Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bisexuality is about attraction not action

August 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Recently I was watching Larry King interview Anna Paquin, who’s said repeatedly that she’s bisexual, and wondered what you thought of it.

Now that she’s married to a man (“happily, monogamously,” she added), King asked if that means she’s a “non-practicing bisexual.” She answered, “I don’t think it’s a past-tense thing.”

I’m a straight married guy and I think pretty broad-minded about this stuff, but I’m confused because I thought the definition of bisexual was someone who slept with partners of either sex.

So what does that even mean, to be a monogamous, married bisexual? If she’s married to a man and never sleeps with women, doesn’t that make her straight? – Confused straight man

The article has an answer, but here’s a shorter one. Your sexual orientation is about whether you are attracted to the opposite gender, your own gender, or both (or none). It is very different to whom you actually sleep with.  You can be bisexual, but happily married to one person and monogamous.



General Debate 23 August 2014

August 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Dawkins on abortion and Downs

August 22nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Richard Dawkins, the atheist writer, has claimed it is “immoral” to allow unborn babies with Down’s syndrome to live.

The professor posted a message on Twitter saying would-be parents who learn their child has the condition have an ethical responsibility to “abort it and try again”.

His comments were dismissed by charities and prompted fury online from opponents but he insisted his stance was “very civilised” because foetuses do not have “human feelings”.

It’s an incredibly tough decision for any potential parents. Unhelpful to label whatever decision they make as immoral.

He claimed that the important question in the abortion debate is not “is it ‘human’?” but “can it suffer?” and insisted that people have no right to object to abortion if they eat meat.

I’m pro-choice but I don’t accept that analogy.


General Debate 22 August 2014

August 22nd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Calorie labels

August 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

The decision by fast-food chain Burger King to display energy labels on menu boards on its restaurants throughout New Zealand has been heralded by dieticians as a step in the right direction – although they say much more can be done.

In reality, the move is only a small step towards addressing problems of obesity and related illnesses such as diabetes. But it is a significant one for a fast food chain to make, given the lucrative and highly competitive marketplace in which it operates.

The energy labels will display the total kilojoules per product and are designed, according to Burger King’s chief executive John Hunter, to help customers make informed choices.

It seems other fast food chains do not intend to do the same, saying they already have nutritional information on their websites – and many say they have developed healthier options for their customers.

I’d love it if others did follow suit, and cafes and restaurants also. In New York and DC almost every cafe has the calorie counts on the menus and blackboards, and it is great to be able to make a more informed decision when ordering.

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General Debate 21 August 2014

August 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 20 August 2014

August 20th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Bad ad placement

August 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has apologised for airing a condom advertisement that features a woman talking about her sexual enjoyment during a television movie about one of New Zealand’s most high-profile rape trials.

Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story aired on TV One on Sunday night and told of Ms Nicholas’ fight for justice when she took a police officer and two former police officers to court over allegations of rape.

The small-screen adaptation of her plight, spanning 1981 to 2007, was the most viewed show in its time slot, with an audience of over 305,000, according to Nielsen ratings figures.

During its screening, an advertisement for Skyn condoms aired that featured a woman in her underwear saying how much she enjoyed sex.

The ad attracted immense criticism on TV One’s Facebook page and on Twitter, and complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Viewers said they were appalled and horrified by such an ad played during a real-life account of alleged sexual assault, and said it reinforced a “rape culture” in the country.

“Bloody disgusting seeing a near naked woman pitching condoms in the middle of a harrowing tale … ” wrote Stephanie Kane.

“Great drama and horrifyingly real – bad choice of advert,” wrote Suzanne Mary Bull.

It was totally inappropriate, but I doubt it was a choice. People don’t pick ads to appear during specific programmes or episodes generally. They pick timeslots and channels. The problem would be is that this programme was not flagged as having sensitive content where the ads should be vetted for appropriateness.

Inappropriate ad placement is a bigger problem online. If you write a story on someone hacked to death by an axe murderer, then Google is likely to display ads for axes :-)


Taking offence

August 19th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Beck Eleven writes in The Press:

In his book, author Richard King argues it is all too easy to give offence. Not only that, but we practically leap at the opportunity to take it.

On Offence: The politics of indignation is King’s first book. Using popular culture examples, he explains how the cycle of giving and taking offence works to shut down debate and democracy.

“The determination to give offence matches the determination to take it,” he writes.

I reviewed his book a year or so ago. It is very good.

“Newspapers have less money these days,” King says. “And let’s face it, it’s cheap, easy copy and it’s copy people want to read. Some sections of the media almost drum up offence. You don’t have to pay a reporter to go to the Ukraine, these types of stories keep generating.”

Among other things, the book examines political correctness, an American pastor bent on burning the Quran, the Tea Party, religious and racist battles.

Finding examples for the book were everywhere.

“If you try to keep abreast of them all, you find yourself sinking beneath them. Offence and indignation are fantastically ubiquitous.”

One only need turn to social media or an online news story to find outrage.

“Comments hang on the end of them like seaweed. It doesn’t matter what an article is on, comments turn very abusive. Road rage is gone and internet rage is here.

So true.

As New Zealanders approach the general election, much of what King says about offence shutting down debate will start to ring a bell.

“The taking and giving of offence is a form of political currency. These days somebody only has to say something is offensive and that is deemed to be their whole argument although no real argument has actually been made.

“The way offence and offendedness is whipped up and weaponised strikes me as being almost corrosive of genuine civility.

“It ends up being more like ‘you have been offensive to me, therefore I am going to grant myself leave to something incredibly offensive back’.

“Offence is bad for democracy because it is treated as an argument in itself.”

His key reasoning in the book is that there is no right not to be offended.

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General Debate 19 August 2014

August 19th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 18 August 2014

August 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 17 August 2014

August 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 16 August 2014

August 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Pricing jobs out of existence

August 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jazz Shat at Hot Air blogs:

McDonald’s employees who picketed for a better living wage (whatever that means) may come to regret that decision. According to a Redditor, a McDonald’s in Illinois replaced their cashiers with machines. The machines appear to be the cousins of the ones found in grocery stores, big box stores, and CVS that allow customers to complete transactions.

What are the economics?

For a location open 24 hours: The cost of human cashiers, not counting benefits, $15/hour * 24 hours * 365 days/year = $131,400

For a location open 6AM to Midnight: $15/hour * 18 hours * 365 = $98,550.

For the machine to be cost effective, all it needs to do is cost less than $100,000 a year to buy and maintain.

That’s not much. This could all happen very quickly.

Yes, as the Forbes article makes clear, it didn’t exactly require a rocket surgeon to predict that if you drove the labor costs up too far in an unltracompetitive market such as the fast food industry, automation would begin to look too tempting to ignore. You’re going to make us pay the guy at the fry machine 15 bucks and hour? Well… we decided to pass on that and pay a robot nothing instead.

A great result for the low paid workers – unemployment!


General Debate 15 August 2014

August 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

X is for X-efficiency

August 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative struggles to find an economic term starting with X:

It would have been a stretch for us to relate X-rays or Xylophones to economics. Lucky for the ABCs of economic literacy, Harvey Liebenstein prefixed the word inefficiency with a big X when proposing the concept of X-efficiency in the 1960s. It is the only economic concept in MIT’s Dictionary of Modern Economics listed under X.

X-inefficiency arises when firms fail to achieve the maximum possible level of output from given inputs. It contrasts with allocative inefficiency, which is the failure to produce the optimal mix of outputs, even if each output is produced at least cost.

X-inefficiency represents a forgone opportunity to increase profits, wages or both. A text-book monopolist would not fail to maximise profits but, in practice, some firms might.

The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics cites, as evidence for the existence of X-inefficiency, a study in 1981 of a Ford plant in Germany that was producing 50 percent more automobiles with 22 percent less labour than an identically-designed plant in the UK. (Presumably German workers were getting paid commensurately more, reflecting their greater productivity.)

Differences in labour market laws, entrenched labour market practices, cultural attitudes to work, performance and pay may make it hard for even a profit-maximising owner to raise the productivity of the UK plant to the German level. But if wages are sufficiently lower in the UK, a profit-maximising owner might be able to make enough profit out of the UK plant to justify not closing it and shifting all production to Germany.

Managerial slack is a related source of X-inefficiency. Employee managers are likely less motivated than owner-managers to maximise profits. Owners may be unable to fully overcome this problem. Diffuse ownership may be one reason why owners might fail in this manner.

Laws that make it unduly difficult to hire or fire managers or workers or to target incentives at top-performers (performance pay) may contribute to X-inefficiency. For example, anti-takeover laws may protect under-performing management teams.

Performance measures across firms and countries, such as the Ford factory one above, can help identify egregious cases of X-inefficiency, but eliminating its causes may be too hard if they are entrenched.

The theory is controversial because if people prefer not to work as hard and as productively as they could, and consider the lower wage to be a price worth paying, they are actually optimising. Their lower productivity is efficient.

Two to go.

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General Debate 14 August 2014

August 14th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Now they want to control our cheeses also!

August 13th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Many popular cheeses on sale in UK supermarkets contain high levels of salt, despite meeting government reduction targets as part of the drive to improve public health, campaigners have warned. …

Cash called on the government to introduce much more challenging targets on salt reduction in cheese as a “cost-effective” way to improve public health and to follow the much tougher lead set by the US. …

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Cash, said: “Reducing salt is one of the most cost-effective measures to reduce the number of people suffering and dying from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. Cheese is a big contributor of salt to the UK diet and it’s vital the Department of Health forces the cheese industry to implement the new targets immediately – and to set more challenging targets for the future.”

I’ve got a better idea. How about people be left for themselves to decide if they want to buy cheese with a lot of salt in it, or cheese with not much salt.


General Debate 13 August 2014

August 13th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

RIP Robin Williams

August 12th, 2014 at 11:41 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Actor and comedian Robin Williams has been found dead, his publicist has announced. He was 63.

He was found in his home and the cause of death is believed to be suicide.

“Robin Williams passed away this morning,” his publicist said in a statement.

“He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” Williams’ wife Susan Schneider said.

“I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

How very very sad. I’m stunned.

It is a reminder that even the apparently happiest and funniest people can struggle with their mental health.

I loves so many of his shows and movies. Mork & Mindy was great, and Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society are my favourite of his movies.

It was during one of his appearances on David Letterman that it struck me what a comic genius he was. Normally Letterman is the one doing most of the talking, but Williams came on and just took over and engaged with the crowd for probably five minutes or more without a pause, before Letterman got to say anything. His stand up skills are almost unsurpassed.

A huge loss to his family, but also to the entire world of comedy. A very sad day.


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General Debate 12 August 2014

August 12th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Monday Motivator – Untitled

August 11th, 2014 at 10:54 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 30

Untitled, Ubud, Bali

I have just stepped off the plane after spending the last couple of weeks in Bali. It was my first time there and I loved it….very friendly people, great food and wonderful photo opportunities all around….what is not to like.

This image of an intricate doorway was taken one morning in a lane-way in Ubud. I haven’t yet given it a title but you may want to suggest one….I will give a poster of your choice away to the best suggestion.

Still uploading to the site so no larger view of it this week.


Richard []

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

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General Debate 11 August 2014

August 11th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 10 August 2014

August 10th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The Nation debate

August 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Colin Craig has successfully muscled his way into TV3′s minor parties leaders’ debate tomorrow morning after taking his case to the High Court.

TV3 executives decided outside the High Court to include the Conservative party leader after he successfully applied for an injunction preventing the debate from airing without him.

TV3 Director of News Mark Jennings said it was either include Craig or cancel the debate and it was not fair to prevent the other parties from being heard. 

Lawyers for Craig applied for an injunction in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon to prevent TV3 owners MediaWorks from airing a debate on its programme The Nation without the Conservative Party leader.

Party leaders from United Future, ACT, the Greens, the Maori Party, New Zealand First and Mana, were due to face off in the debate at 9.30am tomorrow morning.

Justice Murray Gilbert ruled that Craig had an arguable case that TV3′s selection criteria – gaining a seat at the previous election – was insufficient.

I agree that a backwards criteria is insufficient. it locks out parties that have done well since the last election. I’m not saying that means the Conservatives should have been included – just that TV3′s criteria was lacking.

I didn’t watch the debate. What did people make of it? Who was best and worst?

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