Thursday, December 26, 2013


Steven Joyce's elves at Worksafe have closed down a popular tourist attraction at the start of its busiest season.

They may have been AWOL at Pike River Mine, they couldn't stop the Interislander ferry's propellor from falling off, but they can make damned sure there's no mayhem and carnage caused by the Kapiti Miniature Railway & Model Engineering Society.

I had the good fortune to get invited over for Xmas drinkies with the neighbours, who happen to be donkey deep defending against this great train snobbery. The courts are on glide time, and the soonest the train nerds might get the attraction running again is mid-January. By then, school holidays will be over.

Something smells about this whole affair, and I have offered my powers of beligerence to help their cause in any way. I have no particular love of trains, but I don't like seeing bureaucrats pick on trainspotters for no good reason.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kiwi Killjoys; 5 Fun Criminal Acts That Weren't Illegal in NZ When I Was Born

1) Drinking on Wellington's Waterfront at 3am. In the parlance of The Wire, on a hot summer night, the corner is the poor man's lounge. There are few things more memorable than getting drunk in the small hours with a beautiful woman on Wellington's waterfront, the best lounge in the world (weather permitting).

Unfortunately, an unholy alliance between local government busy bodies and national government police goons have produced liquor-free zones that would make alcohol prohibitionist Kate Sheppard proud. Soon, every part of NZ will be highchair-friendly 24/7 , and no-one will witness those Yayoi Kusama-like infinity moments on the Wellington harbour again. Not without a private patch of Oriental Bay real estate, at least.

2) Dancing til dawn at an NZ nightclub. The party may never end at John Key's house, but due to new alcohol laws which came into force this week, all bars must now close at 4am. It's like a puritan mash-up of 6 o'clock closing and daylight saving. Patricia Bartlett must be genuflecting in her grave. Her vision of a bland NZ mindset has come true.

David Farrar points out the empty vessels of youth binge drinking hysteria. Lest we forget, NZ is out-drunk by 48 other countries.

3) Cycling without a helmet, another National party crime. Jim Bolger's car-happy used car salesmen constituents got a fuel injection in the 1990's. Not only was a new line in cheap Jap imports flooding in after import restrictions were lifted, cycling was actively discouraged as an alternative form of transport by making it illegal to cycle without wearing a polystyrene tit on one's head.

Even rotan-happy Singapore, which cruelly and unusally punishes people for smoking, long hair and chewing gum (among many many other fickle deviances) has no laws mandating bike helmets. New news everyone, legally required bike helmets may cause more harm than good.

4) Smoking in an adult environment (i.e. bar). One of the great joys I used to look forward to after a hard day of dealing with other people was sitting down at the local bar with a pint of ale, a blank pad of paper, a pen, and a pack of cigarettes. Alas, this is now considered a crime against humanity. This just in, a longitudinal study has shown that second-hand smoke cancer does not fucking exist .

5) Cannabis. First grown in NZ by a nun, popularised by visiting US soldiers during WWII, blamed by the vanilla people for the Bassett Road murders. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 gave police increasing powers, to the point where dope fiends are now treated more harshly than murderers and fraudsters. Persecution on this level hasn't been seen since the Anglicans tried to wipe out the Catholics.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Black Abbott

Back when I was going bananas in Queensland, the Oz grape vine hummed about how the Great Barrier Reef was dying. Arguments could be had whether the farmers or the tourist industry was to blame, but no-one argued that something was killing it. If nothing changed for the better, within fifty years or so, the Great Barrier Reef would be as real as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. That is, not at all.

Sometime between then and now, someone wisely threw a World Heritage Site designation upon the Great Barrier Reef. This has not stopped newly-minted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott blacking up the place with one of the world's largest coal ports on its doorstep, nor permitting it to infinitely crap on its front lawn:
Unfortunately, soon a massively destructive coal port will be built just 50 km north of the magnificent Whitsunday Islands. The port expansion was approved by the Abbott Liberal National government on Wednesday 11 December, and it will become one of the world's largest coal ports.

The coal export facility is ironically located on Abbot Point. The construction of this port will involve dredging 3 million cubic metres of seabed. The dredge spoil will be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

To give you an idea of the scale of this dredging, if all of the spoil was put into dump trucks, there would be 150,000 of them lined up bumper to bumper from Brisbane to Melbourne.

This is the desperation of a mining industry grasping at a downward spiral, Dutch disease by environmental hari-kari. NZ learned a less harsh lesson with Solid Energy.

Dagg knows what a disappearing Great Barrier Reef will do to Oz weather patterns. Here's hoping those Queenslanders have their nonsense on reinforced stilts.

And now, here's an Xmas message from the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Atkinson. This message managed to become the most complained-about thing on Brit TV for the year.

Happy Summer Solstice, whinge pom pom pom pom.

If You Wish Upon a Pineapple Lump

Felix Na'vi Dad; James Cameron's pet blue Santa. Nicked from here.

The Smiling Assassin has done it again, dividing and conquering his political foes with glamour and a fistful of taxpayer dollars.

Some of Key's most vocal critics this year agree with the Avatar deal announced this week.

Gordon Campbell yums it up, rallying against Treasury as he ponders some mystic economic multiplier effect that they haven't discovered yet. At least he recognises the singular nature of the scheme:
You could call the 25% top rate the Avatar clause, because the conditions seem to have been devised simply to attract and retain the next three Avatar films in this country.

They said that about the LOTR deal back in the day too. See how the sheltered bubble grows? Rod Oram, who has been hard nosed on everything from the Chorus copper to the Tiwai Smelter pay-off this year, gives the scheme a big tick also.

Fortunately, saner voices still exist. Here's Matt Nolan at TVHE looking at the high cost of sexy:
Ok, so who are the people who get all this “pride” from the movies? Generally, middle class New Zealanders. Who is paying, generally wealthier New Zealanders (as they pay most of the tax). What spending is likely to be sacrificed in order to pay for subsides, poor New Zealanders.
Eric Crampton chips in. Patrick Smellie suffers slings and arrows from the Na'vi lovers. Bernard Hickey sums up the bad math:
The Government spent nearly half a billion dollars in seven years and got back NZ$13.6 million in net economic benefits. Not only that, but the extra spending actually reduced the Government's fiscal position by NZ$168 million.

The Labour Party sold out to the luvvies and drama queens ages ago. The best Labour can come up with by way of opposition to the scheme is that it should have been sooner. There's no room for principles in either of the main parties these days.

Here's the conclusion of my father's Maiden Speech to Parliament in 1981. For the purposes of this discussion, replace the farmers with film producers, Timaru with Cameronton/Jacksonville, and wool bales with box office takings:
I do not think people know what happens with supplementary prices. In Timaru, at a sale before Christmas, a station received 620c a kilo for merino wool - a New Zealand record: $5600 for seven bales. Yet tax gathered from the widows, the widowers, and the poor was used to pay that station another $1400 in supplentary minimum prices despite that record price. The reason was that the coarse wool average reduced it below 320c, down to 255c. So to the rich again shall it be given, and from the poor shall it be taken away. There is immorality and injustice in that.

I say to all members on the government benches, and to the farming people who are listening, if they are not aware of it, that privelege and class distinction - long since gone from New Zealand- are raising their heads again under the National government. The poor are refused bread, that the rich may eat cake. Many of our ancestors left England and other countries because of hereditary land rights, and because they could not get a chance. That is happening again to New Zealand.

Peace on earth, except the Na'vi Dad. I hope a pineapple falls on his head while he's holidaying in Hawaii.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

LOKI Awards 2013

What a year it has been, this foul year of our Borg 2013, bogged as it was with evidence of widespread perversions of justice, rule of law breaches and abuse of public office. It could easily be called Year of the Misanthropist, due to the usual benefit of the doubt being aborted in favour of universal suspicions and thinking the worst of everyone.

So take heart that it's time for the LOKI (League of Kiwi Intellectuals) Awards, which celebrate NZ shit-stirring above and beyond the call of duty.

The joint winners of the Long Form Forensic Journalism Award goes jointly to Rebecca Macfie and David Fisher for their books Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and Why 29 Men Died and the Secret Life of Kim Dotcom: Spies, Lies and the War for the Internet respectively. Necessary narratives for our times.

The Benjamin Franklin Kite Flying in a Lightning Storm Award goes to Colin Espiner, for being the most outspoken MSM commenter on public matters. He may not always be on the money, but as far as getting digressing policy points across, he's streets ahead of the self-aggrandising Three Stooges of brother Guyon, Duncan Garner and Paddy Gower.

The Aaron Gilmore "Do You Know Who I Am?" Award goes to Andrea Vance, for no other reason than being challenged by a protestor during the Million Mask March that she hadn't done her bit to fight oppressive state surveillance.

You don't have to commit the perfect crime in NZ to get away with it. Sloppy or negligent criminality will do fine too. Therefore, the "Someone's Got to Do It" Award goes to Graham McCready, who has found a niche in privately prosecuting people the Crown can't or won't. First scalp was John Banks, now he's gunning for Pike River.

But the Big LOKI 2013 Award goes to Mihirangi Forbes and the team at Native Affairs for exposing Kohanga Reo financial irregularities. Brave, sometimes thankless, investigative journalism at its finest. Onya.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Signs of the Times

The first round of results from the census in March have been spitting out of the government statisticians this week. The data has been impressively visualised, but the big surprise was in the language department:
Hindi [is] now the fourth most common language[.]
There was a slight decrease in the percentage of the population who spoke Māori, at 3.7 percent in 2013 compared with 4.1 percent in 2006. Younger people were more likely to speak Māori than older people.

Use of New Zealand Sign Language fell. In 2013, 20,235 people used New Zealand Sign Language, down from 24,087 people in 2006.
I have a theory on why NZSL use is dropping, even as Deaf Culture has become increasingly mainstream over the last decade.

Firstly, the surge in NZers born Deaf due to the Rubella epidemics and other curable ailments of the 20th Century has passed, leading to fewer people born Deaf. Short of another bout of Rubella (possibly caused by Soccer Mums objecting to immunisation), or similar epidemic, the proportion of Natural Born Deaf has shrunk to the usual infinitesimal probability.

Secondly, mainstream schooling has divided and conquered a unified Deaf. While it has naturalised diversity within schools, it islanded the Deaf in the dead sea of Norm Conformity. How does one learn NZSL when you're the only Deaf in the village?

Thirdly, the growth in the Deaf population will increase most in the post-lingual section, through workplace habitat, age or earplug tinnitus. NZSL might be intuitive, but the older one gets, the less brain plasticity there is to learn a new language.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Hooton Factor

Bomber rightly fears Hooton. Smarter than a kangaroo whip, savvier than Sally the saveloy, can leap polysyllabic phrases that leave John Key strangling on Struggle Street. If party leaders are adding an extra finger to their Friday tonics this week, Hooton most certainly is Bomber's Kryptonite and a half.

Act is surely burnt toast. Factions calling for Rodney Hide's return are simply delusional on too many axes. Never mind why he went in the first place, how about learning a repeating lesson now and then? For example, there is no second bite of the political apple. Roger Douglas was a man out of time. Banks was too. Same mistake three times is loopy behaviour.

Politics is about timing and numbers, and is wedge-shaped in at least six directions. Act's arc has passed in at least five dimensions, and the calculus adds up that there is space for something new on the political menu, or Neo, as Hooton sez (gated). One must spot while the knives are hot, as Toronto Mayor Bumblefuck might say.

A problem remains. Where does a supreme political dark artist turn to for a second opinion? There's a fine line between being singular and becoming a singularity and disappearing up one's own arsehole.

Might this foolish blogger humbly suggest 5 positive media opportunities that could increase public exposure to Hooton, aside from his sober rant over the passing of Nelson Mandela at Public Address?

1. No Dancing With the Stars. But that's just teaching how to suck eggs. Let's get serious with a Krypton Factor of fluffy bunnies.

2. Hooton's Drunk History of NZ Politics. Matthew Hooton and a panel of experts get drunk and a live studio audience quizzes them on various aspects of NZ political history. Some recounted scenes are improvved by a band of local actors in front of the studio audience.

3. Hooton reads extracts of Nicky Hager's book The Hollow Men and uploads them to YouTube. Chapters are performed in various styles; Orson Welles, William Shatner, Pee Wee Herman, Margaret Thatcher, Christopher Walken, etc.

4. Hooton's Got Talent. Hooton goes on NZ's Got Talent, showing off his masterful wit and ventriloquism skills with his caustic dummy companion, Worzel Scrummage.

5. Hooton Off. Hooton has a new show on Radio Live, replacing Willie and JT's time slot. The basic premise of Hooton Off is that Hooton says something outrageously neo-liberal about issues of the day, and rebuts his callers with Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, instead of the right-wing libertarian's favourite blunt instrument, the Wealth of Nations.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Patsy Who

The Act party ideology has always had difficulty trying to find a face to front it.

Roger Douglas could never be leader. Rogernomics had forever corrupted the name of Roger Douglas in the public mind. Today, he is the far Left's grand bogeyman, even as they benefit from his legacy and pinch his policies from his book Unfinished Business (for example, Gareth Morgan's Big Kahuna, Labour's forlorn tax free threshold, and the Greens' minimum family income is not a million miles away from what Douglas called the GMFI).

Richard Prebble ended up becoming the first Parliamentary leader of Act, seeing as he had the least worst image issues combined with the experience and wit. When it all went Pete Tong on Prebs and the Act party needed a new face to regenerate interest in its existence, the mad-sack-of-cats caucus abdicated responsibility to the members and Rodney Hide became the new leader, beating rival Stephen Franks in a primary face off.

After electoral decimation and Rodney Hide's mid-life transmogrification, the sack of cats caucus was replaced by a freak show line-up. Joining Gomez Rodney were Morticia Hilary Calvert, Uncle Fester David Garrett, Wednesday Heather Roy and the shadow of Roger Douglas Lurching away in the background.

Don Brash fouled up Act's next regeneration, resulting in the Zombie John Banks that they can't seem to get rid of. John Banks today announced he won't be seeking re-election in Epsom. However, he will remain leader until the next election.

The next Act board meeting that takes place in the phone booth had better realise that they can't afford the luxury of getting hotboxed by a zombie farting away in the corner before debarking at his leisure. Give the next patsy some clean air.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Moving Pictures

NZ on Screen has compiled a list of NZ's top 10 films. All due respect, but I beg to differ with their conclusions.

I first learned the power of public persuasion through the art of film. Not long after accidentally watching Peter Weir's head-fucky The Last Wave at the precocious age of seven, the author as a child witnessed Sleeping Dogs at the movie theatre as well. Futures were changed.

Around a decade later, in the '80s, I discovered the fulcrum of one. I had given the old man a Footrot Flats poster for Xmas; the one with Wal as successful duck shooter, with Dog nagging him about the orphaned ducklings. Then-journo Genivieve Westcott used the poster to frame Trev's opposition to film subsidies as then-Revenue Minister in a Close Up special, seeing how the Footrot Flats movie was going through the art of funding at that time.

My argument was more nuanced than the old man's, and I let him know it. The arms race of film subsidies is a game we can't win. And don't get me started on the laws of Hollywood quantum accounting methods. The best we can do is tell universal truths through our specific NZ qualities. If it reaches a larger audience through striking the right chord, woohoo.

But there's no point in blowing a subsidised bubble only for it to burst, shattering the illusions of an industry. Hobbit and Avatar tax breaks are just SMPs for the already-wealthy and wise. It feeding money into the wrong end of the film beast.

I agree with six of NZ on Screen's choices: Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace, Utu, Vigil, Once Were Warriors and In My Father's Den. But the Piano? Oscar, schmoscar. Here's my top Five NZ films not included on NZ on Screen's list, in no particular order.

1. Sleeping Dogs - Duh. Years before I read Orwell, Sleeping Dogs was a mad reflection of Muldoon's idea of NZ. One of Don Brash's redeeming features, seeing how he helped fund it. Watching the DVD is worth it for getting a taste of the sparse Kiwi conversation on the so un-Hollywood Director's commentary. Worth a reboot, if for no other reason than token Yank Warren Oates arrived so close to filming, he was holding his script as a prop.

2. The Quiet Earth - NZ's only hard sci-fi film. Bruno Lawrence at Eden Park in a tutu.

3. Christmas - Seasonally appropriate look at the painful tradition inflicted upon NZers by their baby boomer nut job parents. The Royal Tenenbaums watching Bad Santa.

4. Bad Taste - Peter Jackson before the bloat. Splatter comedy with Caesar Romero levels of satire, at a fraction of the budget. I lived around the corner from the Hataitai house they used for Brain Dead, Feebles will always splat Hobbits, and Heavenly Creatures was well crafted enough, but Bad Taste was something new.

5. Stickmen - Wellington's answer to Guy Ritchie. The windy city has villains too, y'know.

Friday, November 22, 2013

McVicar, the mute rooster

Sensible Sentencing Trust rooster Garth McVicar has been unusually quiet over the sentencing of Whangarei psycho nutjob Allan Titford. Usually, this punitive cock would have crowed at the dawn of any case involving such viciousness:
Titford is being sentenced in the Whangarei District Court today after he was convicted by a jury on 14 charges of assault with a weapon, seven of assault, four of male assaults female, three of assault on a child, three of sexual violation, two of arson, and single charges of using a document with intention to defraud, threatening to kill, assault using a weapon, perjury, attempting to pervert the course of justice and discharging a firearm.

The sexual offences were committed against his former wife Susan Cochrane who in an unusual step waived her right for name suppression so Titford could be named.

Judge Duncan Harvey today jailed Titford for a total of 24 years for the offences.
NatRad's Checkpoint went into details the other day, first with a court report and then with Manos Nathan of Te Roroa, who described the mad shit Titford did and blamed on the tribe.

Where's that piercing cry of "lock 'em up and throw away the key" from rooster McVicar?

Others are nodding at the connections that fucking bastard Allan Titford had with certain, er, pigmented parties. I couldn't possibly comment. Suffice it to say that I've long known that the most milquetoast mask can hide the foulest face of reality.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Selective Education

Colin James looks fondly at the legacy of retiring National MP Paul Hutchison:
Investing in children pays a dividend in good and productive citizens. That principle has been slow to work into policy. It needs a different economics from the small-state orthodoxy of the past three decades.

A unanimous report yesterday by Parliament's health select committee chaired by Paul Hutchison encapsulates all three principles. It lays down a big challenge, and bigger potential, to this and future governments.

Paul Hutchison is to the Key government what Tim Barnett was to Clark's one; great talent whom for whatever reason was never made minister, in spite of their obvious talent far beyond some who sat in the cabinet.

Contrast this with John Banks' legacy, a string of Jesus freaks and boot camps called charter schools. While every other school is looking at the sex education curriculum in a new light, these soldier plod academies can teach what they like.

I'd rather have a progressive Nat that a regressive prat.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

There's Plenty More Pikes in the Sea

While one aspect of the kindly ones are marching in centres around the country, another older fury is stirring again, thanks to Listener writer Rebecca Macfie's new book Tragedy at Pike River Mine.

NBR has an excerpt of the book here, and NatRad has an interview with her by a wet dish cloth Richard Langston (Seriously, he's become institutionalised with the "So, how does that make you feel?" schtick that he passed off as current affairs).

From what I've grabbed from the narrative so far, there's plenty of places where bucks should have stopped, and didn't. New Zealand Oil and Gas, who passed off mutton as lamb to the NZ stock exchange. Pike River's Board of Directors who signed off on prospectuses with misleading information on methane levels. The ineffective Department of Labour. The blood from a stone CEO.

And, of course, no-one paid any attention to the geologists.

I can't wait to read the book in its entirety. Between Pike River and the Rena, there's no confidence in the regulatory or business structures, or trust in over-inflated economic benefits of any more novel drilling techniques. Legislating a 500 metre exclusive economic zone in NZ waters around drilling platforms won't prevent another (almost inevitable) loss of life.

And if your kids have asked you for a cowboy outfit for Xmas, I suggest NZ and Gas.

Intersections in Real Time

This week, the NZ Herald discovered a new formula for clocking public interest. No, I'm not talking about the NZ Herald's birthday, tinted as it was through granny spectacles. Nup, there were far too many sports people listed as heroes to consider that seriously.

It was the joint venture between Jared Savage and Keith Ng which shed light on Members of Parliament property holdings not covered by Rod Donald's Pecuniary Interests law. The formula could be expressed thusly: Journo + Geek + Serious Question = Intelligent Hits.

We learn, for example, that National Party Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie runs a tidy little farming empire in the Manawatu. This may or may not explain Federated Farmers' yo-yoing position over the Horizons Regional Council's One Plan.

But as far as I see it, this begs a larger question that I have pondered over for some time. Who owns New Zealand? We know who owns the National Parks, even as co-governance emerges from the mist. But who owns Queen Street in Auckland, or Cuba Street in Wellington, or the main street in your areas of interest?

The current housing crisis babble is just that. The bank economists are jawboning their corner, same as everyone else. No-one really knows what they're talking about. Whether its overseas buyers in the market, or people making hay under the new LVR rules, or which family has inherited the biggest capital gains in the last 150 years, no-one knows. No-one's counting.

Housing NZ is still NZ's largest landlord, followed by Wellington City Council. But who are the top 1000 private landlords? Which landlord has the highest proportion of sub-standard housing? Which church has the largest property holdings? Is there an index of land covenants listed from reasonable to unreasonable?

A convenient example of this interesting point appears in today's DomPost, with the local shopping centre going on the block, as the ailing sole director is forced into a mortgagee sale.

Good luck with that there. Now is not a good time to be in real retail. It's all online, sunshine. Or the Todd family bringing the Albany-sized retail box shops to its airport property a few blocks over. Ah well, at least he didn't blow a crater into the ground and take others with him, like Hubbard or Ross or Lombard, etc.

If a census is good enough for the people, it's good enough for property too. Correlate that undiscovered country, Herald, and I might believe you're not as beholden to the real estate pimps as you appear.

To mangle the words of John "Blind Trust" Key, if the landed gentry have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dire Straits of Malacca

Poor bloody Philippines, the Poland of the Pacific Rim.

When it is not being invaded, colonised, or genocided, its many, many inhabitants are the world's labour pool. Where the Irish or African-American once toiled, today you'll find a Philippine. Whether it's hanging from a scaffolding on a dubious Dubai building site, or slaving away over a hot stove in the bowels of a luxury cruise liner in the Caribbean, you'll find a Flippino.

And, to add injury to rampant Catholicism, now the Philippines are home to a theoretical Category 6 Typhoon (the scale usually goes to 5. This poon went to 11, so to speak).

As ill-timed as Russel Norman's cut n paste of a Philippine climate change spokesperson on Parliament's floor appeared, Norman of Queensland had a point. The funneling effects around the convoluted Straits of Malacca is fairly well-known. As far as climate change canaries in the mine omens go, any prick in chaotic weather systems has a very welcome home here.

What is to be done is another point entirely. According to Kim Stanley Robinson's so-so novel 2312, we are still in the the early years of the Great Dithering. So NZ sends aid packages as says there there, putting off the great migration for at least another electoral cycle. Hercules Returns indeed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Colin in the Lion's Den

If Colin Craig's Conservative Party didn't exist, surely the Nats would invent it anyway.

Their strategists know the score. That yellow bastard John Banks is history. No more mates there for post-election coalitions. The Maori Party has browned out. The appeal of United Future, like the last Spinal Tap tour of the US, has become incredibly select. John Key is looking like Nigel No-Mates the Nat.

Lo and behold, bare weeks before the last election, a gullible but wealthy political neophyte appeared on the horizon. Colin Craig, far-righteous messiah. Hurrah!, sez Key. The obviously clueless Colin would be a doddle to deal compared with Winston Peters.

The ill-suited Craig doesn't even grasp the first rule of politics, that you never throw your own money into the game. Sure, some parties require tithes from their MPs, but most of the legitimacy for their cause must come from the public.

If Colin Craig wants to be a fool readily parted from his money, politics is one of the most efficient ways to do it. If you think home renovations are a money pit, it's peanuts compared to politics. Why do you think the entrenched parties are so fond of sucking off the public tit?

That said, the Conservative Party leaflet fodder sent out before the 2011 election was truly memorable. At a Meet the Candidates Meeting in Whitby, I read through the CCCP's Are You a Conservative? Quiz while waiting for the show to start. Christ, I never laughed so hard at anything else during the whole campaign.

Aside from the McGillicuddy humour value, the Conservatives present a win-win proposition on either front.

Worst case scenario is that Craig blows a few mill of his own cash on a failed bid for a seat or the 5 percent threshold. He'd be replicating Christian Heritage's wasted votes in MMP's early days, sucking up the fundy vote into one useless rotten heap.

Best case scenario is that National gifts a seat to Colin Craig, and hilarity ensues. John Key has forgotten, or just plain desperate enough, to throw caution to the wind and throw his lot in with the CCCP. After all, he ended up supporting Labour over Sue Bradford's Anti-Smacking Bill all those years ago to distance himself from righteous nutters.

If National hitches itself to the Conservatives to stay in power, it'll make the Shipley-Peters gig look like a picnic. No satirist will be short of material. The backlash will be very amusing.

It's moments like this that I recall that the Romans never fed Christians to the lions. They'd kill them more creatively, such as roasting them alive in a hollow brass bull, with their screams bellowing out of the bull's mouth.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A humble suggestion for Word of the Year

Yeah, yeah. I know it's still six weeks til summer solstice, and Public Address' Word of the Year competition doesn't start for another moon cycle. But I reckon the jury is back early for the year twenny-dirteen.

I humbly suggest Panopticmonium.

It has the necessary ingredients of a fistful of Snowden and a pinch of Miranda rights, half a cup of irony of the Huawei embargo, a propeller from an Interislander ferry, as well as a dusting of volcanic ash from the Alleged Pack Rapists of West Auckland explosion.

In addition, Panopticmonium is part of the solution that one could imagine Walter White using if he was denouemented against the goons from the Homeland sitcom, and not another completely different bunch of white supremacist hicks.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

An Attempt to Tap Dance Where Angels Fear to Tread, viz a viz the APRoWA Corruption

Warning: My middle name is Trigger.

Once upon a time in Palmerston North, there lived a criminal lawyer called Trev. All around the district, he was known as the Baddies' Buddy, because of his art of finding reasonable doubt in unreasonable circumstances.

One day, he defended a man accused of rape. He hinged his argument on the matter of consent, seeing how the alleged victim noted in her statement that she had had to help him in, so to speak, with both hands. Regret after the fact may not be rape.

He hassled journalists to ask him whether his client would be seeking name suppression, to which his reply would be, "No! My client wants his name attached to the statement that she had to use both hands emblazoned across the papers!"

This was back in the '80s, and NZ feminism was barely in its teens. The Matrimonial Properties Act was younger still, and the end of marital rape was barely in its twenties. Clint Rickards was still a well-respected cop.

Feminism as it existed would disintegrate into micro factions by the end of that decade, where the Annabel Chong feminists couldn't abide the dungareed anti-porn feminists, and the libertines fell out with the socialist commune types. Marketeers took the slack, replacing the burnt out earnestness with bling and Britney Spears became the new normal.

In defence of the old man, I would note the old goat was an equal opportunity defence attorney. Years earlier than this, he had used what was arguably NZ's first battered wife syndrome defence in a murder trial from Pahiatua. To plant a seed of the landscape in your brain, imagine a country more ManGodded than Vincent Ward's Vigil, but with added unconsenting sodomy and so forth.

In addition, the presiding judge was Deaf as a Post and Trev managed to harangue NZ's first judicial hearing armed with mikes and speakers. So, give the devil his dues.

Sexual politics is like regular politics, except more polarising, with a comparatively vastly spectrum and infinite combinations of non-awareness due to the super-subjectivity of experience.

It is moments like this that I'm glad that I have a voice for blogging and not a face for radio. Willie and JT are mired, and is Andrew Fagan. For once, Matthew Hooton went troppo on air for the right reasons. I'm typing cautiously, whereas my mouth would have had formal complaints ten minutes ago.

The traditional Kiwi response to sexual politics is to shrug, make a lame joke and forget about it, usually by changing the channel, but also by the time tested "this conversation is over". The same formula is used as a wide-ranging tool to hammer down abortion, suicide, drug reform, and every other contentious issue worth a damn. She'll be right. If it's not broken, etc.

Well, I think the cops finally broke the public trust. Not in my forty-three years in this political animal farm have I witnessed in NZ politics such white hot fury as the APRoWA Corruption is generating (Alleged Pack Rapists of West Auckland. I refuse to name these deviants using their nomenclature). She'll be right is not an option.

What kind of sex education do they teach in Avondale? I hope it's an improvement on the nonsense taught when I was in 5th Form, at a conservative state school where they worshiped Rugby and taught the female anatomy presented as a cross section, exactly like a side of beef or lamb. And as for parental birds & bees discussions, I learned more from my two Dad's porn stashes than I ever learned from all five parents.

I doubt things have changed that much 'twixt schools and parents. Same as it ever was, right down to the Mazengarb cross-winds. As always, the kids learn it from the streets and the school of hard knocks. And the knocks leave cracks.

What does former NZ First Law and Order man Ron Mark think about it all? Is there an ethical boundary between one-off situations of young love and on-going predatory behaviour, and can Police tell the difference?

I doubt it. Rather a breath test checkpoint, where the computer sez yes or no. Rather a cannabis bust, where the perp is non-violent and the body armour is ridiculously overdressing for the occasion, let alone calling in the AOS. And all that is needed for a blue star for the career ladder is a working nostril. A reptile brain is all that is required to smell cannabis, no higher brain functions required. Simple stuff.

The simple stuff has ruined the police. Little wonder their recruitment drives end up overseas, where mercenaries are brought back who have no clue as to the lie of the land.

Police Minister Anne Tolley is genuinely livid for being misinformed by her patched minions over the saga. Her IPCA complaint can run its course, but there's mounting calls for a Royal Commission into Police Conduct. It's an entirely reasonable call. If Margaret Bazley can't get heard, you need to increase the calibre of your weapon.

The furies have awoken is this usually stolid land, and they're banging at the gates of Bullshit Towers, aka Police HQ.  Tokens and trinkets will not do any more. The ladies will be sated. Heads must roll, something big must change, or there will be rioting in the streets. That much is reasonable.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Shed

Had to switch off NatRad earlier than usual
The host was whipping Joe Bennett for his
Defence of the pursuit of happiness
In the future we will all die of boredom

Rain on corrogated iron
A superior form of white noise
Filtered through red wine
Squeezed into something new

The random hits the sine wave
Chaos and order clash with wild harmony
Much more tolerance for deviation
In nature than nurture

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Grillo Brand

Friends come and go, enemies accumulate. I've argued friends into enmity over religion, sport and fluoridation, to name a few topics off the top of my head. Seeing how popular the Jeremy Paxton interview of Russell Brand is around the place, I'm preparing to take a hit to the circle in order to triangulate this village idiot in the public square.

Since first encountering the persona of Russell Brand, not a long time ago admittedly, I have considered him a clown. It's as if someone had taken Brit comedian Ross Noble, forced him into a perm and Boy George make-up, and then gave him a wanker transplant.

Maybe it's the born-again addict schtick he waves about the place, giving high functioning dope fiends a bad rap with his disease-ification of joie de vivre. Perhaps it's the humourless earnestness, without the rudimentary acting talent of Brangelina to balance it out a little.

But this most recent bit of theatre goes beyond absurd. Such rants should be taken as seriously as a first year BA student pontificating over Jager shots in the uni pub, with which the appearance bears a striking resemblance.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and Brand knows even less. Strangely, this is a point of pride for him. Ignorance may yet be bliss. In this, he follows Italian politician Grillo, the anti-political politician. Or the Weimar Republic with its splintering political factions. All in all, not a good omen.

Sure, he could do all that boring stuff like reading the details; the sum of our histories, perhaps a bit of his namesake Bertrand Russell. He definitely needs to stay away from Jean-Paul Sartre. You only have to look at South-East Asia's recent past to see where following him leads. Camus at a pinch would help. The Trial Fall is short enough for even Brand's attention span.

No, it must be Revolution, sez him. We must burn the village to save it. Well, Russ, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of thousand all you'll end up with is a burnt village. A homogenised wasteland, like the Australian outback or Colin Craig's wardrobe.

Never fuck with entropy. The second law of thermodynamics will always win. It will be how things end, not with a bang but with a whimper (literary reference there, Russ).

Destruction is easy. Creation is hard. I wouldn't want to live on a planet ruled by Russell Brand or anything like his vacuous populism. I'd rather be ruled by lizards than amoebas.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

All's Fair in Love and Mayor

Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but Schadenfreude seduces the palate quite nicely too. Succulent indeed is the pleasure as the private prosecution against John Banks continues to trial.

Not only is Banks the second government coalition leader to lose his ministerial warrant this year, he is also the second 1990's National government cabinet minister to end up on trial, the former Police Minister following former Justice Minister Doug Graham in front of the judges. All in all, it's not a good look.

Unfortunately for the Christian Right, adultery isn't illegal. Fraud and perjury is.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Five STVs and a Shoo-in

One symptom of a political junkie is when a sizeable chunk of one's social network is standing in the local government elections. The ones who aren't MPs, anyway. And good on them. Better the devil you know.

Even so, I am finding it extraordinarily difficult to give a fat rat's crack about filling in those pumpkin-coloured electoral papers. This may be because I live in a three-horse town (they sometimes gait past my gate).

It's not Auckland or Otautahi, where things actually matter. Nor is it Wellington, with a choice between a disappointment of a mayor with her base deserted, or a has-been 70's cricketer who can't stop bodylining his audience. Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich indeed.

Sure, there are issues facing Kapiti. The debt per resident in the previous year was $2642, compared to Wellington City's $1843, but that can largely get resolved by moving the rates base away from an anomalous land only rating (the only council in the province with a rating system that excludes capital improvements), and introducing a business differential (at present, rates in Kapiti are the same for business and residential. No other council in the region has this policy either).

Jenny Rowan gets my tick as mayor of Pram, mainly on the basis of actually having met her once in person (Call it the Peter Dunne Effect). Gru Gurunathan was number two, because of his visibility in the local rag. I have never read his columns (or at least, none were memorable) but at least he's visible.

The rest of the list was ranked based on the meaningless blurbs submitted in the accompanying 68 page electoral instruction and candidate information booklet (WARNING: MAY CAUSE NARCOLEPSY), and the only article I could find on local candidate meetings:

David Scott 3, Ivan Sage 4, Jackie Elliott 5, Ross Church 6, Gavin Welsh 7. Yeah, I know I didn't have to rank Jar Jar Binks, but he's still preferable to Darth Nutter.

I have yet to decide on electing 5 At Large District Councillors. I wouldn't recognise any of the 15 candidates if they were lying in the gutter pissing lager. I don't like this At Large vote, anyway. Stuff what Local Government NZ thinks. I may just leave this blank out of plain, unadulterated apathy.

There is only one candidate for the sole ward seat, so no democracy needed there. Janet Holborow, elected unopposed.

Seven candidates vying for four seats on the community board. Two of them are also running for councillors jobs. David Scott is running for mayor as well, so screw his triple-dipping arse. In fact, none of them matter. Do not care. Will probably ending up ranking them out of drunken spite.

Flipped a coin for the sole Regional Councillor. Nigel Wilson 1, Chris Turver 2.

23 candidates for 7 District Health Board positions. Not even bothering to try to sort that snout trough out. If DHB elections disappeared from the ballot, no-one would notice. I'll probably leave that blank too. Ta for the useless formalities, Labour!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two Cups, Some Barrels and a John

Now that the America's Cup funneth over, John Key's government is seriously considering how many more barrels of cash to throw overboard into the deep blue. Perhaps that money could be sacrificed to a greater sporting good? Here's another two Cups that NZ could enter to raise its profile.

The Yankers Cup:

A high-octane off-road motorsport, traditional to Hawaii. For over a hundred years, with rules and conditions mutually agreed by the two competitors, this high performance motor race around the active volcano Mauna Kea battles the United States Armed Forces against the native Hawaiians. The Hawaiians have never won a contest.

The Yankers Cup is an endurance race, beginning amidst sandy beaches and hotels. The route then winds its way through the national park and up a forty metre wide track carved into the side of Mauna Kea by army engineers back in 1963 (Prior to then, only a narrow road existed, built by slave AIG executives). The race concludes with the car leaping into the mouth of the volcano. Points are awarded for speed, jump techique, and how long it takes for the driver to stop screaming.

John Key's interest in the Cup began as soon as he heard the word Kea. "That's us," Key said. "Keas have always had a competitive edge in moving really fast away from things. From planes to motorbikes to jet boats to brain drains, Keas are world leaders at running away. We can win this thing, if we throw enough money at it."

Mount Ruapehu has been considered as a likely local site if New Zealand wins the contest. The prime minister conceded that White Island may also be considered, largely due to the new Maritime Act keeping environmental activists away.

Treasury is the department with statutory responsibility for evaluating the economic merits for the Yankers Cup. In a short statement released earlier today, Treasury denied it was pressured by Finance Minister Bill English to amend its position.

A five thousand page alleged draft report had been leaked to the press raising grave doubts as to the cost benefit assumptions, whilst Treasury's official report was a four word statement: "We relaxed with it."

The Rendition Cup:

Teams must take the standard unit of CIA freight (half a ton of cocaine) from Guam to Guantanamo Bay. First to arrive at Guantanamo Bay without getting spotted by the MSM or other teams' listening posts wins.

The contest began not long after 9/11, when various US security agencies competed to see how brazenly they could rendition terror suspects without getting snapped by the mainstream media or international courts.

The most regular winners so far have been the Black Seals, who are rumoured to use a nuclear submarine to deliver the payload by traveling via Antarctica and New Zealand's territorial waters.

John Key denies hearing about the competition from the GCSB, although he is open to New Zealand taking part in the contest. "Our research department has been working on stealth technology for some time," admitted the prime minister.

"Cringe Cloaking is based on the principle that if you do something so lame and embarrassing, people will actively avoid looking at you. Haka Overuse Syndrome is a good example of this."

A recent prototype of the special fabric was tested during the America's Cup regatta:

Cringe Cloaks

"Phosphate dredging around the Chatham Islands should help bung up the Black Seal's water coolant intake as well," said the prime minister. We can win this thing, if we throw enough money at it."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downstage Down

It's a sad to note the demise of Wellington's Downstage Theatre. I've seen some good plots there, Ian Mune's King Lear topping the list.

It is some small consolation that one of Downstage's board treaders (Untold Tales of Maui's Taika Cohen) has managed to monetise his art into a memorable skit adored by dope fiends and Soccer Mums alike:

It's a sort of sequel to Two Cars One Night, which was set outside a pub, the most common childcare centre for Generations X and older.

Presumably there's a third part, involving Mums monged on prescription meds. As the Law Commission pointed out in their drugs review (Part One, pg. 43), between 1958 and 1971, 11.6 percent of married women were on prescribed hypnotics, tranqs (or both). If recent research is anything to go by, little has changed in this area.

Friday, September 13, 2013

True Colours

And so the sun sets on the penultimate day of the New Zealand Labour Party's premiere leadership primary. For most of the past month, the primary has led the politics columns. This has allowed National to get on with business, undisturbed by the turbulence that has rocked in for the rest of the year. For everyone's sakes, I hope this circus was worth it.

For truth be told, Cunliffe had this one in the bag from the start, the caucus ABC's be damned. The Labour cowmatua gave it a gamble with Shearer. That outsider didn't work out, and might have brought to a head the rank and file disgruntlement in the form of the new primary rules.

Cunliffe is a relatively safe bet in comparison to the Shearer gambit and, besides, it's his turn. That's Labour logic through and through.

Grant Robertson has done his next stab at the job no end of good, raising his visibility beyond the loyal Beltway. Jenny Michie did no foul to him, yet this loyal and hard working Labour Party stalwart's treatment at the hands of Cunliffe foreshadows future fickleness.

The Devil in Mr Jones has rehabilitated as much as he is ever going to. It's sad to see that Shane "Te Dude" Jones was the best option that the Pragmatic Labour caucus had to throw into the contest. Such is the debilitating effect Helen Clark had in sowing salt within their ranks.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Helen Clark's name appeared on the voting ballot. I reckon she'd still be top of the pops with the base, five long years since the voters threw her out.

There's a lesson there, but whether Labour's rank and file grok that is another story. After all, no-one can accuse Chris Trotter of being a neo-Marxist. There's nothing new at all there. Yet he has no qualms about muddying the name of liberalism with a neo prefix.

This is what happens when you sow the Fourth Labour false narrative into the myth:

Sitting Ducks, the Failure of Marxism by Bedard

Here's Dangerous Minds with a balanced retrospective of Split Enz's Mr Philip Judd.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ouija in Kiwi is Yeah, Nah

Contemporary society scoffs at the Victorian era quacks, who believed such nonsense as phrenology, the art of determining a person's character by the shape of the head. Today's quackery is much more sophisticated. It's called psychometric testing.

Like the original Ouija board, psychometric tests such as the Myers Brigg Type Indicator might be wholesome entertainment, but I wouldn't like to stake my career on one of them. So it's good to see this black box bigotry is getting challenged, because this HRD voodoo has to stop.

It's culturally biased and loaded with false positive discrimination (maybe the subject likes opera because they're gay, maybe the subject likes being alone because their workmates are discussing X Factor).

It loads recipients with expectations of certain self-censoring behaviours, and then wonders why their workforce is scoffing anti-depressants (At least Freud knew repression was bad).

But worst of all, it creates an underclass borne of superstitious orthodoxies which can't be challenged.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Lost in the Damascus Experience

Adam Curtis not only looks at the the hands behind Syria's modern history, but also at the terrible misunderstandings that deaf people can bring to a diplomatic incident:
The Americans had been planning another military coup, code-named Operation Wappen. The CIA man in charge was called Howard "Rocky" Stone, and he terrified the Syrians because he always stared intensely at them. But Stone did this because he was almost completely deaf - and he was trying to read their lips.
This is one of the many reasons I never applied for a job in MFAT.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Primary Colours

Rodney Hide cannot resist putting the boot into Labour's leadership primary in his column today in the Herald on Sunday. Which is a bit rich coming from a former party leader who gained his thorny crown from Act's leadership primary in 2004.

Here's me describing Act's season of Dancing with Leaders back when the Greens were looking for Rod Donald's replacement:

Fortunately for the Greens, there is precedent for them to go off. The leadership scrap in Act showed how not to do things. Like the Greens, Act believe (or at least used to believe) in direct democracy. The primary race, while good on paper and ideologically sound, is a dangerous thing for a niche party to do in practise. I re-joined Act when it became clear that Prebs was standing down. Like most Act members, I had made up my mind who to vote for way before the big day. I joined so I could vote for Rodney and keep Stephen Franks and the Rabids from taking over.

I went along to a Meet the Candidates meeting anyway, just to be certain of my decision. Speaking order was very fairly decided by random ballot. One by one, the four contenders stood at the podium and gave absolutely no clue why they would be the best leader for Act. Oh yeah, everyone got the blurbs, the CVs, the former glories. Staying true to Act's core values was mentioned more often than the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are mentioned in statutes. The meetings didn't change a thing. They only provided media fodder to highlight rifts in Act.
Which is it, Rodney? Amnesia, willful ignorance or just plain old tribal shit-stirring?

In Act's primary, half its then-caucus stood for leader; Rodney Hide, Stephen Franks, Muriel Newman and Ken Shirley. You could say each faction had their hat in the ring. The populist Libz, the conservative Rabids, the nutty Rabids and the moderate Libz (for Libz and Rabids definitions, please see here).

The Labour primary also has all three tribes of the Labour caucus represented; Careerist Labour, Union Labour and Pragmatic Labour. Needless to say, Pragmatic Labour is the underdog by a long shot. For a party three times the size Act ever was, it still has fewer divisions than Act did.

If there's any criticism to be aimed at this Labour primary, it is the Byzantine voting procedure that's as clear as mud. The Greens and Act have a clean vote for their leaders, one vote per person. Whereas Labour has this mess of weighted votes that may well render a victory so opaque, it might have well been decided in a back room deal in the first place.

I suppose that's what happens when Labour tries to retrofit a true democratic system onto a representative one. As the saying goes, a horse designed by committee is called a cow. A horse designed by a Labour committee is called a cow's ass.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Confidence is a preference for the Labour Party Leader
Of what is known as
Electoral defeat can be avoided
If you take a route straight through what is known as

John's got defensive he gets intimidated
By the pesky journos, they love a bit of him
Who's that trader fooling?
You should cut down on your Cunlife mate, go to Hawaii

All the people
So many people
They all go hand in hand
Hand in hand to choose Cunlife
Know what I mean?

I get up when I want except on Tuesdays
When I get rudely awakened by the Chief Whip
I put my lei on, have a cup of kava
And I think about leading the House

I feed the unions I sometimes feed the activists too
It gives me a sense of enormous well-being
And then I'm happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge
There will always be a bit of my id devoted to it

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand in hand
Hand in hand to choose Cunlife


It's got nothing to do with
Autobahn technique you know
And it's not about you sloggers
Who go round and round and round

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand in hand
Hand in hand to choose Cunlife

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand in hand
Hand in hand to choose Cunlife

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Adding insult to manslaughter

As if it's not bad enough that the cops have shot an innocent civilian and breached confidentiality agreements, the Plodders have to go and short-change the Naitoko family too.

The cops blurted all and sundry details yesterday with what was supposed to be a face-saving press release. Instead, they ended up looking like a bunch of bullies blundering through the delicate fields of raw emotion.

Nothing unusual there, of course. It's just that this time it's no villain they're tickling, it's a bone fide honest citizen's death and the hole left in their family. There's no Garth McVicar pantomime to plead their case in the media. These victims are too brown for that clown, eh.

If I read between the lines of that Police PR shill correctly, it's not a stretch to presume that the AOS button man shot what was believed to be the right man, due to either garbled communications, loud wops from the Eagle chopper fogging the Comms, or institutionalised racial assumptions. In Copthink, what were the odds that the white guy was bad and the brown guy was good?

Anyways, back to the cheap blue line. Aside from the thousand apologies still owed by the cops to the Naitokos, the NZ Police still owe the Naitoko family another three million, two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars in blood money.

That is the difference between what the cops have coughed up so far, and the $3.5 million statistical value of a human life in NZ (2009 prices). This figure is used to plug everything from Joyce's Roads of Notional Significance through to the Drowning Toll, so I can't see why it isn't used to recompense manslaughter by the state as well.

Maybe Greg O'Connor could be useful for once and have a whip around his union for the shortfall.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Who's Next - Behind Blue Eyes

Ed Milliband had better look out. Labour Parties in the bigger Commonwealth nations have a case of the jitters. Rudd stabbed Gillard in Canberra with a boomerang (a useless stabbing tool, but when life hands you lemons, etc.). David Shearer has just planked himself in Wellington before his useless crew mutinied. If UK Labour can't stop the bleed to UKIP and other protest votes, Ed Millibot's political career might as well jump in a peat bog as well.

It's a sure bet that David Cunliffe will become the third NZ Labour party leader in as many years. Putting aside that iPredict has him out in front by a Pinocchio's nose, there's the party membership and union bloc vote that almost guarantees Cunliffe's coronation. Pity the poor bloody caucus that has to live with it.

It's nothing personal against Cunliffe. My old man was well hated within his Labour party caucus too. Usually, this displeasure is rewarded with placements on the fringes, not the leadership. If Shearer felt undermined by his peers, Cunliffe as leader had best tread lightly.

Frankly, the leadership is not Labour's biggest problem. The party has become infected with Alliance party nomads, and the dead wood of caucus might be the only buffer keeping these nutters away from even worse damage. It seems the party has given up on electorates and destined for the minor party ploy of going only after the party vote.

No-one in Labour has any idea of grand strategy. What Labour really needs right now is some strategic nous, and Cunliffe is almost certain to deliver a large jump to the the Left, where none of the votes are at.

Here's The Who with Behind Blue Eyes, before Limp Bizkit ruined it:

Saturday, August 03, 2013

A Willing Sucker, A Willing Shanker

There's plenty of Schadenfreude to go around Parliament right now.

Press Gallery muppets, formerly in thrall to the government spinners and shakers, have revolted over the Vance revelations. The scalp of the head of Parliamentary Services was offered on a platter, apparently for not telling National's Chief of Staff to go fuck himself before he would release Dunne's data. Fresh from voting for the second reading of the GCSB Bill, Peter Dunne is seeking legal advice over the privacy of ministerial communications.

In a forlorn effort to shut the whole thing down in an officialese version of the DDoS attack that took down several National party websites this week, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet dumped a redacted email trail late Friday afternoon.

The dump is repetitive and narrow. For example, it doesn't list the correspondence between DPMC, National Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson, and the Henry Enquiry, Parliamentary Services and Ministerial Services. Curiously enough though, the DPMC's disclosure signature appears scattered throughout the email trail.

I hope the Parliamentary Privileges Committee gets access to all phone logs, notes from F2F meetings and emails between all these actors, in their inquiry into the inquiry into the leak.

The dump itself reminds me of working for Telecom's *123 mobile helpdesk back in the day. There's elements of The Office at play in there, as well as the usual bureaucratic Chinese Whispers and Pavlov Expectorations. There's occasional flashes of geek curiosity and BOFH (Bastard Operator From Hell) elation:

Annie was surprised. This is the level of novelty that the Henry witch hunt entailed. This is uncharted constitutional territory, and DPMC is drawing the map as it sees fit.

I suppose it is too much to ask for Dunne to reconsider his vote for the third reading of the GCSB Bill. Anything for yet another rigged game in Ohariu, eh.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


All hail the birth of Prince George of Orwell, third in line to the throne of Airstrip One, Defender of the faith of the Church of England and Patron Saint of women's magazines, lazy newspaper editors and the vacuous live cross-promotional soapbox theatre sock puppets of TV news.

# We have always been at war with *CLASSIFIED*:

The US refuses to name its clear and present antagonists in the War on Terror on the grounds of national security.

# Truth is Treason

Nicky Hagar reports on Stuff that the NZ Defence Force, GCSB and SIS were among the people tracking and tracing freelance journalist Jon Stephenson in Afghanistan:
An internal Defence document leaked to the Star-Times reveals that defence security staff viewed investigative journalists as "hostile" threats requiring "counteraction". The classified security manual lists security threats, including "certain investigative journalists" who may attempt to obtain "politically sensitive information".

The manual says Chief of Defence Force approval is required before any NZDF participation in "counter intelligence activity" is undertaken.
What lengths would the NZDF go to in order to save face on the basis of national security? Would they nobble a civilian jury, for example? I have met Defence Force PR people in the past. It's a safe bet that what they know about ethics could be written on an SD card in crayon.

# Hard is Soft

Rachel Smalley loses her 2012 Loki Award for the cross-promotional fluff that has infected The Nation. Who gives a rat's fat crack about X Factor on an alleged hard news program?

# Arbeit Macht Frei

The welfare reforms continue to bite. It's early days yet, but cracks are beginning to show. If the UK experience in outsourced welfare is anything to go by, big problems should be evident in time for next year's election.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mainstream Monomania

After bearing witness to the passing of the Psychoactives Act into law, albeit via modem, a few observations can be made.

1) The MSM tend to focus on their own pre-conceived narrative to the exclusion of all else.

The day the Law Commission released the generational review on the Misuse of Drugs Act, all the MSM buzzards wanted to talk about was artificial cannabis, a slender part of the broad spectrum review. Cannabis? Stuff what the Law Commission said about that. Synthetic cannabis was where the heat was at.

This time, instead of focusing on the new rules over the lolly weed, the MSM fixated on animal testing. Fair go and all. The Greens' Mojo Mathers should chalk up the interest in that as a win, but it's far from the entire story.

2) Speaking of that Law Commission report, Colorado and Washington State's cannabis legalisation roll outs make a mockery of the Commission's blinkered terms of reference regarding the UN Conventions.

3) Is this new law really world leading? Wasn't the world leading legislation really the Schedule D of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which created an R18 schedule for recreational substances way back during the Clark years?

4) It's amazing how such fluff as the Pakeha "Party" rakes in the headlines, while everyone ignores the elephant in the room wearing the Rastafari tricolor. Steve Braunias is right. This is NZ's lamest decade since the 1950's.

The beige bastards and vanilla people might have won this round, but it'll be all on in 2020.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Could be worse

Just as Sky City gets permission to buy out the last small player in the casino market in Queenstown and become the monopoly casino provider in NZ, details over the Shon Kee Convention Centre haggling process spill out into the open.

The voodoo economists in Treasury failed to see the merits of either convention centre or Sky City concessions. Clearly, logic and reason had nothing to do with it. More likely Keynesian economics, corrupted by tender favoritism.

This is conviction politics at its most cynical. If the government must throw money away to create temporary jobs to juke the stats, and minimum slave wage temp jobs to suck up the aftermath, there are no whiter elephants than a Mega Convention Centre. Especially seeing how the financial hub brainfart was stillborn and all.

Much fuss has been had over the foul concessions negotiated between the Nats and Sky City, with good reason. Still, it could have been worse:

# Sky City didn't ask for an expansion of table games to include Russian Roulette or Cock Fighting, hosted by Mike Hosking.

# They didn't ask for a Juice Bank, where punters could exchange blood, sperm, or DNA copyright for printed gambling tickets.

# They didn't ask for an on-site pawn shop, where punters could hand over house and car keys for credit.

# They only got TVNZ land. They could have asked for first right of refusal to purchase Auckland CBD land in perpetuity, in fitting with the thousand year plan to take over the entire city. The gutters would be lined with pokie machines, while a Skywalk above conveyed important people to yet another meeting.

# They didn't ask for $40 million from the government each year to fund a 24 hour carpark childcare centre and library.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Submarine Bells

It was well worth rooting the data cap to watch the Nethui panel on state surveillance the other day. Big bang for buck was also had with Campbell Live's long form look into the time line, hard power, and soft targets behind the GCSB Bill.

Stuff covered the Nethui revelations with the Koru Club angle. On them, even if Ferguson was stating the bleeding obvious there. Hospo is a great way to meet the movers and shakers and check the vibe. That's how I bumped into Ferguson, after all. Long live the tolerable level of chaos known as food and beverage, lest the Soccer Mum puritans shut them all down.

One thing is clear from the panel debate, and reinforced by the Campbell Live piece. There needs to be a review of the security services before any expansion of their powers. They have lost public confidence.

This began long before John Key fucked the dog for Hollywood, although that certainly didn't help. As with any secret squirrel department, only the really stupid security screw ups make it into the public arena. All the rest get buried deep. The public is left to judge SIGINT incompetence over the stuff that can't be hidden, such as the Munchausen fantasist Stephen Wilce, or the creative enhancement of Maryanne Thompson's PhD going under the radar.

The Kitteridge Report backed up what Ferguson said about Wolfensohn, a spymaster overburdened by mission sprawl, and marooned by singular knowledge. Sage counsel is sorely needed. Any oversight panel should remain in the Judiciary, and not be subject to the prime minister's whim as the current Bill wishes. I would suggest not only a retired High Court Judge, but a current Supreme Court and High Court judge sit on any oversight panel. Hell, I'd even be happy with District Court Judge and IT wonk David Harvey helping keep an eye on things.

Paul Buchanan's comments over the dangers of NZ withdrawing from or reforming Five Eyes are worth bearing in mind. His comments regarding NZ having a bob each way over the US China thing is relevant too. Having gone through the Cold War experience, neutrality might be worth a go in the future. Dithering is not going to be an option.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Showdown at Big Sky

If there's a quantum of Kiwi Geek in your DNA, you really should be a member of Internet NZ.

Whether you're a Press Gallery journalist pondering their Parliamentary swipe card with ambivalence, a teeny bopper VPNing their way to whatever currently bounces their bed, an entrepreneur trying to crack the big one without patent trolls leeching their ideas, or just a concerned citizen wishing to expressly help draw the border between security and privacy, join Internet NZ.

They throw out amazing bang for their buck. Take NetHui, for example. It's stuff like this that makes me wish I lived in Wellington again. Fortunately, they have video streams catering for the world's fastest dialup (Joke created by Raybon Kan, riffing Stephen Fry, who ripped Telecom, etc. xkcd isn't the only one into infinite ripples).

Internet NZ has lined up a fine panel for tomorrow morning's panel discussion on state surveillance:
Former Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Sir Bruce Ferguson will tomorrow participate in a NetHui 2013 panel discussion on state surveillance and the GCSB.

The panel is titled ‘State Surveillance of Online Communications’ and will be held at 11.30am at the Wellington Town Hall Auditorium. Discussion will revolve around the proposed legislation that would expand the powers of the GCSB in monitoring private communications, including online communications.

Sir Bruce will join three other distinguished panellists, all of whom have expertise in the area and are frequent media commentators on the subject. Cloud consultant Ian Apperley, solicitor Michael Wigley, and Dr. Paul Buchanan, whose expertise is in security, comparative and international politics, will join Sir Bruce.
In the meantime, why not ponder Jon Stephenson's ongoing defamation trial against Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

The Body Politic might be frozen, but the eyes are wide open.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Minority Report

Plenty of real and virtual ink has been spilled over a Labour Party remit over mandated female representation. I've just waded through 61 pages of it, courtesy of Bryce Edwards' summary of the latest gender skirmishes.

Once again, Tag Team Farrar and Whale have put the headlights on Labour. Once again, Labour have stared at the headlights in a hypnotic stupor, before faceplanting into the radiator of public opinion. Labour's struggle for traction against National continues to look like the lop-sided and fatalistic narrative of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner.

My guess is that the Labour Council-endorsed remit is an attempt for the Women's Council to regain some power after the unions screwed the scrum last year with the new Byzantine rules on the leadership, which left the unions with disproportionate clout.

It goes to show that not all the blame for Labour's dismal poll ratings are David Shearer's fault. And, if Labour's other Councils catch on to the power play, there could be more infighting ahead.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Headless Chicken Dance

You put your Kevin in, you take your Kevin out. You put your Julia in and you shake her all about. You take your Julia out, you put your Kevin in. That's what the Labor Party Headless Chicken Dance is all about.

Poor bloody Julia Gillard. Her political career killed by a poisoned Ruddy apple, from a barrel soaked in the arsenic of Canberra politics. The Mad Abbott has clean hands and budgie smugglers in this matricide. It was the Australian Labor Party intellectual dwarves that done her in; Misogynist, Racist, Pugilist, Supremacist, Separatist, Elitist, and dopey Myopia. Just the usual Australian reptiles eating tomorrow's eggs.

Trotter's Windmill

Some time ago, I promised I would read Gordon Dryden's Out of the Red, after Chris Trotter waved it about as an example of the lost art of journalism. I've only read about a third of it so far. For example, I haven't yet got to the part where my old man tells Norm Kirk to lose five stone weight in order to improve Labour's chances of winning the election.

However, Trotter is still harping on about the Greens dropping Quantitative Easing as we type. In the hope of getting him to stop plucking at this particular spent thread, here's what Gordon Dryden had to say about printing money (pg. 80):
"In our post-election interview almost a year earlier Mr Muldoon had listed West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as the world leader he most admired. Schmidt's well up on my list too. And the German leader had said just a few weeks earlier that the major cause of inflation in the world was the overwhelming majority of countries printing extra money that was unmatched by increases in goods and services."

Trotter's tilting at windmills if he thinks there's a snowball's chance to resurrect any lift for QE.That dirigible has crashed. Any chance Sancho Bradbury can pull the Don from that wreckage?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Twatting the Messenger

A few thoughts on the political stories du jour.

# Foreshadowing 2015-17; Member for Doublespeak, Winston "No Baubles" Peters, has used the word Orwellian in a sentence, thereby signalling that he will support the GCSB spy bill. After a few sweeties have been thrown in, of course.

Having birthed his nemesis over a cup of tea with John Banks back in 2011, John Key will have no choice but to hitch Winston to his wagon in 2014 to stay PM. Werewolf Peters will join Zombie Banks at the reins of the same government for the first time since the 90s.

Little wonder Key is trying to voodoo up any Green Lab coalition in the public imagination. No-one has yet imagined the terrible price of a Nat/ NZ First/ Act coalition. Charter schools popped out of nowhere post-2011. Dagg knows what Peters will fart out for his price in 2014.

# The Law Society's written submission on the GCSB Bill is getting a justifiably glowing response around the blogs. Ex post facto, I'd nail my proxy to their words as well.

The security services don't work for New Zealanders. They're sworn to serve the Queen and her successors, not us. Their Big Daddy, GCHQ, is a squalid corrupt shambles. Dagg knows what the state of the GCSB is like, but judging Kitteridge's words, I wouldn't trust them with the keys to the nation's grid.

# Cannabis law reform has proved an acid test in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election, separating the realists from the conservatives. It's good to see a Mana candidate speak well on the subject. Hone Harawira has always been too conservative to grok the problem, as have the Maori Party gerontocracy.

# And finally, Peter Dunne. After considerable stirring of my mixed feelings, I must conclude that the worm has turned and good riddance.

United Future lucked it on the back of a worm in the 2002 election, a subject I spoke of for one of my post-grad papers in 2006, just before one of my meltdowns. Dunne killed cannabis reform with his coalition agreement with the Clark administration, ruining some sensible plans from Labour's Tim Barnett, who had seen through Civil Unions and Prostitution Reform.

That kind of damage is unforgiveable. No sympathy for Captain Sensible. He has ruined so many lives, his least of all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Groundhog Interrupted

Bryce Edwards seems to have taken a page out of the Glenn Beck School of Rhetorical Trolls by parsing his latest Politics Daily summary by with byline, Is the Green Party losing its soul? This pot of Solstice shit-stirring has been brought about by Norman dropping the hippy dippy Quantitative Easing Policy, a sane and pragmatic step which has forced me out of my hole prematurely to defend.

Back in the the early days of MMP, when I was a volunteer research assistant in the Act Party's Bowen House offices, I devised a not-so-dubious theory that the minor parties acted as experimental stunt muppets for policy. If the policy stuck to the wall of public acceptance, the dominant parties of National or Labour would adopt them as their own.

This theory has been borne out since then. Everything from from Act's Treaty Deadlines to the Greens' Insulation Scheme has been grabbed by mainstream politics. It's not such a stretch. The main two parties do it all the time, cannibalising each other's policies, from universal welfare benefits to local council amalgamation.

When a party fails to sell a policy, it is shelved. Printing money was a kite that rightly got shot down. No harm in admitting defeat there. The Labour Party are doing it all the time, saying sorry for everything from GST off fresh fruit and vege through to duplicitous stances on Sky City's brand of hospitality. I'm especially looking forward to the apology for Clayton Cosgrove.

Nup, it's nothing but realpolitik from the Greens, and good on them for adapting. It pays to recognise which way the wind is blowing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mental Health Break

Dear readers; as you might have surmised, I've come down with a case of Weltschmerz. Normal service will resume in the fullness of time. In the meantime, looking at the Outlook for Thursday, what with some bloggers marooned already and everything, here's a bit of music therapy while everyone battens down the hatches.

Nice weather for the Mutton Birds:

And back to the Mutton Birds, dedicated to Busted Blonde and Brunswick:

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Alternative Presentations - Green Party Humans

Colin James looks at the Green Machine in his latest column for Management magazine. If I was going for this Green Party Campaign Manager position, this is would be my gimmick (to the tune of Eurythmics' Missionary Man. It renders well in NZSL too):
Well, I was born a Labour Party baby
I was raised a Labour Party kid
But if I had a Hillary bill
For all the cred they've killed
I'd have a Parnell palace
Just like John Key did

My Dad, he told me good
My Dad, he told me strong
Stick with Progressive Labour
And you can't go wrong
But there's just one thing
You must understand
You can fool your brother
But don't mess with the Green Party Humans
Don't mess with the Green Party Humans
Don't mess with the Green Party Humans
Don't mess with the Green Party Humans

Unfortunately, the CV is in disrepair, and I fear I'd say something offensive during any interview, so I won't be applying. May the best human win.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

Imagine for a moment that you like playing Scrabble. Imagine that you were playing against your friends, family and workmates. Now imagine that while they got the full assortment of letter tiles, the only tiles you got were M, D, N, E, L and U. Not a fair game you might say. Now, imagine if your life depended on this game of Scrabble. Do you reckon you could keep up with your peers' scores?

That's what my right ear plays with in this loaded game of life. My left ear has a few more tiles to play with, but no plurals, no G, K or T. And P's and H's are as rare as Zeds and Exes.

The technical name for the above diagram is "Audiogram with Speech Banana" (the original was nicked from here).

The graph's XY skeleton is the standard chart for describing someone's hearing. The horizontal axis charts the pitch or frequency, while the vertical charts the decibels or loudness. The thick black line at 20 decibels marks the border of "normal" human hearing, which can "normally" detect frequencies between 125 and 8000 Hz.
Just as most legally blind people have some vision, profoundly Deaf people are not all without sound (Hence Deaf Club Dance Nights). Unlike visual acuity, hearing impairment is not measured arithmetically but logarithmically.

While 20 metres is one tenth as far as 200 metres, 20 decibels is nowhere near one tenth the loudness of 200 decibels. 20 decibels is one tenth as loud as 30 decibels (I don't know what makes a sound 200 dB. Maybe a large meteorite. Rest assured most legally blind people would still see some light from the flaming meteorite, and the Deaf would hear/feel aspects of it).

The black silhouettes on the graph represent common sounds at their respective pitch and loudness. For example, a vacuum cleaner's whine is around 3000 Hz and about 60 decibels loud. The grey shaded area is known as the Speech Banana, and represents the area where the human vocal range occurs.

The red and blue dots graph my right and left ears respectively. As you can see, I was born unbalanced, and short of a few letter boxes. The ski slopes show typical congenital sensori-neural hearing loss. All the sounds above the coloured lines pass me by, like Vogons or neutrinos. And if you want me to hear your plurals, please say your S sounds at the volume of a motorbike.

I mention this crash course in Deafness for a few reasons. Firstly, this "Who says I need a cure?" article in Stuff Nation. Secondly, because I want to do my little part for the end of NZ Sign Language Week. And thirdly, because the pet WINZ doctor has kicked me off the Invalid's Benefit. This means for all practical purposes I am considered fit enough for the workforce.

I do want to work. I hate being at WINZ's mercy, let alone the judgment of the Doctor Gods who determine eligibility for incapacity. However, the hermit's life has given me some peace of mind for the first time in decades, and I'm not at all sure how long that will last if I'm thrust back into the barrage of white noise.

I learned long ago that one of the worst things you can be is different. Whether it was in the playground factions of primary school, or TV movies like The Boy with Green Hair or The Tin Drum, one was expected to not stand out.

Conformity became a personal issue when I discovered the old man was a practising eugenicist. I hid my Deafness deep down, learning to respond to personal interaction in non-silent environments not from the incomprehensible garble that came out of peoples' mouths, but rote reactions to their facial expressions. The method was hit and miss, but better than nothing.

Bluff and bluster can only take you so far in business. Misunderstandings, mishearings and mistakes cost time, money, and reputation. No-one wants the Deaf guy. Too off-key, too loud, too risky.

Hearing aids, you say? I got my first one at 18, an awful brick of a device that hit my brain like static on the radio. My current aids are much more advanced, but I still prefer not to wear them. I worked out why after reading Oliver Sacks' tragic tale in An Anthropologist on Mars. To See and Not See is about a man born blind who gains the ability to see before losing it again. There's only so much brain plasticity to go around, eh.

I have finally accepted who I am but the Norms still won't. However, you are most welcome to prove me wrong by hiring this Deaf guy. I don't want your pity. I want a job. Can you handle the diversity?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Calm the Fuck Down or Fuck the Fuck Off

Brit Prime Minister David Cameron is currently calling the machete attack terrorism, demonstrating the threshold for scare tactics has been lowered to the level of bare criminality. I look forward to the next Birmingham pub bottling being described in similarly lurid and hyperbolic terms.

Speaking of bollocks, I was wondering how long it would take for the local spy ring to reply to the continuing accusations of illegality, incompetence and mission creep that has plagued them ever since Kim Dotcom started his day in court. Enter Aaron Lim with this steaming pile of spooks' ectoplasm:
A Boston type attack in New Zealand is unlikely, but not impossible.

Only two bombs have gone off in NZ history. The first was the fatal and unsolved Union Hall blast. The second was the Rainbow Warrior attack, performed by a state-funded team of cheese-eating terror monkeys.

New Zealand lacks the deep racial cleavages of Boston, or the centuries-old feuds of Europe. We don't have the same brand of religious nutters, such as the Tokyo subway sect, and the local neo-nazi outfits lack brains and charisma.

The Cold War is over, and the spooks have to justify their existence in ever more bogus ways. This crazy arc is described by the James Bond franchise, which went from supervillains with Connery to chasing its tail with Craig.

The enemy is us! C'est la guerre. If they aren't kept busy in overseas theatres at prohibitive expense, the military tend to get restless and start their dramas on the local peasants for exercise.

My advice is to ignore that army mole and listen to Bob Jones instead. He's right on the button when he openly questions the need for a standing army.