Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

General Debate 28 May 2016

May 28th, 2016 at 8:29 am by David Farrar

Which US candidate do you most side with

May 28th, 2016 at 7:02 am by David Farrar

A comprehensive quiz to determine which 2016 Presidential candidate you most side with.

A slight worry that I side most (95%) with John McAfee who is slightly mad. But to be fair I got between 90% and 95% for all the libertarian candidates.

My other scores are:

  • Ted Cruz 88%
  • Donald Trump 67%
  • Hillary Clinton 41%
  • Bernie Sanders 36%


General Debate 27 May 2016

May 27th, 2016 at 2:57 pm by David Farrar

I’d be grateful for 31 years of peppercorn rentals

May 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Wellington furniture-maker is being forced to pack up his tools, after the death of his longstanding benefactor.

Rick White secured his workshop in Leeds St 31 years ago, thanks to a handshake deal with former district court judge Ian Borrin.

But Borrin died in March, leaving the building as part of a $30 million bequest to create a charitable trust. 

White, owner of Waywood Furniture, was paying $800 a month in rent, which never changed while Borrin was alive. The commercial monthly rate today would be about 10 times that.

So for 31 years he paid a peppercorn rental. And the owner has died, and now that no longer applies. What is unexpected or unusual about that?

He planned to carry on working there until he died, happy, over his workbench.

Then he should have approached Judge Borrin and asked him how much would it cost to buy the building.

He said he had a duty to the judge’s estate and the foundation to “maximise the revenue stream” from his properties. There was a prospective new tenant who had made an unconditional written offer to take a lease and redevelop the property.

Patterson said he spoke to Borrin before his death, and it was his wish that the redevelopment proceed.  There was no written record of the judge’s wishes with regard to White’s workshop: “The judge wanted him to exit in a friendly manner, but also in a timely manner.”

White had now been given 3½ months to leave.

“He’s getting on a bit, he’s just trying to maximise the value of his tenancy. The world’s moved on, I’m afraid.

“We’re now in a commercial world, and I’m afraid Rick is a minor casualty.”

Nikau Foundation manager Louise Parkin said the group did not yet have Borrin’s assets in the trust, as they were still in probate.

She confirmed Borrin had the discretion to hold White’s rent unchanged for 31 years, and said the full commercial rate for the premises would be about $80,000 a year.

But at present, once rates and insurance were paid, the property was actually losing money.

“Strictly, it would be unethical for us to subsidise an individual business owner at the trust’s expense, for charitable purposes.”

If Judge Borrin wanted him to retain it for life, he would have said so in the will. If I was Mr White I’d be grateful for the 31 years of peppercorn rentals, rather than complaining they have ended.

General Debate 26 May 2016

May 26th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 25 May 2016

May 25th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 24 May 2016

May 24th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 23 May 2016

May 23rd, 2016 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

General Debate 22 May 2016

May 22nd, 2016 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

TV series by gender

May 21st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


An interesting table from 538. Their focus was on why Sex in the City had such a low rating despite seven Emmys. The average of 7.0 was below the average of 7.3 for all shows.

It turns out women gave it an 8.1 but men a 5.8. This does not surprise me.

Looking at the table above, I’m not totally surprised that Game of Thrones is the top rated show, but am surprised it is top for both women and men.

Also a bit surprising that Dr Who rates higher with women than men.

General Debate 21 May 2016

May 21st, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Why Richard Harman is the best political journalist in NZ

May 20th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman writes at Politik:

This weekend sees the last of National’s regional party conferences.

Over the past three weeks, hundreds of party members have met in Hamilton, Auckland and Wanaka and will meet on Saturday in Palmerston North.

And Richard has attended most or all of those conferences.

I regard Politik, written by Richard, as a must read. It comes out at 5 am every morning and is my first read of the day.

It almost never talks about who said what in the House, who won question time etc. But almost every day I read something there which gives me an insight I don’t get anywhere else.

Richard is focused on policy and policy issues.

He attends not just the national conferences but the regional conferences of the parties. He talks to members to get a feel of where the party is at. I see him at obscure briefings such as the 40 year energy forecast from Exxon Mobil.

I’m not sure if he even bothers to attend question time, but when I do see him at Parliament he is almost always engaged in a discussion with an MP – gathering intelligence and insights. And I think MPs are much happier talking about stuff to him, than other media – because it’s not about a headline that will sell newspapers, or get click throughs for advertising. His model is providing valuable content and insights that people will pay for.

In no way do I mean to disparage the many good journalists in the press gallery who provide some excellent reporting and also analysis. But the nature of the media they work for means they can’t do what Richard does. Their employers won’t pay for the cost of sending them to regional conferences just to gather intelligence. They need stories every day to justify their investment.

As the media look at the very challenging commercial environment, they could do worse than look at the model of Politik – a daily newsletter that provides enough insights you don’t get elsewhere that you are willing to pay for.

General Debate 20 May 2016

May 20th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

More on the Dutch euthanasia case

May 19th, 2016 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

I blogged on a troubling case in the Netherlands involving a woman in her 20s who was allowed to have an assisted suicide/death due to PTSD.

I’ve been e-mailed by an MP a translation of her case notes, which indicate she had ailments beyond PTSD. The translation is:

Character suffering, information and alternatives By patient, a woman of 20-30 years, had serious mental suffering, including a refractory posttraumatic stress disorder and severe refractory anorexia nervosa. there Also, there was a chronic depression, chronic suicidality, self-mutilation, dissociation / pseudo-hallucinations and obsessions and compulsions. Were her complaints Fifteen years ago started after sexual abuse.

The patient has had various therapies, both ambulatory and in various clinical centers. Also is They treated very intensively with medication. Her suffering was increasing and more and more came somatic problems. She was tube feeding through a PEG tube, suffered from urinary retention, which a suprapubic catheter was placed, and was suffering from constipation, which they got colonics. She also had chronic anemia, electrolyte disturbances and renal impairment.

About two years before the death has taken place for multidisciplinary consultation Following the euthanasia of the patient. There is then a second opinion from an expert asked trauma treatments. On the advice of these expert then has an intense occurred trauma treatment. This treatment was temporarily partially successful.

According to her treating psychiatrist no other treatment options were more present and there was no sight more to improve her quality of life. His vision was confirmed by a another psychiatrist and the medical superintendent of the mental health institution to which he was attached. Healing was no longer possible. The treatment was still only palliative in nature.

The suffering of the patient consisted of continuous mental suffering by continuing mood swings and flashbacks, ongoing abdominal discomfort and the very poor physical condition and deplorable condition in which it had found itself. Despite years of fighting and contributing to the intensive treatments were her mental and physical condition as bad backward that they experienced no quality of life anymore. Patient was cachectic severely weakened and almost completely become bedridden and dependent on the care of others; there was no perspective or hope for her. She had constantly felt that she was dying, but did not die.

They suffered from the hopelessness of her situation.

The patient experienced her suffering as unbearable. The doctor was convinced that suffering for the patient was unbearable and hopeless prevailing medical opinion.

There were no acceptable options for the patient more to relieve the suffering.

So seems it was a more complex case than the media reported.

General Debate 19 May 2016

May 19th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 18 May 2016

May 18th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 17 May 2016

May 17th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 16 May 2016

May 16th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 15 May 2016

May 15th, 2016 at 10:04 am by David Farrar

Six months to make a sandwich without trade

May 14th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

What do you get when you give a man six months and NZ$2400 (US$1500)? A single sandwich.

But it’s not just any sandwich, of course.

Andy George, host of YouTube series How To Make Everything, attempts to make everyday things from scratch, gathering and growing the raw ingredients before assembling the final product.

This is a good lesson about the value of trade.

Some people think trade is a zero sum game. Exports are good and imports are bad.

Trade is about relative value. You could spend six months of your time making a sandwich from scratch, or you can trade with other people who allow you to purchase a sandwich for $5 instead of $2,400.

General Debate 14 May 2016

May 14th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The girl with seven names

May 13th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


I was thrilled this week to meet Hyeonseo Lee.

I got a call from Melissa Lee last week telling me that she is hosting a dinner at Parliament with the National Unification Advisory Council and the guest speaker is a defector from North Korea. She thought I might be interested as I had blogged on North Korea.

A few months ago I had read an amazing book about North Korea by a defector, Hyeonseo Lee. It is called The Girl with Seven Names. I had raved about the book to friends and family and even lent it out to them.

So I asked Melissa ho the defector was, not expecting it would be a name I had heard of. When Melissa said it is a young women who wrote the book “The Girl With Seven Names” I excitedly exclaimed to her how I had not just heard of her, but read her book and been talking about it for months. So I was very excited to get to meet Hyeonseo in person.

She spoke on her life story to around 100 MPs, diplomats, members of the National Unification Advisory Council and some of the NZ veterans of the Korean War. Earlier that day Melissa had moved in Parliament a resolution:

That this House condemn the human rights record of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is detailed in the United Nations 2014 commission of inquiry into both systematic abuse and repression, and that this House call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to give access to human rights bodies and international agencies to improve the lives of the North Korean people.

This passed without dissent.

There are two major themes to Hyeonseo’s book that resonated with me – her personal story, and the insight into what life is really like in North Korea.

Her personal story is quite amazing. She was basically an accidental defector. She lived on the border with China and the day before her 18th birthday, she decided to cross the border just to see what life was like in China. Her intention was to return, and as she was not yet an adult, there would be lesser consequences for her if she got caught – would be a youthful prank. Her family were not enemies of the state, they were fairly well off middle class (for North Korea).

However the security police got wind that she had gone missing and may have crossed the border, and her family warned her that if she came back then the whole family might be arrested and sent to a camp. So she had to stay in China.

She then spent around seven years in China living undercover. Chinese authorities will send back North Koreans to North Korea so she had to pretend to be Chinese. This involved assuming a number of identities (hence the title of the book, The Girl With Seven Names) and years of living in fear that at any point she may be discovered and deported.

She eventually made her way out of China and with fake papers managed to fly to South Korea. She was petrified that they would not welcome her, but when she declared she was a defector, their first words were “Welcome home”. However it then turned bad as her fake Chinese papers were so convincing that they decided she was Chinese and might deport her back to China (and then North Korea). After a couple of weeks thought she convinced them that she was in fact North Korean, and she got to live in South Korea.

Her story did not end there, as she later went back to get her mother and family out. They came close to disaster many times, were blackmailed and betrayed and eventually arrested in Laos. Then a good samaritan struck, as an random Australian businessman who was in the building paid a huge sum to authorities to get her family released, and they got back to South Korea. The generosity of strangers can be staggering.

So her personal story is an adventure that would be amazing even as fiction, let alone as a true story.

But her depiction of life in North Korea is also powerful. She writes of the weekly inspection of their houses to check their photos of the Great Leader are straight. They can be punished if one of the photos are crooked. They are forced to effectively worship the Kims and schools are basically state run brainwashing camps.

And the brainwashing works. Until she ended up in China, she had no idea that it was all lies.  The control of the people by the state is so total, you have an entire population enslaved.

I actually got angry reading her book, recalling a certain prominent New Zealander who visited North Korea and declared how wonderful it seemed to be, and how happy the people are that they met – seemingly unaware that all they saw was propaganda put on by the Government.

If there is any one book you should read about North Korea, this is the one. It’s not written by an enemy of the state. It’s just the life of a normal 17 year old girl who crossed a river and ended up being hunted for the best part of a decade.

On a personal level was great to meet the author of a book which I had found so compelling. I had so many questions for her, that Melissa finally had to take her away around the room, as I was hogging her time 🙂

General Debate 13 May 2016

May 13th, 2016 at 9:24 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 12 May 2016

May 12th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Soda sales soar in Mexico after sugar tax!

May 10th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The WSJ reports:

Sales of soda are climbing two years after Mexico imposed a roughly 10% tax on sugary drinks …

Purchases, however, are rising in Mexico after an initial drop, making the country a key-growth market again for soda giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

Underscoring the resiliency of sugary drinks, the tax of one peso per liter has raised more than $2 billion since January 2014, about a third more than the government expected.

The tax data is the best proxy for sales. So the sugar tax has raised lots of money but not decreased sales, let alone decreased obesity.

While that public-health campaign is long gone, soda makers continue to advertise their products heavily and say it is unfair to single out something representing less than 10% of daily caloric intake.

In NZ they are just 1.8% of daily calories yet the tax and tax brigade insist a tax on soda drinks would reduce obesity. It would be like trying to reduce alcohol consumption by only taxing vodka.

Coca-Cola Femsa SAB, the country’s largest Coke bottler, said last Wednesday that its Mexican soda volumes rose 5.5% in the first quarter from a year earlier. Arca Continental SAB, the No. 2 Coke bottler, reported soda volumes surged 11%.

The turnaround began last year, when Mexican soda-industry volume rose 0.5% after falling 1.9% in 2014, said data service Canadean.

So as is often the case a small initial impact, that then disappears and reverses.

Antisoda groups aren’t ready to declare the tax a failure and say sales got a boost from unusually warm weather.

Blame climate change!

Even the initial downturn only lowered the average Mexican’s daily caloric intake by 6 to 7 calories, or 0.2%, according to the study.

That is equal to around two extra minutes of walking per day. Yes, seriously.