Monday, April 30, 2012


Paul Casserly has highlights of the Tim Shadbolt talkathon, where he set a new world record for the longest interview. Congrats Mayor Tim!

And no hard feelings to Paul Casserly for accidental defamation in this post (Wallace put it right). You can't hold a grudge against the guy who gave us Eating Media Lunch and Strawpeople.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Surplus 2015 or bust

It's not really news that one of the rock solid promises John  Key intends to keep is getting into budget surplus by 2015 (like the rock solid promise not to dick with Super, and unlike the soft, squishy promises like not raising GST). Then again, Goodbye Pork Pie isn't really news either, yet here it is in a witty juxtaposition.

"We're taking this car to Invercargill!"
"We're taking this budget into surplus!"

The national vehicle might be rooted by the attempt, and we'll be left picking up the pieces for years to come, but at least John Key gets his end away.

The Great Rugby Racing Beer Swindle

Big ups to Bryce Edwards' NZ Politics Daily Digest for pointing me towards this feature story on the great rugby racing beer swindle known as pub pokies.

There is a ton of money in pokies. Wherever there is that much money at stake, corruption and special interests take a strong interest. I've known about this rort since its inception. The old man crowed how the Palmy Cozzie Club paid for its new building and refurbishment from a single year's worth of taking from their pokies. You can see his influence to this day, in the way rugby, racing and beer gets most of the pokie dividend.

I'm pretty confident that more money is poured into rugby, racing and beer every year than what the country spends on Crown Research Institutes, Apprenticeship Training and Special Needs Education combined. Something is terribly wrong with this picture. If you think throwing money into pokies is a waste of money, there must be better things to do with their proceeds than line the pockets of the fat incumbents.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Plain packaged bullshit

Only the Maori Party has the misguided thickery to impose a tax increase on half of its constituency. But their plan to plain package tobacco products has set a new record in flogging a dead horse.

I got fed up with the montage of government health warnings on the packaging a long time ago. Here's my tobacco wallet, complete with Maryjane the Cannabus sticker:

I know the risks of my hobby, and the last thing I need is a stomach stapled diabetic to preach to me about lifestyle choices.

I Don't Remember

Anyone else getting flashbacks to another one of Muldoon's groupies?


Yes indeedy. Reaction so far ranges from disgusted to gleeful. What's John Boscawen up to these days?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Error Correction

For the record, NORML is NOT lodging a complaint with the police, as reported here. The Daktory might be lodging a complaint, but no-one has consulted the NORML New Zealand Board about any such matter. The president of NORML, who happens to reside at the Daktory, might be mixing up his hat collection. See this disclaimer for clarification.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A game of chance

I know a thing or two about gambling. I was conceived to save a dying marriage, a bad gamble if ever there was one. Around the time of my birth, my father was enjoying a winning streak at the racecourse with a horse called Breathalyser. The purchase of said thoroughbred was the result of Dad's lawyer's cut as part of a spectacular payout at the law courts over a drink driving accident lawsuit (This being before ACC removed personal liability, but that's a whole other kind of recursive coincidences which won't be discussed for the moment).

Breathalyser's luck ran out with a broken leg and was buried somewhere behind Awapuni racecourse, near Mt Cleese. Her daughter, Once Eliza, never recaptured her Mum's glorious run. Many childhood weekends were spent at the races as Dad fruitlessly tried to recapture that original thrill. My brother was so well versed with the form from hanging around the Members' Stand, jockeys and trainers, if 12 year olds could place bets at the trackside tote, he'd have made a fortune.

As a teenager, I accompanied the old man to Cambridge when he was invited to open a Stud Farm. He described horse racing then as the sport that can turn paupers into kings and kings into paupers. I stood there inhaling the horse shit and expensive scents of the peacocks preening and strutting around the concourse.

Dad took me over to Oz in 1986 with his mates Len and Dawn, in what turned out to be a hellish casino road trip from Burleigh Heads to Melbourne in two weeks. We went to the Rugby Club pokie halls, Jupiters' Casino, and every type of gaming house in between. Although the age of entry was 18, and I was a young looking 16, I never was turned away from a game or pokie while I was there.

In yet another bout of staggeringly amazing coincidences, Dad was inspired to do this jaunt by a daring man called Ken Morgan, who had gained notoriety for opening a casino outside New Zealand's territorial waters on a boat called the Gulf Explorer. You'll know Ken as Dakta Green:

Ken Morgan had ruffled a lot of feathers among the public, the unions and even within the Labour party caucus. The Golden Kiwi ticket was in the process of being upgraded to Instant Kiwi, the stupidity tax of Lotto was forming, helped no end by witnessing the Keno board at Jupiter's first hand. The Casino Control Authority (now the Gambling Commission)  was but a glint in Dad's eye.

By 17, I was among a handful of school mates with TAB phone accounts. Even the Head Boy of the school read the Friday Flash in the Common Room. Rugby, racing and beer ruled. I also had my meagre $400 in savings invested in shares. Miami Vice and Miami Wine Coolers also ruled, for a short time. In the end, the TAB account dissipated much more slowly and entertainingly than the shares fared. It was 1987, after all.

I met Judith Collins in the 1990's, when she was the head of the Casino Control Authority. If memory serves, Auckland's Harrah's casino was being issued with a five year license and a 150 kilometre monopoly boundary for the same period. The idea was that competition would be introduced and all Harrah's had was a head start.

Some public functions were part of the initial conditions, such as the Bus Terminal and what is now known as Sky City Theatre. But similar stipulations were made on Christchurch Casino, when it was still independently operated. The playing field was, as they say, level.

On a personal level, I had become hooked on pokies by this time. They proved far less exhausting to concentrate on than people, although they were quite high maintenance. It would take years to realise that all this cash was being thrown away all because I didn't want to go back to the flat.

I was cured of all major gambling habits in my thirties. It was a sure-fire treatment I'd recommend to gambling counsellors everywhere. I became a roulette dealer at Sky City. The job was so demoralising, stressful and repetitive, the mainly immigrant dealers worked hard to save up and leave to become taxi drivers.

By coincidence, the bread and butter punters of Sky City was also Auckland's immigrant population, possibly seeking sanctuary in the one place that will never ostracise them for their visible (and invisible) differences. While they still have a dollar in their pocket at least, unlike most of New Zealand.

There are a thousand examples I could give you. The best one is the depressing recurring memory of standing at a playerless roulette table at 3am on a Sunday morning, hands in sight of the ever-vigilant cameras above, fingers akimbo on the dirty felt cloth. Staring at the rows of expressionless faces lit up by these machines, Slot Sluts umbilically connected to their hosts, their parasites.

Of all the forms of gambling I have witnessed, none robs people quicker and more efficiently than a pokie machine. There's half an hour between races. Lotto is weekly. Even an Instant Kiwi takes half a minute to get the kick (or not). Table games at least have to employ some human capital. Most casino pokie attendants are burned out table games dealers. And you'd be surprised how little labour it takes to service a pokie machine, and how much competition there is for those relatively cushy jobs at the casino.

We all need pressure valves. Gambling, within reasonable limits, is one of these good vices. Wellington should still get a casino, as I said earlier. But they should exist in the spirit of all hospitality, and that is to redistribute money from the rich to the poor (workers) for a reasonable service.

You're asking for trouble if you mercilessly exploit the poor for inflated personal gains. Because it is the taxpayers and citizens who have to pick up the tab when it goes wrong for those who can least afford it.

To bend one of the old man's repetitive quotes, money may not buy happiness, but it does buy you a way to externalise your miseries.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First we kill all the marketing people

I learnt much at the Purgatory of Dilbert temping at the Telecom call centre in Lower Hutt back in the day. The most relevant one for today's purposes is the levels of contempt by the coalface call centre grunts with the rest of the company. Management might have been incompetent, human resources were inhumane, but the lowest of the low worked in marketing.

Every day, the Outlook folder (Microsoft was compulsory) would fill with the latest byzantine marketing scam to memorise and foist on the luckless callers. Commercial sensitivity was such a worry that the phone pimps wouldn't release details of the latest round of marketing by confusion until the last moment before the ads hit the public. Occasionally the public were better informed of the promos than the call centre was.

With this experience gratefully behind me (I left two years before the call centre closed. Another poor career choice for a Half Deaf down the drain), it is 2 Degrees' marketing department I hold responsible for today's calamity, and not the poor bastards in their call centre.

Earlier in the month, the 2 Degrees sales sluts announced a special on 12 GB data packs for mobile broadband. No special terms or conditions, just one third off the price until July.

Woohoo, sez I. I should have smelled trouble when it proved impossible to purchase a $99 prepay credit. Billing systems and marketing departments exist in different universes, and this should have been a sign of something about to be annihilated.

This morning, my internet died. Apparently I had used three months worth of data in three weeks. No way, Jose. There was nothing else for it. I had to ring customer support.

If you think Deaf are loud in person, wait til you get an agitated one on the phone. Kudzai was at the receiving end of my complaint, poor bastard. He explained that because I had not texted to buy 12 GB (I had auto-renew set, so I didn't bother), the national data charges had kicked in (I had blocked this on my preferences) and blew the cap. I replied that there were no special terms and conditions saying as much attached to this promotion and that the Commerce Commission might have something to say about it.

Kudzai mentioned that someone would address the problem within 12 to 24 hours, and gave me a reference number. I'd be internetless until then. That's when I asked for the shift supervisor, in a voice they might have been louder than absolutely necessary. Libby sorted it out in the end, another call centre shift supervisor cleaning up after the morons in marketing.

So well done 2 Degrees customer service. It's the putting right that counts, eh. And let's hope that something slightly unpleasant happens to the brains behind that ill-executed marketing stunt.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The ACC plot sickens

Last month's gloat over the ACC mess has gotten a lot more personal. ACC has written to Mum explaining that she is among the 6000 leaked claimants that Bronwyn Pullar sent to the media.

Mum is distraught that her private medical information and case notes have been looked at by Dagg knows who. The Privacy Commission has been in contact and she has lodged a formal complaint with Marie Schroff's office.

When the Law Society rang Mum, they were very interested in Mum's ACC correspondence as well. It seems Bronwyn Pullar isn't the only person to receive other people's personal medical information from ACC. They had sent Mum other claimants' personal information amongst her own as well. It seems that a) ACC has a huge systemic issue with privacy, and b) even injured police officers have difficulty getting any fair go from ACC.

This ACC thing could easily change from a clusterfuck to a full-blown shit supernova.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barbarians in Pyjamas

Slow news day, what with Parliamentary recess and all. Luckily, the editor of Boing Boing has posted the first Tao de Blog which doesn't use an electron microscope on the writer's navel.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Kim Hill & Victoria Davis on Cannabis

Kim Hill interviewed Golden Bay resident Victoria Davis on Saturday. It follows the discharge without conviction sentence handed out to her the other week by Judge Zohrab on charges on cultivating and possession of cannabis. Of the 62 plants:
Twenty of the plants were seedlings and the other 42 plants ranged in size from 25cm to 1.2m. Eight grams of dried cannabis was found inside the house.
Congratulations to Victoria Davis and her husband for getting this expensive circus done and dusted. She had reluctantly joined a lengthening list of otherwise harmless old growers ending up in court for attempted gardening.

The South Island has had some high visibility Old Ones before the courts recently. 72 year-old Maurice Didham in Dunedin was accused of improbable amounts of future crop from a single lightbulb. Peter Davy was dobbed in by a do-gooding godbotherer for growing cannabis for his  partner with MS. The North Island fares no better. I'm not naming names any more though. The Waitakere Police are already using parts of my blog as evidence against the Daktory Four.

Lazy cops looking for easy convictions have ruined policing everywhere. The War on Drugs and the War on Cannabis in particular has done about as much damage to the police's reputation as its merger with the MoT under the Nats in the 1990's. For every photo op of dope on the table, there's the usual line up of dopes behind the table too.

The Law Commission's Controlling & Regulating Drugs Report points to the futility of the police's attempt at supply control. Using BERL figures, the Law Commissions cites in the 2005/06 year, police spent $116 million enforcing cannabis prohibition (Chapter 4.26). In the same year, 333,684 police hours were wasted on cannabis. In the latest Drug Survey, cannabis remains easy or very easy to get. Whether the prohibitionists like it or not, cannabis is a mature crop in NZ.

But my particular gripe today is correcting the many errors Kim Hill raised in her talk with Victoria Davis. It is difficult to separate Kim Hill's cheerfully belligerent interviewing manner from genuine ignorance, so here goes.

At three minutes, twenty seconds, Kim Hill mentions the "fairly clear link between cannabis and schizophrenia." Which can be a bit like blaming insulin injections for diabetes. David Nutt demonstrated the fallacy of this canard some time ago. Schizophrenia incidence is dropping, while cannabis use is increasing. That's called a negative correlation, in the parlance of our times:

At 6:40, Victoria Davis mentions the economic argument, to which Kim Hill blows raspberries (figuratively). Davis cites the $39 million price tag of police prohibition. I'm not sure where that figure came from, but it is dwarfed by BERL's staggering $116 million on cannabis in 05/06. That numbers already six years old, so Dagg knows how much of this year's budget deficit is paying for this years round of yodelling drug cops.

Kim Hill whips out the "Wrong Message" dogma at 7:30. Here's the research to back up Victoria Davis' claim that US medpot states saw a decline in teen use:

Then it's the What About the Kids? argument at 8:10. Demotivated kids and all, as if prohibition is a more effective restriction than regulation. This, from a culture which weans its kids on beer (literally if not regularly)? But hey, NORML can harp on about Responsible Use all we like, but to go into the specifics of harm minimisation, that's a crime. It's abstinence or bust for these zealous prohibitionists. So the kids learn it off the streets, same as it ever was.

Victoria strikes gold at 9:30 with "People shouldn't have to go to their lawyers for their medicine." You go, girl!

The next big topic arrives at 15:54, with the talk of drug research. As a former drug research correspondent for NORML News (RIP), Kim Hill's devil's advocacy annoyed the hell out of me. Show Me the Research! she could have said. Here's something I prepared earlier. Way earlier. It's a click-fest of research. Knock yourself out.

At least some people, dry right-thinking people like Karl du Fresne and Stephen Franks, are beginning to see reason. Their stance on The Panel earlier this week (the last few minutes yakking with Ross Bell) was the most honest I've ever witnessed from either of them. There might yet be an end to this civil war insanity.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

John Key's Hokey Pokie Deal

Fran O'Sullivan doesn't hold back in today's column, where she calls Key's commercially sensitive Pokie Addicts For Convention Centre deal a disgrace. She all but calls him a liar with this observation:
Yet the Prime Minister claims the expansion of pokie numbers will not materially lead to an expansion of problem gambling. He suggests this is because the casino operator is targeting international clients. He surely can't be serious...
Key should go down to the casino for a night or two and take a hard look at just who patronises the pokies. I had a look myself this week (and no, I do not have a "Chairman's Card" and nor am I an ambassador for the company). I simply went down to have a look through the operation and to see who was patronising the 1647 machines that are already at the Victoria St operation. They are not the kind of "international clients" who fly in to play on the gaming tables or in the VIP rooms, but housewives, solo parents and pensioners, with Maori, Pasifika and migrants over-represented among their ranks.
The whiff of cronyism hangs in the air like stale shrimp too. Every other National party event is held at Sky City. The undisclosed hookings of Mike Hosking, Paul Henry and other slebs moonlighting as Sky City mascots demonstrates how opaque and pervasive Sky City's machinations are. It is entirely likely that Sky City's shady tactics have been used during this latest round of government lobbying too, not that we'll ever hear about it seeing as how commercially sensitive the matter is being treated.

Mai Chen has advised that special pleading doesn't work when lobbying politicians, as their function is to look after the public good. That parliamentary convention seems to have been put aside by this unscrupulous National government, for the sake of John Key's Hokey Pokie convention centre deal.

The new complex will quite literally be built on the ruined lives of gambling addicts. And if Key disputes that, let him engrave his smiling waving visage on the front of every one of the 350 to 500 new pokie machines Sky City will install. Make him record the voice clips for all those armless bandits to tell the mugged muggles that they are a winner.

Somehow I don't think he will.

Photoshop disasters; Crucifixion Edition

This just in from Boing Boing; Orthodox Christians are bad Photoshoppers.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Lame Seagull

It's coming up to that time of year when the Christians force all the garden centres to close. It looks like there's next to no news to report, unless the government does some dirt dumping on the sly. So why not enjoy this episode of The Governor courtesy of NZ on Screen:

The Governor - The Lame Seagull (Episode Five)

The Lame Seagull tells the tale of George Grey's inauspicious second term as The Guv. Duncan Cameron rarks him up before taking on Gate Pa.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Different Drum

 One of the most enjoyable threads I have ever taken part in is happening over at Public Address. Russell Brown has asked What Song Makes You Want to Self Harm? The result is a wonderful experiment of pain, pleasure, pluralism and circumstance.

Shadbolt reaches for Guinness

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt is hoping to set a new world record for the longest interview. I have no doubt he'll nail it.

I have witnessed his breathing style first hand when (Warning: Name Drop 20 Words Ahead) I fixed an interview for a school mate way back in the 1980's when the old man appeared with Shadbolt, Tom Scott, Karyn Hay and others in a live debate on whether Life is a Sexually Transmitted Disease.

If Mayor Tim ever needed a back up trade besides concrete mixing, he'd make a damned fine didgeridoo player.

Doctor I Like Your Medicine

The Completely Independent and Not At All Conflicted Police Conduct Authority has released its report into the death by cop of bystander Halatau Naitoko. It's recommendations? More rules. The closest the report gets to MORE TRAINING is:
6. review the efficacy of the AOS weapons training
The Police have responded to the resounding slap of the wet bus ticket, noting:
"We are deeply and sincerely regretful for the role we played in Mr Naitoko's death," said Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham. "The officers involved, and wider police staff, remain deeply affected by his death. It is something no police officer ever wants to happen."
See? Fonzie Syndrome. They add:
The IPCA found it was satisfied that the officers involved properly took immediate action in the face of the threat presented by McDonald. It said their actions in confronting him were commendable.
  Medals all round then.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Collins not getting Regal Aid

The Crown will not be assisting Justice Minister Judith Collins in funding her vexatious litigation of two Labour MPs and a radio station. Good. As far as stupid lawsuits go, this one is up there with my old man suing Attorney General Margaret Wilson for not making him a QC. At least his excuse was he had nothing better to do with his time.

Shooting the Underdog

Bomber points to a few reasons why the NZ Police should not be armed. The most compelling argument against arming the police I've seen is the dodgy dog that made Eating Media Lunch's New Zealander of the Year:

 Nicked from here, because TV One doesn't seem to have the video available.

With marksmen like these, who needs drunk game hunters?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Just a Gigolo

Mediawatch is fascinating listening this morning, as they dissect the Sky Contra Prostitution Ring and other sleb pimping. The link should be up in an hour or two (time is all screwy today anyway).

This is important stuff. The biggest crime in this country isn't drugs, violence or sex crimes. The greatest crime is the abuse of trust by shysters, scammers, snake oil sales people and con artists on a largely naive and gullible population.

It's the common MO of the recent Auckland ATM scam, the finance companies propped up by comedians, former news readers and rugbyheads (Et tu, Great Uncle Colin?), the mobile loan sharks, Nigerian spammers, zombie computers riddled with virii and backdoors. And so on.

Which is all part of the bigger problem; we all have to bring home the bacon. Even the vegetarians. We all have to feed the monkey. But surely there's a better way to make a living than screwing with your audience's better natures and not being honest with your patter.