Archive for April, 2007

A few good (sales) men

April 30th, 2007 at 2:08 pm by David Farrar

I’ve stolen this from Rod Drury. It’s a great take-off of the Jack Nicholson speech in A Few Good Men.

Sales: “You want answers?”A few good men

Finance: “I think we are entitled to them!”

Sales: “You want answers?!”

Finance: “I want the truth!”

Sales: “You can’t handle the truth!!!”
(more…)

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Am I dumb?

April 30th, 2007 at 1:22 pm by David Farrar

How smart are you?

I got 25/25. The average is 18/25.

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Dom Post defends free speech

April 30th, 2007 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

An excellent editorial from the Dom Post on free speech, even for offensive views. Some extracts:

The answer is neither to stop groups such as Hammerskins and the peace advocates from expressing their views, nor, as others advocate, ignore them and hope that a complete lack of publicity stifles them.

There can be no rational defence for suppressing views simply because they do not accord with the orthodoxy of the day.

The solution is not to ignore those rantings, but to expose them to the full glare of publicity.

Some may argue that is what they want, that extremists of all stripes seek to provoke, and that to give them publicity is the equivalent of promoting their ideas. That is to display too little faith in the public’s ability to recognise arrant nonsense when they hear it.

Skinhead white supremicists are entitled to their beliefs. However, they should not expect to hold those beliefs unchallenged.

If they wish to celebrate Hitler’s birthday and to pursue his repellent philosophies they must expect to be exposed to the contempt they deserve. So too should those who confuse a sombre commemoration of past sacrifice with war-mongering.

Exactly.

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NZ Monarchists say save Prince Harry

April 30th, 2007 at 8:47 am by David Farrar

The Monarchist League of NZ has called for Prince Harry not to be sent to Iraq as “Royal family members of this rank are not just any ordinary democratic citizen.”

I actually think Harry’s insistence of being treated like his colleagues puts the royal family in a good light. It speaks well of his character.

The Monarchists do have one good point though – the risk of friendly fire. Having a Yank accidentally kill the third in line to the British throne would really dent the Atlantic alliance.

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The compulsory bloggers union

April 30th, 2007 at 7:45 am by David Farrar

Following the best traditions of compulsory student associations, Clint Heine has set up a NZ Bloggers Union. He has decided membership is compulsory and co-opted various left wing bloggers as members. The union is going to campaign for stuff they don’t support or believe in, but they will still have to remain members of it, and maybe fund it, so they are not seen as free loading.

Clint is organising elections this week. I have nominated myself for the position of Entertainment Vice-President so I can get to spend lots of other people’s money on stuff I enjoy.

A brilliant concept.

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Another forgery

April 30th, 2007 at 7:39 am by David Farrar

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The Dominion Post reports on the upcoming auction of another Helen Clark forgery. One wonders how many forgeries she signed before she got caught out.

It sounds like the doodle will fetch a good price at the auction, due to notoriety of being a forgery.

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Salient this week

April 30th, 2007 at 7:35 am by David Farrar

Phil Rennie takes a break from writing about tax cuts, and writes about the upcoming “The Devil made me do it” movie.

I saw a preview of this at a Public Address organised get together a few months ago and it looks great. Phil reports the overseas advance screenings have gone well at festivals. Hopefully it will be a big hit.

And of course there is the pie article.

The average ratings were:

GoodTime Classic Mince ($3) from Vicky’s (Mount St Café) 7.1/10

GoodTime Metro Mince ($1.80) from The Quad Kiosk 2.4/10

GoodTime Classic Mince ($2.60) from Mena’s Dairy on Salamanca Rd 7.5/10

Trisha’s Pies Mince and Cheese ($4) from Café Salem (Anglican Chaplaincy) 4.5/10

Big Ben Mince ($1.60) from UniStop 6.8/10

The second pie was truly disgusting. I described it as being like genetically modified soup.

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Transmission Gully costs increasing at $2 million a week

April 30th, 2007 at 7:33 am by David Farrar

Transit has said the cost of building Transmission Gully is increasing at $2 million a week. All the more reason to stop mucking around and get on with it. But look at how slow we are:

A transport project that took seven years from conception to fruition in New Zealand would take only two years in Australia.

NZ – the only country where consenting a road takes longer than building it.

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GPS for paper boys

April 30th, 2007 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

PMP which delivers much of NZ’s unaddressed mail and community newspapers is looking at using GPS to be able to check deliveries are actually made.

As a previous user of their services, I think that would be remarkably helpful. Almost every time one arranged for delivery of some brochure into an area, and you would get significant numbers of people complaining they never got one. And the delivery agent often couldn’t reassure you about how many did get delivered.

So long as PMP put protocols around access to the tracking data, such as only to look at it if they received complaints about non delivery, then it seems a good way to verify if their staff and contractors did actually deliver the material they were paid to do so.

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Muzzling Dogs

April 30th, 2007 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

While I think moves such as dangerous breed bans need to be looked at, the suggestion that *all* dogs outdoors should be muzzled is an over-reaction. It would look ridiculous on the smaller breeds.

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Take for example the dog above, which is a 4 inch long-haired Chihuahua weighing just 18 ounces. If you muzzle him, you might as well start muzzling guinea pigs.

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Slaying the Billboard Ban

April 30th, 2007 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports on fashion designer Denise L’Estrange-Corbet who has savaged the proposed billboard ban for Auckland (inner) City.

“We will no longer have billboards to inform us of what’s happening in our city; no adverts telling us of products and what new series is on the TV.

“Nothing to make us laugh. Just nothing. Just plain, boring nothing.”

She said losing the billboard revenue could force her to sell her building – a former church she has renovated – to a developer and take her business overseas.

“I refuse to take my legal billboard down.

“You are meddling with people’s livelihoods and that is not part of your job description … [which is] ensuring Auckland is a great place to live instead of trying to destroy it with mediocrity.”

Wonderful phrase – destroying it with mediocrity.

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The Green dilemma

April 30th, 2007 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

The Greens have managed to get recognition of the consequences of climate change high up the political agenda. And the UN IPCC is the body recognised as being the mainstream consensus in this area.

Now what are they talking about as ways to reduce greenhouse gases:

As well as plans for more nuclear power, genetically modified biofuels and carbon capture and storage, the report sets out a vision of the future that mixes existing policies, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy from wind and wave farms, and more futuristic ideas for hydrogen car fleets and “intelligent” buildings which can control energy use.

Yes the first two things listed are nuclear power and genetic modification. Both things the Greens have opposed and tried to whip up hysteria against.

This just reinforces for me that in some ways the Greens and their allies are actually very conservative politicians. They oppose anything new. They oppose any risk, no matter what the benefits associated with that risk. In many ways they seek to have NZ in a time warp.

I look forward to hearing from the Greens how the IPCC is 100% correct on analysing the problems of climate change, yet 100% wrong on the solutions.

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A movie to miss

April 29th, 2007 at 11:37 pm by David Farrar

Went with friends to see Sunshine tonight. It should have been a good movie, as it has a good plot premise – being a mission to get close to the Sun to send a bomb into it to rekindle the cooling sun.

But it was overall pretty bloody lame. The scifi parts were good, even very good at times. But for some reason they had to have an insane captain of the predecessor mission sneaks his way on board and start killing people like a C grade horror. No character development or anything for the former captain – just that he had decided not to interfere with God’s will to destroy the earth. Okay so he was a Green Party voter (do not interfere with nature) but to also have him disfigured and burnt, made him just a lame villain. I joked during the start of the movie that they’ll probably find killer crocodiles on board the other space ship. Well he was the killer crocodile.

So not one I’d recommend. Go watch Armageddon again instead.

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Blog Snippets

April 29th, 2007 at 8:56 pm by David Farrar

Pamziewamzie has had a very unhappy experience with the Lonely Miaow Association. You can read all the emails over there, but it seems very high handed behaviour just for a late spading. It’s a bit like having the bank repossess the house because your credit card payment was late.

Half Done has a collection of quotes from the advocates for the Bradford/Clark smacking ban bill.

Nigel Kearney blogs on a report that many carbon credits do not actually result in the reduction of emissions.

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Colin James on Ruth Richardson

April 29th, 2007 at 8:37 pm by David Farrar

Those who want a fair yet critical analysis of Ruth Richardson’s contribution to Government should read this paper by Colin James which he presented to The Bolger Years conference. I asked Colin if Ruth was in the room when he delivered it, and she was in fact the speaker directly after him.

Some extracts:

The die was cast for the early years of Jim Bolger’s government at a caucus meeting in late 1989 while still in opposition at which Ruth Richardson won commitment to vote for the fourth Labour government’s Reserve Bank Bill. That decision was both a symbolic and a substantive acceptance of the prevailing market-based and monetarist economic prescription and also a symbolic and substantive shift of mentality in a party noted for moderate management of an inherited status quo, not the implementation of radical ideas. The Richardson ascendancy which that caucus vote legitimated decisively finessed (though did not bury) the residual populism of the Muldoon era, of which the most visible and audible exponent was Winston Peters.

Only with the formation of a John Key-Bill English leadership team in November 2006 could the party be said to be fully back on its historical course, presenting something akin to the mix of liberal and conservative tendencies which typified it during its domination of politics from 1949 to 1972 but which had been obscured for 30 years since Sir Robert took it down a populist cul de sac.

But what is clear from National’s history is that the conservative and liberal strands are central and the populist and radical strands are outliers. Only when a powerful or charismatic personality emerges or times are unsettled have the outliers come centre-stage as they did between 1974 and 1992: the populist ascendancy ended with Sir Robert Muldoon’s defeat in 1984; the radical ascendancy was coterminous with Ruth Richardson’s period of greatest influence.

To talk of four tendencies is not to suggest individuals can all be pigeonholed in one or other. John Banks combined populist social attitudes with libertarian economic ones, for example. The four strands do not amount to factions, even if sometimes, as in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the tendencies become more distinctly visible.

James is excellent is his ability to look at the different components of a party and how they very over time. Far too few commentators look only at the short term.

And his conclusion on Ruth:

So was Ruth Richardson just a mistake, an aberration, a diversion, a siding, a less-said-the-better episode in National’s history?

No.

Her championing of the Reserve Bank Act and the Public Finance Act while in opposition and then in government was critical to beating the scourge of inflation and to achieving efficiencies in government activities. Her 1991 Budget deepened the recession in the short term but laid a long-term basis for strong surplus Budgets from 1994 onwards, underpinned by her Fiscal Responsibility Act. Her social assistance policy created hardship and spawned a complex and arguably counterproductive raft of special assistance payments but it also kickstarted a shift from purely rights-based social security and welfare to one predicated on the principle that work is better if practicable, which is now mainstream policy. Her insistence on thoroughgoing labour market deregulation encouraged firms to substitute cheap labour for capital investment, which was the opposite of the high-wage economy objective, but it also laid the basis for the big drop in unemployment over the past 10 years. Labour market deregulation also delivered significant labour mobility gains which added materially and importantly to the economy’s flexibility and eventual ability to ride out the combination of drought and Asian crisis in the late 1990s with little pain, which would have been unthinkable 10 years earlier. Overall her policies, added to those of Sir Roger Douglas and the fourth Labour government, generated a big improvement in productivity growth which is now accepted generally as the only sure eventual route to a high-wage economy.

She aimed to restart the reform blitzkrieg and proved able to do so — only briefly but long enough to weld the National party to the new economic project and in effect rule out any realistic prospect of reversal. The Clark governments have modified the project at the margins but the core principle, that markets allocate resources better than administrators, that private operators are for the most part more efficient than public agencies and that free trade is preferable to managed trade, is substantially intact. Indeed, in many ways, notably in its negligible tariff protection and in its tax system, New Zealand remains an outlier after seven and a-half years of governments led by an avowedly social democratic party. The Richardson ascendancy is an important chapter in the transition from the managed economy to the market economy.

James goes on to criticise the social costs of the reforms however. But his last two paragraphs speak for themselves:

But Ruth Richardson did what she did for what she saw as a greater good. She applied principle when it was sure to cause pain, which took at the very least bone-headed determination but also considerable courage. There were threats to her person. There are not many politicians with spines and carapaces like hers and every now and one comes in handy, if for no other reason than to sharpen the debate. Jim Bolger fired Ruth Richardson after his sorry electoral experiences in 1993. But had he not hired her in the first place, the economic gains and the fiscal improvement which paid off after his sacking might well have been compromised. I think Jim Bolger instinctively felt that and that is why we got Ruth Richardson. The irony is that Helen Clark was the beneficiary.

But let’s end on a Richardsonian note of longer-sightedness. Until the 1970s government spending, including assistance to industry and farming, of which there is very little now, was around a quarter of GDP, 10 percentage points below current levels. East Asian nations get by on less than that and some are richer than we are. Perhaps those nations will increase spending up to our level as they close in our standard of living. More likely, they will keep government spending well below ours, as Japan has done. If so, Ruth Richardson’s drive for smaller government may turn out to have been a pointer to the sorts of hard decisions that await her successors as policymakers down the track. The alien corn might turn out to have been the present.

This to me has been the tragedy of the last seven years. With such a healthy economy we could have significantly reduced spending as a percentage of GDP, while still increasing spending in real terms – just by not so much. That would have allowed us to lock in once in a generation reductions in tax, which would have boosted future economic growth.

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Hilarious hypocrisy

April 29th, 2007 at 8:31 pm by David Farrar

Oh this is great. A high level official in the US called Randall Tobias has just resigned due to his seeming involvement in a call girl scandal.

He currently heads up the US Aid Office. But prior to that he was the US Global Aids Co-ordinator. The same one who put emphasis on faithfulness to partners and abstinence over condom use in trying to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus.

He joins Graham Capill and many others in the first class hypocrisy stakes. Not that I hasten to add that their actions are the same. Capill is a criminal child molester. Tobias just had sex with prostitutes, which shouldn’t even be a legal issue. Hope he used a condom!

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Salient Cover

April 29th, 2007 at 8:10 pm by David Farrar

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This will teach me to do stupid competitions. Have to say the cover looks a lot better than we deserve. I shudder at the thoughts of the actual photos.

Hat Tip: Mike Heine

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Another good week in Virtual Super 14

April 29th, 2007 at 1:52 pm by David Farrar

I called six out of seven games right, and I doubt many expected the Crusaders to lose to the Brumbies!

Also got the margin right in three games, so 39 points all up. Globally I am in place 15,335 (of 155,631), up 178 with 374 points. That’s top decile so happy with that.

Of the 91 people on the NZ Bloggers challenge, I am in 9th=. Mark Montgomerie is leading on 405.

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Snails

April 29th, 2007 at 12:38 pm by David Farrar

Having to relocate snails has cost Solid Energy (the taxpayer) $25 million to date. Now as there are only 5,300 snails, this is a cost of $5,000 per snail.

Hell I hope they get some nice digs for that.

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More VUWSA woes

April 29th, 2007 at 12:17 pm by David Farrar

Clint Heine has done a good summary of all the self inflicted woes at VUWSA. These are not unique to this year, but fairly typical of what happens with compulsory membership when there is no accountability to students (the right to resign and take your money elsewhere is the ultimate accountability).

Clent has all the various juvenile misdeeds, but the latest is the Women’s Rights Officer who managed to spend $4,000 of student money on ringing psychic hotlines!! And she did this during only two weeks in the job.

One almost feels sorry for the exec members who are dedicated to their jobs, like Geoff Hayward, for having to put up with so many muppets [(c) Jeremy] on their Exec.

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Join the pldge to lobby the Govt on sedition

April 29th, 2007 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

No Right Turn set up a pledgebank for people to pledge to write in to the Government asking them to agree to the Law Commission’s recommendation to repeal the sedition laws.

The good news is he has broken his target of 20 people, with 41 already signed up. But the more the merrier. Getting the Government to introduce a bill will be quicker than having to reply on private member’s bills being drawn out of the ballot, plus the Government has not actually said which way it would vote, and isn’t going to until October.

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Blame it on the Opposition!

April 29th, 2007 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

I am finding it amusing how the Government is trying to blame its lack of responses to the high exchange rate on opposition parties. Fran O’Sullivan gives Mallard a serve on this.

However NZ First, the Greens and National have said they are willing to co-operate to find a solution.

But the SST reports it is Helen refusing to get around the table.

So Labour’s left hand isn’t even co-ordinating with its far left hand. One Minister is attacking the other parties for not being willing to co-operate, and another is spurning such co-operation.

Indeed the mojo is gone.

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A victory for common sense

April 29th, 2007 at 11:08 am by David Farrar

I missed this at the time, but according to Deborah Coddington the Police have dropped their stupid plans to ban off-duty officers from intervening when they see criminal activity taking place right under their very noses.

Good.

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No NCEA problems – yeah right

April 29th, 2007 at 10:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday has a copy of the annual review of NCEA by the NZQA moderators. It’s a somewhat terrifying litany of problems:

* Te reo teachers were reminded they had to mark and tally student work before handing out a grade and they were also reminded that students should not be relying on cue cards in their spoken-language tests

* Physics and chemistry teachers used assessment tasks straight from the Ministry of Education’s website, which also provided model answers:

* In all levels of history some markers simply ignored the marking schedule and gave out grades that were not deserved.

* Many graphics teachers marked too generously and the review demanded “major changes” and graphics students at levels two and three were often drawing at a level one standard.

* Biology students had “a lack of basic knowledge” of DNA and genes; they were often allowed to work in groups when the test was meant to be individual.

* Students in calculus often did not know how to use their calculators and made a large number of basic errors.

* English students avoided Shakespeare and wrote best about films, some studied Shakespeare through films rather than plays, others regurgitated film guides in their answers.Some did not know what an adjective was.

* Science teachers gave too much direction to students during internal assessment, making many marks invalid.

* In virtually all subjects, many teachers gave students outdated tests for their internal work and others used marking schedules that only vaguely related to the tasks set.

And people wonder why so many students, parents and employers regard it as useless.

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Nuclear Power for Australia

April 29th, 2007 at 10:36 am by David Farrar

John Howard has announced (on the day the ALP was debating whether to remove their policy ban of new uranium mines) steps towards using nuclear power in Australia. Australia has 36% of the world’s low cost uranium reserves, and exports it all currently.

The great quandary for the green movement is that nuclear power produces a minuscule amount of carbon emissions compared to most other forms of high capacity power plants. So this move may lead to Australia doing significantly better with carbon reductions.

But of course there is much kneejerk opposition to nuclear and it is a risky move in terms of public support. What it shows though is that Howard, being behind in the polls, is not afraid to take a risk and to set the agenda. Whether it works or not, time will tell.

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