Saturday, July 30, 2011

At moments like these you need Chinese

If the US dollar does turn to custard, NZ is somewhat sheltered if the markets freeze up like they did before last election during the GFC. That may be thanks to the $NZ 5 billion swap fund set up between the NZ Reserve Bank and the People’s Bank of China earlier this year. That's a $5 billion cushion if we really need to (at least temporarily) decouple from the greenback.

Touche on the douches

KAL's cartoon at The Economist most accurately describes my feelings as Saturday afternoon rolls over and there's still no sign of a compromise from that teabagging creche of idiots.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

And sons turn their fathers in

After helping gatecrash Back Benches with a bus last night and hearing Madame UNICEF speak, as well as a spread in Bryce Edwards' Daily Political Digest today, I understand child poverty is back in the headlines. Talk of mandatory warning schemes and so forth. Might I add a cautionary warning.

Beware of witch hunts. Remember Peter Ellis and the Christchurch Creche thing. Remember borstals, when the state tried to parent better than the irresponsible parents and bred "the gangs" by accident. Be wary of helicopter parents and Soccer Mums, lest we screw the kids up with Thomas the Fascist Tank Engine philosophies and instil some kind of quadruple reverse psychological bluff on them which ends up throwing them into a new realm of life skills deficit.

Preparing to go to jail so that you don't have to

This just in from 3News. Roaring Lion medical cannabis campaigner Billy McKee is prepared to go to jail for his medicine. Sister Mary Aubert must be spinning in her grave.

UPDATE: I've just been reviewing the holiday pictures and found this beauty:

Levin cops, eh. Not half bad when they're not persecuting harmless invalids.

Round One

Billy McKee emerges to protest and media after his appearance at Levin District Court this morning. Check out 3News tonight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ab Fab

Most MSM invent their news by commissioning polls. Cheap and guaranteed a large font headline, even if they're all a pile of tosh. The Scoop Media Cartel has chosen the route of new media* by sponsoring an NZ Fabian Society gig at Parliament. Lots of open source speech notes to flick through.

* For example, Nat Torkington's Catalyst IT co-sponsoring a range of unconferences, Unlimited Potential's regular pizza and beer events.

Flavell lashes out then apologises

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has written an Op-Ed in the Rotorua Daily Post in which he suggests a Tough Love approach to suicides:
Perhaps we should make a very hard stand with this. If a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people.

Flavell backed up his comments on Nine to Noon this morning. Sure, he is frustrated but this seems like lashing out more than anything constructive. To try to fix a problem by threatening excommunication like some Catholic suicide smiter is counter-productive at the very least. Maori aren't alone in youth suicide. They share the tragedy with other people in close knit, low hope environments like Marton and Palmerston North.

The stupidest way to discourage the alienated and the lonely from ending it all is not to promise to segregate them from their loved ones. Thankfully, Flavell has since withdrawn and apologised for his flailing about on the issue.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Waiting for Cain

MoJo reporter James Ridgeway finally manages to get a tour of Angola Prison in Louisiana, the largest male maximum security prison in the US of A. He's there to talk with the legendary prison warden Burl Cain:
Cain's first execution, he told the Baptist Press, was done strictly by the book. "There was a psshpssh from the machine, and then he was gone," Cain recalled. "I felt him go to hell as I held his hand. Then the thought came over me: I just killed that man. I said nothing to him about his soul. I didn't give him a chance to get right with God. What does God think of me? I decided that night I would never again put someone to death without telling him about his soul and about Jesus."
"Choose" Baptist Pentecostal Rehab and you're OK. Opt out, like the Angola Three, and you're in a sub-Abu Gharib world of inhuman treatment.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

War Paint in Auckland

I wonder if this is payback for this. From an artistic perspective, Jack o' Lantern was a damn sight more interesting than the faux-Banksy cop ad by Otis Frizzell, presumably titled Girl Cops Chasing Cannabis User.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Printing Warrior, Smiling Chamberlain

"A loaf of bread, please." Weimar Germany in the 1920's.

It's the eve of Ben Bernanke's QE III, the Yanks are running a teabagger's bible breadth from default, and the Euro crisis keeps grinding away as we wonder how long it'll take for that continental shelf to snap. NZ is running its own proud train wreck with a record high dollar, near record unemployment and 5.3 percent inflation.

Thank Dagg for Private Schulz, an old BBC comedy drama based of real Nazi events. Fantastic cast led by Michael Elphick with Ian Richardson in many roles. Take it away, Schulz:

Browne: "Do you know what a monstrous crime it is to forge somebody's currency?"
Schulz: "Yes sir."
Browne: "Have you ever thought what harm it could do to the savings of widows and orphans? How it can destroy the value of  hard earned pensions? Don't you think that's a horrible thing to do?"
Schulz: "Oh yes, sir."
Browne: "Do you know that the deliberate forging of an enemy currency might be considered a war crime?"
Schulz: "Like the forging of clothing coupons and ration books, sir?"
Browne: "No, no. Not at all like the forging of clothing coupons and ration books. The two things are entirely different. The forging of German clothing coupons was just a joke, really. A bit of fun. Good god, haven't you Germans any sense of humour?"
Schulz: "Not a lot, sir."
Browne: "Well the forging of an enemy currency is a criminal act of wanton recklessness. It has no regards for the rules of war or the ordinary decency. You can't fight a war like that."
Schulz: "Why not, sir?"
Browne: Well, for one thing nobody would know who was paying for it. It would destroy the whole purpose of war. The loser might end up better off than the winner. You couldn't have that."

The plot of Private Schulz involves forging millions of British Five Pound notes, each the rough equivalent of about a British 200 Pound note today, according this calculator:

Strangely, it isn't a war crime to inflict printed paper on one's own economy.  No-one hassles Mugabe about the lightspeed inflation of the Zim Dollar. That is one bloody obvious reason no-one sane uses the Zim Dollar to trade. The US dollar is supposed to mean something entirely more stable. It wouldn't be so bad if the Greenback wasn't relied on by America's alleged allies as the world standard, but it is. And that Greenback is turning to slime.

With this and, as I said at the start, the record high Kiwi to the Greenback in mind, I understand that John Key has a few blind spots in his head. He can't remember what he was doing during the '81 Springbok Tour. The Bolger years are another blank. John Key was overseas trading widgets for fidgets, so his ignorance has an alibi at least. So I'll cut him some slack that he is likewise ignorant of the Battle of Manners Street.

It's quite important because Audrey Young has announced that Key has invited US marines into the country. The last thing you should be doing when sacking hundreds of our own military is invite those pricks in. When the US military goes in, the mercenaries can't be too far behind. There's frankly no good reason for Key to plant US soldiers on NZ soil without a better reason than a photo op.

Key must be channelling Rob Muldoon. It was Muldoon's gambit to flag up public opinion by getting a US ship to visit. Sure enough, Johnny's asked for a ride with the US Coastguard. There's another photo op with absolutely no downside. Coast Guard ships are smaller than the USS Buchanan, right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is your brain on sports

American Football star Dave Duerson left his body to science before committing suicide. Scientists at the NRL Brain Bank have since dissected his brain:
The dissection reveals three huge holes in the brain – one large triangle right in the centre of the brain, and two ovals parallel to each other at the base. It is apparent that McKee, who has studied more athletes' brains than probably any other person, is shocked by what she sees.

"This is an extreme case," she says, "but it is also very characteristic." She points to the triangular hole, consisting of the lateral ventricles, and says it clearly shows "tremendous disruption". There should be a membrane separating the two ventricles, but it has been so battered by the footballer's repeated blows to the head that only the thinnest of filaments is left. The two oval holes are the ventricles of the temporal lobe and they too are extremely enlarged to compensate for tissue lost from the lobes themselves, another classic sign of having your head bashed repeatedly. "The temporal lobes are crucial to memory and learning and you can see they are very, very small, as miniaturised as possible."
Here's the US Public Broadcasting Service's take on it:

Unlike American Football, NZ Rugby thinks armour and helmets is for wusses. One can only imagine the brain trauma that the Heineken Mastercard Rugby World Cup will cause, not only on the punters but the players as well.

As for our precious children, we inflict rugby on them as part of the national religion. I'd guess that rugby causes more social and personal harm to our people than any of those dangerous illegal drugs like cannabis the police are so keen on locking people up for. I challenge former cop and MethCon salesman, current Nat candidate for Northland and father to a young man paralysed in a rugby game Mike Sabin to disagree.

But, as Professor David Nutt found out in the UK when he proved that Ecstacy was less dangerous than horse riding, logic counts for nothing in the puritanical rugby worshipping hypocrisy of political theatre that is New Zealand. There's also the possibility that all those former rugbyheads on National's candidate list are too brain damaged to think straight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whingeing Pom discovered in Pram

Martin Warriner didn't come here to live in Maoriland, according to today's DomPost. All this vim and vinegar over a macron on Kapiti, when all the local iwi want is for people to pronounce the name properly. i.e. Car-piti not Cap-iti.

Lew at Kiwipolitico reckons Martin should just fuck off if he doesn't like it. Might I suggest some places for Martin to live back in Old Blighty:

Fucknob, Hampshire
Twatt, Orkney
Shitterton, Dorset
The Knob, Oxfordshire

And before I get snapped for calling Paraparaumu Pram, ask an NZSL person.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Men Acting Badly

Don Brash, Don Nicholson and John Banks. The three nihilists who finally killed the Act party.

To coin The Dude, "Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking vehicle." Nihilists killed my political vehicle. The first and only party under MMP that didn't form out the demagoguery of waka jumpers is now reduced to an old rich man's ideological whore. The party of new ideas is now a refuge for gurning Muldoon relics. Bring back the Libz and Rabids! All is forgiven!

The Nats aren't even trying to hide their cronyism any more. Jenny Shipley, Richard Worth, Mark Blumsky are ones that spring readily to mind. If I cared to Google the Who's Who of the Blue team, no doubt I'd find many many more Jobs for the Boys. But the one that counts for the purposes of this post is National party patsy and Banks biographer Paul Goldsmith.

When the two main National contenders against John Banks are his biographer and his campaign manager, you know where the National party stands in Epsom. With its arse in the air saying, "Spank me Banksy! Do it for the team!"

Smiling and waving won't win the Nats a natural majority, ever. They are wary of losing coalition partners.

The Mana and Maori parties look set to eat each other's vote, when the more rational path would be for Mana to go for the party vote in the Maori seats and the Maori Party goes for the electorates. But you know the saying; Three Harawiras in a room. Nine opinions.

But for feral caucuses, you can't go past the final incarnation of the Act party; a mad sack of cats has more direction than that alleged party. And John Key needs them desperately to stay in power.

Months after taking over the Act party in the most inept yet successful leadership bid since Alamein Kopu got her whanau enrolled in the Alliance party and became an MP, Don Brash has yet to lift the party out of the gutter.

He has picked his new team and dumped everyone else whose name isn't Don or John. The DON JOHN Party would make a good new name for this monster mash. It might stand for Deranged Orthodox Nats, Jolly Old Hilarious Nihilists. Because this sure as hell isn't the Act party any more.

Act used to stand for the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers. I doubt that the Dons and Johns pay very much tax at all. Like John Key, most of their private consumption is done offshore, with no direct benefit to the NZ economy. Act used to be inclusive. Now Act is an association like the Wellington Club is an association.

The first time I met Don Brash was when the Reserve Bank launched their new dollar bills at a posh Tory St restaurant in the early '90s. I was one of the waiters serving his elaborate party, and I don't recall many brown fellas there, except for the purple Ngata on the $50 note.

Twenty years later, he's reduced to waving Ngata's head on the telly and waging purple prose wars with Hone. Arguments aren't won and minds are not moved by such stalemates.

His old mates and new Act party colleagues John and Don aren't much better. If Winston Peters was white, he would be John Banks. Both were Muldoon's apprentices, and share his conservative thuggery for self-aggrandisement.

I've met Don Nicholson only briefly at a BackBenchers gig some time ago, where he seemed pleasant enough. However, his shrill anti-climate change Kyoto Protocol denialism fits with the shrill Muriel Newman hyperbole but without the relatively disinterested vantage point. Don is ankle-deep in the self-preservation mud of wilful ignorance. Photos of local dirty dairying and environmental degradation (externalities, in econo-speak) soon.

Who will be next on the list? Another John or Don? Garth McVicar? Whimsical wining and dining, tax minimising ex-pat Cathy Odgers? The reanimated DNA of Patricia Bartlett? Lindsay Perigo or another Libertarianz teabagger?

Who effing cares. There's no new ideas coming out of this stunted burnt out wreck of a political vehicle, whichever way you look at it. The Act party is only fit for homeless derelicts now.

The World is Not Enough

Russell Brown has an excellent summary of the rolling shitstorm that surrounds Rupert Murdoch, as at 10:45 NZT anyway. I've been getting my kicks at The Australian's ignorathon on the Murdoch Ragnorok. It's token link to the scandal is a wee animated gif that flicks between Rupert and the Wallabies loss. Talk about spreading the ignomy:

There's barely a trace of the clusterfuck in the Most Read columns. The only sign of the shit iceberg is the Hacking Whistleblower Found Dead story, which even a despotic ego clown like Rupert Murdoch can't hide. You can't bury a dead body in a newspaper, although the story has yet to rate on the national website:

Oh, this just in. LulzSec just hacked The Sun's website and posted a banner story on Murdoch; Media Mogul's Body Discovered. Niiiiice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bloody Oath

This is one of the numerous reasons why I couldn't realistically stand for parliament or, indeed, most of the more interesting government departments:
 I, ..., swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her [or His] Majesty [Specify the name of the reigning Sovereign, as thus: Queen Elizabeth the Second], Her [or His] heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
There are several things wrong with these swear words. As I've said before, if push comes to shove it'll be Rachel over Charlie any day of the week. Then there's this God thing, presumably of the Anglican variety since Liz Windsor is the head of that creed. In short, you want me to promise to serve and protect an invisible supreme woman on pain of punishment by a non-existent supreme cop.

No. I'll swear by no such fiction. The repugnance doesn't just end there though. There's no sign of an NZ person anywhere in this oath of honour. The oath practically demands the human sacrifice of the NZ people to the greater glory of whatever majesty sits on some throne halfway across the globe.

Little wonder our sworn authorities are so messed up.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A wet week in July is a long time in politics

While Labour have caught the Nats off guard and unbalanced on the Capital Gains Tax thing, might I humbly suggest another front alongside this policy to further strengthen their hand. Nationalise KiwiSaver and fold them into the NZ Superannuation Fund.

1) KiwiSaver funds are Too Big To Fail.

Make no bones about it. When some of those piddly KiwiSaver funds fall over, what will become of the retirement investors? Sure as finance companies is eggs, the government will find a way to mitigate the damage to these government mandated retirement schemes rather than risk displeasure at the voting booths.

This is one thing the Key government has made abundantly clear. The NZ government will underwrite catastrophic failures in civic welfare. Yeah, technically the Allan Hubbard write-off was under Labour's deposit guarantee scheme from 2008. But AMI getting caught on the hop is a clearer example of the point. The Leaky Homes Bailout is a particularly seasonal example.

The NZ public believe in this KiwiSaver guarantee implicitly. Why not, y'know, admit that point and go from there. And if the KiwiSaver funds were to be individualised yet maximised, you could do much worse than the one that looks after the senior civil servants and politicians. Which segues nicely to Point the Second...

2) Why the Nats can't trump it.

Well, it's a policy that Roger Douglas could love. A nationalised superannuation account was Third Labour Government policy, the one wrecked by Muldoon all those years ago. Singapore has Temasek. NZ would have the KiwiSaver Fund. Can you really imagine Key selling nationalisation to his electorate?

3) The honey-glazed carrot stick.

Everyone's got a billion ways to spend money. Raising money is bloody hard. Crack that nut and the rest comes easy. While the public attention is mulling over a capital gains tax, why not give them a no-brainer sweetener?

No-one really understands KiwiSaver. is mining a rich vein of ignorance here. While you're up-skilling Kiwi financial literacy, why not put them at ease with their ignorance with a singular scheme run by trusted experts?

4) A coded acceptance to the public that Labour 5 wasn't perfect.

Michael Cullen might have had the best of intentions with KiwiSaver, but he really cocked up on the launch and delivery. The mechanism for KiwiSaver is a dog like Working For Families is a dog. Good intentions poorly executed. Tidy up after that incontinent mutt and give the public a new puppy to adore.

5) Revenue neutral.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Police target the vulnerable in the War on Drugs

You mightn't know Billy, but you will.

In May, the Law Commission called for urgent research on medicinal cannabis and a moratorium on police arrests of medicinal users. Police have responded to this recommendation by arresting medicinal cannabis crusader Billy Mckee. This is him here, talking on why he uses cannabis for his ailments to the Health select committee:

Just before his arrest, you might have heard him on the radio last week, talking about the recent sentencing of medicinal cannabis user Peter Davy. You will also have a chance to catch him on TV3 this Wednesday on Inside NZ's High Time?

I can't say much about Billy's case right now, as it is seriously sub judice. The police have requested the trial be moved from Levin District Court to Palmerston North High Court, so the police are treating Billy's alleged crimes as seriously as a rape or murder. I'll be following this case intimately.


Congratulations to Labour on discovering the first ideological bone in John Key's head.
"On de Cleene's suggestion that the government should introduce a capital gains tax in its second term:
  'Well, if he wants a second term he would be well advised to shut up about that.'
Told that de Cleene had predicted the Prime Minister would pour cold water on the suggestion:
  'Cold water? I would open Lake Waikaremoana on him.' - Press Conference 15/8/85"
From Gliding Across the Lino; The Wit of David Lange.

The old man was particularly fond of this particular line of Lange's disparagement. Partly due to the wit of course, but also there was perhaps a bit of smugness that one day he would be proven right.

So, a mere 26 years after the fact, Labour is talking of a capital gains tax. Against the wishes of Lange and Clark, Goff's Labour has staked out a bit of its own turf, distinct from his deposed predecessors. Unfortunately, this is still Goff's Labour, so a half-decent idea is presented with the usual compromises and half-measures that would render the policy impractical, even if it is a leak.

No CGT on the main home and a minimum threshold before CGT kicks in, sez the whispers. If there's a minimum threshold, why exempt the family home? Most of the growth in house prices isn't due to shoebox apartments or the poverty zones of Otara and Cannon's Creek. The lift is in the nice suburbs of Remuera and Oriental Bay. Why should Kerry Prendergast's, John Key's or John Banks' residences be excluded if their sales turn a profit?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Silent Deficit

Sue Bradford is rightly pissed off that the public's news segment is reduced to penguin soap opera (It's a boy!) and the "Kiwi, kiwi, kiwi! Oi! Oi! Oi!" upselling of the Heineken Mastercard Rugby World Cup. Frankly, there are more important matters that need urgent attention.

Forget the penguin, forget the rugby. Forget, even, the Springbok Tour for a moment. Forget the whatever umpteenth million being borrowed by the gummint on the fiscal deficit, because all these things are fulcrumed by the will of the people. The popular vote is the only true leverage the public has against the government. The erosion of this collective power is called the Democratic Deficit. What is at stake is all our futures.

The opiated albatross of a gullible public reduced to Reality TV manipulation of their senses and sensibilities is a tragic thing to behold. Let them eat Sky TV, the punters will be entertained and compliant. Civic engagement requires time and energy for investigation and consideration. We've all had a hard day at work though, and right now we all just need to vege out.

Danyl at the Dim Post has demonstrated the erosion of public empowerment very nicely:

Lacking a source on his post, I fact-checked the graph and it's spot on to the figures.

The Electoral Commission has offered funding to investigate this sad phenomenon, urgently in the case of Youth and Maori lack of interest. Bryce Edwards is hoping to have a crack at this nutty issue tomorrow night in Wellington at my old workplace, the THC James Cook Hotel. Auckland gets a pew too. Check the link for details.

For my own part, I studied the Democratic Deficit as part of Prof Elizabeth McLeay's Honours course (Prior to my last serious mental breakdown of course, the Great Knowledge Brings Fear Collapse of '06). What did I learn for my troubles?

NZ has had a high vote participation rate up until the 1970's mainly due to the organisational strengths of Labour and National.

Unions were compulsory at the time and one of the advantages for Labour was that they had a readymade database of their electorate with which to turn out the vote. Pubs and Workingmen's Clubs, the men's dens of the working classes, proved apt marketplaces for political discourse. The pubs have since been de-sexed and made fit for high-chairs and baby strollers. The coarse and foul world of politics has no place in such family oriented climates and died out accordingly.

The only places with masses of people these days are the zombie churches of the malls, or the ferocious hunter-gathering in the supermarkets. These privately owned public spaces are dead air for political discussions, by order of management. Naomi Klein mourned this loss in No Logo.

As for National, the farmers had their federation, there was and still is the Rotary Clubs, the Freemasons, and the usual conservative networks such as the Catholic or Exclusive Brethren sects (The Anglicans tended to lean Labour, but not always). The doctors and lawyers have their unions as well, tarted up as guilds or associations more than as some kind of civic voting bloc.

But fewer potential National people are joining professional associations such as Rotary. Others have stopped believing in God, or at least are principled enough not to attend church gatherings purely for the lucrative networking pool and power it can bestow. And who in the hell wants to be a farmer who isn't one already? The Big Boys, that's who.

The disintegration of structured communities isn't the half of it. I've said it before but it's worth repeating:
Let's go back to 1984. New Zealand's closest relative to Robert Mugabe has just lost the snap election after successfully hiding the true scale of his totalitarian mismanagement of the economy. The incoming Labour administration has opened the books and gone omfg this is worse than than anyone ever imagined. It was as if they had been given a billion maxed-out credit cards and could barely afford the minimum payments. The debt collectors were very close to being called in.

Roger Douglas' economic revolution was a direct consequence of Muldoon's lack of fiscal transparency. State assets were not sold just for the hell of it. The country was so deep in the shit, the only hope lay in selling the silver to save the country from slipping from Second World to Third World. Restructuring by the Fourth Labour Government ensured New Zealand's place in the First World.

Fast forward to 1990. The Fourth Labour Government is going through loud and painful death rattles. With leadership changes happening with alarming regularity, the last thing it needs to advertise coming into an election is a massive fiscal blowout. Lo and behold, the Nats storm to victory in a landslide. Ruth Richardson opens the books and goes omfg this is worse than anyone imagined. It was as if a bank had given out credit cards to a billion monkeys and dropped them outside the Bananas-R-Us megamall.

Ruth Richardson's Mother of All Budgets was a direct consequence of Labour IV's lack of fiscal transparency. Welfare was cut back not out of any specific hatred of beneficiaries, but an urgent need to cut spending and trimming the less productive government programs where possible. Selling assets wasn't really an option as there wasn't much left of value that hadn't already been knocked off in the pawn shop.

By now, the General Electorate was thoroughly pissed off with politicians. Election manifestos were rightly viewed with cynicism and distrust as a history of broken promises piled up at the door of both main parties. The citizens vented their spleen by favouring a new system of representation, anything that would stop this violent lurching about from rattling the crockery.

In some respects, 1996 and the first MMP election was our twilight's last gleaming moment. Sick of politicians breaking promises on a regular basis, the electorate had hoped they had finally put a bridle on the bolting horse of majority rule.

The upcoming electoral referendum carries the fate of that choice. Even with Vote for Change's public self-mutilation, the MMP referendum that will probably entrench the existing system (with a tweak of MMP's nipples, comme toujours) also risks a possible challenger which would further damage the democratic process (I'm looking at you, SM. You're just FPP with a latex fetish).

Yes, politicians still lie, but the lies are of a smaller stature than the plague of whoppers we've had in the past. Yes, MMP still has its drawbacks, but on the whole it is a good balance between fairness and simplicity in a voting system. MMP has proven more transparent when politicians try for the Unbridled Power gambit these days. Just look at the disapproval the Nats have got for their abuse of urgency.

But that still doesn't address the issue of the Democratic Deficit, merely shown that the public has less reason to distrust politicians than usual. They're still staying away in droves. Maybe Winston Peters' dance of the seven veiled weeks of kingmaking after the 1996 election caused a public loss of faith in the new system by 1999, leading to voter turnout slightly lower than the apathetic 1990 and 1993 elections.

The once in a century low turnout in 2002 was probably a whole bunch of depressed National party supporters sitting out the election next to the depressed non-voting Labour supporters. Participation flinched upwards briefly as 2005 saw both main parties perform Herculean turnout drives of their respective votes. I fear the tide will recede again at this year's election.

So I'm keen to hear what Bryce Edwards has to say on the subject of the Democratic Deficit at the old THC tomorrow night. His interpretation of John Key's popularity - "Key almost perfectly personifies our anti- political and anti-ideological age,"- portends an Idiocracy-type future where porn and sports stars sit in the lawmaking seat. Dagg help us all. And a chocolate fish to the first MP to say "Ecomony."

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Sunday trifecta

How's this for a fiesty three course brain feast:

Moshing for Jesus Soup - This SST story on part of Auckland's godiness.

A choice of The First Australians for an entree. They are all quite brutal flavours. Sydney is probably the mildest. Tasman's mania is certainly the most piquant of the lot.

For the main course, Restrepo.

Bonus Dessert - A Kate Bush chaser:

Saturday, July 02, 2011

SOEs, sods and the spirit level

"The policies pursued by Emperor Wu's government, both foreign and domestic, were by no means approved wholeheartedly by all Han officials. This was shown clearly by the discussion, held in 81 BC, on the merits and disadvantages of the iron and salt monopolies. A passage from one of the speeches made during its course deserves to be quoted, since it furnished, unintentionally, a telling illustration on the true nature of Chinese feudal society, valid not only for the Han, but equally for other eras as well.
Those who live in high walls and spreading mansions, broad chambers and deep rooms, know nothing of the discomforts of one-room huts and narrow hovels, of roofs that leak and floors that sweat.
Those with a hundred team of horses tethered in their stables and wealth heaped in their storehouses, who hoard up the old and stow away the new, do not know the anxiety of facing days that have a beginning but no end, of weighing goods by the pennyworth...
Those who recline on soft couches or felt mats, with servants and attendants crowding about them, know nothing of the hardships of a cartpuller or a boathauler, straining up the hills, dragging against the current...
Those who sit in the place of authority and lean on their writing desks, examine criminal charges brought before them and scribble their decisions, know nothing of the terror of the cangues and bonds, the pain of whips and rods.
The financial crisis to which Wu-ti's reign had given rise was, in reality, both the reflection and the cause of a still more important phenomenon - the social crisis. Its main manifestation was the steady growth of large landed estates at the expense of the peasants. The latter, debt-ridden due to increased taxation and in the hands of usurers, were impelled to sell their land, and often themselves and their families, becoming tenants, farm labourers or slaves. The reduction in the number of tax-paying landholders, in turn, worsened the government's financial position, since the large landowners were either exempt from taxation, or managed to swindle their way out of paying it."

- The Walled Kingdom; A History of China from 2000 BC to the Present, by Witold Rodzinski, 1984.