Not all heroes wear capes

Stuff reports:

Auckland Transport is threatening to file a police report against the person responsible for spray-painting bright green penises around potholes.

Road safety campaigner Geoff Upson has been spray-painting around potholes since 2018, spending about $400 on spray paint each year.

The Kaukapakapa resident regularly spray-paints circles around potholes out of “sheer frustration” over seeing motorists navigating around them.

But it’s the roads in the worst condition that are reserved for his signature bright green penises, he said.

So he spray paints green penises around potholes to shame Auckland Transport into fixing them.

No wonder AT want him prosecuted!

What the hate speech apologist overlook

On my Patreon I have written about why the conviction threshold for the proposed hate speech laws is of little comfort, as giving social media mobs a licence to sic the Police on you will have a huge chilling effect.

The issue will not be whether or not you are jailed for quoting the Bible, but the process of going through a Police investigation, Police interviews, hiring a lawyer etc. will have a huge chilling effect.

In the UK people have been convicted or arrested not only for making a statement of religious belief (same sex activity is sinful) but also an atheist was convicted for a cartoon showing the Pope with a condom on his finger!

Audrey’s Ministerial Ratings

Audrey Young rates the Ministers’ performance so far in the 2nd Ardern Ministry.

  • 9/10 – Robertson, Little, Wood
  • 8/10 – Ardern, Hipkins, Mahuta, Nash, Shaw
  • 7/10 – Davis, Woods, Sepuloni, Parker, Faafoi, Henare, Verrall, Radhakrishnan
  • 6/10 – Williams, Jackson, Clark, Whaitiri
  • 5/10 – Tinetti, Sio, Twyford, Davidson
  • 4/10 – O’Connor

I’d say the relative placements are about right even if I would disagree with some of the absolute scores.

Robertson, Little and Wood would be the strongest Ministers.

Neglecting our Children is Neglecting our Nation

In 1994 Neil Postman wrote a non-fiction cautionary tale called The Disappearance of Childhood. In it he made the case that much for what we had come to value for that stage of life came though both the invention of the printing press and the public education allowed for both the separation of information available to children and adults – as well as increased ability to protect children for a longer period of time.

Up until that point, especially for the poor, childhood was short and long way from innocent or ideal.

In many ways this is the best time to grow up but in New Zealand we take scant care for many groups and are extremely naïve about the impacts that social media, exposure to bizarre and completely perverted “adult” content on the internet, the down-ward pressure thrown at them by adults trying to build vested interest pressure around “crises” like climate change, gender identity, racism, etc.

This government has almost entirely neglected education so far. Their Minister has three other major roles and has made no meaningful change at all to reverse that qualitative slide all indicators are showing. Although I have met competent communicators, lawyers, and fully committed bureaucrats in senior Ministry of Education roles I am yet to meet a highly competent and inspiring educator (and I have been around teaching since 1991).

I can fully back up all of the above. Thankfully other people are starting to notice the sinking of our, once world leading, education ship. I was going to edit the article below into key points but just about every line is a stunner.

Adults in NZ – especially the politicians – don’t really give a crap. The opposition parties are starting to point this stuff out but the have to actually come up with proposals (and this must not include going back to Charter Schools – you are welcome to ask me why).

Here are a few things that would make huge change but will require National and Act to provide for groups that are unlikely to be their political friends; i.e. they might have to do good for the sake of it – not political gain.

Dive in regular school attendance rate bodes ill for the future economy

In 2019 only 57 per cent of children attended school regularly.

If education is an economic indicator of where New Zealand will be in 30 years, alarming school attendance rates suggest the country is in trouble, says independent economist Cameron Bagrie.

In 2015, 70 per cent of children regularly attended school, by 2019 that number had become 57.7 per cent and “lord knows what the Covid (year) number is going to look like”, he told a DairyNZ forum in Hamilton, to which more than 350 turned out or watched from other regions.

“I thought initially it was older kids wagging. But it’s not. The biggest decline we’ve seen is in primary schools,” said Bagrie.

“If you’ve not regularly attended school, what are your odds of being a regular attendee at work?”

The Ministry of Education responded that the latest attendance data for term 2, 2020, showed 64 per cent of students attended school regularly during the last seven weeks of the term, compared to 57.7 per cent in the corresponding time in 2019.

The ministry said attendance was “a priority issue”.

Bagrie told the Herald that education was the “epicentre” of New Zealand’s future.

He suggested school attendance was unlikely to improve with children living in motel emergency accommodation and “bouncing” around different areas because of the housing crisis.

“We can’t disconnect this from the housing market.”

Regularly attending school was classified as turning out 90 per cent of the year, Bagrie said.

“That 2019 stat means 42.3 per cent did not turn up regularly. Forty-five per cent of Māori and Pasifika kids regularly attend school. I wonder why those statistics are not getting more of an airing?”

No one in the Hamilton audience picked education when, at the start of his presentation, Bagrie asked what was an important economic indicator for the country’s future.

In the Waikato, only 53.3 per cent of children regularly attended school, he said.

Only Northland and Bay of Plenty had a worse showing.

“We are now in an economic time when it’s all about people. The past 20 years it’s been shareholders at the top of the pile. Now we’re going back to a stakeholder model and Covid has highlighted we need to invest in people.

“It’s not just about investing in training for the workforce – this goes back to what is going on the school system. We can’t disconnect this from housing.

“Is there a health connection here? We need to be looking at this. We have data per school, make comparisons, start to break it down and see what is driving it.”

Bagrie said that was the job of the Ministry of Education but despite it identifying falling school attendance as a “systemic trend”, there didn’t seem to be much action or “deep diving” into data, which was a fundamental issue.

“The answers might be connected to the health system and to housing but let’s start to connect the dots and come up with a programme.”

A response from the ministry said attendance was a priority issue.”

Rudy’s time is nigh

The Herald reports:

Officials have searched the properties of US President Donald Trump’s lawyer and former associate attorney general Rudy Giuliani.

A law enforcement official tells the Associated Press that federal investigators have executed search warrants at Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan residence and office.

I said a couple of years ago I expected Ridy to be charged by Christmas. I got the timing wrong, but possibly not the substance.

Officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request, according to multiple people who insisted on anonymity to speak about the ongoing investigation with which they were familiar.

And this may be why I was out on the timing.

Of course a search warrant is not a prosecution let alone a conviction. But it is significant. We’ll see where it goes.

More on the laziest Ministers

The Taxpayers Union asked the Cabinet Office how many cabinet papers each Minister had submitted to Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee since they were sworn in. The Ministers in order from most to least productive are:

  1. Hipkins 41
  2. Parker 31
  3. Little 23
  4. Wood 23
  5. Robertson 20
  6. Faafoi 17
  7. Clark 15
  8. Sepuloni 14
  9. Mahuta 13
  10. Woods 12
  11. Nash 11
  12. Whaitiri 10
  13. O’Connor 9
  14. Williams 8
  15. Shaw 7
  16. Henare 7
  17. Ardern 7
  18. Verrall 6
  19. Tinetti 5
  20. Davis 3
  21. Sio 2
  22. Allan 1
  23. Radhakrishnan 1
  24. Jackson 1
  25. Mallard 1 (as Speaker)
  26. Twyford 0
  27. Davidson 0

Twyford and Davidson haven’t done a single paper to their colleagues in almost six months. Yet they are getting almost $300,000 a year remuneration.

UPDATE: Twyford has been on leave since December as his wife is sick so that would explain his lack of papers. No excuse for Davidson though.

Junk Maths from NZTA

The Herald reports:

A Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency claim that a speed drop of 20 kilometres an hour on an 83km stretch of highway would delay commuters by an average of one minute has been labelled as “junk maths” and “disingenuous” by a traffic engineering specialist.

But as anger in Hawke’s Bay grows about the claim, the agency is standing by it.

State Highway 5 from Esk Valley in Hawke’s Bay to Rangitaiki, near Taupō, is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous highways.

After 250 injury crashes, and 16 deaths, Waka Kotahi NZTA decided to propose a blanket speed limit of 80km/h on the 100km/h stretch of road. Submissions on the proposed changes can be made up until 11pm on May 9.

In a Hawke’s Bay Today Talking Point on Saturday Waka Kotahi’s Emma Speight wrote:

“Our technical assessment of the road found that although the posted speed limit on SH5 between Rangitaiki and Esk Valley is 100km/h, the mean speed that people travel at is 81km/h.

“This means lowering the speed to 80km/h will increase the average travel time by less than a minute.”

This is appalling use of maths, and NZTA should be ashamed.

The NZTA claims would only be valid if motorists didn’t just drive at an average of 81 km/hr on the road but drove at that exact speed for the entire journey. That at no time did they ever ever drive faster than 81 km/hr.

That is of course nonsense.

Let’s take a simple example. If the average speed is 81 km/hr the 83 km trip would take 61.5 minutes on average.

If half that distance you drive at the maximum speed of 100 km/hr that takes 25 minutes. The remaining 41.5 kms would take 36.5 minutes so average speed for the rest would be 53 km/hr.

If you lower the speed limit to 80 km/hr then the 41.5 kms that took 25 minutes would now take 31 minutes, so the increase is six minutes not one minute.

That’s just a simple example. The actual way you shiould measure it is very simple.

Drive a car from one end to another where you drive at the speed a standard car handles safely for each stretch of road and never exceeding 100 km/hr. Then repeat the exercise but never exceed 80 km/hr. The difference between the two is what the time impact will be.

If NZTA can’t do such a simple calculation but instead relies on junk maths, that is a huge worry.

Will Labour let Parliament vote?

Stuff reports:

The ACT party will ask Parliament to debate a motion declaring China’s oppression of the Uyghur minority an act of “genocide”, a move that could compel the Labour Government to consider symbolically admonishing Beijing for the abuses.

The motion, similar to that passed in both the United Kingdom and Canadian parliaments, will ask MPs to vote on whether the human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China amount to genocide, and whether they should call upon the Government to “act to fulfil its obligation” under United Nations conventions.

The success of the motion hinges on the support of Labour, which holds an overwhelming majority in the House. 

Good on ACT for putting this on the agenda.

Any party that professes to care about human rights should support Parliament debating this issue.

National says no to quotas

Stuff reports:

National Party leader Judith Collins says it will not implement any kind of quotas to increase its diversity.

The wider party is currently considering a bevy of measures to increase the party’s diversity, including the introduction of Treaty of Waitangi principles into its constitution. …

The review suggests National “develop a diversity plan” and “embed diversity into National’s DNA”.

Specifically it recommended updating the process the party uses for selecting candidates in electorate seats and using the party list to “bring in diverse and high-quality talent, regardless of the election result.”

Collins told Stuff that she would not comment on any specific recommendation ahead of party members voting on them at this year’s regional conferences.

She said the party would not go any further than what was recommended and introduce quotas.

“The National Party believes in equality, we don’t believe in quotas,” Collins said.

Good to see. Quotas are a terrible idea and they reduce individuals to whether they tick a box.

You can be heavily in favour of increasing diversity and strongly against using quotas to do so.

US spending twice what it taxes

CNS News reports:

Federal taxes, spending and the federal deficit all set records in the first six months of fiscal 2021 (October through March), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Federal taxes climbed to a record $1,703,949,000,000 in the October-through-March period, while federal spending climbed to $3,410,194,000,000.

When the crash comes, it is going to be huge.

Associate Housing Minister condemns Govt housing as inhumane

RNZ reports:

One of the government’s own ministers has condemned some emergency housing as “inhumane”, while taking aim at a system allowing moteliers to turn a quick buck at the expense of safety and a decent place to live.

Those at the coalface say there’s not enough oversight, with families mixed in with gang members and many places rife with crime and violence.

Green Party co-leader and Associate Housing Minister Marama Davidson said some were living in “inhumane, undignified situations” and the way money was handed out to motels and other providers – with no strings attached – was “unacceptable”.

Putting aside whether or not Davidson is correct, Ardern should sack her for her comments.

Davidson is the Associate Minister for Housing with specific responsibility for homelessness (which emergency housing is a response to). She speaks for the Government on these issues, and has labelled her own Government’s record and policy as inhumane.

Her actual delegation includes:

Responsibility for operational policy relating to transitional housing

Now Davidson is correct the status quo is not satisfactory. But this is the Minister who has not taken a single paper to Cabinet since she became a Minister. Her job is to persuade her colleagues to change policy, not to label her own Government as inhumane.

Ardern doesn’t need the votes of the Greens. If ministerial responsibility means anything, she should sack Davidson.

Lucky to have only got 15 years

Stuff reports:

A convicted murderer who received his third strike warning when he was jailed for stabbing a man to death over a gang debt has failed to fight his sentence of a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

Matthew Winara Webber, 31, was sentenced to life imprisonment in September last year for the murder of Shayne George Heappey.

He is only the second person in New Zealand to be convicted of murder as his third strike offence.

The gall of this guy. He could have and arguably should have been given life without parole or a 20 year minimum. The kind hearted judge only gave him a 15 year minimum, and he appealed that.

Here is his previous offending:

  • 2008: Male assaults female
  • 2010: Wounding with intent to injure
  • 2010: Aggravated robbery and assault with intent to rob
  • 2015: Aggravated robbery
  • 2015: Assault with intent to injure
  • 2018: Assault with intent to injure
  • 2018: Murder
  • 2020: Assaulting a Corrections officer

Anyone really think he is going to come out, get a job, and stop beating, robbing and killing people?

Census helps GOP

CNN reports:

The US Census Bureau announced Monday that the total population of the United States has topped 331 million people, marking the country’s second slowest population growth rate in US history. Amid that, Texas will gain two seats in the redistricting process, the results found.Additionally, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat in Congress.California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all lose congressional seats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Okay so we have:

  • Texas +2 (R)
  • Colorado +1 (D)
  • Florida +1 (R)
  • Montana +1 (R)
  • North Carolina +1 (R)
  • Oregon +1 (D)
  • California -1 (D)
  • Illinois -1 (D)
  • Michigan -1 (R)
  • New York -1 (D)
  • Ohio -1 (R)
  • Pennsylvania -1 (D)
  • West Virginia -1 (R)

So the net effect if these had applied in 2020 would be two more electoral college votes for Republicans and two less for Democrats.

The impact on the House is harder to gauge as it will depend on how district maps are redrawn, and by whom. Here is who is in control in each state affected:

  • Texas +2 (R)
  • Colorado +1 (I)
  • Florida +1 (R)
  • Montana +1 (I)
  • North Carolina +1 (R)
  • Oregon +1 (D)
  • California -1 (I)
  • Illinois -1 (D)
  • Michigan -1 (I)
  • New York -1 (D)
  • Ohio -1 (R)
  • Pennsylvania -1 (B)
  • West Virginia -1 (R)

I means an independent commission sets boundaries and B a bipartisan commission.

Of the seven extra seats, Republicans control redistricting for four of them and Democrats for one. If I had to guess which party gains or loses a house seat in each state I’d say:

  • Texas +2 (R)
  • Colorado +1 (R)
  • Florida +1 (R)
  • Montana +1 (D)
  • North Carolina +1 (R)
  • Oregon +1 (D)
  • California -1 (D)
  • Illinois -1 (R)
  • Michigan -1 (D)
  • New York -1 (R)
  • Ohio -1 (D)
  • Pennsylvania -1 (R)
  • West Virginia -1 (R)

So the Republicans could gain (all other things equal) five House seats but lose four so a net gain of one.

But the House majority is only five or so, so the redistricting could be of significant impact.

How to tell a denial from a non denial

Georgina Campbell writes:

When Labour Rongotai MP Paul Eagle showed up at Wellington Mayor Andy Foster’s drinks last week, one could speculate he all but had a tape measure out eyeing up the office.

But if you ask Eagle outright whether he intends on running for the mayoralty in next year’s local body elections, he says no.

This is a non denial. All Eagle has said is he does not intend to. Intentions change. So in no way has he denied he will stand for Mayor.

Former Green Party MP Gareth Hughes is one of them, but he told the Herald he is enjoying life away from politics after a decade in Parliament.

“I have been talking to people how I can best help the city I love as it struggles with a large number of problems but I’m not planning on running for Mayor of Wellington.”

Also not a denial. All Gareth has said is he is not planning on running. Plans change.

Meanwhile, current city councillor Jill Day has joined the Labour Party.

Day found her politics aligned with Labour and she wanted to support the party’s direction ahead of the 2020 general election.

But she says she hasn’t considered seeking Labour’s endorsement for a mayoral bid.

Also a non-denial. Day has not said she won’t run, just that she has not considered seeking Labour’s nomination (at this point in time).

City councillor Tamatha Paul said she didn’t intend on running for the mayoralty

Also not a denial.

Thomas Nash said he was focused on doing a good job as a regional councillor and leading Greater Wellington’s climate work. He said he was not planning to run for mayor.

And another non denial.

Former Wellington mayoral candidate Nick Leggett isn’t coming back for round two and ruled out a bid.

Finally a proper denial. If you really are not standing, you use words along the lines of “I will not stand”. Anything less than that tends to be politicians being weaselly and keeping their options open.

Abbott on China

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott writes:

Just five years ago, most of us were China optimists. We thought that economic freedom would eventually lead to political liberalisation too. However long it might take, China was getting more like us. In any event, we thought, provided China was respected in its region, it had no history of larger ambitions so would continue to be an economic opportunity rather than a strategic threat.

That was me. China seemed to be heading in the right direction.

There has been the militarisation of the South China Sea; the bullying of neighbours, even India; the trade boycotts against Australia; the abrogation of the one country, two systems treaty on Hong Kong; the mass internment of the Uighurs; and, most dangerous for the wider world, the growing belligerence towards Taiwan — a liberal democracy of 25 million people that should not have to submit just because it was part of China more than 100 years and two world wars ago.

The Taiwanese should determine their own future, and not be forced back under authoritarian rule.

The fact it’s the US and its allies calling out the mistreatment of the Uighurs, rather than their fellow Muslims, shows that our moral aspirations are colourblind and creed-free; but that hasn’t averted an epidemic of self-criticism about our record on race, sometimes verging on self-loathing.

Sadly the vast majority of Muslim states in the Middle East have explicitly backed what China is doing, and wrote to the UN to say so.

Chloe has a point

Chloe Swarbrick writes:

Since only the beginning of 2021, seven greyhounds have been killed and 282 injured on racetracks across Aotearoa.

Take a moment to let that sink in. This is our dog-racing industry, one of the last still in operation in the world.

These deaths and injuries aren’t a bug. They’re a design feature, and they always have been.

If that was for over 12 months, it would still be an appalling figure. Over three months, it is so much worse.

Guest Post: On Interviewing your Typewriter

A guest post by Owen Jennings:

There are a number of pre-conditions essential for a successful interviewing of your typewriter.

Firstly, no decent typewriter should ever be interviewed by someone who does not have an agenda.  Agendas come in a variety of packages.  Mostly, there is more than one agenda in each package.  There is the climate agenda which entails writing inflammatory, exaggerated, world ending nonsense.  The anti-car, ‘walk, bike and bus’ agenda is regularly found in this package.  Along with a socialist agenda.  There is an ‘I love Jacinda’ agenda.  Another is known as the Maori separatist agenda.  It is always alongside an elitist agenda.  There is now only an occasional sighting of a right wing, capitalist package.

Secondly, typewriters dislike being interviewed by males, especially old, white, experienced, heterosexual males.  Today’s typewriters cannot anymore find words like integrity, probity, commonsense, balance, truth.  They have been replaced by conversation, gender identity, rainbow, soooo yesterday, engagement, learnings, my space, hurt feelings, fair.

Further, a typewriter should never be interviewed unless the interviewer is bored.  The state of boredom produces all manner of assumptions, hallucinatory incoherence, meretricious fakery.

Pyramid building is an essential element in expert typewriter interviewing.  It saves having to do all that grubby stuff like research, hard work, one-on-one interviews.  Take a quick look around among your fellow typewriting interviewers and see what salacious cozenage they are indulging in and simply throw some fuel on their fire.   Don’t get sidetracked with checking facts, going back to the source or anything too time consuming and potentially rumour killing.  Drinks are at 3.00pm and not starting till midday just makes that stuff too difficult.  It’s best if you can add a few of your own ‘facts’ just to avoid that nasty plagiarism nonsense.  Now get a fellow typewriter interviewer to build on your story – the sisterhood needs to stick together.

This technique works most effectively when undermining a politician is on the agenda.  It’s fun to hit on Opposition leaders – they are always vulnerable as they struggle for coverage.  You can ‘help’ with coverage with just 10 minutes interviewing of your typewriter.  The word ‘rumour’ is essential – no one can trip you on that.  Pick a likely cafe where you are sure a couple of plotting contenders could have been seen, throw in the old line, ‘doing the numbers’ and you have your story.  Anyone will buy this angle – they are not fussy.  Don’t sweat spelling and grammar.  Just build the pyramid.

One should never approach their typewriter if one is not feeling narcisstic or self important.  You will never produce a piece worthy of classic typewriter interviewing if you think you are a just another cog in a big wheel, a team player, or if you have any feelings of modesty, shame, self deprecation.  Rid yourself of such vile reactions. Celebrate your influence, stoke your self-worth, promote your amazing contribution to the world.

Lastly, an essential pre-condition for achieving success when interviewing your typewriter is to gain an understanding of how emotional, frothy, inane, trash has a big market.  What the Prime Minister has on her toast at 5.00am is far more important and newsworthy than the falling productivity rate in New Zealand Aotearoa.  It doesn’t matter whether you actually know what is on her toast – it is Prime Minister who is the story not the avocado.  You have to recognise the need to deflect.  Keep reminding yourself, “vegemite and avocado” not “lies about quarantine staff”.

There you are.  Sorted.  You are ready to take up a job at any MSM outlet.  Good pay, good job security.  Really is a state services job these days.

She’s running!

Stuff reports:

Caitlyn Jenner, whose political stances have been widely criticised by LGBTQ advocates in the past, has filed initial paperwork to run for Governor of California.

In a statement shared Friday (US time), Jenner derided what she called the “one-party rule” of the Golden State.

“I have been a compassionate disrupter throughout my life, from representing the United States and winning a gold medal at the Olympics to helping advance the movement for equality,” she said.

“As Californians, we face a now-or-never opportunity to fundamentally fix our state before it’s too late.”

Having the most famous LGBTQ person in the world run as Republican is awesome. It will upset both sides equally.

At this stage polling shows Gavin Newsom would win the recall vote, but things may change over the next few months.

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