Thursday, April 19, 2012


An email came in today, through the probligo’s letterbox, from a person calling herself “Estelle Schumann”. I have no idea of who this virtual person might be, but the email was a request that I allow her to write a piece on education to this noble establishment; “a blog post which discusses educational reform, learning theory, and its intersection with the state of standardized testing today could be of some potential value to your readers.”

The attraction for the request was apparently, this post from a long time ago..

Don’t bother going read it, unless you really want to; it centres on a post from another blog and relating to the Iraq war and the blind rantings of a simple American mind who was led to a belief that everything America wants and does is right.

I suspect, and I am not going to try and confirm the suspicion, that the writer of the email has exactly the same motivations in writing to me. Ah… yeah, right!! I suspect that anything he/she/it might leave on my site would be very educational for those coming behind.

The second grin comes from the postscript –
"We only truly learn when the future has become history; when we're leaping forward, turning mistakes into achievements." ~Anonymous

Since when has America ever learnt from their mistakes? When has any aggressor nation ever learnt from their mistakes?

One thing certain, this old guy is not falling for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A nexus in political stupidity...

Just when you thought that Dr Nick Smith would indicate the depths of political stupidity in the current government, nek minit you find someone else has an even worse case of foot and mouth.

Background -

Nick Smith was Minister in charge of ACC (for the furriners that is Accident Compensation Corporation). A good (woman) mate of his had been having a long-term stoush with said ACC concerning the Corporation's rejection of an application for compensation (that is about as simple as I can make it).

He wrote a letter to the Corporation; a sort of personal reference if you like. Unfortunately it was sent on Ministerial letterhead.

The raruraru really got under way when the woman concerned approached the media claiming that she had received from the ACC an email which included a file with the names and details of a good number of compensation claimants. Herald has a reasonable summary of things here.

There is a parallel which has unfolded over the past couple of days.

This second one started with the Acting Prime Minister Jerry Brownlee in a Parliamentary debate describing Finland as
which has worse unemployment than us, has less growth than us, can hardly feed the people who live there, has a terrible homicide rate, hardly educates its people, and has no respect for women."

The best rebuttal probably comes from Finland's equivalent of Laws or Limbaugh. Take a look; it is hilarious...

But the point here is the nexus.

Smith, darling little lad that he is, claimed that the context of the two letters he wrote without revealing personal conflict of interest were such that the Ministerial letterhead would have been on little to no effect.

Sorry Nick, but does sound rather like the shepherd boy who tried to claim that "the shadow over there did look rather like a wolf".

Put it this way -

If Smith had remained as a Minister, how would any Ministerial Directive have been received? Is this Smith with his personal knickers knotted again? Or is it for real? We had better check...

Brownlee's claim, post fact, that his comments "were made in good humour" could have - I believe should have - similar consequences to Smith's indiscretion. His Jonkey boss has had to make direct apologies to the Finnish Prime Minister, a galling thought indeed.

Are we to take Brownlee in the House with any seriousness at all when any he makes statement can be simply dismissed as "in good humour" (irrespective of the consequences)? Is it enough to apologise "if anyone took offence", rather than apologising for his statement that quite a number of people - and at least two European governments other than Finland - thought was offensive? It is less that 150 years since a Parliamentarian in this country was challenged to a duel by another for less. Heaven forfend that Jerry should ever step on the toes of Julia Gillard.

For sure, the Jonkey has a problem; no, make that quite a number of problems. Who is going to shove foot in mouth next? Collins? Sharples?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Justice, late...

It has taken roughly four and a half years.

It has left a thick trail of slime through many of the presumed foundations of NZ's justice system.

It has resulted in yet more legislation intended to limit the rights of NZers to their freedoms of expression, freedoms of thought, and presumption of innocence.

The sorry saga of the Urewera 17 has come to an end, with only four of those originally arrested in Operation 8 appearing in Court, and with only half of the firearm charges against them being proven to the satisfaction of the jury.

The "belonging to an organised criminal group" charge could not be agreed by the jury on a majority (10:1) basis leading to -
Crown prosecutor Ross Burns said the Crown will consider a retrial on the lead charge of belonging to an organised criminal group, which the jurors could not reach a decision on.

"Ordinarily the Crown would proceed to a retrial but it will have to consider it carefully in this case."

Yes, I can well imagine very careful consideration. The aroma of political urging still hangs heavily in the air.

Granny Herald, in an editorial on March 24 opines that -
It is worth recalling the words of the Solicitor-General when he decided the evidence did not support a charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act. He was critical of the act ("unnecessarily complex, incoherent and almost impossible to apply") not the police. They had "a sufficient and proper basis" for concern about what these people were doing.

The video shown at the trial has confirmed that much. If people are going to play games with real guns and explosives anywhere in New Zealand, they had better ensure they are authorised in law. The police may have an apology to make for some of their actions at Ruatoki, but not for their concern about paramilitary activities. On the evidence the public has now seen, they had to act.

Now I will agree with the sentiment, the police may well have had to act. But as the editorial has suggested there are many questions to be answered.

First in my mind is "Why did NZ's Police decide to undertake the raid on Ruatoki in a manner that would have done proud the Para's in Northern Ireland, or the US's best in Iraq?" This is not a country so large that an individual, let alone a group, can be out of sight for too long. This is not (yet) a country at war with itself.

Second, there was very obviously a major police resource sunk into the "investigation" prior to the conclusion of Operation 8. So, the question must be asked, "Why is the same resource not concentrated on resolving other well-known criminal threats within our society?" There are several, self-confessed, organised criminal groups running illegal activites that range from car theft to manufacture and/or import of illegal drugs. Yet the numbers appearing on those kind of charges are very small.

Third, the Herald (along with a lot of other people, I suspect) bewails the cost of the trial - over $2.8 million in legal aid for a start - as "the most expensive in NZ history. Less than $1 million was spent on the prosecution. I for one certainly do not begrudge the legal aid. The outcome of the prosecution is sufficient explanation.

So, those in addition to the questions asked in Herald's editorial...
The public still awaits the Police Complaints Authority's report on that operation. Many wait for that side of the story as anxiously as they have awaited the trial of those arrested that day.

Initially, charges were laid under a new Terrorism Suppression Act until the Solicitor-General ruled that the evidence, while "very disturbing", was not sufficient to establish that any of the 18 people arrested had been planning a particular terrorist act.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On Intellectual Property Rights and copyright...

To all of those who believe that it is their right to steal, take, or copy the work of others there are a couple examples in the news (well, came into my ambit) in the past two days.

First was an article in AP magazine. Oh, you will find this on the 'net but it is a real live paper type version that I have borrowed from the library.

It concerns an English photographer who saw one of his images being used in a magazine and he new darned well that he had not given permission for its use. He enquired and found that the "right" had been purchased from Flikr.

So, there is the first warning. If you are using Flikr for image storage, their "Terms and Conditions" retain the right to use any image and to sell that right to others. It does not limit the "owners" right in any way, but the "owner" does not retain a sole right to his IP.

All of that is quite legal, proper and above board. But how many really sit and read all of the fine print?

The second centres on a young(ish) guy from down south a-ways. Known as "the nek minit" man. He made a quick video which went viral, making "nek minit" the latest in inter-galactic patois.

He has been selling t's with "Nek Minit" on the front in Wellington, proceeds going to his work in reducing bullying in schools. He has (apparently) a detailed and intimate knowledge of that subject. Just down the road, one of the national shop chains in selling t's with "Nek Minute" on the front, proceeds to the chain and an Australian t maker.

There is another NZ company which has registered "Nek Minit" as a trademark. As of last night they had agreed to sell those rights to the man provided he comes up with the cost (a couple of hundred) to reimburse the cost.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A quiet reflection on history...

It is not quite 5 years since the blogger known as "Riverbend" signed off her "Baghdad Burning" blog with a final post from Damascus, Syria.

At that time she was soundly lauded as a beacon of hope and democracy through here cronicaling of events in Baghdad following the deposing of Hussein. In more recent times there have been doubts cast on the truth and validity of both her existence and her record of events.

I have thought of her a number of times over the past few weeks. What is she thinking now of her beautiful new home?