Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Reasons to be Cheerful 3

Haven't seen the sun for two days. Wellington has been shrouded in mist. It goes up, it goes down, but it doesn't go. Overcast and humid like Orkland on a day when it's not raining. Women fighting with credit cards down in the city and box shops. Four hours in a car from Wellington to Kapiti. Time to see what good movies 2007 has in store.

2007 will be brought to you by the number 3. Namely, Pirates of the Caribbean 3; At World's End will be hoping to puff out Disney's balance sheets with numerous merchandising wet dreams. 007's main competitor, Jason Bourne, has his third outing in The Bourne Ultimatum. Spiderman 3 looks positively Gothic. Will The Simpsons Movie (trailer here) be more than just 3 episodes joined together? Will it be funnier that Borat, or merely amusing like their last six seasons? A couple of animatic previews were posted up here, but YouTube has pulled them on behalf of Fox.

Slightly further afield from the mainstream box office, Sin City 2 brings back Marv and the dames for a few more tales. Lee Tamahori comes in off the street and directs Next, based on the Phillip K Dick story The Golden Man. It stars Nicolas Coppola, who also appears in a lot of Ghost Rider as a CGI skeleton only he's called Nicholas Cage in this one. Pity he hasn't had a decent movie since Adaptation and he has to cadge glory off wunderkind Cousin Sofia and Uncle Frank.

There is so much hush-hush about The Corrections, I'm going to take a punt on this being a goodie. With a line-up of Brad Pitt, Naomi Watts (sigh), Tim Robbins and Judi Dench, it tells the the story of "several generations of a dysfunctional family". About bloody time. I've had nothing to watch since The Royal Tenenbaums. OK, there was Little Miss Sunshine...

Neil Gaiman's Stardust features not only Claire Danes, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, but also a veritable cornicopia of Brit actors; Jason Flemyng, Ricky Gervais, Peter O'Toole. Matthew Vaughn, from the excellent Layer Cake, directs. While in Britland, may as well mention the sequel to the Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth, The Golden Age. The story focuses on ER I's conflict with Mary Queen of Scots, played by the ever-yummy Samantha Morton, and her relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh. No mention is made on whether Rowan Atkinson makes a cameo.

But my pick for 2007, in lieu of The Fountain ever getting to our shores, is Black Snake Moan, starring Samuel L Jackson & Christina Ricci. And, er, Justin Timberlake. Rotten Tomatoes:
"From the writer and director of the sleeper hit Hustle & Flow comes a gritty, seductive, blues-soaked tale of love, sex, music, and redemption. Writer/director Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan descends into the dark, spellbinding heart of fear and desire and comes out the other side."


Either this is a typo, or Deborah Coddington is minding Ana's Sideswipe column while she's on holiday. If the latter is the case, DC must have had a self-deprecation chip installed for Xmas. This Sideswipe lists PA's Word of the Year list, which includes Coddingtonswallop at #5.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas Pressie

A reading from the Book of Trev:

Muldoon was not a historian, and the election was to be held on July 14th which was Bastille Day. It was an unfortunate omen for the National Goernment. Even Jim McLeay was staggered by it I think, and I don't know how far history will reveal Muldoon ever consulted with his Caucus before he made the decision to ask parliament to be prorogued. In a famous television interview, he said that he had caught the Labour Party on the hop and it didn't give them much notice.

It was true that we did not have the people on the electoral rolls at that time, but the party worked very hard indeed in both the central and local levels. By the time the election came round, we had our people well and truly upon the electoral roll. It was a defeat for Muldoon and the Labour Party formed the Fourth Labour Government in New Zealand. During the 1984 campaign, David Lange had as his minder his very good friend Joe Walding. Joe was an astute politician and I think Lange leant very heavily on Joe's judgement on matters in 1984. It is useful to compare the 1984 election with the 1987 election when Joe was no longer with us, he having died while our High Commissioner in London in 1985.

Without that guidance, Lange made a complete mess of the 1987 campaign. He offended some women dramatically on a television interview while he was on tour in the South Island. I think it was at Rangiora. In my own electorate, I had gone to considerable pains to prepare the way for Lange at the Palmerston North Teachers Training College in the morning, only to have him in the afternoon verbally abuse some student again on television over his shirt or some other trivial matter. These were two major television blues that forced the Labour Party to spend around half a million dollars on TV adverts in addition to what we expected to spend, in order to cover his misdemeanours in this regard.

I think that's where the rot really began between him and Douglas, because the 1987 election was really won by Roger Douglas in the fact that that people had faith in those policies. I don't think Lange and his supporters ever really forgave Douglas the fact that the electorate thought he was the person that was important rather than David Lange.

However, we did win the '87 election and by an increased majority. For the first time North Shore, the national stronghold, looked like becoming Labour as indeed did Remuera. It is somewhat ironic that the Labour Party after Douglas and I had left tried to distance themselves from the policies of the '84 - '87 Labour Government, when indeed it was those very policies that had met with such electoral success. That still seems to be the position that the Labour Party of today wishes to so distance itself and cannot face the fact that for the first time since the original Labour Government, we were returned for a second term in office.

The Labour Party is not good at handling success. After all it did not have a great deal of practice at it, and it is far better at rationalising its defeats. I once remember advising young John Kirk, who was interested in politics, that it didn't really matter what party you were in as long as you got sufficient power to put in your ideas you thought were best for the country. My advice was that even if he was going to stand for National, as National members really had three times the chance of power compared with the Labour Party member. That at any rate is the historical evidence.

Caucus and myself never got on well together. I was very cynical about the quality of the members that democracies so often vomits to authority over us. Although the Labour Government of 1984 and 1987 to '90 had a very high intellectual capacity and had a lot of members with degrees from the university, another amazing proportion of the caucus wouldn't understand a balance sheet if it was placed in front of them. People in the caucus who were dictating as it were the Government's economic policy, or supposed to, tried to look learned about matters upon which they had not the slightest knowledge or understanding.

I have always been reminded of the passage of Alice in Wonderland about the dodo in the caucus race. You started the race when you wanted to, you stopped when you wanted to, and everybody in caucus got prizes that Alice was supposed to donate. Lewis Carroll had a great deal to commend him with his view of politics. Of course it becomes quite apparent that if you are intolerant and don't like caucus, they don't like you. It wasn't long before this relationship developed between myself and the majority of members of the Labour Party Caucus. I thought that quite a lot of them were nothing but fools but then again the National Party had its fair share too.

I may say having a look at the present generation of politicians that caucus might have seen academically of genius quality compared with what MMP has placed in authority over us. You see, generally I am not in favour of democracy. It is a myth that people elect members of Parliament. They do not. Members of Parliament are chosen by very small numbers of people in their respective parties, the average person having nothing to do with it. Those parties stand these candidates and the people vote for the party and those people become members of Parliament.

To assert that they are either worthy of people's vote or that they will reflect that vote in Parliament is of itself an absurdity. They will not. There is a view adopted by Lenin and Stalin. That to its perfection, the party is the be all and end all and that members should just do as the party tells them. I, of course, never subscribed to that point of view. I do not now under MMP. It is manifest that a lot of other people have left the parties that voted them into power to follow their own bandwagons.

The Labour Party Economic Committee while in opposition had already formed its policy on quite a great many matters. These included devaluation of the NZ dollar. By July 14th 1984, it was apparent the country was bankrupt and that we could not meet our overseas debts and commitments as they fell due. Muldoon had performed abysmally in economic terms and had got the country into a terrible mess. Never in the future should a Prime Minister be also Minister of Finance. These are the only two people in Government that have anything like strong power, and they should never be held in one person's hands. They should counter-balance each other.

The history again shows that Muldoon would not countenance when we became Government the devaluation of the dollar by 20 percent. His outgoing Ministers later convinced him that this had to be done and it was done at the very last moment. Producer Boards and a great many people had kept their money overseas knowing our dollar had to be devalued, and many people had great windfalls following the devaluation. However, without it, we simply couldn't have survived as a nation.

In the Labour Governments, the cabinet in elected by the caucus and the Prime Minister allocates the portfolios. I was so naïve that I considered that ability had something to do with selection to the cabinet. That delusion was shattered and crumbled away to dust when Lange walked into the cabinet room immediately after the election and said he had to have a cabinet containing two Maoris and two women. This positive discrimination was part and parcel of the Labour Government performance over the next few years, and still is.

I was not elected to cabinet, although I did survive some of the votes. I thought then and there that I may as well get out of Parliament. I hadn't quarterised my income to come in as a backbencher and be cannon fodder. I actually stopped at the Rotorua Post Office on the way home from fishing at Tauranga to send a telegram of resignation to the Prime Minister. At the last moment, I changed that and suggested that I become under-secretary to finance with a special relationship to Inland Revenue. Roger Douglas, as Minister of Finance, had to have an under-secretary and he knew he was in for considerable tax reform. I think I got the job because I understood taxation which other people in caucus did not.

It was the greatest bit of fortune that has ever come to me in my life. I would rather in retrospect have been under-secretary of finance to Roger Douglas than I would have been Minister of Pies & Ice-cream in the cabinet. There were several reasons for this. The first was financial. Under the Higher Salaries Commission, Ministers and under-secretaries were paid one hundred odd dollars tax-free a day for the time they were not in Wellington. The idea was that they were doing their job elsewhere. I thought this was ridiculous but it rendered my under-secretaries' pay up with a cabinet minister. I didn't have to go down to Wellington on Monday and was paid this $100 for fishing and shooting. That later, on our own instigation, was altered and is not the position now. That was the ridiculous nature however of much of the way of fixing salaries for ministers and under-secretaries in those days. As under-secretary, I also had full access to the LTDs and all the status of other ministerial perks.

Helen Clark was I think unfortunately not made an under-secretary. She represented the left wing of the party and had a direct access to it. She was and is a terribly formidable political opponent to have. I think that from the day Lange did not make her an under-secretary, there was animosity growing. I accept it was not without reasons.

That night I took the LTD and took Helen Clark, who was very upset, out to dinner. I took her to a movie and then escorted her, as a gentleman should, back to the door of her flat in a dubious part of Brooklyn. As we got out of the car, she invited me up for a cup of coffee. I said I had better not come. We had had too much to drink, I thought she looked perfectly handsome and that I might try to get into mischief. I said I thought of her as a daughter. Helen laughed as she went in the door and reminded me that she was older than my wife.

My office was only about twenty yards from that of Roger Douglas and we were in constant communication with each other. Working for Roger was a joy. Once he delegated things to you on the condition that you kept him informed of what you were doing, he did not meddle or override what you were doing. I got on with the job of being Minister of Revenue, not of tax. we decided that revenue was the proper thing for government, rather than just the imposition of taxes.

We were dedicated to the reform of the tax system by changing to much more reliance on indirect taxation. Two top committees chaired by accountants, namely Ross and McCaw, had at various stages reported to Governments that this change should occur. In effect, that we should have a tax on expenditure. The National Government and previous Labour Governments had not had the political courage to make these changes, which were obviously beneficial. We knew that it would be difficult to sell what we called a Goods and Services Tax (some called it God Save Trevor) to the Labour Party Conference and to the party generally.

The argument was that such a tax would be regressive and impinge upon the working class people who speant most of their money on neccessities more than on the upper-class. Douglas, Treasury and all our economic people took the view that this was not so, that the regressive nature of the tax was minimised and indeed, discounted by income support mechanisms. Benefits to those most affected would rebut entirely the regressive nature of the tax.

We also knew that it would be difficult to launch GST through the Labour Party Conferences unless we had shown some sign that we were tackling benefits that had grown up under Muldoon, funded by the higher taxation rate of 66 cents in the dollar. Many corporate people, and indeed right down to the smallest employees, were getting benefits for motor cars, mortgages, tickle sheets, credit cards and all sorts of things, rather than being paid money which was taxed. we therefore began to institute a Fringe Benefit tax. Ideally, this should have been upon the employee who ultimately gained the benefits but, being a Labour Party, we couldn't do that. we therfore decided to tax it in the hands of the employer. The measure was not designed to get a great deal of income, but was designed to stop the perking nature that had become a feature on employment contracts and to show our Labour Party Left that we were serious about taxation reform.


Hippy Xmas

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Xmas Story

Every year was the same. I'd fly up to Tauranga, get picked up by one of the family at the glorified airfield Tauranga calls an airport. A round of plastic guddays, out to the shack out back where I always crash. It's my father's den. 27 deer skulls mounted around the wall, a single bed, a desk, the stereo. One man's heaven is another man's purgatory. I've been there five minutes and already I'm regretting it.

Unpack the necessities; cigarette tin and lighter. Stop to breathe for as long as I can drag out the rollie. Trapped in Tauranga and all the family is here. How long before the plastic wears thin and the arguments begin? Go up the stairs. Uptight Rodriguez and Trev are deep in a discussion on marginal taxation. Randy has brought along his friend from Orkland. As always, she is beautiful. As always, it's a different one every time. Uptight's husband, Chip, is slowly acclimatising to our thermonuclear tradition. I always enjoy seeing Randy's chick's reaction when the fireworks begin.

One year, we had a yelling match in a nice restaurant in Bethlehem for Xmas dinner. It was about nothing. Politics. The old man reckoned that higher pay meant people didn't work as long as his day. Uptight and Randy insisted the working week is longer now. I went out for a cigarette. That was one of the better ones. The dinners I dreaded were the ones at the house. Anything you say can and will be used as evidence against you later on. It's best to keep answers to a concise minimum. Elaborate at your peril.

In 2000, everything changed. December was the beginning of the end, the end of happiness. September had seen my relationship with Ms Machete fall apart. October, I walked out of my Telecom job. November, the old man had cancer again. 2001, I knew, was going to be a hell of a lot worse (I was right). So, I pondered, what to do for Xmas? One last Xmas fight with the old man? No. He had made it abundantly clear earlier that month that he didn't want me around and, besides, he never believed in Xmas.

So, what were the flatmates doing? Ms Machete (don't ask) and her new boyfriend, Tapanui Joe, were staying put. Michael Jackson was there for the duration too. No, not THAT MJ of course. This guy was born in India and had a ginger afro. In one way shape or form, we all wanted to take a break from the hollowed virtue of duty and actually have a Xmas we enjoyed.

December 25th, 2 pm-ish. Phone unplugged, mobiles off. The people who sublet the garage from our landlord had already been round to pick up a bushy pressie from their pungent lock-up. We had changed into the Gen X&Y version of our Sunday Best, that individual uniform of our most comfortable and favoured garments. The Mt Cook Slug House lounge was all laid out. A gargantuan antipasti sat dwarfing the crate it was placed on. Tomatoes, artichokes, olives, roasted capsicum, feta, pastrami, proscuitto, olive oil and salt. And bread, lots of bread. On the coffee table sat dessert; four Hoffmans on a Bike and an ounce of Xmas tree courtesy of Cousin Mork from Orkland, and a bottle of champagne I'd won off Jonathan Hunt in a bet.

Later, we headed out the front door to a brilliant Wellington afternoon, stopping at the dairy for chewing gum and liquids. We walked. Taranaki Street to the sea. Acid babble would just as suddenly and naturally give way to silence. Not silence, clearly. Distracted by beauty, this This. Someone suggested parliament. A quick consensus. Mishing through town, the only others on the street are the ethnics. Hedons and heathens, Dagg bless 'em. Sure there were cars, but cars aren't people.

Parliament grounds deserted. Mooch around the Parliamentary Library a bit without bother. Go across the road to the church. 5:30 on Xmas day and no-one's there. Place is locked up tight. Someone suggests the Thorndon hills. Good for a view and all. So we mish up through the grey sector of ACC and IRD offices, past the State Services block with its statue on the lawn with birdshit on its head. Make a beeline for the Green Belt through the overpriced cottage boxes of Thorndon.

Halfway up, we stop for a breath. Just as we're about to sit, I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye. It's The Man With The Bucket setting up his shelter for the night. I turn around and for a moment I see what he sees, the sunset forming a shadow arcing across the harbour. The pines sway as the breeze sighs through them. Sunset. Somehow, that was important. Then it clicked. Sunset. Dark soon. I mooshed the crew back down the hill before we ran out of light. Merry Christmas, Mr Jones!

Later, I head off to Hataitai and Ozzy Scotty's flat. Everyone's pretty mellow, except this lippy chick who was on this completely different trip called bourbon. I hate bourbon. And rum. I wish she would just leave me alone. During one of her longer tirades, my beer can turns into a can of mace and I laugh at an inappropriate moment. Eventually, she has pissed enough people off to get her poured out onto the street. NZ women should stop whingeing about this alleged man drought. Due to substandard and even hazardous working conditions, NZ men are on strike.

A bunch of men sit round the table playing Grass, chain-smoking, telling stories and forgetting whose turn it was. Many many hands later I head off home, timing how long Mt Vic Tunnel takes to walk as opposed to long it seems to take. 7 and a half minutes. Nah, that's wrong. Home, physically stuffed but the brain still wants to play. I turn off the light, lie down and close my eyes. I sit at the back of my head chomping neurotransmitter popcorn as the Cinema Show and fireworks go off on the frontal lobe's widescreen.

In the morning, I open my eyes and everything was exactly how it was. But I had had one glorious Xmas. All the best to all the readers, the dreamers, the freaks, geeks and queers. Hope you have a glorious Xmas and an interesting '007.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

4:20 Geek Report

This just in... The BBC is releasing scores of their back catalogue through Hi-Definition Video Torrents through P2P software available from Zudeo, including Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and The League of Gentlemen (Tip BoingBoing).

Wired links to a Wiki of ISPs and their Torrent policies. The only NZ site listed so far is iBurst, who limit Torrent bandwidth. If you have not heard of iBurst, it's probably because the link on the wiki goes to http://www.iburst.co.za. Their coverage area includes such notable Kiwi towns as Durban, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

Perhaps someone should jump on their IRC channel, correct them and point them in the right direction. I would, but it's been ten years since I last played with IRC and I can't be arsed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

You poor bastards

There's a number of reasons I left Orkland. The bunch of loons that run City Council was one of them. I'm bursting with curiosity about the details of this billboard ban. Whatever lies in the details, I'm glad in an entirely non-gloating way that WCC has comparatively saner governance.

Stripping the Orkland CBD of its billboards to enhance its metropolitan beauty is akin to stripping Houston's residents of all their XXXL Nike T-shirts and Lacoste mumu to boost its civic attractiveness. Orkland, without its billboards, is even more of a pit. Without its $70,000,000 a year wallpaper, the CBD will look like the public toilet it is.

What inspired the ACC to such numbskulla lacuna? My guess is dispensations. Dispensations got very popular after the Brothel & Commercial Sex Premises bylaw was passed some years back. Dispensations, like their antecedents in King John's time, are decrees by supersized fees and arbitrariness. Dispensations are Orkland Council's latest money magnet.

I very much doubt that Council is going to similarly wipe advertising off their buses. Advertising cross-subsidises public transport. Are they preparing to hide a massive price-hike somewhere, or are bus billboards and Adshel shelters going to be the only players allowed in the CBD racket?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hospital case

One of the joys of my new job is the varied workload. One day I might be evicting someone for not paying their rent, the next I might be plastering up the holes left by a trannie tinnie dealer. Yesterday, while replacing a clothes line, the business end of a pair of pliers smacked my right eyeball. Wow, a new form of pain. This was a job for Capital Coast Health.

One of my workmates dropped me at Wellington Hospital's new A&E entrance, and I staggered through the doors up to reception. Being three-quarters blinded (my undamaged left eye had become hyper-sensitive to light), the nurse kindly filled in the forms with the aid of my Community Services card. I was prepared for a long wait, so it was a surprise to be asked through the magnetic doors after about 10 minutes. I Stevie-Wondered my way after the nurse into the hospital hive which, to my eyes, was populated by kinetic green blobs.

The nurse blur sat me in an ocular triage alcove, tested my eyes. Cover your left eye and read the chart. What chart? OK, left eye. She stops me after I rattle off the first seven lines. I might be deaf, but I'm proud of my eyesight. Dad used to use me to spot bunnies when he went poaching. I'm prepared for deafness and death. I'm not prepared to lose my sight, touch wood. I need to read.

Shortly thereafter the doctor arrives, a Yank or Canadian (they all sound the same to me).
The man looked most like Dr Greene from ER, had the steely precision of Dr House, and the bedside manner of Dr Bob. Less than an hour after checking in, I had checked out with, Dagg bless Dr Gabriel, a prescription including Codeine. I haven't had codeine since they took Linctus Gee off the bronchitis menu. Its effect is similar, I suspect, to eating half a dozen too many hash cookies with a head cold. Cotton wool everywhere. I see how some people get hooked. You don't feel a thing.

So this morning, I'm off to Wellington Hospital for a follow-up. I Boy In The Bubble down OK Road, foregoing the usual espresso thermos as unnecessary and futile. I'm glad I'm not driving, which I could legally do before or after this idea from the Department of Morons comes to fruition. Hey, he's walking funny! Down to the station with you, mate!

Off the bus at the Basin, enough distance for a ciggie. I arrive at the old Eye & Ent Centre at 10:15 for my 10:30 appointment. No trees in the waiting room. They're outside sharing my cigarette, a very convenient distance from the ward. Two hours later, the Head Eye Guy ushers me in apologising. After much prodding and dilating of pupils, he reassures me that the injury is temporary, a corneal abrasion with no retinal damage. I'm to return on Monday.

So, sitting here with one eye fused shut, high on Codeine, red wine and Dagg knows what else, what are my thoughts? Well, the Health service didn't fail me. I couldn't ask for better from the private sector. Yeah, the wait was an inconvenience. I was planning on sitting at home with my eyes closed at home.

Instead, I was doing it next to a wheelchair-bound lady whose husband had taken time off work to help her. She was a 10:15 appointment sharing her thoughts with the Ents at noon. The parking meter was ticking furiously, her husband's boss was ringing to see why he was talking so long. I wouldn't have sat next to the old couple who stoically sat through the two hour wait in silence, nor the gang member and his missus leading him around.

While the idea of an eye patch would go some way to fulfilling my pirate fixation, I value my depth perception and symmetry too much to sacrifice it to an illusion. I'm glad that this too shall pass. I'm hoping I'm fit to Walk the Bypass tomorrow. If not, I'm hoping that Tom Beard will be my eyes. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Get Stuffed

Like any member of the Labour Party, I bear grudges. I have one right now with Stuff, who will only get linked to if absolutely necessary, because of their behaviour towards the Stash site. RB covered the cease and desist issue nicely in the Listener. Dr Goode deserves an apology, especially seeing as how Stuff is undergoing a make-over.

At this point, I'd like to add an image but I fear Fairfax would sic their infinite number of lawyer monkeys on me. Go have a look at what they have come up with, then come back. Is the updated logo "still colourful, fun and friendly like our old logo but with a more professional and contemporary look?" Is it original? No, the spectrum index was perfected by Realworld.on.net about, ummm, 1996. This is clearly a case of intellectual property theft, plagiarism, whatever. I hope Peter Gabriel sues them.

I also hope Stuff's new archive lasts longer than a journalist's long-term memory span (7 days), if for no other reason than so this link to Karl du Fresne's back-handed compliment to bloggers doesn't de-link. My initial vehement reaction was quickly replaced by pity. Any column mentioning Tom Cruise cannot be taken seriously. It's a throwaway piece, fluff. Sure, Mr du Fresne reckons:
"many blogs - both of the Left and Right - are barely literate rants written by angry, selfabsorbed no-hopers with too much time on their hands. They are often toxic, petty, juvenile and malicious. To that I should add cowardly, since much of the personal abuse on the Net (and there is plenty) is anonymous."
He backs this up with no quotes, no examples, no facts. Just an anonymous attack on the Them. I put it down to laziness, what with silly season upon us. I mean, it can't be that Fairfax is worried about getting sued for defamation by a blogger or two?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Minority Report

I visited the dentist for the first time in over a year earlier this week. This old geezer on The Terrace has been cleaning the excesses of an epicurean lifestyle from my teeth on and off for a good twenty years. I go to him partly out of loyalty and idle chit-chat, partly because he already has as much money as he can usefully use and doesn't try to up-sell me crap. I gave up on haircuts long ago because I got sick of being hassled by shampoo salespeople.

Anyways, during the forepain, we got talking about his recent trip to Rome. Two and a half millenia of human history accumulated in one city. He stayed in this crap hotel near the Piazza and enjoyed its This. He summed it up: "The river sliding past, the place, the moment. I cannot describe its beauty. Words falsely constrain the idea." I would never know exactly what he meant, but I can approximately understand. Neurons lit up inside me.

This is the tragedy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By naming "race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status," it has niched humans. It is the Declaration of Human Rights that has permitted the Safety Nazis to gain leverage, forcing through bigoted legislation such as the Smokefree Environments Act. The War on Drugs, a proxy war of minority persecution based on a variant of intoxication, is another case in point. Smokers and other dope fiends don't have a 'status'. So you chocoholics, fast food junkies and caffeine fixers better watch out. They're coming for you next.

Is Winston Peters' vote sponge, known as the Supergold card, a breach of the Declaration? It certainly seems so. A clear prima facie obiter dictum habeas corpus ad infinitum case of age discrimination. Winston P's speech on the topic is a goldmine of unintentional humour:
"The Supergold Card is a concession card for the nearly 540,000 New Zealand residents who are aged 65 or over, or who otherwise qualify for and receive New Zealand Superannuation, including non-qualified spouses, or a Veteran's Pension.

It will be available from August 2007 and will provide negotiated commercial discounts from participating businesses, and will help facilitate seniors’ access to concessions on government and local authority services.


The Supergold Card will be credit card sized. It will carry the cardholder’s name, client number, and will indicate whether they receive New Zealand Superannuation, a Veteran’s Pension and Community Services Card benefits.

It will replace the Community Services Card and Super Card for senior citizens. People who currently hold those cards will be able to access their entitlements through the Supergold Card, and other government concessions may be added later."
Old people, regardless of income or assets, will be treated preferentially to standard poor people. Yeah, that's fair.
"The first amendment in Part 1 will allow regulations to be made for cardholder photographs to be placed on entitlement cards. This will enable the government to provide cardholders with the choice of having their photo on the Supergold Card, which will be useful for those who do not have photo ID.

The second amendment in Part 1 will enable regulations to be made allowing a microchip to be embedded on entitlement cards, containing the same information as can currently be contained on a magnetic stripe.

This will allow the future possibility of embedding a microchip in the Supergold Card, should this prove to be useful for cardholders. It is in essence future- proofing the capability of the Supergold Card."
So, these old people will carry a card containing biometric data, even if it is a photograph just for the moment. RFID chip later. Last time time I checked, most old people couldn't tell a modem from a mouse. Is Grey Power at all concerned by this? Judging by their dire website design, poor spell-checking ("New Zeeland") and bad links, I'd say no. Yay. Identity theft, anyone?
"A dedicated Supergold Card website, 0800 phone number, and printed directory will promote the range of concessions and discounts available to cardholders across the country, from central government, local authorities and businesses.

The large number of seniors who will be eligible for the Supergold Card represents a valuable, loyal and rapidly growing market for businesses to be involved in. Already several large companies have expressed a strong desire to be involved in offering business discounts.

Their enthusiasm at this early stage bodes well for the Supergold Card rapidly becoming a valuable discount card for seniors."
This is a government-funded Fly Buys scheme for people born before 1941. And you thought UFO's Families Commission was a waste of space.

Unfortunately, Winston is not alone. There are times when I wish Tariana Turia would just shut up. This is one of them. Although I understand what she's getting at, her suggestion of including Pacific Islanders in the Maori Roll is complete nonsense. It denigrates the whole idea of the unique relationship the her whanau enjoys with the Crown. Shane Jones states the obvious in his designated soundbite: "The last time I checked, the Treaty is between the Maori tribes and the Crown, not the Tongans and the Samoans or anyone else."

Any moment now, I'm expecting someone to suggest making the summit of Mt Cook wheelchair-accessible. Then I remember. NZ is not yearning for a more glorious time in the long distant past, like Italy mooning over Roman times, or Britain and her nostalgia for Empire, or even the Yanks with their present nightmare hegemony. NZ's glory, like Oz's, still lies in the future. We'll suss it one day. Just not today.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bollards to that

If Wellington City Council wants to improve the well-being of the CBD, they should introduce pop-up bollards on our Bus Only lanes as soon as possible. Hours of entertainment and providing a public service are both possible, as this video from a webcam in Manchester can attest (Hattip BoingBoing).