Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Child abuse: "Not my problem, not my fault."

Child abuse, says Blair at Mulholland Drive is "not my problem, not my fault." A very good piece.
If I hear the word WE again with regard to the Nia Glassie debacle, I am going to stick some people in a clothes dryer myself.

Take your royal WE and piss off. I have never abused a child. I have never hit a child. I have never stood by and allowed anyone to beat up on the innocent and defenceless. I did not cause you to act like a monster and beat a toddler to death. That would have been, oh, there's a word for it... YOU! To quote Johnny Rotten, there's a problem, but the problem is YOU.
So what you gonna do?

US presidential candidates quiz

The 2Decide website has a quick quiz for you to rank US presidential candidates' platforms against what yours might be, giving scores out of a possible 125 [Hat tip Richard]. Here's my tally below, showing there's no one with whom I agree more than about one-quarter of the time. Based on this alone you'd have to say I'd be staying home on voting day. How 'bout you?

Rudy Giuliani (R) 33
John McCain (R) 32
Duncan Hunter (R) 18
Tommy Thompson (R) 12
Sam Brownback (R) 12
Mike Gravel (D) 7
Tom Tancredo (R) 3
Ron Paul (R) 2
Bill Richardson (D) -3
John Cox (R) -5
Huckabee (R) -8
Mitt Romney (R) -12
Dennis Kucinich (D) -13
Barrack Obama (D) -22
John Edwards (D) -23
Chris Dodd (D) -28
Hillary Clinton (D) -33
Joe Biden (D) -33

UPDATE: Oops, you have to be careful about answering some of the questions since not all are set up as you might think. I've updated my scores to reflect a run through that more closely reflects my views.

"Walking does more than driving to cause global warming..."

Another paean today to the Law of Unintended Consequences, or as I've said it before: It Ain't Easy Being Green. The gentleman saying it here today is Dominic Kennedy who noted in last week's Times that "Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated." How 'bout that! Here's the argument behind the calculation:
Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, [described by New Scientist as "the definitive guide to reducing your carbon footprint"] based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production. "Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles adds about 0.9 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere," he said, a calculation based on the Government's official fuel emission figures. "If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You'd need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving.

"The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better."

Mr Goodall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, is the latest serious thinker to turn popular myths about the environment on their head.

Catching a diesel train is now twice as polluting as travelling by car for an average family, the Rail Safety and Standards Board admitted recently. Paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic because of the extra energy needed to manufacture and transport them, the Government says.

Fresh research published in New Scientist last month suggested that 1kg of meat cost the Earth 36kg in global warming gases. The figure was based on Japanese methods of industrial beef
production but Mr Goodall says that farming techniques are similar throughout the West [although obviously not all the west].

What if, instead of beef, the walker drank a glass of milk? The average person would need to drink 420ml - three quarters of a pint - to recover the calories used in the walk. Modern dairy
farming emits the equivalent of 1.2kg of CO2 to produce the milk, still more pollution than the car journey.

Cattle farming is notorious for its perceived damage to the environment, based on what scientists politely call "methane production" from cows. The gas, released during the digestive
process, is 21 times more harmful than CO2 . Organic beef is the most damaging because organic cattle emit more methane.

Michael O'Leary, boss of the budget airline Ryanair, has been widely derided after he was reported to have said that global warming could be solved by massacring the world's cattle. "The
way he is running around telling people they should shoot cows," Lawrence Hunt, head of Silverjet, another budget airline, told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. "I do not think you can really have debates with somebody with that mentality."

But according to Mr Goodall, Mr O'Leary may have a point. "Food is more important [to Britain's greenhouse emissions] than aircraft but there is no publicity," he said. "Associated British Foods isn't being questioned by MPs about energy.

"We need to become accustomed to the idea that our food production systems are equally damaging. As the man from Ryanair says, cows generate more emissions than aircraft. Unfortunately, perhaps, he is right. Of course, this doesn't mean we should always choose to use air or car travel instead of walking. It means we need urgently to work out how to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our foodstuffs."

Simply cutting out beef, or even meat, however, would be too modest a change. The food industry is estimated to be responsible for a sixth of an individual's carbon emissions, and Britain may be the worst culprit.
Interesting stuff, no? Kennedy finishes up with a grab bag of eco-myths that he takes to with relish:
  • Traditional nappies are as bad as disposables, a study by the Environment Agency found. While throwaway nappies make up 0.1 per cent of landfill waste, the cloth variety are a waste of energy, clean water and detergent.
  • Paper bags cause more global warming than plastic. They need much more space to store so require extra energy to transport them from manufacturers to shops.
  • Diesel trains in rural Britain are more polluting than 4x4 vehicles. Douglas Alexander, when Transport Secretary, said: “If ten or fewer people travel in a Sprinter [train], it would be less environmentally damaging to give them each a Land Rover Freelander and tell them to drive.”
  • Burning wood for fuel is better for the environment than recycling it, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs discovered.
  • Organic dairy cows are worse for the climate. They produce less milk so their methane emissions per litre are higher.
  • Someone who installs a “green” lightbulb undoes a year’s worth of energy-saving by buying two bags of imported veg, as so much carbon is wasted flying the food to Britain.
  • Trees, regarded as shields against global warming because they absorb carbon, were found by German scientists to be major producers of methane, a much more harmful greenhouse gas.
The moral of the story? It's not easy appeasing Gaia. Or trying to.

'The Westerner,' by Badger Clark, 1947

My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains,
And each one sleeps alone.
Their trails may dim to the grass and rains,
For I choose to make my own.
I lay proud claim to their blood and name,
But I lean on no dead kin;
My name is mine for the praise or scorn,
And the world began when I was born
And the world is mine to win.

They built high towns on their old log sills,
Where the great, slow rivers gleamed,
But with new, live rock from the savage hills
I’ll build as they only dreamed.
The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp lies,
Till rails glint down the pass;
The desert springs into fruit and wheat
And I lay the stones of a solid street
Over yesterday’s untrod grass.

I waste no thought on my neighbor’s birth
Or the way he makes his prayer.
I grant him a white man’s room on earth
If his game is only square.
While he plays it straight I’ll call him mate;
If he cheats I drop him flat.
Old class and rank are a worn-out lie,
For all clean men are as good as I,
And a king is only that.

I dream no dreams of a nursemaid State
That will spoon me out my food.
A stout heart sings in the fray with fate
And the shock and sweat are good.
From noon to noon all the earthly boon
That I ask my God to spare
Is a little daily bread in store,
With the room to fight the strong for more,
And the weak shall get their share.

The sunrise plains are a tender haze
And the sunset seas are gray,
But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze
Over me and the big today.
What good to me is a vague “maybe”
Or a mournful “might have been,”
For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn
And the world began when I was born
And the world is mine to win.

Monday, 6 August 2007

When more patients is a good thing

Flicking recently through the list of members of the Kebyar Network, an organisation promoting organic architecture, I stumbled across the website of an architect who specialises in designing medical clinics and hospital emergency rooms. His website boasted that his company's emergency rooms have proven more successful in attracting customers than any others.

I was struck by that. Struck by the contrast with how a designer of hospitals in New Zealand or the UK would promote themselves. Struck by the contrast in incentives between 'public' and private medicine. When this guy is hired by profit-making businesses to design their emergency rooms, his clients actually want him to attract more people inside. In their view, attracting more customers is a good thing, since more customers equals greater profits, and and increased ability to treat even more patients.

Such are the incentives in private medicine.

By contrast, when the government builds emergency rooms, more people are a nuisance. More patients equals an increasing strain on limited resources. More people in the emergency room is a problem.

Such are the disincentives in state-run medicine.

Where increased custom in the private emergency rooms designed by my colleague is a good thing -- it's an opportunity for growth and profit -- increased custom in the state's die-while-you-wait health system is a problem that's so bad on Auckland's North Shore it's being ameliorated by using ambulances instead of hospital beds to take up the shortfall, even as a man who was throwing up blood had to wait a whole three hours to get simply get to the hospital because the ambulance were busy and hospital was already full.

Welcome to socialist medicine.

Put RWC dates in your Outlook calendar

Rugby fans, rugby widows and people who want to know which afternoons in September and October they can drink in public quietly (and when they should perhaps stay home) should head immediately to Michael Gregg's blog and download a file of the entire Rugby World Cup schedule for your Microsoft Outlook calendar. As the man says, "This may be the most important download you undertake this year." Instructions:
1. Download the worldcup.hol file from Michael's blog and double click.
2. Click "open."
3. Click the box next to the title "Rugby World Cup."
4. Click "ok."

And that's it. All the dates and times for ALL the rugby world cup games will now be in your calendar. Magic.

Key on housing affordability and elsewhere

The headline paragraph from John Key's conference speech yesterday appears in his introduction:
Why have we given up our weekend to gather here in Auckland? I'll give you one reason. We're sick of Labour telling us what to do. We're sick of being told how to bring up our kids, what to put in school lunchboxes, and that we have to microchip our dogs. We're sick of being told off for buying houses and for eating pies.

But it's more than that. We are also here because we believe in the principles of the National Party. We believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility. We believe the government should underpin our society but not dominate it...
All very good ... and if only we could believe he means a word of it. How, for example, does this follow from that?
So, after careful deliberation, we announced our target of cutting New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by the year 2050.
How on earth does shackling and shutting down industry reflect a belief in individual freedom and individual responsibility? And why do the headline tax cuts -- one of the few policies on which National and Labour do differ -- why do these only arrive in 2010, three years from now? If the Nats believe "the government should underpin our society but not dominate it," then why not give us our own money back ASAP, not on some sort of never-never plan.

There were headline announcements on improving housing affordability that constitute more policy than we've seen from Key so far:

Mr Key signalled a National-led government would improve housing affordability by embarking on a programme of personal tax cuts, changing the building regulatory regime, keeping interest rates lower, reforming development rules to free up land, and allowing state house dwellers to buy their homes.
All very promising if the reality matched the headlines, so just how do these headline announcements hold up? Let's hear:
International surveys rank New Zealand as having the second worst housing affordability problem in the world. Auckland is one of the 25 least affordable cities on the planet. But it's not just a problem in Auckland. You can buy a condo on the Miami waterfront for less than the price of the latest beachfront apartment on the Kapiti Coast... Onerous rules and requirements have made land more expensive and building on that land more expensive. Meanwhile, we're running out of people who are able to build houses in the first place. As a result of all this, there are not enough houses being built to replace the old ones and to keep up with population growth.
This is all too sadly true, so what's John Boy's solution? He announced a "four-point plan":
No, 1... We will lower personal income taxes, which will ease the burden of mortgage repayments, and will also help people who are saving for a house deposit.
Very good, but waiting until 2010 won't help them soon enough.
No 2. We will take the legislative actions required to ensure there is an increased supply of suitable land available to build houses on. Difficulties with the Resource Management Act, and disagreements between various arms of local government, too often slow the release of land. This drives up its price and the cost of its development.
The most important legislative action that is required to ensure there is an increased supply of suitable land available on which to build houses is to remove the RMA, or at least to remove from the RMA and the LGA the powers for council planners to zone private land, and the power to set urban walls around New Zealand towns and cities. However, since details are few and far between (and those details bear little relevance to what's needed here), I'm not sure that's genuinely on offer, and anything less will just be window dressing. As always with politicians the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.

Continuing Key's four-point plan however sees the same nannying from Key that he complains about in his introduction:
Any changes we make to streamline and speed up the process of zoning or land release will require developers to build on that land within a reasonable timeframe. This will prevent the land-banking that is currently choking off the supply of land.
Forcing developers to build on their own land when it's not economic to do so is hardly consistent either with National's supposed principles of individual freedom and individual responsibility, -- with the principle that government underpins our society without dominating it -- or even with good economic sense. It's just dumb.

What currently chokes off the supply of land is not tardy developers, it's zoning, zoning restrictions and the council-mandated erection of urban zoning walls around cities. I want to hear from the Nats how these are going to be removed, not that hard-pressed developers (who will need to become less hard-pressed if houses are to become more affordable) are to become even more hard-pressed under a National Government. Sheesh! But let's continue:
No 3. A high legislative priority for National will be amending the Building Act to pull back the red tape and instead drive quality through greater commercial accountability.

Labour's new Building Act has added enormous costs and delays for builders and councils. Development and building levies have tripled under Labour. Quite simply, these costs are making houses unnecessarily expensive for the average Kiwi family.
"Amending the Building Act to pull back the red tape and instead drive quality through greater commercial accountability" would be good for everyone if Key's lot could do it -- and it's encouraging that Key's lot recognise that quality is driven better and more effectively by commercial accountability than it is by regulation and controls -- but it's not at all encouraging that this is the same lot that brought in the Building Act that started all the problems that house builders and home-owners now face, and without any details (and the knowledge of the complications involved in amending the Building Act) this promise at this stage is just so many empty words.

So what's next? What's next is actually very good:

No 4. We will allow Housing New Zealand tenants who want to purchase the house they live in, to do so.
That's very good. That's very, very good. When Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives allowed sitting council house tenants to buy at a heavy discount the houses in which they lived it was enormously popular (indeed, her "right-to-buy housing revolution" as it was dubbed was the first enormously popular thing her Conservative Government had done) and enormously successful, and there's no reason it wouldn't be both successful and popular here.

In the UK after introduction of Thatcher's 1980 Housing Act, home ownership grew from 55 % of the population in 1980 to 64 % in 1987; by the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 it was 67 %. That's a huge jump, and it inspired a huge change in fortunes, and in expectations.

With "right-to-buy" Thatcher wanted to create a social revolution, and she did. Bby 1995 2.1 million working class tenants had become members of the "property-owning democracy," changing Britain and these people's lives for the better. This is one thing I'm very pleased that the Nats have learned from the Tories (albeit twenty-seven years late), and very pleased to see Key's Pink Tories even talking about privatisation . . . any privatisation at all. I'm very pleased too to see this:
Alongside this four-point plan, National is also going to increase trades-training opportunities so New Zealand has more skilled people to build and develop new houses. This will start with our trades-in-schools programme, and will include boosting apprenticeship training. New Zealand has faced a critical shortage of builders, plumbers and electricians for far too long.
Also very good. Without detail it's impossible to know if it's possible to increase trades-training opportunities, and without the will to face down the education mandarins it's impossible to make a dent in a promise like this, but seeing a commitment to do so is fantastic, albeit nearly twenty years late.
And, yes, as Nick Smith told Conference yesterday, we will reform the Resource Management Act.
Oh, really? Forgive my scepticism. This is the chap whose mentor Simon Upton introduced the Resource Management Act, who administered it without change for five years, and who ever since has proposed amendments that he himself has described as "window dressing." (I'll look at Smith's speech later today.)

I can't help thinking that in fact National's real plan for housing affordability is to make nice sounds, while waiting for a market correction. I'll wait to see more detail before I change my mind about that.

And perhaps temper any enthusiasm you might have at Key's great introduction by reading the speech's conclusion, where the same old platitudes emerge:
...when you leave here today, and as you prepare for next year's election, never forget what you are fighting for. You are fighting for tomorrow. For the chance to shape tomorrow. For the chance to make a difference and to leave behind a better New Zealand.

Because it's time. It's time for confidence. It's time for optimism.
It's time once again, it seems, for platitudes and for wheeling out Jenny Shipley's speech writer. But at least for once their was some meat. For once.

UPDATE: It's important to clarify that date of 2010, which is when John Key himself told The Press that any National tax cuts would happen. From Thursday's Press:
Hopes of early personal tax cuts under a National government have been dashed, with leader John Key saying they probably will not start until 2010.

National has promised tax cuts in its first Budget if it wins power, and Key said yesterday that meant tax cuts from April 1 the following year.

That opens the door for Labour to promise to cut taxes earlier in Finance Minister Michael Cullen's next Budget, which would see cuts start from April 2009.


Key suggested yesterday, before his first annual party conference as leader this weekend, that an early Budget was not on his agenda at this stage.

Asked if that meant a tax cut in April 2010, he said: "Yes, that's right. It could be that sort of distance away, notwithstanding any changes we might make.

"We have always argued about phased-in tax cuts, not a big-bang approach."
Over to you, John Boy apologists.

Fisking Nick Smith's conference speech: "Gutting"? What gutting?

Says Nick Smith at the weekend's National Party conference:
The problem is that while Helen Clark is chanting 'sustainability' like a Hare Krishna her Government's laws and departments are making it harder than ever to advance renewable energy projects.
An amusing soundbite, but perhaps the chief problem here is that while Helen Clark is chanting 'sustainability' like a Hare Krishna seeking electoral nirvana, Nick Smith is chanting the self-same incantation like a catholic trying to buy electoral indulgence.

What's different between them is only the colour of their robes.

The real problem is both of them. The problem with Nick is that he's still to acknowledge that "the Government's laws and departments that are making it harder than ever to advance renewable energy projects" (or any energy projects at all) were put in place by Nick's mentor Simon Upton, and kept in place by Nick without amendment when he was Minister.

He knows that. He hopes you've forgotten.

So it's impossible to take his criticisms seriously. Or him. His criticisms are valid, but there's nothing he's got that's going to make any difference at all.
The Dobson hydro project on the West Coast was blocked by her Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter. Project Aqua was killed off by Minister Marian Hobbs and then local MP David Parker. The Wairau Hydro Scheme in Marlborough, granted consent last month after a tiresomely long 18-month hearing process, has now been appealed to the Environment Court by none other than the Department of Conservation."
All too true, and all too sad, but what's even sadder is that nothing Nick proposes would make a difference. Nothing in Nick's plan to "simplify and streamline" the RMA will make a blind bit of difference to any of the problems he identifies.

Wouldn't you call that dishonest?

Russel Norman makes headlines by claiming that Nick wants to "gut" the RMA. Frog Blog says he wants to "subsidise urban sprawl." Neither are true. Smith, you'll recall, is on record as wanting to "soften" National's environmental message, and even that would be too bold a description for what Smith proposes here and elsewhere. "Window dressing" would be more accurate, and too kind.

Smith claims that as minister he will "streamline and simplify" the RMA, or at least that's what the headline says. But what's needed to fix all the ills he cites in energy production, in tranport, in aquaculture and with housing affordability is not "streamlining and simplifying" the RMA, but actually gutting it, as Russel so erroneously claims is on the table; what's really needed is not softening, tinkering or simplifying (even if it were true) but putting a stake right through the heart of the RMA, burying it for good, and starting again with a property-rights based common law system that protects both the environment and property owners.

But that's not on offer.

What is on offer is Smith's plan to streamline and simplify that's so crucial to so many other policy proposals from the Pink Tories, not least in Key's four-point plan to improve housing affordability. What is the plan? Says Smith, "There are three broad themes that make up National’s proposals." Remember as the read these "broad themes" that the National Party is, in Smith's own words, "a pro-market, pro-enterprise party that hates bureaucracy and stifling red tape."
Firstly, the Act needs greater central government direction. It is the most devolved environmental statute in the world resulting in every Council having to reinvent the wheel. We propose setting up to 20 national environmental goals to clearly guide decision makers on what needs to be achieved and will measure progress towards them. That is also why we are keen on an Environmental Protection Authority.
Greater central government direction. An Environmental Protection Authority. Does that sound like less bureaucracy and less stifling red tape? Is he stupid, or does he think we are? What's next?
Secondly, National wants greater use of price signals, markets and better recognition of property rights.
Well, that would be good, wouldn't it. But what does this mean to Smith? It means "in areas like water permits, greenhouse gas emissions, and nitrogen discharges, we favour cap-and-trade systems over bureaucratic systems of allocation." To Smith, "greater use of price signals, markets and better recognition of property rights" looks like just another form of bureaucratic rationing. Frightening, isn't it. No mention of securing the property rights of land owners, or even of placing property rights at the heart of the RMA. No mention at all, and no chance of it ever happening under a Smith-led environment ministry. To Smith, "property rights" means that bureaucrats can take your land or strip the value from your land by bureaucratic fiat, and you might be able to receive some "compensation." That's the gist of his third "theme":
We also want to improve the compensation mechanisms in the Public Works Act. We want to make explicit that landowners must be consulted over rules affecting their land and believe a net conservation benefit approach would get better environmental outcomes. We want less litigation and more science in decision-making. We propose refocusing the legal aid fund and putting the money into more technical support and into mediation services.
Explain that gibberish if you can (and try to explain to someone like The Castle's Daryl Kerrigan that compensation for their property is tantamount to protecting their property rights).

So much for the "themes"; what about the details? How, if at all, will he go about "simplifying and streamlining the processes of the Act to reduce the delays, uncertainties and costs."

Let me detail some of our proposals for simplifying the Act:
1. We propose to limit the definition of environment to natural and physical resources so as to avoid vexatious arguments over trade competition and where the Taniwha might live.
A small change. A very, very small change that without a substantive change to section 5 of the RMA is all but meaningless.
2. We propose to reduce the number of consent categories from the current five to three, so it is not nearly so complicated.
The number of consent categories were increased so as to make consent applications easier; reducing them is going to make applications harder, not easier.
3. We propose fixing the vague Treaty clause by removing the broad reference to it’s principles [sic] that nobody understands and be quite specific about the consultation requirements with iwi.
"Fixing" would be good, if we could be certain that "fixing" meant removing. Nothing less will do.
4. We propose reducing the number of plans. We note with interest that Northland has adopted a ‘one plan’ policy integrating its Regional and three District Plans into one, and we are exploring applying it nationwide. Eighty-five plans for a country of four million people is excessive.
Irrelevant window dressing.
5. We propose integrating the RMA properly with the Historic Places, Forests, Building and Fisheries Acts, so applicants are not confronted by multiple hurdles.

And just as irrelevant is this last point. Taken together then Smith's five points are a mixture of irrelevant, meaningless, hopeless and more damaging, much like himself really. What about his next five points, which he promises will "streamline the Act:

1. It is a waste of everyone’s time to go through years of double process of a consent hearing and then the Environment Court. That’s why we back the direct referral of major applications straight to the Environment Court.
Small and worthwhile, but hardly a king hit to bureaucracy and red tape.
2. It is wrong that Ministers can veto the process as we saw with the 13-year debacle over the Whangamata Marina. That veto will go under National and decisions will be left with the Environment Court.
A long overdue change, and helpful to those few projects that the minister reviews, but irrelevant to ninety-nine-point-nine percent of resource consent proposals that linger for months or even years, and no help at all in reducing the thirteen years it took for the Whangamata Marina application to even get to the minister's desk. In other words, more window dressing.
3. There should be a penalty when Councils ignore the 20-day timeline for resource consents. Councils charge penalties when the ratepayer is late, as with rates. If it is good enough for the goose, it is good enough for the gander.
This is something that sounds good but will deliver the opposite of the intended result. Councils are already adept at asking pathetic and irrelevant questions to extend that nominal twenty-day limit they have for considering resource consent applications; making "a late consent a free consent" won't make consents arrive any earlier, or save anyone any money: instead applicants will simply be assailed with even more stupid and irrelevant questions to justify those processing applications "stopping the clock" than they do now. And although it's hard to image how much more stupid some of those questions can get, it's clear enough that the stupid questions will increase under Smith's stupid proposal. That he wants to hang his hat on this is a sign of how little he really understands the Kafka-esque problems with making and receiving Resource Consent applications.
4. There should be limits on requests for more information. An applicant should be able to require that a consent be processed, albeit they run the risk of being rejected. They at least then have the option of appealing to the Environment Court.
Few applicants that I know of want to got to the Environment Court at all, as most council planners are aware. As an empty threat, this one is much emptier than most.
5. The Court should have the power to require security for costs, a power taken away by Labour. If an application or objection is weak and likely to involve a costs order, this discretionary power of the Court helps get rid of the vexatious and frivolous.
An improvement perhaps, if only a minor improvement, but given the irrational, unpredictable and (as I described it) Kafka-esque nature of Resource Consent law, no rational submitter on (for example) an overbearing District Plan or on council zoning abuses is going to be risking their houses to stand up against the council, and none is likely to be either solvent or active for very long.

So that's it. This is what Smith calls "streamlining and simplifying" the RMA. This is what Russel Norman calls "gutting" the RMA. This is what Key, in his own speech, says is going to "ensure there is an increased supply of suitable land available to build houses on."

They're all wrong. This is pathetic and ineffective window dressing. Nearly twenty years after its introduction the Resource Management Act continues to destroy wealth creation and savage New Zealander's property rights and home-ownership aspirations, and this pathetic soft-shelled excuse for a human being has yet to learn to identify the solution: a stake through its heart.

If he really believes that his pathetic, weak-kneed ten-point plan is anything other than hopeless drivel, then he's even worse than I ever took him for. No wonder Lindsay Perigo calls him a man with a tongue so forked you could hug a tree with it.

NB: You're not going to find serious environmental reform by thumbing through the bland promises of the mainstream parties. Look out soon for the release of Libertarianz' seven-point plan to begin the deregulation of the environment. That's something that, if implemented, really would recognise individual freedom and personal responsibility, and kickstart a genuine environmental revolution for the better.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Oops! Your slip is showing.

Audrey Young on John Boy's conference speech this morning:
11:45: Yikes! As blunders go, it doesn't get much worse than the one John Key just made in his first speech to the National Party conference as party leader. "
Under a Labour Government I lead, child abusers will be severely punished."
G-Man on the nature of Freudian Slips:
A far higher authority on psych recently defined a Freudian slip thus:
"Now a Freudian slip is where you say something you didn’t mean to, because of your subconscious mind. The example given is when you call your wife by your mistress’ name."
'Nuff said.UPDATE: DS tells me he's always liked this definition for Freudian Slip: "Saying one thing when you mean your mother".

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Weekend Ramble, #23

Another ramble through sights and sounds and snippets that caught my eye over the week. . .
  • As the Nats meet in Auckland's Langham Hotel to gird their loins for next year's election, they might give some thought to the political fortunes of UK Conservative leader David Cameron, on whom John Boy Key has adopted his all-things-to-all-men weasel-wording politics. Notes the Express this week (hardly the voice of Tory discontent), the weasel-words and bullshit are wearing thin:
    DAVID Cameron faces a summer of discontent from his own supporters, it emerged last night. Several major backers [this one for example] were said to have given the Tory leader notice that he has two months to sharpen up his act or face trouble at the party’s conference ...
    One senior Conservative said last night: “The leader’s got roughly 60 days to make us look like a party that could win an election, let alone form a Government. If he can’t do that, then hard questions will have to be asked.” New policy proposals have ... failed to capture the public’s attention, while one prominent donor has demanded that Mr Cameron do some “rethinking”. A poll yesterday put Labour on 41 per cent against 32 per cent for the Conservatives.

    Much more damaging for Mr Cameron, however, was the finding that just 27 per cent of voters now say they believe he is a good leader, compared to 43 per cent in February.
    Cameron's spin-without-substance act is wearing thin, just as it deserves to. Something for John Boy's boys to think about.

  • Entrepreneurs are what moves the world. What are the top ten signs that you're made to be an entrepreneur? [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

  • A few books are a few of my favourite things. Books of early NZ history are high on my list of favourite books, but they're always either expensive or difficult to get hold of. Until now. I just finished reading John Logan Campbell's entertaining Poenamo, and searched on the web to check a few names and place names, and discovered not just that Poenamo itself is online, but literally dozens of early NZ classic are also online in their entirety courtesy of the Auckland University Library. What a magic resource.

  • Another lesson from history from the recent Sudanese diaspora, what Stephen Browne calls the Haight-Ashbury Lesson: "Any society that renounces violence, even in self-defense, becomes a magnet for those willing to use violence to get what they want." Find out more at this post on lessons from history, including two related lessons, the John Wesley Hardin Lesson, and the Dian Fossey Lesson.

  • More confessions from a former warmist. Says David Evans, "I used to work for the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), and I used to believe that carbon emissions probably caused global warming." Now he doesn't. Read why, and about the machinations at the AGO in this extended piece here [pdf], of which the similar piece appearing in The Free Radical was an edited version: My Life with the Australian Greenhouse Office, and Other Reflections - David Evans.

  • Steve McIntyre continues to investigate the temperature record of the world's carparks, which it seems is what the surface temperature record mostly seems to be measuring. His latest investigation is a rural station, one which is considered by The Team to be a quality station because its night time footprint shows few lights, what The Team refers to as Lights=0. As McIntyre say, Lights might be zero, but air conditioners are about 22.

  • Many people trying to wrap their heads around the stumblings of the Reserve Bank's Alan Bollard -- stumblings which to many of us are mired in the failure of the economic theory on which the bank is based -- find it difficult to think like an economist. ("Who would want to?," I hear someone say.) Let's face it, economic thinking is difficult, even (perhaps especially) for trained economists. Says Andrew Cassell,
    I finally understand why economics is so hard for many people to grasp.

    It's not because of complexity. The rules of supply and demand aren't inherently more difficult to fathom than those that apply to, say, politics, or cooking, or sports. [Although that all important principle of comparative advantage seems to leave many non-economists slack-jawed.]

    Yet while most people have no trouble wrapping their brains around these subjects - indeed, millions will be eagerly absorbing their finer points this weekend - (What are you watching: Meet the Press, celebrity chefs or college football?) - few have a similar appetite for economics.

    And now I know why, thanks to Alan Fiske ..., a professor of anthropology at UCLA.
    Stripped of jargon, Fiske points out that the concept of market pricing is both conceptually difficult and a relative late-comer in human affairs, and consequently difficult for those "a step or two [down] the evolutionary ladder" to grasp. I guess that's a point equallly applicable to the equally advanced concept of individual rights -- a concept that sadly seems to escape most people; one might even say especially economists.

  • Speaking of economic concepts that are difficult to understand, "trade deficits" is another. Spend more on imports than is earned in exports, and morons will be heard mouthing nonsense about the "problems" with the trade deficit. Alex Robson at the CIS is the latest to put the morons down: Trade Deficit's Poor Image - Alex Robson. Send a copy to Winston Peters.

  • Walter Williams points out another thing about free markets too easily forgotten by those so eager to disparage them: markets are simply the sum of voluntary decisions taken by free people.
    Tyrants are against the free market because it implies voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they ought to do. Therefore, they want to replace the market with economic planning, or as [politicians] call it — industrial policy. Economic planning is nothing more than the forcible superseding of other people's plans by the powerful elite.
  • Seguing quickly from economics to sex, David Friedman has some thoughts on mating and money. It reminds Samizdata's Jonathan of this post from Harry Hutton: How to Win with Women. Obvious advice, really.

  • Speaking of women, here's mathematical proof that girls are evil. Didn't we know that all along?

  • Power napping. Having a nap at work is about as popular with the boss as being caught having sex on the boardroom table (how's that for a nifty segue?). Yet as this Personnel type says:
    Several research studies demonstrate the benefits of napping in the middle of the day. According to Newsday, in an article discussing this topic, those who take a nap several times a week have improved cognition and response time and a 37% lower risk of death from heart disease.
    Should we perhaps review our views on sleeping at work? Or in parliament? What would Peter Dunne, for example, be like with "improved cognition"? How would we know?
  • Women at war: When new British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith gave a speech about the dangers of terrorism, she took it as an opportunity to flash some cleavage. Some were upset at talking terrorism with one's décolletage on display, but not Marcus Bachler who cuts straight to the point with this comment: "I have to admit that flaunting one's cleavage at Muslim terrorists who would like to see all women wearing the Burqa is quite appropriate."

  • Where do you find God in America? It seems to Times columnist Daniel Finkenstein that "the Bible Belt, which was traditionally seen as stretching from Texas, across states like Tennessee and Alabama, to Virginia – has been flipped up, through “tornado alley” and into Northern states like the Dakotas." See the map at left (redder is more faith-ridden; click to enlarge), and compare it to the electoral map for the Bush-Kerry election to draw some conclusions about the almighty in American politics.

  • While we're doing maps and related stuff, here's a neat World Clock with all sorts of nifty information. For instance it tells me in the time it's taken to wrote this post that 204 people have been born and 148 have died, there's been 96 abortions and 24 incidences of cancer, 100,000 barrels of oil produced and 157 cars. Very cool.

  • One of my favourite lecturers in intellectual history is John Ridpath. The man is erudite, assure and emotional when it matters, and the Ayn Rand Bookstore now has his audio lectures at bargain prices, up to fifty percent discounts on some titles. What a deal. Two to start with are The Greatness of the 18th Century Enlightenment, and Ideas and Revolution: Locke and America; Rousseau and France. And if you haven't already heard the debate Capitalism V Socialism: Which is the Moral System, then you're in for a treat.
    PS: IF you want to sample Ridpath first, here's three online lectures courtesy of the Ayn Rand Institute (requires free registration):
  • As far as contemporary intellectual history goes, we're not at the end of history yet, but buy we are in an era of post-post-modernism, says Stephen Hicks in this superb aesthetic commentary, written as an introduction to artist Michael Newberry's artistic manifesto: Post-Postmodern Art - Stephen Hicks.

  • Hicks points too to this thoughtful piece From Cynicism to Postmodernism, which argues that "Contrarianism has a proud intellectual heritage, but in its postmodern flowering it merely became juvenile, complacently smashing up the entire interlocking crossword puzzle of human knowledge." The "crisis" of postmodernism is a crisis of intellectual adolescence.

  • You might have seen Captain Hops' Beer Haikus that have been featuring at Real Beer Fridays. Sample: Sometimes - by Captain Hops
    Sometimes just a sip
    Can restore my faith in man
    and sometimes it can’t.
    There's another chap who does what he calls Netflix Haikus. Great idea. Sample, about the classic film noir 'Pick Up on South Street':
    Richard Widmark sneers.
    Thelma Ritter finks, sells ties.
    Audience nods off.
    Perhaps the idea is better than the execution. Maybe I'll try one myself. A political haiku. Who do you think this describes:
    Without a clue he leads
    From behind, in a fog made
    Opaque by appeasement.

  • 'Bayesian Judo' from Eliezer Yudkowksy:

    I was once at a dinner party, trying to explain to a man what I did for a living, when he said: "I don't believe Artificial Intelligence is possible because only God can make a soul." At this point I must have been divinely inspired, because I instantly responded: "You mean if I can make an Artificial Intelligence, it proves your religion is false?" He said, "What?"

    The conversation continues here.

  • The NZ visit of the vile Saddamite George Galloway seems to have gone by remarkably quietly. I must confess I wasn't entirely unhappy being away from Auckland the weekend he was here oozing filth. Any reports from anyone they'd like to share about what he got up to?

  • Speaking of vile bedfellows, Trevor Loudon has begun a series explaining How Socialist Extremists Took Over the NZ Labour Party. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 here, neither of which take us up to the present mob, or even the post-Soviet era. I assume it's going to be a long series.

  • I'm disappointed that Idiot/Savant, normally forthright in defence of free speech, has chosen to go all mealy mouthed over the government's proposed Electoral Finance Bill. If it doesn't violate our our pathetic and toothless Bill of Rights Act, he seems to argue, it seems to be fine with him for the government to ration dissent, and to limit democracy. Where are free speech's defenders when the chips are down?

  • Speaking of politics, let me remind you that while other parties might like to pretend that 'policies' is a dirty word, Libertarianz is in the process of rolling out the transitional policies discussed at last week's Wellington conference.
    ** Phil Howison outlines the process whereby school and state may be painlessly and urgently separated in this speech posted at his Pacific Empire blog: Free the Schools.
    **And I attempted to outline the reasoning behind offering transitional policies in my own speech, Revolution & Environmental Judo, a 40 minute speech which you can hear by clicking the link.
    **And a few people have asked me to post all the audio from the afternoon's global warming forum, so here it is:
    1. Leader Bernard Darnton's contribition (3 min.) - "if socialism and central planning don't work at seventeen degrees, then why would they work at nineteen?"
    2. President Craig Milmine (4 min.)
    3. Luke Howison (4 min.)
    4. And after those pithy contributions, then there's me blathering on for 19 minutes, which includes some discussion of Libz' proposed Seven-Point Transitional Plan for Environmental Deregulation, which includes a Carbon Tax, a Fishy Story, a Plan to Make Maoris Rich, and our own Kyoto Treaty. That might encourage you to listen in. ;^)
  • A reminder of the insanity of the Kyoto Treaty's aim to cut carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 comes with the release by David Benson-Pope's former ministry of what they say is NZ's carbon emission trends for the past two decades. I suggest you looks at the graph that comes with the report, realise that NZ industry is largely carbon-based, and contemplate the extent to which industry would need to be destroyed in order for the Treaty promise to be carried out. Sobering, no?

  • Why the War on Drugs needs to end: Craig D points out the obvious, that the drug related harms we see cited so often are mostly a result of the War on Drugs itself, not of drugs themselves.

  • Iraq. Everybody has an opinion, and John Lewis among others has pointed out the many lessons that WWII has for Iraq, and for the war with Islamic Totalitarianism. Tony Blankley points out another lesson from June 25, 1942, when WWII looked to be lost and Churchill looked to be on his way out . . . See The Hinge of Fate in Iraq - Tony Blankley.

  • Paul Potts might still be all the rage with people who've never before realised the power of opera, even when sung as poorly as it is by Potts. For those who do want to hear opera as it should be sung, here's two legendary singers singing the legendary Wagner duet, from Tristan and Isolde -- Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior at YouTube singing the 'coitus interruptus' duet from Act II. And here's the gorgeous Anna Moffo singing 'Sempre Libera' from Verdi's La Traviata. Says Daniel, "Note how ridiculously fast she takes her trills while still perfectly landing every note, and note also how high she goes while still keeping support and emotion in her voice. That's a high E-flat she hits at the end, only two half-steps below the highest note in Der Holle Rache [from Mozart's Magic Flute]. "

  • Wagner fans have been sorely mistreated over the years by what has come to be called 'Eurotrash' directors, who've used Wagner's genius only as a stage on which to pour their own misbegotten egos. But Eurotrash is everywhere, a fashionable form of vice from which few theatrical geniuses are free. Heather McDonald describes the nasty trend in The Abduction of Opera.

    Mozart’s lighthearted opera The Abduction from the Seraglio does not call for a prostitute’s nipples to be sliced off and presented to the lead soprano. Nor does it include masturbation, urination as foreplay, or forced oral sex. Europe’s new breed of opera directors, however, know better than Mozart what an opera should contain. So not only does the Abduction at Berlin’s Komische Oper feature the aforementioned activities; it also replaces Mozart’s graceful ending with a Quentin Tarantino–esque bloodbath and the promise of future perversion.

    Welcome to Regietheater (German for “director’s theater”), the style of opera direction now prevalent in Europe.
    The Onion satirises the trend: Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time and Place Shakespeare Intended.

  • And finally (yes, there is an end), if you think your inbox looks cluttered, just imagine how cluttered God's must be. After all, as Tom Waits says, he's everywhere isn't he, always looking at the big picture, yet he's always there to help you out of those little jams. Have a look at this screenshot of God's Inbox. Amusing.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Beer O’Clock – Epic

The NZ Bar Awards judges got it wrong in judging Cuba St's Matterhorn the best bar in NZ; clearly those judges weren't buying their own drinks. That accolade rightfully belongs to Wellington's Malthouse on Courtenay Place, to which I was introduced last weekend by beer writer Neil Miller - that sage and often sober gentleman who brings your Beer O'Clock business on this still rather soggy Friday. It begins with a reminiscence . . .

My first beer column for PC's Free Radical magazine was headlined by a beer called Epic. As alert readers will recall, Epic won the Supreme Beer of New Zealand Award about a week after its initial release. This is how I described it in that colums:
Epic Pale Ale (5.4%) is a burnished golden beer which throws a punchy citrus nose. It has an immaculate balance of rich creamy malt body with lashings of summerfruit and citrus notes before a lingering, almost oily, bitterness dries the mouth.
Describing his brew, impish brewer Luke Nicholas said “We are confident that New Zealand beer drinkers will enjoy it just much as the judges.” It looks like he might well be right as Epic is becoming increasingly available in pubs and bottle stores around the country.

It is worth recalling another comment in that first Free Radical beer column when I wrote that Luke is
always prepared to tweak his recipes to “keep the drinkers thinking” and to always move the beer towards being the “perfect pint” – a beer that you totally enjoy all evening, pint after pint.
After many an evening and many a pint of total enjoyment (in a professional capacpity, you understand), Epic stands as a perfect example of Luke's promise. Luke has actively gathered feedback from drinkers of all ages (18+ of course), experiences and tastes about Epic. I have obtained a summary of that market research, which I can summarise as follows:
10%: Yuck - does not taste enough like Lion Red
40%: Delicious, but too hoppy to be properly sessionable
49.97%: Magnificent
Neil: Needs more hops!
From a drinker’s perspective, there have been some subtle changes to Epic to improve sessionability – it is slightly less resinous, a tad less bitter and a slightly lighter colour.

What remains is a magnificent beer full of flavour and which can stay out to play all night. That is why in the latest edition of The Listener I picked it as my “perfect pint” and as New Zealand’s best beer.

And so it is.

Cheers, Neil

Real men visit the Real Beer blog, and SOBA. And so should you.

Why humans have sex?

You're all talking about that new study, aren't you, about the 237 reasons human beings have sex. Come on, you know you are. (Personally, the only reasons for having sex that I'm truly interested in are those of myself and my partner. But I digress).

Anyway, Elizabeth at the Sex in the Public Square blog has a good look at the so-called study's methodology -- "always look at the methodology," she says, and she's right -- and despite all the earnest journalist commentary and the wads of pseudo-scientific reportage, she discovers quite quickly that it's not a survey showing reasons why humans have sex, or even why Texans have sex, but the reasons why 1,549 undergraduate students enrolled in Introductory Psychology courses at the University of Texas might want to have sex (noting that a large proportion of these tender young Texans have never had sex, and only Only 10% of the women and 7% of the men were either married or living with a sexual partner.)

So much for scientific and sexual reportage.

"Hodgson - we've got a problem"

When Jim Hopkins stops writing gibberish and and instead writes good sense, his good sense is very much worth bottling.
When all's said and nothing's done, the national scandal described in this week's headlines is not that adults are beating children. That is a personal disgrace.

The national scandal is that your government, our government, is all too often a party to the outrage. But it's not doing an effective thing about it.

Read it all here. Hat tips all over.

UPDATE: As one of the horrid riff raff who regularly reads Mrs Smith, I can assure you she never writes gibberish, and particularly not this morning:
As no doubt everyone has heard by now, hospitals are going to ask women the following questions to gauge if they have been the victims of domestic violence. Answering “yes” to at least one of these will be a potential indicator of abuse.
  • Has anybody hurt or threatened you?
  • Have you ever felt controlled or always criticised?
  • Have you been asked to do anything sexual that you didn’t want to do?
Guffaw! In my neck of the woods, answering "yes" to all of these questions, would indicate you’d had the usual sort of night out with the girls.

The youngest libertarian in the room...

A few of the speeches from last weekend's Libertarianz conference in Helengrad have now been digitised and made web-ready (we hope). Here's the first three:
  • Thirteen-year-old Callum McPetrie explains being 'NZ's Youngest Libertarian' (the text of his speech is online at his blog, Libertarian Front). What inspires an intelligent thirteen-year-old to get passionate about liberty? Find out. (6 min., MP3)
  • Leader Bernard Darnton talks about 'Steps to Freedom.' (16 min., MP3)
  • And talks again about global warming, as part of the afternoon warming forum. (3 min., MP3)
Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for more, including release of Libz transitional policies as outlined here.

UPDATE: Didn't take long to find more: Phil Howison has posted at his Pacific Empire blog the text and audio of his own speech : 'Free the Schools,' a draft outline of how to separate schools and state with as little pain as possible.

"Islamophobia" and "hate crimes"

Following the arrest of a PACE University student for the so called "hate crime" of flushing of a Koran down the toilet, a debate on CNN asks, is 'Islamophobia' racist? Of course, says Council of American Islamic Relations apologist Ibrahim Hooper, who insists anyone opposing Islam must be both xenophobic and bigoted. Of course not, says Christopher Hitchens, who slams the stupid non-concept of hate crimes, and asks why destroying this vile book should bring the destroyer any more attention than destroying any other book.

In answer to the charges of racism and "anti-Islamic bigotry," Dennis Prager points out the obvious: "Islam has nothing to do with race." And neither does it. Islam has nothing at all to do with race; it's a set of ideas' ideas about which adherents have a choice in adopting; a set of remarkably primitive ideas that richly deserve to be mocked rather than treated with kid gloves as they too often are.

As Christopher Hitchens points out free speech and the US First Amendment includes the right to offend and the right to mock -- and the nonsensical notions of Islamists deserve mocking more than most.

Hitchens points out too that Islamist apologists criticise those who offend Islamists and call for "tolerance" with one side of the mouth, while with the other they stay silent and refuse to criticise Islamists who openly call for the killing of Jews, for the killing of Salman Rushdie, for the stoning and killing of homosexuals in places like Iran, and who in Iraq and elsewhere blow up mosques and markets packed with people who are killed merely for worshipping in a different way than the killers do.

As Hitchens says, religion poisons everything.
  • Watch Christopher Hitchens and Dennis Prager debate Ibrahim Hooper from the apologist organisation the Council of American Islamic Relations at You Tube: Part 1, Part 2. [Hat tip Marcus]

Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem - Moshe Safdie

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Winston cozying up to murderers

Winston Peters is going in our name to a slave state run by murderers to see what "assistance" you and I can offer them. The man, as we know, is scum.

Asks Liberty Scott will he bring up the gulags with his North Korean hosts? Will he ask them about Camp 22? Will he "demand that their gulags be opened, and that North Korea stops imprisoning children and their parents for political crimes"? Could he spare just five minutes to watch this, and maybe begin to realise the true nature of his new-found friends?

Does he realise the very best assistance that could be offered North Koreans is the removal of their jailers? Does he know? Does he even care?

Or as Scott says, would he rather posture as "tough on crime" and concerned about child abuse in New Zealand, while cozying up overseas and in our name to a regime that abuses children and their parents directly and on a daily basis. The man is scum, and so too are the politicians who remain silent about him sucking up to murderers in our name.

Lies, damned lies and National Party politics

After posting yesterday on John Boy's lies, spin and flip flops over the complementary medicines bill, I asked National apologists how their hero was looking now he can't even lie straight.

The responses from online apologists this morning are revealing. Faced with the choice of reading and digesting the evidence -- that is, the transcript of Key's interview with Audrey Young about which he chose to lie (and which she posted online yesterday) -- or of evading the evidence, shooting the messenger and maintaining their illusions about their hero, most either plumped for the latter (Whale Oil, No Minister), or like John Boy Armstrong and DPF they've tried to cover up the lie by calling it something less damaging -- "confusion" in DPF's case, "a muddle" in Armstrong's, which pretty much describes his own dissembling on his hero's behalf.

For once you have to agree with Helen Clark: "I think this guy [Mr Key] has got a problem with the truth: BP [David Benson-Pope] swung for less." And it's true, isn't it, as those howling loudly last week about DBP's lies are all too aware.

It's clear enough now that for Key supporters their problem with the Clark Government is not that they lie, but that they're Labour. Draw your own conclusions about the value of honesty for these supporters, and for any future Key-led Government.

(For those who haven't kept up, Audrey Young's sanitised account this morning of Key's dissembling is online here. Her "bloody angry" blog post is here.)

Reserve Bank & housing

Think back not too long ago and you might remember a time when there was a Reserve Bank governor who seemed to know what he was doing, and a National Party leader who gave every appearance of standing for something. Remember when?

Today on Leighton Smith's ZB morning show Don Brash will be interviewed over the pressing issue of how restrictions on land supply are causing havoc with price inflation. Listen in from 10:30am, or give him a ring. If you're not near a radio, you can listen in here.

UPDATE: Click here for NewstalkZB's audio from 10:00am to 11:00am. Don Brash interview starts at 32:40. Link should stay live for one week.


Quote of the day -- well, the quote of yesterday, Breast Admiration Day -- comes from Blair Mulholland:
Governments should get their grubby, sweaty hands off people's breasts.
Too true. All too true. And all too difficult for Nanny Chadwick.

The big 'O'

Two things I bet you didn't know:
First, it's National Orgasm Week in the UK. (Yes, you did need to know that.)
Second, according to that repository of reliable news The Sun, "a recent survey found 12 per cent of UK women have never experienced the big O."
Sad news on a happy week. UK men should hang their head in shame.

Robie House - Frank Lloyd Wright

The 1903 Robie House, in Hyde Park, Chicago. A revolution in space and expression, and designated even by the American Institute of Architects as one of the top five buildings in the United States.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

"Compromise is my middle name..."

Never one to take a stand when a compromise is on the table, Neville Key is now chasing compromises that haven't even been offered. From this morning's Herald we learn that he now wants a compromise on the dumped complementary medicines bill:
National Party leader John Key says he will sign up to the two-tiered compromise proposal on a transtasman therapeutics agency, a breakthrough that could see legislation taken off ice and passed by Christmas...
Is there anything on which this prick will take a stand? Any position at all that he won't sell out?

Is there anything in there at all?

UPDATE 1: Instant outcry here and DPF's, and then instant spin at John Boy's. "Today's NZ Herald story misrepresents our position," says John Boy. Oh yes? So what exactly is your position, John?
"The story correctly quotes me as saying 'If they came to us now with that proposal, we will sign it.' I was, of course, referring to the Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods regime - not the proposal put up by NZ First. I repeatedly made that clear to the NZ Herald yesterday."
Uh huh, so what exactly is your position, John?
Our position is simple: If complementary medicines are removed from the regime, National will support it.
Clear now? So what do those statements appearing in the Herald actually mean, those referring "to the two-tiered compromise proposal on a transtasman therapeutics agency" to which John Boy said:
  • "If they came to us now with that proposal, we will sign it."
  • "...bring us the proposal and we'll bring our pen. We're on."
  • "If they came to us now with that proposal, we will sign it. We sat there waiting for it to turn up. No one has ever seen it."
Seems to me he's engaging in confusion by pronoun. Perhaps he has a second middle name: Obfuscation.

UPDATE 2: Or perhaps his middle name is just Flat-Out-Liar. Herald journalist Audrey Young has come out swinging at her Herald blog, exposing Key's deceptive wriggle (and in the process shows the value of journalists' blogs in exposing politicians' cant) and calling him all but the 'L' word:
John Key has just issued a press statement saying my story in today's Herald on the transtasman therapeutics regulatory agency misrepresents him.

I'm bloody angry because his press statement totally misrepresents what took place yesterday.

He clearly suggested that if Labour presented him with a proposal like the one Peters put up - one that carves out complementary medicines except for those who export to Australia and have a voluntary opt-in - he would sign it.

I can only suspect that Tony Ryall - his chief negotiator on the bill - has gone ballistic and Key has had to back away from the clear and repetitive suggestion he made yesterday in the company of three senior Herald journalists that if he was presented with a proposal like the one Peters put up that he would sign it... But don't take my word for it. Read it for yourself. Naturally I had my tape running in the interview - there were four tapes on it.
Read on for part 1 of the interview transcript, which includes this gem:
Key: It's pretty straightforward isn't it? It's all very well people having a whack at us, but if they want to bring us a proposal in line with what Peters said on television, we'll sign it. I keep asking for it. No one has shown it to me."
Compare that now to what Key said this afternoon:
"The story correctly quotes me as saying 'If they came to us now with that proposal, we will sign it.' I was, of course, referring to the Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods regime - not the proposal put up by NZ First. I repeatedly made that clear to the NZ Herald yesterday."
How's your hero looking now, National apologists? He can't even lie straight.

Advice for women when strapped to a gurney

Here's some advice for women delivered to Accident & Emergency for urgent attention, but who are assailed instead by Nanny's vigilantes intent on finding abuse where it isn't (and ignoring it where it is) and on confirming Nanny's view that all men are rapists: Tell the clipboard wielding harridans to mind their own business, and get on with the reason for you being in Accident & Emergency -- urgent treatment.

Just for the record, here's the questions Nanny will be asking you before she deigns to dole out your rationed treatment:
  • Has anybody hurt or threatened you?
  • Have you ever felt controlled or always criticised?
  • Have you been asked to do anything sexual that you didn't want to do?
Don't you think there's better things emergency room nurses could be doing than asking questions like this?

UPDATE 1: Has anyone else noticed the presumption of guilt inherent in this -- the reversal of the presumption of innocence, which is the proper role of the state when it comes to justice?

UPDATE 2: Peter McC answers all three questions in the positive, and provides plenty of evidence for his abuse [hat tip DPF]. Shocking reading. Reminds me of this You Tube ad. Shocking watching.

UPDATE 3: Stephen Franks offers hope rather than advice, but the thought is just as pointed:
I hope hospital staff are “abused” in the original sense of that word, by women who tell them to mind their own business. All involved should revolt against being used. This policy inflicts indignity on everyone rather than face the failure of 40 years of social policy... Surely we must be reaching a nadir of some sort. Only two generations ago we were noted for stoic self reliance. Now every one in “the community” must bear the guilt and responsibility for individual viciousness. The collectivists will twist in any direction rather than enforce personal responsibility.
Superb commentary well worth reading in full, not least for the link he highlights between welfare, racism and abuse.

July mini-stats for Not PC

The top fifteen searches landing here over the last month (with duplicates deleted) shows more than a few people being more than a little nosy . . .
  1. not pc
  2. becky dublin
  3. falafulu fisi
  4. bill joy founder of sun microystems aardvark
  5. sweden jim peron americans ilv
  6. pc blog cresswell
  7. robert winefield
  8. interest rates
  9. broadacre city
  10. anarchy
  11. breakup songs
  12. evening fall of day
  13. piri weepu
  14. heineken mini keg
  15. peter cresswell
Top fifteen referrals for July (thanks everyone):
  1. Google
  2. Kiwiblog
  3. PC.Blogspot.Com
  4. Libertarianz.Org.NZ
  5. Yahoo
  6. NZ Conservative
  7. Bloglines
  8. Lindsay Mitchell
  9. SOLO
  10. Whale Oil
  11. Mulholland Drive
  12. Fundy Post
  13. Cactus Kate
  14. No Right Turn
  15. Public Address

Advice for women around World Cup time

Continuing our advice for women this morning, here's advice for women around World Cup time. If you're wondering what "World Cup time" is, then be assured that the one in urgent need of this advice is you.


*List of Rules*

1. The first rule is to read and print out these rules. Remember that ignorance is no defence in law.

2. 7 Sept to 20 October 2007 is hereby declared Rugby World Cup Month (yes Virginia, it is the Rugby World Cup about which we're talking). During Rugby World Cup Month you should read the sports section of the newspaper and print out the TV schedule so that you are aware of what is going on regarding the Rugby World Cup. That way you will be able to join in conversations and sound intelligent (or at least as intelligent as he is), and to deliver food and drink on time. If you fail to follow this advice, do NOT complain about not receiving any attention or of food being uneaten.

3. During the Rugby World Cup, the television is the man's domain, as are the VCR, the DVD and the fridge. If you even take a glimpse at the remote control, you will lose it (your eye).

4. Passing by in front of the TV during a game is fine, on rare occasions, as long as you do it crawling on the floor and without causing distractions. Standing or dancing nude in front of the TV is acceptable, at halftime breaks (while no halftime interviews or replays are taking place), but do ensure you replace your clothing right after because if you catch a cold, there will be no time to take you to the doctor or look after you during Rugby World Cup month.

5. During Rugby World Cup Month your man will be either blind, deaf and mute, loud and belligerent, or he will be comatose -- unless that is he requires a refill of drink or something to eat. Be aware that means he will be unavailable to listen to you, open the door, answer the telephone, decide whether "your arse looks big in this," or to converse intelligently about relationships or Hollywood gossip. If the baby's nappy needs changing, then knock yourself out.

6. It would be a good idea for you to keep at least 2 (two) six packs in the fridge at all times, as well as plenty of things to heat up, nibble on and microwave. Please do not make any funny faces when other unwashed men come over to watch games. In return, you will be allowed to use the TV between the hours of 12pm and 3pm, unless of course they replay a good game during those hours.

7. (This is most important is you wish to retain any kind of realitionship with your man.) If you see him upset because one of his teams is losing, do not (DO NOT!) say "Get over it, it's only a game", or "Don't worry,
they'll win next time," or "Never mind, at least no one got hurt." If you say any of these things, your life will be hell for at least one year thereafter. It's just not worth it. Your so called "words of encouragement" or sympathy will not lead to greater reciprocal understanding between sexes or domestic bliss but the reverse. Bite your tongue.

8. The Rugby World Cup is not a nice cheesy excuse to "spend time together." The Rugby World Cup is serious. You can talk during halftime (particularly to ask about refreshments) but only when the ads are on, and only if the halftime score is pleasing. You may talk during game, but only to say "Nice try" (and only if the right team scored) or "Doing it all day, ref" (but only if the right team is being penalised). The safest course of action is silence, and provision of large trays of food and drink.

9. Replays of the tries are important. Very important. It's not possible to see try replays too many times, even those scored by the wrong team (its important to know which pillock to blame for missing a tackle). Don't interrupt during replays (see point eight above).

10. Do NOT to have any babies, overseas visitors or other child-related parties or gatherings during Rugby World Cup Month, or organise any gatherings that require your man's attendance during Rugby World Cup Month because:
a) He will not go,
b) He will not go, and
c) He will dislike you for it if you ask him.

11. But, if a male friend invites him over on a Sunday to watch a game, start packing the chilly bin. Quickly.

12. Rugby World Cup highlights on TV every night are just as important as the games themselves. Do not even think about saying "But you have already seen this," or "Why don't you change the channel to
something we can all watch?" or "Isn't 'Desperate Housewives on now?" On this point, see Rule 3 above.

13. Do not complain that your man's new beard is "scratchy" or makes him "look like a caveman." Showing support for the All Blacks by trying to look like Carl Hayman is more important during Rugby World Cup Month (to him) than your relationship. If you don't love your country as much as he does, then that will makes him sad and you should leave. Quietly and during the ads if possible.

14. And finally, please avoid expressions such as "Thank goodness the Rugby World Cup is only every four years". He is immune to words such as these, mostly because after RWC 2007 comes RWC 2011 -- and that's happening right here in NZ. Start saving now.