Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shooting the messenger

The UK Home Office secretary has fired the Chief Advisor on Drugs, David Nutt. He has been a voice of reason in the debate following the drop in classification for cannabis, which resulted in lower usage in teenagers. The decision to raise the classification again was a purely political decision, going against all observational feedback of its success.

Here's the BBC's story. The Guardian's Comment is Free has a post from David Nutt over the issue, which might have been the final straw for the Home Sec. Never let facts contradict a myopic policy. The Guardian's editorial reacts strongly. You can show your support for David Nutt at this Facebook group.

In our own small way, NZ is replicating this fantasy. Media headlines over the last year give the impression that Judith Collins is scaling up the War on Drugs. Let's see how that goes. Boy, wouldn't it be funny if the National government fell because of a failed War on Drugs?

Carbon footprint gone to the dogs

The story behind Time to Eat the Dog has been bugging some small time:
Brenda and Robert Vale are professors of architecture at Victoria University, New Zealand, who specialise in sustainability and they claim the carbon pawprint of a pet dog (roughly the size of an alsatian), is twice that of a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year.

There must some absurd assumptions made to reach such a conclusion. What would happen if you threw a blue whale into the equation? Would it conclude that the craptonnes of krill are killed inefficiently and Japan should hunt these gargantuan mammals to extinction to save the planet? Is this a suggestion to trade pets into the SPCA for Toyota Land Cruisers?

Suffice to say that it is complete nonsense. There's evidence-based research and then there's this. Honest to Gaia, sometimes the ecological movement can't stop biting its own tail.

The Super Gorilla gerontocracy is here

That big grey gorilla isn't going away. Earlier in the week, Treasury head honcho John Whitehead stated the obvious out loud:
The underlying message is that if historical productivity growth of 1.5 per cent a year does not improve, and Budget deficits projected over the medium term are not controlled, public debt to GDP could blow out from 106 per cent today to $223 per cent by 2050.

If productivity growth were to improve by 2 per cent a year, labour force participation was 3 percentage points higher than it is today, and new migrants added 15,000 to national population annually instead of the 10,000 forecast, net debt would rise to 146 per cent of GDP by 2050. "This is still an unsustainable fiscal position," the report says.
There's little to disagree with in Whitehead's advice:
These include:
Linking the age of pension eligibility to national average lifespans, as Denmark has done, with changes not kicking in until the late 2020's.
Spot on.
For a quarter of all pensioners, Government Superannuation is less than 20 per cent of their income, while for the other 75 per cent, it is more than 80 per cent. Halving or axing eligibility for pension payments to this upper quarter would yield significant savings. A trade-off could be to spend more on health services to meet the growing costs of an ageing society.
Could Key put a cap on the Super sector and get away with it? After his blunt promise on doing nothing before last election, he might try to review his pledge in the run up to the next election and get a mandate on it. If anyone has a chance to review their options, Key has.

Adopting health system practices which, in other countries, have halved the length of average hospital stays.

In a strange echo of the New Day Dawning theme in the HBO series The Wire, Whitehead wants to focus on what works and not playing the stats game with Health. Personally, I think Ecstacy, LSD and marijuana have a very important palliative role to play in hospices.
New Zealand's prison population is forecast to rise from 150 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in 1999 to 225 per 100,000 by 2017, and justice system costs have doubled in the last 15 years despite a stable crime rate.
"Given that New Zealand's imprisonment rate is already one of the highest in the OECD, and recent increases have had little impact on recorded crime rates, it is unlikely that further increases in our imprisonment rate will be the most cost-effective way to achieve lower crime rates," the Treasury said.
I really can't believe how Labour are letting the Nats get away with all this expensive law and order mumbo jumbo. There's record incarceration rates, and Labour have agreed with every single piece of draconian nutbar legislation that the Nats have introduced. Labour couldn't find a wedge even if they were wearing bike pants.
Education funding assistance is indiscriminate and risks not being captured by groups in society who need it most.
Whitehead sez leave NCEA alone. Right now it's good enough, and Dagg knows a bit of natural evolution will settle that beast down. As for Tolley's plan to test the kiddies, the whole point of the exercise is to identify that 20 percent John Key points to who are falling through the cracks. It remains to be seen whether once those kids are identified, something productive is done to help them, or whether it becomes a George W Bush No Child Left Behind mess.

Stuff looks at a different angle of Whitehead's white paper. A stunning little number becomes clear:
Mr Whitehead noted the imminent threat to government spending liabilities from the increasing 65-plus age bracket. A quarter of Government spending currently went towards that group, which made up 12 per cent of the population. "By 2050 the ratio of people 65 and over to those of working age will double,'' Mr Whitehead said.
My billy bold there. Even if NZ doubles its productivity and its unemployment halved, we're still in the shit. No disrespect to Lindsay Mitchell and her stance on the DPB, the unemployed and the unemployable. But these areas are a pittance compared with the copious share of government spending that goes on the aged.

Funds management guru Brian Gaynor touts the big and important success of KiwiSaver. You'd be stupid (or too impoverished) not to be in on this taxpayer funded swindle:
Any scheme where individuals contribute only $35.10 of every $100 deposited in their savings account is a no-brainer - there is a huge incentive to join.
Forget the fact that there's actually less money in there than what has been put in. Put aside all the extra overheads that are hidden in the footnotes, the IRD processing, the divvie for portfolio managers, the transfer of wealth from the state coffers to private interests. It's all good.

At least Brian Fallow is giving the demagogues of management a bollocking for ignoring all the expat Gen X talent does doesn't fit their narrow, risk averse criteria. That same school of thought also gave us Equiticorp, Bridgecorp and Feltex. Whatever happened with that Feltex thing anyway? Still nothing, eh?

Despite today's NZ Herald editorial calling on Key to re-examine his stance on the Super question, Whitehead's tsunami warning, and Tracy Watkins in the DomPost having a go at Key too, it is still not getting through to the vote-wary politicians. One indignant voter bloc of 12 percent is enough to swing to hang anyone who tries to tinker with the entitlement.

Take the latest big gorilla swindle that passed largely unnoticed in the MSM or blogs. TVNZ was onto it though:
Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett says retirees nowadays were not content "to be regaled by the adventurous tales of the overseas experiences (OE) of their grandkids. They want their own OE."

Previously if some needy pensioner wished to take a round the world cuise aboard some luxury liner or whatever, they only received 50 percent of their hand out. Now they can live in the south of France and live off the lifeblood of Kiwi residents and citizens without ever stepping foot in the country again.

No other state beneficiary has such luxury. The unemployed and invalids can't swan off like Rodney on the taxpayer dime and get away with it. But if you're over 65 you can. You might need a free bus fare to get to that job interview across town. You'll have to apply at WINZ for special permission there. But if you're over 65, you can free lunch on the bus off peak with no worries.

Seriously, I'd consider moving to Australia if it wasn't full of Australians. Right now, they're about the only country that looks fit to dodge that fucking big grey gorilla in the room.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Picking up the tab on law and order

A lot of very expensive pre-election law and order promises are coming online. The Nats have given the police everything they asked for. Labour's old idea for an organised crime bureau has been repackaged in friendly blue colours as a Nat initiative. A stack of new crimes have been invented, from recreational (boyracer-like) driving to driving with a cellphone or on drugs.

The prisons are getting kitted out and fitted for double-bunking. At least one new prison on the way and a whole bunch of old ones are being dusted off. We're at a record prison muster already. It is anyone's guess how many will be behind bars and off the electoral roll come 2011.

Everyone arrested for a crime with potential jail punishment, from drink drivers to drunk entertainers in alleyways, will have their DNA taken by the authorities, at least by 2011. The scheme is being staggered in.

The entire reason for this greatly expanded database is to solve current or cold cases, sez the ESR:
Of the 100,000 DNA samples held in the databank, 8,000 relate to unsolved criminal cases or “cold cases” according to the Ministry of Justice.

The Science Centre goes on to quote forensic science expert Dr Anna Sandiford: 
“Personally, I have no problem with the New Zealand Police being given greater powers to collect DNA samples from individuals who will be charged with an offence."

Professionally though, Sandiford has also been assisting the UK government database, so this is not a disinterested opinion. Seeing how the ESR is the business being kept in clover with the expansive new program as well, there's every reason for them to sex this up.

Time will tell. Take this snippet from The Press:
The Justice Ministry forecasts that 4000 more samples than usual will be taken in the first year of the new laws from next July. A further 5000 samples will be taken in phase two, expected to come into force in 2011, when the power to take DNA will be extended to all imprisonable offences for adults.

It will be very easy to see the effectiveness of the scheme. Come July 2011, after one year of that first additional "4000" DNA samples, just pull an OIA on just how many "current and cold cases" got solved. Let's see then whether it is good value.

That's the thing with law and order promises. They aren't cheap and you can't juke all the stats all the time.


I'm all for egalitarianism, but Colin Espiner has a point about the lack of Prime Ministerial autonomy of flight. David Lewis at Pundit chips in with the circuitous horror story that Helen Clark went through whilst travelling at the time of the September 11 attacks.

I'm not saying that all non-urgent domestic travel by the prime minister should be sealed and bubble-wrapped from the general public. But when the head of our isolated island republic has to rely on commercial international airlines to get them to their destinations, it leaves the country worse off.

When the PM hits the tarmac on our behalf, I want him refreshed, alert and looking after our best interests. These interests are not well served by having a jet-lagged PM cluttered with anonymous strangers and evesdropped by who knows what on a general flight.

The only drawback of a MOA (Ministerial Office Aircraft) is that if the PM gets use of one, you might have Deputy PM Bill English asking for a MOA too. Then Phil Goff will want one, then Chris Carter. So if NZ does end up getting some independent flight plans for the PM, there will have to be very clear guidelines on what it is used for.

Reserve your Reserve Bank Annual now!

David Haywood has compiled the New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010 for the economist in your life. It goes on sale in a month's time, but you can pre-order your copy now. There's even a few of pages preview to whet the taste buds, featuring a couple Alan Bollard's outrageous exploits. Never mind the Briscoes Lady, pre-order your copy now. $24.95! Cheap!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back from the Blue

Over the years, the struggle at Oxford University between the establishment and kiwi Vice-Chancellor Dr John Hood ran with remarkable parallels to Tom Sharpe's novel Porterhouse Blue. In both reality and fiction, a new head of university arrives with modern ideas, and departs after stiff opposition from stubborn traditionalists.

At least Dr Hood gets off better than his parallel does in the novel. David Cohen at NBR notes that at least one establishment figure eulogises for the departing VC. Closer to home, Pattrick Smellie at Business Scoop highlights the integral work Dr Hood accomplished in NZ as well as Oxford. He could have been science advisor to Helen Clark.

What now for Dr Hood? I'd like to see him appointed as head of a complete review of NZ's university system. Do unto the entire sector what he did at University of Auckland and almost got away with at Oxford. Dagg knows, it needs it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Made in New Zealand

Ten of my favourite NZ onScreen goodies so far, in no particular order:

1. The Governor. Special plea to to the copyright holders of this important history lesson, please release the rest of them.

2. Landmarks. Apologies for spamming NZ onScreen for this. It was there all along.

3. Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby. Excellent combination of David McPhail's comedy chops and Tom Scott's wit.

4. Kea - Mountain Parrot. Monogamous clowns of the mountains, but their propensity for killing sheep was why I just couldn't vote them Bird of the Year.

5. Gliding On. NZ's first sitcom holds up remarkably well after all these years.

6. Revolution. Much better than the infuriating Someone Else's Country.

7. Simon Walker and Muldoon. The interview that changed everything.

8. Architect Athfield. For a brief period in NZ, eccentricity was valued.

9. Blerta Revisited. For a brief period in NZ, eccentricity was valued.

10. Britten: Backyard Visionary. For a brief period in NZ, eccentricity was valued.

Small beer tax

The Economist sez Russia is looking at plans to quadruple beer excise taxes by 2012. The tax is to allegedly tackle alcoholism, which is so rife it is almost a prerequisite for Russian citizenship. The slight hiccup? The tax increase applies only to beer, not vodka:
The average Russian already drinks 30 litres of hard liquor a year, six times the amount in the EU, while imbibing a modest 77 litres of beer, a little less than a typical European. Pushing up beer prices is far more likely to encourage drinkers to swallow even more vodka or dodgy but cheap home-made spirits than to convince them to give up booze altogether.
Budem zdorovy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Labour can't stop making shit up

Opposition Courts spokesman and senior Labour MP Rick Barker has been caught advising Labour pollsters to lie to their callers:
The polls were being run from Parliamentary offices by former Cabinet minister Rick Barker, who has admitted instructing staff to use false names and claim they were calling from a company that no longer exists...

The volunteer said Barker instructed all the helpers, including a Parliamentary staffer, to say they worked for a non-existent company called "Data Research", and to not disclose that they were really working for the Labour Party.
Rick Barker initially lied over the matter. Party President Andrew Little knew nothing about it. Shadow Leader of the House Darren Hughes sez polling companies lie all the time but didn't give examples. Leader Phil Goff refused to answer questions on the matter, despite the polls being run with funds from his office.

And, to rub salt into the wounds, Herald journo Matt Nippert contacts Bryce Edwards from excellent blog liberation for comment:
Bryce Edwards, a politics lecturer at the University of Otago, said that the episode appeared to show a misuse of Parliamentary resources: "I would say that any phone polling at Parliament would fall foul of the rules."

"This is very clearly partisan political activity, and pretty hard to sell as a legitimate use of Parliamentary resources."
This arrogant behaviour is a legacy of the Clark years, when voters were not so much convinced to vote for Labour, but frightened, lied and bullied into submission. This shows no signs of stopping and is a sign that Labour has yet to reach its nadir.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rich listers ask for tax increase

A group of seriously wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs are challenging their peers by signing a declaration asking for a wealth tax. Unfortunately, it's not the Tax Working Group or the Business Roundtable suggesting the idea, but a consortium of German rich pricks.
The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany's economic recovery. Germany could raise 100bn euros (£91bn) if the richest people paid a 5% wealth tax for two years, they say.

The original story appeared in the Tagespiegel here, but the Goonglish translation has further detail:
Lehmkuhl, since he has this ability to read: on income distribution, taxes, capital gains. About the American Fair-Tax Network, a "social business", where profit maximization is banned as a corporate goal and determine the success of social goals. He dreams of a German equivalent of the American Organization UFA, "are United for a Fair Economy", where 700 "organized Responsible Rich... He has rearmed itself with numbers that prove that there has been in Germany a significant redistribution from bottom to top, and that it here to share surprisingly little.

So, how has NZ fared over the last thirty years? Here's the MED:

Click image to embiggerate

The UNDP have released the latest figures, showing NZ as the 20th 6th least equal income share in the world, at 36.2 (Edit: thanks to BH's TTaT). Under Clark's Labour government, the gap between rich and poor grew faster than any time since Rogernomics. This is what the NZ Labour opposition must contemplate if they are ever to have a chance of regaining their support base.

The UNDP NZ report is a very interesting read too. All that high churn immi-emigration keeps NZ treading water.

Long weekend links

# The Economist looks at the prehistoric Shiva impact and the rotten luck of dinosaurs.

# Elizabeth Warren-a-thon. I first tripped over the Harvard Law Professor on the Daily Show back in April:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 1

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Health Care Crisis

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 2

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Health Care Crisis

The Huff Post has more from the TARP fund watchdog with out-takes from Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. Matt Taibbi sez Elizabeth Warren for President.

# On the subject of Matt Taibbi, his latest sketch of the blood funnelers in Rolling Stone almost creates sympathy for former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld. Along with Bear Stearns, Lehman was a target of vast naked short selling prior to their crash. Here's a sobering morsel. HT Bernard Hickey:
The best way to grasp what happened is to look at the data: On Tuesday, March 11th, there were 201,768 shares of Bear that had failed to deliver. The very next day, the number of phantom shares leaped to 1.2 million. By the close of trading that Friday, the number passed 2 million — and when the market reopened the following Monday, it soared to 13.7 million. In less than a week, the number of counterfeit shares in Bear had jumped nearly seventyfold.
WTF is naked short selling anyway? Here's Matt Taibbi and a whiteboard.

# Mother Jones ponders whether then-Treasury secretary Hank Paulson broke the law with a Moscow meeting in June 2008 with the Goldman Sachs Board of Directors:
When Paulson and the firm's execs got together at the Moscow Marriott Grand Hotel, the Treasury secretary gave the Goldman Sachs crew his read on what was happening with the economy and his department's effort to prepare for handling failed banks. He also previewed for them an important speech he would soon deliver.
# After all this evidence of corrupt insider trading, Fran O'Sullivan's column on NZ's Securites Commission almost seems a bit of an anti-climax. Almost. Just because the US SEC is a piece of shit, it doesn't mean our own companies watchdog has to be a bit shit too:
The commission subjected 20 companies to its latest surveillance exercise. It found a widespread lack of transparency. The commission noted it was "particularly concerned" over the lack of transparency around the under-lying assumptions used to value assets, disclosures over third-party transactions and the composition of unexplained expenses.

Six companies have received "please explain" letters over their related party transactions. But if past practice is anything to go by Diplock will be easily satisfied with a promise by the companies concerned to clarify or make the necessary disclosures in their next set of financial statements.
# NatRad News is reporting that KiwiSaver is worth less than the sum of its deposits:
The scheme is managing $3.039bn of assets, which is $115m less than the total of $3.154bn invested by the public and the Crown in the two years.
# Bill Moyers Journal looks at the life of Justice Justice, the judge who brought Texas kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

# UK Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge wonders what will face juries in the 21st century, when people can't sit still and listen and think for any length of time.

# Dutch law supposedly protects client-lawyer phone calls from surveillance, which is why they are frantic about the inability to delete tapped calls from other data. How the hell NZ's new Search & Surveillance works around this here, Dagg only knows.

# And finally, because you managed to stick in there through all those economics links, here's some real good bullet time photography. HT Daily Dish:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Avoid lawsuits, aim lower sez Taser

New guidelines have been issued by the makers of allegedly non-lethal citizen suppressant, Taser International. This new policy has nothing whatsoever to do with the 350 people who have died in the USA after shocks from tasers:
"Should sudden cardiac arrest occur in a scenario involving a Taser discharge to the chest area, it would place the law enforcement agency, the officer, and Taser International in the difficult situation of trying to ascertain what role, if any, (the device) could have played," according to the manual.

The manual includes a graphic displaying the human body and "preferred target areas." The company recommends firing Tasers anywhere but at the head, neck and chest. The manual says to avoid chest shots "when possible" and "unless legally justified."

Translation: Taser International is now indemnified from any further deaths from cardiac arrest. If a cop shoots you in the chest with a taser and you die, that's on their head not ours.

According to TVNZ:
Taser International issued a training bulletin, telling users to target lower on the body, around the belt buckle or abdomen area.
I don't know about you, but nothing says humane non-lethal restraint more to me than being threatened with 50,000 volts in the testicles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The other Yorkshiremen

Many comedy lovers will be familiar with The Four Yorkshiremen, outdoing themselves in childhood deprivation:

Less well known is the same joke told in Deaf context. Sign language has a way with punch lines:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Naked Samoa

One thing that becomes very clear in this Media7 story on Samoa, is how very badly the Samoan official response had been. It was fully ten minutes between the quake and the wave. An eight year old falangi running along the beach as the sea sucked out did more good than the entire governmental apparatus in saving lives.

And then there's the question of what comes next. What's to stop another tragedy from happening all over again?

So, seeing how naked the Samoans are to another tragedy, civil society once again is riding to the rescue. The newly established Project Heal and Protect Charitable Trust has been set up to rebuild and ensure the next wave causes less psychic trauma.

Madame Prawn has a hand in getting this thing going, so I expect damned fine accountability. Please donate to a very worthy humanitarian cause.

Big jobs

Crusher Collins has had her Boyracer law fly through parliament under urgency. Driving in circles will become illegal, outside of parliament at least. That'll keep those teens in line!

There's more than a scent of teen-bashing in the headlines of late. Hoity Toity Schools for Silly Twats have been the subject of middle-class tissue rending, with rugby match bashings and more recently, Twats with Swastikas. DPF is so outraged, he is calling this perverse history class criminals.

I don't believe that Jews have a monopoly on taking the piss out of Hitler. Otherwise we wouldn't have permission from the aggrieved to laugh at stuff like this:

Hitler, the Nazis, and all the rest of it belongs to everyone. That's history for you. Yes, even the teens are free to fumble with fascism. They might be rude and offensive but that's teenagers for you. While not quite so loutish as the twats, as a teenager I once made a short film for English class satirising a Young Hitler. You couldn't do that these days, I bet.

Besides, the Nazis have a lot to offer our corporatist work environment. Some of those teenagers will take an interest in the work of Joseph Goebbels who, along with Edward Bernays, were the fathers of sales and marketing. They will be tomorrow's admen and car salesmen.

Others might wonder at the brutal vision of Albert Speer and go into architecture or design. Policy wonks might be interested in following the detailed paper trail that allowed vast horrors to pass as blandly as a toilet roll requisition.

[...] a million bureaucrats are diligently plotting death and some of them even know it [...] Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

Maybe a few of those twats will end up in the armed forces, sacrificing free thought for unquestioning obedience. Who knows. But there's no crime in being a twat. They are all closed circles.

Talk Hard

While a UNDP spokesperson fronts up to NatRad to explain why Helen Clark won't front up to the UN press gallery, why not enjoy an old one on one interview between Helen Clark and Sarah Montague from BBC's Hard Talk.

Part One has Helen Clark defending the royal family for not attending Sir Ed Hillary's state funeral and explaining away NZ's inevitable republicanism on a geological time scale. NZers weren't angry at the snub, there was comment. Ha!

Part Two critiques NZ's plan to be carbon neutral by 2025 despite a high cars per capita ratio, a methane-squirting agriculture sector and exporting craptonnes of coal to China.

Part Three looks at the new NZ-China Free Trade Agreement, human rights and the chances of a NZ-US FTA.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Voters on Bikes

Motorcyclist apparel retailer QuasiMoto is selling ACC protest shirts at the Nat plan to root the bikers. Good onya. Hat Tip Mike R. on facebook.

UN press discovers Helengrad

Former NZ PM and Life Member of the Order of Control Freaks Helen Clark has formally introduced herself to the international press. Seems that some UN watchers are getting ropey with the lack of communication from the new head of the UNDP. Aside from photo ops and press releases for Africa, Heather Simpson maintains Cerberus-like protection of Frau Clark from independent media.

While DPF and Madame Prawn have a go at it, I wondered whether this was just a journo with an axe to grind or was there something to it. After all, Clark can't be that unworldwise. How uncosmopolitan of her, eh. But after wading through screeds of press releases, I found proof. There's Helen's Red Right Hand all over this:
For The Record provides official responses to inaccurate press reports on the work of UNDP. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Communications at 212-906-5382.
Up until April this year, there were three or four official replies every month in response to "inaccurate media". There's one in June and that's it. No more. Finito, Benito.

Congratulations to members of the United Nations press gallery. Now you know what we had to put up with for nine long years.

The devil you know

Justice Minister Simon Power has announced the first details of what the MMP referendum will look like in 2011:
The first referendum would ask voters if they wanted to keep MMP, or not. It would also ask what alternative voting system was preferred from a list of options.

Pretty much as proposed by David Farrar early last month. If this is to be done, this is the way to do it. There remains little sign of public discontent with MMP. Its faults require tweaks, not the axe. Rest assured, this pre-election promise will be put to bed in 2011.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Radio NZ boss dances on the head of a pin

I've never met Sean Plunket, but I do feel sorry for the poor bastard. Radio New Zealand head honcho Peter Cavanagh, fresh from an Amsterdam junket involving HDTV, IPTV, 3D, lip synching and other matters not relating to radio broadcasting, is having a go at the Morning Report presenter in the Employment Relations Authority hearing, saying that if Plunket doesn't like it, he can bugger off:
RNZ journalists Chris Laidlaw, Kim Hill and Brent Edwards gave evidence this morning that they had done work for other media while employed by RNZ. But RNZ said Hill and Laidlaw were entertainment presenters, whereas Plunket was a news presenter, so there were different ethical responsibilities in their roles.
I'm no lawyer, but Cavanagh is dancing on the head of a pin with this argument. Chris Laidlaw, aka Wellington Regional Councillor Chris Laidlaw, hosts non-entertainment segment Mediawatch on his NatRad show. A quick flick through Laidlaw's Sunday program reveals not celebrity gossip and other mundane inanities, but copyright law, the Great Recession and the Auckland Supercity proposals. That's entertainment. Yeah Right.

Spy Hard

Not worried about the new search and surveillance powers that the state is hoping to pass through under the MSM radar? You should be. If the ability to remote access citizens' computers without a warrant, or install remote video and audio into homes and offices without reasonable cause, doesn't worry you, consider this: in a police state, every citizen is a terrorist.

Aardvark goes large on the matter, and Nat Rad talks to a Chapman Tripper and a computer security lecturer about the new SaS Bill too. I think that flash new Supreme Court is going to get a hell of a workout over the next ten years.

The Tuhoe Terror Trial is just the beginning.

UPDATE: Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff talks to bFM's The Wire about the agency's concern over the SaS plans.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Zen and the art of motorbike ACC maintenance

Fair go for the motorcyclists getting pissed off at proposed ACC levy hikes. Motorbike owners with more than 600cc of grunt are staring at a crippling tripling of fees, from $252 to $735. Puny mopeds leap from $58 to $246.

Colin Espiner is onto it:
The massive increases in levies for motorcycles seems grossly unfair to me, and smacks of National hitting a group of voters it doesn't think are likely to be National supporters. Sure, motorcycles are involved in more accidents, but how many of those were caused by car drivers?

I'd rather encourage more scooters and bikes onto the road and have fewer metal boxes. It's more fuel efficient and less parking space is required to stable them. More importantly, bike-bike accidents are less mortal than bike-car or car-pedestrian accidents. The more equal the vulnerability, the more respect you maintain with other road users.

But the proposed ACC charges turn all this on its head. A 3000cc big bastard boy racer car will cost only twice the fee of a puny 49cc roller skate. This is scapegoating pure and simple. The Nats deserve all the heat they're getting on the ACC mess.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Money or the Bag

Bernard Hickey's not wrong at taking a swing at the baby boomers, advising X and Y to fuck off overseas while the boomers rig a bomb to the NZ economy. Me? This brain ain't for draining. I like it here. So, what is to be done about it?

The ever diplomatic David Farrar does a good job at blocking John Key's blind spot on the matter:
The superannuation decision is just a political reality. Key promised before the election he would resign as both PM and an MP if he changed the age or floor for super. It is naive to keep lobbying on an issue after that. If he did what Bernard said, he would be finished in politics.

The capital gains tax is a more fair criticism. While Key has not ruled it out entirely, I think it is unhelpful he has been so dismissive of the possibility, while the tax working group does its stuff.

A statesman never says never. All those point blank promises are actually starting to accumulate and it won't take long before Key is painted into a corner by them. And DPF is playing a bit selective with the truth about the age of entitlement:
[DPF: I agree I would rather the promise was not made. The 65 age was in fact only introduced in the 1990s]

The age of 65 was introduced by Savage's Labour in the 1938 Social Security Act. Sure, there was a means-tested pension from 60, but the bones have been there all along. It was the Nixon doppelganger Rob Muldoon who dropped the universal nest egg to 60. It took a Mother of All Budgets to fix that glitch.

Clark's Labour at least attempted to grapple with the long term problem of what to do with the boomers. Key sez it's all off the agenda until at least 2015. So much for the long term welfare of NZ and its citizens. It's something a day to day trader might say.

If the public decide to have the debate on how on earth we're going to pay for all these golden trinkets, that's up to us not him. Ignore it at your peril. From the wage-linked IV drip to health care to free public transport to rates rebates to trusty tax dodges and LAQCulas, there's just too much to sweep under the carpet.

Here's a heresy for you. Universal Super or the Vote; choose one. I think Cactus Kate first raised the idea but buggered if I can find the right post (Little help, CK?). While we're at it, once you turn 80, you can't drive. THEN you get the free public transport.

The 42 gatekeepers

Boing Boing has more on the phenomenally secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that promises a wide-ranging and draconian overhaul of copyright enforcement. It is so utterly secret, only 42 Washington DC insiders have read its contents and only then by signing a non-disclosure agreement with treason-strength punishment for breach of contract.

Forget the MED Section 92A conslutation on copyright law. It's the next round of copyright haggling in Seoul next month that really matters. Little wonder Finland is pre-empting all this and declared broadband a legal right. It's the only way to keep the cats away. HT /.

Down the LAV

Another worthless purchase by Clark's Labour has popped up. Defence Minister Wayne Mapp reckons some of the 105 Light Armoured Vehicles purchased by Labour might be modified for actual use. A defence analyst has called this idea throwing good money after bad.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Game on

Pardon me while I burn some herb to the goddess Fortuna for picking Keith Locke's New Zealand Head of State Bill from the ballot. The hard yard is now on to get the politicians to vote it to select committee.

Hearts and Minds

Maybe it's just my republican DNA playing silly buggers, but various coloured warning lights start flashing when a member of the British aristocracy starts meddling in domestic affairs.

Lord Ashcroft is familiar with the NZ public for offering a large sack of cash to finding the medals stolen from the Waiouru Army Museum. He has most recently been behind the introduction of Crime Stoppers, which has got the Kiwiblog groupies happy clapping. Indeed, David Farrar rejoices in the fact that 10,000 out of 1,000,000 is good odds. No harm in the other 990,000, eh.

More worrying was NatRad's Morning Report sting on Crime Busters, which is operated from Old Blighty. Kiwi slang aside, there are very worrying issues when NZ crime is being tampered by the UK surveillance state mentality. The UK might be keen to pulp the civil freedoms of Magna Carta, selling England by the pound, but here we have this thing about justice. This is New Zealand. We do things differently here.

For one thing, we don't convict on gossip. Hearsay is not reasonable cause. Secondly, as the RNZ chick demonstrated, the Brits look about as competent as 018 Manilla. Thirdly, by privatising part of the justice sector, you make large parts of the system outside the Official Information Act. Fuck that shit.

Paul Holmes and erectile dysfunction

I have finally found a use for celebrity gossip columnists. There is a very important question that has wide-ranging political ramifications, and only a ferret, a pork chop, or a David Hartnell can answer. The question is:

Has Paul Holmes ever used Viagra?

The reason I ask this can be found in Brian Rudman's column in today's Herald. If an entire nation of cold and flu sufferers will miss out on the best, most effective treatment for their discomfort, why the hell is an exception being made for overdosing Viagra users? What makes these overinflated pricks so special?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fifth Spring

I'm not much for anniversaries generally. However, five years ago goNZo Freakpower was born and it hasn't stopped yet. Which is saying something, because I haven't stuck at much of anything for five years; school, university, employers, the girlfriend experience. None of that. But between good friends and this fine blog, it's been good enough.

From small and uncertain beginnings, this beast has grown over 1000 posts long. If it were human, it would be old enough to attend primary school now.

But was has surprised me most about doing this thing, is what gets read. See that spike? That was Iran. That was heaps of anxious and curious people looking for a clue as to what was happening. Glad I could help. Heh. Ayatollah Khamenei; my part in his downfall.

While the various bloggers keep a track of the local blogosphere, the only one that really matters to me is this. I'm OK with this:

Aside from the thrills of accidental popularity, it has been a rare pleasure to craft letters into meaning. Thanks for reading and a special ta to all the fellow bloggers who prod me into thought when the gears get stuck.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Unleash the hounds of problem limitation

Recent foreshadowing by Transport Minister Steven Joyce and much pulpit thumping from the Law Commission suggests that drink driving is a big problem which hasn't been limited enough. Lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers has been bandied about, and the Law Commission is explicit in favouring this in its Alcohol in Our Lives consultation. Thing is, is there really a problem?

The Law Commission believes so, and has a couple of graphs to prove it. Both genders seem to be getting caught for drink-driving more often. The rate for women is rising quite sharply. QED, something must be done.

But wait a moment. Around 6000 chicks done for DIC, an all time high, is still less than a third of male convictions. All this seems to show is that female equality is trying to catch up with the male rate. As for the blokes, the rate is much lower than the pre-liberalisation days of 1989.

It's no big deal.

Why? Because drink-driving stats don't mean a thing. The only reason drink-driving is illegal is because it increases the likelihood of injury or death. It's the death and mayhem that's the essential problem, not how many breathalysers are processed. The stat that really means something is the road toll:

As far as road safety goes, NZ roads have never been safer. Considering that between 1998 and 2008, the NZ vehicle fleet rose from 1.8 million cars to 2.8 million cars, that's saying something.

If anything, it's fair enough to say that liquor reform and liberalisation had a positive effect on mature drinking habits, resulting in less carnage on the roads. It's not rude TV ads, lowering the alcohol limit or juking the media with high visibility checkpoints that changes people's habits. It's just leaving people to drink in peace and responsibility and letting time smooth the rough edges.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flash Tractors

While nosing through vehicle registration stats on other matters, I tripped over this chart of annual new tractor registrations. Ye gods, the farmers went nuts buying tractors during Labour's time in government. Tractors haven't been rolling out the door that quickly since... Muldoon's Supplementary Minimum Price days in the early 80's. What's up with that? It's not just a strong dollar, is it?

Chores for beer

Less than three weeks until the Law Commission's public deadline on temperance, and I haven't started writing my submission in defence of alcohol. As always new information comes to light all the time, which makes procrastination all the more viable.

Take, for example, a study showing that giving 15 and 16 year olds a booze allowance helps moderate their exposure to the grain or grape. From experience, I would suggest a limit of a dozen beers OR a bottle of wine OR a six pack of minibar spirit bottles per teen per week. And start them earlier, say 12 or 13. Moderate drinking can help ease the mood swings of adolescence.

Unfortunately, counterintuitive advice like this is hardly on the minds of the wowsers and Mormons. That old "give an inch and they'll take the bottle" thinking prevails.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Garage Sale at GM

Hong Kong investor Suolang Duoji has reportedly bought the Hummer brand off GM for $150 million. The average retail price of a Hummer SUV is around $40,000. GM's sale price is the equivalent of 3750 units. To give you some idea how piddly this is, in 2007 Hummer sold over 5,000 units.

GM were hoping for over $500 million for Hummer. If this overestimation of worth is commonplace throughout US boardrooms, there must be some very thin paper covering some very large cracks.

4:20 News

Click image for embiggeration
# The psychoactive spectrum of drugs is laid out with beautiful simplicity. Mostly harmless, cannabis sits peacefully in the eye of the storm. HT Transform.

# South America gets real - Get high for me, Argentina. Mexico has ended the stand-off with its citizens, decriminalising personal stashes of all drugs. Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso has called for an end to the futile war on drugs.

# Meanwhile in Portugal, the Economist concludes that the country's decriminalisation of drugs has created benefits with no harmful side effects.

# As part of New Scientist's feature on a Blueprint for a Better World, legalising drugs is number 2. Lads' Mag Esquire talks to former commander in Maryland's Bureau of Drug Enforcement, Neill Franklin. The former Baltimore drug cop also pops up over at Transform:

# What would cannabis on sale look like? Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish gets curious:

# In local news, Jose Barbosa looks at the Portugal experiment in Werewolf's Living Sensibly on Drugs. From the department of the obvious, Stuff notes that baby boomers are still getting high.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It just works

In my more ponderous moments, I wonder what would have happened if the scientists had beaten the missionaries to the Maori. Instead of learning the empowerment of the written word through the bible, what if The Complete Works of Shakespeare or Newton's Principia Mathemathica had been handed out freely instead?

Alas, we'll never know. But there are glimpses of the alternative:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
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Ron Paul Interview

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Brime Minister John Key today announced that the letter P was to be restricted to doctor broscriptions until further notice.
"For too long, we have seen the damage that P causes to our communities. It has ruined families, destroyed lives and caused sound engineers immense frustration over many years. It is time this stobbed."
John Key's announcement follows Brofessor Beter Gluckman's advice to the brime minister, which concluded that there are other letters which can berform similarly to the dangerous P.

In his rebort, Brof Gluckman notes that P is the tenth least used letter of the English albabet. In many cases, P abbears silently and can easily be substituted with the letters F or B. Teenagers, brime ministers and beoble with blocked noses have been broven esbecially adabtable to this bolicy, it concludes.

Scrabble enthusiasts are neutral on the removal of P. "As long as they are reblaced by the same number of Fs and Bs, which score the same as the deviant letter, we're not discombobulated," said NZ Scrabble chairman Archduke Ferdinand (no relation).

The restriction begins immediately. Boets, journalists and other writers may abbly for use of the letter, but will have to bay a fee for a limited subbly from their word doctor. It is still uncertain whether this broscription will be funded by government funding agency Farmac.

Run for the hills

I just received this in my inbox at 4pm. Better late than never:

AS AT 12.28PM:
As announced by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, there is a potential tsunami risk to New Zealand from two large earthquakes off the coast of Vanuatu this morning. The first quake occurred just after 11.00am (NZDT).
People in low-lying areas near the coast and around the harbour should stay tuned to radio stations and be prepared to immediately evacuate areas close to the sea if warned by authorities.
This advice will apply until further notice.
If told to evacuate they should, where possible, take a battery-operated radio and cellphone with them, along with items that are essential for them such as glasses, hearing aid and medicines.

AS AT 1.17PM:
A tsunami measuring 0.04 metres (4cm) has been recorded near Vanuatu.  The threat assessment for New Zealand however remains as indicated earlier, ie it is unlikely to be destructive for New Zealand. 
We advise people to be vigilant around Wellington coastal areas, but we are not asking people to leave at this time.

AS AT 2.54PM:
Tsunami emergency announcement Cancellation Notice now received. Emergency units are standing down.

And now for something completely different:

Something Must Be Done!

 "[W]hile not in itself reducing the volume of methamphetamine abuse, such a measure has the potential to significantly reduce the number of illicit production laboratories and that in itself has a social benefit."

from Prof Gluckman's advice to the Prime Minister on the restriction or elimination of pseudoephedrine.

More War on Drugs Spin FAIL at DPF's.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hide Bites Dog [owners]

Oh lordy. Rodney Hide, the leader of the freedom and responsibility party Act, has come out in favour of dog owner licencing:
Mr Hide says a review will look at dog laws and question whether local councils are best placed to administer them. Both the SPCA and the Kennel Club say they are better equipped to administer laws than local councils which each interpret laws differently.

Notice the ropes of drool from potential gatekeepers there? And are there any vertabrae in that alleged spine that Act campaigned on last year that haven't turned to jelly?

Mind you, as Bryce @liberation has been showing, they're all as bad as each other. It's not professionalism, Mr Farrar. Bryce said professionalisation. There's a difference.

Morepork Chaser: Johann Hari at The Independent sits down with Gore Vidal, the last smart man in the USA.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A clergy of experts

Back in 1880, an international panel of experts called the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Milan. The vast majority of delegates had no hearing impediment whatsoever, and in spite of objections from the UK and US delegates, passed eight resolutions which would have devastating effects on the Deaf.

The first resolution declared the "incontestable superiority of articulation over signs in restoring the deaf-mute to society and giving him a fuller knowledge of language, declares that the oral method should be preferred to that of signs in the education and instruction of deaf-mutes."

The other seven resolutions followed from this point. Oralism, or lipreading, would be the only teaching method approved for the instruction of the Deaf. Contrary to the expert opinion, the dogma of lip-reading further isolated and persecuted Deaf people. General education for the Deaf lagged while rote memorisation of lip-reading took precedent. It took 99 years until this error in judgement was corrected. In 1979, sign language was finally allowed to be taught in the curriculum again.

I have other reasons for my antipathy towards inexperienced experts, but the Milan conference is one of my favourites. It sums up my fear and loathing towards ennobled do-gooders in a way the pope preaching on sex doesn't. After all, you can leave the Catholic Church, but you can't leave social policy.

I say all this to preface this Science Media Centre release on the possibility of banning pseudoephedrine. While I have immense respect for the PM's new science advisor, Sciblogs and the Science Media Centre in general, my bullshit detector is flashing eight and a half turds on this topic.

There are two slices of audio covering the topic. The first speaker, Dr Chris Wilkins from SHORE, provides some reasonable analysis. He pointed out that meth used peaked in 2001, and has levelled out since then, with around 5 percent of the NZ population having used meth in the last year (2006 figures).

He goes on to note that the average starting age for trying meth is 21, much later than other drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. The average profile of a meth user is a 27 year old male, with a low academic and socio-economic background. Around two thirds of users have committed crimes to pay for their habit.

The economics behind this is simply tragic. As I pointed out at Red Alert some time ago:
And look at the cost structure of “P”. Codral, for example, costs three quarters of bugger [all] to make at the pharm level. It retails for about $12 at the chemists. Pharm shoppers are a rarity now as so much pours in from China (where we don’t have extradition treaties in place so that’ll never end). But what used to happen is that pack of Codral would be bought for $100 for the cook, who would make about one gram [of meth], which sold for $100 a point [0.1 gram].
Most of the crime associated with meth abuse is to pay the enormous margins which a black market product with high demand incurs.

Chris Wilkins draws attention to barriers that prevent meth users from accessing help with their habit. Negative police involvement is high on the list, as well as long waiting lists for treatment. This is unsurprising. The same problems exist in treating heroin users with methadone.

The next speaker is Dr Keith Bedford from the ESR talking about meth labs. I'm wary of any expert from the ESR, if for no other reason that they have been very fond of pushing their drug testing services to control freak parents, schools and workplaces in recent years.

However, I was quite surprised to hear Bedford admit that most of the pseudoephedrine and ephedrine used to make meth these days comes not from over-the-counter meds but directly imported from overseas. I was right all along.

Dr Peter Black clinical pharmacologist from Auckland University was next, who all but admitted that medications containing pseudoephedrine do help runny noses for cold sufferers, if not for hayfever. MacDoctor has provided more straight-forward advice on what works and what doesn't.

But my wrath is reserved for alleged expert Mike Sabin, the only speaker without a PhD on the podium. I'm glad I didn't have to sit through his Powerpoint slides. It was bad enough with headphones only. Former drug detective Mike Sabin is no Law Enforcement Against Prohibition supporter.

Thank Dagg some chick from the DomPost asked him outright whether he thinks pseudoephedrine should be banned in NZ. His demand reduction dogma barked madly. He admitted to a Radio Live guy that NZ has a mature meth market, and the worst is over. He admitted that there are different problems associated with that. Mike "Paradox" Sabin contradicted his straight old line.

But what REALLY annoys the bejesus out of me, is that there was no input from actual users of pseudoephedrine. Like the Hearing ordering the Deaf about, or the pope dictating the laws of sex, where were the consumer groups? No sniffling shift workers, no blocked-nose radio announcers, no old grannies sitting in cold misery. Where were the health treatment clinics such as CADS, who deal with the professional end users on a regular basis?

But I'll forgive the organisers. Stay tuned to the end of part two, where the DomPost chick leads a round of speculation on what John Key plans to do. The liklihood of becoming prescription only or an outright ban hung in the air like smoke.

Dr Chris Wilkins finishes with a much better idea than fiddling about with precursor prohibition. Get the ones who want help into treatment. Stop shorting the services that would really hit demand reduction effectively. Even Jim Anderton had to admit that truth with the Needle Exchange Clinics.

Stop punishing the majority and start taking care of the minorities. Stop treating health matters as criminal justice matters. Legalise drugs. It's cheaper on all fronts.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Something beginning with F

Back at boarding school, around 1982, we had an intemperate deputy headmaster known as JA (Not only because those were his initials, but Dallas was on the telly back then so the nickname seemed right). I was a regular in JA's office. I collected the full set of corporal punishment for the times; the whip, the Roman sandal, the slipper, the shoe. Everything but the jam spoon, which had been phased out by the time I arrived.

One moment that shines brightly is the time I got caught telling another kid to bugger off. JA had me in his office under potent cross-examination.

"What did you mean when you told X to bugger off?"
"I wanted him to go away."

JA handed me a dictionary and told me to look up bugger. The dictionary in question was something from halfway around the world, a Concise Oxford or a Collins. No Kiwi slang in this book. It primly described bugger as sodomy. JA had me read out the alleged meaning.

"But that's not what I meant," I defended. "It also means go away."
"Does it mention this definition in the dictionary?" JA's left eyebrow enquired.
"No, sir. But everyone knows what bugger off means."

Common usage be damned, I was duly punished.

But the one time JA really lost his rag was with a kid known as Beans. This intermediate kid had written a colourful love letter to a girl he fancied through a fellow student go-between. The girl, horrified by the lack of poetry, showed the letter to her parents, who then called the school. All hell broke loose.

The whole school was called into the chapel. Twice in one day in the chapel and not a Sunday, it was a bad omen. The usually rather pallid JA was a ripe beetroot colour behind the pulpit, steaming furiously as he watched us all file in and fill up the pews. Once we had all sat down, the doors were shut, lest the matrons hear what came forth.

JA read out the letter in full. "Dear Y, Beans wants to F-U-C-K you," JA began. The word fuck appeared quite often throughout the explicit epistle, and each time the offending word popped up, JA spelled it. It was as if it were somehow sacrilegious to say that four-lettered one syllable word in the chapel.

Now where did us kids get such earthy language? As Brian Edwards points out in his brief history of fuck, we didn't get it from the radio or TV. A brief flick through the history of censorship in NZ broadcasting over the period will put the truth to that point.

The truth did not come from radio. Everything that could be aired on radio had to be strained through the authoritarian muslin. It was pirate radio stations such as Radio Hauraki that had to break that monocone of transmission.

The truth did not come on TV until late in the day. UK TV programs referred to piss and shit as poos and wees. The US had their own form of infantile censorship. Married With Children had a problem with censors over a classic early episode A Period Piece. Al, Peg, Bud, Marcy and Steve go camping and all three women have their period. It leads Al to say:
Well, the cast of Bambi is out there now. And in here we have some of the seven dwarves. Puffy, Crabby and Horny. So, I'd say it's safe to say that this day is shot.

MwC still couldn't say "panties" on national TV. Strangely enough, wanker wasn't considered offensive in the US and featured in later seasons as the home county of Peg's family. That was as good as it got until the late 90s.

The truth did come from comedy LPs. Brian Edwards points to Ben Elton, Billy Connolly and Mike King (all very respectable talents in their days) as harbingers of offensive language. It is tricky to point the finger too narrowly. I found Kevin Bloody Wilson to be grossly hilarious. Same with Austen Tayshus. The most sophisticated swearing LP out there was Hywel Bennett's The English Language.

The truth sort of came from books. Emma Hart at Public Address has a nice backgrounder on that story. I'm amazed at how many gardening books are banned in NZ even now. But we're still a whole lot freer than those crazy Americans. From the age of 12, I've never had a problem getting hold of The Chocolate War, Tropic of Cancer or American Psycho here.

There was truth to be found in the video store. Eddie Murphy's Raw was loosely punctuated with some well-timed fucks. Monty Python's movies were also masters of selective swearing. Withnail & I set the gold standard for the perfect curse with:

"Monty, you terrible cunt!"

But by and large, we got our swearing from our peers, our elders. Swearing is the poor man's medicine after all. Lighten up or bugger off.

Do the bird

Jeez, our native birds are getting a reputation. Earlier in the year, kleptomaniac Keas mugged one tourist. Now a Kakapo rapes a cameraman in Stephen Fry's Last Chance to See:

Are all our native dinosaurs as deliquent as the Kea and Kakapo? Jeremy Wells has returned in Birdland, which only came to my attention through this TV review giving it a thumbs up. First episode features the amount of crap that comes out the back end of the noble Takahe. The Tui and other nectar drinkers are shown to be complete lushes for lolly water.

The parrots are taggers, thieves and rapists. The Takahe are phenomenal shit artists, and the sticky-beaks like to get pissed. Judging from the world famous in NZ dawn chorus, I'd say a lot of those neo-dinos are sun worshippers. Good luck bible-training those birds.

Ah, New Zealand. She's a stunning country.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Loose cannon diary

What a week. On Wednesday, I accuse the royal family of rooting the corgi over the handling of Sir Ed Hillary's funeral on live TV. Friday, I manage to laugh so loud at 7 Days that a mate's brain literally exploded with a migraine. Now he needs an MRI. For the public good, I might just sit Sunday out in bed.

Friday, October 02, 2009

28 days to go

Public submissions on the Law Commission's Alcohol in Our Lives discussion paper closes in 28 days. The public have until 5pm Friday 30th October to defend their access to alcohol. It is just sheer coincidence the deadline is the day before Halloween, the biggest pumpkin o'clock on the calendar. Defend your pint and have your say!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The TransTasman Plan

The eminently thoughtful TransTasman has released a White Paper on ways to transform the NZ economy and improve our standard of living. It is framed by six big ideas, which I'll blog about once I have smoke-read it.