Posts by Russell Brown

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  • Radiation: New season,

    I'm not a Dr. Who fan, but having seen how brilliant the guy from Torchwood was in season 19 of Nevermind the Buzzcocks (on divx from a bit-torrenting friend, in keeping with the current topic), I'd be keen to see it!

    You mean the Amstell-Barrowman gay-off? Genius:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: AIA and Maori Seats,

    Really? Got any evidence? Frankly I think that is a huge assumption. Did Fay Richwhite have such concern over rail? What about Alan Gibbs and Telecom?

    In both those cases, there were actually large foreign shareholders who took huge dividend incomes out of the respective companies, at the same time as they ran down capital investment.

    New Zealand government debt was retired with the $4.2 billion Ameritech and Bell Atlantic paid for Telecom in 1990, which was good, but it's actually hard to see what value they brought the company after that -- Rod Deane once muttered something about the "advice and assistance on projects" they provided, but it's hard to see what advice would have been commensurate with the cash they took out of the company. Their chief influence was probably on the size of dividends.

    So that's one reason to be wary of big foreign shareholders moving into established businesses. Perhaps the Canadians were in it for the long haul, but a 30% voting bloc is a pretty big one if they suddenly decided to rip out cash and exit.

    I'm also in agreement with Stephen about the different forms of investment. Vietnam is taking billions every year in foreign direct investment, but it's nearly all for new ventures.

    I don't buy that this sort of restriction is a major barrier to equity investment in transport infrastructure, if only because everyone else, including the Australians and the Canadians (who are moving from federal to regional ownership of airports) is doing it. The manner are timing are another matter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: AIA and Maori Seats,

    Does it? I'd kinda thought that reducing the current account deficit meant that *reducing* the country's reliance on foreign investment was imperative, especially given that the investment income deficit for the last recorded quarter (Sep 2007) was $3,255m – that's nearly 90% of the $3,628m current account deficit.

    Killer point. It would be nice to see the Herald's editors respond to that. Unfortunately, they don't respond to anything.

    I though Mark Weldon had a pretty good take on it on Morning Report today: as a policy move, it's very much in line with international trends, but the manner and timing of it are more ... unusual.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • PA Radio: Ukelele Orchestration,

    Schoolteacher Kevin Fogerty -- who you may know from such great bands as The Knobz -- talks about the Play it Strange plan to bring the ukelele into New Zealand schools as the instrument that kids first pick up and learn.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Community Modelling with DAS,

    Oh! And I was thinking about experts cage-wrestling, and I remembered the first article David H did for PA, on energy policy. That was a wee gem. Maybe that would be a good area for expert death-matches getting closer to the election: experts analysing party policy in their particular area.

    Good idea. I love the idea of informed comparison of policy, rather than the usual tit-for-tat of talking heads from the respective parties.

    I suspect finding commentators as knowledgeable and able to write as well as David does ain't going to be easy, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Laying Down the Law,

    Yeah I've started getting email from Nicky Wagner at work. Unsure how this happened - or why she wants me to attend a seminar to determine whether I'm a liberal.

    Having read her blog, I can see how that would get annoying.

    We've had three different political parties mentioned here as sending unsolicited emails. Unfortunately, they are beyond the reach of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, which only applies to commercial messages.

    If there has been a breach of faith in the acquisition of the email addresses, that seems wrong. On past form (eg: Muriel Newman's disgraceful behaviour in providing the addresses of her newsletter subscribers to her husband so he could spam them with investment tips) I'm be more inclined to suspect Act of that than the others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Laying Down the Law,

    To be quite cynical, can we just write this off as a rather lame attempt to sex up another 'Labour has another humiliatingly bad polling cycle'.

    Yeah, it is getting a bit hard to find a new angle on that at the moment ...

    News organisations have an incentive to make the most of their polling data -- they've paid good money for them, after all, and each poll is exclusive by definition -- but the Herald has just gone silly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Laying Down the Law,

    This is the sort of data which would make a social scientist embarassed (I know social scientists are the butt of many jokes, but one thing you can credit them with is basic stats). Sadly, journalists seem to have no sense of shame about using data sane people would regard as junk.

    Thank, I/S, most illuminating.

    It probably seems like I bang on about the Herald a lot, but it's my local paper and I should be able to rely on it. Leaving aside any argument about partisanship, my local paper is becoming a prime vehicle for bad science.

    Someone I know took a close relative to the doctor last Friday. That relative has bipolar disorder and has had several major psychotic breaks. They got to the doctor and he declared that he should go off his meds -- because he'd read in the paper that they didn't work. He was convinced otherwise, but the possibility remains that he'll decide to stop himself. It's a wildly dangerous situation.

    And what did the Herald do? Buried two complaints about the SSRIs story at the bottom of the next day's letter's page and ran away. This was the previous day's lead story.

    Then you have Garth George (and on one occasion, Fran O) given a platform to bang away about what nonsense global warming is, without really having any idea what he's talking about.

    If the paper's business section was as loose with the facts as that, there'd be hell to pay.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Laying Down the Law,

    The other thing that made the voters' preferences less "clear" than the editorial sought to assert was the fact that only decided voters were reported. How many were undecided? Did they have a view on coalitions?

    Also, these preferences don't have much meaning until everyone has announced some actual policy, which would logically have a significant bearing on the views of the respective voters.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: If it's Sunday...,

    BTW - The US media are crediting the Drudge Report for 'breaking' the Prince Harry in Afghanistan story. This despite Drudge themselves crediting their sources. Obviously their world view does not include the German and Australian magazines that did it first in January ...

    That's not the half of it. An American blogger has dug up all the stories that blew the gaff last June.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

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