Archive for January, 2004

Professor Farrar

January 31st, 2004 at 3:43 am by David Farrar

Somehow a quick visit to the University of North Florida ended up with me giving a 75 minute guest lecture to the Global Issues politics class.

They had been mainly studying globalisation, so I spoke on NZ’s experiences with globalisation, our relationship with the US, and prospects of a free trade agreement etc.

Made the point that it is somewhat silly that the US and NZ Governments continue to have a stand off regarding the nuclear powered ships ban, as the law is not basically symbolic only with almost no US surface ships (only carriers which would never visit) nuclear powered (or armed) and it would be an irony if NZ concluded a free trade agreement with communist China before it does with the bastion of capitalism – the United States. Both NZ and US need to compromise on this.

The lecture went really well with heaps and heaps of questions (only one about hobbits) and the 75 minutes disappeared quickly.

Many of the students said they were very keen to visit New Zealand, which naturally I encouraged.

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Six things I love about the US

January 31st, 2004 at 3:30 am by David Farrar

1) Pitchers of beer for only $3.00 (cooked breakfasts also for $3.00)
2) Sane city planners who have left enough room for wide roads, and future extensions so that traffic jams are minimal
3) If you order a soft drink in a restaurant they will continuously refill it for no extra cost
4) Ice Hockey!!!
5) That everyone you talk to asks about and loves your accent
6) The friendly restaurant staff!

lunch.jpg

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Hutton Report reactions

January 31st, 2004 at 2:56 am by David Farrar

It is perhaps no surprise that so much of the liberal media has condemned the finding of the Hutton Report that basically found that Tony Blair

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The oldest US city

January 30th, 2004 at 5:53 pm by David Farrar

I have been staying in St Augustine, which is in North Florida

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The Treaty Debate

January 30th, 2004 at 12:46 pm by David Farrar

It has been interesting viewing from afar the reaction to Don Brash’s very thoughtful speech on the Treaty of Waitangi. I would encourage people to read it.

I am very proud of what National achieved in the 1990s with settling historical grievances, but also believe that the Treaty has been pushed into a near mythical status which is unwarranted. I have seen two very intelligent and concerned National Party Leaders study the Treaty issue at great length (including historical texts from 1840) and both of them have concluded that continuing on the current path will be a huge mistake for NZ. Dividing the country up on the basis of Maori and non Maori will, especially as the proportion of NZers of Maori descent rises, take us down a Fiji path. In 50 – 100 years one can not have 50% of the country with special rights the other 50% do not have.

The media seem to have reported only opposition to what Don Brash has proposed, but when the only people you quote are Government Ministers and Maori spokespersons, that is hardly balanced reporting.

It is a shame that Labour MPs only response seems to be to call anyone who disagrees with as racists. As ACT rightly point out, we seem to have 1984 style “newspeak” when it is deemed racist to propose not allocating seats on the basis of racial ancestry.

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Disney World

January 30th, 2004 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

Had a great day and night at Disney World. As I was driving through Orlando, it seemed silly not to visit.

It was quite cool to see all the really young kids there, as you could tell this was almost a highlight of childhood for them with the parades, the rides and shows etc. It is of course very commercial but the staff have a wonderful friendly attitude.

And even this slightly older kid had a great time, despite thinking for some reason it would be fun to ride a hollowed out log down a five metre waterfall.

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A good old country bar

January 29th, 2004 at 4:50 am by David Farrar

On Sunday night in Punta Gorda, Florida the only place open which served hard alcohol was the bar which was having a kareoke night. Now this was literally one of those bars that people used to joke about having both sorts of music – country and western!

The bemused looks from the locals when an Australian, Belarussian, Estonian and New Zealander turn up and ask whether there are any Abba songs on the play list, was superb. I have never come across so many songs I have never heard of before so unfortunately we settled on singing songs we couldn’t sing!

Highlight was the rendition of “Back in the USSR” with two citizens of the former evil empire who are not committed capitalists!

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What am I doing in the US

January 26th, 2004 at 6:53 pm by David Farrar

A couple of people have asked what exactly I am doing in the US. Few people will have heard of the International Democrat Union, but it is an association of over 80 centre right political parties. Around 50 of us from 25 countries have been attending the Young Leaders Forum in Florida which has been excellent value.

It is amazing hearing the different political challenges around the world. We have people here from Australia, Azerbaijan, Austria, Belarus, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, St Kitts, St Vincent, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

Despite the vastly different backgrounds, there is a lot in common around the world. The challenge of the rising cost of pensions, the benefits of lower taxes, the appreciation of the difficult role the US has in world affairs, hilarity at Howard Dean etc.

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Another good quote

January 26th, 2004 at 6:40 pm by David Farrar

Norwegian: What about all the prisoners in Cuba who do not get a trial?
American: Oh well Castro is a dictator with many political prisoners, we are trying to overthrow him but it is difficult
Norwegian: No, no I mean the ones at Guantanamo Bay
American: Oh you mean, the enemies!

The US black and white way of classifying things is actually quite amusing.

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Yay – well done Peter

January 26th, 2004 at 6:21 pm by David Farrar

Peter Jackson and crew have won four golden globes for Lord of the Rings including Best Picture and Best director. Well done. Here’s hoping for the Oscars.

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Estonian Women

January 26th, 2004 at 1:29 pm by David Farrar

Some of my friends had told me that almost all Estonian woman are drop dead gorgeous. I was suspicious of this claim, probably because I always think of Baltic states as former USSR which induces visual images of russian shot putters and swimmers at the olympic games.

I can now confirm that indeed Estonian women are indeed incredibly beautiful. NZ should open an embassy there or do something to promote tourism to NZ.

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Three great US quotes

January 25th, 2004 at 5:06 pm by David Farrar

I am enjoying my first visit to the US and meeting US politicians (as well as those from 25 other countries). Three great quotes from today:

1) US politician – “Where I come from, gun control means having a steady hand”

2) State Auditor – “Our motto is “In God we trust, everyone else we audit”

3) Radio News – “The Bonnie and Clyde team responsible for several recent robberies have split up. Clyde is dead and Bonnie is in handcuffs”

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Bill Gates to solve spam problem!

January 25th, 2004 at 4:53 pm by David Farrar

Bill Gates has proclaimed that within two years the spam problem will be solved.

I hope he is right, but also worry that the solution could be worse than the cure. Any sort of charging system for e-mails could get very messy.

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The free lunch scandal continues

January 25th, 2004 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

I do have to laugh that Peters seems to have abandoned his original defence of having never had a free meal from Simunovich, to now claiming that in fact he got free meals from all the fishing companies, so this means there was no bias!

I also enjoy the suggestion that he only took meals from the companies because the meetings were at meal times and he was so busy otherwise.

Next I expect to read that he also only accepted a drink with the meals because he was worried about dehydrating.

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Driving in the USA

January 24th, 2004 at 7:32 pm by David Farrar

Have survived my first day driving in the USA, but there have been a few fun challenges.
(more…)

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Rotten Fish

January 24th, 2004 at 7:10 pm by David Farrar

Have been watching the Peters free dinner scandal with some amusement. Never have been and never will be a Peters fan. However I should start off by saying that this is not an issue about corruption – no MPs can be brought for the occassional free dinner – it takes at least a free villa in France (kidding).

The original issue was merely one of judgement with a conflict of interest. Accepting a free dinner (for whatever reason) from someone at the centre of an inquiry you sit on is plain stupid, as it undermines confidence of the other parties involved.

However in politics it is often the explanations that get you in the most crap, and the debate is now about Peters’ claim he never got a free meal except once to make up for a previous over charging, and TVNZ saying it has several affadavits to the contrary.

Personally I can’t see how one can have accounts proving the claims are wrong, because if you did get the meal for free, you won’t have a receipt will you!

The NZ Herald Editorial is a sensible read on the issue.

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National on bondage

January 24th, 2004 at 6:48 pm by David Farrar

Gavin alerted me to this press release from National which is just top class (and no I only found out about it today).

Putting aside the visual images arising from Hobbs and D-Vice, there are nine not at all subtle double meanings in the PR.

I could guess with 99% accuracy who wrote that PR, but I won’t name them here, just in case.

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One mistake and it is over

January 24th, 2004 at 6:29 pm by David Farrar

Politics can be a very tough business. You can make one mistake and in a few seconds the work of months or years can be nullified.

We have seen this in the last few days with Howard Dean. After more than two years of campaigning his chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for President (not that he would ever have won against Bush) ended after his speech after the Iowa result where he made a frenzied speech which might be okay for a local state official, but scared the crap out of most people who then imagined him with control over several thousand nuclear weapons.

I am in the US at the moment, and Dean is being mocked non stop on radio and TV with basically no defenders. This is what will hurt the most – losing through such an avoidable own goal. Mike Moore did similiar in 1993 with his wild concession speech which was totally misjudged.

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.nz domain fee lowered

January 14th, 2004 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

InternetNZ has announced that it is lowering the cost of .nz domain name registration fees charged by .nz Registry Services from $2/mth ($24/year) to $1.75/mth ($21/year).

The lowered fee reflects the benefits, in my opinion, of moving to a competitive shared registration system from the former monopoly that existed up until December 2002.

Disclaimer: I am Vice-President of InternetNZ and a Director of NZRS

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The Middle East

January 3rd, 2004 at 11:33 am by David Farrar

It may be too much to hope for but with the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the astonishing co-operation now displayed by former rogue state Libya, a possible warming of relations with Iran and some quiet diplomacy with Syria, could the Middle East be headed for better times?

Still got Israel and Palestine to solve, but it will be a huge coup for the Bush re-election campaign if in ten months relations with Libya, Iran and Syria are more normalised.

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