Monday, December 31, 2012

When the Cav's Away

While John Key is awarding an equestrian coke fiend New Zealand's highest honour, the summer team at NatRad are much more down to earth. Signs of free will from Friday's Matinee Idle:

12.35pm - 1pm

Title: I Smoke Two Joints
Artist: Richard Cheese

Title: I Got Stoned and I Missed It
Artist: Dr. Hook

Title: Johnny Got a Boom Boom
Artist: Emelda May

Title: Guitar Pill
Artist: Henry Phillips

Title: Gin House
Artist: Amen Corner

1pm - 2pm

Title: Here Comes the Nice
Artist: The Small Faces

Title: Chug-A-Lug
Artist: Roger Miller

Title: An American Trilogy
Artist: Mickey Newbury

Title: Jilted John
Artist: Jilted John

Title: Who Needs the Peace Corps?
Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Title: Bring Back the Trains
Artist: Jimmy LaFave

Title: I'm Straight
Artist: Jonathan Richman

Title: Alabamy Bound
Artist: Jonathan and Darlene Edwards

Title: Who Needs the Peace Corps?
Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Title: Bring Back the Trains
Artist: Jimmy LaFave

Title: I'm Straight
Artist: jonathan Richman

Title: Tell Me Tomorrow
Artist: Sierra Hull

Title: Cigareetes, Whusky and Wild Wild Women
Artist: Red Ingles and The Natural Seven

Title: Oh Well
Artist: Fleetwood Mac

Title: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
Artist: Colin Blunstone and Dave Stewart

2pm - 3pm

Title: Love is the Drug
Artist: Kylie Minogue

Title: The Old Dope Peddlar
Artist: Tom Lehrer

Title: Poontang
Artist: The Treniers

Title: Nowhere Man
Artist: Natalie Merchant

Title: Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs
Artist: Austin Lounge Lizards

Title: Asprin
Artist: Seka Aleksic

Title: Surf City
Artist: Dunny Lida

Title: Legend of A Mind
Artist: The Moody Blues

Title: Cocaine Habit
Artist: Old Crow Medician Show

Title: The Complete Banker
Artist: The Divine Comedy

Title: Sam Stone
Artist: Swamp Dogg

3pm - 4pm

Title: Who Put the Benzadrine in Mrs Murphy's Ovaltine?
Artist: Harry the Hipster Gibson

Title: Papa Oom Mow Mow
Artist: The Rivingtons

Title: Pretty Vacant
Artist: Flores

Title: You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Artist: Seasick Steve

Title: The Hobo and the Rose
Artist: Webb Pierce

4pm - 5pm

Title: Angelina
Artist: Neil Innes

Title:  Let It Be Me
Artist: George Harrison

Title: When I Get Low I Get High
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald

Title: I'll Get Along
Artist: Michael Kiwanuka

Title: I Can't Think Straight
Artist: Gilbert O'Sullivan and Peggy Lee

Title: Lithium
Artist: Polyphonic Spree

Title: Nothing Rhymed
Artist: Burton Cummings

Title: So Long Cruel World
Artist: Blanche

Title: My Girl Lollipop
Artist: Bad Manners

Title: Georgia on My Mind
Artist: Ian Moss

Infinite Monkeys on Typewriters

I'm flattered to share a similar monkey brain with David Mitchell, who channels my Balls to 2013 post with a trifecta of SPCs (Statistically Possible Cliches) in his latest Guardian column.

Forecasting 2013, check. Emperor's New Clothes analogy, check. Use of the word "comeuppance" (a term that no-one under 40 years old ever uses. Do they use the Oxford English Dictionary at Cambridge University?), check.

My brain has been in worse circumstances of serendipity. I had occasion to hassle John Ansell about his Iwi/Kiwi schtick for the Nats in 2005. I had used an "Iwi of Kiwi" reference on Kiwiblog some months prior, arguing for a citizens' assembly. The Iwi/Kiwi launch inverted the spirit of this sentiment into a divisive parsing of race relations.

Ansell assured me that he had not been influenced by my blog comment, and that superpositions and coincidences such as this happen all the time. You don't need Jungian collective unconsciousness in a random and meaningless universe.

Still, it's a kick kindling a light of meaning, even if it's an illusion.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Balls to 2013

After the political omnishambles of 2012, a wiser man would say it's all bets off for 2013. Uncertainty prevails. But where's the fun in that? Here's my predictions for 2013.

Safe bets

The Eurozone will continue its bullet train collision at Matrix bullet-time camera speed. The Germans will continue to stick with it, as the thought of a rapidly appreciating Deutchemark completely wrecking their manufacturing sector sinks in.

The situation in the Middle East will remain desperate, as usual (HT Tom Robbins).

The US and international finance circuit will continue to avoid any serious comeuppance.

David Farrar will continue to neglect updating his blogroll, which is stuffed to the gills with extinct blogs and dead links. It seems that no housekeeping has happened there since 2008. You know what geeks say about untidy directory structures; messy filing, messy mind.

David Farrar will also continue to be a false ping on gaydars, partly because of his lisp and NZ's narrow cultural stereotypes. e.g. Everyone different from the norm is gay.

There will be yet another budget blowout. Bill English will continue to hide new taxes by the Fees, Fines, SOE Sums method.

Even odds

Cameron Slater will succeed in weaning NZ Truth off adult ads for revenue by convincing Truth's owners to buy out Rod & Rifle magazine. The newly merged publication will be called Rod & Rifle & Truth, and will rely on cash from church ads, survivalist personal listings and Investigate magazine tie-ins.

Members of Crown Law and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will join the GCSB, Police and SIS in the witness stand in the Kim Dotcom saga.

Not only will the emperor be shown to be wearing no clothes, the entire royal court will suffer wardrobe malfunctions.

The Financial Markets Authority will investigate another suspected Ponzi scheme involving metric fucktonnes of NZ dollars.

There will be at least one faith school of dubious character funded under the Charter Schools program when the winners are announced.

Same odds as winning Lotto

The NZ Labour Party gets its shit together.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Great Samoan Dream

A Raumati Xmas

The Great Samoan Dream, on some elemental level, is much like the Great Korean Dream, the Great Indian Dream, the Great Abbo Dreamtime (and so on). Peace without war. Harmony without authority. Security without guns or fear. And beach cricket.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Solstice Break

Although the Balls to 2013 post might pop up before then, or not. It's so hot, I'd rather be contemplating Raumati Beach as a large vodka tonic and pretend I'm a slice of lime by jumping in it to cool off. Here's the unofficial soundtrack for summer solstice 2012:

Friday, December 14, 2012

LOKI Awards 2012

Foreign Policy is at it like everyone else, writing up their end-of-year lists now the news has dried up and everyone is frankly sick of politics for the year, let alone the first dirty dozen years of the 21st century.

Their list of Top 100 Thinkers for 2012 bears a squizz, although there's more than a couple of choke points. Paul Ryan at Number Eight, for example. Even old man Biden could beat the tar out of that pseudo-intellectual. But there's some heft in there too. F'rinstance, I've got some respect for ex-Mossad shit-stirrer Meir Dagan.

On the International Circuit, my six of the best thinkers of 2012 are (in no particular order):

danah boyd. On FP's list, and well deserved. Translates the Zeitgeist into consequences and implications for digital natives, adopters and ignorami alike. Big ups to Russell Brown and the Great Blend for getting her to Wellington for a yak all those years ago.

Tyler Cowen. Reliable sources have told me that the Chicago School of Economics is a bunch of mad bastards, and always has been. If the Chicago School of Big Data is anything to go by, those mad bastards might be onto something.

Nassim Taleb - Long may his black swans Mandelbrot.

Nouriel Roubini - The realists' pessimist. My kinda guy.

George Soros - I'd rather have this bastard behind or next to me in the trenches than a Koch or even a Buffett.

Elizabeth Warren - The n00b senator promises to be sand in the vaseline of the Old Boys' Club in Washington.

But what does this insular land care of offshore wonks? Here's my League Of Kiwi Intellectuals for 2012 (again, in no particular order):

The Smartest Guy in Government Award goes to Peter Gluckman. Nice Spock, shame about the Kirk.

The Guerrillas in Our Ship Award goes to the Fabians, Scoop and Public Address for getting Bernard Hickey, Rod Oram, Selwyn Pellett and Rick Boven into Poneke harbour for a gig. I'd upload the vids, but the data cap would screw me.

Top Feminist (Or Whatever Her Preferred Taxonomy Is, I'm Not Going to Split Infinities) Award goes to Emma Hart; for shit-stirring above and beyond the strict borders of feminism and into the cultural landmines of bisexuality.

The Unintentionally Weaponised Greenie Truthsayer Award goes to Mike Joy, for upsetting the Hobbit with a months-old interview for the International Herald Tribune released on a delayed fuse.

The Best Current Affairs Show goes to Campbell Live for advocacy journalism at its finest, beating 7 Days by one length (the third placegetter, Close Up, died on the track. Good riddance).

The Top Political Guru Award goes to Colin James. Rolls dice on a megawar as much as I do. Respect. And fear.

The Cleaning Up After Keystone Cops Award goes to Judge Helen Winkelmann, the last best chance for a fair go. Because you won't get one from the range of government tools shown to be sub-standard in the last year.

Politician of the Year - Kim Dotcom.

Interviewer of the Year - Rachel Smalley on The Nation.

4:20 News; Too Big to Jail edition

Matt Taibbi puts together a screaming indictment on the US "coke-and-hookers for Wall St good, shakedowns for everybody else" morality of the War on Drugs. A wafer thin taste of fear and loathing:

On the other hand, if you are an important person, and you work for a big international bank, you won't be prosecuted even if you launder nine billion dollars. Even if you actively collude with the people at the very top of the international narcotics trade, your punishment will be far smaller than that of the person at the very bottom of the world drug pyramid.

Back here in NZ, I can't think of a single bank or financial institution that has ever been prosecuted for laundering black market money. Yet according to the Law Commission's Controlling & Regulating Drugs Report, the domestic cannabis market alone is worth an estimated $116.2 million a year (2001 figures. Yep, the latest stat is 11 years old).

Yet the police seems more concerned with entrapping garden centres and trying to take the home off disabled political activists. That is, when they're not shaking spare change out of home growers and dope fiends under the new Proceeds of Crime Act (written by Labour, stamped by the Nats).

Taibbi states articulately what I was groping for back here, comparing the persecution of harmless dope fiends to the religious inquisitions of yore. The War on Drugs is a class war, and unless lawmakers change the rules of this bent game, they make themselves complicit in this corruption of justice.

Vive la 2013.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


What a dangerously strange forelock-tugging blighted world we live in. A nurse is dead after failing to save the honour of the unborn alleged future head of state of New Zealand from a couple of shock jock Aussie yahoos. You wouldn't get these messed up circumstances if you had a secular head of state, and not some pompous anachronism that gives its citizens the heebie-jeebies if they fail to live up to the myth.

An appropriate lullaby for the Royal Jelly:

Friday, December 07, 2012


It's good to see that Ngati Toa has come to a settlement with the Crown, with a full & final agreement including a $70 million package and acknowledging the rights to Rauparaha's Ka Mate haka.

The tribe has, like every other tribe, had a long history of getting screwed over by greedy white men. In their particular case, this meant pretty much everyone from the New Zealand Company (1839 version) through to the confiscation and non-return of land during wartime that would become Noel Robinson's Pram airport (and licence to print money).

The signing comes after the landmark Tuhoe settlement, a crowning achievement in itself by Treaty Settlements Minister Chris Finlayson. What a difference a competent minister makes, as David Farrar's OIA on Treaty settlements shows.

To a point, anyway. Yes, Margaret Wilson was mediocre, Mark Burton was useless. Cullen picked up the slack a lot, but too late. However, process goes a long way too. Way back at the Treaty Lectures in 2006, Geoff Palmer and Judge Joe Williams pointed out half the hassle comes with the protocols of dealing with each iwi and hapu. In typical Kiwi vernacular, these obstacles were overcome first by "Template", followed by its newer version, "Amended Template". I wrote it up here, before revisiting the subject a year later here.

I tell ya, if you want to get a grip on Rauparaha, have a read of Edward Jerningham Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand. It also helpfully lists what Wellington was sold for (pg 34):
The goods paid for the Wellington lands were -
100 red blankets     120 muskets     2 tierces of tobacco
48 iron pots     2 cases soap     15 fowling pieces
21 kegs gunpowder    1 case ball cartridges 1 keg lead slabs
100 cartouche boxes      100 tomahawks      40 pipe tomahawks
1 case pipes      2 dozen spades      10 dozen pairs scissors
1 dozen pairs shoes     1 dozen umbrellas      1 dozen hats
1 dozen razors     6 dozen hoes  1 dozen shaving boxes and brushes
1 dozen sticks sealing wax   50 steel axes      1,200 fish hooks
12 bullet moulds     12 dozen shirts   20 jackets
20 pairs trousers     60 red nightcaps   300 yards cotton duck
200 yards calico      100 yards check      2 dozen handkerchiefs
2 dozen slates    200 pencils     10 dozen looking glasses
10 dozen pocket knives     2 pounds beads      100 yards ribbon
1 gross Jews harps     10 dozen dressing combs
2 suits superfine clothes      1 dozen adzes

By the values of those days, these goods represented about 400 pounds.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

4:20 News - Law & Gardens Edition

After two months of court time, the jury has reached their verdicts in the Switched on Gardener trial. Two long months of intermittent court news stories and tongue biting is over, and the results of Operation Lime are finally in:
The owner and the general manager of the Switched On Gardener chain of hydroponic stores have been found guilty of supplying equipment for cultivating cannabis but have been acquitted of being part of an organised criminal group. Their senior staff, who were also charged, were found not guilty of all charges.
It looks like SOG got Dotcommed on"supplying equipment for cultivating cannabis". If SOG is a one-stop shop for cannabis growing, then so is the Warehouse, Mitre 10, Bunnings and Palmers Garden Centre. Dress fertiliser up as Budzilla and you're a criminal. Dress it in Yates or Monsanto clothing, you're legit. Yeah right.
I'm keeping an eye out for any court paperwork for this long trial that turns up online. The judge's summing up would be keenly read, that's for sure. Anyone wants to anono-dump me related files in discretion can message me on FB or email me at zippy3gonzales1@gmail4.com2 (Email munged. Subtract the four pieces of pi).

My trilogy of SOG posts got a lot of look-ins along the way. And if any appeal is lodged, I've got a few more ideas for the Defence to play with. I call the main one the Hudson & Halls Defence. Law wonks call it Grundnorm. No judge trumps Lord Cook of Thorndon. He's a good joker.

The SOG verdict comes almost ten years to the day since the cops first woke this sleeping dog:

The cops neglected to mention the rosemary, basil and saffron that was also growing under the lights in my south-facing mortgaged isocube. Those innocent herbs and valued spice died the night they took my lights.

Still angry. Still fighting. But not immune to the deep and bitter irony of denial that runs through this self-flagellating nation and its idea of justice and a fair go. Here's a Switched on Gardener ad as old as some of today's drinkers (circa 1994):

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Muppet Pi

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

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

Therefore, there are muppets everywhere in human nature.

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

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

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

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

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

10:36, Press Return.

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Night Brain Teaser for Bloggers and Other Junkies

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

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

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

Putting the NZ in Ponzi

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Which one of you cunts called this cunt a cunt?

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

A novel approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those screwy Yanks

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

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

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

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

Apropos to nothing

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

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

Thursday, November 08, 2012

King Hit

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

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

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


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

Here's my reply:

Friday, November 02, 2012

Drug Court Trials

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

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

Zombie Zoo

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

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

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

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Truthiness and Consequences

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

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

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bad Cops

There was a time when policing was seen as a good job for a young Vogon. All those beefheads from the First XV's who failed the chop at the All Black trials had to find a more realistic career, and for most that brawn-to-brain ratio left them two main choices; the armed forces and the police.

A few years with the army could let a young Vogon travel the world on the public coin. The Singapore Rotation especially was sorely missed by the grunts when it was taken off their options. Since then, Waiouru cabin fever has set in. Unimog crashes, Linton light-ups, cowboy Iroquois flight paths, massive traffic jams to Ohakea air shows. You wouldn't want these people evacuating a public area during a natural disaster or anything. I don't think they'd be up to the logistical challenge.

Becoming a Police was the other option. You didn't need School Cert, and the training course was shorter than most hairdressing certificates. Once initiated into the ranks, you had protection. You were part of a brotherhood like no rugby team ever. Perjury, assault and battery; unless you were particularly careless, all these tools were at your disposal and the only people to judge you would be your brothers. Not the courts, and certainly not the public.

It was only a matter of time for this corruption and hubris to get out of control. And you can thank Helen Clark's Labour government for providing the catalyst. In 2007, the Serious Fraud Office was on death row and due to be replaced by a new Organised Crime Unit. These Supercops would be given unprecedented powers.

It has taken only five years for OFCANZ (as it it now called) to hang itself with its own rope. The police force, as we know it, has been shown to no longer be fit for purpose.

Falsifying documents, contempt of court, fraud, false oaths, deceiving the courts, lying by omission. Planting evidence.

The police are stuck in a power loop. Time for a complete reboot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Labour of Love

Here's an old treat from HalfDone; a selection of NZ bloggers graphed according to their scores on the Political Compass. You can take the test here, and current ungraphed bloggers can have their scores posted by emailling scrubone (see link). You can see the high density on the far right, while the Left Libertarian fields around my yard are more diffused.

It was not reassuring to discover that the closest Labour party stalwarts to my co-ordinates are Helen Clark and Iain Lees-Galloway. Not unless there's an indoors smoking section, anyway.

Whatever your compass point, have a hippy Labour Day. Before Goldenhorse, there was Frente!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


NZ's largest tax-exempt breakfast maker Sanitarium is picking fights with small business parallel importers. Not content with blocking UK Marmite hitting the local shelves, as Paul Little explains, these Seventh Day Adventists are also having a go at stockists of Weetabix.

What would Jesus do with Intellectual Property? I dunno, but these tax-dodging Jesus Freaks have been added to my boycott list.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Binders of Authority

While the Romneyshambles' latest gaffe gives birth to a new internet meme, there's a few other binders of interest going around.

Binders of Boy Scouts showing a Catholic Church-like burying of historical sexual abuse in the US Scouting movement, colluded by police and other pillars of the community.

Binders of Police; the Attorney-General's office has released an update on how the police are adapting to Margaret Bazley's recommendations brought on by the Louise Nichols scandal. The short answer is very slowly. Police mouth Greg O'Connor sez the police culture cannot change without a lot more money. In the underworld, this is known as a protection racket.

Ah well, at least they haven't tased a blind man after mistaking his walking cane for a samurai sword. Yet. However, the family of the innocent courier driver shot dead by the AOS on the Auckland motorway have been granted access to legal aid to sue the police. So there's some justice, at least.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paula Bennett's Big Backdoor Kiosks

Usually when this government faces large font headlines, Paula Bennett is wheeled out with some outrageous new welfare policy to distract the media pack. The scale of embarrassment that John Key is facing over the Kim Dotcom headshot was too large to surmount with this usual tactic. After Keith Ng's moderately large but elegantly moderated MSD data dump last night, Paula Bennett will be lucky to keep her job.

A security hole that makes the ACC debacle look puny in comparison will do that. Hell, it makes the police INCIS computer scandal under the Nineties Nats look like a blip. I expect there's a small IT boom going on in Wellington right now as holes of various sizes are patched. Paula Bennett is having a crash course in jargon such as firewalls, partitions and privacy.

She owns this mess just as John Key owns his Dotcom vom (seriously, how come the only black spots for the security cams in the shiny new Defence Citadel are the rooms John Key walks into?). The new kiosks were introduced under her watch. They were introduced to cut staff levels, in order for National to reach their hell-for-leather 2015 surplus.

An advocacy group even warned the MSD formally and informally, after their photo op launch for the kiosks a year ago. One of my Facebook circle witnessed the event. The MSD were told and nothing was done. It sounds like the CERA re-build might be another multi-billion dollar government budget with its nuts waving in the wind with the same system. Bang goes any trust in inter-governmental data sharing.

There's a lot of outrage out there. The very vulnerable children that Paula Bennett has said she wanted to protect have had their most intimate details available to anyone who can wave a mouse down at the local WINZ office. Not to mention the read, write, execute access that left a possibility of fraudulent use that would make a Nigerian scammer blush.

The one day that there's a government scandal, and for once Paula Bennett is silent. Unless Key has set the bar lower than worm's limbo competition, there's a fair chance that Bennett is not long for the cabinet table.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Didn't Read the File

Nats Win, New Gummint, smile and wave, Jobs Summit
Bike Track, 4 Day Week, Gluckman made Chief Science Geek

Silent runs, GFC, lax deposit guarantees
Garrett, Rodney, Supercity, Melissa "Lost Highway" Lee

Barbies, beer with Prince Will, Tax cuts from English Bill
Hiking GST and motorcycle rego fees

Suspending democracy in ECan's Otautahi
Irrigation, irritation, dairy saturation please!

We didn't read the file
We'd rather be on Breakfast
Or a Radio Live talkfest
We didn't read the file
There's no time to read it
In the middle of a photo op

Richard Worth, Pansy Wong, Paul Quinn not missed once gone
Simon Power, 'nother story, Bankers grabbed that useful Tory

De-fanged regs in Bolger's time, now Leaky Homes, Pike River Mine
The details are too gory, now we tell another story

Look over there, it's a Hobbit! Actors' union told to shove it
Paul Henry, Dikshit, sounds like us, what a hit

Public Service cutbacks, Bill's Zero Budget
Allan Hubbard, empty cupboard, Christchurch shuddered, now we're buggered!

We didn't read the file
We'd rather be on Breakfast
Or a Radio Live talkfest
We didn't read the file
There's no time to read it
In the middle of a photo op

Rugbyhead World Cup, three way hand-shake stuff up
Tea with Banks turns to custard, Police called, MSM busted

MV Rena grounded, Colin's mental party founded
Act turgid, Greens surged, Labour still cannot be trusted

TV debate, "Show Me the Money", Phil Goff the headlight bunny
Joyce spin, narrow win, Peters dances on a pin

Winston First is back, slipping in his new List pack
It didn't look like he was trying, wasn't his niche set on dyin'?

We didn't read the file
We'd rather be on Breakfast
Or a Radio Live talkfest
We didn't read the file
There's no time to read it
In the middle of a photo op

Judith Collins, John Judge, Nick Smith, ACC fudge
Sky City, Conference sites, pokie machine rights

National Standards, ropey data, League Tables, Hekia Parata
Charter schools, unlicenced tools, long tails, Aussie Rules

Paula Bennett beyond caring, leopard skin diversions flaring
Chasing crumbs and solo Mums, no-one touches the Super bums

Kim Dotcom Armed Raid, GCSB brain fade
TPP, Fair Trade, Hollywood Kool Aid

We didn't read the file
We'd rather be on Breakfast
Or a Radio Live talkfest
We didn't read the file
There's no time to read it
In the middle of a photo op

The photo ops go on and on and on...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

New Greenbacks

Green Party Finance Spokesperson Russel Norman today unveiled the party's new monetary policy. The Greens want to pay for the earthquake rebuild with a new currency that can only be used in the Canterbury region.

The Otautahitan Bob, or Bob for short, will be printed in quantities yet to be determined by the Green Party Economic Wiccan Circle. Norman insists that the new currency will not be inflationary, yet will help exporters become more competitive somehow.

NZIER economist Shamubeel Eaqub has dubbed the prior Green Party policy not so much voodoo economics as Zombie Mugabe Economics. Economists have yet to stop laughing at news of this latest Green policy long enough to comment.

MoBIE's Pick

Minister of Sci-Fi Steven Joyce and Government Spock Peter Gluckman have announced a series of  public contests in the form of National Science Challenges:
The Government has defined the National Science Challenges as an issue or opportunity that:
Is large, complex and important to New Zealand’s future
Has widespread agreement as to its national importance, and
Can potentially be solved or addressed by a scientific approach. 
Here's a few publicly available ideas I've presented earlier, to start off the brainstorming.

1) A Cook Strait Bridge; links the main islands with reliable infrastructure. No more ferries and the South Island power supply can run above the waves too.

2) A White Island power station using liquid hot magma to power Auckland.

3) Or, failing that solution to Auckland's energy crisis, a thorium reactor in Remuera.

UPDATE: Here's a new idea:
4) A series of canals and Archimedes screws between drought risk regions (too many to name) and New Plymouth in the north and West Coast in the south. Both are endless suppliers of fresh rainwater.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Smiley's People

It has been a week since the Smiling Assassin John Key admitted publicly to GCSB illegality, and the shit supernova is still spreading.

Excrement has been layered thickly not only on John Key and his chamberlain Bill English -who blithely signed the suppression notice- but also over so many usually discreet branches of government. Not only did it fly under the radar of some poor bastard in the GCSB, who is likely to end up the scapegoat one way or another; the order got the royal wave by the Queen's Hand of Crown Law and passed through the In Tray of the DPMC, before getting the ministerial John Hancock.

Throw in the suspicion that the police sent the GCSB request knowing full well that it was illegal, hoping the SIGINT wonks would trust the paperwork was in order and unwittingly cut the corner for the cops anyway. I found police mouth Greg O'Connor's comments during the Tuhoe Raids Arms trial illustrative of police ethics. His stance was that if an action is not explicitly illegal, then it is permissable. It is cavalier attitudes like this that permit cops to think they can fly close to the sun and not get burned.

And that's not the half of it. There might also be some top spin from MFAT in the mix, getting some cold revenge on McCully's Folly. Or there might be some shared back-end issues between the GCSB and the SIS, now that they're sharing office space in the shiny new Citadel of Defence and all. Then there's the matter of timings, who knew what and when, that were beyond Neazor's carpal tunnel horizon. So many unanswered questions, conspiracy theories and wild suppositions can run rife.

Hopes aren't high for more light than heat on the matter. There's so many foxes in charge of the henhouse reviews, it makes the related party lending in the finance company collapses look positively non-nepotistic in comparison. Putting even the bravest face on all of this, no-one is walking away smelling of roses. On the contrary, there's more than a hint of Rotorua in the air.

Monday, September 24, 2012

In the Cage

Welcome to my world, Kim Dotcom. Your spooks have only been tracing you for months. Other spooks have been chasing me and mine since Nixon was pissing around in the White House.

Dig This

It was a fine day for the Friends of Wharemauku Stream to plant 1300 native plants along Drain 6. Not so long ago, Drain 6 looked like this:

Over winter, with a little help from Kapiti District Council, the drain was landscaped. Today was the day to lay the plants that will help leach all the farmer and other human toxins out of the drain as it meets Wharemauku Stream and then on to the sea at Raumati Beach.

Paraparaumu Mayor and Ruth Richardson look-alike Jenny Rowan opened the Big Dig, explaining that the town was investing in the things that will enhance the future city. Although she didn't call them Maori footpaths or desire lines, she did recognise this particular public commons as cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. She mentioned the nearby Aquatic Centre being built. Personally, I'm looking forward to a proper town centre. At the moment Pram's hub is the private carparks of Coastlands Mall or Kapiti Lights. There's no room for civic freedoms there.

Political animals may recognise Transpower's Patrick Strange. Transpower had funded the purchase of the plants, as well as providing some human capital for the day's labour.

Friends of Wharemauku Stream organiser Lyall Perris talks to the kids from Raumati South School. The Young Ones had volunteered their time as well and the 'dults, avoiding National Standards for one day and doing something useful instead. Some of them helped in the last planting five years ago, which is now well-established and some of it can be seen on the right of the photo.

Fortunately, someone had splashed some cash on a hole borer. And lunch. And even little bamboo cloches to protect the tender plants from the wind and Pook predation.

Nice one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Economic Indicators

I've spent the weekend working on a new quantitative framework to more accurately describe the economic forecasts for the next ten to twenty years. Here's the spectrum I've worked out so far, from best case scenario on down the line:

Shit Creek
Clusterfuck (ranging in size from UAV to B52)
Shit Supernova
The Big Enchilada

National has resorted to desperate measures to keep what remains of their economic credibility intact and keep the official unemployment rate under seven percent. It has worked so far, but they're running out of ways to juke the stats:

The immediate forecast is Terrible, with occasional patches of Shit Creek.

Carmageddon Police

It's difficult to treat the NZ Herald's new blab that they are dedicated to investigative journalism seriously when they produce fact-free stories based on a cop pulling numbers out of his arse:
"Between 250 and 300 people are still dying annually on the roads but if we had lowered the drink-drive limit when we could have, there might have been 30 or so of those people still alive every year," said Kelly.
A cop wanting harsher laws for the public? Quelle surprise. Sadly, the police's own research shows Supt. Kelly hasn't a baton to lean on. In my travails wading through the Police's ESR report on drunk and other drug driving which I vommed up here, I tripped over this graph (page 17). It demonstrates that NZ's breath alcohol limit of 80 mg is the right call:

If the cops really want to lower the road toll, a more effective method might be to overhaul police pursuit procedures. This carnage is becoming so prevalent, the Otago Daily Times and the National Library have sections of their sites dedicated to monitoring it.

The police response to these avoidable deaths? They want immunity from prosecution for any collateral damage they cause:
New Zealand Police Association president Greg O’Connor says that police need to be exempt from some laws, and that safety will be compromised if criminals know police won’t pursue them, Newstalk ZB reports.

"In car chases and in fact in many things that police do where they're required to do things that other members of the public will never be required to do, they do need protection," he says.
There's your problem. Police think they're above the law.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rhythm of the Saints

The Suzanne Aubert Memorial at Paki Paki, NORML NZ AGM 2004

I am not a religious person, but it's good to see Suzanne "Meri" Aubert heading for sainthood with the Vatican. New Zealand's first cannabis grower is getting recognition from the most conservative religious sect this side of Mecca. Yet if she were around today, the cops would have arrested her and she'd be facing prison for supply of drugs.

About the only other good thing to come out of NZ Catholicism apart from Meri is Wellington's Batucada. I'd like to see them cover this song the day this obvious yet neglected child of medicine is legalised once more:

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Godwin's Law doesn't work in Russia. Hitler's horrors pale in comparison to the sheer bloody awfulness of 20th Century Russia. Some 60 million Russians died from war, starvation, state murder and exile. It's difficult to put an exact number on the slaughter. Unlike the Nazis, Russia has never been keen on holding onto the paperwork.

John Armstrong has a look at the APEC venue with a nod to local deprivations in today's Herald. Foreign Policy digs deeper into the APEC Potemkin village. The article details the decline of the Vladivostok hinterlands, which sounds like a New Zealand of the North:
Since 1992, the population of Russia's easternmost region, Primorye, has shrunk by 352,000 people to less than two million. Many of the departed are disillusioned youth who flee to Moscow, St. Petersburg or abroad after graduating high school. A recent poll showed 40 percent of the region's people are looking to pack their luggage and leave.
You can almost smell the Auckland:
It's not as if there's a shortage of problems to throw money at in Vladivostok. The city's population of 592,000 suffers crippling traffic jams, there's no public transportation after 9 p.m, there's a shortage of affordable housing -- even the local kindergartens require bribes before your child can enroll.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Hunt for Labour's Next Brains Trust

Friday, September 07, 2012

Last chance to choose your reptile

In slightly more than five hours, the door will shut on the public's chance to evolve MMP. After that, the final recommendations will be handed to the House of Lizards to determine its fate.

I got mine done early. The Edge has just published his. Have your say today before the lizards get their claws on it.

And now, here's some Douglas Adams:

"On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

     “Odd,” said Arthur, “I though you said it was a democracy.”

     “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”

     “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

     “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

     “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

     “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

     “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

     “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”


     “I said,” said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, “have you got any gin?”

     “I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.”

     Ford shrugged again.

     “Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,” he said. “They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Wrong Tohunga

There are times I get that Farnsworth feeling. Here we are, 105 years since the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907, which crushed all indigenous herbalists (and a fair share of quacks as well) in favour of the British Medical Journal quack union. This white men in white coats monopoly would later go on to prescribe thalidomide to pregnant women and be celebrated in Gordon McLaughlin's The Passionless People:
The Medical Association of New Zealand has not just beaten the system - it has set up a separate, superior one, for itself. It is the finest example of a closed shop, self-regulating, self-perpetuating pressure group yet seen in this community where the climate is designed for them to flourish.

Perhaps my wariness of doctors comes from a childhood around the time these words were written, where the common diagnosis for my various ailments was "Laziness." I do not share the old NZ worship of people just because they are doctors.

MANZ has evolved into the NZ Medical Association, and in the intervening years between the first print of The Passionless People and its re-visitation last year, sweet fuck all has changed. Here's the union's caveated-all-to-hell support for the medicinal uses of cannabis:

This parochial closed circle really should read more recent research. And more history too. Their myopia is hurting people. Only today, GreenCross founder Billy McKee was found guilty on all counts of supplying cannabis to an undercover officer feigning migraines.

This genuine medicine is illegal still, and the men in blue are backed up by the men in white coats. Yet imported quackery and New Age snake oil merchants abound, as Brian Rudman reports today. No-one goes to prison for exposing someone's brain, unless they use cannabis.

L'enfer, c'est les autres.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Every Which Way But Moose II

Fellow Republican supporters actor/director Clint Eastwood and Dr Banjo have signed on to a star in a sequel to the 1978 classic Every Which Way But Loose after their successful gig at the US Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida this week.

The duo's "Aha! You have proved my point!" routine was received to thunderous applause from the convention floor. "I haven't been this entertained since the Atlas Shrugged movie came out," said a youthful convention volunteer wearing a suit of teabags, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Dr Banjo, renowned professor from the Creature-ist University of Kentucky, got on so well with the legendary Hollywood star on stage, he has agreed to perform his acting debut in the third Every Which Way But Loose movie, which is going under the working title of Every Which Way But Seuss.

The original actor who played the role of Eastwood's love interest Lynn Halsey-Taylor, Sondra Locke, has said that she is categorically retired from the franchise. Sarah Palin has been rumoured to be considering the role.

Illiterate Christians

Having just spent the morning rearranging the library (the Russians had got mixed up with the Dickens, Swift and H.G. Wells after a tremor caused a bookslide), I was about to catch up on the headlines with coffee and cigarettes. Then some rude illiterate Christians completely pissed me off.

These godbothering do-gooding fuckwits purposely walked past the No Missionaries sign on the gate. If you're in the Pram district and get visited by these rude, privacy ignoring zealots, feel free to give them some more verbal buckshot on my behalf.

Fucking Christians.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Same Sex Marriage and the age of alcohol

Just when you start to lose hope in Representative Democracy and write the lot of them off as a bunch of out-of-touch buzzword-infested den of compromised sluts, along comes a couple of old-fashioned conscience bills to clear the air. For once, you actually hear what MPs think on things, beyond the fortessed paddocks of usual party politics. Not bad, considering neither bill would have impacted on me in the slightest way.

The first reading vote for Same Sex Marriage was a curious beast indeed. Reluctant plaudits must be given to John Banks. He might have had more strings attached to him than a Thunderbirds puppet, but he did better in the liberal stakes than the appalling Act munsters who were the only party to vote against the NZSL Bill in the last parliament. I witnessed that news broadcast at Wellington's Deaf Club, and the hands flew blue in disgust.

As others have also noted, I tip my hat at the eloquent and reasonable explanation National MP Paul Hutchison gave in support of the bill. I hope in future to draw on that holistic pragmatism on other matters. Labour MP David Clark, who previously seemed to come from the same Steve Maharey batch of clones as Ian Lees-Galloway, demonstrated that faith and reason are not mutually exclusive concepts, even if the God delusion spins your dial.

I've only skipped through a few of the speeches on the Alcohol Reform vote on the purchase age for alcohol so far. Once I see the tally of who voted where, I might might check out more of the whys. But I'm happy that at least NZers can be treated as adults at 18 years old, across the board. All we have to do now is train them for it as best we can.

The speech that has stuck out the most so far has been Grant Robertson's, where he acknowledged under Parliamentary privilege his underage escapades when the purchase age was 20.

Robertson's honesty resonated for me. As someone who has been drinking alcohol for as long as I can remember (the first one I do remember was when I was given a beer on Xmas Day when I was five and ran away to home. Story for another day, but they supposedly had the cops out looking for me and everything).

The purchase age for alcohol was 20 almost up until I was 20. Even so, I was a casual drinker at the age of nine, a regular drinker at 15, and a regular nightclubber at 17. All of this occurred when the age limit was 20.

A few less nonsensical unenforceable laws would be good, a few more rational and realistic approaches would be better. Being honest is a start.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paula Bennett announces Purity Test for Unemployed

Welfare Minister Paula Bennett today announced that beneficiaries will have to undergo a Purity Test from July next year. Clients who fail the test will face loss of welfare payments, compulsory re-education or a range of other sanctions.

The Mazengarb Test, as it will be called, is a type of morality index that was first developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. The Mazengarb Test is a New Zealand adaptation compiled with the assistance of focus groups, church leaders, police, Whanganui city councillors and other leading voices of the community.

"Instead of taking a piecemeal approach to state interference in peoples' lives - limiting welfare to the DPB based on child bearing, drug testing and so forth - National Mazengarb Testing will revolutionise how the government tells people how to live," said Paula Bennett at a press conference announced at short notice this afternoon. "Loose morals will no longer be tolerated like they were when I was a young Mum," she said.

Bennett took only a few questions after she read out the statement. She refused to give any more details on the Mazengarb scheme, and denied the accusation that this announcement had anything to do with the latest inequality rankings or Children's Commissioner's report into child poverty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What Otautahi's CBD needs is a Tesla Coil

Congratulations on The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman securing the future of Nikolai Tesla's lab for posterity. Encouraged by some lawyer monkey backlash that saw him swimming in money on his blog, Inman took the same philanthropic vector to save Tesla's legacy. Here's an interview with the man behind The Oatmeal in New Scientist.

I've always wanted a Tesla Coil on Wellington's waterfront during summer, but with all this interest in rebuilding after the Otautahi earthquakes, I've got a better idea. Instead of building another church on the rubble of the last one, how about something a bit more secular, awe-inspiring and versatile? How about... a large Tesla Coil or two?

Just look at its uses:
Good for Yanks en route to Antarctica:


Otautahi's infamous boy-racers:

Or pretty much anything, as this 2001: A Space Odyssey / Ghostbusters / Jean-Michel Jarre etc. medley shows:


I'm pretty sure it can do Exponents songs too.

The only Tesla Coil I know of in NZ sits on Alan Gibbs' private estate. If Tiwai Point goes tits up, the Mainland will be sitting on a heap of cheap electricity which cannot get up north through the Cook Strait cables, even after the latest upgrade.

Tesla Coils for the Otautahi CBD makes more economic sense than a covered stadium, whatever way you look at it. Less collateral damage too, as Russell Brown recently observed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Drugged Driving Nerd; Beyond the Press Release

Good on the NZ Herald's Nicholas Jones copying and pasting a PR and picking up the phone a couple of times, but the ESR report on drugged driving in NZ he glosses over is far more interesting than the sound bites imply.

So why trust me on the subject? Well, apart from having some experience in drug driving from all sorts of angles, I helped put together NORML New Zealand's select committee submission on drugged driving some years ago. Short story, we cautiously favoured a 10ng/mL limit, while acknowledging the wildly subjective nature of doing so. You can view it here. I have also read P.J. O'Rourke's classic How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Having Your Wing Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.

The Herald's headline is wrong. The study did not find the most crash drivers had taken drugs. 546 of the 1046 drivers (52 percent) whose blood was analysed were found to be unimpaired by drugs or alcohol.

All sorts of other true yet sensational headlines were possible for the NZ Herald, given the contents of the report (it's here, not that the Herald wants to disclose its publicly available sources or anything); "Females appear more likely to drive on sedatives, as opposed to alcohol or cannabis" would be one. "Maori over-represented in alcohol and cannabis driver deaths" might be another. "Straight people five times more likely to kill than cannabis only drivers" is getting warmer, but "Everyone's on drugs in Auckland, yet few people die on the roads there" would probably be the angle I'd go with.

The study in question polled two groups. The main group of 1046 dead drivers, a census of NZ road deaths spanning a five year period between 1st July 2004 and 30th September 2009, was by far the most interesting. In pleb-speak, the ESR could go all CSI on these dead drivers' blood samples.

The basic PR is mainly true:
Of the 1,046 deceased drivers tested for the presence of both alcohol and drugs:
  • 546 (52%) of drivers were not impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
  • 500 (48%) of drivers tested positive for the presence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Of these 500 drivers who tested positive:
  • 135 (27%) recorded the presence of alcohol only;
  • 96 (19%) recorded the presence of cannabis only;
  • 142 (28%) recorded the presence of both alcohol and cannabis (but no other drug), and;
  • 127 (25%) recorded a combination of drugs, including the combination of alcohol and/or cannabis.
Of the 127 deceased drivers who recorded a combination of drugs (other than alcohol or cannabis):
  • 23% recorded the presence of opioids (such as codeine or morphine);
  • 31% recorded the presence of sedatives (such as diazepam), and;
  • 42% recorded the presence of stimulants (such as methamphetamine).
But the detail is so much more fun. Let's see now... 42 percent of 127 is 53.3. Over those five years, ten people a year died with stims in their blood. That's far less of a bad stat than drownings or suicide, for sure.

No, when you're talking about drugged driving, they're talking about cannabis. If they were thinking of alcohol, they'd say drink driving. And that universal problem solvent of alcohol is still most of the problem. Even Auckland MASH wonk Dr Tim Parke couldn't ignore that pink elephant in the waiting room on Nine to Noon today.

The report has this to say about driving under the influence of cannabis (page 18):
There is not a strong correlation between THC blood levels and impairment.

The report goes on to note that single vehicles accidents are more common in alcohol and alcohol with cannabis deaths (tree, power pole), however cannabis only deaths occurred more frequently in multiple vehicle crashes (trucks, and lots of motorbikes hitting cars).

The report looks at odds ratios, drilling right down to how the 18 (of 96, out of 1046) non-culpable cannabis only drivers and how they died. The comfortably numb motorcyclist (18ng/mL) getting killed by a car who failed to give way was sobering enough, but this poor bastard wins the Milan Kundera Award for this ending:
Car hit another then crossed centre line into path of van driven by deceased
Dodge that one, possum.

I do not support Farrar or AA's call for random drug driving testing. Alcohol is still by far the biggest problem. What I would really appreciate is a mature an honest approach to driving and to drugs. To coin Hunter S. Thompson, you can turn your back on a person, back never turn your back on a drug, especially when that drug is steering a ute home from the pub.

And if that doesn't sway you, consider this. The twisted nature of the polydrug damage this report sought to consider, can easily be replicated within the alcohol only group alone. Anyone who has ever mixed their grains and grapes will agree.

Thanks for reading. You've earned a bit of Suzanne Vega:

Monday, August 20, 2012

ANZACs and Afghans

Five dead in a month. A new bloody record. Russell Brown's Media3 has a timely report from NZ's only reporter in Afghanistan, Jon "Eyes Wide Shut" Stephenson. In the extended interview, Stephenson reports that the situation is deteriorating, even in Bamiyan Province. The only sane way to travel in and out of Kabul is by air, as the roads in all directions are too dangerous.

John Key appears to have offended the Hungarian ambassador to Kabul, who called Key's comments on the Hungarian PRT forces malicious and that he didn't seem well-briefed on the matter. Stephenson gives the example that the Hungarian PRT didn't have the job description of Search and Destroy agents, bounty hunters, or whatever elite vigilante protagonists John Key imagined them to be. Not a good look for the Minister responsible for the SIS.

The Economist reports that the Afghan locals have given up all hope of the coalition forces or state police protecting them, and are forming militias. By the sounds of Stephenson, these militias aren't afraid to take on the enemy, be they Taleban or Kiwi. Unless the NZ PRT hunkers down at their base and waits for withdrawal, there will be more dead soldiers.

The only (bittersweet) hope is that China's need for a land route through Afghanistan and Pakistan, linking China through Tibet, provides the infrastructure, security, trust, stability and jobs for the Afghans that the US occupation never did. China's development work in Africa is much more widely respected and encouraged there than anything the former European colonists or the US ever did for them.

The worst case scenarios don't bear thinking about. Only one thing is certain. There is nothing more NZ can do there.


Associate Minister for Education and instigator of charter partnership schools John Banks admits on Christian radio that he believes that the Bible is gospel. In other news, a creationist-leaning school is one of many duller mullahs intending to apply for charter partnership school status, hiring untrained teachers to unleash their unlicensed curriculum:
The Manukau Charitable Christian Trust is one of a number of faith-based groups planning to be, as the Government now calls them, a partnership school. It plans to team up with Manukau Christian School and teach the In God's World philosophy, marked against the Cambridge curriculum.

The philosophy, used at other Christian schools, encourages every subject to be taught so students discover how God made the world, and upholds and governs it. Science and culture modules are taught to equip students to recognise what the In God's World document calls the wonder of God's creation, and that God is the God of history. 
Sweet zombie Jesus, I hope former employer Catherine Isaac can keep the mad-as-a-soup-fork John Banks away from the rubber stamp for approving non-standard schooling (What's with these double standards anyway? Wasn't Act the party of one law for all?) And best of luck to old colleague Cactus Kate, who seems to applying more lipstick than this John Banks pig can handle. Is there any form Banks can transmogrify into that isn't a fuckwit?