Friday, April 15, 2005

Election '05 Leader Profiles

Couldn't resist seeing what NZ's political leaders would look like in South Park:

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Southpark makeover

There's a great Flash site at The Planearium where you can create your very own South Park character (Hat tip DPF). If you haven't heard, the Greens have got a good blog site at Frogblog worth checking out. It's looking good!

Chairman Jim vs Google

As seen on Stuff's site:

Importer to pull plug on flow of nos

14 April 2005

One of New Zealand's biggest nitrous oxide importers will stop the flow of hundreds of thousands of canisters a month after the ruling it is illegal to buy or sell the substance to inhale.


Anderton said he had heard that several nos retailers would try to flout the ruling by erecting signs urging buyers to use the substance only for whipping cream.

"We all know they are not going to be rushing home to make cream sponges. If people try to play hard and fast against this they will end up explaining themselves in court," Anderton said.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No cricket tour of Zimbabwe petition

A petition has started calling for the Black Caps not to tour Zimbabwe. Please sign and spread the word.

No laughing matter

Chairman Jim has moved to ban the inhalation of nitrous oxide. In typical knee-jerk fashion, Chairman Jim has ignored the under-funded and under-resourced EACD, and run out of patience with his Supplementary Order Paper before the Health select committee.

As an example of how rushed and unco-ordinated this new ban is, only medical grade nos is affected. Soda Stream and whipped cream cannisters are still legal, so expect lots more pollution from empty cylinders everywhere.

I suppose Chairman Jim prefers young people sniffing glue instead of having a laugh.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Smokefree sucks

A Hospitality Association survey reckons the smoking ban has dropped revenue for around 40 percent of bar owners. It has led Health select committee Chairwoman Steve Chadwick to raise an eyebrow. "It's slightly higher than I would have expected, but we did expect a downturn."

One of the ironies of the Centre-Left bloc that voted in the Smokefree legislation (Labour, Progs and Greens) is that the compliance hurdles favoured Big Business.

Katipo Cafe sits on the first floor in Willis St. It is a small owner-operator business with neither the capital nor the architectural licence to build outdoor seating. Before the Smokefree legislation, they had a regular morning crowd that sat at the windows reading the paper with coffee and cigarettes. Most of them now go to Starbucks and Katipo Cafe doesn't open til later.

Wait til winter. People will retreat to the only half-arsed refuge left; their homes. The Centre-Left; taking the "social" out of socialism, putting the "cult" in culture.

No more soul-warming nights amongst friends and strangers, sheltering from the elements in smoky pool halls or jazz gigs (goodbye Bodega!). No more dancing in the womb of a rave, sharing a cigarette with a really awesomely amaaaazingly beautiful chick (goodbye Studio Nine!). No more writing short stories and letters, throwing tobacco butt sacrifices on the open fire in a pub in Taupo, pausing to stare out into the darkness (goodbye Red Barrel!).

Suspicion breeds confidence

We live in strange days, where loyalty is a marketing term, honour is something you do with cheques, and trust is a tax dodge. There is certainly little real old-fashioned trust at Birkdale Intermediate where principal Richard Coote has warned parents and pupils of impending random drug searches.

Old Coote admits that "There have certainly been no incidents. We just want to reassure ourselves, the community and parents."In spite of no evidence of a drug problem with even one pupil, this man is going to have his 600 pupils subjected to a drug raid. The Bill of Rights only applies to adults, I presume. When are the strip searches beginning?

Owen Goodwin, chairman of Birkdale's board of trustees, said the spot-check would also have educational benefits. "If there was the remote chance of a swarm of bees descending on the school, we would bring an apiarist to speak to the children."I agree with Mr Goodwin. Children should learn to fear the worst. That's the Kiwi way! Check the Stuff Poll for proof.

While Mr Goodwin is advising his charges of remote risks, perhaps he should consider some other educational visits:
  • Geologist; to tell pupils that they grow up surrounded by volcanos which at any time might blow and consume everything they love.
  • Astonomer; to say that a comet/cosmic rays/ solar flare could hit the earth at short notice, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
  • Climatologist; to warn that global warming might kill them all.
  • Epidemiologist; to show that an influenza pandemic is long overdue. NZ will be one of the first to get hit by a SARS-type virus originating from Asia.
  • Political Scientist; to advise that the break-up of the Soviet Union has littered the planet with rogue nukes. Osama Bin Laden might have one of the nukes timed to go off in the North Shore at any moment.
Birkdale Intermediate, preparing children for Level One NCEA nihilism.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Got milk?

You can't fault Elizabeth Weatherly for trying to leverage the Human Rights Act into defending the right to breastfeed. Armed with good intentions, the Human Rights Act means anything to all people including lactating mothers.

Mrs Weatherly began her campaign after staff at a childcare centre objected to her breastfeeding in the cloakroom. Now she wants a law should protect women's right to breastfeed and a child's right to be fed. While I sympathise with her plight, making a law about it is over the top.

If any childcare centre wants to play fuddy-duddy over breastfeeding, that's their loss. Go elsewhere. Word-of-mouth, ringing the local rag, writing a Letter to the Editor thereof, ringing talkback, blogging, hell there's a hundred ways to take the piss or ridicule them. If it's bad enough for business, they might change their policy.

In the many restaurants I've worked, there have been many occasions when Mums have discreetly popped their tops for the sprog. Big deal.

If anything, I take more objection to the three-wheel drive strollers that clutter the pathways between the tables. For an example of this phenomenon, I recommend going to brunch at Andiamo in Herne Bay, Orkland one weekend. They need a frickin' valet parking service for them or something.

There were I times when I wished I was allowed to use Kiddy-strength mace on some of the diners' progeny. When you're running around with scalding hot plates or teetering trays of glassware, the last thing you want his some uncontrolled rugrat to get under your feet.

Breastfeeding is nothing like letting kids run free and express themselves. While the former is unobtrusive, the latter needs a goddamn health warning. Context is everything.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Better than the Cullen Fund

The big problem I've had with the Cullen Fund, and with the Super in general, is the lack of personal ownership. In all likelihood, I'll be dead before I reach retirement age. That's assuming there's a public pension by the time I get that old, which most of my generation highly doubt.

It will be interesting to see how far Michael Cullen goes to support the New Zealand Institute's suggestion of compulsory saving scheme. The idea has some merit. Unlike the Cullen Fund, these savings accounts would be matched to actual Kiwis. A real, live asset!

The only quibble I have with the idea so far, is the 2 percent compulsory savings from taxable income. It should be matched with a corresponding tax cut.

Omen alert

Early-morning risers will be rewarded on Saturday with a solar eclipse at dawn. The best place to see this good omen will be Invercargill, where the weather and lattitude will be perfect to observe the total ecplise. For places like Wellington, 80% of the sun will be obscurred.

Warn others! No-one deserves to go on a bender Friday night only to have physics fuck with their heads with a dark sunrise.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Big queue

The queue for seats in the Public Gallery for Question Time today was one of the longest I've seen. At least 50 people waited to be let in to see the entertainments.

Finally got in around 2:45, just in time to catch the end of Rodney's question. It's the first time I've seen Margaret Wilson as Speaker and was surprised at how badly the House was run. And that voice! Like nails on a blackboard.

A bloody funny Question Time all round. It really is a shame that the government has put off the installation of parliamentary TV. Oh well, maybe when they can find the money for it...

Monday, April 04, 2005

A bitter end?

Investigate magazine does a NZ version of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, courtesy of John Tamihere. The once-promising career of the man who could have been PM now lies in tatters after the most vicious public hissy-fit in NZ political history. Swinging away at TV3 on a Labour blog was bad enough. Hurling abuse at his colleagues on paper was political suicide. Scoop has links to the Tamihere interview in MP3 format.

Will this be the impetus for an early election? Probably not. Even if John Tamihere crossed the floor, it would take every party bar United Future to vote against on no-confidence; ie. very unlikely. Also, unlike last time, Helen Clark cannot blame it on external damage. This is internal bleeding and the polls will reflect that if it goes early.

A game of Polo

In just under a week, NZ's coolest economist Gareth Morgan is taking part in a motorcycle journey retracing Marco Polo's epic journey. Travelling from Venice to Xanadu in three months (as opposed to the three years Polo took), Dr Morgan promises email updates to people who donate to UNICEF at the Silkriders site.

Giving credit where it's due

The latest Private Word from the Privacy Commissioner spends a good deal of time explaining the benefits of the new Credit Reporting Privacy Code.

The big bonus for consumercitizens is that it makes access to their personal credit records free. Previously, credit agencies such as Baycorp Advantage charged $15 for people to find out whether their credit records were accurate. A clear, fast and effective complaints process must be in place by April 1st this year also.

By April 2006, disputed debts will have to be flagged, pro-active checking to ensure accurate records matched to the correct people and audits to ensure unauthorised access to credit information is curtailed.

This is a good step towards levelling that most treacherous of playing fields, the debt-market.

Talking to Bob

The BBC are very embarrassed at being turned down for an interview with a famous musician. They emailled the Marley Foundation requesting an interview with Bob, only to be told he had died in 1981.

"The Marley Foundation have been extremely good humoured about this and we have apologised for the error," said the BBC.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sunday drivers

Will the record-breaking cost of petrol put an end to that Kiwi icon, the Sunday driver?

The P in Kapiti

Tim Hume writes in the SST that Seven senior Satan's Slaves, including the sergeant-at-arms and the president, have quit over the gang's involvement with P. Detective Ross McKay of Paraparaumu police said police intelligence indicated the row within the Slaves mirrored divisions emerging in gangs nationwide.

I was told a story a couple of years ago when I was living in Orkland. I cannot tell how much truth there is in it, but here's how it went:

There was once a gang that sold P. Some of the members of this gang took a fondness to getting high on their supply. One night at a party surrounded by their whanau, a member took enough P to make him God.

"I am invincible!" he roared. To prove it, he punched a plate glass ranch slider, badly cutting himself in the process. "I am invincible!" he roared again and took a shard of glass, repeatedly stabbing himself in the chest. Needless to say, both he and the party died.

The word went out to the gang. Get clean. We don't need this shit.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Dry rot

NZ's smartest socialist Chris Trotter has an excellent appraisal of the John Banks/Act thing in The Independent:

"ACT's membership base contains some of the best- informed and highly motivated political activists in the country. They are unlikely to respond positively to their party being over-run by a mob of witless knuckle-draggers."

The DomPost also has a good article covering Mark Blumsky's campaign launch (offline edition A10). With PR like this, it is no surprise Boo-Boo has moved up the Party List. I've never voted National, but I'd consider voting for Blumsky.

Nation of narks

University researchers are haunting Wellington bars on behalf of the police and ACC. With neither the consent of bar owners nor the patrons they observe, the researchers fill in forms from observing patrons' reactions before and after police visits. The aim is to reduce crime and alcohol-related injuries.

"Some bars are trying to make out that we're jumping on people that are having a great night. That's just not the case. We're trying to make the town safer," said Wellington liquor licensing sergeant Grant Verner.

Yeah Right.

In Turangi, locals have had a gutsful of drug dealers and are dobbing them in to the police on a regular basis. It's not paranoia when everyone is out to get you. The police chief, Senior Sergeant Dennis Murphy, said his staff were seeing a link between drug dealing and property offending such as burglary. The crimes were "overlapping".

I'll save the police a lot of research cash and drop a hint. What's the difference between owing a drug dealer money and owing a car dealer money?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Moore! Moore!

Alan Moore, half-blind half-deaf former LSD salesman and graphic novel god, is getting two of his most influential books put to celluloid.

Watchmen is in pre-production and Empire has a good taste of what to expect with director Paul Greengrass at the helm. Greengrass, director of Bloody Sunday and The Bourne Supremacy, promises to keep the dense symbolism and dark political allegory true to Alan Moore's original vision. John Cusack is rumoured to play Nite Owl Dan Dreiberg.

I'm amazed someone is trying to cram it all into a feature-length movie. I had imagined it as a mini-series. If you haven't read the graphic novel yet, I strongly urge you to track it down.

Dystopian nightmare V for Vendetta is currently filming. With a screenplay co-written by the Wachowski Brothers, this tale of totalitarian control freaks facing an unstoppable terrorist hero is just what is needed to alleviate the post-millenial tension.

Politics will never be the same.

Attack of the vanilla people

Wanganui mayor Michael Laws has put the town on the media map in a way Chas Poynter never did with Moutua Gardens. Laws has provoked controversy on Frontseat over the Sarjeant Gallery, legal action with native loggers on national news, and annoyed people in Reality TV-land on Celebrity Treasure Island. Now a handful of concerned do-gooders have taken a complaint about the him to the Wanganui Council.

Apparently, Michael Laws needs to bland down a lot. Mrs Calder, for instance, didn't like it when Michael Laws said all journalists like getting pissed. Well Mrs Calder, show me a journalist who doesn't like to get pissed and you might get a bit more credibility.

The six whingeing wet blankets (Valerie Calder, Jay Kuten, Carol Webb, William Pearce, Matt Dutton and Warwick Chapman FYI) will have a hard time trying to show Laws breached the code and brought the city into disrepute. If anything, I bet tourism's up in the city with out-of-towners (such as journalists) coming to see what all the fuss is about.

Meanwhile in Christchurch, around 120 people concerned people picketed an appropriately-named nos shop called Weirdos. Christchurch City Councillors Helen Broughton and Bob Shearing spoke to the crowd. Hornby High School principal Andy Kai Fong summed up the crowd's feeling by saying that while he had not seen a large amount of evidence of nos use among students, he was sure it was happening.

Senior Sergeant Peter Laloli said people taking the substances were causing social problems in Christchurch and stretching police resources. What? All of them?

The shop has taken an interesting step in taking a trespass notice out against the police. Apart from begging the question of who the hell is going to enforce the ban, the move is the first of what I suspect will be a trend.

Chairman Jim's Supplementary Order Paper before the Health select committee seeks to introduce a new, empty schedule for drugs. He has made it clear that he would like some regulation on party pills, nos, butane, and air freshener. Maximum stock levels of these substances will be set in a way even alcohol outlets aren't.

The SOP increases police powers dramatically, allowing them guaranteed access to any property that stocks anything in the empty schedule, providing it is not a dwelling-house. It will allow them to search and seize property and financial records without warrants or evidence of a crime.

What if the dairies, petrol stations, supermarkets and head shops served trespass notices on police to stem this draconian power? What would happen if bar owners served trespass notices on the Health department smokefree police? What if every landowner took trespass notices out against every single bureaucrat and official currently allowed by right onto private property? What a great way to start a written constitution!

There's something about Christchurch. Maybe it's because it's the home of the country's highest per capita Prozac prescriptions and liquor licences. Perhaps it's because it's the home of the Chairman Jim Party. Whatever it is, there is one more reason to look askance at those particular Mainlanders; paedophile Graham Capill, formerly leader of the Christian Heritage Party and police court prosecutor. I bet he'll find jail an interesting role reversal.

Queenstown doesn't fare much better, with Lakes District Councillor Wayne McKeague going to court on child porn charges. Faced with such deviant competition, Michael Laws has no chance of being found guilty of bringing the council into disrepute. In fact, Laws scores only 6.9 on the goNZometer, 0.8 points below Tim Shadbolt.

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey is off the charts. His cunning plan of an Orkland Lord Mayor to lobby Wellington is not a bad idea. If anything, his scheme doesn't go far enough. I think everyone would be much happier if Orkland became a federal state in what I like to call the Federation of New Zealand Independent Enclosures (FoNZIE). Orkland, like Christchurch, is a law unto itself, and it's time this was recognised.