Sunday, November 18, 2012

Muppet Pi

10:27, Restate my assumptions; 1) Muppets are the language of human nature.
2) Everything around us can be represented and understood through muppets.

3) If you graph muppets of any system, patterns emerge.

Therefore, there are muppets everywhere in human nature.

If so, muppets cannot be the exclusive preserve of Disney. Nor, for that matter, can the 19th Century works of Lewis Carroll or AA Milne. There's a piece of Pooh in everyone, and it doesn't belong to Disney.

Both authors would be spinning in their graves at the hollow extortion that their characters have become. Exhibit A: Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland. Exhibit B: the trite crap Pooh and Friends spew on the Murdoch/Disney Channel. Milne was a painstaking wordsmith, editing each sentence many times to distil clarity and lyricism. Now it's all cross-promo po-mo platitudes and homogenised homilies.

The US Republicans are coming around to this Muppet Pi logic on copyright, dialling down their branch of mad hatters and presenting a respectable copyright reform paper. Cory Doctorow sez:

Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it (PDF) is a position paper just released by House Republicans, advocating for a raft of eminently sensible reforms to copyright law, including expanding and clarifying fair use; reaffirming that copyright's purpose is to serve the public interest (not to enrich investors); to limit statutory damages for copyright infringement; to punish false copyright claims; and to limit copyright terms.

This is pretty close to the full raft of reforms that progressive types on both sides of the US political spectrum have been pushing for. It'll be interesting to see whether the Dems (who have a much closer relationship to Hollywood and rely on it for funding) are able to muster any support for this.

10:36, Press Return.

UPDATE: Full retraction in less than 24 hours. Fucking Teabaggers.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Night Brain Teaser for Bloggers and Other Junkies

Imperator Fish has diaried a day in the life of Sherwin T. McFadden. It took me until 9:42 am to work out who it was. Do you know anyone like Sherwin T. McFadden?

On an entirely unrelated topic completely, I am not one to wave corpses around for a cause. I knew Stephen McIntyre too. My thoughts on his passing are complex and return to looping through acts, omissions and random shit, which is none of your business. Suffice it to say, you need a thick skin in any political game.

Good news everyone! Ann Vernon (previously mentioned here) has had her day in court and walked out the door discharged without conviction. So there's some justice.

Putting the NZ in Ponzi

 Forbes reckons NZ is the best place to do business:
New Zealand came first for a lack of corruption, a low level of red tape, a high level of personal freedom and strong investor protection. 
NZ is also a great place for naive greedy investors to get ripped off. Ross Asset Management has been raided by the FMA earlier this month, finding little of the $449 million in deposits:
Clients of Mr Ross have spoken about how they were introduced to the firm by friends or advisers, because of its exceptional financial returns, often of more than 30 per cent a year. have added Ross Asset Management to their Deep Freeze List. This brings the estimated total to date of financial destruction of NZ investor funds since 2006 to $9,290,400,000.

How soon before NZ hits $10 billion in bad gambles, and where is this "strong investor protection" that Forbes is talking about?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Which one of you cunts called this cunt a cunt?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but David Farrar never gets old. Unusually for Kiwiblog, the comments for the post are enlightening too.

A novel approach

History is written by the winners, then re-written by the losers. An excerpt from Labour's Initial Draft Policy Platform:

During the 1970s and 1980s, our progressive thinking came to be increasingly influenced by environmentalism, the human rights movement, and reactions against government authoritarianism. These influences were reflected in the achievements of the Fourth Labour Government between 1984 and 1990. We enacted a Constitution Act and a Bill of Rights Act, as well as measures to promote open government, and paved the way for the reform of the electoral system. We enacted an Environment Act and a Conservation Act, laid the groundwork for the passage of the Resource Management Act, and took the first steps toward a climate change response. We repealed anti-worker legislation and created a modern industrial relations system. Homosexual law reform took place, parental leave entitlements were created, and significant extensions of housing, educational, social and health entitlements occurred. The Waitangi Tribunal’s jurisdiction to consider historical Treaty grievances was extended back to 1840, te reo Maori became an official language, New Zealand went nuclear free, and we re-established diplomatic and trade representation with powers such as India.

But the Fourth Labour Government’s programme of extensive economic reform was in breach of Labour’s traditions and values. Without any specific mandate, this Labour government embarked on a wide-ranging programme of privatisation; abandoned the central policy goal of full employment and instead focussed the Reserve Bank on the reduction of inflation above all else; opened the economy suddenly to international forces; and gave up a large degree of regulatory control in favour of unrestrained market forces. As a result, short- and long-term unemployment soared, poverty and economic inequality grew, and trust and confidence in government in general – and Labour in particular - plummeted.

The Fifth Labour Government took office in 1999. We largely put behind us the economic legacy of the 1980s and 1990s, providing change across a range of areas in line with Labour’s values. Important achievements included restoring economic growth, and then sharing its gains through programmes such as interest-free student loans, Working for Families, and paid parental leave. We improved collective bargaining and other workplace rights after the 1991 assault on employment rights; made retirement more secure by founding KiwiSaver and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund; created KiwiBank and bought back control of KiwiRail and Air New Zealand. We began to put our economy on a sustainable basis, including by developing an Emissions Trading Scheme; speeded the pace of Treaty settlements; established final appeal rights within our own Court system; invested heavily in infrastructure; delivered the lowest unemployment in a generation; paid off almost all of the public debt; and kept New Zealand out of foreign military entanglements – particularly the Iraq war.

Labour left office in 2008 with more people in work and a stronger economy than had been seen for a generation. Inequalities were reducing and New Zealand was moving in the right direction.

Several points for transparency of document release. Minus several million points for historical fiction. The curse of Helen Clark endures.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those screwy Yanks

David Farrar's not the only one in thrall of US military balls right now. The head of the world's most powerful terrorist organisation has been caught filling in the wrong hot spots in triplicate.

General "Rock Me" Petraeus has been stood down as CIA chief spook because of his Tiger Wooding and not, for example, for overseeing extra-judical killings including the cold-blooded murder of at least one of the United States' own citizens.

Mind you, this is the same mad country that impeached one president over a blowjob (Clinton), while letting another walk away from war crimes (George W Bush). So, no shock, no surprise. Just a strange feeling, as if the the world was being held hostage by a large be-jewelled toddler with straight white teeth and a lobotomy scar, holding a Coke in one hand and a nuclear Nerf gun in the other.

Here's hoping the Republicans can dial down the Heaven's Gate hysteria long enough to avoid another fiscal cliffhanger.

Apropos to nothing

Back in the mid-90's, I was watching Braveheart on video at the old man's house in Tauranga. It was just after he had quit the Act party and joined the Nats in Tauranga, for the simple purpose of defeating Winston Peters.

Near the end of the movie, he walked past and snorted, "That movie is complete rubbish. Apart from the part about Robert the Bruce betraying Wallace. That was real. The English didn't kill Wallace. His fellow Scotsmen did."

Thursday, November 08, 2012

King Hit

I'm still in a dazed and confused state after hearing of the passing of yet another colourful Wellingtonian. Greg King follows Lloyd Morrison and Ben Hana into the sunless lands and we are poorer for it.

I never met Greg King in person. He was the articulate host of The Court Report on TVNZ7. He was the artful advocate in the criminal courts. I wrote to him not a year ago inviting him to speak at the NORML AGM. He politely declined, explaining that he was trying to talk some sense into the Sensible Sentencing Trust that weekend.

I was unaware that Greg King had visited the US drug courts until his blistering interview with Linda Clark in the final Court Report. It would be a great epitaph to the man if that video could be made available online, just to remind everyone of the passionate reformer at his prime (Looking at you Gibson Group, TVNZ, NZ on Screen).


The new captain of the Bounty editor of Truth TP, Whale Oil, has been given the Brian Edwards seal of approval, having appeared on The Nation with him and not bitten the head off anything. Cam Slater has shown his own angry brand of respect for Greg King by featuring him on the front page with his autopsy with a topless chick in the first edition of Truth with Whale at the wheel.

Here's my reply:

Friday, November 02, 2012

Drug Court Trials

I'll be interested to see how the pilot drug courts go. I harangued the program leader, Gerald Waters, on his idea last year at the NZ Drug Foundation's AGM. He gave me an assurance that the drug courts would focus on rehabilitating criminals with genuine addiction issues, not attempt to brainwash medpot users into converting to more orthodox addictions.

Good on Judith Collins for giving it a go. The US Praise The Lord system of drug courts is ill-suited to NZ's culture, but a mature NZ drug court system would sift the merely deviant from the criminally reckless.

Zombie Zoo

Reading Max Rashbrooke's experience of a Wellington boarding house in The Listener rekindled unpleasant memories. While he had to put up with it for almost a month, I had managed a similar dive for over a year.

The last of my hospo skills finally burned out running that joint. Thankfully, I refused to live on premises. It made me a bastard, but not a fucking bastard, as the manager in Russell Brown's time in second-tier homelessness attests.

The bed bugs arrived long after I had left the building. And there's a lot more rot to these type of places than the rising damp. I got my job at the Zombie Zoo through WINZ. There's a disturbing symbiotic relationship there worth probing, I'll vouch for that much.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Truthiness and Consequences

BOSNYWASH is still reeling from Orbital Sandy. One of many large grinders I suspect that have visited North America often enough in the past to largely render the continent uninhabitable in the long run. The Spanish conquistadors murdered a lot more Mayans, Aztecs and others in South America compared with the Puritan genocide of North American Indians. Nature's angle grinders might explain the variation in indigenous populations (the relatively recent growth in the Caribbean population due to slavery and its discontents would account for why these nice islands had been uninhabited for so long before then as well. Too much weathering).

Cam Slater finally gets a legitimate job as captain of the Bounty editor of Truth. This gives me new found confidence that after almost ten years of blogging, I might also get a temp job out of all this two fingered typing like Whale did. Then again, Whale is networked into the grid a lot better than this anti-social hack.

The Fabian schooner arrives in Poneke this Sunday, with a briny line-up of speakers. While the Greens and Labour continue their monetary policy goonery, might I humbly offer my little grenade to the Fabian armory. Tighten monetary policy and get the banks back to basics by rewinding credit cards back to debit cards and charge cards only. That'll scare the bankers.