Archive for January, 2005

Speed, wonderful speed

January 31st, 2005 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Since I got my new laptop last year, it has been incredibly slow – in fact painfully slow. Think taking a minute sometimes to open a file type stuff.

After doing the easy stuff such as defraging the hard drive, deleting some files, I finally concluded it must be a RAM issue. I had the standard 256MB at purchase.

I found out that my start up sequence chewed up 220MB of the 256MB, and further 128 of it was dedicated to the video card. Which meant that even if I had one one application open it was still a dog.

Now I have 512MB and only 16MB for the video card. It is like having a entirely new machine. Warp 10 compared to the Model T. Life is good again.

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School Fees

January 31st, 2005 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

David Benson-Pope has said he is concerned about the level of “voluntary” school fees, which are up to $740 at state schools like Auckland Grammar.

The irony is that thanks to Labour’z zoning policies, the only way to get to go to Auckland Grammar is to pay $150,000 or so more for a house in the Grammar zone. So being concerned over the $740 when you are costing parents $150,000 already is rather ineffective.

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NZUSA

January 31st, 2005 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

Attended on Saturday my first NZUSA meeting for oh around 15 years.

Was only there for ninety minutes along with Mark Blumsky who was taking part in a panel discussion on the likely political climate in 2005, and how NZUSA can be effective in election year.

Generally the questions and answers were very good, and reflected this was an intelligent and politically aware crowd. I did have to stop myself laughing a couple of times when one person asserted there was a secret deal about how long Don Brash would stay on as Leader after the election. Umm, no there isn’t.

NZUSA was a basket case when I first got involved with 14 full-time officers and staff, fighting every issue under the sun. It got restructured in the late 80s and has done a lot better by focusing on core student education and welfare issues, and now has only three officers and around three staff.

I still think they do miss the boat from time to time. The focus on the loans scheme is focusing on the symptom, when in fact issues such as parental means testing (which I have labelled as crazy when it started, and still think it is) are the cause of why people borrow so much, and the solution is not making it more attractive for students to borrow, but for students not needing to borrow so much.

Also very pleased to see some students pointing out that one of the easiest ways to help students pay back their loans is to have lower tax rates, especially as loan repayments are basically just a 10% temporary targeted tax.

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Iraqi Election

January 31st, 2005 at 7:43 am by David Farrar

It has been great to wake up to the news that the Iraqi elections have been significantly more sucessful than predicted. The turnout (estimates here) has been very credible. The terrorists had threatened to kill anyone who had ink on their finger, but instead of scaring Iraqis it seems to have made the inked finger a sign of pride. Very few actual attacks have occured.

Mohammed and Omar blog from Iraq the following:

From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women’s turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!

Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

Power Line has some great photos.

Andew Sullivan, who has not been a Bush fan on Iraq, get cloest to what I feel, saying:

I don’t want to be excitable, but aren’t you feeling euphoric? It’s almost a classic tale of good defeating evil. We always needed the Iraqi people to seize freedom for themselves. Given the chance, they have. This is their victory, made possible by those amazing Western troops. This day eclipses – although, alas, it cannot undo – any errors we have made. Only freedom can defeat terror. Today, freedom won.

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Cafe Pasha

January 31st, 2005 at 7:16 am by David Farrar

Went to Cafe Pasha for the first time on Thursday, after a drinks session at the Malt House, with Ken & Barbie, and Angry Man.

Pasha was a great find, which I will return to. Great Turkish food, and very generous servings. You do not leave hungry. Good service also.

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Alexander the Grate

January 30th, 2005 at 9:31 am by David Farrar

Ackbar at NZ Pundit saw Alexander last night, as did I. Ackbar gives it 0.5/10.

I have it slightly higher, but not much better. Stats Girl said it was better than she expected, and I agree it wasn’t absolutely awful, but for me it totally failed in its core premise.

Alexander is meant to be “The Great” and they never came close to portraying him as this. Colin Farrell’s character just came across as a whiny snivelling unappealing idiot. Alexander was the second greatest general in the history of the world, he became a legend amongst men, and we never got to see why.

There were only two battle scenes and neither were a patch on say Gladiator or LOTR. I think the best scene was when actually Alexander tamed his horse. Angelia Jolie wasn’t bad as the evil mum.

Ironically the way they portrayed Alexander was bisexual wasn’t, in comparison to the rest of the film, done badly. They didn’t overdo it too much. I still laugh at how various self-appointed Greek spokespersons have decried the film as an insult to Greek manhood. Hello, what world are they in? There is a reason a certain sexual activity is known as doing it Greek style – rather too late to change that perception.

The film was three hours long, which means they should have had the time to actually make a great film. They failed pretty miserably. I love films set in ancient times, but this one just grates. Avoid it.

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Harawira gets the nod

January 30th, 2005 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

As expected Hone Harawira has won the Maori Party nomination for Te Tao Tokerua. It is almost inevitable he will be an MP after September.

The more I think about it, the more certain I am the Maori Party will win all seven Maori seats. The reasons is simple – activists.

The Maori Party is going to have well over 1000 activists who will be working almost full-time (and yes you and I will be paying most of them, but hey we funded the Alliance the same way for years) to get out the vote for the Maori Party. And quite simple Labour in the Maori seats will have very few people willing to work for them. Sure thay may still have a number who will vote for them, but they will be lacking those passionate activists who can make such a difference.

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National up 15%??

January 29th, 2005 at 6:26 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports that the early results of their polling this week has indicated the gap between National and Labour has closed from 20% to 5%.

It is based on only 300 polled to date, which is a 5.8% margin of error. Presumably the Herald took the very rare step of publishing partial results today as they expect TVNZ and TV3 to release their poll results over the weekend.

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More outraegous bias

January 29th, 2005 at 6:08 am by David Farrar

The NCEA Level 1 History paper asks students to write as if they were a 1980 National MP “not sympathetic to Maori concerns”.

One can’t be a National MP who has a different view on how best to achieve positive outcomes for Maori, you have to be portrayed as basically not caring a jot.

As outraegous as the question is, the worst offence is that NZQA is defending it. Sickening.

Here’s my question for NCEA History Level 2 “Please write as a Labour MP who is indifferent to the victims of crime”. One would never see that of course.

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Important People

January 28th, 2005 at 11:17 pm by David Farrar

The National Business Review, presumably because it is short of actual news, asked and answered the question “How many important people are known to be close friends with David P Farrar?”

In a lampooning worthy of Dog Biting Men they went on to state

As National’s most important mover and shaker of his generation, it goes without saying that Mr Farrar is “extremely” or “amazingly” close to virtually every important person known to have been active in the party over the past 40 years. According to various dispatches on his weblog, he also enjoys the confidence of leaders in Act, numerous Labour stalwarts, some key players within the US Republican party and an indeterminate number of “Jewish intellectuals.”

As a key player in InternetNZ, it has even been said by others that he has the power – if he chose to use it – to “slow down” the internet for a period. In any event, after he finishes campaigning for Mark Blumsky in Wellington Central, David P Farrar may be off to the Vatican to help choose the next pope, the last three of whom were probably “extremely good mates” with New Zealand’s most sought-after power broker

Incidentially I have of course offered my services to my “good mate” Cardinal Ratzinger, or Joe as I call him, in his campaign to be Pope.

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Auschwitz

January 28th, 2005 at 11:06 pm by David Farrar

The Auschwitz ceremonies have been incredibly emotional and moving, even from afar.

I have read and studied a lot of history and I only agree with Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who labelled the Holocaust the “greatest crime of man against man”.

There have been other genocides before in history, but always between warring tribes/races/factions. The Holocaust was really unique in that a decision was made to wipe out an entire race of people, whom were living peacefully within the countries of Europe. That it happened only a generation ago in the 1940s is chilling. I hope the advances of the last 60 years can never be reversed.

Many of my ancestors were killed in the Holocaust. I never knew this, until I was a teenager. I still struggle to this very day to comprehend the sheer horrors they and millions others must have gone through.

It must indeed never happen again.

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72% tax rate

January 28th, 2005 at 10:48 pm by David Farrar

Jim Anderton told students this week that he thought a 72% top tax rate was acceptable. Thanks to Hannah Collings for letting the world know of Jim’s views.

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Student Loans

January 28th, 2005 at 10:39 pm by David Farrar

Rodney makes the point on his blog that many of Labour’s changes to the student loan scheme has actually helped send the level of overall debt skyrocketing.

Most students are not stupid, and now they can borrow interest free while studying, they tend to do two things – take out a loan even if they do not need to, and also borrow to the maximum possible. And then stick the loans money into investments etc.

It occurs to me that NZUSA often focuses on totally the wrong aspect of tertiary funding policy. Making the loans scheme more attractive is never a solution. If for example, as NZUSA asks for, one increased the threshold at which you start repaying, this would again just send the level of debt skyrocketing even more.

NZUSA, in my opinion, needs to focus on the issues of the amount the Government contributes to tuition costs, and the issue of parental means testing for student allowances. If fees are cheapers and more people have allowances that will decrease student debt. Fiddling with the loans scheme generally will not.

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Yay – Wellington Sub-Tropical

January 28th, 2005 at 10:26 pm by David Farrar

The global warming doom sayers were previously predicting that temperatues may rise by 2 degrees, but now they have updated this to say that by 2050 the world may be 11 degrees hotter.

Now this would give Wellington an average temperature close to what Brisbane now has. Works for me.

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Wellington Transport Package

January 27th, 2005 at 11:40 pm by David Farrar

The Government trumpeted today its impressive sounding $225 million transport package for Wellington. However as one comes to expect the substance differs from the spin.

First of all dear readers this is $225 million over ten years. Adjusting for inflation this will be under $20 million per year. Hey just $5 million more than the Christchurch Polytech CD scam.

And of course not all the money is for roading. Nearly one third is for public transport. Now in cities like Wellington public transport works quite well (unlike Aickland where it is a disaster) so this is not a bad thing, but one does have to realise that in fact this is just $14 million a year for roads.

And we should also note the Government takes over $600 million a year from petrol tax and sticks it into the consolidated fund (so it can give it to Dick Hubbard, hip hop tours and treaty education campaigns), with Wellingtonians contributing around $60 million a year from petrol tax to this.

Anyway back to the extra $14 million a year for Wellington roads. How many kms of new motorway does this get you? Well Transmission Gully would cost $830 million for 27 km so it is $30 million/km, so the funding may get us an extra 500 metres of motorway a year. If one spends it all on nothing but Transmission Gully it would be finished when I am 97 years old!!

Now Jordan is upset that Mr Blumsky has been suspicious of the package timing being two days after Don Brash’s Orewa speech. I never realised Jordan was quite so naive as to think the Government does not schedule news. You know Don’s big speech is on Tuesday, so you keep your major announcement to a couple of days afterwards, and hope that will distract the media (not always a difficult task) from focusing all week on Orewa.

Jordan also points out that the Government has admitted it has ignored Transmission Gully in this announcement and will do another announcement down the track. Well why was this announced seperately rather than doing an integrated package?

I did laugh at the Government taking credit for the inner city bypass which has just started to be built. The local Labour MP is on the record as opposing the bypass.

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Blogger Drinks

January 27th, 2005 at 11:33 pm by David Farrar

It was a good night at the Backbencher on Wednesday. We had around 20 there with lively conversation and another dozen ro so joined us as NZUSA finished their session.

We had bloggers from Kiwi Blog (me), Just Left, Kiwi Pundit, Darkness Net, Silent Running, I Hate Socialism, Gonzo, Big News, Holden Republic, Jeremy Naylor, .nz News and Views, Michael Ellis, Left and Lefter, Generation Y Not, Constar, and the VUWSA President, plus several readers and commenters.

It was great to put faces to names and I enjoyed the many debates we had. Also a pleasure to meet various VUWSA and NZUSA people, even though unfortunately I had to leave a bit before 11 pm to write a report, and just missed out on meeting Jeremy Greenbrook.

Thanks to Jordan whose idea this was, and who had to cope with a political imbalance until the NZUSA people turned up. Next time we’ll have to lure Idiot from No Right Turn down!

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Jules, Asher, Mike C and Dave.

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Jordan, Tracy, Stuart, Mike C, and Steven

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Priest’s Celibacy

January 27th, 2005 at 11:38 am by David Farrar

The Australian National Council of Priests has asked the Vatican to reconsider the ban on readmitting priests who had left the clergy to marry.

This reminds me of the Southpark episode where the Vatican has a meeting of its cardinals and priests to discuss how they can deal with the issue of all the publicity about child abuse by priests.

They focus on how they can stop the abuse being reported, and it is only one sole priest who suggest that the problem is not the reporting of the abuse, but that surely the answer is that priests should stop having sex with little boys.

This causes great outrage and one cardinal gets up and declares “But we priests are not allowed to have sex with women, so if we stopped having sex with little boys, well then we would not have any sex at all!”

It was a hilarious episode, and in the best traditions of Southpark there was some wisdom beneath the coarse humour.

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The Department of Lies

January 27th, 2005 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

The recent performance of the DOL has been such that people may start to think it stands for the Department of Lies, not Department of Labour. Readers will recall that staff there lied even to the Ombudsman, known as the lying in unison scandal.

The latest issue is their funding of a regional Maori TV station. Katherine Rich pointed out that as the Government is funding a national Maori TV station, it seems a bad idea to give $115,000 to anotehr station.

DOl turned around and denied it was for a Maori television station and claimed it was recorded incorrectly in CEG’s database.

But now papers released under the OIA (at least they now comply with the OIA law) show it was clearly for a regional Maori television service.

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A statistics mix-up

January 27th, 2005 at 11:04 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports that a Parliamentary Library staff member make an error in a calculation which was used by Don Brash at Ratama.

I wouldn’t normally comment on something like this, but as the story is already in the mainstream media, I will add a perspective.

The researcher mentioned, David Williams, is one of the most talented staff I have known. He was almost legendary with his ability to provide research statistics on almost any topic known to man, under often impossible deadlines and with great accuracy. And as someone who worked for all 120 MPs, he was impeccably neutral. Everyone rated David as the best.

This mistake, could well be the first one he has ever made, and it is unfortunate it has received such profile. But it is characteristic of David that he outted himself to the Herald as the researcher.

When I left Parliament in March 2004, after eight years, I went out of my way to write to the Parliamentary Librarian to praise the work David had done, and suggesting it would be a tragedy if they were to ever lose his services. He really is that good.

I am just glad that my many mistakes have never landed me in the NZ Herald (well actually one or two have but that was a long time ago :-)

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The Spin

January 27th, 2005 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

Helen and her helpers have the spin machine at full blast and if one listened to them, you would think Don Brash had squads of WINZ workers ready to descend on sole mums as they give birth and steal the children away for forcible adoption.

But what did Dr Brash actually say:

Ultimately, reducing the number of those on the DPB must be about finding ways of strengthening families, about educating people about the responsibilities of parenthood, about taking a tougher line on the financial responsibilities of non-custodial parents (while improving access for those non-custodial parents), and about acknowledging adoption as an acceptable option, particularly for teenage girls

As he said in interviews, young women were often presented with only two options, abortion or the DPB, and adoption never even canvassed as a possibility.

This is about as mild a suggestion as one can make – that it should not be “unacceptable” to be considered.

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The Kiwi

January 27th, 2005 at 10:35 am by David Farrar

Ana Samways in the NZ Herald’s Sideswipe, highlights a quote from a Guardian article about our national bird and symbol, the Kiwi.

“New Zealand’s only famous native animal, and national symbol, is the kiwi, a stupid, ugly, clumsy bird which can’t even fly – it’s basically a two-legged rat with a beak”

Harsh, but not totally untrue :-)

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Dog Gone It

January 27th, 2005 at 10:25 am by David Farrar

Dog Biting Men, having last year provoked a family fued betweens cousins Lyndon and Aaron, is now poking the borax at 17 different people.

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How do you spell hypocrisy?

January 26th, 2005 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

One of my growing legion of volunteer researchers and spies has sent me this 29 March 1996 press article in which Dr Cullen attacks National, calling a projected $6 billion surplus “absurd” and that “there was no virtue in running large surpluses when debt was at a prudent level”.

One really doesn’t need to comment, do we?

“THE DOMINION, 29 MAR 1996 , Edition 2, Page 2.
Cullen says $6b surplus plan absurd

THE Government’s plan for a $6 billion surplus in 1999 when children and families were in need was absurd, Labour finance spokesman Michael Cullen said yesterday.

Dr Cullen said he could not understand why the Government was planning such a large surplus when special needs children were not getting enough help, there was a three year waiting list for some cancer patients and six-month waiting lists for family group conferences.

Issuing Labour’s alternative budget policy statement, he said Labour was budgeting for a $2.9 billion surplus in 1997, falling to $1.9 billion in 1998 and $1.1 billion in 1999. It would also build a special superannuation fund to a $604 million surplus by 1999.

The surpluses were based on no further asset sales under a Labour government.

Despite running a smaller surplus, Labour still expects to be able to reduce debt, saying net debt as a percentage of gross domestic product would fall to 26.3 per cent by 1999.

This compares with National’s forecast of 17.7 per cent by 1999.

Dr Cullen said there was no virtue in running large surpluses when debt was at a prudent level. “

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Why Welfare Reform is a Win Win Win

January 26th, 2005 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

I stongly believe welfare reform is one of those win/win/win policies where there are no losers, unlike some policies which have winners and losers.

BENEFICIARIES

Short-term welfare can be life saving. Long-term welfare can be life destroying. Working is not just about earning money, it is about one’s sense of usefulness, of self reliance, of having some intellectual challenge etc. And while the majority of people on welfare can’t wait to get off, there are a significant number who would stay on it for life if allowed.

CHILDREN OF BENEFICIARIES

Some may disagree, but I think it is not at all desirable for a child to grow up in a household where no-one works. All the studies show environment has a huge factor on how kids turn out, and what your folks do is a major part of that. Hell I wanted to be a Doctor for years, just because my Dad was, until I worked out I hated needles and biology :-) And if at least one parent is working, there is more income for the kids.

ALL NEW ZEALANDERS

Reducing welfare rolls is great for the economy. More people in work grows the economy and produces more income. Less people on welfare reduces expenditure. This allows people to keep more of their income and/or for the Government to spend more in other social areas such as health and education.

This is why changing the culture is so important. This is not about any one policy in isolation, this is about having New Zealand buy into a vision of what the welfare state is for, what it covers, and what it doesn’t cover.

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Reminder: Drinks tonight

January 26th, 2005 at 9:49 am by David Farrar

As blogged a week ago, we have blog drinks for bloggers and readers at the Backbencher from 7 p.m. onwards tonight. At this stage we have 15 – 20 coming.

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