Saturday, February 28, 2009

ZenTiger Feb 28

Well, it's the last day of the month and the last day of summer. Happy Birthday for those who celebrated a birthday today.

Perhaps that includes those who were born on February 29th? Seems to me that if you have a birthday on Feb 29, you could start at noon on the 28th and keep going until noon on March 1st. That way you bridge the gap.

And in totally unrelated news, a new species of "Frogfish" has apparently been discovered, exciting both Ichthyologists and Herpetologists simultaneously. You don't get that happening every day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

Well, it's Lent. Lent started on Wednesday and counts down the 40 days to Easter. Friday was typically a day of fasting and penitence for Catholics. And no meat! Alot of that has gone out the window, but it will come back.

So, here's to a meatless Friday!

Lucia UNICEF not forgotten nor forgiven

This afternoon a young my house today asking for money on behalf of UNICEF. I declined to give money or support to that organisation for political reasons. When she protested and said that UNICEF is totally neutral and non-political, I informed her that UNICEF's political interference in NZ ala the removal of S59 from the Crimes Act meant that I would no longer support them financially, nor would I encourage others to do so.

Watch out for the UNICEF door knockers, people. And tell them why you're not giving them money either.

Lucia Job Summit

I find myself unable to get excited over the current job summit.

NewsTalk ZB's talkshow host was today bemoaning the fact that many of his callers (or was it texters and emailers) were negative over the whole thing.

Me, I'm not negative. Getting business people together to hash things out is never a bad thing. And it gives our PM a chance to give everyone a pep talk.

Prime Minister John Key told his job summit in Auckland today that New Zealand is not a country of whiners and slackers and had the right attitude to get through the global recession.

Yep, a call to national pride is certainly going to help.

However, yesterday there was talk of secondary earners (mostly women) taking the jobs of primary earners (mostly men) and how wrong that was. It got me thinking, because I certainly don't want to go back to the days when men got jobs ahead of women.

The Government could, in these tough, economic times, remove the need for the secondary earner to have to continue to take jobs from those who really need them by removing the current incentives. A flat tax rate would do it. Then it wouldn't matter whether the primary or the secondary earner got a second job or worked more hours at their current job - the incentive of the second job being taxed at a far lower rate would be removed.

I think what would happen then is a whole lot of women would quit work, thus removing the need for child care and all the associated extra costs that the Government pays for in order for Mrs X to go out and earn more dosh for the family on a lower tax rate.

Ah, for a Government that would be that smart and gritty!

Related Link: Key tells job summit: 'We are a gritty little country'

ZenTiger's take: The Summit of the Molehill

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lucia Dom Post Editorial on Sin

Lovers in Hell

Breaking of one of the cardinal rules of blogging (thou shalt post on a topic in a timely manner), here I go with my opinion of last Saturday's Dominion Post Editorial.

This obsession that the secular world has with sin is a good sign of a not completely dormant conscience. So in a sense it is good that pronouncements from the Vatican on sin hit the secular radar. However, it would be prudent for those that write on such subjects to at least know a bit more about them and treat the subjects seriously, rather than as an object of derision and amusement.

Unfortunately, the Dominion Post does not treat anything concerning religion with respect. Case in point - last week it published an article on the Vatican's take on the differences in sinful inclination of women vs men. And then on Saturday, the editor follows up with an opinion.

Not a serious opinion, of course. A more tongue in cheek, not sure what the point is type of opinion. Maybe the whole point was to be funny, but then, being female, I wasn't sure what part was supposed to be humorous.

Maybe it was the conclusion, the last part on the lack of female sinfulness that inadvertently also gave away the sex of the writer. For after agreeing that men are more prone to the sins of lust and sloth, the editor then speaks on behalf of all male readers that "they" disagree that women are in any way sinful at all.

However, on behalf of its male readers, The Dominion Post would like to assure women that the men in its readership area completely dissociate themselves from the monsignor's comment.

Never have they seen any evidence that women have ever sinned, erred or even momentarily let slip the extraordinarily high standards they maintain. They lead lives of blameless excellence, to which their partners can only aspire.

And, just as soon as they've digested their lunch and the cricket has finished showing on television, they'll get up off the couch, change the light bulbs, put out the rubbish and mow the lawns.

Then perhaps, having established the mood, their partners will take the hint, head upstairs, dim the freshly installed light bulb and give in once again to sin No1 on the male hit list.
Now, of course I don't believe for a minute that the writer believes that all women are complete paragons of virtue, nor do I believe that the writer also believes that every man reading the Dominion Post thinks the same.

This is where I'm left wondering what the point of the editorial was.

Was it, and I'm stretching ALOT with this one, that women are such mysteries to men, that no man could ever determine or feel qualified to determine (even such a man as a Priest who has heard thousands of confessions) whether or not a woman's actions may be sinful. So, whatever a woman does is ok by them.

Or is it that the writer is taking the piss out of women by trying to be funny. By pretending we are up on a pedestal that we don't deserve, he is mocking us. Oh, most likely not intentionally. He's probably trying really hard to mock the Vatican and the whole notion that anyone could be sinful, even though he agrees when it comes to men.

But on his attempt to mock the Vatican, he instead mocks the opposite sex and leaves this woman thinking that men who attempt humour need to do so with a clear head during the light of day rather than leaving it to after a Friday night's carousing as a quick knock-up job before the deadline.

If he wants to do that, he should take up blogging instead.

Related Link: Bless Them Father ~ Stuff, Dominion Post

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ZenTiger Reading a Kindle

When the Kindle came out a year or two ago, I was very interested. Version two hit the streets recently and I was more interested.

Amazon got some free advertising for it in the traditional American way - they were threatened with lawsuits and even bloggers have been complaining.

"Kindle?", you say?

The Kindle is basically a book sized electronic book reader. Amazon offers electronic books for sale which can be purchased and downloaded directly to the Kindle. As far as I know, its distribution has been confined to North America, but that will no doubt change.

The Kindle is not the first such book. Sony has released their own Kindle product - not surprising as they designed the display technology and there are others. Expect to see this make its way to your iPod, although I'm not sure it will look as realistic if it's just software driven.

Building an electronic library on devices that are geared to make reading as pleasurable as from a real paperback is a cool idea. Less printing costs and download costs replace freight and packaging.

The Kindle isn't just good for the environment, it's good for the wallet.

Portable reading devices such as the Kindle are part of the ongoing technology revolution, and maybe one day the local library will simply be a place where you loan a Kindle loaded with a few books. Maybe they could have an oversized Kindle for the large format books?

The latest Kindle has a text to speech function, which is one of the lawsuit targets. Current vendors of audio tapes and DVD's are worried this is stepping in on their copyright area. Hopefully, the courts will see this as rubbish. The potential of pandering to that line of thinking could make reading a book aloud to your children a copyright violation.

And some bloggers aren't too happy either. Apparently the Kindle reader is capable of taking blog output via RSS feeds and turning them into book pages. At that point, just another style of browser and no cause for complaint. However, some of these "blog feed providers" are charging for the service, which indirectly could be interpreted to mean they are charging for the content.

There's the problem. Some monkeys are getting bananas for blog content, and it aint the ones with the typewriters.

Kindle is out, and it's fanning the flames of copyright issues. Ignore all that and consider your world with an electronic book reader that has a screen display akin to a book. That is the key feature, and really, if the Kindle is to replace a paperback, the essential feature. Tres Cool.

Related Link: Kindle starts flame war
Related Link: What they look like - short video

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ZenTiger Blogosphere at night

Here's a picture of the blogosphere at night.

OK, OK, I'm late with the blog black background protest on s92A and all that jazz. Solidarity takes a back seat to real world workload. But I care. Really. Actually, NZ conservative mounted the attack back on Jan 23, where we mentioned the powerful librarian lobby was part of this as much as bloggers, ISPANZ and sundry freedom fighters. So there.

PS: This is actually a picture of Auckland at night, not the blogosphere. It's not that Auckland is boring, they've just got the occasional power supply issue to deal with.

Related Link: Steal the information from Tumeke

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ZenTiger All Points Bulletin

Any bloggers not currently in front of their screens are urged to be on the lookout for this "lowlife scum", believed to be the assailant of 85 year-old WWII veteran Eric Brady.

Related Link: Keeping Stock Footage and other community minded bloggers around New Zealand.

Friday, February 20, 2009

ZenTiger Friday Night Free for All

Whats 3+3+3?

The maximum number of hours sleep I've had for the past three nights. Deadline reached. Mission accomplished. The battle is over, but the war continues. And this is just work I'm talking about. Not that work is a battle zone, but in my sleep deprived state I'm prone to ramble.

A bit of a curry, some beverages and I'll see if I can stay awake long enough to post the odd comment.

How's every-one else gone this week? Drop in and say hello. What have I missed this week?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lucia Fisher and Paykel bailout by NZ Government

Today I hear that John Key has pledged to bailout NZ manufacturing company, Fisher and Paykel should it need it.

"Yes they've got a short-term temporary funding issue which they're working through commercially with a number of alternatives, but I would be very concerned if a company of that nature ... was to go to the wall," he told TV3's Sunrise show.

Key said the Government needed to stay engaged with Fisher & Paykel as it was a "very unusual and unique" New Zealand company and important to the local economy.

"We don't want to be destroying the basis of New Zealand's manufacturing solely because there is a temporary credit crisis."

I think it's more than just a "temporary credit crisis". Ironically, my only just over one-year old Fisher and Paykel dishwasher broke 20 minutes ago. You see, all the stress of the opening action was directed to two points on the plastic panel strip at the top of the door. Both of these plastic points were attached by metal screws to the metal door on the inside of the dishwasher. So, the plastic at those two points just couldn't take the pressure anymore and broke when I pulled on the door. Most likely the only things stopping the whole panel from coming were all the wires in this area that directed the control information back to the dishwasher. Who ever designed this dishwasher did a really crap job of it if they expected today's plastic to last very long at all.

The dishwasher actually still works as none of the wires were pulled out when the panel came off, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to open it again when it's finished washing my current load of dishes (there was no way I was unloading the dishwasher and washing by hand, unless it was really broken). Maybe levering it open with screwdriver might do it...

So, not very happy with Fisher and Paykel right now. Nor am I buying another Fisher and Paykel dishwasher to replace it if part of their design is to put cheap plastic into major stress areas such as the door and expect the damn thing to last.

Maybe John Key's dishwasher is a Miele, so hasn't noticed that Fisher and Paykel is cheap crap.

Related Link: Bailout talk could harm F&P prospects - export group

Monday, February 16, 2009

ZenTiger The taste of freedom

We covered this story back in 2007. It seems to have moved to a happy ending now, in 2009.

Ali Panah was granted refugee status following a third hearing by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

Mr Panah has said he would have faced persecution and possibly the death penalty in Iran as a Muslim who had converted to Christianity.

He was released on bail in September 2007 after a 53-day hunger strike at Auckland remand prison.
Welcome to New Zealand, Ali Panah. It's a pity New Zealand was nearly as dangerous to your health as Iran when it comes to support for Christian beliefs. After that incredible hunger strike, freedom must taste so sweet. Congratulations.

Mr Panah sought asylum when he arrived in New Zealand and was detained for 20 months for refusing to sign documents that would lead to his deportation to Iran.

Some politicians questioned how genuine his conversion was, but he had staunch allies in the Anglican Church, particularly from Archbishop David Moxon.

Mr Panah's lawyer Grant Illingworth told a media conference at a Christian college in Auckland today that the authority recognised that he was in greater peril in Iran because of the publicity.

"Because of the publicity that was created as a result of the fast that Ali went on, it is absolutely inevitable that the Iranian authorities would know about Ali's position."
I seem to recall that one aspect of this case was that a gay Iranian was treated differently - he "came out" whilst in Auckland and was subsequently given residency because it was seen as dangerous to go back to Iran having declared himself gay. Mr Panah did not appear to get the same consideration. The wheels have taken some time to turn, but they have turned.

Related Link: Hunger Strike Has Made Point

Original Post back in 2007: Iranian Hunger Striker given bail

ZenTiger Osama buys Kiwi Made?

Two prisoners were sitting in their cell talking, one said to the other: “You're getting out in a couple of weeks, so are you going straight or going back into Politics?"

And speaking of politics, Matt Robson, Deputy Leader of Jim Anderton's Progressives really loves Cuba. But first, a message from our sponsors:

WSD Global Markets Ltd. is one of the fastest growing financial services companies in New Zealand offering clients across the globe exceptional, personalised services with the help of modern trading tools and state-of-the-art trading software which is sophisticated, user-friendly and provides a winning edge.

Oh, I'm distracted by this advertisement. This company sounds brilliant. And with the markets in such a turmoil, maybe these guys are the ticket?

WSD Global Markets Ltd. is the choice of beginners, experienced individual investors, institutional investors, fund managers and/or corporate institutions looking to safely and securely invest in Foreign Exchange, Precious Metals, Futures, Options, CFDs and virtually every financial instrument.

Well if I had any doubts, then surely this dispels all such thoughts? These guys are specialists in everything. And they fill the market niche of catering only for anybody, and have developed expertise in the narrow field of "virtually every financial instrument". How good is that?

WSD Global Instruments chairman is none other than Matt Robson, Deputy Leader of Jim Anderton's Progressives.

Wow, an ex-MP that admires Cuba and its communist structure now the chairman of a dirty capitalist company. Fancy Robson being a closet capitalist. Who would have known? Now who are it's customers then?

With customers such as Osama Bin Laden, you know your money will be invested in ethical projects

WTF? Well, OK, it's not that simple.

As Matt Robson prepares to get this company listed on the NZ Stock exchange, questions have been raised by Ian Wishart on who the investors behind the investors might be. And I don't mean the paltry 5,000 shares that National MP Richard Worth has staked.

I guess Matt is worried that the float will sink if there is any whiff of terrorist nut job associated with the shareholders, with the possible exception of the PLO or Hamas.

Maybe the acid test is "Would Keith Locke invest in this company?"

Read the latest from Ian Wishart in the 13 February 2009 edition of TGIF and decide for yourself. Wishart's already been threatened with a public lynching and a holiday in Cuba, not to mention being lawyered to death. And that was before Robson even read the article.

Related Link: TGIF article starts here if you click enough places

Company Profile: WSD Global - Specialising in everything, with personalised service for just you and everybody (anybody) else

Really, Matt Robson really does love Cuba: Blast from the Past

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ZenTiger What's a 15 year old to do?

The 15 year old sister of a teen tagger, Pihema Cameron, who died after a confrontation with Bruce Emery, was upset that his sentence wasn't longer than the 4.25 years Mr Emery was given. She said she wanted to rip the man's eyes out.

Aquitania said since the killing she did very little with her life.

"I just stay home, bum from my dad, get some money, go get stoned, drink alcohol and do whatever," she said.

Well, at least she's not vowing to take up a life of tagging. But hearing this, I'm wondering if the parents need to take on board that drugs and alcohol and whatever is not the best way to deal with grief.

And given this was a public statement, will we hear from the Police, CYFS or Dr Kiro on this matter?

There do seem to be many mysteries to resolve - why was Pihema a tagger, and how often did he do it? What is the family environment like that allows a 15 year old to access booze and drugs? The solo mother was quoted as not even being around to look after the children:

She said as a solo mother of four she had gone to Australia to earn more money and when she was in Australia she learned Pihema had died.

I'm going out on a limb here and making a few assumptions based on a few disturbing quotes in the article. Maybe this point isn't about this family in particular, maybe it's more general. I can only go with what is reported.

And based on what is reported, Pihema's sister appears to be heading in exactly the same direction as he took. Her current attitude is that there is always some-one else to blame for where your life will end up. Does she have anyone that cares for her enough to teach her otherwise? I hope so.

Source: [PDF Download of 4MB] TGIF 13 Feb 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ZenTiger Free Parking

Some drivers deserve their cars crushed, before they crush some-one else. This appears to be a growing theme. In the spirit of equality, it's not just boy racers who have their cars under threat but drivers caught over the limit.

This has a charming synchronicity with other efforts to lower the blood/alcohol limits in order to increase revenue and save lives.

If the Government wants the trifecta, they need to promise that proceeds from fines and scrap metal will go towards improving the roads. Just like the, err, petrol taxes.

Whilst we muse this over, have a look at this video. Imagine what this women could achieve with 6 gin and tonics in her, and a bigger engine:

I suspect putting in centre lane barriers to remove the chance of a head-on collision on our state highways would probably make a huge difference to fatalities - it seems to me we have made a great dent in the road toll even as the number of cars on the road increase. What's lagging is the roading infrastructure.

As for car crushing as a solution to a problem, the problem is a very generic one, and doesn't seem to be discussed enough. The problem is the people being caught are often repeat offenders. If they get caught driving drunk, the next time they are caught driving drunk and disqualified. Take away their car, and the time after that, they are caught driving drunk and disqualified in some-one else's car.

Let's get some statistics on the number of repeat offenders, for all offenses, and if they are paying their fines, serving their time, doing their community service etc and work out how society can deal with this class of people. The unrepentant.

It's like playing monopoly and three corners say "free parking"; and one says "no need need to pay, collect $200". Something's missing.

Related Link: All in the Saturday Dom Post and here and there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

Is it the end of summer? Surely not.

Yet this morning, it was cool enough in my kitchen for me to bring the heater out!

At least there are no fires anywhere. The last few Christmases before we moved from Australia to NZ were really smokey from fires burning nearby. I can't imagine what it would be like having a massive fire bearing down on you. Even living in Sydney during the time it was ringed by fire with the sky completely covered in smoke and ash, I never felt unsafe. Maybe it's because the CBD was nearby and fires never really get that close to cities. But to be out in the wilds ... I just can't imagine it.

My heart goes out to my prior adopted home and the massive loss of life there.

Lucia Evil Undead and University Professors

What do the evil undead and university professors have in common? Almost sounds like I'm leading into a joke, but I'm not. For this post is inspired by the outrage over Catholic Crucifixes that appeared suddenly on the walls of classrooms in a Catholic university.

"[A]ll the sudden, without any discussion, without any warning, without any intellectual debate, literally during the middle of the night during a break, these icons appear," he said.

Who would have thought it, the one icon that separates the Catholic world from the Christian and secular - the crucifix, appears during the middle of the night in a Catholic university.

Dwayne Eugène Carpenter, chair of the romance languages and literatures department and co-director of the Jewish studies program, thinks the the crucifix is divisive.
"I think it's naive to believe that affixing crucifixes is going to fan the flames of religious devotion. On the other hand, it can have a negative effect on students" who may see the art as an unwelcome sign, he said.

Carpenter told the online magazine the university's department chairs debated the issue in a recent meeting and that he'd like an open forum on the matter.

"It's a Jesuit institution and as such it has every right to place images wherever it wants," he said. "It's just that it's not a very smart thing to do."

Carpenter referred to the issue as an "identity crisis" because the school wants to declare its Catholic affiliation while also appealing to a wide range of prospective students.

"You can't recruit the best by placing crucifixes in every classroom," he said. "You're simply going to limit the number of people who will come here. And I've already heard of several faculty who have said, 'You know, this is not a welcoming place, this is not the place that hired me, and I'll be looking for a job elsewhere.'"

Well, you've got to give the man credit for speaking his mind. The crucifix is divisive, it is offensive, it is confrontational. It shows God, become man, dying in a horrific manner. Most people like their gods sanitised or invisible. Showing God in such a way cuts through the crap. It separates. Nothing wrong with that. You'd kind of expect to find crucifixes in a Catholic university, don't you think?

Which brings me to a joke...

Little Tommy was doing very badly in math. His parents had tried everything; tutors, flash cards, special learning centers, in short, everything they could think of. Finally in a last ditch effort, they took Tommy down & enrolled him in the local Catholic School.

After the first day, little Tommy comes home with a very serious look on his face. He doesn't kiss his mother hello. Instead,he goes straight to his room & starts studying. Books & papers are spread out all over the room and little Tommy is hard at work. His mother is amazed. She calls him down to dinner and to her shock, the minute he is done he marches back to his room without a word and in no time he is back hitting the books as hard as before. This goes on for sometime, day after day while the mother tries to understand what made all the difference.

Finally, little Tommy brings home his report card. He quietly lays it on the table and goes up to his room and hits the books. With great trepidation, his mom looks at it and to her surprise, little Tommy got an A in math. She can no longer hold her curiosity. She goes to his room and says: "Son, what was it? Was it the nuns?" Little Tommy looks at her and shakes his head. "Well then," she replies, "was it the books, the discipline, the structure, the uniforms, WHAT was it?" Little Tommy looks at her and says, "Well, on the first day of school, when I saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I knew they weren't fooling around."

Related Link: Outrage! Crucifixes appear at Catholic university
Professors in distress after Christian symbols found on classroom walls

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ZenTiger Credit Where Credit Is Due

Banks charge an outrageous amount of money on their credit cards - still around 20%. They have a sob story that goes with that, but the more we hear it, the longer their snouts grow, which suits them as they are generally stuck in a trough.

Remember, it's not just interest rates approaching New Zealand's GDP they charge, but they also skim a couple of percent on the turnover. The retailer pays the credit card provider for a bunch of benefits, the key one nowadays being the "buy now" siren call the banks have carefully cultivated since credit cards kicked off in a big way in America in 1950.

These costs are incorporated into the sale price. So even when you pay cash, you are contributing to the bank's credit card business.

Throw in some ridiculously high annual fees and charges to fund those pathetic "rewards" programmes and you're telling Houston news they don't want to hear.

It's not entirely their fault. Three kinds of consumers help fuel this problem: The ignorant; the greedy; and the optimistic.

If you are one of those with a high rate credit card, here's your way out:

The Ignorant: Are you stupid? Don't you know that you can swap your 21% card for a low rate credit card? ASB Bank for example, charge 12.5%, and have a lower annual fee on the card.

The Greedy: Do you really need those extra frequent flyer miles for the additional annual fees? Are you actually paying those astronomical interest rates just so you can nab a free trip to Brisbane, economy class back seats after 6 years of buying crap you don't need? You've probably also using a Fly Buys Card and have another 35 loyalty cards on the go. Your investment advisor might not tell you this, but I will: It's not loyalty you are being rewarded for, but gullibility.

The Optimistic: So you pay it off every month so far. So do you feel lucky, punk? Was that bill due on the 12th or the 13th? One day, you'll be a couple of days late, and then you'll discover the fine print. Daily interest, backdated and compounded. It's more painful than it sounds. And the day, you'll realise those annual assault charges could have been deflected to the Sunday morning lattes you rely on to dull the pain from the body blows you've taken on your stock portfolio.

Let's face it, the "no frills" version does everything a high fee credit card does, with a lower interest rate, lower annual fees and none of the fairly useless rewards programs that you end up paying for anyway.

Use a low rate credit card and donate some money to charity. If you are a lefty, go pay more tax or something. John Key needs the money to prop up the banks.

Even better, use a charge card or a debit card (Do New Zealanders even know what these are? -- Charge Cards generally need to be paid off in full at the end of the month. Debit cards are a type of card that draw funds from the positive balance in your bank account, but otherwise looks identical to the real McCoy.) Go demand the Bank provide these options. Caution though, look assertive rather than aggressive, and don't walk in wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Now, I acknowledge that there are a couple of valid reasons for having a credit card. For example, exploiting a line of credit mortgage and use the card's 30-55 days interest free period to reduce the interest charged on your mortgage. Great, but you can also do that with a low rate card.

Don't get cocky and think you are winning. The house sets the rules, we're just minimizing your losses here.

We could talk about other issues with credit cards, but I don't want you to get distracted. Focus. Cancel your 21% personal recession generator and flow with the low.

Enough people do it, and we may see some genuine tears from the Credit Department of your friendly neighbourhood bank.

Then we'll convince retailers to offer discounts for cash and EFTPOS and really p*ss these guys off.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ZenTiger Flame Wars

The former Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello was outraged by some remarks on the fires:

"To link the death and suffering of bushfire victims to other political events is appalling, heartless and wrong" said Mr Costello, who has lost a Christian friend in the fires. "Those who have suffered deserve ever support and sympathy. It is beyond the bounds of decency to try to make moral or political points out of such a tragedy.

He was speaking of Pastor Nalliah who confessed to having a dream that the changes to the abortion laws in Victoria last year have rejected God and instead invited the devil in to work his evil.

There are others that are also ready to explain the causes of the bush fires:

If seeing is believing, then it's time to accept climate change, writes Freya Mathews.

So that's man made global warming (AGW) we need to accept, I presume, and her sermon follows suggesting that mankind controls the climate.

I'm not so sure about either of those points. I'm happy to work towards sustainability and minimizing pollution just for because it makes good sense; but I suspect pragmatism may not be radical enough for AGW believers. Maybe you know what I mean by that.

I'm also of a mind that the fires are caused by something far more direct than changes to the abortion laws.

Perhaps insufficient back-burning; perhaps the nature of the Australian Bush and the hot dry weather; perhaps even arsonists.

I really don't know, but I think I side with Costello on this one - our focus should be on containing the fire, protecting lives and homes and mourning our dead.

Whatever the cause that drives ones conscience to speak out is best met at this time with prudence, temperance and patience. Virtues held in poor regard these days.

There is a time and a place for speaking out. It's not now.


And here's more of the Global Warming Sermon. Note how scientists play the role of the high priest:
The Prime Minister weeps on television at the tragedy of Saturday's events. He looks around uncomprehendingly, unable to find meaning. But there is meaning. This is climate change. This is what the scientists told us would happen. All the climatic events of the past 10 years have led inexorably to this. And this is just the beginning of something that will truly, if unaddressed, overwhelm us.

As the events of Saturday showed, the consequences of climate change will make the financial crisis look like a garden party.

Yet there is a synchronicity here that must not be missed. The extraordinary economic measures for which the financial crisis is calling provide a perfect opportunity to fund the energy revolution for which the crisis of climate change is calling. If the Government does not seize it, then the terrifying world into which we were plunged on Saturday will become the world we will have to inhabit.

Related Link: Bushfires linked to abortion
Related Link: Bushfires linked to man-made global warming

ZenTiger Thank you George W Bush

Personally, I would have given these guys a medal [ref]. Instead they got thrown in jail. 

Former President George Bush set things right by commuting their sentence right at the end of his term.
On his last full day in office, President Bush commuted the controversial sentences of two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug runner in 2005.  The imprisonment of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean had sparked outcry from critics who said the men were just doing their jobs and were punished too harshly. They had been sentenced to 11- and 12-year sentences, respectively.
Let's hope they earn some decent compensation from the inevitable TV appearances, and get their jobs back, if they want them.

Bush Commutes Sentences for Two Former Border Patrol Agents

ZenTiger Of Mice and Men

Scientists have managed to lose a couple of mice they infected with the bubonic plague. An American University of Medicine (and Dentistry) have made only one major discovery recently. They discovered the mice were missing.

Having thoroughly researched this by watching "I am Legend", "28 days", Dawn of the Dead", "Braindead" and "Resident Evil", I'd have to say the chances of those mice infecting anyone would have to be remote. Next to impossible. I can't see this happening ever again.

Mind you, this isn't the first time this has happened, with three mice infected with a deadly virus escaping from the same labs back in 2005. They got sick and died.

And then came back as zombie mice.

New Zealanders may also recall the lab scientist who contracted meningococcal disease while working in a Wellington laboratory a couple of years ago, and wonder how massive outbreaks of bird flu and other items might just be caused by bad luck. Or perhaps by space alien military jihadists working a summer job.

And I recall with some fondness the dangerous arrogance of some scientists, who predicted that the rabbit calicivirus would not harm wombats, kangaroos, bush tailed possums and other native Australian fauna because it hadn't killed any such animals in Europe.

The virus was either deliberately released 2 years ahead of schedule, or accidentally released, meaning the scientists were either mad as march hares or merely silly bunnies. Luckily, their guesses were more educated than usual, and it's just been urbanization wiping out the Australian fauna. Whew. That's alright then.

Even earlier in the rabbit wars was the release of myxomatosis to kill off 99% of rabbits. Until they developed immunity. The cause for rabbit control was championed by a pediatrician, Dame Jean Macnamara. I don't know why a pediatrician was involved in mass rabbit genocide. Maybe she just hated bunnies. Hazard of the job perhaps?

Shortly after myxomatosis was introduced, people in New South Wales started coming down with some weird brain disease. It seemed to be related to the release of myxomatosis. A fair conclusion, so some scientists injected themselves with myxomatosis to prove that their brains were not diseased. Faulty perhaps, but not diseased.

The ruse worked, and we never did find out how long these guys actually lived, or if they were zombies to begin with. How would you know with some scientists?

However, that trick reminds me of the scientist who invented leaded petrol. To prove that tetra-ethyl leaded petrol wasn't bad for people, Thomas Midgley Jr. breathed it heavily in very public demonstrations. No surprise he eventually contracted polio and managed to kill himself (with another of his inventions) after first wiping out the ozone layer by also inventing CFC's. Leaded Petrol and CFC's. Thanks Tom.

So if you see any zombie mice lurking in the shadows, do not approach them. They may look cute and mostly harmless, but where there are zombie mice, there are no doubt zombie scientists, and they are just deadly.

Related Link: Calicivirus Escape

Related Link: A plague of mice - oops, sorry - no need to worry, we're professionals - yumm, you have nice brains

PS: No offence intended to our non-zombie scientist friends!

Monday, February 9, 2009

ZenTiger A very cool kid

A few weeks ago I read the sad story of a young teenager who had tumbled from his bike at one of those riding arenas set up with banks and ramps - in Plimmerton, Wellington I think.

He sustained serious head injuries and died, but there was one aspect to the story that should not pass unnoticed.

Another teen saw the accident from a passing train, and made the 111 call, not knowing how badly hurt the kid was. The police arrived within 10 minutes and gave first aid, the ambulance arrived later.

The outcome was bad, but I was impressed and grateful that there are still a lot of level headed kids out there that were prepared to make the effort to call in emergency services.

Good work.

ZenTiger Re-inventing the wheel

New research from The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education led by Professor Stuart McNaughton has achieved remarkable increases in reading comprehension at seven decile-one schools in south Auckland.

Teachers were taught how to use student achievement data and evidence from their own teaching to monitor and improve both their teaching and pupil learning.

So let me get this straight:

Teachers were taught how to use student achievement data
Teachers review the student's progress

and evidence from their own teaching
and notice what they are teaching that works

and improve both their teaching and pupil learning
and thus teach better.

No sh*t Sherlock. Are you going to copyright that, or can anyone use this amazing revolutionary technique?

“The programme recognises that effective teaching is dependent on understanding the strengths and needs of individual students.

Is there no end to the wisdom available to us as we make unimaginable leaps in education?

It begs the question, what have teachers been doing previously? Well, here's my theory (the whole point of having as blog, right?).

This so called breakthrough method of teaching simply indicates that when the goal is to educate individuals, then the methods will differ from when the goal is to simply deliver a lesson, and let the marks fall where they may.

Delivering a lesson, rather than targeted *teaching* is going to create worse outcomes both collectively and individually.

Re-inventing the wheel needn't earn resounding accolades from the educational intelligensia, and they needn't get excited at the remarkable 'breakthrough'. It only highlights the previous idiocy.

Now there are obviously a whole range of blended options in teaching to a class and incorporating individual follow-up. Fine. Let's not get distracted with basic logic, lest we think it another unexpected innovation.

Admittedly, there may be some real innovation buried in that article, and the reporter did not manage to articulate it. That too is a problem. After all, they are most likely a product from the NZ educational system. Another fail.

Perhaps I was hyper-sensitive to the implicit messages in this article because I had just come across another article where a Principal suggested that WHAT ones children were learning was not so important as getting an idea of the progress the child was making.

Now, I realise the point the Principal was making is valid, but I personally would have not dismissed the WHAT as readily in making his point.

WHAT the child is learning is also important for a parent to understand. Take an interest, and supplement your child's learning because it seems as if teaching lessons shaped to suit your child is an extremely novel concept.

Related Link: Reading Levels Soar at low-decile school. Apparently, teaching makes a difference.

And see Scrubone on Mars and Venus: Other Sherlock Moments

PS: Sarcasm aside, it's great to see some progress in literacy in the low decile schools. Let's roll this out where it is needed, rather than another million dollars spent on computers and broadband accounts (otherwise known as substitute teachers).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lucia Inflicting Helen on the world

The New Zealand Government is providing strong support for the candidacy of Helen Clark for the position of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Prime Minister John Key confirmed today.

“Helen Clark’s application for this senior position in the United Nations system has the full and formal endorsement of the New Zealand Government,” Mr Key says.

Oh great! We're going to inflict Helen Clark on the world. And the National Government is supporting this wonderful idea to ensure that Helen leaves New Zealand. So, rather than letting her fade into obscurity as a feted national icon (to some) - the developing world will have her ruling over them with the power of the UN behind her.

Surely NZ could do better than this. Pull the moral high ground or something and talk the UN out of this rather than putting her forward!!!

Related Link: Govt supports Helen Clark for United Nations role ~ Scoop Press Release

Note: Picture was part of my Helen Clark, Fashion Crime post a few years back. The post may or may not still exist, but I still have the picture!

Lucia Not only does he hear us. He feels us...

Disturbing Obama worship on Oprah Winfrey's show.

Wednesday’s post-inaugural edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show, taped at a Washington restaurant, overflowed with strange and messianic notions about Obama and how the thrill over him is unanimous. Actor Forest Whitaker summed it up for Oprah: "The light of the New Age is here." Oprah pal Gayle King passed along her agreement with a message that "Not only does he hear us. He feels us. That when I hear Barack Obama, they said, he talks to my soul."

You'd almost think Obama was God or something.
Or the Borg Queen.

Read more: Oprah Show Glows for Obama: 'The Light of the New Age Is Here' ~ NewsBusters

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fletch Price of Democracy

'Price of Democracy'; sounds like this is going to be a hugely wrought-out, deep-thinking post doesn't it? Er, not really, because I haven't the time. I was spurred to think about it though by Paul Thomas's opinion piece in today's NZ Herald in which he compares America's journey (somewhat strangely I thought) with that of Bruce Springsteen.

You can tell he is another journalist who is not a fan of the war in Iraq and/or George Bush by the following -

[...] when America, as it surely will, walks away leaving its foes more or less intact and with precious little to show for the new white headstones in Arlington National Cemetery.

"Precious little"? Really? Is he describing Democracy and the right to vote as precious little? Not to me it isn't. And did he think that this democracy would come about about with no bloodshed? Democracy always costs, and most of the time the cost is in human lives. Winston Churchill once famously said, "Democracy is the worst form of government... except for all the other forms that have been tried".

Are the Iraqi people better off now than they were under Saddam's rule? My personal opinion is YES. They are having free, democratic elections now. Who knows how long the peace will last, but at least they decide that among themselves.

Should we just have left Iraq alone? Was Saddam really that bad? I think the answer can be found in that he was tried for Crimes Against Humanity, sentenced to die, and executed by hanging. In fact, I read that they found it hard to find impartial witnesses to testify at his trial because just about everyone in Iraq has family that have been killed by him or his regime.

Statues and Shoes

It's strange how quickly people change. I remember seeing video of Saddam's statue being toppled over in 2003 and an Iraqi man running over and pounding the statue with his shoe.
Now they're throwing shoes at George Bush and demanding a statue be erected to the man who threw them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

ZenTiger I own your white honky ass

"I own your white honky ass" said President Obama to Mr Olbert Saratova, a Wall Street CEO, as he explained that Wall Street salaries would be capped to a mere $500,000 whilst they lived off government money.

"Slap us in chains and call us slaves", complained Mr Saratova who argued that being a CEO is a demanding and skillful job that deserved million dollar bonuses based on their unique skills.

"What next, will he expect us to cancel our trust funds and off-shore accounts and start paying tax?"

"This is about as close to communism you can get", argued various free market gurus. "If Obama continues to make these kinds of outrageous demands, I think we should pull an Ayn Rand and go live in the Caymen Islands. Let's see how long America lasts without a hedge fund."

"We may now be nothing but slaves, but you need us", added Saratova.

Please hum along to Saratova's Wall Street Blues:

Ah've bin working hard all day, all night.
Not got much money, but it's alright
Hedged on stocks from the ASX
Brought the Yen to stop deficit

Expenses are high, with bonuses low
Can't make payments on the bungalow
Sold the Merc and rode the bus
Couldn't get a seat, made a big fuss

But they don't like our kind
No they don't like our kind, oh Lord
They own my white honky ass.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

ZenTiger Iraqi Rounding Error

Facts emerge that the number of deaths relating to the US invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam are far lower than the wild claims made by Lancet.

Rather than the 650,000 estimated deaths, the actual number appears closer to a much smaller 4,058*.

The academic (in this case, a person of learning that hasn't learned much) has been criticised for not fully co-operating with an inquiry.

Not fully co-operating is the media's way of saying that the academic (Dr Burnham) refused to explain on what basis he made these kind of numbers up, probably because he has a natural antipathy to receiving a mark of "epic fail".

Lancet and a host of other media bodies and 'think tanks' scrambled to explain that it wasn't their fault that they ignored the many other sources that consistently estimated lower figures, and delighted in Dr Burnham's research, as the numbers were very similar to advertising profits.

After all, other media sources had claimed 500,000 Iraqi children perished a few years earlier due to trade sanctions. Another wild claim that was subsequently shown to be unethically derived fantasy.

Interestingly, when assessing the numbers of Iraqi killed in the conflict, no western media source seems to separate out the numbers targeted and killed by terrorists, content to blame those murders on America too.

The Iraqi government does not keep precise records of civilians killed and neither do US forces, but in 2006 the Iraqi health ministry estimated that between 100,000 to 150,000 civilians had died.

When last checked, it appears Dr Burnham keeps his honorific, and no doubt will be offered a sweet job estimating the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces, currently estimated at 12,000,456 (not including accidents in swimming pools)

* The independent Iraq Body Count, which counts only confirmed deaths, currently has a range of between 90,556 and 98,850 (which makes my number much closer than Dr Burnham's number).

Related Link: Just the facts, ma'am

ZenTiger Obama Admits Error in Judgment

US President Barack Obama admitted he 'screwed up' with his selection of Tom Daschle to an important government position. "I made an error of judgment about the integrity of a key person in my administration. This will not happen again."

In unrelated news another pick of his, Nancy Killefer pulled out of contention for another key role, before this could happen again.

In unrelated news Barrack Obama was pleased to announce his intention to reduce America's nuclear defence capability further than the reductions 'SORTed' in the Moscow Treaty of 2003.

"I have made a sound judgment on the intentions and integrity of the leaders of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. I doubt very much they will let us down in any way, and I am sure as we reduce our arsenal, this will convince them not to build on theirs."

In unrelated news, Iran moved one step further to improved missile deployment with the launch of a research rocket.

In unrelated news, North Korea readied it's intercontinental missile tests.

In unrelated news, some analysts are worried about a growing "black market" for WMDs, and point to Russia's huge stockpiles that are poorly monitored and in some cases, held insecurely.

In unrelated news, the US is to close its supply base in Kyrgyzstan after Kyrgyzstan received a 2 billion dollar unrelated aid grant from Russia. Said President Bakiyev from Moscow "Bye bye Yankee."

Obama views the reduction of arms as critical to efforts to persuade countries such as Iran not to develop the bomb. I'm sure they agree.

PS: Whilst Obama did not actually say the bit about making 'sound judgment on the intentions and integrity of ...' he did reportedly say :" And I'm here on television saying I screwed up. And that's part of the era of responsibility, it's not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them." That's great, on so many levels.

However, in the history of wanting other countries NOT to develop the same weapons capability you have, or NOT to develop something better, I think we can pretty much see that such expectations would be another error in judgment.

Working for peace is good and right. It is prudent to achieve this without being defenseless.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ZenTiger To err is human

The Pope is being criticised around the world for spreading dangerous ideas. Such ideas must be stamped out to ensure no democratic country ever entertain such nonsense.

For example, concepts such as "forgiveness", evidenced when the Pope lifted excommunication on 4 SSPX priests, as an overture of generosity that would allow the SSPX breakaway group (comprising hundreds of priests and thousands of lay members) to repent and return to active participation in the Church.

Another dangerous concept the Pope stands accused of is this strange idea of allowing people to hold contrary views. Such dogmatic religious thought as this should not be allowed in any functional democracy.

There is some concern that SSPX Bishop Williamson, after calling the Pope a tool of Satan, will reject these strange ideas of "forgiveness" and "freedom of thought" and therefore not repent and atone (strange Catholic concepts we must also be wary of), but then again (dare I say this in New Zealand?), that is his decision to make.

[Satire Ends]

Where do I start? Williamson is part of SSPX (The Society of St Pius X), essentially a breakaway group from the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded in 1970.

In 1988 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was critical of some elements of the Second Vatican Council, ordained four bishops without the approval of the Holy Father, incurring in automatic excommunication on himself and the four bishops he ordained [ref].

Williamson has made several controversial claims about the holocaust and he has also referred to the Pope as the tool of Satan, that 9/11 was an inside job and the Sound of Music is porn. That makes Williamson mad as a cut snake. Now, I have never met Williamson and the media may be exaggerating, but if the reports are only half true, I stand by this comment.

This move by the Pope was part of an attempt to bring the SSPX back into the fold, as it were. SSPX are around 500 priests in over 80 countries, with thousands of members. That is who the Pope is trying to reach.

I’ll repeat this bit, it has relevance:

SSPX are around 500 priests in over 80 countries, with thousands of members. That is who the Pope is trying to reach.

Williamson is a Bishop in the SSPX hierarchy, but I understand that this is NOT a position approved by the Pope, and that he remains “suspended a divinas” by the Vatican and cannot claim to actually be a Bishop.

As for SSPX Bishop Williamson, I think he will take care of the issue himself. Having called the Pope a servant of Satan, and spouted nonsense about Jews and the holocaust, it is widely expected that he will in turn break from the SSPX and take his loyal followers with him. Ultimately, he will not accept the authority of the Pope.

How many people that is, remains to be seen, but the remainders will be most welcome in the Church and the Pope has held out an olive branch, offering forgiveness and love to not only the SSPX members, but to a wayward priest that would call him a servant of Satan.

He has had the excommunication lifted (which was first placed on him because of his role in SSPX) but all the other issues remain unresolved and unforgiven, and it is now up to Williamson to take the next step.

Update: I've covered the "forgiveness is divine" and I should add the bit about erring. It's worth restating that the Pope lifted the excommunication on January 21 this year. The excommunication was made because Williamson and three others were appointed Bishops without authority. The Pope thus looked at the issue of excommunication, and did not research the 4 bishops privately held opinions - they were not germane at the time.

So when was the television show airing Williamson's views? January 21. The same day. The interview was recorded by a Swedish television station on November 1, 2008, but it was actually broadcast on the same day the Vatican revoked the excommunication. God moves in mysterious ways.

Previous NZC Post: SSPX and Williamson

Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) for a long view on this action

Related Link: Pope Calls for Unity with SSPX, rest is up to them

Related Link: A loathsome Catholic, but still a Catholic

See also: The Wikipedia on Williamson

And also: Angela Merkel preaches to the Pope

ZenTiger Boy Racers

Mr and Mrs Smith returned home after a weekend away to find their house crushed. Previously, a charming three bedroom and study bungalow with carport, it has become a 3 metre by 4 metre compressed block.

"Frankly, we are stunned" said Andrew Smith. We had no idea our teenage son had organised a party in our absence. Apparently things got out of hand, the police were called and made the decision to crush the house. The thing is, without a house, we can't even ground him."

Neighbours were quick to confirm the party was totally out of control. Old Mrs Beezle from number 66 talked of how wild parties had been going on for years, with nothing being done about it. "For the last 15 years or so, always, around the end of January two balloons were hung out on the letter box, and you just knew it was going to be a noisy night."

"And you can't believe the parents didn't know what their kids were up to, they used to organise these parties. It was their house they were using, you can't tell me the keys were somewhere safe - I bet they were left lying around on purpose."

Mr and Mrs Smith are the first parents to experience the government's tough new laws to curb wild parties. Civil Rights groups have cautiously welcomed the law, explaining that police have been helpless for years to enforce noise control, parking violations, broken glass and the odd punch up that so often accompanies such events.

"House crushing sends a message that other law infringements will not be taken lightly, even if we ourselves take them lightly. Until now, there has been no effective way to deal with assaults, speeding, loud music and dangerous driving."

Following the crushing Police were investigating number 42 on the same street. Whilst there was no party going on at the time, it was likely the house was being used as "a party house".

Explained Constable Broad: "A very nice deck extension has been added at some time, with a large BBQ grill and spit in a bricked enclave at the end of the garden. Ranch sliders open the lounge to provide good indoor-outdoor flow, and the presence of a high quality 8 speaker sound system makes it clear that this house is being used for more than just sleeping and preparing food."

"We'll be keeping an eye on this one" he added reassuringly.

The anti-party brigade who have campaigned long and vigorously for these draconian changes have planned a celebration tonight at some-one else's home.

Be there or be square.

Related Link: Crush Cars and Make Them Watch

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ZenTiger North Korea Reaches Out to West

North Korea is displaying all of the classic signs of a victim of Western Imperialism, and various left wing commenters fear that our continued existence is likely to cause the very understandable reaction of firing an intercontinental missile capable of traveling over 4,000 miles at any number of western targets.

"It is obvious to many that the existence of the Gulags such as Guantanamo Bay continues to create a fear reaction with our communist cousin, and I urge Obama to impeach George Bush, disarm all American defence systems and ban Christian religions" said Amnesia International spokesperson Professor Aaron Burr. "Only then, will human rights in North Korea be restored", he added earnestly.

North Korean Diplomatic sources ridiculed this idea. "As a key member of the axis of evil, we have a reputation to maintain. We laugh at the United States pathetic attempts to look tough. We threaten first. We the winners."

Besides, we had all this spare UN aid money that we invested in foreign property and WOLRD (Weapons of Long Range Destruction)."

Meanwhile, the rest of the world looks over there .... yes, off to the left ... was that a penguin?

Related Link: North Korea reaches out to west

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lucia Poland's wartime PM & General not murdered before crash

General Sikorski, who died in when his plane crashed into the sea during WW2, has found to have probably not been murdered prior to the crash. At least there's no evidence of murder after all these years.

Personally, I don't think the plane crash was an accident, and that it's most likely that the Soviets were involved in some way. After all, an alliance with the West was at stake, the Soviets were being hammered by the Germans and there was this nasty business of thousands of Polish officers turning up dead in previously Soviet controlled forests, looking like they had been executed. And Gen. Sikorski was pressing for an independent investigation.

However, if evidence of Soviet sabotage does show up, expect the shit to hit the fan in regards to Polish-Russian relations.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Forensic tests have turned up no evidence that Poland's exiled World War II leader was murdered before his plane crashed into the sea, according to experts probing a death that spawned decades of conspiracy theories.

Investigators said Thursday that it remains possible that the plane carrying Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski — the leader of occupied Poland's government in exile — was sabotaged before it plunged into the sea 16 seconds after taking off from a British military base in Gibraltar on July 4, 1943.

Polish authorities exhumed Sikorski's body in November in an attempt to determine whether he died in an accident or was murdered.

Speaking on behalf of a team of court medical experts, Tomasz Konopka said Sikorski died from multiple organ trauma. Sikorski suffered several broken ribs, broken bones in his arms and legs, a damaged spine and eye-socket, among others.

Related Link: No sign Poland's WWII PM was killed before crash ~ AP