Archive for June, 2007

No more Paris stories

June 30th, 2007 at 5:10 pm by David Farrar

Hilarious clip from a US news show as an anchor not only refuses to read out the latest Paris Hilton story but tries to set it on fire and then shreds it. Meanwhile her co-hosts just laugh and win her up as she melts down. They start sniffing the story she is ripping up, and then get the cmeras to show some Paris footage just to wind her up even more.

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Weekend Roundup

June 30th, 2007 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

Lindsay Mitchell has a dictionary for women placing personal ads.

Paul at The Fundy Post details the sad state of affairs at the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists.

Mauricio Freitas has the clear winner of the most obscene banner award for 2007. You have to check this out. I can not believe that got through an ad agency without someone twigging.

Craig Foss points out that the Labour Party has removed Tukituki from their electorate map of NZ. Is this a hint to Rick Barker to join Russell Fairbrother in planning for retirement?

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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

June 30th, 2007 at 12:41 pm by David Farrar

On Shortland Street they had a scene where Libby is telling Chris he can track his family down through the IP address in an e-mail. Hooray I thought – nice to see some technical know-how in the script.

Alas my hopes dropped as she explained the first three digits tell you which country it came from.

And they dropped even more when they showed the address as 340.096.614.3

One doesn’t need to use whois on that one!

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Kiwisaver Info

June 30th, 2007 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

As is often the case when the Government makes last minute changes, the implementation suffers. As an employer I don’t yet have the Kiwisaver employee packs I need to give to my staff. We don’t even have the forms they need to fill in to opt in.

The Dom Post reports on some questions from people about the scheme. It is a pity they did not provide the answers also, but I’ll do it for them:

Mr Scott said KiwiSaver contributions should be made tax-deductible, which would make the scheme more appealing to employers and employees.

Contributions from the employer are fully tax deductible. Contributions from the employee get a tax credit which for most employees is worth far more than merely having a contribution tax deductible. Here is the value of the tax credit vs a tax deduction at each level:

$26,000 – $1,040 credit vs $203 deduction
$45,000 – $1,040 credit vs $594 deduction
$65,000 – $1,040 credit vs $1,014 deduction
$100,000 – $1,040 credit vs $1,560 deduction

At $66,666 a tax deduction on your 4% contribution would be worth more than the tax credit.

Sales assistant Janine Bogoievski said she wanted to know what would happen to any savings if she or her husband died early.

They become property of the estate and go to the beneficiaries in the will.

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Shame

June 30th, 2007 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

Today is the end of the financial year for Government.

The NZ First Party has not paid back even a single cent of their $157,934 illegal expenditure. Shame on them.

Winston Peters and his party have made excuse after excuse to delay and avoid accountability. They want to talk to lawyers, they want to consider options, someone is overseas etc etc.

United Future have paid about $50,000 of the original $71,867. I have some sympathy for their position as a very small party, but the honourable thing to do would be to borrow the difference from a bank, not leave the debt partially unpaid at the end of the financial year.

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Immigration Screening

June 30th, 2007 at 8:14 am by David Farrar

Doctors Jeff Garrett and Andy Veale from Middlemore Hospital have called for potential immigrants to be screened for obesity and smoking habits because they place such a heavy burden on health services.

For some reason, Brenden Sheehan is now an expert on all issues, and has oppossed the proposal, saying:

“The issues of obesity are a problem facing both New Zealand and the Pacific community.

“I mean, if you’re going to discriminate against people who are overweight, what’s next? Do you then discriminate against people who are blind or who are deaf or are we back to the dark old ages of discriminating against people with disabilities?”

My answer to the above, is yes, yes and yes in so far as it relates to selecting immigrants.

Sensible immigration policy is based on selecting people who will contribute more to NZ, than they will cost. There are some limited exceptions such as refugees, but generally choosing immigrants is a highly discriminatory process. Now that is not to say being overweight, or blind or deadf by itself should be an automatic barrier, but calculating likely health costs should be an essential part of the decision making process.

Of course once someone has been accepted to live in NZ, there should be no discrimination. But up until that point immigration is all about being selective.

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Senility

June 29th, 2007 at 11:07 am by David Farrar

Has anyone else ever purchased a book, and while reading it have an odd sense of deja vu and only when you get to the final page with the twist/resolution do you realise you have already read the book?

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Celebrate – chewing gum tax cuts back on for 2012

June 29th, 2007 at 10:28 am by David Farrar

Yay, let there be dancing and celebration in the streets. Dr Cullen will deliver tax cuts – but only in 2012 if you re-elect him for a 4th and 5th term.

In 2005 Dr Cullen promised to inflation index tax brackets every three years, starting in 2008. They then broke this election year promise this year by cancelling the tax cuts, because people complained they were not big enough.

Bur Treasury papers show Dr Cullen told Cabinet that maybe we could have tax cuts after 2011, but they would probably have to be smaller than even the chewing gum tax cuts he promised in 2005.

So the miserly promised tax cuts for 2008 are to be not only delayed at least four years, but also made even smaller. And all over a backdrop of around the second largest fiscal suurplus in the world.

I mean what can one say. Staggering.

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Dollars hits US$0.77

June 29th, 2007 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

Wow hasn’t that Reserve Bank intervention worked well.

The TWI also hit a post float high of 74.86

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Party Pills to be banned

June 29th, 2007 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Hmmn, prohibition, yeah that works so well, let’s do it some more. Didn’t prohibition of alcohol work so well in the USA? And hasn’t prohibition of cannabis stopped people smoking pot? So I am sure the BZP party pill ban will be just as successful.

I’ve never taken a party pill in my life, probably never will. But I am not convinced that the level of harm they cause has been proven to be high enough to warrant prohibition.

According to Frog, United Future and not convinced a ban will work, likewise of course for the Greens. Sadly National looks set to support Jim Anderton on this issue, even though I know views in Caucus are widespread. A pity it can’t be a conscience vote.

No Right Turn makes the excellent point:

Number of New Zealanders killed by alcohol: over one thousand a year.
Number of New Zealanders killed by tobacco: 5000 a year.
Number of New Zealanders killed by BZP: none.

And that is on a user base of 250,000 NZers who use party pills.

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The Hard News theory

June 28th, 2007 at 10:41 am by David Farrar

Someone once told me that they had a theory with Russell’s Hard News. He said it was the most reliable barometer to how well Labour is going.

If Labour is going really well he will mention political stuff several times in each post. And if they are not, then he will talk only music, overseas politics and ignore NZ politics.

Now I thought this theory was over simplified. But a check of Hard News finds that over the entire month of June there has been only two small reference to NZ politics – the obligatory strike at Fay & Richwhite and the Dietary Supplements regulatory debate.

So maybe there’s something to that theory after all?

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Angela Davis

June 28th, 2007 at 9:24 am by David Farrar

Some of the far left have been swooning with excitment over the visit of Angela Davis to NZ. So who is Angela Davis?

Well she is the ideal unimpeachable minority as a female African-American lesbian communist. That by itself must make her a hero.

But hold on a second you say. Is she really a communist, or are you placing that label on her?

Well the fact she stood for as the Communist Party candidate for Vice-President of the United States means we can probably be reassured she is or at least was a communist. And we are not talking back in the 1950s but in 1980 and 1984. And up until 1987 the US Communist Party was funded by Moscow with an annual US$3 million a year or so.

But hold on again you say? Maybe she was one of those good nice communists? The ones who stood up to the Stalinist empire? Well not according to Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

According to Solzhenitsyn, a group of Czech dissidents “addressed an appeal to her: `Comrade Davis, you were in prison. You know how unpleasant it is to sit in prison, especially when you consider yourself innocent. You have such great authority now. Could you help our Czech prisoners? Could you stand up for those people in Czechoslovakia who are being persecuted by the state?’ Angela Davis answered: ‘They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.’”

Her specialist area is prisons. She has a simple solution. She wants them abolished. Yep. So is this now official Green party policy?

Liberty Scott blogs on Davis also.

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Nice exchange

June 28th, 2007 at 9:20 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil highlights this exchange in the House:

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Can I stress, again, that John Key made exactly the same commitment for a thousand extra police. No doubt, Bill English thinks that is a gimmick too, but it might explain why when Mr Key was interviewed this week on whom he was leaving in charge while he was away, he listed Moonbeam, the family cat, before he got to Mr English.

Hon Bill English: Moonbeam the family cat could get recruited as a policeman these days!

Simon Power: He’s too bright!

Heh.

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Auckland super-Council

June 28th, 2007 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide, Jordan Carter and I all agree that Auckland should have less Councils, even one Council.

This may cause a drop in the NZ dollar, as such agreement is rumoured to be the third sign of the Apocalypse.

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New Telecom CEO

June 28th, 2007 at 8:19 am by David Farrar

Telecom announced this morning that Dr Paul Reynolds will replace Theresa Gattung as CEO.

Dr Reynolds is currently CEO of the network access division (called Open Reach) of British Telecom. He should not be confused with local IT personality Paul Reynolds.

I think this is a good appointment as it signifies the Telecom Board has a commitment to making Telecom succeed as an operationally (or structurally) separated company.

Telecom also deserve kudos for releasing now, rather than at annual report time, his salary details. He will get $1.75m a year plus up to another $1.75 million in performance bonuses. And he is guaranteed employment (effectively) for a minimum period of three years and gets 12 months of salary if they ask him to resign at any stage after that. Seems to be what one would expect for NZ’s largest company and about right for what he was on in the UK.

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WIll new rules stop TV campaign ads

June 28th, 2007 at 8:14 am by David Farrar

Steven Price points out in the NZ Herald that the new rules for use of photos from the House could mean:

So, for example, if even the Prime Minister could be shown to have lied in the House, the Opposition couldn’t use footage of that in its election campaign.

Hopefully someone is working on a rewrite.

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Pathethic Peters

June 28th, 2007 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

First of all we had the totally fictitious and invented conspiracy of powerful interests threatening the Securities Commission, which as I previously blogged was dismissed by the Chairwoman herself.

Now Peters is desperately trying to get above 5% in the polls by saying John Key was an apologist for Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite.

Key’s crime is to reject stripping citizenship from the above gentleman as “a bit harsh”.

That of course is an under statement. Stripping citizenship from native born New Zealanders is not only “a bit harsh” but a breach of international law, specifically Article 15 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

So because John Key did not support breaking international human rights law to punish two men Winston does not like, he is an apologist for them.

Peters also calls former Chief Justice Sir Ronald Davison “corrupt’. Maybe the media could ask Peters to provide proof of this.

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America’s Cup Drinking Game Rules

June 28th, 2007 at 12:09 am by David Farrar

These rules invented tonight by DPF, Stoo, MikeE, Rasputin, Pamziewanzie and Molly May.

Drink one sip

* Penalty requested
* Mark rounded
* Error by crew
* Russell Coutts shuts the fuck up
* Lead changes

Finish your vessel

* Penalty awarded
* Mast snaps
* NZ wins race
* Peter Montgomery hits Russell Coutts

Finish the bottle (vodka)

* Boat sinks
* Peter Montgomery kills Russell Coutts

Let the race begin!

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Blair going going ….

June 27th, 2007 at 11:44 pm by David Farrar

Just got back to my hotel room with a few friends and by chance got to see Tony Blair’s final question time live. Huge standing ovation from all sides of the UK Commons as he finished.

He is now off to the Queen to formally resign.

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Parliament, photos and the press gallery

June 27th, 2007 at 2:47 pm by David Farrar

The only thing more feral than a lioness defending its cubs is the Parliamentary Press Gallery united to defend a “right”. The last mass uprising was in the 1990s when Ruth Richardson wanted to charge then rent for their free office space. This was the end of democracy we were told.

Now I admire the excellence of the Press Gallery campaign – it has been hilarious, defiant and effective. And the MPs who did put together the new guidelines for photography did so in a very clumsy and idiotic way by making it look like they are trying to ban satire.

Defending the intent of the MPs is probably the most unpopular position one can take, but I will do so (to some degree). People need to remember that Parliament is more than the one hour a day of the noisy intense question time. It sits until 10 pm some nights on very boring legislation, and MPs rostered on have to be there. Now it is one thing to have cameras on you for an hour a day, but how many people think they could spend around seven hours a house day being filmed and not during that time yawn, blow your nose, scratch your balls, text message etc etc. One would have to be inhuman not to.

What the MPs (very clumsily) are trying to do is say hey don’t take out of context images which show these things as if that is representative of all we do. MPs deliberately provide enough material for satire that one doesn’t need to take say an MP yawning out of context to ridicule them.

But the MPs are onto a hiding to nothing (despite the fact in some areas they have liberalised the rules). Look at the stories.

Dom Post: MPs claim they need protection

304979.jpg

Dom Post: This picture is banned.

Dom Post: Shortsighted MPs harm themselves

So that is three stories plus a picture in just one day from one newspaper. I mean you would think this is the biggest issue facing the country.

Colin Espiner has a blog entry on the issue. Now I agree that the satire rule should go out. It is a red rag to a bull. And it was ridiculous that TV3 got bagged for showing Ron Mark doing the fingers, rather than Mark himself. But this isn’t quite the Kremlin cracking down on dissent and the media should consider how impartial they are reporting on themselves.

To some degree it will be be immaterial once Parliament is broadcast live over the Internet. I imagine many bloggers will be keeping copies and doing their own satire and lampooning. So the genie will be out of the bottle.

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Dom Post on National’s skills policy

June 27th, 2007 at 2:32 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post approves of National’s proposed skills policy. Their editorial concludes:

Mr Key wants to make the same opportunities available to other students by rewriting the curriculum, making it easier for skilled tradespeople to qualify as teachers, paying them the same rates as university-educated colleagues, encouraging more local businesses to get involved, allowing students to train outside school grounds, establishing trade academies at a select group of schools and allowing students to begin apprenticeships while still at school.

Those are just the sorts of initiatives that are needed to equip New Zealand and New Zealand kids for the future. National’s proposals recognise that not every child is suited to an academic career. They also recognise that, as well as lawyers, accountants and policy analysts, New Zealand needs plumbers to unblock the drains, mechanics to keep the vehicle fleet running and chippies to build houses.

In fact, as anyone who has recently had to call out a plumber or tried to find a builder to renovate their home knows, a life spent clambering around building sites can be just as financially rewarding as a life spent behind a desk.

Instead of pooh-poohing Mr Key’s proposals, Miss Clark would be wise to see which of them she can pinch. Even the Post Primary Teachers Association, not normally an organisation that aligns itself with National, has hailed the party’s moves to address what it calls a “technology teacher crisis”.

DPF’s first law of politics in education:

If National and the PPTA agree on something, it must be the right thing to do

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What a beatup

June 27th, 2007 at 2:14 pm by David Farrar

Lianne Dalziel, in relation to the Tranz Rail Securities Commission case, spoke in Parliament and said:

There were interests out there who did not want these defendants to be pursued; at one point I felt that those interests did not want the defendants to be pursued at any cost. So I want to place on record my congratulations to Jane Diplock and the entire team at the Securities Commission on having the guts and the gumption to take on these very strong, powerful interests in our country.

Then Winston Peters jumped in and presumably invented the claim that some people on the commission had faced threats relating to their employment.

Then Michael Cullen added to the hysteria and said the claims of threats were “very serious” and worthy of further investigation.

So what were there threats and these strong powerful interests?

Well the Securities Commission chairwoman, Jane Diplock, has today told us. Basically there were none.

She in fact pointed out the pressure had been worse in other cases. The only thing Diplock could cite was critical media reports. Hardly the same as threats of retribution from strong and powerful interests.

Jane Diplock deserves our thanks for standing up for the rights of small shareholders and getting a good settlement. It is a pity her own Minister had to invent some sort of secret threatening cabal to try and make the story more juicy. One expects that sort of nonsense from Peters, but not from Dalziel who generally is one of the more sensible Ministers.

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Yeah Right

June 27th, 2007 at 8:40 am by David Farrar

A fascinating article on alleged misdoings in the Christchurch Casino.

My favourite part:

[Louis] Crimp had been heard in a cubicle with a woman making noises which disturbed other guests.

… Crimp had explained he had been helping a young woman who was having an asthma attack.

If you believe that one, I have a bridge for sale.

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Moving On

June 27th, 2007 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

Was somewhat alarmed to find a small photo of me on the front page of Computerworld with the headline “Chucking it in: Farrar moves on”.

Inside this story covers my impeding semi-retirement from InternetNZ.

Somewhat ironically I am the person who proposed (two x two years) term limits for Officers in 2002 and having been elected Vice-President in 2003, I am the first person to be affected by them and facing compulsory retirement. Despite this I remain a fan of term limits because they do prevent people staying in a job so long that they remain stale.

As the article says I’m still going to be involved with a few issues, and have just been reappointed to the .nz Registry Services Board, so definitely not a complete break.

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Can’t even organise a coup in a Council

June 27th, 2007 at 8:14 am by David Farrar

How incompetent do you have to be to give the Deputy Mayor an ultimatum to resign or be sacked, and then when he refuses, it turns out you don’t even have the numbers and one of your own team won’t even be voting with you.

Again I am mystified about why they think rolling Hucker 90% of the way through his term will achieve anything. And more bizarrely they are keeping him on as a candidate yet trying to sack him as Deputy Mayor.

The first rule in politics is do not announce your coup until you have the numbers.

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