Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Somebody Else's Body

There's law and order porn for Africa in today's MSM. An Upper Hutt man becomes the first offender getting a first strike after an unsolicited attempt at stealing second base. Not a few kay's away in Stokes Valley, a noise complaint ends up with a kitchen sink response complete with AOS squad.

NatRad was told by a police OIA request that 66 police officers have been charged for criminal offences between 2007 and 2009:

Among the charges were rape, excess breath alcohol and various dishonesty and violence offences. Two police were sacked and 20 either resigned or retired as a result of the charges. Of the 125 officers to face serious internal disciplinary proceedings during the same time-frame, one was dismissed and 68 either retired or resigned. The police says it is unable to say how many officers still received their retirement benefits. Police Headquarters says a number of cases are still before the courts.

Not exactly information that Police Mouth Greg O'Connor was shouting from the rooftops. How long before a cop gets a first strike? Quite long, I reckon. They might get sacked or get kicked off the force, but a wife-bashing cop or similar will almost certainly never get struck with this capricious nonsense.

I'm not holding my breath on any cops getting kicked out of home with the new domestic violence safety orders either. It's good idea in theory, and Women's Refuge has my qualified support for the idea. Heather Henare summed it up nicely on NatRad this morning.

Sure, you might kick the bloke out for five days, but where does he doss? Will it escalate a domestic argument into a crime of passion or the reverse? Laws are one thing, consequences another. We'll soon find out either way.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Police introducing random pedo searches

Specially trained paedophile detector dogs are being introduced by police.
The move comes after the National government pushed their Safety Through Fear Omnibus Bill last night under urgency. Police Association spokesperson Greg O'Connor was supportive of the new measure. "People with nothing to hide have nothing to fear," he said.

Police minister Judith Collins was unavailable for comment, but spokesperson Eva Brown said "The new taskforce will conduct random searches in churches, malls, schools and other places of suspected paedophilia in a bid to stamp out this tsunami of danger."

Civil liberties people aren't so sure. Human Rights campaigner Joy Spazz pointed to overseas countries, where the dog detection units have been abused. "Police have been known to plant dog biscuits on people they don't like. There's never any food traces left for evidence, and it's just the police dog's word against the suspect's. Who are the judges going to believe? These dogs are supposedly above reproach."

June Moon Croon

Aroo! The latest issue of Werewolf is out and it's a goodie, sez Nixon. Oil drilling in NZ's Gulf of Plenty; an interview with Labour's Sushi Sake Brigade member Grant Robertson; a look at Daffy Duck, the God of Frustration; TV ad volume and why it pisses me off more than most; a look at Sergio Leone's classic Once Upon a Time in the West & more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Modern Maladies

Science & Technology may have ended the terrible blights of smallpox, typhoid and tuberculosis. Then again, our grandparents didn't have mobile phone dermatitis, 3D TV strabismus or wet wipe anal rash.

Never stare at a muppeteer

Staring contest between man and muppet:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Labour of Love

Phil Goff joins his deputy Annette King in an exclusive club. If Labour ever want to get around to more rational drug laws, drop me a line sometime.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The third birth of Futurama

Wired looks at the rebirth of Futurama with co-creator David X Cohen. The new series began the other night in the US with a double episode on the Comedy Central Channel. Australia and New Zealand feature prominently at the end of the hour long premiere, at least according to a cuzzie who is sending me over a VHS of the new episodes. Apart from realistic geography, the new series also features a more risque humour that it picked up during its "movie" years.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Cougar of Canberra

Australian political scientists are petitioning for the introduction of new unit of time; the Rudd. It has an uncertain half life, but almost never lasts as long as you think it will. Outgoing Oz Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd has owned the shortest Australian PM league table in about 6 different categories by now.

David Farrar must be in blogger paradise right now. It would like being in Rome when Caesar got stabbed. Or as David Slack noted: Would you look at that. Eight boomerangs in him.

Meantime, I've been getting a crash course in who the fuck this Julia Gillard was. This helped immensely on the appearances front. A bit Bob Hawke, I reckon. Stuff covers her CV nicely.

Congratulations, Australia. Your main female role model politician is no longer Pauline Hanson. You might become civilised yet.

Thanks for the warning

A press release from the Wellington City Council today explains some of last night's rattle & hum:

The public of the greater Wellington area are advised that the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will be conducting a military exercise based in the Wellington region on the evenings of the 23, 24 and 27 June 2010. 

Iroquois helicopters from No. 3 Squadron RNZAF will be practising tactical low flying operations at night, utilising night vision equipment, between sunset and midnight.

On 27 June there will be extensive operations in the Central Business District during these hours.

No. 3 Squadron is required to conduct exercises in order to provide capable and timely response options in support of the New Zealand Government's needs.

Petraeus back to front

Rolling Stone seems to be getting its mojo back. Last year it scored Matt Taibbi's Vampire Squid. This time around it helps General Stanley McCrystal suicide bomb his own army career. Not only is the Afghanistan campaign now longer than the Vietnam quagmire. It is also officially messier.

General Petraeus takes over from McCrystal. Let's hope the COIN does not drop. There is still a belief in bits of the military that the US can bomb, obliterate and bribe their way out of AfPak. The grunts certainly think so. There may be no happy endings in all of this, but it would be nice to avoid the grand tragedies as well.

Cops and Nannies

Paul Easton at the DomPost has a closer look at last night's WCC vote on extending the liquor ban. Mayor Kerry Prendergast and the police ended up losing the argument.
Wellington police had backed [the ban] as being easier for the public to grasp. 
It nicely sums up the police's contempt of the citizens. Good on Ian McKinnon pointing out the draconian breath testing of rugby match observers in Christchurch as a new low point in civic trust. It is a great example demonstrating how keen the police are to intervene in the most mundane of community interests given half an opportunity.

For: Stephanie Cook, Jo Coughlan, Rob Goulden, John Morrison, Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Helene Ritchie.
Against: Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Ngaire Best, Andy Foster, Leonie Gill, Ian McKinnon, Iona Pannett, Bryan Pepperell, Celia Wade- Brown, Hayley Wain.

It's a very telling vote split, which will strongly influence my local body vote later in the year. It will also be interesting to see how many cops line up for the local councils as well, seeing how National has rammed through under urgency a new law permitting serving police officers to stand for election.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WCC sobers up

Champagne breakfasts in the Otari Wilton bush reserve and other bouts of romantic alcoholism are no longer under threat after the Wellington City Council voted against a city-wide alcohol ban. Prior to the meeting, the Council was divided 14 - 1 in favour of the prohibition, with only Green Councillor Iona Pannett against the motion. After a public backlash in an election year, the Council changed its mind and voted 11 - 4 against the motion.

I'd love to know who changed their minds. Big kudos go to Iona Pannett for providing the fulcrum to leverage the Council. I-O-NA! I-O-NA!

Of course, boozy reveries outside the confines of licensed premises in the CBD is still verboten. You still must be of a certain wealth to get pissed in the city.

UPDATE: NatRad reports that the vote included an extension to the CBD prohibition. It seems Newtown and Mount Cook has been included in the ban, just not a citywide thing. Khandallah, Kelburn and Karori can rest easy. It's just the South Wellington plebs who get the cosh.

I can smell the uranium on your seamen

3 News has tripped over the fact that NZ acts as a transit port for yellowcake uranium. I learned about it over a month ago from NatRad. Seeing as yellowcake has been passing through NZ ports for 20 to 30 years, it is not news for several National and Labour administrations either.

Predictably, Labour are jumping to all the wrong conclusions. Here's Phil Twyford:
"This is nuclear-free New Zealand," says Phil Twyford. "Why have we only just heard about this? I think New Zealanders are going to have real questions to ask."

It speaks volumes of the vacuum of institutional knowledge left in the Labour caucus. You'd expect with that many teacher know-it-alls in there, they'd have a little history under their collective belts. Or maybe a bit of chemistry. Yellowcake is about as WMD as sawdust.

Foreign Affairs was never David Lange's strong suit. He mucked up the USS Buchanan visit, but he really buggered it on the nuclear-free stance. And we're still paying for it. It should never been nuclear power as well as weapons. The left wing could have lived with that back then.

NZ is not nuclear-free. Matter of fact, radiation is encouraged in every home by the Fire Service. There's a little bit of rad in every bleeping smoke detector. Cancer patients would be really pissed off if they had to fly offshore to get their radiotherapy like a pre-1970s abortion seeker.

Auckland can't suck off the Southern Alps' tits for juice too much longer. Some way or other, it'll have to start building its own regional power supply, and I don't mean the old Huntly coal whore either. Frankly, I'm keen on one of these little buggers:

Pull it back to the centre, people.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Once in a lifetime

I haven't cared for football since it was known as soccer (1982), but this one's dedicated to the All Whites:

The Vagitarian

"It seems an unfortunate habit with Australians to speak through their teeth as if they came from the fly country, afraid to open their mouths for the fear of flies."
- Judge Sheridan of Sydney

Nicked from here

Chris Trotter digs out an unpublished obituary for Rod Donald.
Colin Espiner is a bit less subtle.
Steven Price points out free speech is not always pretty.
Dim Post has a glorious message regarding Murray McCully or, as he is known by one laundrette, Harmonious Grass Mud Horse Lotus Blossom.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This too shall pass

Greens co-leader Russel Norman almost became a red carpet for the visiting Vice President of China Xi Jinpeng the other day. The vice premier was arriving at the front door of the Beehive as part of a three day visit to NZ. Russel Norman, MP, held a solitary vigil at the front door of the buildings holding a Tibetan flag and chanting. A Chinese wall of security blocked, disrupted and assaulted the MP on parliamentary grounds as Xi Jinpeng went in.

Ripped from the TVNZ footage here. It seems that Norman used a common netball manoeuvre to outflank a foreign security guard before the umbrella was launched. That's a pretty flash umbrella, isn't it? I haven't seen umbrellas used as weapons since the Cold War.

Then there's this guy. This guy is muscle, a Han Solo. After ripping the flag out of Norman's hand, it was this guy rubbing the flag under his shoe. He then realises that the people to his right are an NZ police officer and a Diplomatic Protection Squad member trying to pull him off. He looks right down the camera barrel then swift tails it into the Beehive and sanctuary.

China's leadership lost a lot of face that day. Farrar's disgusted. Smellie's disgusted. I'm disgusted.

It's not surprising that the NZ police are not following up on Norman's assault complaint. This is a diplomatic incident after all and above the cops' pay grade. However, choosing to run with the "insufficient evidence" line in the PR was a bald lie and an unequivocal finger of contempt to the NZ public.

MFATs on both sides should have been better prepared than this. Rod Donald already did it, after all. It is clear that it was a veritable spookarama of security services from both countries outside parliament before the arrival. They knew the setup.

This isn't about Tibet. Yeah, Rod Donald did it better on the Tibet thing, but Russel Norman had as much right to do what he did without assault. MP Gareth Hughes could have dressed up as an iPad and protested about labour conditions on the forecourt for all it mattered.

When Donald did it, an easy out with face maintained on both sides was arranged and the dignitary used one of the many other paths into parliament. Hell, even a last second change to the vastly underground carpark beneath the buildings should have been an option.

The decision was made this time to use the front door and run the gauntlet. A momentary discomfort lasting seconds from car to the corridors of power. Yeah, Norman was noisy and sounded a bit dope. But just as people watching the football have to put up with vuvuzelas, politicians have to be exposed to some minor discomforts at times too.

Parliament grounds are the Speaker's turf and no Speaker has ever barred an MP from entering or leaving the building. The only one allowed to manhandle our MPs around here is the Speaker. This privilege is not extended to a foreign official's entourage.

The long gone Joe Walding was the NZ Trade Minister who introduced China to our country. A misunderstanding was smoothed over by Walding when China went shopping for embassy land in Wellington in the early 70s. An appropriate turf was found near the Botanical Gardens. However, it was split into two lots with a large privately owned hotel in between. Walding took great pains to explain why his government couldn't just evict the hotel owners, which is what the Chinese were pushing for.

This is New Zealand. We do things differently here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus freaks crucify tree

A spectacular tree lives 150 years but ends up getting whacked by Jesus.

The Hutt Valley has always filled me with great dread and claustrophobia. The uniformity and conformity of the housing with a sprinkling of discreet palatial private dwellings hidden within the flax. Queensgate Mall. The vast flood plain situation with the Rimutaka and Orongorongo Ranges as the source of various potential catastrophes. Stokes Valley is right up there with Cannon's Creek and Otara as one of the most depressing places to live.

Taita isn't much better. Tidier, yeah but it's still pretty grim. Little wonder then that a 150-year old monster of a Pohutukawa had a bit of a following.

It has since been demolished to make way for a fundamentalist church assembly hall. The Hosanna World Outreach Centre is importing its Big Box Church Franchise direct from the Southern US metropolis of religion. Taita locals reckon the new building will be about as beautiful as a gang headquarters. The church has refused to meet media and locals to discuss anything.

In Google-time the tree still stands:

View Larger Map

Have a look around the place. It was the only beauty for miles. We kiwis aren't that fond of statues. We prefer more organic monuments, and this tree was truly monumental. It's nothing like Auckland, where there are Pohutukawas for Africa and they are protected as if they were endangered. But it seems to can lop any big bastard off without a sniff of official protest in the slutty Hutt.

The tree did not add to GDP. The church development does. Ergo, the tree gets it. This tree survived Rogernomics but it couldn't survive Baptists. Yesterday's NatRad Panel went into it in painful detail. The Lower Hutt Mayor fronted on today's show, sounding very much like the bypass project manager at the start of Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. I half expected mention of filing cabinets in disused lavatories with signs saying Beware of the Leopard.

But it's not just the failure of the mayor. The whole sad matter should weigh on the minds of the ward councillors in both the Lower Hutt and Wellington Regional Councils. It seems all the paperwork to objections was available but no-one had the nerve to start the paper chain and take responsibility.

We let Chinese security rough up our MPs on our own sacred grounds. Landmarks are lopped down for McJesus shops. Fucken' NZ, eh. We sell you soul, love you long time!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Perky Nana

Belated congratulations to Cactus Kate for winning the inaugural Air New Zealand Bloggers Award. Well deserved. I am proud of the grey hairs that she gave me when she was just a wee contributing writer to the old Prebble's Rebels newsletter back in the 90s, and I was the litigation-averse editor. Even back then the Mallard-baiting was there. Her defamatory byline from back then is seared into memory; "Mallard is a duck that needs to be shot down." A baker's dozen years later, the Mallard & Cactus pot stews on with flavour and vigour.

Can't fault runner up Dim Post either. Danyl has earned a pop on the podium for unrelenting wit, something that still eludes the criteria for a Queen's Birthday gong. You'll never get a CBE for shitstirring and short of a paid writing gig this is as good as it gets.

I'll take the judges' word for it on Whale Oil as runner-up as well. I don't read Whale Oil for the same the reason I don't read The Standard. Sure, I'll link them in the sidebar, but the signal to noise ratio is just too much for me.

Or maybe it's the symmetry that bothers me. I have met Cameron once, whilst considering joining the Blogmobile before the last election. That instant recognition of Child of Politics Syndrome. That mercurial will to make a difference mixed in with Oedipus and Dagg knows what else. Suffice to say that I quickly relised we could not share a confined space for the lengths of time required. Each to their own but bugger that. Besides, I had no-one to look after the cat.

And thank you to the judges of the Blog Awards for the constructive criticism for my entry in the awards. It's more than I get from my CVs or job interviews. Damnit, I knew I should have entered The Alcocop Paradox instead of the Dick Cheney thing, but oh well. But I must single out Tim Selwyn's comment:
A decent mix of liberalism, or a liberal mix of decency - perhaps both. The humour has its moments, but ironically the style in these posts - in this day and age and in this medium - are not really that Gonzo at all.
Allow me to retort.

Firstly, it's goNZo not Gonzo. Secondly, does it count if it written on the spur of the moment? Does it count if every single goddamn post ever written has been under the influence of illegal substances? Shit, maybe I've been too inarticulate, not grasping the Zeitgeist or something.

OK, here's a bone, and it fits into the MP perk feeding frenzy going on over the last Labour Government. Forget that this is historical navel gazing is at a time of belt tightening looking back at an era of boom times and artificial growth during the mid-Noughties.

Have a read of the history of Trev and how he got kicked off the Palmerston North City Council over a poaching bust with US pop star PJ Proby. Have a look at Google Street View at the place I spent my first four years of life and how the gate lanterns look identical to the Palmy Lagoon lighting that was also bought with city funds in that era:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Arts & Letters Randomly

# The Strategist gives a great pep talk to this jaded blogger.

# When Jesuses collide. What happens when you introduce three people who think they're Jesus? Not a lot, apparently. HT Arts & Letters Daily.

# I've only read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential once, because I lent it to a chef who never returned it (The Howard Marks Book of Dope Stories went the same way). Suffice to say that the hospitality lifestyle infuses many cultural traits wherever in the world it might exist. Outlaws, artists and addicts. It goes with the territory.

Bourdain is doing the rounds plugging his latest book, Medium Raw. The Guardian has an excerpt, where Bourdain explains his disdain for industrial food, his unusual shared sympathies with vegans and Jamie Oliver, and the ongoing psychological battle between McDonalds and him over his daughter's soul food. Kim Hill had a good chat with him last weekend, where he goes on to explain his rationale. Namely, ammonia is not a valid food ingredient in the preparation of beef.

The Globe and Mail has a favourable review too. HT A&L again. Like an ex-smoker or a former lifestyle junkie can relate to, Bourdain remains wistful for the kitchen addiction. Don't we all (Oh no we don't).

# Hadyn Green wonders whether the Noughties left us with any memorable movie quotes, and not just boom, crash, kapow. A quick flick through a fairly good list of the top movies of the decade to refresh the memory, and it seems Haydn might have a point. It's no so much quotes as much as moments which drive things. Figurative explosions of narrative like Memento or the implosive meditations of No Country for Old Men.

# Vultures facing extinction as their innards are used to predict football scores.

# Roger Ebert points to some handy advice for the Labour Party from Saul Alinsky.

# Charlie Brooker writes on how his old stunt of playing up the Dick van Dyke Cockney or Hugh Grant toff when he travelled to the US has changed because of BP. Here's Clarke and Dawe on the oil spill. HT onegoodmove.

# Speaking of Yanks, Real Time with Bill Maher has been running a vote for the Stupidest State in the US. The winner?

# Meanwhile in Oz, Roy Morgan Research sez hard liquor sales rose after the introduction of an RTD tax. Way to go, harm minimisation people! In other alcohol news, check out the latest moral panic to freak out the USA vanilla people: Teens pouring vodka into eye sockets!!!

# The New Zealand Medical Association has announced it now supports medicinal marijuana. This is a historically very conservative organisation, so this is a big win.

# A fascinating photo essay of British gang life; The Firm:

# Sim City Porn; 20 years in Shanghai is a long time. Same place, different time, 1990 and 2010:

# continues tracking rural lending stories, with the real estate pimps  blaming the banks over the slump in farm lending and not, for example, the massive block of Crafar cow carve up that might flood the market if and when someone ends up buying it. The government might be pondering whether the Crafar golden cow is a strategic asset.

# Meantime in Auckland, the NZPA/NBR wonders whether there's such a thing as a strategic brewery. If selling Crafar is a headache, the $1 billion 5.2 hectare Lion Nathan Khyber Pass land will be like shitting a pineapple:

AMP Capital Investors plans to build apartments, offices, shops and a high-rise retirement village in what is believed to be the biggest property development in New Zealand. The site is about 10 minutes from Auckland's central business district, next to the Auckland Domain, and in the Auckland Grammar school zone.
But development plans are delayed and Cameron Brewer, chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association, is "increasingly concerned that this huge site could be abandoned for years."
# I have a theory that some people made a great deal of money in property and new home buyers are paying for that great swindle still. Here's Olly Newland with the numbers:

My parents bought their first home in the late 1930s for $800.
I bought my first investment property in 1959 for $600 and sold it 6 months later for $1,200.
I bought my first house in Astley Ave New Lynn in early 1960 for $6,000 and sold it 12 months later for $8,000.
All through the 1960's I was buying and selling Auckland houses for around $8,000 - $10,000.
In the 1970s I was doing the same for around $18,000 - $20,000
In the 1980s these same houses had reached $150,000 and in the 1990s $250,000.
These days you have to pay $350,000 for something half decent in the main centres (unless you buy in the slums or the wop-wops) and if that figure wobbles 5% or 10% either way -- so what?
# It's moments like this you can understand why Muslims avoid Act of God irony by forbidding images of their holy ones:

# Futurama soon. Devo included.

The Fantastic Mr Carter

Riffing off Hillary Clinton; in the event of a global holocaust, the only things I'd expect to crawl out of the wreckage apart from cockroaches would be Helen Clark and Chris Carter.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Death of a mailbox

Mum was a bit distraught when I told her that her letter hadn't reached me in time for my 40th birthday. It bounced back to her a week later as Returned to Sender. She sent the letter again, using my postcode this time. At my request, she included the original envelope. It arrived promptly this time.

The original envelope was in Mum's familiar writing, old school style. Any human could read have it as Wellington. Unfortunately, the machines that exclusively sort mail these days have an eye for numbers not calligraphy. Copper-plated is outdated. If only she had spent a dollar more, she could have been assured that a courier would do the same trick in the first place, a more human component at a premium. Error correction.

Truth be told, I can never remember what my postcode is anyway. 60 something. 12? 30? The UK and US have had postcodes and zipcodes embedded for generations. But New Zealand has never adapted to the whole postcode thing. At all.

The last really Herculean attempt at doing so was a few of years ago. NZ Post invested significant capital into some FLMS (Fucking Large Mail Sorting) drums and a huge consumer information campaign of postcode awareness, in an attempt to maintain service and efficiency during the last gasping breaths at the extinction of the mailbox.

Since then, NZ Post has some serious competition with DX Mail for the bulk business mail, which makes up the cream of the last profitable empire of letter delivery. Postcodes are embedded in business billing systems. NZ Post code or DX Mail code, same difference to them. The red line is in the foreseeable future for NZ Post. Change up or change down, change all the same. You heard as much from NZ Post chairman Jim Bolger on Nine to Noon today.

On a personal level, I wouldn't notice whether the mail delivery agent delivered daily or weekly, up the steps at the mailbox or at a community mail hub. Apart from Mum, the only other mail is the IRD. That mail sits unopened in the Shrodinger's Shoebox. It's an experiment I'm running to see whether the cost of paperwork IRD sends me might exceed the debt they're chasing. I'm predicting an equilibrium in two years, but buggered if I'm opening an envelope to see if I'm right.

So let's blow the bugle for the quaint and humble mailbox. The last thirty years have not been kind to it. First the milk delivery went, then the newspapers. Your last useful function is as dead as former postie poet James K Baxter. Amen, Penny Black.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Short days with long hours

I was first introduced to Professor Philip Zimbardo at Vic Uni's PSYC101. He fronted many of the video lectures. Once you got past the Mandrake the Magician sound and vision appearances, the research was fascinating. Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment was as much of a landmark as the much more well known experiments by Professor Stanley Milgram.

Andrew Sullivan has posted up a Zimbardo lecture on the nature of time, with the best lecture note taking I have ever seen:

The nature of time changes the further one gets from the equator. Coincidentally, drinking and drug uses also increases the further one gets from the equator:
Nicked from here
So here's to Matariki and mass medication to get us through this season of mists. Only three weeks til winter solstice.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Land of OJ

Yes, NZ might be a slow news day sort of place. But I'm also quite glad that we don't have this kind of weirdness:

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Slow news day links

# From the Environmental Desk, there's the ongoing bleeding sore of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Big Picture has some bloody depressing shots of over-lubricated flora and saturated fauna. Latest news is that the head of BP is passing the clean-up over to the US government, partly to stem the Brit-bashing. Strangely enough, no-one has had a bad word to say for ages about the other culprit in all of this; Halliburton.

# Boing Boing points to a leaked BP document showing that the company knew exactly what kind of fallout a leak would have. The part that really creeped me out was:
Corexit oil dispersant toxicity has not been tested on ecosystems, according to the Oil Spill Response Plan. "Ecotoxilogical effects: No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product."
# Meanwhile in Guatemala, there's a bloody great sinkhole which has appeared. It's a fairly good chance that neglected stormwater pipes assisted the subterranean implosion.

# With these man-made disasters in mind, it's worthwhile revisiting Cracked's 6 Natural Disasters That Were Caused By Human Stupidity. Top of the list is the tale of Centralia, Pennsylvania. A rubbish burnoff that started in May 1962 is still burning to this day. Most of the town was paid to move away, a bit like Springfield in The 200th Simpsons episode Trash of the Titans. Wikipedia goes on to mention that the government has revoked the town's postcode, and that the fire is expected to burn out 250 years from now.

# Moving on from stupidity to cupidity, Q&A producer Tim Watkin calls out John Key as a wimp on the Great Grey Gorilla of boomer superannuation. There's a lively thread, with Public Address' Graeme Edgeler highlighting how loose NZ's super policy is compared to its introduction. Point Two, the requirement that recipients must have lived continuously in the country for 25 years beforehand contrasts sharply with today's policy, where one doesn't even have to reside in the country to collect it. I think it's a 10 year minimum residency requirement now.

# Which still won't help Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien get permanent residency here, and fair go too. He hasn't lived in NZ for 46 years. No disrespect, but you're way too late mate. NZ isn't the Catholic Church. We don't accept recantations of kiwiness on the near-death bed.

# In domestic drug news, there's the latest on the Switched on Gardener raids, with talk of asset freezes and counter-litigation:
The company director said he understood why the Government had introduced the civil forfeiture law, and had no problem with his house being frozen.

"You can't have people accused of major crimes selling their assets off. But I'm not guilty of any crimes and I don't intend to sell my home."

However, he said, he had instructed his lawyers to apply to get the $189,000 back.

"We are going to fight that. The bank had instructed me to use that money to prop up the business.
"If I can't get that money and we go bust, then we win the court case, we'll be going after the Crown for our lost earnings."
# The government is rejoicing in the 101 convictions under the new drug driving laws. This is in spite of yet more research (controlled, double-blind, placebo, the works) demonstrating that smoking marijuana doesn't affect driving performance.

# But stupid driving laws are very much in fashion. Mobile phones bans, tight control of speeding offences, blah blah blah. David Farrar calls it naked revenue gathering. Lindsay Mitchell agrees, with a personal impact statement thrown in for good measure.

# And finally, a bit of light-hearted Geopolitik from The Economist. HT Inquiring Mind:

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rugby kills carnival

The Cuba St Carnival will not be happening next year. Wellington City Council cites there is no money in the kitty:
Spending on the Rugby World Cup was not affecting the council's decision, she said. The council has so far put aside $350,000 for a sculpture for the tournament, as well as $100,000 for a cup village.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Oh you are awful

I'm glad I have no TV, so I missed TVNZ's Cheers to 50 Years of television broadcasting. Just as well, judging from reviews in the NZ Herald and NatRad. A much more reverential and deep look at NZ's broadcasting history can be found at NZ on Screen. The team there has also secured another full episode of 1977's The Governor this week. This episode looks at the rise of the first Maori King, Potatau Te Whero Whero:

The Governor - He Iwi Ko Tahi Tatou (Episode Four)

Christchurch causes depression says latest research

The latest findings from a Christchurch research group have concluded that living in Christchurch causes depression. "Once the long term data has been statistically corrected for socio-economic and other factors, there is a very strong link," said Professor Fergus Davidson of the Christchurch Latitudinal Survey.

The report notes that people, even without any family history of mental illness, were at a significant risk of depression within only 12 months of moving to the city. Professor Davidson says that the surprising result merits further investigation.

"What causes this insanity? Is it the North Wester, the isolated and largely homogeneous surroundings? The mayoral candidates in this year's local body elections? These are important matters," said Davidson.

Acting Head of Tourism Christchurch, Arnold Placebo, dismissed the claims. "Christchurch is a rich and vibrant city. Invercargill is much more depressing than Christchurch."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Bam Bam

The same word popped up in both statements from Benjamin "Bam Bam" Netanyahu and Barrack "Bam Bam" Obama in response to the ISF massacre of the international flotilla in international waters; regrettable. A growing contingent of disparate voices have been throwing around more specific accusations on the matter. Kathryn Ryan's excellent Nine to Noon slot on NatRad covered the issues known at the time very well. Wikipedia has a thorough summary.

One legal opinion reckons the actions of the Israel Defense Force, backed by the political executive power of Netanyahu, has commited an act of war not piracy. Over at Kiwiblog, I said piracy. Approximately right but exactly wrong, eh. Either way it's serious. The Turkish Navy is intending to escort the next inevitable aid flotilla to Gaza.

This is what we in the Beltway call a "serious diplomatic incident". Flicking through my history files, there are a few faint parallels in the collective unconscious. The humanitarian aspect has echoes of the 1973 Mururoa Peace flotilla that Norm Kirk backed with a clutch of NZ Navy vessels and an Ozzie tanker. No, that anaolgy collapses pretty quickly. There was the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 49, which resulted in an end to the Soviet blockade. But not quite. Maybe if the Soviets started shooting at the US airborne flotilla, it would have more in common.

Whatever the point of the military exercise was, this is a gargantuan fuck-up by the political and military leadership of Israel. Things have been tense between Israel and Turkey ever since Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The dawn raid by the IDF; the murders of persons as yet unknown, the subsequent jailing of everyone in the flotilla (except the Irish, who were running late) and the communications jamming by Israel does not bode well for international relations for a very long time.

The capricious, fickle and illegal blockade of Gaza is a more wretched version of the ghettoes endured by Israel's not far dead relatives under Hitler. The US Jewish lobby circuit is finding it harder to recruit. Pro-Israel David Farrar is an NZ example of this change in generational thought. Israel can no longer get away with playing the Hitler card.

Just for once, I think the world has got sick of Israel getting away with murder. This is the 21st century. Godwin's Law will not save them this time.

Optional tangents:

There were quite a few Swedes aboard the flotilla. Will Bam Bam Obama be asked to return his Peace Prize?

Where were Israel's five Dolphin class submarines during the incident?

RSS hell

When you follow as many blogs as I do, it is difficult to tell when one of them drops off the feed. For example,'s new website also introduced a new feed and dropped the old Rates Blog feed without telling anyone. It took me a week to realise I was missing Bernard Hickey's Top 10 at 10.

But the really annoying one is the demise of Matt Taibbi's TrueSlant blog when he moved exclusively to Rolling Stone. At least some warning was given, but for the life of me I can't find the new RSS feed to enter into Google Reader. Every time I click on the orange RSS logo on the page or the blue logo in the address bar, I get redirected to Rolling Stone's front page. Pasting a subscription link directly into Google Reader results in an error message.

So much for concept of Really Simple Script.