Friday, July 31, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

Is it wild and windy at your place?

Apologies for the delay. I've been distracted by looking at the draft standard for primary school mathematics. I thought I'd see if my 8 year old could work out the matchstick problem for year 4. We haven't even done 3 times tables, so I'm not surprised that he couldn't. Maybe by the end of the year!

Andrei A tale of two little girls

There are times when those who hold political opinions to the left of us accuse those who hold opinions similar to ours of being selfish and uncaring.

Sometimes I suspect they maybe right. This comment on Kiwi blog pushed a button in me and I responded. The original commenter was polite enough but some of the other comments are beyond reprehensible, vile racist trash.

Anyway a true story for what its worth

When we got married my wife and I bought a modest house in a modest street in a modest neighbourhood to start our family. A quiet suburban street with starter outers and a few older families of more modest means.

When our eldest was about three Housing Corporation in its wisdom decided to buy houses in modest neighbourhoods such as ours to try and eliminate the state housing ghettos and integrate the inhabitants of such into lower middle class neighbourhoods.

And a family of sorts moved in across the road. The husband was an alcoholic -rarely seen by us and never seen sober, his wife was a harried woman who worked nights as a cleaner, their seventeen year old daughter and her three year old child. Miss seventeen was rarely at home, she was off doing her thing leaving her daughter with her tired and worn mother.

One Saturday not long after they arrived Grandma was out mowing the lawn with an old push mower, goodness only knows where her useless husband and daughter were but the child started to scream and scream and scream.

My wife went over and suggested the child come and play with our daughters, Grandma was hesitant and unsure but brought her over anyway.

And this child trembled, she has apparently never played with other children before. This child was non verbal - my daughter who was almost exactly the same age was starting to read, her younger sister was and still is a chatterer but this child couldn't speak at all because as her Grandma explained nobody ever spoke to her. And this poor child was standing there staring at my girls and quivering all over.

Grandma you must understand had been working all night in her cleaning job and was now trying to keep house and home together. Doing the washing and mowing the lawns and tending to this poor child but not at all well.

I tell you it broke my heart to see this. But what can you do? My wife suggested that this little girl be enrolled in Kindergaten but nothing ever came of it and she never was.

Anyway we sold our house soon after and moved on to greener pastures in a nice rural setting.
Housing Corp bought more houses in our old street - not ours though. And last time I went down there that street had become just as commenter on Kiwiblog described. Dead cars and unmowed lawns.

We were lucky to sell when we did - no? And someone else got unlucky to buy when they did I suppose.

And the little girl from across the road, I happen to know, OD'ed four years or so ago and quite probably did it on purpose.

Meanwhile my little girl who is really a woman now will graduate with a nursing degree later on this year.

Thems the breaks.

Lucia Calls for Maori to be compulsory in schools

Willie Jackson has written an opinion piece arguing for Maori to be made a compulsory subject in all New Zealand schools. Why compulsory? Well, the language is still in danger of dying despite all the millions spent on it, so the education system has to step in.
Maori language must be a core subject in the curriculum just like English and mathematics, rather than an add-on.

I’ve heard all the nutty arguments about why it’s wrong for Maori to be compulsory, but the reality is English is compulsory, as is maths, so why shouldn’t Maori be too? Maori is our indigenous language and an official language alongside English.
Not a particularly strong argument. Sign language is also an official NZ language, and no one is calling for it to be taught to every school child.

No person is seriously disadvantaged by not learning Maori - the same cannot be said of the other two compulsory subjects. Literacy and numeracy is vital for doing well in a modern country, if you can't count or read, your job prospects are limited and you may well be doomed to a life of crime or being on the dole.

All Kiwi kids should be given the opportunity to learn Maori from an early age.
Opportunity is fine. I had the opportunity to learn Maori at primary school. I hated the language and made every effort not to remember anything. It was linked to a primitive culture that had absolutely no appeal to me, especially when compared to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans that I did enjoy reading about.
Being bilingual or multi-lingual has been proven to be advantageous. Children who speak more than one language are likely to perform better at school, be more socially adjusted both in and out of school, and be more tolerant and understanding of cultural differences.

In a global society, those are the attributes our children need and learning Maori will help them acquire them.
I grew up bilingual. I also did very well at school, much to the surprise of many of my teachers. I spoke Polish at home. On Saturdays, I went to Polish school to learn to read, write and sing songs in Polish. Polish school was set up by the parents, run by the parents and funded by the parents. Polish parents cared enough about their own language and culture to invest the time in passing it on. Why couldn't Maori parents do the same thing?

When it comes down to it, the choice of a language ought to be decided by the parents, not by the State. I'm not teaching my children Polish even though they are half-Polish, I'm teaching them Latin, which I'm learning myself as we go along. I've made a ruthless decision based on what I think will be better for them, not for me.

Far more people in the world will ever understand Latin, so in a global society, the language could be argued to be a better bet for all school children to learn than Maori. At least ancient writings are recorded in Latin and much of English is built on Latin, so there is a cultural link for all of us that speak English. And I doubt there is anyone in NZ that can only speak Maori.

However, I would never call for learning any language to be made compulsory. As I initially said, no one is seriously disadvantaged by not learning Maori. The same could be said for any language. No matter how beneficial a subject is seen to be, there needs to be a higher standard applied for compulsion by the State. And the fact that the Maori language is dying just doesn't cut it as a good enough reason for me.

Related Link: Maori Should be Compulsory ~ Stuff, Willie Jackson

ZenTiger Goose Gander and Golden Eggs

Given citizens now have all financial information deemed "open to the public" when will all of the Minister's tax payer funded expense claims (a private fund of $14,800 per year per member) be opened to the public?

MP's conveniently exempt themselves from the same scrutiny, with Parliamentary Service able to ignore any OIA around Minister's private perks (and a host of other requests for that matter).

And notice a member of the public doesn't have the capability or resource to find out what these personal figures are and simply announce the data "in the interests of transparency"

Another case of Goose, Gander* and golden eggs.

*Trivia: The gander of course is a male goose. Thus the phrase "What's good for the goose is good for the gander", which is perhaps an idiom that what is good for the female should therefore apply equally to the male, but is more broadly interpreted as what's good for one is therefore as good for another. And the phrase "have a gander" is thought to be to have a look, craning one's neck like a long necked gander. And a group of Geese is a gaggle, and feel free to comment on geesely matters, ignoring the point of my post entirely :-)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ZenTiger The Cost of Democracy

A few people are complaining about the 9 million it's going to cost for the referendum on smacking. The only point they really have is that we could have easily saved heaps of money by holding it with the election. Blame Labour for that.

Meanwhile, MP's have just put in their expense claims for the last 6 months. It's around 4 million. That's heading towards 8 million for the year.

If that's what it costs, then that's what it costs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ZenTiger Not theirs to give

Oh dear, Paula Bennett has released personal information on two Labour lackeys that were making their case for their right to receive more entitlements from the tax payers, via the Government.

I admit there is some relevance to knowing what those current entitlements already are, at least in a generic sense. However, I am very uncomfortable the Government using their power in this way.

The information was not actually theirs to release. It's not theirs to give.

In the same way the Government should not have the right to request a tax audit from the IRD, or declare how much tax a person pays, simply because that person takes the government to task on policy. The ends do not justify the means, and the Government could have used many other legitimate and moral approaches to debating with these Labour flunkies.

Perhaps that's the other annoying part of this sorry affair. A principled and thoughtful government could still have debated this issue and exposed the underlying sense of greed and entitlement behind the push to get something for nothing, at the expense of other families that receive the same amount of money, but do it the hard way - having a job. It's a tricky thing to balance entitlements against collecting the tax needed to pay them. We can see the disparity when the government suggests they need to cut superannuation even while others seek to get more than $50,000 a year from the government to "make ends meet". But that is besides the point of the post.

If I could contrast the previous government with National, it seems to me Labour seemed to understand the principles, and were willing to deliberately break them. They were shameless, arrogant, and ultimately dangerous. As opposition, they will have no trouble in ignoring the hypocrisy of their stance, and it will not be National's fault should they ignore Labour's howls for blood. Whilst they might dismiss Labour's opinion on this matter, I hope they slow down and listen to others.

On the other side, National seem not to understand principles, and instead react to issues. Bennett's actions are partially defensible only when looking at the issue at hand - combating heavily biased information pushed by some half baked Labour strategy fronting a couple of useful pawns to take the heat.

However, I expect better from the government than mere reaction. This is another example, like the smacking legislation, where the government just doesn't get it.

Unfortunately, acting this way has allowed the opposition to take attention away from what was an important debate.

Equally, whilst this issue of citizen privacy versus the State, these are not the sort of issues that necessarily need to be addressed by more laws. It's the kind of issue that our Ministers of Parliament need to realise automatically when they cross the line, and correct this lapse of judgment accordingly. The fact that our Ministers have lost this capability is why inevitably we will fall back on the law.

All I see here is two sets of people both arguing for entitlements they appear to believe are automatic rights. We can handle the first group without needing to give the government undeserved power.

The thing about the VRWC, is that it isn't vast, and its hardly a conspiracy. Even the definition "right wing" is arbitrary, being used more as a supposed slur from the left. That being said, the VRWC is generally united in it's desire for small government, personal freedom and protection from the destructive forces in society. The conservative right tend to take a different road than the liberal right, but at least we can respect differing opinions, when they are not motivated by the authoritarian spirit-crushing politics from the left. It is in that spirit I comment on the issue of the day, with a view at odds with several of my fellow bloggers! My fellow members of the VRWC - I invite you to attempt to change my mind on this matter, or show some agreement. Either way, I figure this is an important issue, and welcome your comments.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ZenTiger 26 dollars - a reasonable offer

I scored a glimpse of the DomPost today - a few bits and pieces on the train trip into work. The article I saw suggested a modest cut in CO2 is going to cost $26 per person per week, or around $1350 per person per year. Going for a reduction along the lines of what the Greens and related tax-the-weather groups bring the figure up to about double that number.

Except what do they really mean by "per person"?

I haven't seen the details of where and how the tax is levied. They certainly don't mean every New Zealander will pay their fair share. There will be fine print. Beneficiaries don't actually pay any tax in real terms, and wouldn't have the money to do so. It's a lot of money. Expect to see benefits increase to match the surcharge, and the tax burden fall on middle class New Zealanders. So it's more than $26 per week per person for middle NZ.

Can we also expect to see these figures quoted "per family"? For a family of four, this is $102 per week. Coming out of after tax income. Do the math.

This is going to be more than just a "ripple effect" on the economy, and small business will be hit hardest. Big business will prune severely, some will consolidate services overseas and leave skeleton staff behind.

Will these kinds of punitive costs cause further unemployment, further business failures, and further pressure on tax increases? It's hard not to see how.

Who actually levies these taxes and where does the money go?

"No taxation without representation" was a cry made in Boston in 1773, and the declaration of independence July 4, 1776 mad it clear the people still have the "right of revolution". Agreeing to this tax is a seriously dangerous move.

On the other hand, not agreeing to it may well be a revolutionary move, with all that revolutions bring. Do Americans curse the revolution and declaration of independence though? In hindsight, theirs was a bold move based on principles we merely pay lip service to today.

We are in the thick of things, and have little perspective. History is something that happens to other people, in other places, and in other times.

There's some serious history happening around us right now though. The newspapers can only report it as $26 per person per week. They see a couple of bucks off the grocery bill.

You'd think that kind of money would fund the cost of a decent tea party, but everyone is too busy listening to Al Gore's speeches, on how he's tried hard to clear up the situation. Well, he does have a Nobel peace prize.

Al Gore reminded me the other day that he sees AGW today like Hitler saw the Danzig problem in 1939. Although, I suspect Al Gore is actually the one who wants to annex CO2. Anyway, to understand Hitler and the Nazis by 1940, you need to acknowledge he was a charismatic, popular and competent politician prior to 1939.

Hitler saw the way forward for Germany, if only her enemies listened and obeyed his most reasonable offers. Chamberlain thought he was listening and obeying. Chamberlain paid the $26 bucks.

Even today, we have our appeasers suggesting we simply say yes to $26 per person per week to ensure the temperature moves no more than 2 degrees.

Does the offer sound reasonable to you?

As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making proposals for revision, an alteration of this intolerable position. It is a lie when the outside world says that we only tried to carry through our revisions by pressure. Fifteen years before the National Socialist Party came to power there was the opportunity of carrying out these revisions by peaceful settlements and understanding. On my own initiative I have, not once but several times, made proposals for the revision of intolerable conditions. All these proposals, as you know, have been rejected - proposals for limitation of armaments and even, if necessary, disarmament, proposals for limitation of warmaking, proposals for the elimination of certain methods of modern warfare. You know the proposals that I have made to fulfill the necessity of restoring German sovereignty over German territories. You know the endless attempts I made for a peaceful clarification and understanding of the problem of Austria, and later of the problem of the Sudetenland, Bohemia, and Moravia. It was all in vain.
--Adolf Hitler, 1 September 1939, a popular and competent leader.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

ZenTiger Families are fascist

Mr Tips mentioned the quality of journalism we see from Paul Holmes, as he got stuck into Cheryl Savil and Bob McCoskrie about the smacking referendum. His line of questioning was aggressive, bordering on abusive. One wonders how he can be so judgmental.

Kiwiblog has the followup discussion on Paul Holmes on smacking. Some of the comments illustrate the problem in this debate.

From Phil U:
“..and of course the parent/child relationship is an imbalance of power.. is really fascist in nature..”

Maybe his family. His words sum up the warped viewpoint from those that equate a smack in discipline to child abuse. Yes, there is an imbalance of power. Also of maturity, responsibility and duty. Well, in most cases. And don't forget to bring the element of love into the picture of a family. What a comment.

From Hubris:
“Violence is the expression of physical force against self or other, compelling action against one’s will on pain of being hurt.”
Trying to make it about violence, then trying to imply force is a bad thing. Let's make it illegal to perform CPR. I know some of these people would also like to see rugby banned for the same reason.

Then others will claim either that you can't compel a stranger to eat their Greens, so you can't therefore insist your child eat healthy food. Hang on, I meant you aren't allowed to discipline a stranger, so why should a parent be able to raise their children with disciplinary techniques that require force (which under law includes threats) Are they insane? Vote YES for that one.

The rugby argument is often countered by this concept of "consent". Adults can consent to being hit in a game of rugby, but children cannot give consent to be parented.

Children, technically are incapable of giving consent on any issue.

Therefore, even if they say so, they don't consent to going to bed, they don't consent to eating the right food, they don't consent to stopping pulling the tail of the dog. Maybe a good parent just has to leave the kid on the doorstep until they are adults and can provide legal consent to be looked after?

And perhaps that's why families are fascist.

We are debating with idiots. Unfortunately, idiots like these make stupid laws.

ZenTiger Sue Bradford Proposes Law Change

In an amazing turn about, Sue Bradford is suggesting a radical law change.

"A new study conclusively proves that parents who discipline their children produce better children in all important categories - better educational results, better jobs, lower crime rates, better incomes, and greater health and well being.

There is only one solution to this information.

We must change the law to make it mandatory for parents to discipline their children. Any child NOT being disciplined by parents will be investigated by the police, and if the child is found to look in any way naughty, without evidence of correction, they will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. Parents with good children have nothing to fear.

The law solves all issues, and now that I have revised my opinion, it is obvious that this is the only opinion to have. The anti-smacking lobby were idiots for only asking not to be criminalised, they should have pushed to enshrine their parenting style as the only valid parenting style under law. I have corrected this issue with my new Disciplinary Bill, Section 59 revision three."

Hat tip to Psycho Milt for the idea behind a law to enforce physical discipline.

ZenTiger Swedish Utopia

An important element of living in a socialist utopia like Sweden is a suspension of reality. New Zealand is well placed to follow suit. Lindsay Mitchell explains.

And speaking of utopia, Lucia's comment reinforces this point:

I’m at a loss to understand why NZ seems hell-bent on passing legislation that pretends we are some sort of utopia. Ban smacking and all forms of child discipline and NZ’s a better place… no, children are still being abused and murdered here. But good parents now do all their discipline in private so that they won’t be reported. And then this – deny the fact that everyone has a point at which they could lose control.

Sophie Elliot’s mother could have easily flipped out and murdered Weatherston when she saw what he had done to her. Should she and others like her be deprived of a defence because some murderers who clutch at straws misuse it? Weatherston misused provocation and it backfired on him.

And I'll sum up by quoting myself on the Friday Night thread:

Madeline pointed out that even the guilty have a right to defence, and with the presumption of innocence (or degrees of innocence and guilt) it is important for our legal system to have some-one who will defend the presumption of innocence. That concept underpins our legal system.

If you agree with me on that point, then you might be able to understand why the law making parents technical criminals for smacking ends a presumption of innocence for a reasonable action is actually a bad law.

The State also intrudes on the family, making a moral judgment that physical discipline is illegal. Some people prefer not to use physical discipline (or any discipline for that matter) to raise their children, and want to change the law to make every other parent do things the way they do them.

If we tried the reverse - make it a law that you MUST discipline your child to teach them right from wrong at a young age, and parents failing to discipline their children will be deemed criminals that will be investigated, perhaps the same people wanting this law change might learn something.

They tend to be the same people that talk about how important it is to tolerate other viewpoints, so I suspect the point would be completely lost on them.

All ideas here from our opposition seem to share the same symptoms - a desire to force some kind of utopia, whilst denying the consequences of their actions and pretending a different reality. It's no surprise some commenters start off calling any-one who is against the revised section 59 as "child beaters".

PS: Hat tip to Psycho Milt for the idea behind a law to enforce physical discipline.

ZenTiger Never an Excuse?

Quote of the day by Chuck Bird:

I wonder about the sincerity of the politicians who what to change the law so no one can be found guilty of a lesser crime than murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Using that logic the crime of infanticide should be wiped off the books and anyone male or female even if pregnant who kills a child under ten should not be able to get off with infanticide which carries a maximum penalty of three years. The law make no sense. If the woman’s mental state partially excuses the killing of a child why should if not also apply if the victim is an adult.

Perhaps it's not just battered wives the "end provocation" lobby should be chasing?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ZenTiger Burglarly Tip #45

If you engage in a bit of break and entering, being noticed by the neighbour is an occupational hazard. Sometimes, they call the police to advise a suspicious character they cannot recognise is attempting to gain unlawful entry.

No worries. This is where Burglary Tip #45 comes in handy.

When the police arrive and ask to see your identification, start by refusing outright. Before they gather their thoughts, swear and cuss at them and claim this is racial profiling. Raise your voice. Threaten them with lawsuits. Perhaps convince them of your sanity by suggesting your mate the President will send the CIA around and whup their asses.

Importantly, tell them they are obviously stupid to accept the word of a neighbour, who is probably a bigoted white trash redneck scumbag. Doesn't matter if their name is Miguel. They are the worst.

The police will be forced to realise that a burglar would never attempt to pretend to be the rightful resident of a house, and quickly retreat, leaving you to clean the place out at leisure.

Note: This tactic only works if you are a person of colour. We recommend burglars looking European hit themselves on the head with a nearby lamp stand, and lie on the ground moaning "I was attacked in my own home by some-one. I think he said his name was Leroy or Obama or something, as in "The law ain't taking Leroy Obama, no sir"

No related link this time. I can't think what this story might apply to.

Friday, July 24, 2009

ZenTiger I'm a little late

OK, we all know the original that swept the world a few years ago, but I hadn't seen this version. Had a good end segment.

Lucia Friday night free for all

I've just picked up my 8 year old from soccer practice at one of the local gyms. It is cold! Might have to crank up the fire tonight. I am so glad I don't have to go out again tonight.

I did the unusual thing of commenting on one of David Farrar's blog threads. So has Andrei, though he's more prolific there than me. Normally I don't comment there, as comments do tend to get lost due to the sheer number of commenters, comments and threads. But this provocation thing is really annoying me. More to the point, the National Government acting like clueless idiots is annoying me. I really had hoped for something better.

What does everyone think of competency tests for politicians before they take office? A simple IQ test would do, and then that way, those that have trouble differentiating between bludgeoning someone with a piece of wood and a simple smack on the bottom would be weeded out and prevented from causing any harm before they even got started! Pipe dream, I suppose, but really, when the PM doesn't understand a simple referendum question, you've got to wonder about the calibre of NZ's politicians.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lucia Removal of provocation defence stupid [UPDATED]

Living in New Zealand is like living in the Twilight Zone.

Manipulation of the public has been honed to a fine art.

Case in point - the desire of some to remove the defence of provocation because it has been used to justify killing homosexuals who proposition the wrong guy. But until the Weatherston defence, there wasn't enough public outrage to justify the law change.

However, the daily updates of the apparently completely sane Weatherston trying to make out that Sophie Elliot made him torture and mutilate her to death has sent most of New Zealand over the edge. Rather than asking why on earth the Judge involved allowed such a defence when it was patently ridiculous, she allowed Weatherston to make a mockery of her court for five days.

Thus giving those who really loathe the idea that some men might kill another man who is coming on to them a reason, finally, to remove the defence of provocation. Nevermind the fact that if Sophie's mother had flipped out and murdered Weatherston in cold blood after finding Weatherston over her daughter's mutilated body, that provocation be a suitable defence. How many people would kill the murderer of their own child if faced with such a horrible scenario? And should they be deprived of a defence just because of a Government knee-jerk reaction?

Related Link: Provocation Defence Defended ~ News Talk ZB

[UPDATE] Bloggers against removing the provocation defence
Provocation and the ‘homosexual advance’ defence, Provocation 2, Provocation 3 ~ Stephen Franks
In Defence of the Partial Defence of Provocation ~ M & M
The Provocation Defence needs to remain ~ The Beretta Blog
Mixed Emotions are the Required Response ~ Contra Celsum
Provocation ~ HalfDone
Manslaughter and Every-onbe uses the defense of provocation ~ ZenTiger

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ZenTiger Every-one uses the defence of provocation

Provocation is all the rage at the moment. Admittedly, it's seen as a Clayton's excuse, but if I've seen it once, I must have seen it 216 times.

The person that provoked this provocation was not actually Weatherston, although he did take a stab at it. It was some other dude that wasn't too happy with a come-on from a gay person, and felt sufficiently provoked to kill him, and justify this as a backdoor defence against murder. To complicate matters, what appears to be an over-reaction may have been provoked by some date rape drugs. If that rumour is true, then provoked he was.

Then the Greens and Labour maintain they were provoked into running an official non-binding ad-hoc meeting in Bellamy's to discuss their bank fees. Apparently, National weren't suitably provoked into investigating the Banks declining profits, and Labour are now running with scissors to prove just how wild and dangerous they can become when callously provoked by being ignored.

The coming referendum on if a smack should be a criminal offense is a result of extreme provocation by the Greens. They say the threat of parental discipline was so horrific, it provoked them to ban discipline outright.

That provoked three hundred thousand signatures saying it was overkill. That in turn provoked John Key to say that all these people are against him because he's brilliant and charming and quite fancies himself as a University Tutor when the PM gig is over.

Whilst some see a referendum as an extreme over-reaction, a small but vociferous crowd think smacking provokes child abuse. So does poverty, drugs, lack of education, cultural malaise and photos of Sue Bradford. If we remove provocation as a defence, then these things will theoretically become illegal and child abuse will naturally be eradicated. At least that's what the Greens say, and they took the stand under oath to explain exactly why they are right and the world is wrong.

Another person who was prepared to take the stand was Dame Sian Elias. Our Chief Justice provoked some discussion by suggesting we find the guilty, we send them to court, we rule, and then we let them go. It's the Chief Justice's way of saying that society is to blame, seemingly forgetting that those like Sophie are paying the price. But more importantly than that, it's a new brilliant plan for keeping the prisons empty.

Keeping the prisons empty is what justice is all about you see. This cutting edge plot provoked a few people to declare the Emperor has no clothes, and then the coiffured mob promptly gave those brave souls a dressing down for daring to speak about the material facts.

Which perhaps provoked the government into voicing grave concerns that discussing murderers before the judge has regretfully put them in a crowded prison is a sign the blogs are getting too powerful. "The blogs". Hah! I bet no-one's even reading this. Maybe they just mean Whaleoil and KiwiBlog? No matter, the Government's reaction will probably be disproportionate to the offense, but that excuse of provocation comes in handy for occasions such as this.

It seems every-one uses the defence of provocation. Do we have to ban it if not every-one gets away with it? Will this simply result in more pleas of self defence, the ultimate response to provocation?

If Clayton Weatherston - psychopathic, self-absorbed, narcissist tutor (is tutor redundant in this context?) can't get away with the defence of provocation what hope is there for the rest of us?

I rest my case.

ZenTiger Manslaughter

Clayton Guilty. I can publish this now.

The case of Clayton Weatherston should be a slam dunk. He brings a knife to the murder. He locks the door. He stabs Sophie Elliot over 200 times. When the knife broke he took the time to get another implement, possibly two. He then mutilates her. So he pleads manslaughter and he makes his case.

The defence will be trying hard to make it look like provocation, and that argument is surely irrelevant given the above. Self defence might be another angle, and one Clayton would be entitled to plead had Sophie actually attacked him. I think the hundreds of stab wounds and mutilation destroys that argument even quicker - so no hope there and not surprising the defence ignored that path.

Really, the only hope the defence has is to confuse the jury, to make them forget the facts. To translate his statements like "[I killed her for] The emotional pain she has caused me over the past year", not as premeditation but as a "reasonable excuse" to end a relationship by killing her. How could it be though? Most people go to the pub for a drink and cry themselves to sleep.

The fact that the defence is even being attempted is understandably outraging many right thinking people. I'm offended by the defence, but I would only get outraged if the judge and jury buy it.

I predict that there will be a move by parliament to change the law to remove a "loophole" where provocation is used as a defence. To get a handful of cases where an act of passion, in the heat of the moment, leads to murder. It basically means that we don't trust our judges and juries to apply judgment to a case, to weigh the facts and rule accordingly.

In some cases, provocation may actually be a reasonable argument. Battered wives can quite often reasonably argue provocation as months or years of abuse take their toll. We diminish the opportunity for justice when we remove the human element of weighing up complex evidence and deciding. It's a noble thought, but can have unfair consequences. Maybe not in this case, but in the next one that comes along.

The parallels with the removal of Section 59 are interesting. A handful of cases where some parent or guardian argue "reasonable force" after being accused of beating their child and the judge agreed. This is where we expect a judge to review medical evidence and without the emotion, weigh up what is in the best interests of the child.

For example, in one of those cases, a riding crop was used but left no medical evidence of a beating - it was a CYFS worker who imagined the riding crop being used in the worst way imaginable. It was CYFS who removed the kid from home, and even when the judge ruled "not guilty" kept the kid away from his home under powers that enable them to ignore court rulings. Was this in the best interests of the child? Apparently not because the child tried to escape foster care and run home. You can't run from the State. Last I heard, he was given medication to control his ingratitude for being "rescued".

So the result was for Sue Bradford to selectively quote from a few cases, without presenting all the facts, and using words like "horsewhip" for riding crop and letting people's imaginations do the rest. And now physical discipline is explicitly illegal because the State doesn't trust parents with discernment. The default is guilty, and prove otherwise.

And so it will likely go with Clayton Weatherston and his defence of provocation. A handful of cases will emerge that will justify more cases being brought before a court for murder, plain and simple. But life isn't so simple. Things are not always black and white.

Well, except for the case of Clayton Weatherston.

Definitions of Manslaughter

# homicide without malice aforethought

# Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder.

# An act of killing a human being unlawfully, but not wilfully (as opposed to murder)

# An unlawful killing without premeditation or malice. It can be voluntary or involuntary, depending upon the circumstances attending the killing.

# The killing of a person without intention, premeditation, or malice aforethought.

# The deliberate killing of a person without premeditation (or the other circumstances of murder) is manslaughter for which the maximum sentence is ...

# is a criminal variation of homicide that normally carries a lesser sentence than murder, due to its lack of malicious intent.

# The unlawful killing of a human being without premeditation, which may have been committed out of recklessness, extreme emotional disturbance, or ...

# is the killing of a human being, but without the type of intent required for murder. Murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the crime was committed "in the heat of passion", meaning that the person who caused a death was provoked in a manner that the law recognizes as a mitigating factor. ...

# Killing of a person without the element of intention necessary to constitute murder.

Related Link: Clayton Weatherston

Update: Keeping Stock on a move to end the defense of provocation.

Update: I've just read the Law Commission's document on the case for ending provocation as a partial defence, and it makes some good points, especially given the ability for courts to assign variable length sentences for murder, and therefore able to take better account of the circumstances. A debate worth thrashing out. As I said above though, I'm expecting Weatherston's defence to be rejected - it's one thing to argue it, another to have that argument accepted.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ZenTiger Labour and Greens vote themselves into Government

Labour, Greens and Progressives announce that they are going to hold a non-binding enquiry into bank profits. These are the same people that mocked the idea of a non-binding referendum. Or do they think they are the government of the day?

At least with the referendum, it took 300,000 signatures to trigger additional expenditure of tax payer funds. In this situation, it just takes a revolt from the parties in opposition.

A letter had been sent to the Speaker seeking appropriate parliamentary logistical support for the inquiry, David Cunliffe said.

“This is a serious inquiry by parliamentarians on behalf of New Zealanders. We believe it is appropriate support, including a venue, is made available, so that the public and media can attend.”

Do they have a mandate to spend tax payer funds in this way? "On behalf of New Zealanders"???

This sets an interesting precedent if National lie back and think of England. Perhaps Labour and the Greens will then seek to announce parallel legislation for the parallel government they seem to think they are.

National, as the party elected into power according to the rules of our democracy, such as it is, may be mistaken for thinking that the oppositions job was to critique the government. It seems the opposition are maneuvering to call the shots and possibly allow National some say in the process - National get to be in opposition again. Perhaps they'll even be allowed to make a submission?

I'm stunned at the combination of audacity and stupidity of the situation. It really is a magnificent move, as I suspect New Zealanders are all too far gone to notice anything strange about this. No doubt the MSM will be thrilled to see things returned to the "natural order" - Labour 1999 to 2008.

New Zealand politics - where National under John Key will undermine and ignore referendums and Labour under Phil Goff simply ignores elections.

Related Link: Labour and Greens Vote Themselves into Government

PM of NZ has a similar take on this: Opposition Still In Government

Related Link: In a blogging first (no-one else is so daft, surely?) this is a repeat of the same post made only hours earlier. New title, same story. It was that important: What's funnier than a non-binding referendum?

PS: This post is NOT satire.

ZenTiger Whats Funnier Than A Non-Binding Referendum?

Labour, Greens and Progressives announce that they are going to hold a non-binding enquiry into bank profits. These are the same people that mocked the idea of a non-binding referendum. Or do they think they are the government of the day?

At least with the referendum, it took 300,000 signatures to trigger additional expenditure of tax payer funds. In this situation, it just takes a revolt from the parties in opposition.

A letter had been sent to the Speaker seeking appropriate parliamentary logistical support for the inquiry, David Cunliffe said.

“This is a serious inquiry by parliamentarians on behalf of New Zealanders. We believe it is appropriate support, including a venue, is made available, so that the public and media can attend.”

Do they have a mandate to spend tax payer funds in this way? "On behalf of New Zealanders"???

This sets an interesting precedent if National lie back and think of England. Perhaps Labour and the Greens will then seek to announce parallel legislation for the parallel government they seem to think they are.

National, as the party elected into power according to the rules of our democracy, such as it is, may be mistaken for thinking that the oppositions job was to critique the government. It seems the opposition are maneuvering to call the shots and possibly allow National some say in the process - National get to be in opposition again. Perhaps they'll even be allowed to make a submission?

I'm stunned at the combination of audacity and stupidity of the situation. It really is a magnificent move, as I suspect New Zealanders are all too far gone to notice anything strange about this. No doubt the MSM will be thrilled to see things returned to the "natural order" - Labour 1999 to 2008.

New Zealand politics - where National under John Key will undermine and ignore referendums and Labour under Phil Goff simply ignores elections.

Related Link: Labour and Greens Vote Themselves into Government

PM of NZ has a similar take on this: Opposition Still In Government

ZenTiger American Jetstar

It's not exactly Flight of the Conchords, but "United Breaks Guitars" is proving to be a 'smash' hit, and United are now singing a different tune.

Related Link: United Breaks Guitars

The actual you-tube video below the break.

ZenTiger Land of the Free

Aren’t school uniforms expensive these days?
I know, I just paid $170 for an AC/DC ticket. --ZenTiger

The current lesson we can learn from school is that the government encourages lying. It is clear that “free education” requires a mandatory donation. Students looking for a genuine example of an oxymoron need look no further than “mandatory donation”.

Living in a culture that treats such lies as “the way things are” is ultimately destructive. It’s time for a return to honesty – if schools need the money, then they must henceforth request pledges for “supplementary fees”.

This will clarify the true position of the cost of education; it will mean all parents pay their fair share, rather than bolstering those that rightfully chose not to donate; and we will be contravening the United Nations mandate that countries provide free education to children and teens.

Going against the United Nations is a good thing. Firstly, it tells the UN we are more interested in truth than conformance. Secondly, we get to find out how much sovereignty we actually have. Third, it sets a precedent. If we are prepared to ignore the UN directives on this issue, why not on other issues?

Speaking of “free education” and other soft lies, perhaps even that term needs to be revised? What we actually have is “tax payer funded education”. It’s not free. More so for me, as I pay high taxes and home school. It’s another disproportionate expense.

Home schooling is on the way out. This is because it is becoming more popular. As parents twig to the steady erosion of education standards in public schools, private education and home schooling will become more popular. The Government monopoly will be threatened, and monopolies don’t like that sort of freedom amongst its consumers. Expect private schools to become more expensive, and home schooling to become more regulated. Regulating something out of existence is a great way for a government monopoly to eradicate the competition.

What else is free? A while ago I had a rant about Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan giving out free mercury based light bulbs [Kapiti Mayor Walks On Water]. The bill has just come in. These free light bulbs have cost ratepayers an approximate $90,000. Furthermore, that’s $90,000 of light bulbs local businesses will not sell, because the units were not purchased locally. Another misuse of the term “free”. Rate payer funded light bulbs would be more accurate.

This is not the business of councils, and is simply communism in action. We pay a myriad of taxes, and if consumers cannot figure out that mercury bulbs save money off their power bill, why should additional taxes be raised? Contact Energy was prepared to put in 25K – that could have funded a brochure that gave people the facts (there are costs as well as benefits to using these things) and rate payers would not be out of pocket. Furthermore, the council saw fit to take a 75K loan to fund this theft. So now we have interest to pay on top of the initial outlay.

Currently, we are still free to speak. However, the government experimenting with internet filters indicates that even this is under threat. Between filtering and more restrictive interpretations on copyright, the government can point to the one thing that will always remain free in this country:

Being taken for a free ride.

Hang on. How much did we pay for NZ Rail again?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

ZenTiger The Hangers of the Hang-Em High Brigade

The SST editorial wants to hang the "hang-em high brigade".

The editor makes a couple of useless points about Dame Sian not having a right to free speech because she is criticised by some for her suggestion of letting people out of prison solely for the reason there is no space.

The editor either stupidly or conveniently confuses the right to free speech as being a right not to be criticised.

In criticising the criticism, they reveal themselves to display the usual combination of intolerance, elitism and arrogance of the left wing intelligensia, such as it is in this country. They think if they make their argument in cool measured tones instead of the impassioned ranting style more characteristic of the right (although communists such as Trotter share this skill) they will come across as sounding far more reasonable. They don't. A bad idea is still a bad idea, no matter how it is packaged.

They re-summarise Dame Sian's proposition with a handy slogan: "the lock-em up approach has reached it's use by date"

Except it hasn't, because the reasons for locking up repeat offenders and violent criminals are nothing to do with the need to provide rehabilitation. Even Dame Sian acknowledges this.

You cannot dispense with justice, and you cannot risk the safety of the community simply because it might be time to re-think our approach to rehab. Indeed, releasing criminals for the reason of saving space will make things worse.

Less prisoners in prisons will come naturally as we fix the root causes - counting less prisoners is not a solution, it's a measuring stick; a barometer. Hiding the numbers is an abrogation of responsibility and shows an inability to face up to the real problem.

The editorial goes on to say that prisons are a monster factory. And yet not one real question on why this might be. Just an assumption that this is another problem that has no solution (other than letting monsters out sooner). How ridiculous. I've already made a couple of points on that issue.

Perhaps the hangers of the hangers high brigade could take a deep breath and stop and listen before criticising, if criticism is supposed to be so offensive?

Related Link: Today's SST Editorial, Print Edition.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

ZenTiger Curses - Al Gore Might Be Right

I have to admit, this latest pronouncement from Al Gore about Man-Made Global Warming might be right on the money. Given he charges up to $175,000 per speaking engagement, I really mean that.

The other day, in a speech given in Oxford before the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, the former American vice president, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Oscar winner likened the battle against Climate Change (aka Man-Made Global Warming) to the fight decades ago against the Nazis.

He's probably right. I think we have to give credit where credit is due, even if he is an environmental fascist.

Thanks for the link from AcidComments over at The Briefing Room: The fight against Hitler, Mark II

Source: Ron Smith and Global Warming Alarmism

Part II: 26 dollars - a reasonable offer

Lucia Logan's Run

The euthanasia debate is heating up again. As if the right to kill yourself is something that ought to be enshrined in law. But whenever I think of euthanasia, I think of Logan's Run, a TV programme from the 70's that explored the concept of euthanasia taken to an extreme, that life wasn't worth living once a person turned thirty years old. But rather than suicide being a choice, the state terminated those who reached this hallowed age.

Once the state sanctions assisted suicide, all bets are off as to how far it will go. Logan's Run shows us just how far it could go.

Related Link: Date with Death ~ Dominion Post

ZenTiger No justice is no justice at all

The Chief Justice of New Zealand, Dame Sian Elias has issued her prescription for justice. There is one point in particular that I have issue with:
[42] My last suggestion may be controversial. I do not know whether it is practical or politically acceptable, but I think it needs to be considered. We need to look at direct tools to manage the prison population if overcrowding is not to cause significant safety and human rights issues. Other countries use executive amnesties to send prisoners into the community early to prevent overcrowding. Such solutions will not please many. And I am not well placed to assess whether they are feasible. But the alternatives and the costs of overcrowding need to be weighed.
This idea shows a weird disconnect from the point of justice. This idea follows from her argument that society is to blame for these people in the first place. So she wants to let them out into society. Give them amnesty. Cancel their sentences. Forgive their sins, even if they show no repentance. It's ludicrous.

Punishing people may not rehabilitate them, but not punishing people at all will only create more victims.

Remember the victims Chief Justice? Some are indeed the people that become criminals because evil things are done to them. It follows therefore that if you increase the number of criminals on the streets, you will increase the number of victims.

Remember the victims Chief Justice? Some make choices that lead them to your court, and some, in spite of all the wrongs they suffer, you never see them. How will they feel when you let the people out early, only to commit crimes again?

Remember the victims Chief Justice? "We live in a climate where every mistake becomes a scandal" says Dame Sian. And so it should be. You cannot write off the murder of Karl Kuchenbecker as "a mistake". It's not going to help to escalate this to a "grave error".

No justice is no justice at all.

If the Chief Justice is out of ideas, let me advance a couple. What goes on inside Prison? Is it an environment of rehabilitation, penance, hard work and the opportunity to find redemption? Instead of a library of learning, do we instead allow criminals to spend their days playing Grand Theft Auto IV, complete with rape scenes on the Playstation? On big screen TV's?

Do we turn soft criminals into hardened criminals by not punishing crimes in prison? Why, apparently, have there been no prosecutions for prison rape? Why is it we read things like this: One in six inmates was aware of a sexual assault in jail in the past year, one in three had used drugs on the inside and half of inmates considered it 'easy' to get them. And find that the number of prosecutions for these offences approaches zero?

No justice is no justice at all.

When faced with the problem of rehabilitation, the Chief Justice suggests that the whole process of going before a court, being tried and sentenced is just a pointless waste of time, and it could have saved us more money for the cops to let them out shortly after being caught.

That kind of idea has a certain insanity to it that needs to be countered strongly.

This does not mean I'm against rehabilitation. I'm not against reviewing sentencing laws. I'm not against reviewing how we handle non-violent offences. These reviews seem to happen periodically anyway. In any event, they are all separate issues to this discussion. First we must acknowledge that the way forward is not to go backwards, simply because it is another direction.

For the sake of the victims, and future victims, we must remember that no justice is no justice at all.

See also: End of month clearance sale at Rimutaka prison

Hat tip to Contra Celsum, the links in the post lead you there.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lucia Friday night free for all

Friday again. It's the end of the school holidays. Term 3 will be great!

The NZ Government has signed an agreement with Australia to allow the transfer of superannuation from Australian accounts to Kiwi Saver. There is this expectation of billions of dollars pouring across the ditch. Except somehow, I don't think so.

I have money in an Australian super account. And I'm not moving it across to Kiwi Saver, because I think that over the long term, it will do far better in my Australian account than in Kiwi Saver. I have no incentive to move it over, as I'm not allowed to access it until I'm 65, no matter what side of the Tasman it's on. So, the money is staying where it is.

Anyone else decide the same?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ZenTiger End of Month Clearance Sale at Rimutaka Prison

Pick up a couple of prisoners at the Rimutaka Prison Sale.
Rapists at 10% off and thieves are a steal at $300 each.
Buy 5 pedophiles and get one free
(offer not available to families with dogs).
Sale ends Sunday. Everything MUST go!

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias has pointed out that the prisons are a wee bit full, and has come up with a fantastic idea to reduce overcrowding. Said the Chief Justice:

"We could billet Graeme Burton at my place. I have a spare room. Indeed, depending upon how it goes with Clayton Weatherston, I could probably fit him in the study next to my kitchen knives."

If that doesn't sort the problem, I predict the next 50 cases I try every-one will be INNOCENT. So if you want to bludgeon your attacker to death in self defence, now's the time to do it!

What a great idea Chief Justice.

Hat tip to Oswald: What colour is the sky on your planet?

A warning from Ozy Mandias Where will not correcting children criminals take us?

Update: I now have a copy of her speech and respond in a separate post: No justice is no justice at all. In the meantime, more commentary here from Adam Smith of an Inquiring Mind: Crime and Punishment

Andrei Screw the Environment, Have a Steak

So saith Peta campaigner Ashley Fruno who has got herself worked up into a lather over Sam Neil.

"And just what has Sam Neil done to attract Ms Fruno's ire?" , I hear you ask.


Well, he has appeared alongside a chimpanzee in an advertisement for red meat - that's what!

My guess is that Sam Neil likes to eat although I have no idea on how often red meat appears on his personal menu. But to eat Sam Neil has to work and performing in front of a camera is what Sam Neil does. That is how he puts tofu on the table to feed his loved ones.

Something often seen as criminal in the eyes of over privileged Liberal activists.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ZenTiger The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition

I'm glad I followed the advice of Waymad and watched this without a hot beverage in my hand, or near my keyboard.

ZenTiger Emancipating Youth

Is this really about the youth vote, or about the left’s power base?
I'm vaguely aware some Labour Party "thinker" recently suggesting children get the vote, exercised via their parents. Ripples across the blogosphere - I haven't seen the source. [Found it - Labour MP Phil Twyford]

This idea could merely be a springboard for the frequently raised idea in lefty circles of lowering the voting age to say, 16. Start off with a suggestion that will not fly in order to finally compromise on the desired result.

The left would do quite well out of this change. It's gerrymandering using demographics rather than geography.

This is not isolated to New Zealand – lowering the voting age is has long been an idea pushed by the left worldwide, and has met with some success in a few countries. Then those countries are used as a justification for us to follow suit. No need to think, just follow.

We’ve been there before
It's a repeat of the 1970's and enough time has gone by to give it another go. Back in 1970, most countries had a voting age of 21. By the end of the 70's, like dominoes, it had fallen to 18 for many countries. For example: UK, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, France, Ireland, Finland, United States and Germany had all lowered the age to 18 between 1970 to 1974. New Zealand, always a leader, followed Finland in 1969 lowering it from 21 to 20, then jumped on the 18 bandwagon in ‘74.

In the last few years, the issue has come up again. Political agitation has seen the voting age drop already in some US states to 17, and a few countries have taken it down to 16. Behind this thrust, the hard left. Just about every Green Party and many socialist parties around the world are vocal advocates for lowering the voting age. This is definitely a policy of the left, and it's a world-wide effort.

Prior to this story, the last politician in New Zealand to suggest lowering the voting age to 16 was, not surprisingly, Sue Bradford in 2007 via a bill entitled "Civics Education and Voting Age Bill". Also not surprisingly, she suggested compulsory Civics Education - perhaps as a substitute for maturity. Perhaps such is the confidence in the virtues of "An Inconvenient Truth" played over and over in science class? The bill never got off the ground; the timing wasn’t quite right. It will come back.

So what's the reason to lower the voting age?
The arguments for lowering the voting age are pretty much standardised now. By that I mean if you tune into the debate in any country on this matter, the same few ideas are pushed.

I’m an adult, really!
“If you can marry, why can’t you vote?” Well actually, at 16, you need parental consent. You also need parental consent to join the army at that age, so don’t bother trying that one either. One gain is used to achieve the next. If the voting age is lowered, then it would be “we can vote at 16 - why do you we need parental consent to marry?"

A variation of the above is “If you can have sex at 16, then why not the vote?” A potential voter advances this very question in the UK:
It's legal to have sex at 16, so why aren't we allowed to vote at 16? I don't follow politics very closely, but I did follow the war and I'm interested in poverty and terrorism issues. Blair is a good prime minister, but he made a mistake over Iraq because he was under the influence of George Bush.
So the logic is that having sex outside of marriage proves you are capable of making the big decisions in life. Well, if you follow UK politics, it’s probably the same criteria Ministers use, but as a reason, it doesn’t carry the same kind of dignity and wisdom as say, the declaration of independence and the US Constitution.

How about the reason that 16 year olds are the benefactors of evolutionary forces? Quotes another youth:
As society evolves, 16-year-olds get smarter and we should have the same opportunities as adults. I don't know much about politics - is it the Conservatives who are electing a new leader at the moment? - but if I did have the vote, I'd probably vote Labour..
So you say you are smarter and want to vote, don't actually know what's going on, and would vote Labour. It fits the profile I guess, but not a good example of evolved thinking.

No, I really am an adult
If we are going to lower the voting age, the criteria is really to agree to lower the age of majority. It must surely be based on an agreement that a young adult is actually now an adult, and entitled to the benefits, whilst beholden to the responsibilities, of an adult.

The age of majority is an age when we are supposedly responsible and mature. You think 16 year olds lined up at the abortion clinic, flushed with the success of having legal sex at age 16 are in that position because they are mature? You think having a drivers license at 16 makes you mature?

Sure, some teenagers are quite mature, well educated and can articulate a valid opinion. One can argue convincingly that those that pass an arbitrary political knowledge test deserve the vote from an intellectual sense, even though that idea also violates the “one person, one vote” principle. On the whole, most teenagers have a long way to go in their maturation process. This group does well in all of the “stupid thing to do” category, from dangerous driving, binge drinking, experimentation with drugs, rebelling against parents (who, for the most part just want to keep their children safe during a difficult period) and generally thinking about experiencing life. The larger portion of this group do not think and act like adults. There's a better argument for putting the voting age back to 21 rather than lowering it to 16.

And sure, many adults also do not think and act like adults, but there comes a time when we have to say – you are on your own. Make your decisions and accept the consequences. That becomes the crux of the matter again – a push to lower the age of majority which would imply teenagers are ready to be treated as full adults rather than young adults and have to accept the consequences in equal measure: Hold them accountable for contracts; bar them from the youth courts; give them the same access to alcohol and porn as other adults and so on.

Actually, that becomes another reason advanced – if you can be tried in court for murder as an adult, then why can’t you vote? Again, it seems that the criteria is your ability to commit a serious error of judgment to prove you are an adult. People incarcerated for more than three years can’t vote anyway, so the reasoning has to be “if you know it’s wrong to commit serious crime, then you can decide which fine upstanding politician you wish to elect to parliament”. Yet, I suspect if a whole lot of youth elected the Greens to power, they wouldn’t be held accountable for their bad judgment. Hey – I’m joking! (They’d get off on the insanity plea anyway.)

The sum of these arguments have merit, and in a conceptual sense I find them quite strong. However, it presumes that all things should be made equal, for the sake of being equal. If you can vote, why restrict alcohol? If you can have sex, why restrict the vote? If you can murder and be accountable, why not vote? If you pay tax, why not vote (so why then deny the 12 year old paper boy the vote?). If you vote, why not be held accountable for contracts? If you vote, why not mandatory military service in the junior territorials?

Life isn’t a single barrier, it’s a set of stepping stones. Using one reason above to support another, only to then justify the next isn’t necessarily helping our young adults. It’s simply stacking up the reasons to take away their transition time into adulthood.

It’s really another symptom of the left’s “entitlement” philosophy. Look at the reasons given for lowering the age. There’s nothing about service, duty, responsibility and the maturity to exercise the privilege. It’s “give me the right, and give it now.”

Let’s look at this another way: Patience is a virtue. Also, things that people pay for are appreciated more than when they get them for free. So, patience waiting for the vote is the payment that gives the vote value. It is a marker for attaining the status of adulthood. There is too much pressure to make adults of 16 year olds. They are not. They are young adults – they are in transition. Accord them respect, but give them some space. Give them the time as teenagers to be teenagers and progress to adulthood.

Handing out the privileges before being given the chance to demonstrate the responsibility is too much of this “entitlement” mentality that diminishes the value of the privilege.

Some argue that kids can leave school and even leave home at age 15 or 16, so why not the vote? I suspect that kids who leave home at age 15, are probably doing so for all the wrong reasons (even if they are necessary reasons). A child from a dysfunctional family running out the door and left to survive for themselves is probably sacrificing education, working in a low paying job or living on the whim of the state. Their voting choices will be directed inwards, not outwards.

The richer the society, I think it is more likely the voting choices of the people are going to be about things bigger than themselves. Raising a family is the practice run for this attitude. It no doubt surprises many on the left that my voting choice is not about maximising my tax return, but about what I think the result will be for the country.

If you can’t vote, you can’t speak
Another argument is that the voices of young people are being ignored. They are not. Young people can still get involved in politics. For example, all parties tend to have a Youth Faction, and a Youth Minister or spokesperson. There will be some policies targeting the youth group. They know that they will be voters, and the marketing of policy starts early. The Greens organise pub crawls as part of their marketing efforts. You don’t need to actually wield a vote for parties not to see the value in listening to future voters. Already, the left put some effort into capturing the young vote. If it’s marketing alcohol, it’s to be banned, yet if it’s marketing Green policy it’s to become mandatory “civic education.”

It’s all about the money
You even get the left suggesting a right wing argument as if to entice the centrists over: that because some 16 year olds pay tax, it's a fundamental principle of democracy to give them representation. "No taxation without representation" the cry goes.

It's a somewhat flawed reason, because that particular sentiment springs from the tax imposed on the American Colonies, and a desire to get direct representation for those colonies in the English Parliament. “Virginia alone enjoyed the right to tax Virginians” - even the slaves, indentured immigrants (white slaves), women and children - all producers with no vote at the time. The criteria for voting is not solely based on if you pay tax (watch out unemployed people), it's more accurately founded in the idea "One Man, One Vote", with "man" being all people who have reached the "age of majority". If you support this reason, then you cannot use age as the barrier at all. It’s anyone with a job. We could argue that it’s anyone that pays GST.

It’s about good habits
Lowering the voting age will increase turnout and create good voting habits. This one’s a stretch. One extra election, every three years (four years in many countries) will not create a habit. Habits are things built up by regular action, regular being “more than once every three years”, unless you are a geological formation. If the habit is the goal, then you can let seven year old’s and up vote on election day, in a mock poll as they accompany their parents to the booth. Great idea, but doesn’t require lowering the voting age.

What do I really think?
I’m not as against lowering the voting age as I sound. I'm not totally against the proposition, but I'd need a lot more convincing. I probably see slightly more merit raising it as lowering it. Either way, keeping it at 18 isn’t institutional oppression.

However, there is one argument not often advanced for lowering the age, and this one appeals to me. The fact that elections are every three years mean some people will not vote until 20 or 21, not being quite 18 when an election arrives and then required to wait. Also, turnout from youth may well be low and only those really interested may vote. Those two factors mean the overall effect may not be significant. From this point of view, perhaps 17 is reasonable, as gives some people the vote closer to 18 than 21.

On the other hand, arguments about maturity and reaching the age of majority aside, lowering the vote would probably bolster the extreme left vote, and that isn’t a good thing for the country.

The left thrives with the passionate idealism youth brings, and we need a bit of that in our political discourse. We need people fighting for rain forests, campaigning against battery hens, being horrified at financial excesses of big business. It’s a gaping hole that the parties of the right tend to not articulate well, being preoccupied with the financial and authoritarian excesses of big government, of the family and work ethic being eroded, of supporting the idea that trade and reward for efforts are ingredients for the success of society.

But the left are also good at hoovering up the votes of the ignorant, of encouraging a sense of entitlement, of thinking that problems must be solved with the force of government at the expense of individual freedom. They can get a crowd enthusiastically endorsing an 80% cut in CO2 output, without realizing the actual question was “do you want to destroy your economy and lose your job for a negligible effect in the atmosphere – thanks, we now have the mandate.”

Many are chasing the youth vote for their own reasons. The debate will rise again, as it did in the 1970’s. The push will come and the arguments will seem strong. On reflection, I don’t find them compelling though, and the relentless push to lower the age doesn’t automatically turn young people into full adults. We may be giving them rights they are ultimately entitled to, but that means we continue to shrink the period in their life they have to transition from child to full member of society. What really, is the hurry?

See also: If we can have sex, why can't we vote?

Kiwiblog: Herald on Twyford

[Minor update 16 July on concluding paragraphs] And here's a post where the Greens argue weakly for lowering the voting age: Green is another word for immature

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Andrei All browsers are not created equal

Actually I'm sure you all know that - it is quite revealing to look at the stats for the various websites I am associated with and look at the browser usage which varies quite considerably from site to site. On this site for example FIREFOX is the clear favourite accounting for 51% of the visitors. With another site I am associated with it is Internet explorer which dominates with 62% of the visitors using that. Over 20% of the visitors for that site are still on the dreaded MSIE 6 which is such a pain when developing web pages as is MSIE 7 to a lesser extent since they obey their own rules(1) - meaning of course a beautifully laid out web page turns to custard when viewed in these browsers and has to be tweaked to get it looking right usually to its detriment in other browsers.

Anyway below are screen prints a picture displayed in six browsers using the exact same html. The difference is remarkable.

What has happened here is a large image has been resized using HTML to a smaller size and a screen print taken of the result. Best practice of course is to resize the image to the required display size using graphics software. The images you are viewing are not scaled at all (except the initial scaling done by each browser), so hopefully the differences in results will be readily apparent regardless of which browser you are using.

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Image 4
Image 5
Image 6

Your mission should you decide to accept it is to match which browser rendered which image. The browsers are presented in random order and each is the most current version.

  1. Chrome
  2. Safari
  3. MSIE 8
  4. SeaMonkey
  5. Firefox
  6. Opera

Theoretically some of the browsers use the same rendering engine but each image has rendered differently regardless of that.
(1) Being a naturally curious fellow after writing this post I checked it out in various browsers. To my not very great surprise MSIE 7 mangles it slightly while MSIE 6 totally screws it up. I know why and could probably - with effort fix it. But its only a blog post after all.

Lucia Read aloud to your children

The most important thing a parent can do to help their child do well at school is to read aloud to that child. And not just every once in a while, but regularly. Maybe do it as part of your bed time routine.

Reading aloud to our children has been my husband's responsibility ever since our oldest was very little. One of the interesting side effects of reading to the children has been their very large vocabulary. People used to comment, especially when my youngest was really little (age 3) at the really "big words" he used. I was just reminded of this fact when reading one of the brochures on Jim Trelease's site. He said in Ten Facts Parents Should Know About Reading:
LISTENING comprehension comes before reading comprehension. You must hear a word before you can say it or read and write it. If you’ve never heard the word “enormous” in a meaningful way, you won’t understand it when it’s time to read or write it. There’s a kind of “word reservoir” in a child’s brain and one of the jobs of a parent is to pour so many words into it that it overflows into speech and then reading and writing. By age four, high-income children have heard 45 million words from their families and low-income children have heard just 13 million. That’s a 32 million word difference equalling one year’s head start for the advantaged child.
Related Link: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

ZenTiger A couple of stories

If a last-minute legal challenge fails, from Tuesday, gun owners in the state of Tennessee will be allowed to carry their weapons in a lot more public places. It used to be that only the bad guys packed. Gunning for a law change

"The US budget deficit has moved above $1 trillion for the first time - with three months of the financial year remaining. And last week a senior US Democrat said that legislators must be willing to consider the possibility of a second economic stimulus package." Those Democrats never do things by half do they?

"Researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered that cats use a "soliciting purr" to overpower their owners and garner attention and food." Like putty in their paws.

Monday, July 13, 2009

ZenTiger BS Index

"This is the last chance the government have got to make something work - if it doesn't work then there's nothing else one can do." [Yeah, right. Until the next tax payer funded campaign.]

"In the end I think legislation will be required if we're going to nail the problem of obesity." [Yep, legislation is the solution to every problem. smacking, eating, drinking, driving, and even breathing (or at least expelling CO2]

Another Global Epidemic has been declared, with the epicentre in government headquarters around the world, and also here in NZ, to create a tsunami of government intervention using more of our tax dollars.

Like all brilliant government ideas, the purpose of collecting data is to justify growing the government to solve a problem, even if it isn't really a problem. This is yet another example.

Ozy Mandias explains how all the hard training has helped the All Blacks come closer to realizing their dream of taking the World Cup. The world cup for obesity.

The bureaucracy has this little measurement tool called a BMI, we citizens have our own index - something a bullshit detector. Ozy's post illustrates the bullshit detector is far more accurate.

All the fat is in government, and trimming it would help fatten our wallets and ensure our health.

Have a Kit Kat Ozy. You've earned it.

(And Kit Kat is made by Nestle (after acquiring Rowntree in 1988), not Cadbury's. It's a snack even an Orang-utan can eat!)

Update: Hey, wait-a-minute. Kit Kat contains modified palm oil. Is this a world wide conspiracy?

Related Link: All Blacks are obese

Related Example: Unhealthy Governments Consume Far Too Much Tax

ZenTiger Rowan on democracy

Jenny Rowan, Mayor of Kapiti Coast on one hand said this of the smacking referendum:

"The decision on smacking had already been made, and revisiting it is a waste of money. The Prime Minister is not going to change anything."

and on the same page of the Kapiti Observer [pg 4, July 13, 2009] said this of the government decision to cut the Community Adult Education budget:

"I'm very pleased to see the community fight back to stop night class cuts around the country and I want to lend my support to this campaign.

Well Jenny, you are just wasting people's time and money by fighting back. If I can quote you, the decision on community education has already been made. The Prime Minister is not going to change anything. Maybe.

Or consider this another way Jenny. You are exercising your democratic right and a whole lot of tax payer funds (in your time, your salary and your position) to fight for something you believe in. So extend the same courtesy to the people that signed to initiate a referendum on smacking.

The threshold to trigger a referendum is high. This hardly ever happens, and it is disappointing to see people like Rowan and Key, who rely on a public referendum to put them in their jobs to dismiss the process when it doesn't suit them.

What was also disappointing is the amount of factual errors and misconceptions in a near full page article that "explained" the referendum. I'll cover that another time.

For now, I'll leave you with the point that elected officials who advocate to shut down democratic process are merely demonstrating that they don't really want to listen to constituents unless it suits. In many respects, the exact wording of the question is irrelevant. The fact that it made it to the referendum stage is something elected "representatives" could treat with more respect.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ZenTiger Prejudicing the trial

The Solicitor General's office is investigating whether to take bloggers to court over commenting over the current trial of Clayton Weatherston. Apparently, jurors are likely to ignore the evidence presented during the trial and turn instead to blogs to get the full story. Really?

Perhaps the problem here is not so much bloggers, but the media who run with every small snippet of information daily. You don't think they are trying to instigate discussion?

I understand the reasoning behind not wanting to prejudice the trial, but Pandora's box was opened long ago, and we need to be very careful how far we go in stamping out the right to express an opinion publicly. Much of what is being discussed is only what the media are reporting - and the jurors are likely to consider what they see and hear first hand to be far more relevant. I thought jurors are instructed not to discuss the trial, read news stories or do their own "research" on the internet. Easier to manage the jurors than the rest of the public, surely?

In any event, I shall refrain from speaking further about this trial until the verdict is delivered.

But lets go down that path for just a moment. I wonder if we can set the Law Commission on another public trial:

The Solicitor General's office is investigating whether journalists, left wing bloggers, government departments, Ministers of Parliament and political lobby groups such as Barnardos, are prejudicing the August referendum on smacking.

"When 300,000 plus people democratically exercise their right to call a referendum asking if a smack should be a criminal offence, it is extremely prejudicial for others to seek to divert democracy by calling for the referendum to be cancelled, or to suggest the question is confusing on the basis hitting a child with a lump of concrete is the same as a smack.

Equally, it is dishonest to say that beating a child to the point of hospitalization under the previous law is legal, as if that level of force would be considered "reasonable" by 12 good people (actually, 11 out of 12 is all that is required from July 2007).

In short, all such commentary is extremely prejudicial to having a fair referendum as it is total bollocks.

We'll be locking all these people up for showing contempt of the democratic process."


Related Link: Blogs under scrutiny

Hat tip: Keeping Stock - Weatherston Trial

Andrei Presidential infallibility?

Leftoid progressives can be unintentionally funny on occasion and this is one of those occasions.

Newsweek guest columnist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend asks the question "Is Obama more Catholic than the Pope?" and concludes "Without a Doubt".

And how does the good Kathleen Kennedy Townsend arrive at this astonishing conclusion I hear you ask?

In truth, though, Obama's pragmatic approach to divisive policy (his notion that we should acknowledge the good faith underlying opposing viewpoints) and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists. When Obama meets the pope tomorrow, they'll politely disagree about reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, but Catholics back home won't care, because they know Obama's on their side. In fact, Obama's agenda is closer to their views than even the pope's.

Got that?

If you are puzzled by this reasoning let me explain - because Obama's thinking is in line with the belief structure of Liberal post modern thinking guest columnists he is far more in tune with Catholic thinking than a cradle Catholic who has risen to the position of Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

There is a great deal more to the Christian Faith and Roman Catholicism than "reproductive freedoms and homosexuality" my friends as I am sure most of you are fully aware. Nor do I an Orthodox Christian think the Pope is wrong in the positions he takes on these matters.

The liberal warblers may not like the what the Pope says about these things - not like it at all in fact but that does not in any way make the Pope wrong.

Au contraire if the Pope were to bend to the winds of liberal populism rather than remaining true to the Faith which sustains us I for one would rapidly lose my respect for him. And I have the utmost respect for him, indeed I do.

If it comes down to it when choosing who's words have the greater validity on any controversial topic its no contest-no contest at all.