Posts by Conal Tuohy

  • Muse: Hooray for Wellywood (Really!),

    But there's an essential truth in the notion that good fences make good neighbours, and so does minding your own god-damed business.

    This proposed sign is hardly a fence or something hidden behind a fence. It's not actually something people can ignore because it's specifically designed to be ENORMOUS (much bigger than the District Plan actually permits) and IN YOUR FACE. In fact "shouting" is how the sign's main proponent describes it. Now that's just not good-neighbourly, and I applaud the people of Wellington for NOT just putting up with bastard neighbours like a bunch of meek and mild sheep. I say good luck to them for sticking up for themselves as a civic-minded community, and certainly if iPredict is anything to go by, the sign is now probably not going to happen.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Libya,

    I know a lot of people have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Western military establishment, especially after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the long foreign occupation, the insurgency, the sectarian violence, the kidnappings and torture, and the sheer scale of the suffering, with hundreds of thousands killed, millions forced to flee their homes, and son on. So many lives were blighted by the arrogant Western supremacism and militarism of Tony Blair, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and others who by rights should have tried and convicted for war crimes.

    It's actually difficult to conceive that Western governments can get away with such things again, and somehow continue to speak from the moral high ground, yet this is precisely what happened again and again in history. The invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan had venerable precedents. The British were having problems with Afghan "talebs" back in the 19th century, and didn't they steal Iraq off the Ottomans? In fact, the history of the Western powers is an almost unbroken history of blood and guts. The European powers once conquered and oppressed virtually the entire world. The US alone must have invaded, attacked, or fomented military coups in pretty much every country of Latin America, many of them (the ones unfortunate enough to be near neighbours) on more than one occasion. In the 20th century they were the origins of both the World Wars; they were responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese; they armed terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Luis Posada Carriles ... in short these countries have serious "form" as war-mongers. It's seriously naive not to acknowledge that's the case.

    And yet ... this time everything is different somehow. This time our bombing campaign will make the world a better place. This time the enemy leader really is a mad dog. This time we won't divide them; we won't plunder their resources; we won't usurp their national sovereignty and foist new laws, financial systems, foreign investors, foreign police forces, new kings and military dictators onto them.

    O RLY? Are we that gullible that we are supposed to believe that? Apparently we are.

    What's the bountiful source of all this historical amnesia? It's like magic, isn't it? The war crimes of the past are down-played, denied, ignored, commuted to "mistakes", and eventually they fade gracefully into obscurity. Of course our side were never that bad; they were well-meaning if occasionally mistaken, and if they were cynical vicious exploiters, well they were at least not as bad as Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot. And anyway, each new election cuts the thread of responsibility for past crimes, leaving each new government with a nice fresh coat of moral uprightness. Even Kissinger, who had to cut back his foreign travel in his retirement for fear of arrest, remained perfectly safe in the US, and his ongoing impunity eventually lent him a false air of respectability.

    I can understand and sympathise with the desire to believe that this time it really is different. This time the Western military will play a really progressive role ... etc. It's an understandable desire because if it really were the case then it would be a wonderful thing.

    I can understand also that some people have a healthy cynicism about the Western powers' motives, but they think that nevertheless it will be different this time. This time, because of the specifics of this particular historical juncture, or for these "10 reasons", this time the material interest of the wealthy countries of the world really will coincide with the interests of the third world, and this time the lion really will lie down with the lamb, if not for the sake of the lamb, then even just because it had some reason of its own to lie down at that particular spot. It sounds nice, but the facts of actual history are against it. If we reject history, then we are rejecting an important lesson that history can teach; that imperialism is a system of exploitation, not a charitable organisation. When imperial powers are given a free hand in other people's countries, they will inevitably wreck and plunder, because that's just how they roll.

    This is why I find it impossible to support the attack on Libya, even though it might save a few lives in the short term. I wonder what pro-interventionists will think in a few years' time, when Libya is partitioned into 2 or 3 neo-colonies, warn-torn, impoverished and indebted, and ruled over by some US-backed strongman. I'm a cynic because I think in that circumstance probably many people will think that a military attack was a great idea nd that if it had just been handled a bit better, or if only the Libyans had been more civilised in the first place, they would have gained so much from the intervention, and it would all have turned out really well.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Coalition of Losers, in reply to sumware,

    The Aussie system has its own peculiarities. ;-)

    Comparing the "two-party preferred" counts of the two main parties misses out the crucial fact that there are third parties.

    In this election, the Greens and independents won seats (and ended up with the balance of power). You wouldn't know that by comparing the "two-party preferred" counts of the two main parties (NB the right-wing "Coalition" are always treated as a single party because they have an electoral non-competition arrangement).

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Don’t let them eat cake,

    People on the minimum wage are "relatively expensive"? How can this be?

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: E=mc^2... Your Views,

    I needed that

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Cracker: All In,

    God no! Don't waste your money betting on Labour at ipredict when Centrebet are paying $3.40 for a Labour PM.

    I got in a couple of weeks ago when they were still paying $5 - yes FIVE BUCKS!!! WTF is all that about? A bunch of Aussie punters who don't understand that NZ has an MMP system? Or just a bunch of over-enthusiastic Kiwi Nats?

    Aunty Helen FTW!

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The odds, and the simply odd,

    Russell, it's worth remembering that the polls are only samples, and biased samples at that - you have to have a phone, you have to answer the phone when the pollster calls, you have to have made up your mind, you have to be inclined to tell the pollster what you think. If one of those doesn't apply, you are excluded from the result (but not, of course, excluded from voting in the actual election).

    If you call on different days of the week, or at different times of the week, you'll get results which are different - systematically and consistently different.

    That's also why these polls generally can't be just "translated into parliamentary seats" as the media can't seem to help itself doing.
    The Colmar Brunton poll, for instance, includes this disclaimer (blithely ignored by Guyon Espiner on One News!):

    NOTE: The data does (sic) not take into account the effects of non-voting and therefore cannot be used to predict the outcome of an election.

    Undecided voters, non-voters and those who refused to answer are excluded from the data on party support. The results are therefore only indicative of trends in party support, and it would be misleading to report otherwise

    One News Colmar Brunton Poll Method Summary

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply