Saturday, March 31, 2007

ZenTiger Let there be dark

If you turn your lights off for an hour, you can end global warming. I'm turning mine off just as I go to bed, and have decided to leave them off the whole night. Call me greener than green.

Related Link: Save the world, AGW worshiper style

Friday, March 30, 2007

Lucia Chris Trotter on the Failure of Sue Bradford's Repeal of S59

Chris Trotter's interesting, that's why we keep commenting on him. He's like an indicator of where the left could go, given half a chance in NZ, and he does have an uncanny political nose. So, here's his piece (Dom Post, March 20, 2007, From the Left) telling Sue to withdraw her bill because the of the damage it will do to the Left.

Withdraw your failed bill, SueWe have failed. The opinion polls released this week confirm that fact with crushing finality. It is now indisputable that four-fifths of the electorate is opposed to Sue Bradford's "Anti-Smacking Bill". No one's really surprised. The poll results were just another couple of stalks in the veritable blizzard of straws in the wind that has been blowing for weeks on this issue. The Left already knew the voters weren't convinced. Why? Because it simply hasn't bothered to convince them.

Consider the last great successful battle against against ingrained public prejudice: the legal emancipation of gay and lesbian New Zealanders. How was that achieved? By a private member's bill, yes, but was that all? No. The fight for gay and lesbian rights had been going on for years before Fran Wilde introduced her Homosexual Law Reform Bill to Parliament in 1985.

The struggle against homophobia had gone on in students' associations, unions, government departments, private business, and on the streets. There were journals and newspapers devoted to the cause. And, in the mainstream new media, a constant barrage of letters, feature articles and documentaries steadily chipped away at public ignorance.

The gay rights movement had its own icons, its own heroes, and even its own "Gay Pride" week on the nation's university campuses. Fran Wilde's bill came at the end of a multi-faceted political campaign for change - not at the beginning.

Nothing on this scale has preceded the campaign to end violence against children. Certainly, there are lobby groups devoted to advancing the rights of the child, but their efforts have almost exclusively been devoted to securing the backing of decision-makers especially MPs. No one, to my knowledge, has set out to secure the backing of the public in the way that gays and lesbians did.

And now that failure to win over at least a substantial minority of the public, before proceeding to the legislative phase of the reform process, is generating a backlash of extraordinary power.

In a way that few, if any, of the bill's supporters anticipated, the notion of criminalising the "correction" of children has awakened fears and resentments from the very deepest recesses of the New Zealand psyche.

It's more than the New Zealand public can deal with right now: those conflicted emotions toward parents and siblings; those painful childhood memories of sudden and inexplicable violence; those overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. All the unacknowledged pathologies of family life which Sue Bradford's bill requires New Zealanders to recognise and address - it's too much. They want the bill out of their faces NOW!

And, in a curious way, they're right. Because the sequencing, when you think about it, is all wrong.

How can we ask people battling to keep a roof over their heads; people holding down two minimum wage jobs to put food on the table; people struggling to pay mortgages, rates, power bills and school fees; people so tired they forget to talk to their kids, make love to their partners, or keep in touch with their family and friends, to do what Sue is demanding? To somehow locate the calm centre of their beings; that strong and secure sense of self which is the key to constructing loving and non-violent relationships?

Is it really fair, in a society which never stops doing violence to them, to suddenly demand that parents stop doing violence to their children?

This legislation needs to be withdrawn, immediately. And its supporters (among whom I include myself) need to acknowledge their failure. Not just their failure to build a mass movement against the violence done to children, but their failure to sustain the movement which their parents and grandparents built to end the economic and social violence daily inflicted upon working families.

You cannot help the kids if you will not help their mums and dads.

By refusing to recognise the sheer magnitude of the opposition to this bill, the Left has forfeited the electorate's trust. Sadly, withdrawing the legislation is now a necessary precondition to rebuilding public confidence in progressive politics.

Because, mark my words, if we do not acknowledge our failure and set about reclaiming the trust we have lost, it will be given to others.

Passing this legislation now, over the objections of four-fifths of the electorate, will not settle the matter. The people will punish the Left and themselves by voting the far Right into power.

And how will that help the children of New Zealand?

Lucia Friday Night Free For All

On at Murray's tonight.

Fletch Manners - 007 Style


I watched Casino Royale again the other day, and one of the things that struck me is how Bond stood up when his female acquaintance left the table. I think it happened twice in the movie.
Do you think this is old fashioned and that women still like these kinds of things?
Do you do them? What kind of response do you get? Or, if you're a woman, do you like this kind of thing?

Sorry that I've started posting with these light kind of topics, but I'm all "smacked out" on discussing that bill for now :)

Fletch Politically Correct 'Cross Now' Signs


According to the Reuters video story HERE, Madrid in Spain have introduced new unisex 'cross now' figures at the traffic lights of their pedestrian crossings; apparently, women were complaining that the figures on the signs were only men. The police chief notes, "It doesn't require a lot of expense to not discriminate in traffic safety".

A Madrid town resident (obviously female) says on the video, "It's fantastic, but there's still a lot to fight for. There are many things that need fighting for so women can finally be valued for what we are worth."

I'm not sure what to think about this; I've never seen hordes of women waiting to cross because the sign said only the men could go or who felt they weren't valued enough because of the signs.

It doesn't looks as clear as the 'stick figure' to me: what do you think?

ZenTiger Welcome Fletcher

It's not often you get quality AND quantity, but NZ Conservative delivers on both by welcoming Fletcher to our author list.

And though he tried to look properly severe for his students,
Fletcher Seagull suddenly saw them all as they really were, just for a
moment, and he more than liked, he loved what he saw. No limits, Jonathan?
he thought, and he smiled. His race to learn had begun.
--JLS, Richard Bach.

I'm sure Fletcher can help us find our inner seagull. And perhaps remind our government that they only hurt us more when they clip our wings.

Fletch Three MPs Change Vote To 'NO' on Bradford Bill

It seems that three National MPs (Paul Hutchison, Simon Power and Jackie Blue) who previously supported Sue Bradford's 'anti-smacking' Bill have now changed their minds because of the views of their constituents. Wow! MPs who actually listen to the people?!

Good on you guys!

So keep on writing and phoning your local MPs and let them know how you feel!

In related news; I heard on the 9am news on the radio that Gerry Brownlee has come out and said that National would not overturn the smacking bill if it went through. He said they would "see how it lay" for a while before deciding.

This seems to me to be a bit like shooting yourself in the foot; If you have 80% of the country against a Bill going through, is it really smart politics to say you won't do anything to change it if you have the chance?

Fletch More Nanny State Meddling

Well, according to the Herald this morning, the Ministry of Health has some new guidelines that will be 'launched in June' to say that it is recommended that children are only able to eat pies once a term. Yep, that's right, once a term. This also has the support of the New Zealand Educational Institute, the country's largest education union.

Whatever next?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

ZenTiger Protesting the protesters

Well, I attended the protest yesterday. Yes, the s59 one. The DomPost this morning spent most of its space characterizing this as a march of "right wing Christian fundamentalists". That old bogeyman.

The protest was fairly peaceful, but the paper reported one arrest, an anti-smacking protester. The anti crowd that heckled were very rude and obviously had little in the way of manners regarding people's right to protest. Some were beyond abusive - one elderly women calling a grandparent a disgusting child-beater - spending a good 2 minutes in his face saying the most vile things. Manners is obviously not high on the list of the self-righteous "non-force" zealots, who prefer verbal abuse to tolerance of different opinions.

Criminalising a smack for the purposes of discipline is perhaps not much different than decriminalising homosexuality. The right of one adult to stick his dick into the poo-hole of another consenting adult is no longer a criminal offense. Now, some people may find that concept a little deviant, but the law decides that it shouldn't impose its own morality on what consenting adults do. Fair enough.

But suddenly, the use of a smack as a disciplinary measure is to be banned. There is no credible evidence that a smack used in discipline is harmful to children. Indeed, our generation grew up with an occasional smack and most people say it hasn't hurt them. Abuse may have, but a smack is not abuse. There can be arguments made for and against using a smack as a disciplinary measure, and it used to be that we all had the right to an opinion, and that the state would not mandate how we conducted our private affairs.

There are clear limits - any assault, abuse, etc could land people in court and their actions tested against the laws and judged by our peers. s59 says a parent can only apply "reasonable force" for the purposes of correction. That defence has been tried from time to time, and usually fails. The figures I've seen is its been tried around 22 times, and only succeeded 7 times in the last 15 years.

The jury weighed up the evidence, and on balance usually finds the defendant guilty. The cases where this isn't the case, have complicated issues behind them. Ones that don't reduce to a one liner that vindicates the left's totalitarian response to law making.

So Bradford says that "s59 gives parents the right to beat children the most appalling ways" That is a total lie and gross distortion. What Bradford is really trying to say that her ideology dictates that smacking is banned. They want to impose their will on others, even though there is no credible evidence that a smack is in any way abusive. It's just a very different perspective. Like being queer, perhaps.

So Bradford, Clark and a small group of anti-disciplinarians are not breaking new ground. They might as well be arguing the state has every right to look into the bedroom and ban homosexuality. Their supposedly liberal philosophy is really just another authoritarian ideology that happens to think a smack on the bum as a method of correcting bad behaviour is wrong, but legalizing the slavery inherent in prostitution or the freedom to engage in buggery is all fine and good.

Disclaimer: I generally don't care what consenting adults get up to in the privacy of their own home, just as I respect the rights of parents to discipline their children to the limits of reasonable force. This is just a handy comparison to the Green's fake morality. The state shouldn't be making either of these situations illegal. That is does one and is trying to do the other shows gross hypocrisy and reveals an ideology that embraces authoritarianism.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lucia S59 Repeal is now a Government Bill

It's official, the Section 59 Repeal is now a Government Bill. To be debated and passed whenever the Government wants. Yet, apparently this bill is not important to the Labour, according to Michael Cullen a couple of days ago.

Helen Clark has also compared the outrage New Zealanders feel over this to the opposition over homosexual law reform and then the civil union bill. I think she hopes to continue her line that Christians are the only people outraged and are whipping everyone else into a frenzy.

The only problem with this type of comparison is that both the homosexual law reform and civil union bill only impacted directly upon a minority of people. While as the Section 59 Repeal will impart directly upon the majority of New Zealanders. It's no longer one of those things that only affects people out there - it's going to affect all of us. Any parent who smacks will be committing a criminal offence.

The first two laws were also liberalisation laws, while as the Section 59 repeal is an authoritarian law, restricting freedom rather than expanding it. Which goes to show how authoritarian laws will always follow liberalisation. Increased freedom, or license to do as what one wants without regard for other people will lead to increased societal problems. Like our massive child abuse statistics that have followed the dramatic increase in single mothers following the liberalisation of divorce laws and societal relaxation of sexual norms. Therefore the natural outcome is increased interference in everyone's lives. The beginning of the end.

So, any bets on what they are going to do? Pass it now and hope the electorate forgets, given time, or wait until all the furore has died down and pass it then?

UPDATE: It's NOT a government bill yet. Labour are holding off on this one, even though everyone expects they'll make it a government bill. Could it be they are afraid of the heat on this one?

Lucia Why is talkback dominated by right-wingers?

Bomber Bradley, the man who has taken over Tim Selwyn's blog while he's in the slammer, bemoans the fact that the right dominate NZ talkback radio.
With all the talkback stations going for the same right wing listeners, ratings can’t expand – get someone to take the liberal road and try something different – why must talkback be so f****ing right wing?
I can tell you why, Bomber. Most New Zealanders are conservative. Which you interpret as right-wing. They don't like change for the sake of change - not like liberals. Liberals are noisy and give everyone the impression that there are hoardes of them everywhere, waiting to fill talkback radio with their incessant chatter, but the reality is very different. Must be why liberals are so desperate to change things, to create their Utopia on Earth - they find normal people very scary indeed.

Related Link: Tumeke!

Lucia Anti-Repeal S59 March

ZenTiger has just participated in the Anti-Repeal S59 March in Wellington today. When he gets a chance later tonight, he'll be filling everyone in on how it went.

What was most interesting to me, and I'm sure he'll elaborate on this, was the behaviour of the small number of Pro-Repeal protesters that tried to disrupt the march. They were quite verbally abusive to the marchers. There were a number of TV cameras there, so I hope that it's pointed out that the marchers were well-behaved, despite provocation, and that those who want Section 59 repealed were quite verbally abusive in general. They'll be the types who don't believe in smacking a child, yet will most likely belittle and verbally abuse their children instead - and see nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lucia Religious Quiz - no surprises here!

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


100%

Neo orthodox


86%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


86%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


46%

Fundamentalist


43%

Classical Liberal


36%

Reformed Evangelical


25%

Modern Liberal


21%

Emergent/Postmodern


7%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com


Though, I am a little surprised I got 100%. That's a bit of a fluke. I had to also lookup Karl Barth, because I had no idea who he was. I was pleased to see he annoyed Hitler, but in the end had to disagree that his theology was that important for today.

Related Link: A Servant's Thoughts

Lucia Bernados' attitude to New Zealand Parents

An anonymous commenter on Not PC's blog has this to say about parents who smack.
I am involved with Barnadoes and confirm that anyone who works at the coalface in social services supports Bradford's bill.

Children should never be smacked, hit, whatever you want to call it. If you cannot teach, guide and discipline your child without resorting to hitting or other acts of violence, you are not fit to be a parent.
Given that most New Zealanders support smacking, and of that percentage I would guess a significant amount do use physical discipline in the raising of their children, then this Bernados worker considers most New Zealanders not fit to be parents.

Nice.

Considering that Bernados needs public support in the form of donations, I would have thought that this level of contempt for the New Zealand public would have been best to keep under wraps.

I know I will never donate to Bernados again because of the S59 campaigning that they are involved in.

ZenTiger Check out Spock's crib

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lucia Michael Cullen may withdraw urgency on S59 Repeal

"It's not important to Labour"

Now, that's not an exact quote, as I can't quite remember what Michael Cullen said, word for word as I was putting dinner on the table at the time, but it looks and sounds like back-pedalling to me.

A spokeperson for Michael Cullen has now confirmed that Labour is now longer seeking urgency on Repeal of S59.

Could it be that Labour has realised this whole issue is sinking them? Look at the poll results which Helen Clark attributes to John Key's "honeymoon period". Ha! More like Labour's disastrous trampling over the parents of NZ causing your average Labour voter to wake up and smell the coffee!
The latest political poll has seen support for Labour slip, while National holds steady nearly ten points ahead.
Now all we need is National to promise to repeal the repeal when they get into power, should Bradford's legislation be passed. Why are they not doing this? Trying to hold the higher moral ground on letting their MPs vote their conscience is not cutting it as it's not going to prevent the legislation from going ahead.

MP's consciences seem to be so out of step with the nation, that it would be best to do away with them altogether. That way parties would have to clearly articulate their positions on social issues, rather than allow party policy to be deathly silent on issues that can dramatically alter what it's like to live in NZ now, and in the future. Because social changes can take ten to twenty years at least for the full effects to be felt.

Anyway, any delay on the Repeal of S59 has to be good.

Yay!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

ZenTiger Take some time out this week

Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson and Fielding will each have a Public March To Protest Anti-Smacking Bill this week. Visit www.politik.co.nz for details.

--via a comment left by Andy Moore.

ZenTiger The middle class ate my homework


Chris Trotter blames the middle class in this week's Sunday Star Times. His homework was to write an intelligent article on the NCEA debacle. He failed. If Trotter bores you, the article can be summed "The middle class ate my homework". So much for a state education.

According to Chris, it seems that parents who take a great deal of interest in their children's education can be labeled as possessing "overweening conceit which assures them everybody else is far too stupid to see through their spurious self-serving arguments". This is typical Chris Trotter - he thinks any concern shown by parents as to a lack of faith in the NCEA system indicates the worst, because, naturally, the state and all its bureaucrats always do better than concerned parents.

Chris Trotter then asks a question that only a communist and their socialist wannabes would ever ask:
Has there ever been a more blatant educational "con" than the one which insists that ranking students does anything other than turn an arbitrarily determined number of 15 and 16-year-olds into failures?
And Chris spends the rest of the article pointing out the evils of distinguishing between people that pass a subject and people that fail a subject, as if it is all the fault of the middle class.

But what an interesting concept. No first place at the Olympics. Just line everyone up and give them an "achieved" just for getting there. And as long as they've done their training (as signed off by a highly paid training certification expert) then there's no need to actually compete. As Trotter says: It would only allow the rest of the world to see the [athletes] ranked: from the very best to the very worst; and then very kindly, let's the rest of the world know whether they have "passed" or "failed".

And then Chris goes on to make an astounding assertion:

Ignoring the fact that the NCEA system is strongly supported by employers (for the cogent reason that it tells them what a young job applicants can do as opposed to what they cannot) ...

Actually, the NCEA system is only supported in principle. The rest is spin. Employers agree it could be a good system, but not at the moment. Remember this news article?
NCEA is the only qualification for the vast majority of New Zealand students and for its credibility to fall as reported is a crisis for New Zealand students – particularly those from low income communities.

NCEA credibility has suffered from its inception by –

Educationally based concerns about breaking subjects up into small compartmentalised units for assessment purposes Widely fluctuating results from year to year for the same “standard” Students receiving “bubble gum” credits at level 1 NCEA for picking up litter etc Lack of consistency in NZQA policy on schools reporting “Not Achieved” results The debacle at Cambridge High School NCEA must be seen to be a credible qualification by students, parents and the wider community. However the NZQA survey shows that more than one third of employers say the results are not useful and that different schools have different standards.

This crisis in credibility means that universities, polytechs and employers may begin to take more notice of the school a person attended rather than the NCEA credits they achieved. In other words the “school tie” could take over from NCEA results as a measure of educational value. This would be utterly disastrous and would impact most seriously on students in schools in low income communities who work particularly hard to achieve a NCEA qualifications.
At the end of 2004, the government was reeling from its NCEA debacle. It continued into 2005:
Krystle Barnes was one of the lucky ones. She passed an NCEA scholarship exam and won a place at university. But the 18-year-old says she has been left with something on her CV that employers don't recognise, parents don't understand and no one has any faith in. Krystle is proud of her achievement but is worried she has a qualification that is little more than a political football.
So, what have they done in the last two years? Well, a big propaganda drive. A long campaign to tell everyone that it is all fixed up, and that they've sorted the problems and it's all going to be alright. A big push to assure Business NZ that they are on the right track - which has lead to cautious agreement of the benefits, but I suspect they reserve judgment until they actually see it working. And meanwhile, hacks like Chris Trotter decides it's time to assassinate the character's of all the concerned parents that get to see the operation of the school up close - and judge first hand how their child's education is progressing.

And Chris resorts to the backing of a newly appointed professor of education at Waikato University, Martin Thrupp - who speaks of education's "inconvenient truth - persistent middle-class advantage".

Oh, pu-lease! When academics can only speak in marketing sound-bites, you know the English Language is dead in the Universities. This is unfortunately, a fine example of too much hot air in our educational elite.

The upper class (such as it is in NZ) can buy whatever education they need, and the lower class are entitled to our supposedly quality state funded education that teaches everyone with the same impartiality and effectiveness - but only the middle class have the advantage, because, the students that fail to demonstrate knowledge on the subject will be marked as failures. And that's just not fair!

Chris Trotter sees parents wanting a good education for their children as the evil thought that the economic and social advantages which they enjoy might no longer be so readily transferred to their children. No Chris, the middle class aren't infected with Tall Poppy Syndrome - that's a socialist's disease. They just want their kids to enjoy the benefits of a good education. There's no problem if others also get a good education. Right wingers see competition as a healthy stimulus to drive self-improvement. Good marks are a sign of recognition. Bad marks are an indicator that additional assistance can be targeted towards this person to help them achieve the same results.

Yes Chris, Education is important, and every child in NZ has access to it. Except along the way, the government has decided that it's best not to let on just how the system is failing our children. Which is why it's best not to actually score them against a measurable standard. The failure is not solely on the capability of the child, but of the system.

And what is Trotter's solution? To attack any parents wanting to have a good and quantifiable outcome as self-serving middle class liars and cheats.

NCEA may prove itself in the long run - it's had more versions than Microsoft Windows, and like Windows, the latest NCEA is all about the eye candy too. And I suspect the budget to sort out the NCEA debacle over the last two years would probably fund a small south pacific coup. If this year's results fall in a big heap, I think I could even predict the country.

Meanwhile, Chris Trotter's little report placing the lack of confidence in NCEA as the fault of parents turning to the Cambridge Exams as a conspiracy of the middle class holding onto their middle class advantage of being the ones that actually pay the taxes in this country is regretfully marked "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"

Apparently, such a mark will not affect his job prospects. The government is pleased to be hiring anyone who can read and write at the moment.

Lucia Abortive Arguments by Deranged Feminists

Looking at left blogs is really bad for my health. The other day I had a quick look at Spanblather's Linky Love, to find a link to abortion and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, the author of which is really "hearted" by Span. Ok, I thought, let's have a look as to what this supposed "hypocrisy" is.

It was just the same old tired argument that abortion ought to be legal because if it isn't legal, then women are going to do it anyway, and if they do it illegally it's more likely to be dangerous and therefore kill many more women than if it were legal. The Catholic Church is being hypocritical in opposing abortion, because they are supposed to be about protecting life - and look, women getting illegal abortions are dying! Doesn't the Catholic Church care?

It's the biggest load of crap ever.

Apply the same argument to organ harvesting. People are dying because they can't get organs. If we allow organ harvesting of the unwanted, then people won't die anymore (apart from the unwanted, but who cares about them). It will be safer for all concerned to make this process legal, because if it's legal, it's more likely to be safe and also successful. If we keep it illegal, people are going to do it anyway, and more people will probably die of the people we care about - those sick people who need organs.

What? The Catholic Church opposes this? Something about the sanctity of life and all - call them hypocrites. If they really cared about people, then they'd be all for the harvesting of organs from the unwanted, just like they'd be all for the abortion of the unwanted. Whatever happens, the unwanted are going to die anyway, so why not have some good come out of it all?

Why doesn't anybody think about the children? Oh, wait, they do. They don't want us to be able to smack our children to discipline them, but they are happy for us to kill them if we don't want them. Before they are big enough for anyone to care, of course.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

ZenTiger You can't live in a ham sandwich

Farrar reminded me of another Cullenism today, with the arrogant finance Minister announcing "You can't eat a house".

Yes Michael, you can't eat a house. But you can't live in a ham sandwich either.

People do think beyond their house when thinking of retirement. It's just the government has been pathetic at helping them save - more concerned with taking too much tax, increasing government spending by 33%, and holding onto surpluses rather than hand some money back.

Don't take away shelter just to provide food.

ZenTiger A referendum versus experts

"If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's 'collective intelligence' will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. 'Wise crowds' need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions." —Publisher's Weekly


Well, that argues against Chris Trotter's propaganda somewhat. I reckon a referendum on the question: "Should smacking be banned" might work if we can hold it before mass propaganda advertising from the government and Greens telling us how to think. To this, we add the requirement of at least a 60% turnout to get a good sized crowd.

ZenTiger Selective Democracy

Leave Referendums to Dictators says Chris Trotter. [Hattip: Lucyna]

He then sets out to explain why direct democracy is bad. At a general election, the electorate merely decides who shall decide he says, and given that he argues how stupid people are, he considers once you've fooled them into voting for you, they should accept that any decision, no matter how painful, is for the best. That's why he explained how important is was for Labour to act corruptly to win the last election. All this to justify why the repeal of s59 should not go to referendum (where it would undoubtedly fail based on many poll results).

When Chris Trotter is spinning this desperately, you know he sees this as an important step to supplanting the family with the state.

The will of the people doesn't enter into his slanted argument. To make out dictators love referenda, the purpose of which was obviously to imply that a referendum isn't democratic, is ridiculous in the extreme.

And how condescending: Never mind. Let's accept that Judy's personal political credo holds direct democracy superior to representative democracy.

Well, it's a lot more democratic - you can't get democracy any purer than direct democracy. Chris Trotter just doesn't like it. It's not superior enough.

So he constructs his argument as an either-or proposition. The case for referenda when combined with representative democracy takes an entirely new slant, but naturally, he didn't want to consider that combination.

Chris is so happy with representative democracy because the cards are stacked in his favour on the s59 bill. Careful consideration? Rubbish, the issue is so ideological it's like asking atheists to decide which version of religion is to be mandated on the population.

And to say the fail-safe is that we can vote in a new government in 18 months also knowingly exploits the fact that people need to vote for their representatives to cover a wide range of issues - and he and the other social engineers hell-bent on ensuring the continual breakdown of the family will rationalize any measure to force their will:

* Rush the bill through under urgency
* Declare the referendum a tool of dictators
* Argue that the 7 cases that have successfully used s59 in the last 15 years represents an avalanche of child abuse
* Equate a beating to a smack
* Fail to differentiate between a smack as a disciplinary measure and a beating as a result to uncontrolled anger
* Fail to promise any meaningful action to guarantee children will not be removed from parents in error with the passage of this bill
* Fail to address concerns this law change will be mis-used as a tool of zealous CYF workers, or parents going through a marriage break-up and custody battle.
* Promote the concept that the letter of the law can be ignored because police are too busy or will choose not to prosecute - a profoundly stupid approach to making laws
* Position the bill as the solution to child abuse, rather than acknowledge the role it has with instilling discipline.

Chris Trotter tries to make out it's all about protecting children. Defining reasonable force, and focusing on the problem families would be a much better step. But we've already seen how Chris Trotter views the family - "Dad rampant on Viagra and mum zonked on Valium", incapable of raising kids. How typically communist.

This bill will not stop the violence in the dysfunctional families created by the left's ongoing social engineering. It will be the precursor to expanding the government even further. Expect to see an increase in CYF workers and giving them more power to intervene in ordinary families in efforts to be seen to be doing something to make the statistics better.

ZenTiger Educating Trotter

I'm re-posting this review of an earlier article by Chris Trotter. It reveals his thoughts on the "typical" family perfectly. It's relevant to how hard he is spinning to justify pushing through the repeal of s59 - and especially trying to avoid "the will of the people".

Lucia Chris Trotter - attacked by wasps

Chris Trotter reacts to the attacks on his column last week, where he basically said that citizens cannot be trusted to decide important matters in a referendum. This week, he's decided that those people that believe in referendums are all ex-social-credit party members. I kid you not.

There's no link to the original, because I typed all of this out myself.


What a peculiar little country this is sometimes. The image we present to the world is one of easygoing, can-do friendliness. But the face we show to one another - ah, well, that's a very different story.

Last week in this column I took a swing at United Future MP Judy Turner for attempting to kick the so-called "Anti-Smacking Bill" into political touch by forcing it to a referendum.

I might just as sensibly have taken a large stick to a wasps' nest!

Suddenly I was being assaulted by Helen-haters, social creditors (yes, they still exist) and the sort of landlords who prohibit their tenants from hanging washing on apartment balconies.

Most seemed to belong to an outfit called New Zealanders for Better Democracy (NZBD). Going to its website, my attention was immediately drawn to a photomontage of "well known supporters" of the binding citizen-initiated referendum. The NZBD advances the "BCIR" as the panacea for all of New Zealand's political ills (most of them, apparently, attributable to the Labour Government).

Now, it's possible that an organisation which advertises the endorsements of Winston Peters, Michael Laws, Garth McVicar, Ian Wishart and Roger Kerr alongside those of Christine Fletcher and David Lange might have one or two issues to resolve in the Arthur versus Martha department. But the energy with which the NZBD wasps swarmed to defend the BCIR told me that I had whacked something significant.

Here was the classic political project of the "little man" - those ground down small proprietors who struggle to hold their own against the vast public/private collectives of the modern age. The presence of so many former social-creditors in the NZBD ranks confirms this. These thwarted players on the political stage clearly regard the BCIR as a secret weapon that will instantly take the wind out of the electoral sails of those big political parties which had the temerity to survive after theirs had failed.

As proof of the BCIR's effectiveness, the NZBD points to the example of Switzerland. Blithely ignoring the unique historical circumstances which gave birth to - and preserved - the ethnically, linguistically and religiously divided Swiss Confederation, they celebrate its institutionalisation with the same sort of blind enthusiasm the SUP once reserved for the Soviet Union.

Never mind that the Swiss system kept women disenfranchised til 1971, and granted them full legal equality only in 1981. And don't mention the fact that the Swiss voted to stay out of the United Nations till 2002. Nor, that they refused asylum to 24,000 Jews during World War II, while their bankers discreetly lodged plunder from Holocaust victims in their deepest, most secret, vaults.

Neither are the "propositions", "recall ballots" and "initiatives" enshrined in a number of individual US state constitutions quite the instruments of democratic virtue the NZBD believes them to be. Crafted in the early 1900s, they were deployed by an enraged Protestant elite to control the redistributive impulses of the "corrupt machine politicians" elected by poor, mostly Catholic, immigrants.

There's a faint echo of this hostility toward effective political organisation in Roger Kerr's blurb of the NZBD website: "The rise of political parties has made it possible for governments to virtually unite the executive and legislative functions. Rather than parliament acting as a check on the government, it has been turned into a rubber stamp for many executive decisions."

Like paid parental leave, an extra week's holiday, minimum wage increases, income-related state-house rents, Working for Families and the renationalisation of ACC. Yep, that party discipline's a real bummer, ain't it, Roger?

In essence, the campaign for the BCIR is a campaign to privatise the political process. The NZBD's agenda denies the fundamental collectivism of the democratic impulse, and reduces it - like the Protestant conscience - to a lonely struggle between the dark and the light of the individual soul.

But it is not possible to have a citizenry of one. Political representation, like religious salvation, can only ever be a social enterprise.

The real choice, therefore, is between the symbolic conflict, contained within Parliament's debating chamber, and the very real political violence which inevitably erupts whenever aggrieved social elements attempt to subordinate legitimate collective interests to the frailties of individual judgement.

Lucia Leave Referendums to Dictators

Last week, on Friday March 16, 2007, Chris Trotter had a delightful piece published in the Dominion Post manly how the average pleb in the street cannot be trusted with deciding the fate of such important pieces of legislation such as the Repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Acts - aka the Anti-Smacking Bill.

I'm sure ZenTiger will have something to say about it, so I'm saving it here for posterity - just in case it vanishes from the Stuff website sometime in the future.

Leave referendums to dictators
The Dominion Post | Friday, 16 March 2007

FROM THE LEFT - CHRIS TROTTER
Judy, Judy, Judy, as Cary Grant apparently never said to Rita Hayworth in Only Angels Have Wings. Not to worry. If the impossibly suave Mr Grant never actually delivered his most memorable line, I will. Not to Rita Hayworth, of course, but to United Future MP Judy Turner.

Because what Cary did or did not say isn't really the point. The point is how he didn't say it: which was in a sort of descending glissando of disappointment that shows precisely my reaction to list MPs who publicly repudiate the very representative functions they were elected to fulfil.

So. "Judy, Judy, Judy, what on earth possessed you to introduce an amendment to Sue Bradford's private member's Bill requiring the issue of smacking to be decided by referendum?"

And not just any old sort of referendum either, but a referendum in which more than 60 per cent of the eligible voting population must have participated, and in which 60 per cent of those participating must have voted affirmatively.

Coming from an MP representing United Future – which, having received just 2.7 per cent of the party vote, nevertheless felt justified in vetoing the Cabinet participation of a party with 5.3 per cent of the party vote (the Greens) – this sudden conversion to the cause of direct democracy seems a trifle out of character.

Never mind. Let's accept that Judy's personal political credo holds direct democracy superior to representative democracy.

What, then, are the implications of government by referendum?

The referendum's most serious drawback as a mechanism for making important political decisions, especially on questions that involve a high degree of evidential and ethical complexity, is that it imposes upon those ultimately charged with deciding the issue not the slightest obligation to behave with diligence or integrity.

There is simply no way of gauging whether the citizen who enters the polling booth has devoted one month, or one minute, of thought to the referendum question: or whether he or she has read any of the relevant literature, or questioned any of the acknowledged experts. We cannot discover if they have a vested interest in the outcome, and haven't the slightest hint concerning their character. The citizenry's "Yes" or "No" vote is cast in secret: possibly after the most serious deliberation; but, equally possibly, out of the most appalling prejudice – we have absolutely no way of knowing.

Now, it may be objected that all of the above applies with equal force to general elections. Which is true. But with one crucial caveat. At a general election, the electorate merely decides who shall decide – it makes no decisions itself. What's more, having made their choice, voters are afforded all the opportunities for scrutiny and judgment of the decision-making process that referendums deny.

Our system of representative democracy means that on contentious issues – like whether or not it should be lawful to forcefully correct a child – citizens can rest safe in the knowledge that the matter will not be decided on a whim.

In the case of the "Anti- Smacking" Bill, every MP has been subjected to the most intensive lobbying. The matter has been debated at length in party caucuses. A select committee has studied copious evidence, and heard the expert testimony of many dispassionate witnesses as well as the passionate opinions of numerous partisans. Committee members then drafted and distributed a report for the guidance of their colleagues.

Most importantly, every member of the House of Representatives has been required to declare their final judgment on the Bill by voting for or against it in public. If the electorate disapproves of the result, it has the opportunity to remove offending MPs in 18 months.

An errant citizenry is not removed so easily.

It's a sobering fact that referendums and plebiscites are among the most-valued political tools of demagogues and dictators. Why? Because they convey the impression of democracy, while simultaneously suppressing the very behaviour that gives democratic decision-making its legitimacy.

If there had been a clear majority against Sue Bradford's Bill, would Judy Turner have introduced her amendment? I suspect not. Had the numbers been in her favour, I suspect Judy's faith in representative democracy would have been undimmed.

But even then, Judy would have failed in her understanding of what it means to be a true representative of the people. Because, in her haste to uphold the "rights" of parents, she would have forgotten that children – like Jews and blacks – are people too.


Related Link: Stuff

Friday, March 23, 2007

ZenTiger Edge Hill



Plug in the headphones, turn off the lights and just get into the groove...

Lucia Friday Night Free For All

Open chat thread.

I'll turn on anon comments for a while for this.

ZenTiger Leading By Example

Now Helen Clark and co want to force the banning of smacking through under urgency. What an inspiring parliament we have. Forcing through legislation which is supposedly sending a message that use of force is always unjustified. And we are told that parents will not be prosecuted for breaking the law. Except that a man was fined $500 for hitting his son (DomPost today). Obviously, some-one somewhere decided the force used was unreasonable, and he didn't get off using s59. Because the reality is very few people do, and those few that do (7 people in 15 years?) experience long court cases where the issue is weighed very carefully.

So, here's a government ramming through legislation to ban smacking that assures us we don't have to follow it (how that will change once it is passed) if it is only a light smack, because breaking the law is OK and the police wouldn't bother enforcing their laws anyway, but by the way, they don't mind passing retrospective legislation when they are caught out acting improperly (pledge card issue), they don't fire their ministers for being caught out lying (Benson-Pope refuting taping Phil Weaver's hands to the desk and sticking a tennis ball in his mouth), and police investigations get dropped because they are "not in the public interest" (Benson-Pope, Doonegate, Election Expenditure), or if they cannot, lightweight inquiries that achieve nothing (Taito Phillip-Field), whilst they oversea over one and a half billion dollars go up in smoke (Te Wananga, Prison Buildings) and manage to spend an extra 20 billion with no improvement in outcomes, whilst mandating that waiting lists be trimmed to six months to make their health figures look good.

Well, I didn't vote for them. This is all your doing. Idiots.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lucia Poland May Ban Kilts

Now for something completely different and possibly light-hearted, depending on how you feel about the kilt.
SCOTS heading to Poland for stag trips are being warned not to lift their kilts - or our national dress could be banned.

The good burghers of Krakow and Warsaw are sick of the sight of boozed-up "men in skirts" flashing their bits in the street.

And the authorities in another popular stag night destination, the city of Wroclaw, have become so fed-up with the badly behaved minority of Scots they are seriously considering outlawing the kilt.
My feeling is, just because you are wearing a skirt doesn't give you a right to flash everyone. I certainly wouldn't want dangly bits flashed at me when I least expected it. Might react and use the handbag as a weapon before I had a chance to think.

Related Link: KRAKDOWN

Lucia The EU Vultures are Circling over Poland

Here we go. The European Parliament is going to look at whether or not Poland's proposed new law to ban discussions of homosexuality in schools violates human rights.
"The disturbing proposals to outlaw discussion of homosexuality raise serious concerns about the commitment to fundamental rights in Poland," said MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg, a Green party member from the Netherlands, in a statement.

"It is shocking that the government of a modern European country would even consider such draconian legislation. The promotion of gay hatred is the antithesis of EU anti-discrimination rules and the Polish government must publicly reject this approach," said Buitenweg.
Well, considering the first "human rights" group started in Germany in the late 1800's to promote "gay rights" (then called "homosexual rights") and "gay rights" is also promoted under the umbrella of "human rights" today, I'd say Poland's proposed new law does violate "human rights" on the basis of knocking out "gay rights".

Now I've been holding back on writing on this topic, for the reason being that I, like many people, feel that it's now not socially acceptable to publicly question and disapprove of "gay rights". I have been posting a bit, despite this sense of unease, but recently I came across a book called The Pink Swastika that has galvanised me to really get into this subject in a more aggressive way.

I find it deeply disturbing that Poland, who was attacked by a country lead by sexual deviants in 1939, now looks like being attacked by the whole European union in defence of sexual deviancy under the guise of "tolerance". If you haven't read the book The Pink Swastika and you are younger than eighty or so, you won't have realised that the Nazi leaders were mostly gay. Right up until the late 60's it was well known by the world that that Nazi leaders were mostly gay. That is until the "gay rights" movement gathered steam in the 70's and have somehow managed to wipe out the gayness of the Nazis from public memory.

I have heard people say many times that it doesn't matter what a person does in the bedroom, that this doesn't affect how they are as a human being. Well, the Nazis put lie to that theory and that's probably why their gay history has been almost wiped clean.

I still haven't been able to read the entirety of Rising '44 - The Battle for Warsaw - it's like being in the depths of Hell. If anyone wants to know the depths of depravity that sexual deviants can stoop to, and has a strong stomach, I recommend the book as well as The Pink Swastika. I always wondered what type of man would order the massacre of a population and then a destruction of a city when the Germans were so obviously loosing the war at that point that it would have made more sense to withdraw and defend German territory.

All of this makes General Pace's comments on immorality in the military and the consequent attacks by liberals and "gay rights" activists all the more ominous. For in Germany, once the Nazis got hold of the military, everything went down hill very quickly. For the same thing to happen to the US military would be beyond disastrous. It would be catastrophic.

Related Link: European Parliament To Examine Polish Anti-Gay Law

UPDATE: Some readers are offended by this post. Or don't believe that what The Pink Swastika has to say could possibly be true. I challenge those people to read the book first before commenting. At least you then you won't be commenting from a position of ignorance.

I'll leave you with a paragraph from the book on how well known the link between homosexuality and Nazis was in the past:

In the 1960s, Nazi homosexuality was so widely acknowledged in America (at least among the “social elites”) that the portrayal of Nazi thugs as homosexual was a frequent occurrence in Hollywood movies. One of the best examples is in Exodus (United Artists, 1960), the film adaptation of the Leon Uris novel about the creation of the State of Israel after World War II. In the film, actor Sal Mineo, playing a young man attempting to join the Irgun (the Jewish underground movement), fails to convince Irgun leaders that he is a genuine Nazi concentration camp survivor. Finally they are convinced — only when he breaks down and confesses that the Nazi guards “used me as a woman.” To the Irgun, this was definitive proof that he had been a Nazi prisoner.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ZenTiger Say NO to cleaner energy

If we could reduce carbon emissions from aluminium production by 90%, you'd think Greenies would be pleased. Nope.

Winge winge winge. And it's not even using nuclear power.

Somewhere, there is an insane greenie cooking up a killer virus to wipe out 90% of the world's population to save the planet. Our only hope is that one of the lab rats infected with the test toxin bites them and they mutate into "Ratman" and terrorize the neighbourhood before the SPCA finally catch them, and mistaking them for some kind of imported attack dog, put them down for not being properly chipped.

Just let them build the damn dam.

Lucia Worrying Developments between Poland and Russia

If you read nothing else of the article below, know this. Russia spends 7 times more today than it did 5 years ago on military procurement and modernisation. Russia has also recently deployed several batteries of S-300 missiles near Poland's border and has warned Poland not to allow the missile defence system to be set up on her soil. Things are heating up between Central Europe and Russia and almost no one is noticing.
WARSAW -- The U.S. proposal to place radar and interceptor sites for a new missile defence system in Central Europe -- respectively, in the Czech Republic and Poland -- may generate a new security partnership with the countries of the region. Or it could provoke a spiral of misunderstanding, weaken NATO, deepen Russian paranoia and cost the United States some of its last friends on the continent.


Early omens are worrisome. Some genius at the State Department or the Pentagon sent the first official note describing possible placement of the facility with a draft reply attached -- a reply that contained a long list of host countries' obligations and few corresponding U.S. commitments. Natives here tend to think they are capable of writing their own diplomatic correspondence. But in a region where goodwill toward the United States depends on the memory of its support in resisting Soviet colonialism, this was particularly crass. If the Bush administration expects Poles and Czechs to jump for joy and agree to whatever is proposed, it's going to face a mighty crash with reality.

The administration might have gotten away with this five years ago, when the memory of Ronald Reagan's steadfast support for our freedom fighters had just been bolstered by American advocacy of NATO enlargement, despite Russian hostility and some hesitation among Western European nations. But the war in Iraq has dented Central European trust. The spectacle of the U.S. secretary of state at the U.N. Security Council solemnly presenting intelligence that proved unreliable shook our faith. Our old-fashioned expectation that the United States would show gratitude for our participation in Iraq also proved misplaced. Public perceptions of America are plummeting, while opposition to U.S.-led military operations, and above all to the proposed missile site, grows. We have decided that the United States is a foreign country after all.

Meanwhile, membership in the European Union has reoriented our foreign and domestic policies. Few in the United States realize that Poland, to name one example, is receiving $120 billion to upgrade its infrastructure and agriculture under the current seven-year E.U. budget. By comparison, American military assistance to Poland amounts to $30 million annually, a fraction of what we spend on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan that we regard as acts of friendship toward the United States. Perhaps the best illustration of the changing dynamic is the fact that the visa issue that once vexed Polish politicians -- Americans come to Poland without visas, while Poles need them to enter America -- has lost its urgency. There are a lot more proverbial Polish plumbers working legally in Britain and Ireland than illegally in Chicago.

While U.S. influence and esteem have diminished, strategic stakes in the region are rising. Awash with oil money, Russia spends seven times more on procurement and modernization of military equipment than it did just five years ago. Russia recently deployed several batteries of S-300 missiles near our border -- the first such provocation toward NATO in 20 years -- yet this elicited not a squeak of protest from the alliance. Russia is also threatening to deploy scores of intermediate missiles aimed at Warsaw in response to the missile defense base, a threat no Polish politician can ignore.

Our American colleagues say not to worry, that NATO will protect us, but rhetorical assurances are too easy. Just as the Holocaust is the formative experience even for Jews who are too young to remember it, so Poland is haunted by the memory of fighting Hitler alone in 1939 while our allies stood by. Never again will we allow ourselves to be egged on by paper guarantees not backed by practical means of delivery. Therefore, if relations with Russia are to deteriorate because of the proposed missile base, the United States must demonstrate that it will do for Poland what it is doing for Japan in the face of its confrontation with North Korea: tightening formal security arrangements and deploying batteries of Patriot missiles or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. Placing the main operating base of allied ground surveillance in Central Europe would also reassure the region that its countries are truly NATO territory. Finally, the United States should tell NATO how it intends to include the Central European base in the alliance's missile defense architecture. Otherwise, we will suspect that America, having protected itself, will not devote further resources to a NATO system.

The worst outcome would be for the Czech and Polish governments to yield to diplomatic arm-twisting only for the agreements to fail in our famously independent parliaments. Such a scenario would repeat the crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations over the transit of American forces to Iraq in 2003, which has never been resolved. To forestall such an outcome, the United States needs to once again see the world through the eyes of its allies and offer them a partnership that enhances the security of both.

Radek Sikorski, a senator in Poland's Parliament, was secretary of defense from October 2005 to February 2007.


Related Link: Washington Post - Don't take Poland for granted

Lucia Can't comment on other blogger blogs!!

I have wanted to comment on a number of blogs from at least before the weekend, and I haven't been able to because of the visual verification thingee that does not appear. It took me a day or so before I realised that people might not be commenting here because of this problem, so, it's turned off for now.

So, a message to other blogger bloggers. Please turn the visual verification thing off!

Of course, I'll have probably forgotten what I wanted to say on your blogs anyway.

Lucia The Buttered Bun Wars

NZ food Nazis really need to do more research. A study released (and reported on in the Dominion Post) earlier this month showed that women that consume low fat dairy products are at increased risk of infertility. Yet, the Food Nazis are now calling for people to limit the amount of butter they put on their hot cross buns to a thin scraping*.

Butter is an essential food. Back before just in time deliveries to the supermarket, in winter he ownership of a cow could mean the difference between life and death for people. The cow produced little milk compared to today, but what she did produce was made into butter. Butter that was essential for survival in harsh winter climates.

Today butter is much maligned by Food Nazis in their War Against Obesity. They would have us forget the very existence of butter, but the next time you coat your Hot Cross buns (buns to remind you of the coming of Easter and the Risen Christ) in lots of real butter (not margarine, never margarine), pause for a moment and think about the possibility that your ancestors, if they came from a wintry climate, may not have survived without butter.

Related Links: Hot cross buns feeding obesity epidemic

Reduced Fertility In Women Linked To Low Fat Dairy Food

* Can't find a reference to "thin scraping" as a recommendation online anywhere.

ZenTiger About ZenTiger



Does it really matter who I am? Who are you? You only live for a finite number of days. What are you exchanging for a day of life today?

Art by Wellington artist Julian Knap

ZenTiger BNZ go family friendly

Bank of New Zealand are offering what I think may be a world first: the ability for individuals and families to link their accounts together, and then the interest payments be calculated based on the combined pool. Even better, the pooled money can be used as a mortgage offset along the lines of typical mortgage offset accounts to reduce mortgage interest. This is a no-risk way for families to help each other out, where say grandparents maintain high cash deposits and their young children are busy trying to start a family and struggling with a mortgage.

Well done BNZ. A very interesting concept.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lucia Using NOT Wasting

There is this really horrible programme on TV3 right now harassing this poor woman for - get this - turning the heater on when it's cold and using hot or warm water to wash clothes. How on earth did the Environmentalists take over reality TV?

I just can't watch anymore.

Lucia Poland Banning Discussion of Homosexuality in Schools

In EU right now we have on the one hand Britain experimenting with teaching very young children about gay relationships and making it illegal for religious schools to teach that homosexuality is immoral, and on the other, Poland to be making any discussion of homosexuality in schools completely illegal.
The Polish government is to ban discussions on homosexuality in schools and educational institutions across the country, with teachers facing the sack, fines or imprisonment.

Poland's education minister, Roman Giertych, has said he hopes to introduce a similar ban across the entire EU.

Mr Giertych, the leader of the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families, a junior coalition partner in the government of prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said the aim of the proposed law would be to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance".

...

The European Commission has condemned the Polish government, whose motto is "moral renewal", for its homophobic views.

During a visit to Poland at the weekend, the EU's current president, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, delivered a thinly veiled warning to Poland's anti-gay politicians, telling an audience that Europe was a "continent of tolerance ... that understands variety not as a threat but as enrichment".
I do find it interesting that Angela Merkel is not also warning Britain about intolerance. It seems the only type of intolerance that is allowed is intolerance against those who consider certain lifestyles immoral.

Related Link: Poland to ban schools from discussing homosexuality

Monday, March 19, 2007

ZenTiger An Accident Waiting to Happen

Well known NZ investment firm ACC has taken a 25 per cent stake in privately-owned firm NZLSAT which hopes to launch a Russian built satellite into space.

As a government monopoly, they have a statutory obligation to take money from employees and employers and either spend it on novel investment schemes, tv advertising (to get across the idea that government monopolies are a really good thing) or lawyers, trying to either slow down payment rates, take payment money back of the victims, or argue that they shouldn't have to pay compound interest interest just because they took nine years to settle a claim.

In space, no-one can make a claim.

Related Link: Satellite Investment - an Accident Waiting to Happen

ZenTiger What is Intelligence, Anyway?

Isaac Asimov wrote:
What is intelligence, anyway? When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me. (It didn't mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP - kitchen police - as my highest duty.)
All my life I've been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I'm highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too. Actually, though, don't such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests - people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was. Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles - and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test. Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I'd prove myself a moron, and I'd be a moron, too. In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly. My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again. He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me. One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: "Doc, a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with the other hand. The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?"

Indulgently, I lifted by right hand and made scissoring motions with my first two fingers. Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, "Why, you dumb jerk, He used his voice and asked for them." Then he said smugly, "I've been trying that on all my customers today." "Did you catch many?" I asked. "Quite a few," he said, "but I knew for sure I'd catch you." "Why is that?" I asked. "Because you're so god damned educated, doc, I knew you couldn't be very smart."

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there.


An amusing story (and I've heard variations of the joke), but has Asimov nailed what intelligence is all about? I don't think so. This story was just at square one - the difference between education and intelligence.

Gardner's theory on multiple intelligences (MI) makes a lot more sense, but that goes against the g factor (General Intelligence) theory.

Psychometricians work from two different kinds of intelligence: fluid and crystallized, others work from nine categories of intelligence: Fluid Reasoning; Acculturation Knowledge; Quantitative Knowledge; Short-term memory; Long-term memory; Visual processing; Auditory processing; Processing Speed; Correct Decision Speed.

With all these different theories, then Asimov's point still stands - he who makes the tests may be getting results that reflect their bias. And the correct decision isn't necessarily found through over-education.

Sometimes, there's a lot to be said for stepping back and reflecting on things, all in good time. Where one lacks in intelligence, wisdom can more than compensate.

Well, that's my idea anyway.

Lucia Electrolux Vacuum Broken and Useless

A couple of years ago we thought we'd replace our old battered 17 year old Phillips vacuum cleaner with a new Electrolux. Now, just over 2 years later, the "floor tool" broke at what looks like it's weakest point. I've already put up with the thingy that comes down to pick up dust and fur breaking last year, but now the entire thing is useless. So, after a bit of ringing around, some one has finally got back to me on how much it will cost me to buy a new floor tool - one hundred dollars!

That much to get a new floor tool that will probably only last only two years! That's one fifth of the whole cost of the original purchase price of the vacuum cleaner! I'm just flabbergasted. If they didn't make their stupid floor tool so weak that it breaks after two years, then I wouldn't have to try and replace it.

I'm never buying Electrolux again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

ZenTiger Benign Strategic Environment

When Helen Clark announced we live in a benign strategic environment, we didn't know we were going to discover oil off the south island.

I wonder if our Defence Forces are re-evaluating any scenarios where Foreign Forces do decide to relocate a few hundred thousand troops?

ZenTiger Doomed is an understatement

Two leading UK climate researchers have criticised those among their peers who they say are "overplaying" the global warming message. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) were quick to dismiss this viewpoint.
"When we said that the entire planet was doomed, and we would all perish in a variety of painful and excruciating ways, that were all virtually irreversible, we advanced this on the basis of scientific fact. These guys will be under 4 metres of water by next Wednesday, so I'd take no notice of them whatsoever. Instead, you should be out there paying your Kyoto taxes. That is the only thing standing between you and oblivion."


Related Link: We are all doomed. Panic is appropriate.
Hattip: Adolf - BBC Back Pedals on Gorebull Warming

ZenTiger Dr Kiro's Master Plan

Dr Kiro has a master plan for every child. The Children's Commissioner has created a document expressing the plan:
TE ARA TUKUTUKU NGA WHANAUNGATANGA O NGA TAMARIKI: WEAVING PATHWAYS TO WELLBEING – AN INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES


The government norm is to have a Maori name for everything. Such tokenism makes us all feel good that we are supporting our cuzzies achieve cultural independence by establishing cultural interdependence. Thus, we have to put up with long Maori names for such reports. I'm not sure it really matters. What does matter is that Dr Kiro's name should feature in the report's Title so history knows who to judge. So I'm taking the liberty of renaming Te Ara Tukutuku Nga Whanaungatanga o Nga Tamariki to Kiro's Master Plan

In a nutshell, the plan is a weak justification around profiling every child in New Zealand, and having a reason to intervene. It would be easy to dismiss my points as paranoid, but this is unfair - given the potential for abuse of this system, and the economic cost monitoring every child, Dr Kiro's report must say far more than "trust us" when considering the finer detail of her master plan. Until I hear more, I judge her guilty by omission, because the impact is so far reaching.

Reading the text speaks like an academically generated collection of buzz words and power phrases, combined with the text of some 18th century manual on "how to look after your human capital and other slaves". Dr Kiro asks for a paradigm shift when she reminds us that the care of children is the fundamental responsibility of our government and our communities. You'd think the word family would figure more prominently in that sentence. When the word family does appear, it seems to be mentioned as an obstacle to get past or as some kind of stationery cupboard that holds documents.

I've repeated about half of the document below - they give a good flavour of the style of the prose. Some may lap it up. It leaves me cold.

Overview
Kiro's Master Plan provides a systematic approach to monitoring development of every child and young person in New Zealand.


Lets try the reader's digest version of that sentence: systematic monitoring of everyone

Oh, nice. This would have to be the very reason governments are established. Just the sort of thing the Benjamin Franklins of the world would want enshrined in a constitution. [/sarcasm off]

Kiro's Master Plan is that every child in New Zealand is safe, nurtured, educated, healthy, and has hope for the future.

In practical terms the framework aims to ensure that families are supported within their communities to help children thrive in each of the four domains of physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.

So, just to be clear, the goal is to be involved in all facets of the children's life. Except they forgot some of the other domains, such as moral and spiritual. Does this mean they are going to butt out of these areas, or just that they don't recognise them? Maybe morals and a spiritual dimension aren't important to them?

Assessments at key transition or change points will lead to development of individual plans to guide progress through universal services, and to access any additional services that are required.

There is a direction the government wants you to take. You'll be guided with universal services. How much do you think it's going to cost for an individual plan? And what if the parents don't want one, thank you very much? Obviously, that makes them bad parents, and they will report to the centre for conditioning.

The funny thing is, the key transition and change points will probably be thrust on to a six month waiting list, along with other key transitional or change points, like a heart attack, or being diagnosed with an urgent medical condition.

Ensuring that children are safe and nurtured, have the resources to develop to their full potential, and have their views considered in matters that affect them, is a fundamental responsibility of governments and communities.

Alarm bells. When are the parents views considered? Wait, we get to vote every three years. I'm sure the debate here was whether to include the word "families" in the list of "organisations" that ensure children are safe and nurtured, but then again, that implies the fundamental responsibilities of the government might be trumped in some way. This paragraph highlights that there is little trust in families to do this, and that is why the government needs a universal approach.

An aging population structure, with increasing economic dependency and caregiver ratios, means that the future productivity of every child and young person is important.

Yay. Let's throw in the economic necessity of making sure children are productive units in society.

Investments in childhood are most likely to bring good returns to society as a whole. Economic modeling shows that the optimum return to investment in human capital occurs in the first years of life.

Well, when you put it like that, now I know you have the best interests of children in mind. They'll all be classified by a reference number, awarded marks on the optimum return ratios achieved and bonuses paid to the government plan developer for hitting their KPI's. Isn't this direct from a slave owners manual?

Estimates of the benefit to cost ratio of early childhood intervention for disadvantaged children in the United States are as high 17:1 as by age 40 (i.e. US$17 net benefit to society for every dollar spent.)

Intervention ... that word must be music to Kiro's ears. A universal plan justified on the basis of benefit to cost ratio on disadvantaged children. Makes sense to me.

Kiro's Master Plan will provide accurate information, which is essential to plan well for individual children and families. The framework will also mean that educators, health service providers, community planners and child protection services have access to anonymous aggregated data so that they can prepare and plan appropriately for current and future needs.

Just telegraphing that we may need to legislate around those pesky privacy laws to gather all the necessary information. And we promise to offer anonymous aggregated data to tax payer funded businesses that raise their revenue by increasing the number of interventions. And lies, lies and damn statistics will show just how necessary early intervention is to get that US$17 ROI.

Values for success
Kiro's Master Plan will apply to every child, and will mean that physical, emotional, cognitive and social wellbeing is assessed in a consistent way.


Maybe psych profiles on parents would be a good start?

The framework will be child-centred, family focused and strengths-based. Details of the framework will need to be developed and implemented with the support and in partnership with children and their families.

So what happens when mum and dad say "f*ck off assessment worker"? Well, it is child centred, so sounds like "opt out" clauses are not permitted. Forced vaccinations. Forbidden from certain religious practices? Removed from parents because of a suspected smack? (Well the parents were Christian fundamentalists, we may as well intervene early). Own up Kiro. What happens if parents don't see your master plan in the same positive light?

The framework allows for early identification of additional needs, which may be met within universal services, and early intervention in the life of a problem where necessary.

What deems that early intervention is necessary? Like the CYF social workers who stand accused of removing a child from his mother because they disliked her Christian beliefs?

Where multiple needs are identified the support provided to the child and their family will be integrated through a lead professional, who has responsibility to collate information and co-ordinate service delivery. A common record will include entries from all practitioners involved, and will continue to be owned by the child and held by the family.

I love the terms service delivery; owned by the child; and held by the family. Smooth. Owned by the whole family? What if the parents are divorced? Which parts of the family share the file notes anyway?

Where statutory interventions or specialist intervention are required the integrated service delivery will continue, co-ordinated by a practitioner with statutory or professional responsibility to take the lead professional role.

And lets be clear, with a universal plan comes statutory intervention.

A key strength of an integrated approach is the potential for all professionals to be working to the same frame of reference. This is, of course, in stark contrast to the silo effect often observed between, and even within, agencies who may be engaged with families but do not co-ordinate their work.

And if the files notes of the assigned case worker are biased, or have made false accusations or assumptions based on the psych assessment with the child etc, then the case worker gets to promote their version of the truth to the other people involved in the case, perhaps prejudicing the situation. A very common compliant with CYF disputes.

For the framework to function effectively, those involved with a child or family will need to have access to information that helps them to make better decisions. A sound information base is essential if we are going to make sure that every child is safe and protected, enjoys the resources to take an active role in society, and understands and enjoys their human rights.

The clear benefits of sharing integrated information are that each and every social service provider has a clear picture of the child’s experiences, strengths and needs, and can more effectively promote that child’s rights, best interests and welfare.

Just about every situation I can think of where non-family members need full access to information, is where they are deciding on the level of intervention. Deciding what is in the child's best interests and welfare need to be defined very very well, before deciding how much intervention in the life of every child Dr Kiro is going to advocate.

And when the information describing a child is reduced to a series of database records to pass on an informed picture of a child's life, you know we are in trouble.

The Children's Commissioner gets over 2 million dollars a year in government funding. She's using it to work out how to build a complete service industry around interfering with every single family in New Zealand. Her mission is to help children. A noble mission. To ensure success, she is spending her time devising ways to gain complete and unfettered access to all children via a legion of dedicated "service providers". Some of those service providers will likely decide the family is a major obstacle to achieving their KPI's. What powers will they ask for? Remember, think of the children.

Dr Kiro is simply campaigning for the authority first, and the "trust us" part comes later.

Show me the contract Dr Kiro. I'm interested in the fine print.

Related Article: Dr Kiro's Master Plan

Lucia St Patricks Day


There will be those who only know St Patrick's Day as the day their local pub serves green beer. But, St Patrick's Day is named after a man, a man born in Scotland, taken as a slave to Ireland, who escaped after being told to by an angel, who eventually sent back to Ireland by the Pope in order to convert the Druids to Catholicism.

Here is St. Patrick's Breast-Plate, a prayer composed by St Patrick in preparation for victory over Paganism. A prayer very relevant for NZ today. Note what St Patrick says about everyone that thinks of him, as I'm sure many will be, even slightly as they drink their green beer.


I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.



Related Link: Catholic Encyclopaedia - St Patrick

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lucia Katherine Rich - National MP happy to ban smacking, but not boyfriends

If you only ever listen to anything news related as you drive into work in the morning between 8 and 8:30am with your dial tuned to NewsTalk ZB, you could be forgiven for thinking that National is quite happy to ban smacking. That is certainly the impression I'd get if I read or listened to nothing else. Katherine Rich, a National MP has been on-air, applauding the coming Repeal of Section 59 and letting the listeners know that those mothers whose children misbehave in supermarkets are going to have to find some other way of rebuking their off-spring rather than the time-honoured smack on the behind.
Ever since my comment on DPF's blog on farm girls growing up to be wannabe totalitarians (referring to Helen Clark and Cactus Kate), I wondered if Katherine Rich was a farm girl, too. Likely, she was as in her bio it says she grew up on the Taieri Plains.

Could it be that there's something about growing up on a farm that makes NZ girls a little socialist. Could that be why socialism has gained such acceptance here? A horrifying thought, really.

Now, before anyone asks me, I'm not a farm girl. I grew up in the suburbs of Miramar, close to the airport. Both my parents were foreign, coming from situations of the kind of hardship that most New Zealanders couldn't even imagine. My mother grew up in Communist occupied Poland. My Dad survived Soviet Gulags. When you grow up hearing about people starving to death because there just wasn't any food, anything that happens in NZ just cannot be considered anything approaching poverty.

Bad things happen to good people all the time, so Cactus Kate's opinion below seems to be on par with the type of stupidity that I thought only Katherine Rich, Sue Bradford, Helen Clark and Paul Holmes were capable of.
[...] most laws are an attempt to protect the stupid from themselves and unfortunately New Zealand's worst child abusers are the poor and stupid. This is a law aimed at the lowest forms of life in New Zealand that can't be trusted at all not to beat the be jesus out of their kids as they are not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a gentle smacking and a Jake The Muss beating. It can turn the middle and upper class gentle smackings into a criminal offence, yes, but you are just going to have to live with the changes for the sake of the offspring of the poor and stupid.
Lots of poor and stupid people do not beat their children. I've known lots of poor (by NZ standards) people who do not beat their children.

New Zealand's problem is not that we have lots of "poor and stupid" people. New Zealand's problem is an out of control loss of morality, where children are "oopps, how did that happen, our protection failed" by products, or specifically created to get the person onto a DPB lifestyle, so they can party courtesy of the taxpayer with various boyfriends. A child is most at risk from the boyfriend of his or her mother.

Now, these women are not on the DPB because they are poor or stupid, they are poor because they are on the DPB. Big difference.

Banning smacking will do nothing to discourage these boyfriends from back-handing their girlfriends' annoying offspring across the room. What would be far more successful is banning boyfriends. But no one in New Zealand wants to ban boyfriends, all the government stay out of the bedroom banshees would go bonkers at even the suggestion that the government could have any sort of a say on whether or not a girl could have a sexual relation with a boy who is not committed to her and any children they might have for as long as they both shall live. We'd probably have a revolution then.

No, far better to do something everyone know will fail anyway, and attempt the ban on smacking. After all, think of the children!