Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fine Buildings I've Never Been To: Libeskind's Jewish Museum

This building is, for me, an excellent example of how narrative can be effectively incorporated into architecture. The building began it's life as a rather esoteric entry in the international competition, which he entitled 'Between The Lines' - the planform is two lines, one tortuously twisted but continuous, the other a discontinuous straight line.

The interior shots are compelling views of solid and void, carefully picked out in shafts of artificial and natural light.

The exterior is a sleek, reflective zinc skin in which linear rents and tears are inscribed, contrasting markedly with the staid surrounds of the city.

One day I'll get there - next trip to Europe isn't 'til next year, but I have waited a long time to see this building, so a tad more won't hurt...

Check the website.

'Hoff'ensive Behaviour

This is just too funny.

David Hasselhoff gets shitfaced, publicly rants and sobs to no-one in particular, pisses his pants, and flings a poor bookstore employee about.

Where's Kitt when you need him?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nutbar Deniers At It Again


It's a good laugh though, innit. I mean, on the one hand, the 'Climate Science Coalition' has popped out a letter largely identical to their last one, asking (and fair enough, I guess) for a Royal Commission of Inquiry or similar into the science behind the popular conception of AGW - Anthropogenic Global Warming.

The request is made on the basis that information out there in the public sphere might not be sufficiently balanced, and that a greater degree of scientific rigour is necessary for individual CSC members to be able to easily sleep at night. Fair enough, fair enough...

But then they cock it up something chronic, with the statement that the information supporting AGW is *cough*:

"...often tainted by the emotional arguments of the environmental movement and
seldom stands up to objective scientific analysis."

I suggest the CSC needs to urgently attend to the beam in it's own eye, before casting aspersions at the AGW mote. This is an organisation which actively endorses and frequently quotes Ken Ring, a figure of fun for many in climatological (and indeed meteorological) circles.

Yes, the CSC would have us believe that we are being hoodwinked by Global Warming-advocating charlatans who use their malign influence to get published in little rags like, say, Science and Nature, New Scientist, and hundreds more. On the contrary, they would have you listen to their mate Ken Ring, a nutbar who believes the moon controls the Earth's weather, and writes almanacs which from what I have read, are around about as accurate as your daily horoscope.

Don't get me wrong, I have an open mind when it comes to the issue of AGW. I read very widely, and smugly reckon I have a fair understanding of the major issues, including prominent counter-theories from the denier camp. But for the Climate Science Coalition, which is composed of well-known agenda-driven free-market advocaters (Owen McShane, anyone) to claim a moral high ground on objectivity... It's a bit much.

As an addendum, I note with terror that the Coalition is now headed by renowned climate theorist, the Rear Admiral Jack Welch (retired). But really, who is this guy and why has he been chosen as the figurehead? Is he like a Charlton Heston to the NRA? Curiouser and curiouser...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Winnie's A-Feudin'...

That's it fer the media... Condoleeza Rice lent Winnie some of the US of A's best 'counter-media' operatives...

Them varmints is dun fer! (Cue 'Tauranga HillWinnies' theme tune...)

Weaving A Narrative: What's Wrong With The Media

In reflecting on the Kahui twins story, one of the most jarring things for me was the speed and fervour with which the media picked up on the 'Tight 12' (TM) moniker for the wider family members at the heart of the police investigation.

In essence, this 'Tight 12' group, who are stonily protecting the killer of two babies in one of the of the most public displays of cowardice the New Zealand populace may ever have seen, have been made to sound like a Marvel Comics superhero gang - and all of this so that the public has a strand to cling to in following the story.

It began with Ani Hawke, a self-appointed spokesman for the Kahui whanau referring to them as such in a radio interview - and although I didn't hear it, Hawkes vomit-inducing self-aggrandisement was insult to injury... she certainly seemed to bask in her fleeting limelight.

As soon as the words had come out of her mouth, the media was all over it, originally prefacing the 'Tight 12' team name with 'so-called,' but as soon as the mandatory grace period necessary to maintain a semblance of taste had passed, it was adopted with gusto.

Today the news has more - still no arrest, still no overt cooperation from the whanau members who continue to help the twins' killer, but the media continues to refer to the wider family by their twee, resolute-sounding nickname.

What is the bigger picture? The painting of news characters as 'heroes' and 'villains,' and the enhancement of various story aspects to create grand narratives is certainly nothing new, but what the effect has been in this case is to amplify any crumbs of respectability and strength that the family's course of total silence might communicate to the NZ public at large, and ameliorate what is really pretty low, for the sake of spinning the yarn and weaving the narrative.

If you want to make the news more palatable and exciting, fine, but don't do it by clinging to the words of a family member still giddy in the throes of her fifteen minutes of infamy - let the moniker actually fit.

The 'Mute Dozen'?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An Easy Mark, True

So apparently, National is having an image crisis.

Bad enough, it would seem, for them to seek the help of top US Republican advisor Kenny 'Jiggy' Huggins, a highly-rated spin doctor often employed to help the GOP get it's collective finger back on the pulse of modern youth. In soon-to-be-released publicity stills that have not passed the watchful eye of Brash's new 'Director of Forward Reconnaisance,' Gareth Spillane, Brash and right hand man Gerry Brownlee are seen with Huggins in a number of 'hip-hop' type poses carefully calculated to engage and excite young Kiwis.

Spillane, or 'mah seeing-eye dawg' as Brash has taken to calling him, may wish he did get a first pass at National's radical upcoming image shift. 'Jiggy' Huggins has advocated wide-ranging wardrobe changes, titular modifications throughout the National caucus, and the wholesale adoption of a street-savvy 'ebonics' argot that Huggins is 'straight up, fo' real' certain will speak honestly to today's youth.

In the above leaked shot, rumoured for usage in various print media, Dr Brash (or 'Brash Love' as he now refers to himself) is seen with Huggins and Brownlee ('tha Obsequious F.A.T.'). When confronted about the image, the employment of Huggins with public funds, and the alleged arming of his 'Political Correctness Eradicator' with an AK-47, Brash crossed his arms, thrust out his chin, and announced that he had no further comment for 'all y'all'.

Hockey Stick Snapped?

There has been an inordinate amount of crowing from various dark corners of climate-change skepticism in recent days, with the Wall Street Journal publicising an analysis of the statistical methods used in compiling data for the 'hockey-stick' Global Climate Reconstruction.

In essence, the 'hockey-stick' has been used a lot by mainstream media as a quick and effective method of demonstrating a touted upswing in global temperature, ostensibly demonstrating that we have entered a period of warmth unprecedented in the last thousand years.

At this point I should note that I have no scientific credentials for understanding the mechanics of the 'Hockey Stick,' nor have I sufficient understanding of statistics at the level that the Wegman paper operates (although I found Chefen's critical analysis by way of reproducing the outcome using white noise at Sir Humphrey's fairly compelling from my lay perspective).

The issue I have is the painting of this by Team Right Wing as the silver bullet for the concept of anthropogenic global warming. There is an ever-growing body of data, independent of the Mann 'Hockey Stick' which points to "the strong likelihood that human influences on climate play a dominant role in the observed 20th century warming of the earth's surface". There is some excellent material on this here at RealClimate -essential reading for any excitable wingers gearing up to prematurely dance on graves...

The message is - strongly - that the conception of anthropogenic global warming does not require the 'Hockey Stick' as an essential prop.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006