Posts by Russell Brown

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  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to BenWilson,

    You got Surged! Topic for another post. It’s definitely not uncontroversial. Riders hate it. Drivers love it. But it’s pretty much a lottery. About 1/20th of my fares are comprised of extra surge charges. I don’t have the stats, but gut feeling is that the possibility of surge adds roughly 5% to the average fare. But the variance is huge!

    Surge pricing is part of the package – you're warned about about it when you request a driver and it's your choice as a rider. From memory, I've only paid it once.

    I've had two drivers I had to one-star. The first after it became clear that the reason he wanted to take me the long way to Newmarket was that he wasn't confident about the SH16 > Southern motorway transition. It got a bit hairy when I insisted he do it and he had to make the lane changes to come off at Gillies Ave.

    The only other driver I've one-starred took too long to find me for a pick-up on Newton Road and then drove (on the motorway) with his phone/GPS in one hand. Ironically, he was in a badged taxi and had clearly launched the Uber app because he wasn't getting any fares. Sometimes I'll take a taxi home late at night because it's easier to just get in a waiting car than call one.

    But in general, and especially for outbound journeys, Uber has been brilliant. Better cars, prompt pick-ups, no fuss on arrival. It's really not just about cost.

    But I'm very uneasy about the lowering of driver standards.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How the years flew by ..., in reply to Andre,

    There has been a breakdown in trust that may take a generation to mend.

    I think this might finally be starting to sink in, actually.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver, in reply to Jean Hughes,

    I feel the same way, but I’m not clear on how to require that.

    By the way, Geoff Cumming's 2014 Herald story on the taxi industry is a very informative background read. Surprising fact: taxi drivers who are company employees don't need a P licence. Weird.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Dunne heard that. I remember watching a Campbell live one night where Dunne went to see first hand the effect his synthetics had had on people.

    They weren't "his synthetics" though. The period of attempted regulation was brief and he'd spent years banning one after the other.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…,

    It's been a strange interesting week and a weird day (Prince!), and the ever-changing security access rules (which it was hard not to see as malicious) made a saga out of getting up to the Level 4 gallery high above the General Assembly. It's a combination of the customary freakout when Heads of State are in the building and some institutional pissiness against the Non Governmental Organisations, or NGOs. In which I got caught up!

    But I eventually got up via the back stairs (no, really) and after only two hours of listening to speeches from peoples whose names started with "His Excellency", the civil society speakers were let on right at the end of the whole three-day summit.

    The third or fourth of those was Tuari Potiki, the chair of the NZ Drug Foundation, the Director of Maori Development at the University of Otago – and a former IV drug addict (and former Hep C patient) who was given his choice, treatment over prison, when he was 28.

    I cried, and I'm still feeling quite emotional about it. In a week of bullshit, it felt very direct, and the applause from the gallery was sustained. Papa Nahi was up on the same level as me and gave a karanga from the front of the balcony. It was a fine interruption to the grind of UN process.

    The video isn't up yet, but the text of the speech is here:

    https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/media/statement-to-UNGASS2016

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…, in reply to nzlemming,

    Apology accepted, but it’s not about what people think now – it’s about what people thought then. That’s where the cause comes from. Happiness was only an effect, and not the most important one, which was legal status and freedom from discrimination (still a work in progress, as with so many other minorities).

    Hmmm ... but greater happiness was an outcome, and if you're measuring outcomes, you'd include it.

    I heard it more in the sense of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which seem a better, more human set of goals than those of comparable declarations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…,

    Anyway, good afternoon of Media Take interviews today.

    The Jamaican solicitor-general Kathy-Ann Brown – who is amazing – couldn't join us at the last moment, but they sent over one of their people with a couple of people from the Jamaican NGOs they're supporting, including a rasta called Ras Iya V. Really good folk, the Jamaicans. Nice to meet them.

    The Mexican journalist we interviewed was pleased with her President's speech, but observed "We need to hold him to it when he gets home." The same applies, I think, to our own Mr Dunne. The words have been very good, now perhaps it's time for the actions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…, in reply to BenWilson,

    The Homosexual Law Reform Act never came about through harm reduction arguments. It came through the argument of it being a fundamental human right.

    Humans rights arguments have been quite strongly advanced at UNGASS, if generally in condemnation of the most serious human rights deprivations – like being killed by the state.

    But I do think it's a useful avenue to pursue here in New Zealand. There will inevitably be more purchase in arguments about the right not to have your ability to work and travel impaired than in the right to get high because you like it, but it's a spectrum.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…,

    Otago Uni having a brag about the other New Zealand speaker, Tuari Potiki.

    http://www.otago.ac.nz/otagobulletin/news/otago609502.html

    He's a great guy, real sense of presence and composure about him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    A more direct consequence of a harm-reduction approach would be the struggle to get raw cannabis legalised and regulated – it would run counter to NZ public health strategies to be green-lighting smoking. Perhaps cannabis would be more likely to get the nod as cannabis products. Or do you run a public health campaign telling everyone how much healthier using a vapouriser is?

    At any rate, the same philosophy would dictate that you would avoid doing further harm to people who chose to smoke anyway.

    With respect to Ben’s substantive point, I’m not sure the kind of goods he means can easily be conceived by the state. Harms manifest at a population level – you measure them in your hospitals and courts. But is there any good way to measure how much more people enjoy music or sex, or just feel happier, when they take drugs? Maybe only individuals can conceive those goods because those goods are individual.

    One way this crosses a line is in the case of Uruguay’s determination to makes legal cannabis a state monopoly. It’s not going to work if you don’t provide the pot people want to buy. I guess demand would be somewhat inelastic – but the market giving everyone exactly the pot they want in Colorado (including for health reasons) seems to make more sense.

    You smell weed all the time on the streets of Manhattan now. And not just weed, but intensely perfumed smoke from what I take to be modern strains. It’s an article of faith in New Zealand that we have the best weed. I’d say it’s more likely we’re yokels these days, taking what we get.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 20868 posts Report Reply

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