Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Curse of Nancy Reagan

As far as parables for Generation X thinking goes, you can't go past the story of Diff'rent Strokes. It was clothed in liberal US sitcom wardrobe, but had a bad habit of Very Special Episodes:
Diff'rent Strokes was also known for its many "very special episodes", most notably an anti-drug episode ("The Reporter", in Season 5) that featured then-First Lady Nancy Reagan, who promoted her "Just Say No" campaign.

Of course, the three child actors from the show went on to a life of using drugs. The frankly miserable lives of Dana Plato (RIP), Gary Coleman (RIP) and Todd Bridges (saved by Everybody Hates Chris) can be nicely juxtaposed with the guy who played the rich white man on the show, who is still ticking at the age of 87.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello rain

It has been a good week for fish. If ever there was an opportunity for ocean life to attempt their one small step onto land, this week in Wellington would be the right week to try it. It's been raining cats and dogs. Parts of the Gulf of Mexico are less wet than the land of the long white cloud right now. Lock up your Nemo goldfish or they'll be surfing off the patio to freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boo fuckity hoo

I am entirely unsympathetic to John Banks, Glenda Fryer, Auckland Grammar's grass manager, the NZ Herald or Auckland in general at the ugly sore thumb of the new Mt Eden prison. And welcome back to James, who was enraged enough to vent his spleen at Editing the Herald.

High security buildings aren't pretty. The Wellington police station is a case in point:

View Larger Map

This is what you get with the nonsense of policy by polls. According to polls, most people want lower taxes, tougher criminal punishments and no prisons in their back yard. The reality is we're locking up a record amount of people and they've got to go somewhere. It costs a lot, and the $$s is not the half of it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

End of the yarn

Unlike a few of my friends, I never got into the TV show Lost. The few episodes I sat through came across as philosophy for dummies mixed in with a random plot generator. However, I have been quite interested in the reaction to the series finale.

It seems that US TV treats its shows as a business more than a story. Keep them ticking over as a going concern and endings, when they do arrive, should be messy and bankrupt. Cracked has seven of TV's worst endings, including Alf, Dinosaurs and Third Rock from the Sun.

The rebooted Battlestar Gallactica finale went a similar way to Lost, relying on way too much Deux ex Machina to tie up loose plot points. This doesn't stop MSN TV listing both in their all-time best endings. Seeing how the list includes the Roseanne Barr does improv ending for her 90s sitcom, it shows what little thought goes into the endings.

US TV can respect its audiences. Six Feet Under and M*A*S*H* showed how to pack an emotional punch without cheap manipulative contrivances. The Sopranos ended exactly as it should have. Sure, I misinterpreted the last scene for a while. That's ambiguity for you. I now accept that Tony Soprano was shot, largely thanks to this encyclopaedic and convincing argument.

The Brits know how to wrap things up. A great example of this is Blake's 7. The series hero returns as a complete bastard and everyone dies. Brilliant. Life on Mars nodded to this finale in their quadruple whammy ending for Sam Tyler (When the US got around to their version of Life on Mars, it wound up in space. Talk about insulting the audience).

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Anti-Qantas of Solace

Ele at Homepaddock has been justifiably peeved at the bland offerings for the Qantas Blog of the Year Awards. The nimble and frisky spinners at Air NZ have jumped into the fray with the assistance of the NZ Bloggers Union.

I'm not sure what the prize is, but I hope it involves a job, some money or 60 seconds in a duty free shop with a shopping trolley.

Here are the four posts I submitted from 2009:

Higgs Boson discovered amongst Cheney correspondence

Cujo the sniffer dog

Free and fair or flee and fear?


Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill's Proscription

Pretty much all that needs to be said about the 2010 National budget has been said elsewhere. DimPost most accurately represents my greater thoughts on the whole thing. For example, I agree that the GST bump is not a bad thing, and I wholeheartedly agree that Labour continue to be out-manoeuvred on every front, policy, PR and salesmanship.

Overall, I'd say Bill English's budget reminds me of Sulla's proscriptions of Rome, a selective sacking of various wealthy targets to refill the Treasury's coffers. Labour couldn't defend the indefensible with the LAQCula scam. And most of the Labour caucus couldn't recognise a thin capitalisation rule change if it sat on their face and farted.

David Cunliffe lists seven talking points over at Red Alert on repudiating the Budget. Let's take them point by point:

Inflation - yeah, I was a bit surprised by the forecasted blip of inflation at 5.9 percent by 2011/12. But seeing as how every other Western country is hoping to inflate their way out of deficit, that's not much chop on attacking the tax cuts. Inflation in three years' time will not concern the Jane and Joe wage slaves come October. Patrick Gower knows which way the wind is blowing.

The tax cuts should give employers a bit of a break from the ever increasing demands for higher wages. Counting inflation, the GST rise and ACC levies, the tax cuts are sizeable enough to compensate and more. Even some diehard Labour supporters will be thinking twice after seeing their adjusted pay-checks come October.

2. Rent rises are a myth. Labour does not realise that the changes outlined by Bill English yesterday are the start of the long slow strangle of LAQCs. I'm certain that the Nats will corrode the investment property business over the span of many budgets. I bet you LAQC ringfencing of tax losses comes in next year. The withdrawal of the property speculators from the housing market should make it easier for first home buyers, as well as relieve a little of the pressure on state housing.

The transition is not as fast as some might wish, but National still have work to do cleaning out the Aegean stables of the commercial investment sector. It's one thing to discourage the landlord addiction, but where else should NZ investors put their savings? The Securities Commission and the NZX are cases in point. Commerce Minister Simon Power is probably working weekends and religious holidays trying to suss this all out.

I think this is where the SOE stocktake might come in as well. I really don't want to go off on an SOE tangent right now though. Later. Suffice to say that the Nats won't be relying on Telecom to anchor the NZ stockmarket.

Oh bugger Cunliffe. Who gives a damn about ECE or the indiscernible decrease in government services? As far as "passive instruments" go, tax cuts are pretty bloody stimulatory. Likewise to all the left wing bloggers going on about the NZ wage earner on 2 million dollars a year getting blahblahblah dollars out of it. That is the way numbers work. What do you expect? People on under 10 grand a year should be getting thousand dollar tax cuts a week?

There are many reasons why this could be described as a Good Not Great Budget, and Labour ignored all of them. For one, there's National's complete avoidance on the Great Grey Gorilla in the room, Superannuation. Indeed, the Nats are still in complete denial. Their PR golden goose, the What's In It For Me Calculator, shows no practical benefit to any beneficiaries except the retired gentry. No sign of off-peak Waiheke ferry cuts, no sign of means testing for the needy not greedy.

Woohoo, sez the Nats. Research & Development funding increased by $321 million over four years. However, that's less than the extra money going into prisons:
$337.4 million to lift prison capacity and manage justice sector pressures. 

It's unclear whether this prison spending is for one year or what. I was surprised enough to find prisons listed under infrastructure, let alone see the comparative increase alongside other areas. For example, mental health gets a whopping $40 million, ten percent of the prison budget increase. There are also other minor gems, such as the faith-based government spending pointed out by Russell Brown that raises a few eyebrows.

Other observations? One point worth noting is the five point difference between the new company tax rate of 28 cents compared with the highest income tax rate of 33 cents. Yeah, both dropped, and at least the PIE rates are aligned to the 33 cent line. Perhaps the trade-off between competing with Australia was more worthwhile than the NZ alignment of maximum rates, which might be a fair point.

Education got a fair suck of the sav, but the focus was primary and secondary schooling rather than ECE or tertiary. I reckon Steven Joyce is still devising a cunning plan for the tertiary sector in time for next year's budget and the election.

On the whole, the budget is a fairly safe gamble, with a hedge twist. It's lost it in the RSS ether, but I read how John Key sez that another recession is inevitable, and he's bang on there. The frankly massive imbalances in the global economy have been plastered over, not fixed. The Nats have borrowed a bit for stim, but not too much. Inflation and higher interest rates lie in wait up ahead. It pays to retain some flexibility.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What lies beneath

What do the seven seas and the MSM have in common? Both cover a wide expanse but they're not as deep as once thought. Latest research concludes that the mean depth of the world's oceans is just 2.29 miles (3.69 km):
Interestingly, the researchers report that the world's total ocean volume is less than the most recent estimates by a volume equivalent to about five times the Gulf of Mexico, or 500 times the Great Lakes. The trend toward a progressive lowering of volume estimates is not because the world's oceans are losing water. Rather, it reflects a greater ability to locate undersea mountain ranges and other formations, which take up space that would otherwise be occupied by water.
HT /.

That's our Hone!

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira calls the expected rise in GST an attack on the poor. Of course, Hone and friends had no worries increasing tobacco tax on the very same bloc not so many weeks ago. The excise tax increase on a 50 gram pouch of tobacco was more than the anticipated extra GST on over $400 of goods and services.

The rich can get duty free tobacco on their way back from Paris or Brussels, or claim back GST under their company dodge. The poor pay above and beyond the full retail price. Methinks the brown clown speaks with forked tongue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I know an old lady

I'm playing archetype bingo at the moment. BoingBoing linked to a visual guide to cognitive biases, which is well worth downloading in full. I'm feeding pre-Budget press releases and other POLS guff through it, resulting in a cataclysm of "That's a Bingo!"

For example, take Prof Gluckman's Report on Teenagers to John Key. The gap between puberty and brain maturity is growing, whilst social networks are splintering and growing more chaotically:
(I thought about re-formatting it, but it actually looks better with the x marks)

Things have changed since the Mazengarb Report, but not a lot. The words have changed from immorality to immaturity, the milk bars morphed into RTDs. The bodgies and widgies are now bogans and boy racers, but the song remains the same. No disrespect to Gluckman. John Key might as well as asked him the answer to life, the universe and everything. There's that whole Illusion of Control Bias going on.

Frankly, I think a bigger point is that formal childhood learning is being overwhelmed by more chaotic and unpredictable means. We aren't teaching them things in a more coherent order. Band aid stupidities, such as cracking down on fake IDs, does nothing but kindle a bingo on the Status Quo Bias.

More importantly, we aren't reading our kids Grimm stories any more. It's all Disney Channel fluff and helicopter play dates. Children need more gore in their diet, and I don't mean the new Nightmare on Elm St. I'm talking muppets:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Et tu, Aussie?

"One of the great victories for civil society will be when all the black boxes have been turned to glass. The black boxes of government to the people, the black boxes of corporations to the investors, and the black boxes of the NGOs who lobby the former and spin for the latter." - Me, last December.

If one can be defined by one's enemies, Julian Assange of Wikileaks is hated by all the right people; the Cayman Islands, the US, Dubai, Switzerland. The Australian authorities have recently added their name to the nemesis list after Wikileaks embarrassed their internet filter list clumsiness. The Aussie utu involved confiscating Assange's passport. Aardvark has more.

Up until quite recently, I would have suggested to Assange that if the Oz government remains pissy with him, he's always welcome in NZ. NZ used to have a competitive advantage on the freedom of information compared with many other jurisdictions. However, the secret police reshuffle going on might have changed all that. It seems our government fears its citizens just as much as every other one.

We offer all the best to Wikileaks and Assange. May you backpack on the graves of secrecy for a long time yet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

83 - 0

83 Kiwis have drunk themselves to death in the last three years. No-one in the world has ever ODed on marijuana. Just sayin'.

The largest tampon ever built

The Gulf of Mexico is bleeding. Might I suggest an idea? An applicator needle inserted deep into the bleeding pipe which is pumped with liquid metal or similar. Under that pressure and temperature, you'd end up with the largest tampon ever built.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A marriage made in Britain

Nicked from here

Up until quite recently, if a certain breed of comics geek had heard someone say Clegg, the mental image brought to mind was more reptilian than the UK's new Deputy PM. Kleggs first appeared in Judge Dredd as ferocious mercenaries brought in by the insane Chief Judge Caligula:
Their battle-cry was "Klegg-Hai! Klegg-Hai!" and, in The Day The Law Died, they also preceded this with a war-song: "slicey slicey, oncey twicey, claw and fang'll kill Dredd nicely! Meaty beaty, chop 'em neatly, death or glory no retreatee!".
It's a hell of a catch cry to have stuck in one's head, to then be introduced and underwhelmed with the actually presence of whatsisname Clegg. I would say he has the most forgettable face in UK politics, but then there's David Cameron. Or, as he is known by certain Dr Who geeks, CamAuton.

NZ has earned the right to feel smug about leading Britain in something for a change, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with sport. Much more important than that. Yes, damnit, we do have a better government because of MMP.

But there's an oft-forgotten and much more important point. Another reason to be smug, apart from the Cabinet Manual. As we continue into the 21st Century, the class system has nowhere near the same grip on the people in NZ than that of the UK. At least Key is new money, not the Porterhouse Blue bloods. We are uneven, sure, but not quite like that:

It's Clegg's choice, really. The puns are endless. Slicey slicey oncey twicey on public spending will not be enough to subdue the UK's public finances. It'll be Death and Taxes no retreatee! too. That, or as a commoner faggot to do Lord CamAuton's dirty work on the other. Whatsisname has a hell of a ride ahead of him. Nick.

UPDATE: D'oh. The Guardian already did it.

A trip to the Censor's Office

Ripples and aftershocks continue in the wake of Operation Lime. A district court judge has thrown out the onerous and improvised bail conditions that forced Switched On Gardener stores to ID and record personal details from their customers.

Meantime, the last three issues of NORML News, copies of which were seized in the numerous raids, have been sent to the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour is not happy.

The helpful people at the OFL advise me that a decision normally takes 8 - 10 weeks, and that they will notify me once deliberations are completed. For once, I'm looking forward to July.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An off-Molesworth production

Casting the National executive to play The Young Ones:

Rick - John Key, the people's poet. Will do practically anything to woo admirers.

Neil - Bill English. Yeah, definitely Bill. Lentil porridge for everyone!

Vyvian - Judith Collins. Wontonly destructive and prone to excessive violence.

Mike, the cool dude - Tony Ryall. Flamboyantly attired, not above spiking some female attention with Herceptin. Genuinely in touch with Soccer Mum concerns.

The Balowski Family - Paula Bennett. Gatecrashing landlord prone to long incoherent monologues.

SPG - Simon Power. Stunt puppet side-kick to Vyv.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grasping at straws

5, 8, 15, 17. These are the ages respectively of when I first remember having a beer, a glass of wine, regular drinking and regular nightclub going. This all happened when the law was R20. So please excuse my skepticism at David Farrar's suggestion of a minimum drinking age.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oil and detergent

I'm quite glad that they've stopped trying to set fire to the oil spill from the bleeding wound of the former Deepwater Horizon, but I'm not sure how the use of dispersants is doing any better. From The Economist:
One of the things that the fishing boats helping the coastguard can do to help is spread dispersants. Oil is dangerous to seabirds because it dissolves the grease that insulates their feathers; they get cold and die. Dispersants cut the oil as washing-up liquid cuts the grease on dishes, allowing oil on the surface to spread down into the water. This lessens its effects on surfaces and shorelines, though it might make things worse for fish. Once dispersed the oil can then be broken down more easily by bacteria that have evolved to live off natural sources of hydrocarbons.
Hang on a moment. Didn't the use of detergents after other spills actually worsen the chance of environmental recovery? A quick Google search suggests this is a risky plan. From Physorg:
In March of 1989, the oil supertanker Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound and impacted some 1,300 miles of coastline. It remains the largest oil spill in U.S. history. A combination of detergents and bioremediation were used in the clean-up. The detergents were nutrient rich, being high in phosphorous and nitrogen compounds. In addition, as part of the bioremediation effort, fertilizers were also used to promote microbial growth. After the first year, the treated areas were dramatically cleaner, Hazen says, but after the second year no improvements were observed. Long-term prospects for the treated area are grim.
 And this from LiveScience:
The detergents and the dispersed oil droplets all proved significantly more toxic to the coral than the crude oil itself, causing rapid, widespread death or stunted growth rates, even at doses recommended by the dispersant manufacturers...

Still, "there are limited alternatives for responding to spills," Merten said. "Essentially, there are mechanical methods [such as skimmers], in-situ burning or dispersants," Merten explained. "Generally, in open water, there is a very short window for using any method since the slick will spread and move with the wind and currents. Dispersants will continue to be considered as an option. After the oil spills, no one wins. Our job is to try to minimize further impacts, and there may be a time when dispersants help us do that for a portion of the spill."
And now, here's Bill Maher with some BP ads:

UPDATE: MoJo looks into the clean-up dilemma.

7 Days returns

Current affairs improv comedy returns to NZ with an hour long episode of 7 Days. The My Kid Could Draw That segment is hilariously irreverent to the BSA's decision on one of last year's shows. There's also a few video nuggets of 7 Days over at NZ On Screen, featuring a full-length episode from last year and an interview with host Jeremy Corbett.

If Science worked like Religion

Ripped straight from onegoodmove:

And thanks to Telstraclear for sorting out the YouTube caching problem finally.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Non-specific Brethren

Unlike David Farrar, I am unimpressed with the HoS story on the family with 17 children. I'd have 6,217 kids by now if I hadn't used some kind of contraception, so 17 ain't no thing. I'd also be living in Thailand whilst the NZ state paid out the DPBs, eh.

As a kid in Palmy, we lived next door to this Catholic family, the O'Connors. Nice family and huge too. I was mates with the youngest, him something south of ten years old. The eldest sibling was thirty-something with a vast record collection. Lots of kids in between too. They all lived under one roof, in a house only slightly larger than our own.

Although the O'Connor's hadn't yet reached 17 at that time, the old Mum might have still had it in her. So, no grudge against the Brunton family for the size of their clan. No, it was their Old Testament names that DPF quoted that set off my Fundy-ometer. Then the mention of home schooling triggered the electric neon crucifix alarm. A look at the photo confirmed their identity.

Boys to the front, little sign of the daughters. I presume only two girls dressed in the blue sacks at the back, although it appears from the story there's about a 50:50 split of sexes in the clan. The mother's role in life is much the same as that extolled by that fascist patrician Adolf Hitler. Women are for breeding purposes only.

The HoS covers this angle to this sect in a secular society:
A copy of an employment agreement obtained by this newspaper lists some remarkable requirements: teachers must disclose their "personal circumstances", forgo union membership and agree that evolution is a falsehood.
The equal opportunity to education that is every New Zealander's birthright is being eroded. Religious schools with state funding, among which the Exclusive Brethren are a more extreme example, must not get away with crippling their children's education to fit their narrow world view. Telling the women they are not good enough for university is female circumcision of their intellect. Temporary New Zealander Katherine Mansfield was onto it when she yearned to be all that she was capable of.

The government cannot continue funding fundamentalist ignorance of this ilk if it wants a true R&D base in NZ. If you have to piss off a few fringe elements, so be it. We need gronks not neo-Amish. We don't lobotomise our kids with creationism at our state schools.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Rosemary Intolerance

I think I might be allergic to Rosemary McLeod. I can handle her prose in limited doses normally, her quaint fuddy-duddy viewpoints nicely yinning to Garth George's yang in Old Person Symmetry. But what really gets me rash is when McLeod gets on her high horse backwards and tells other people how to live.

Reformed boozer Garth George can at least tolerate the continued existence of alcohol to the general public, but Rosemary is much more contrary. Yeah, she's tried cannabis. Didn't like it. Should be banned. Cigarettes? Yeah, she tried them. Didn't like them. Should be banned.

I am sure that many of Rosemary's pastimes would bore me into suicide. But as those recreational pursuits don't impact on my life, each to their own. Here's a reposted return fire from me in the comments section:
There are few furies more passionate and monomaniacal than the ex-smoker on smoking. I've been smoking over twenty years and I'm not dead yet. I continue to enjoy the habit, and it's not just the nicotine saying that.

In that time, the government has skimmed great wads of cash off me to the point where I must have paid off at least three iron lungs or perhaps an MRI scanner by now. The Health service has never been strained with my suffering the colourful conditions that feature graphically on every legal product.

The most likely scenario of death is not featured on the warnings anyway; Hypothermia induced by smoking outdoors as mandated by law. One can go to the toilet indoors, but passive smoking is obviously much more dangerous than staph or cholera.

As far as vices go, smoking is less damaging to the public good than compulsive gambling or excessive drinking. My father outlived yours by five years; liver cancer complicated by cirrhosis, and it wasn't caused by smoking. Each to their own.
It was a vicious response, s'true. I might have to lay off the Rosemary for a bit. I'm taking a break from Michael Laws and Garth George as well. I think I've used up a enough of my lifetime wiping their spit flecks off my brain pan.

As an epilogue to that episode, here's James K Baxter's Lament for Barney Flanagan. HT Prayers for Recovering Alcoholics:

Flanagan got up on a Saturday morning,
Pulled on his pants while the coffee was warming;
He didn't remember the doctor's warning,
"Your heart's too big, Mr. Flanagan.

Barney Flanagan, sprung like a frog
From a wet root in an Irish bog -
May his soul escape from the tooth of the dog!
God have mercy on Flanagan.

Barney Flanagan R.I.P.
Rode to his grave on Hennessy's
Like a bottle-cork boat in the Irish Sea.
The bell-boy rings for Flanagan.

Barney Flanagan, ripe for a coffin,
Eighteen stone and brandy-rotten,
Patted the housemaid's velvet bottom -
"Oh, is it you, Mr. Flanagan?"

The sky was bright as a new milk token.
Bill the Bookie and Shellshock Hogan
Waited outside for the pub to open -
"Good day, Mr. Flanagan."

At noon he was drinking in the lounge bar corner
With a sergeant of police and a racehorse owner
When the Angel of Death looked over his shoulder -
"Could you spare a moment, Flanagan?"

Oh the deck was cut; the bets were laid;
But the very last card that Barney played
Was the Deadman's Trump, the bullet of Spades -
"Would you like more air, Mr. Flanagan?"

The priest came running but the priest came late
For Barney was banging at the Pearly Gate.
St Peter said, "Quiet! You'll have to wait
For a hundred masses, Flanagan."

The regular boys and the loud accountants
Left their nips and their seven-ounces
As chickens fly when the buzzard pounces -
"Have you heard about old Flanagan?"

Cold in the parlour Flanagan lay
Like a bride at the end of her marriage day.
The Waterside Workers' Band will play
A brass goodbye to Flanagan.

While publicans drink their profits still.
While lawyers flock to be in at the kill,
While Aussie barmen milk the till
We will remember Flanagan.

For Barney had a send-off and no mistake.
He died like a man for his country's sake;
And the Governor-General came to his wake.
Drink again to Flanagan!

Despise not, O Lord, the work of Thine own hands
And let light perpetual shine upon him.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Staple that

Tariana Turia's big talk of a one billion dollar Whanau Ora program has turned out to be a lot less ambitious for Maori, with a budget of $134 million over four years, which works out at about a billion dollars spread out over a hundred years. Most of the spending is just renamed  existing spending anyway. Between this and the tobacco tax (I mean, what other constituency would agree to three 10 percent hikes in taxes voluntarily?) I really wonder how much backbone the Maori Party really has. How's that leadership renewal process going?

Welcome to the war on drugs

A typical dawn raid in the war on drugs. Balko from Reason reports:
SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family's pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on.

They found a "small amount" of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge. The parents were then charged with child endangerment.

So smoking pot = "child endangerment." Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone's safety.

HT Andrew Sullivan

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Say hello to my little friend

Yesterday I introduced you to Professor Hunter Gonzales. Today I thought I'd introduce you to the other member of the team here at goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust. Meet Mr Trippy:

This muppet has some pretty uncertain origins. Some say he was the illegitimate lovechild of two or three very minor characters from Hewligan's Haircut. Others say some enchanted maker made him with a piece of taniwha tooth for a soul. Who knows? Perhaps one of the Sunday newspapers could do a feature story on the matter.

Mr Trippy joined the team about two months ago, and his role is to scare the kiddies away from the NORML stall. Nothing's worse than a Soccer Mum on your case, so Mr Trippy acts as child repellent insurance. Mr Trippy sez come back when you're over 18. Mr Trippy sez keep cool til after school. Mr Trippy sez no weed until uni or poly, and only then if you're cool with it on a personal level, etc.

Mr Trippy is also employed to keep an eye on Harold the giraffe:

This yellow muppet has a pretty haughty view of things, and Mr Trippy will be keeping a more ground level approach to drug related matters.

Potted Plants

The NZ Police aren't above planting a few seedy things themselves. Witness the Big Story about the pot now being much stronger today than the '60s leads the headlines. Russell Brown rips into the dubious police spinning over at PA System, pointing to a more comprehensive European study (which, unlike the ESR, grew more than 6 plants to base their findings upon).

It's strange that Operation Lime needs such a thick coat of bullshit so soon after the raids.

More worrying for the general public should be how today's police are much more potent than a generation ago. In the 60s, the police didn't make gardening stores ID and keep records on their customers. They couldn't arrest people because of their place of employment, nor disrupt and bankrupt businesses on a whim. And the police budget on drug control has grown by at least twenty-fold since those days.

NORML News has never been classified by Bill Hastings' Office as objectionable, yet it didn't stop police from confiscating these during the recent wave of arrests. Police have never confiscated political literature quite so blatantly for a long time. A pile of NORML's Controlling and Regulating Drugs public submission forms were seized as well.

The police need a reminder that their powers are not unlimited. They cannot interfere with the political process at such a grassroots level. That's what Greg O'Connor and their millions of dollars of PR are for. Sure, feed stories to tame journos, wine and dine the politicians. But do NOT interfere with the public's right to decide its political future just because you disagree with it.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

We are all very worried about you

Today has been a good day to be pissed off with the government. Apart from it being May Day today, the anti-mining people have been marching, and I've just come back from J Day at Wellington's Frank Kitts Park, which culminated in a march on parliament after 4:20 led by Dakta Green. Southerlies and the occasional downpour didn't stop 300-400 stoic reform supporters from turning up to listen to DJs and various speakers including Michael Appleby, Dakta Green and NORML president Phil Saxby.

Verily, there are lot of people who were concerned about the Switched On Gardener raids. Many hundreds filled in the Law Commission submission forms on Controlling and Regulating Drugs, which will be delivered to them on Monday. Although yesterday was the deadline, a few days late won't matter. The Law Commission's good like that. A similar approach is being taken to their Privacy Act reform consultations too. There's so much that can fly under the public radar, eh.

While we were packing up from the gig, I did a sweep of the grounds to tidy up the park like a tidy Kiwi should. Among the detritus was a great example of what I was saying earlier last week about the improv skills of kiwis, and why National's new laws are futile. Note the two Pump bottles in the animated gif below, featuring feline physicist Professor Hunter Gonzales:

The animation's not working when you click the above image. Download the 1MB file here to view properly.

Burn a few holes in a small Pump bottle. Attach the nipple top of the smaller pump bottle has been adapted to fit a cone and voila! A Nebuliser! Those crafty Kiwis, eh. The law will never catch up with them.

I must admit I'm a bit stumped at Police Minister Judith Collins' war on drugs philosophy. I first met her when she was a fellow member of the Casino Control Authority along with my father. Collins recognises the need for regulated vices. What will it take to get her to see sense on the drug thing?

We are all very worried about National.