Friday, December 08, 2006


The funniest Aussie in Iraq strikes a pose.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Green, lean and mean....

This leetle auto is my idea of Green heaven. Somehow, I don't think those ever-earnest actual political Greens are going to be advertising this.....

Monday, June 12, 2006

Z's dead, baby

This line is part of a now-classic sequence from Quentin Taratino's movie: Pulp Fiction. The context:

"Who's bike is that?"
"It's not a bike, it's a chopper"
"Who's chopper is that?"
"That's Z's chopper."
"Who's Z?"
"Z's dead, baby, Z's dead"

After reading the muted local response to Zarqawi's JDAM supper (Z's dead, baby, geddit?), the overseas stuff looks, as always, to be better informed and more measured in it's assessment. There is no doubt that a massive roll-up of parts of his network has occurred, due to intel confirmed during the operation, and that a chilling effect on recruitment and general enthusiasm for the jihad, will have temporarily descended. But that's a bit like the winter snowstorm currently blanketing points south of here: a week's disruption, then business as usual.

It's not as though li'l ol' NZ has a benign strategic environment any more: Timor Este and the Solomons should have put paid to that sweet foolish hope. And the unceremonious deportation of our very own Fly-boy Of A Certain Religious Persuasion may well indicate that our woeful Gummint has seen something of the light. Or had a gruelling focus group encounter on the topic of National Security.

Well, whatever. It was the right thing to do. The Fly-boy, I mean. And, of course, "Z". Didn't even need, as in Pulp Fiction, to get mediaeval on his ass. Z's ass was mediaeval to start with.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mahmoud of Xerxes

This Radio Blogger piece, featuring Mark Steyn and Hugh Hewitt, is a Lileks translation of the now-famous 18-page Iranian letter from one prez to another. Read the Lileks parsing of it, read the original 18-pager, then when you have dried away the tears of laughter and possibly donned a new set of breeches, ask yourself the question:

'Can we do business with this guy?' (Mahmoud, that is).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Greens lack a Defence policy (quell surprise...)

A defence policy, people, resources and equipment to do the dirty deeds, and training etc is just what I expect my hard-won and reluctantly surrendered taxes, to fund, as the very first duty of Gummint. So, you (Greens) are quite correct, not having such a policy shows a fundamental unseriousness about Governing.

And your own straw person (Lord help me, I’m using the same woolly language) is the ‘illegality’ of Iraq. You’ll need to keep a careful eye on the documents now being released: the ‘Blessed July’ aspect alone (see, for example this) would make a Londoner think twice. The point is that ‘legality’ applies only to a Westphalian nation-state weltanschauung. And we’re definitely not in that Kansas any more, Dorothy.

New Zealand is strategically irrelevant to the new Great Game - the Western Enlightenment against the Third Caliphate, but does pose a security risk to the rest of the Anglosphere: our laughably lax immigration and citizenship attitudes, mean that we are seen as a ’soft touch’.

So a useful start to a Green defence policy might be to ponder awhile on the ’sustainability’ of this stance.

And this goes far beyond the electoral considerations. When you consider that the Reggie Krays of the world can now purchase submarines, aircraft carriers and crude nuclear devices (read William Langwiesche on A.Q Khan in recent Atlantic Monthlies) as well as the usual run of weaponry, and that NZ has the longest and certainly the least defendable coastline in the Pacific, all sorts of unhealthy scenarios swim up from the depths.

And Reggie, to those who knew him, had one persona that was utterly charming, urbane, philanthropic and which took in more than one ingenuous reporter. But then he also had his Little Moments.

We, of course, don’t want to be a pawn in someone else’s game. Fair enough, the quiet life and all. But then, as Trotsky noted, ‘You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you’.

Better to heed and prepare.

First Duty of Gummint - Security

This was my substantive comment on the Campbell and Fisk thread.....

The first duty of Gummint is the physical security of its citoyens.

Fisk is essentially saying, if you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you’d never go to war again.

But history is replete with cases of citizenries being trapped in what amounts to our modern eyes, as slaveries of some sort.

Tyrannies of all stripes are in fact extremely sustainable, particularly if they rely on fear engendered by letting 14-30 year old males (in ’security forces’ or the like), indulge their hard-wired tendencies to slaughter, rapine and general hell-raising.

So shooting your way into such self-sustaining loops, to release the lives of all involved for Better Fings, is literally the only way sometimes.

Fisk may well have seen a lot, and be prepared to spread a message of ‘let’s not keep doing this’. But he’s preaching to the choir. Anyone truly concerned with the sustainability of a way of life, will in a political sense, ensure that there are police, security and other specialists in violence, on hand to keep people safe. And answerable to that citizenry. So saying ‘ don’t keep doing this’ is at best mischievious, and at worst a recipe for takeover by folks with fewer scruples about employing violence.

And Campbell didn’t ask the most obvious question:

‘Mr Fisk, you have lived safely for 30 years in Lebanon, which for all of that time was a police state, client of Syria, funded by Iran. Who has ensured your own freedom over that time, and has that affected your judgement?’

Tweaking Fwogs - the CPT release

And in today’s crowning irony, solidly built chaps (and possibly chapesses, if the Special Forces have Embraced Diversity), armed with nasty shooty things, have barged their way into some poor cowering oppressed Iraqi’s shack, and forcibly ‘released’ those lovely peaceful CPT citoyens. And without dialoguing anyone, too!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

That Census

Which seems to be causing a good deal of angst as folk try to figure out ethnicity, religion and other stuff that eludes, say, DNA analysis or a blood test. But the work questions are the most annoying: the good bureaucrats at Statistics NZ clearly haven't cottoned on to the Road Warrior pattern. They seriously expect a single workplace! So it's 'No Fixed Abode' for me, and (in a classic example of questionnaires influencing behaviour) I'm just about to take my new 4x4 for a run, so I can answer 'Private Motor Vehicle' to the 'how did you travel' question. Which does generally describe my work pattern quite well, really: whereever the client wants, travel by car, taxi or plane.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The West - address by Keith Windschuttle

In li'l ol' NZ, no less, A thoughtful piece, and as usual, backed up by historical research. With my having just finished Simon Schama's 'Citizens', a history of the French Revolution, the spectacle of masses being incited to acts of violence, has more than the usual revulsion factor. Never did like crowds, now there's another angle to that.

KW's closing paras:

"Today, we live in an age of barbarism and decadence. There are barbarians outside the walls who want to destroy us and there is a decadent culture within. We are only getting what we deserve. The relentless critique of the West which has engaged our academic left and cultural elite since the 1960s has emboldened our adversaries and at the same time sapped our will to resist. The consequences of this adversary culture are all around us. The way to oppose it, however, is less clear. The survival of the Western principals of free inquiry and free expression now depend entirely on whether we have the intelligence to understand their true value and the will to face down their enemies."

Schama and Windschuttle are two great writers, and their respect for the lessons of history (as records of the meanderings of human nature, which does not change) is one that is all too rarely shared.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dem 'Toons

Lots of heat and little light in our own benighted and multi-culti-infested media warrens.

Antidotes hereby prescribed:

Belmont Club has a good set of posts on strategies, and notes that the orchestrated 'toons controversy is likely to derail radical Islam's designs on Europe by engaging it on two fronts simultaneously: not something the lead-from-some-cave-somewhere kriegmeisters had probably figured on.

Mark Steyn has a deliciously sardonic article on the topic: read it and laugh.

And just watch the hapless creatures over at FrogBlog, caught in a quagmire of cultural quailing, uneasy defence of a Press they would love to regulate, disdainful dismissals of religions as relics of irrationality, and general thrashing about while slowly sinking. Friends close, but enemies closer, that's the deal.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Great read for strategic minds

In stark contrast to the woolly-headed claptrap encountered in most comments about grand strategy, this piece hits the spot quite nicely. Fasten your seat-belts. Hat tip: Arts and Letters Daily.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Canadian election - Liberal values

Bit scary: try replacing 'Paul Martin' with 'Helen Clark' and the shoe mostly still fits.....

Housing Hi-jinks

Not pc has a good note about affordability and its inverse relationship to planning and land-use regulation. But when you look at the actual cost of new building , you start to see a significant Nanny State impost in quite a few areas.

  • Fencing of sites. Never used to happen, and not too many gory tales of kiddies' hands being lost to Tools Left Lying Aboot.
  • Certified scaffolding for jobs needing e.g. roof work. Ask a roofing contractor about how much per job this adds. On a say $20K job, this will be around 30%.
  • Leaky Building levy, even though your design follows a thousands-of-years tradition, and so includes actual eaves, and has no internal gutters.
And let's not ferget what's down the track:

  • Full certification needed for all tradies, on pretty much all work, maintenance, new or other. I've heard that only around 30% can possibly qualify within any reasonable grace period allowed. Think what that will do to rates, resource availability as education takes priority over chargeable time, general supply as tradies piss off to less stupid countries, and overall costs.
  • Earthquake proofing of older multistorey buildings. Billions in cost, for how many lives saved, again?
  • Other wonders yet to be dreamt up by our Glorious Leaders in their third go at the Great Socialist Hexperiment on us all.
So, a little prediction about the likely unintended consequences of all of this:

There will arise a thriving, and mainly underground (black economy) market segment which specialises in supplying honest maintenance and repair, made to look as though it's always been there. Some characteristics of the activity:
  • performed indoors, to shut out unwanted eyes. It's quite possible to do even major structural stuff without disturbing visible outer shells of buildings.
  • If outer shell, visible from the street has to be touched, expect the street frontage to be minimal, screened off or trompe l'oeil'ed in some fashion to ward off casual drive-by glances, and inspectors of any breed.
  • use of second-hand covering materials to disguise the new bones underneath. Demolition yards will be quite busy supplying this market.
  • use of antiquing, aging and patination on visible surfaces. Distressed paint finishes, coatings of old kitchen grease, scratches, nicks and obvious signs of long use will be de rigeur. See, I've watched far too many 'Antiques Roadshows', already.
  • payoffs to neighbours and certifiers (assuming the latter are even invited in) to guarantee silence (after all, they will need to return the favour at some point in their futures)
  • cash is king
As Stewart Brand notes, in his sublime book 'How Buildings Learn', people just never stop fiddling with the spaces they live in. And if they cannot be arsed doing it legally, then done it will be, anyway.

But, predictions aside, the unaffordability of housing is due at least in part to the cost impacts of layers of petty and mostly un-necessary (to a traditional designer) specification, levies, requirements and inspections. My bet is, around 10-15% of pure house costs are eaten up in all of this. Add that to land costs (which is what the linked article is really about) and the sum isn't pretty.

And the solution?

Wind back some of the Nanny State requirements.

And educate yourself about what to look for in building design. It's not hard, and it's fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Laugh, damn near peed myself

Green Speechwriting, over at Sir Humph's.

Some good stuff

Culture Cult has some good new articles up.

Eamon Duffy's seminal book on the English Reformation has been re-released with new research and words. Just finished reading t'old one, as it happens.

TCS Daily - always on the reading list.

Canadian election - can't go past the wittiest RWDB around - Mark Steyn

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cute phrases

Fitzsimons lied, foliage died.

Giving it the 'Fitzsimons Flick'

Russia as 'Nigeria with permafrost' (ht: TCS)