Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Government has been taking a lot of heat over the last few weeks and the hits just keep on coming. Following the complaint to police over Sky City's 'anonymous' donation to John Banks' mayoralty complaint, it now appears John Banks received $50,000 from Kim Dotcom anonymously despite knowing about it, which doesn't quite make sense. This could ultimately lead to his resignation and the end of the ACT party, although this is unlikely to affect the Government's majority. Read the full article here on the New Zealand Herald website.

You could only have had a worse week if your name is David Shearer and you are a dead man walking less than six months into your new job.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker has a new piece online, this time on the Olympic Games corporate sponsors. Once again Charlie is in incredible form:
I've never understood why firms are prepared to shell out a fortune simply to refer to the Olympics in their advertising, but then I've always been mildly baffled by the popularity of sport full-stop. I also never understood why Gillette paid Tiger Woods, a man famous for hitting balls with a stick, a huge amount of money to promote scraping a bit of sharp metal across your face – only to sideline him when it became apparent that as well as hitting balls with a stick, he had been inserting his penis into as many different women as possible, an aspiration he presumably shared with the vast majority of Gillette's customers.

The Conservative Party and MMP

I have just come across the Conservative Party submission for the MMP Review. And surprise, surprise it is a well thought out and considered document, with their positions not being too far from my own. Have a read if you are interested:Conservative Party MMP Submission

You could also take the opportunity to try this: How Conservative are you?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Drinking Age reports:
Support for returning the drinking age to 20 is gaining momentum as MPs face calls to address binge drinking.
I am not in favour of returning the drinking age to twenty. When you are 18 you are an adult and you should be allowed to buy a bottle of wine or a few beers. Or as Nikki Kaye puts it later in the article:
If someone can be elected to Parliament, get married or join the army, then they should be able to buy a bottle of wine
Alcohol Healthwatch support raising the drinking age, but their reasoning is a little suspect:
It is not about 18-year-olds, it is about 13-year-olds and making sure they don't begin drinking in their teens.
So maybe rather than punishing grown adults who want a drink we should look at preventing 13 year olds from getting access to alcohol.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cigarettes and Poor Journalism

It has been a couple of days between posts and this is one isn't particularly flash. Just a couple of articles from

The Dom Post reports:
The government is to forge ahead with a ban on branded cigarette packets.
Woohoo!! This is fantastic news, smoking is disgusting and we all know smokers are morally deficient people. Bring on the day when the smoking of tabacco is banned outright in this country!

The second is from the Wellingtonian and is about Council staff earning more than $100,000 a year. It says:
It pays to work for Wellington City Council. Forty-eight council employees earn more than $100,000 a year. The average wage for Wellingtonians is just under $35,000.
This is outrageously poor journalism. Rather than reporting the news in an unbiased manner, the reporter (Emma Beer) is putting a slant on the story from the first sentence. She is also drawing a comparison between two completely different things.

When I was living in London it was a pleasure to grab a copy of the Guardian and indulge in some fine journalism. Unfortunately the standard here in New Zealand is slightly lower and this article is really scraping the barrel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I love Charlie Brooker!

Charlie Brooker is a Guardian columnist and UK TV personality. He is also in my opinion one of the funniest men on the planet. His piece today for the Guardian concerns the furore over gay characters in a video game. It is simply brilliant. Read the entire thing but here is the opening:
It must be awful, being a homophobe. Having to spend all that time obsessing about what gay people might be doing with their genitals. Seeing it in your mind, over and over again, in high-definition close-up. Bravely you masturbate, to make the pictures go away, but to no avail. They're seared onto your mental membranes. Every time you close your eyes, an imaginary gay man's imaginary penis rises from the murk, bowing ominously in your direction, sensing your discomfort. Laughing. Mocking. Possibly even winking. How dare they, this man and his penis? How dare they do this to you?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

That isn't democratic

The Guardian reports:
Egypt's election commission disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including the country's ex-spy chief and key Islamists, from running in a surprise decision that threatened to upend the already tumultuous race.
This is terrible news for democracy in Egpyt and across the entire Middle East. It reminds me of the disqualifying of candidates in Iran and we know what a sham their elections are.

The article also states:
Many observers had been looking to Saturday's announcement for a decision about whether Abu Ismail ... would be disqualified over the question of whether his late mother had dual Egyptian-US citizenship. A new election law bars an individual from running if the candidate, the candidate's spouse or parents hold any citizenship other than Egyptian.
This part is truly incredible. The idea that the citizenship status of your parent's or spouse beggars belief and is a real impediment to democratic participation. Unfortunately it appears that the promise of the Arab Spring is being slowly whittled away in Egypt.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

DomPost Editorial

The Dominion Post editorial from Friday looks at the issue of mayoral pay rises and the role of the Remuneration Authority. It says:
the authority is also required by statute to take account of prevailing economic conditions. The law recognises that politicians should not dwell in a rarefied atmosphere while those who pay their salaries scrape along beneath them.
The authority's latest determination, scheduled to take effect on July 1, suggests it is in danger of losing sight of one side of the equation. It will take the average increase awarded to the 15 mayors in the lower North Island over the past two years to 9.1 per cent.
I have always found the blinkers on the Remuneration Authority hard to believe. Their inability to take into account the global economic situation is incredible, or if they are taking it into account it asks the question what increases would they be giving in good economic times?

The Authority needs to take a good look at how it sets increases and needs to increase the weight it gives to the current economic climate and the lives of average New Zealanders. Politician's salaries need to be sufficient to attract talented people but if a politician believes they deserve a pay rise when voters are hurting they are failing the public service requirement of their job.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ginger News

A friend of mine has a job with a government department. I am not sure what he is supposed to be doing with his time but as far as I can tell, he spends most of it searching the internet for random articles and forwarding them on to others, me included.

Some might argue that he shouldn't be doing this and it shows again what is wrong with the public sector. But against this I say, the articles are really interesting and are always worth the read. They cover anything and everything, there is no rhyme or reason to them.

So what I thought I would do is share them with a wider audience. I call it Ginger News.

The first is an article from the New Yorker titled Born This Way. It looks at the genetic predisposition of political identity and is well worth the read.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paid Parental Leave

Sue Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection bill is getting a lot of air time at the moment, not least because the opposition has the numbers to pass it and the government will be forced to veto it.

I have been following the coverage on a number of blogs and there are few people arguing against it, rather they are arguing against the timing. What is really interesting is the nature of some of the comments on the blogs. A number of people seem to genuinely think that there tax dollars go directly to one single mum on the DPB, rather than being spent on a huge number of things in the public interest, many of which they benefit from.

One comment I read (I haven't been able to find it again unfortunately) was from a woman in her forties who had chosen not to have children and was a business owner, she felt if you couldn't avoid to take six months off after having children you shouldn't have them. She seems to be a little confused about the continued survival of the human race and what the entails. It also suggests that only the wealthy should be allowed to have children. I don't like the idea that having children is a human right, I prefer to think of it as a human privilege. But that privilege should be dependent on your ability to provide a loving and nuturing environment for your children, not how much money you have.

My favourite comment however is this one:
Fuck why don’t we all sit around home all day, let the brain dead liberal fucktards pay the bills, this shit makes me want to throw the towel in. These lefty fools would happily enslave us all to a future determined by the IMF and the commie fucks in the UN. Their is no free lunch. When my wife had our children she was working again in about two weeks, this country is turning into a fools paradise where reality belongs in another dimension and the grasshoppers play in the sun all day, it will end in tears.
I imagine this guy is constantly angry.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mali part Zwei

I heard from Adama in Mali a few days ago. He is based in Bamako, the capital of Mali, where he says that everything is okay. He also tells me that the coup is very popular in Bamako and that the coup is the result of bad governance by the government. He is hoping for a new government very soon that can deal with the uprising in Northen Mali.

On Saturday however the coup leaders agreed to give up power. So it appears democracy will return to Mali soon. This resignation appears to have been triggered by the crippling sanctions imposed on Mali in the wake of the coup and potentially more importantly, the escalation of the conflict in the North almost directly related to the coup.

Anybody got a joint?

It appears that a major change in international drug policy may be just around the corner. As reported by the Guardian, South American leaders are preparing to admit that war on drugs has failed (Something most of us realised quite some time ago). And that we now need to look at other solutions.

This will be discussed and debated at the forthcoming Summit of the Americas, where Barack Obama will be in attendance. Unfortunately it doesn't come at a great time for Obama, what with a general election on the near horizon, but the reality is there is unlikely to ever be a perfect time for an American President and this discussion.

Demand for illegal drugs is not driven by those in Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala but by users in western countries. The simplest solution is to stop looking at drug use as a criminal problem but rather as a public health problem. Then we need to legalise it, regulate it and tax it.

The Observer has a fantastic opinion piece by Otto Perez Molina, President of Guatemala and a former soldier in the war on drugs. It includes quotable phrases but this one in particular caught my attention:
the prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that the global drug markets can be eradicated.
And as Molina points out we don't believe we can eradicate alcohol consumption, so why do we believe differently with drugs.

New Atheism in decline?

The Guardian reports:
The high tide of "new atheism" may have passed, the archbishop of Canterbury has said in his Easter sermon. Rowan Williams said the atheism v religion debate appeared to be moving on from what he called "a pointless stalemate".
Unfortunately for the Archbishop the high tide of New Atheism is nowhere in sight, let alone having passed. While the church he leads still advocates insane positions on women's rights, marriage and adoption Atheism will continue to grow. While Christianity continues to insist on a privileged position within society for which there is no basis, Atheism will continue to grow and the criticisms will grow stronger.

MMP Review: other issues

The final part of the MMP Review is other issues. In short any other ideas you think might improve MMP that were not covered in the specific issues.

I believe there are three other areas that could improve MMP.

The first is introducing preferential voting to electorate seats. In preferential voting, voters would rank the candidates in order of preference. When the votes are counted, if no candidate has an outright majority (50%+) the candidate with the least votes is eliminated. Their votes are reassigned to the candidate ranked second on each ballot. This continues until one candidate has an outright majority. This requires any winning candidate to have as broad a support as possible, it also reduces the chances of tactical voting and shady deals by political parties.

Secondly I believe that List MPs who resign from their parties should lose their list seat. They were elected because people support the policies of their party, if they no longer support those policies then they are welcome to resign but have no right to hold onto their seat.

And thirdly, I believe that electorate MPs who resign their seats forcing a by-election should not be allowed to stand in the by-election. By resigning they should be indicating they no longer wish to represent that electorate, not that they wish to increase their party funding.

This concludes my series of posts on the issues being considered in the MMP Review. I will be making my official submission later today and will post it online.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's over

So the Phoenix bowed out of the A-League finals series last night. Going down 3-2 to the Perth Glory in extra time. There is an argument to be made that the Phoenix should have had a penalty when Paul Ifill was brought down in the box, but in the end I felt the either team would have been unlucky to lose and sometimes the die don't fall for you.

This loss shouldn't overshadow what has been a magnificent season from the Phoenix. With the ownership issues, lack of player recruitment and tiny coaching staff I thought we were going to be hard pressed to avoid the wooden spoon so to make the finals series was amazing. Full credit to Ricki Herbert for the job he has done.

Bring on a few new players, a couple of additions to the coaching staff and settled pre-season and we could be a real force next season.

Big ups to the Chiefs players for turning out to support the Nix, it was wicked to see Sonny Bill in stripey.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Follow the Money Drei

The New Zealand Institute has launched it's new website which can be found here. It says:
the New Zealand Initiative, an independent public policy think tank supported by chief executives of major New Zealand businesses.
We will see how independent it really is.
Hi, My name is ***** and I am doing some research into New Zealand think tanks and transparency. I was wondering if you could provide a list of your members/donors/funders and the amounts they have contributed. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Thanks, *****
I await their reply with interest.

Out of touch, maybe just a little bit!

I have just been watching Back Benches on TVNZ 7 (Tboxed). At the end of each show they have a segment called I've been Thinking, where each guest is given thirty seconds to speak on a topic of their choice. The guest from National this week was Tim Macindoe, MP for Hamilton West. I have never met Tim Macindoe or heard anything from him before, but I can now comfortably say he is an idiot. To quote:
I've been thinking that it's time we got on top of our major problem with welfare dependency in this country
We have a number of major problems in this country, welfare dependency is not one of them. I am not stupid enough to argue that there is not a problem with welfare dependency but we need to keep it in perspective. Macindoe also states that we are spending twenty million dollars a day on welfare. I don't know if that figure is correct but the vast majority of it is being spent on people who genuinely need assistance.

Macindoe also wants to put in place the right support structures and the right incentives. The major incentive to get people off welfare is jobs. The lack of high wage jobs in this country is a major problem, it would be nice if Tim focused on that.

Outdated institution, outdated buildings reports Wellington Catholic Church Buildings At Risk.

The Wellington Archdiocese faces a bill of over $3 million dollars to repair their Churches and Schools. This a great chance for the Church to consolidate it's holdings and parishes and hopefully free up some land for something useful.

Incidentally 100 metres from my house St James Presbyterian Church is to close later this year as the risk is too great.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Back in late 2009 I lived in a run down hostel just off Brick Lane in the East End of London. I was there for three weeks and during this time I shared a room with three others. One of these three was a Malian by the name of Adama. He had recently completed a masters degree in France and was coming to the end of six months in London where he was improving his English. He had been living in the hostel for that entire time and had not seen his girlfriend and daughter in over two years.

I was searching for a job at the time and in the evenings we would often spend time discussing our countries, what they were like to live in and the political situation. One of the possibilities Adama was considering upon his return to Mail was entering politics.

So it was disappointing to hear today that on the 22nd of March there was a coup in Mali. With junior army officers overthrowing the democratically elected government. Mali is a complex country with more than a few problems but it was seen as a reasonably stable democracy in West Africa.

Unfortunately but not unsurprisingly the New Zealand media has given very little coverage to the coup. Luckily the Guardian is here, providing this piece from Andy Morgan:
Mali's reputation as a beacon of democracy and stability in west Africa was extinguished late on Wednesday night, when a group of young army officers stormed the presidential palace in the capital Bamako and announced that they were suspending the constitution and taking power....
If I hear anything from Adama I will let you know.

Follow the Money Zwei

In the course of today I have come across this opinion piece on by Patrick Smellie.

It looks at the rationalisation of Finance Industry Lobby Groups and includes some interesting points, including:
The Roundtable struggles not to get noticed, and suffers from its every utterance being automatically pigeon-holed as a daft fancy of the extreme right. Shaking off that image would make the Roundtable a more powerfully influential body, but reputations die hard.
Which suggests that the New Zealand Initiative may be as I feared a lobby group to advocate for the needs of corporations over people.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Fantastic TV

Another of the reasons I wanted to get Soho was so I could watch the fifth season of Mad Men which has just launched in the States last week. I don't believe it shows on Soho until the 14th so I have succumbed to temptation and got my hands on an "advanced" copy.

The consensus online seems to be that people were very satisfied with the opening episode but I felt the second was even better (Maybe it is simply because Betty got fat!). It is shaping up to be a fantastic season, the conflict between Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling could be comedy gold.

I finally heard back from TelstraClear about getting Soho set up and it won't be until the 9th of April. Which equates to a week and a half to get one channel added to my package, which really isn't good enough. I am starting to think we might move to MySky as soon as our contract is up

Follow the Money

The National Business Review reports on the formation of a new "libertarian think tank". It will be a merger of the Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute to form the New Zealand Initiative.

It appears to be styling itself as a "libertarian think tank" and let us hope that is what it is rather than a lobby group to advocate for the needs of corporations over people. With this in mind I am going to take a leaf out of George Monbiot's book and see if I can get to the sources of their funding.

I asked David Farrar earlier if they were likely to be releasing a full list of donors, his response as follows:
I'm not on the Board but the NZBR used to publish a list of all its members, and my expectation is that NZI will do the same. As far as I know they have members, not donors.
I have had a look on both the NZBR and NZI websites and they do publish a list of members. However this doesn't give an indication of how much membership costs or what they receive in corporate donations so it will be interesting to see if we can get our hands on this information.

Interestingly the NZBR has photos of quite a number of their members. Perhaps unsurprisingly it is not what I would call a particularly diverse group.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Game of Thrones

Just watched the first episode of season two of Game of Thrones. Bit of a scene setter rather than full of action but still very exciting.

I decided for this season to get Soho. I don't mind pirating stuff but a show of this magnificence deserves to be paid for.

Unfortunately it doesn't start on Soho till the 16th of April and I cannot wait that long, so have downloaded it anyway. HBO will still get the dosh though so it works out I reckon.

Although I ordered Soho last Wednesday and it still isn't going (Despite two follow up phone calls), so maybe they won't.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What sort of Humanist are you?

New Humanist magazine has a quiz you can take to check out what sort of humanist you are.

I am a Hedonistic Humanist:
You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on this glorious planet. What first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy. You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept, though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards, and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful (for a while), irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way. You adored the humanist London bus slogan (“There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life”) and are delighted that wild young comedians like Stewart Lee, Christina Martin and Ricky Gervais share your full-blooded rejection of religion. Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably better open another bottle and agree that for you there’s no contest.

We've got the wind, the rain and the Phoenix!

Great column by the Sunday Star Times' football columnist Billy Harris this week.

The Phoenix game on Friday night was incredible, certainly the best I have been to and I have been to a few. The Fever Zone was absolutely humming as well, have never heard it that loud.

Fingers crossed the Heart do us a favour this afternoon and we have the opportunity to do it all over again next weekend.