour plans big taxpayer grants to political parties”

Could they be more slanted? Looks like the libertarians have taken over the NZ Herald. They certainly are trying their best to tar campaign finance reform over at DPF’s place. I especially like the parallels his first commenter draws between Labour on the one hand and Lenin, Hitler, Pinochet, and Mugabe on the other. But that’s Labour for you: objectively pro-Holocaust.

No respect for Joshua Bell

9 04 2007

An amazing piece from the Washington Post about concert violinist Joshua Bell taking up a challenge to busk in the lobby of a DC subway station in rush hour. The focus of the story is on what commuter reaction was to this fabulous musician.

Apparently, the reporters expected a large crowd of onlookers and even talked about what they would do in the event the crowd become too large. However, in the end no more than four people actually stopped to listen, and only at the end. the big takeaway message was how uninterested people were in Bell’s playing.

What’s never spelled out, though, is that is a famous pop singer did the same — perhaps Eric Clapton strumming on a guitar — those worries about crowd control would quickly become reality. In today’s musical world, classical music just doesn’t cut it much anymore.

And that’s a shame.
I’d like to think that if I saw Joshua Bell sawing away on the street, I’d stop and listen. Hell, I have his recording of Chausson’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet (with I think the Julliard String Quartet, but don’t quote me on that) — a wonderful work.

Then again, you never really know.

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