Guest Post: Catastrophic Gullibility

A guest post by Owen Jennings:

Climate change is big business in New Zealand.  Government and local authorities now have a small army of people employed in the climate change industry paid by our taxes and rates.  An even bigger army work as consultants where the pay is better.  Its an industry with massive ‘oil tanker’ impetus.

Most of their work is predicated on the claim that things are getting worse.  Higher temperatures are driving the climate into chaos.  Weather events have already become more extreme and will get a heap worse.

But is this assumption true?  Do the facts support the chaos, ‘everything-is-getting-worse’ claim?

Is New Zealand experiencing deteriorating weather as a result of rising temperatures?  There are countless MSM articles, scientific papers, regular statements by people who ought to know supporting the proposition and the country is investing millions in mitigation and defensive projects.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone buys into the popular line.  A helpful contact of mine found a very thorough study that mysteriously received no coverage here but disputes the claim of everything-has-already-got-worse angle.  You can read it at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17477891.2021.1905595

It is an intensive study of insurance losses from 1968 to 2019, normalised to ensure we are looking at data that is adjusted for the passage of time.  ‘Normalisation is a standard device employed in such studies.  Here is their conclusion……..

“A key result emerging from our study is that normalised seasonal losses due to extreme weather show no statistically significant trend over time. In other words, once we control the loss data for factors that we know to have changed, we see no residual trend that needs explaining by anthropogenic climate change, or any other cause for that matter”.

This conclusion accords with world-wide work done by Dr Roger Pielke.  He points out that a study carried out by Munich Re, a large re-insurance company based in Germany and published by The Lancet showed as the world has become wealthier, the fraction of that wealth that is destroyed by extreme weather has gone down. This trend holds for rich and poor nations, and remarkably across all types of weather phenomena. It also helps us to understand why the focus on extreme weather among climate advocates is badly misguided.

Pielke keeps detailed information on all of the main weather events – cyclones, hurricanes, floods, droughts, wild fires, etc and he shows no negative trends.  In fact, many show a positive trend. In a recent published paper he concluded, “since 1990 both overall and weather/climate losses have decreased as proportion of global GDP”.

The findings of the IPCC and the World Met Office are in general agreement with no obvious changes in weather patterns except for relatively minor changes in rainfall and drought conditions in limited areas.  That does not prevent them from continuing, year after year running predictions of calamitous changes about to descend upon us.

The insurance industry findings are compelling.  Any chance they could justify bolstering premiums would be taken by both hands.  They simply cannot find any trends on which to hang their collective hats.

So, why are we bombarded daily with stories of on-going calamity?  Its easy.  Follow the money.  Too many jobs, too many research grants, too many scary, sensational stories that sell advertising are dependent on keeping the catastrophic theme alive and well.

Are we a gullible lot or what?

Good to see NZ supporting allies

Stuff reports:

A statement Wednesday signed by the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom gave the Houthis what a senior Biden administration official described as a final warning.

“Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” the countries said in the statement.

“The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”

The US has intercepted 61 missiles. Without their actions, that waterway would be unusable.

Radio NZ further report:

Minister of Defence Judith Collins says it was important to join in condemning attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea because New Zealand is so dependent on supply lines.

This week, New Zealand and 11 other countries issued a final warningto the Iran-backed Houthis, who have carried out more than 20 attacks on boats in the key trade route, that they would face consequences if they did not cease hostilities.

Yemen’s Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea since November to show their support for Hamas amid the war with Israel.

Collins would not be drawn on what those consequences could be, but she said New Zealand must stand with its allies who believed in free access to these shipping lanes.

We are more dependent than almost any other country on shipping supply lines. Nice to see the Government backing the US in this area.

Another nutty idea

Three authors write on Newsroom:

Considering international events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the violence in Gaza, it could be argued that now is not the moment to be proposing disarmament and the abolition of the military. Isn’t a strong and professional military necessary for guaranteeing protection and national security? Don’t we require military force to deal with the threats posed by hostile states or groups, terrorism, weapons proliferation, great power rivalry, organised crime, violent extremism, climate crisis and all the other sources of instability today? Shouldn’t we be spending more on the military at this time, not less?

This is certainly the common-sense view. However, as we argue in our new book, Abolishing the Military, an honest and scrupulous analysis of the evidence and arguments shows that the widely held idea that we require a military to ensure national defence and security is questionable, and a comforting but misleading story from a bygone era.

The common-sense view could also be called the not crazy view. Having liberal democratic countries unilaterally disarm benefits authoritarian expansionist regimes.

In the first place, it has to be acknowledged that the use of military force has an abysmal record as a tool of foreign policy. There are few if any cases from history where the employment of military power resulted in peace, security, stability, democracy or improved human rights. In most cases, it leads to further violence and instability, and mass suffering for civilians. Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Hamas are all discovering this today, while the United States found it out in Afghanistan a couple of years ago.

If Ukraine did not have military power, it would no longer exist as a country. Is Israel did not have military power, there would be no Jews alive in the Middle East. If the Uk didn’t have military power, the Falklands would have been conquered by force. One could also talk about Grenada, protecting the Kurds, defeating ISIS, keeping South Korea free, keeping Taiwan free etc etc.

A direct alternative to the military is civilian-based defence (CBD), sometimes called social defence. Organised to respond to both foreign invasions or internal usurpations, it involves citizen-based protest and persuasion, non-cooperation, direct intervention and other forms of nonviolent defiance by the population and social institutions.

If a hostile foreign power invaded Aotearoa, for example, roads, airport runways and ports could be blocked by vehicles and ships. People could change road signs to confuse the invaders, something that Czechoslovakians did following the Prague Spring in 1968 to resist the Soviet invasion.

LOL. Their alternative to having a defence force is to have confusing road signs. Maybe they should all be in Te Reo, in case we get invaded by a country that doesn’t;t know how to use Google Maps or Google Translate!

Local power generators and community food gardens could make the population less vulnerable to coercive control.

I want some of those mushrooms, the authors are on.

There are also enough examples of such thinking in other countries – Iceland, Costa Rica, Lithuania and others – to know that it is more than wishful thinking.

Lithuania spends 2.8% of its GDP on defence – almost double NZ. They have conscription, and are members of NATO. They have 37,000 active soldiers compared to under 9,000 for NZ, despite having half our population. So I’m all for them as a model to follow!

$3.7 million for a toilet block!

Stuff reports:

The construction of a toilet block in south Auckland set the council back more than $3.7 million.

The development of toilets and changing rooms at Ōpaheke reserve in south Auckland was the most expensive, at $3.7 million for the 380sqm block.

So ratepayers forked over around $10,000 per square metre for a toilet block and changing rooms. Now standard builds for habitation are around $3,500 per sq metre. At $7,000 per square metre you get your architecturally designed dream home. Yet this toilet block and changing rooms comes in well above that!

Harvard President goneburger

Reuters reports:

Harvard President Claudine Gay said she would resign from her position on Tuesday, ending a six-month tenure marred by allegations of plagiarism and backlash over her congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus.

Gay had come under pressure to resign from Harvard’s Jewish community and some members of Congress over her comments at the Dec. 5 congressional hearing, while also facing several allegations of plagiarism for her academic work in recent months. …

Gay, former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Dec. 5 about a rise in antisemitism on college campuses following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

The trio declined to give a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to a question by U.S. Republican Representative Elise Stefanik as to whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their schools’ codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment, saying they had to balance it against free-speech protections.

Some questions are simple yes or no answers, but answering if it is acceptable to call for the genocide of Jews, is one that does have a simple answer.

But this is not why Gay was forced to resign. It was the expose by a right wing journalist that her career has been brimming with plagiarism. At last count 50 separate instances had been identified, including (amusingly) even her thanks on her doctorate.

Education in NZ: New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

When Chris Hipkins became Minister of Education in 2017 his first three steps were:

  • Snuggle up to the Ministry. This has ultimately led to the number of Ministry employees going from 2700 to 4200.
  • Cancel things. In his case Partnership Schools and National Standards.
  • Appoint a committee. In his case led by Bali Haque who had a solid reputation in NZ schooling.

When Erica Stanford became Minister of Education in 2023 her first three steps were:

  • Appoint an Education Ministry Deputy Secretary (Ellen MacGregor-Reid) to her office on the basis of a recommendation of the Secretary for Education Iona Holsted (the $600k Woman). This effectively eliminated the ability for Stanford to go to the Public Services Commissioner and declare a lack of confidence in the Ministry leadership – something they deeply deserve. In the most paternalistic communication I have ever received Michael Johnston of the NZ Initiative contacted me after my critique of the MacGregor-Reid decision and told me that Erica Stanford was “devastated” by what I had written. Stanford could not stand up for herself? She needed a knight in shining armour? Clearly a conflict of interest here as Johnston was about to appointed as the chair of the newly formed Ministry Advisory Group (see next point) and had been significantly critical of Jan Tinetti without ever caring if she was “devastated”.
  • Cancel things. In this case cell-phones. While this appears to be a brilliant BUMPER STICKER tactic there was so much more to think through. Do you ban “smart watches too”? Do you ban apple products in each class-room that all have texting options? Are they banned completely from bringing to and from school or just the classroom? What about the dyslexic and spectrum kids who use their phones to take photos of notes that they can review later with more time? Who will collect and re-issue the phones each day? Are you allowed to confiscate them? If they have to remain in bags how much expense goes on ensuring theft is not occurring? What if a kid is beaten up on public transport or lost without being able to contact a parent? How many micro-aggressions will be created around schools by teachers confronting kids on their phones in their breaks? How many arguments will happen at home and how many more kids will simply stay away from school as they lose one more privilege? I don’t think Luxon has any idea on education.
  • Appoint a committee. In this case a Ministry advisory group, which – to the delight of the unions and political left – is effectively headed by the Right-Wing think-tank the NZ Initiative (through Michael Johnston – someone with much less sector experience than Bali Haque). Along with the Ellen Macgregor-Reid appointment – this shows a complete lack of situational awareness of the education sector. Has Michael Johnston resigned from his NZ Initiative role to accept this one and avoid accurate accusations of political bias?

There are so many more things that could and should have been done.

  1. We are four weeks aways from a new school year … apart from kids drifting back to school … what is being done to get full-attendance rates above 50%?

2. Our outcomes for school leavers are appalling. Where are the goals for our high-schools in 2024?

3. Where are our strategies for teacher quality? What are we doing to re-engage parents and help
them understand the morass of the qualifications system?

These are the solutions I believe are imperative and urgent: https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2023/12/more_evidence_of_our_education_woes_plus_the_solutions.html

I would add immediately giving the new St Stephen’s school Designated Character status.

It is easy to label Hipkins (as Stanford did on the AM Show) as the worst Minister of Education ever. However, if you start just the same way he did, you are on 0/3 so far. When National was last elected and had nine years in office their supporters failed to hold them to account for anything but incrementalism. Tolley and Parata achieved nothing of lasting significance as Ministers of Education. They were barely better than Hipkins/Tinetti. Supporters of National must demand so much more from the new regime and allow them no complacency. Astute commentators such as Cameron Bagrie and Matthew Hooten have designated the Education portfolio as the most significant for the future of NZ.

As for the Associate Minister of Education, David Seymour, the initial method from National is a HUGE opportunity for him to go big and bring about the radical changes our NZ students and families so desperately need.

Alwyn Poole

alwyn.poole@gmail.com
Innovative Education Consultants
www.innovativeeducation.co.nz
www.alwynpoole.substack.com
www.linkedin.com/in/alwyn-poole-16b02151/

David Schwimmer gets it

I blogged previously on the two month investigation by the NY Times, with over 150 interviews, documenting horrific sexual crimes. Within minutes on social media people were absolutely denying it, and claiming it must all be fabricated. Schwimmer is right to call out all the groups that normally staunchly call for believing victims, yet have remained silent.

Stuff’s 2024 predictions

Below are Stuff’s 10 predictions for 2024, along with my comments on them. They normally do 20:

  1. An Opposition leader will resign. After the election, each leader kept their positions – despite the change of Government. As the new order settles in, someone – be that Chris Hipkins, Marama Davidson or James Shaw – will resign. DPF: Agree, and I predicted Shaw will be the one that goes.
  2. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will hit the sky, leading diplomatic and trade delegations to India, the US, and Pacific islands. DPF: Inconsequential but probably right.
  3. The Government will re-engage with the World Health Organisation’s regulation updates, which New Zealand had been closely aligned with. For reasons unexplained, Luxon agreed to “reserve against” these soon-to-be-refreshed public health protocols in NZ First’s coalition agreement. Such reservations will be short-lived, given outright rejection of these updates would attract international and local ridicule. DPF: We will make reservations but they will be nothing big.
  4. Leaning into life on the Opposition benches, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick will become increasingly outspoken in the House. The Speaker will kick out Auckland Central’s MP at least once in 2024. DPF: Probably as she chants her normal pro-genocide slogan against Israel.
  5. Finance Minister Nicola Willis will make another so-called “gaffe” in the House, following on from previous hits such as “how big is his hole” and declaring the “size of the sausage” matters. DPF: I hope so.
  6. Following the January 20 hui with the Kīngitanga, sizeable protests will arrive at Parliament and at Waitangi as Parliament resumes and as Christopher Luxon heads north for his first Waitangi Day as prime minister. DPF: There will be protests almost non-stop for the next three years as the activists don’t like the policies the governing parties won election on.
  7. The Government will deliver tax cuts in July, but the scale of those cuts will not be as large as was promised at the election. National will point to its coalition deal with NZ First, kyboshing the foreign buyers’ tax, and Labour’s so-called “fiscal cliffs” for the more modest tax relief. DPF: Disagree. I think they will be the same quantum.
  8. House price growth will exceed the 5.3% forecast by the Treasury in December, growing by at least 7.5% in the year to June 2024. DPF: Good prediction and more likely than not.
  9. When the Green Party holds its AGM and the co-leadership positions fall vacant, there will be a serious challenge or call from members for a new co-leader to take the (shared) reins. DPF: It will be Chloe to replace James and then at a later AGM Tamatha to replace Marama.
  10. Local Government Minister Simeon Brown will appoint commissioners to take over the management of a city or regional council, which will fall into disarray due to failing infrastructure and economic mismanagement. DPF: So many worthy candidates!

Now that’s a headline

The ABC headline:

The anal beads cheating is interesting because that was the allegation against 19 years old Hans Neimann when he beat Magnus Carlsen. The theory there is that someone at home with a chess computer feeds in the moves and signals through remote controlled vibrations what piece should be moved.

But this story has an even more sophisticated allegation:

The association was also forced to address rumours circulating online that Yan had cheated during the competition by using anal beads equipped with wireless transmitters to send and receive signals.

Yan allegedly clenched and unclenched rhythmically to communicate information about the chess board via code to a computer, which then sent back instructions on what moves to make in the form of vibrations, according to reports circulating on the Chinese social site Weibo.

It would be one thing to receive messages via anal beads, but truly impressive if one could actually send code via the anal beads through clenching and unclenching!

Kiwiblog’s 2024 predictions

Here’s my 20 predictions for 2024, which I’ll score at the end of the year. I got 16/20 right for 2023.

  1. The three parties of Government will outpoll the three parties of opposition in at least 90% of public polls in 2024
  2. The 2024 Budget will project a surplus by 2027
  3. The new Public Service Commissioner will not be a current public servant
  4. Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination for President
  5. At least three Labour List MPs will resign in 2024
  6. Chloe Swarbrick will replace James Shaw as Greens co-leader
  7. There will be at least one by-election in 2024
  8. The Spinoff buys Stuff
  9. Donald Trump is convicted on at least one charge and sentenced to jail time
  10. A City Mayor resigns in 2024
  11. Floating mortgage rates are below 7% by the end of 2024
  12. Economic growth in 2024 will be higher than in 2023
  13. The minimum wage will be increased by 50 cents
  14. Joe Biden is confirmed as the Democratic nominee for President
  15. Chris Hipkins will remain Leader of the Labour Party
  16. The Russia-Ukraine war will end
  17. The UK Labour Party forms a majority Government
  18. A Te Pati Maori MP will be named by the Speaker
  19. Donald Trump will be re-elected President in November
  20. Two Ministers will take maternity leave

RIP Michael Hardie-Boys

Radio NZ reports:

Former Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys has died aged 92.

Sir Michael was the Governor-General from 1996 to 2001.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon paid tribute to him on social media in announcing the death.

“His distinguished life of service to New Zealand was one of dedication and reliability,” Luxon wrote.

Michael was a family friend. He was in the same class as my father for five years at Wellington College, so they have been friends for over 75 years. It was a quite exceptional class of a dozen pupils, as around half of them became university professors, and the rest reached the top of various professions.

He became a lawyer, and like his father became a High Court Judge, and then a Court of Appeal Judge (our highest domestic court at the time). He was appointed Governor-General in 1996, and laid down principles for determining how he would determine who could become Prime Minister under MMP. These principles have been used by all subsequent Governor-Generals.

An extremely dedicated servant of New Zealand. Farewell and rest well.

Israel and the language of decolonisation

A post by PaulL, irregular contributor.

I listened to a great podcast by Russ Roberts interviewing Haviv Rettig Gur on the history of the formation of Israel, and why those who cast this as a decolonisation battle are wrong. In particular, he explains why the attacks by Hamas (and the general approach of terrorism to defeat an occupying power) won’t work with Israel.

The podcast is excellent(link here) , and well worth listening to (despite being an hour forty long). I think Gur makes some insightful points that put interesting colour on the current situation.

I’ll summarise some of it, as I know not everyone will listen, but I do recommend listening if you can, it’s very detailed and brings forward things I simply didn’t know from history.

Continue reading »

Labour’s final Honours List

The full list of 2024 New Years Honours is here. The titular honours are:

DNZM

To be Dames Companion of the said Order: 

Mrs Sarai-Paea Bareman, of Zurich, Switzerland. For services to football governance.

Ms Pania Tyson-Nathan, MNZM, JP, of Porirua. For services to Māori and business.

KNZM

To be Knights Companion of the said Order: 

Dr Scott Duncan Macfarlane, of Auckland. For services to health.

The Right Honourable Trevor Colin Mallard, of Dublin, Ireland. For services as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mr Ian Barry Mune, OBE, of Kumeu. For services to film, television and theatre.

Every Speaker of the House since WWII who served at least a full term has received a titular honour, or equivalent. The last one who did not was Bill Barnard who was Speaker from 1936 to 1943.

NY Times verifies Hamas rape allegations

The NY Times has spent two months investigating allegations of rape by Hamas attackers inside Israel. Now it goes without saying the NY Times is not a conservative newspaper. In fact they even give Hamas an op-ed. So when the NYT says they have verified what happened, all but the most loathsome should accept the reality.

And what is the reality. Well here’s a summary:

  • interviews with more than 150 witnesses, medical personnel, first responders, soldiers, rape counselors, and government officials along with the scanning of video footage, photographs and GPS data from cell phones.
  • partially charred remains of a woman whose face is burned beyond recognition, and who is naked from the waist down, legs spread, her black dress hiked up.
  • identified at least seven locations across southern Israel where women and girls were apparently sexually abused or mutilated and those the paper interviewed described finding the bodies of more than 30 women in and around the Supernova rave site and in two nearby kibbutzim in a similar state as Abdush’s — “legs spread, clothes torn off, signs of abuse in their genital areas.”
  • Photographs viewed by The Times included ones of a woman in a besieged kibbutz who was found with dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin.
  • Footage viewed by the newspaper showed two dead Israeli soldiers at an overrun military base apparently shot directly in their vaginas.
  • A paramedic from a commando unit told the newspaper he had found the bodies of two teenage girls, sisters aged 13 and 16, in a room in Kibbutz Be’eri with their clothes ripped. One was lying on her side with “bruises by her groin’ and the other “was sprawled on the floor face down, he said, pajama pants pulled to her knees, bottom exposed, semen smeared on her back.”
  • came upon the body of a young woman lying on her stomach, unclothed from the waist down, legs spread, and who appeared to have been sliced open in her vaginal area, “as if someone tore her apart.”
  • Similar scenes were discovered in at least six different houses in the Be’eri and Kfar Aza Kibbutzim, where at least 24 bodies of women and girls were found either stripped, tied up with zip ties or mutilated — sometimes all three
  • The witness said she saw at least five women raped in front of her while she tried to hide.
  • “They all gather around her… She’s standing up. They start raping her. I saw the men standing in a half circle around her. One penetrates her. She screams. I still remember her voice, screams without words.” “Then one of them raises a knife,” he said, “and they just slaughtered her.”
  • Shoam Gueta, a friend of Cohen’s who was hiding with him, told the newspaper that he saw that the men were “talking, giggling and shouting,” and then one of them stabbed the victim repeatedly, “literally butchering her.”
  • At least 10 bodies of female soldiers from a Gaza observation post were found with signs of sexual violence
  • One victim was hiding in the brush on October 7 when she saw one terrorist rape and stab a female captive in the back every time she flinched while another cut off her breast. “One continues to rape her, and the other throws her breast to someone else, and they play with it, throw it, and it falls on the road,” she recalled.
  • Another witness described watching five men take turns raping a young, naked woman “They start raping her. I saw the men standing in a half circle around her. One penetrates her. She screams. I still remember her voice, screams without words,” he remembered.
  • One paramedic said that he found two teenage sisters,  13 and 16-years-old, with there pants and underwear pulled down and ripped with semen on them.
  • Other first responders said they found women naked with hands tied behind their back or with the vaginas “sliced open.”

None of the perpetrators of these rapes and murders will be held accountable by Hamas. To the contrary they are feted as heroes. Those who call for Israel not to respond to the atrocities of 7 October, are implicitly trivialising what happened to those women.

A good start to a ceasefire would be Hamas handing over the rapists to stand trial.