Posts by Stephen R

  • Hard News: Media Take: Three decades on…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Gay men and lesbians who campaigned for the bill were subject to beatings.

    In Christchurch in 1985/86, it wasn't just the people actively campaigning. My girlfriend's flatmate got beaten up, for being one of a couple of blokes walking through Hagley park on their way home to Addington from a night out drinking. A car-load of hoons jumped out and beat the crap out of them for being gay, despite neither of them actually being gay... Put them both in hospital, one with quite serious head injuries.

    I'd like to say there were a lot of dickheads back then, but I'm not entirely sure it's changed.

    Oddly enough, my girlfriend of the time was fairly seriously anti-law-reform, for the convoluted reason that if she was raped, she expected to be anally raped as well, and then she wouldn't have to prove lack of consent in order to get a conviction.

    I'm not sure if that was the real reason, or just one she thought she could give in public. Or whether that's just more evidence that the law had a rep of giving rape victims the raw end of the stick back then too.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: An interview with Ben Goldacre, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It's also the reason I defend so strongly those people who are willing to sit in a committee and try and make those very calls. Yes they will get it wrong sometimes but shit that job is a tough one and anyone willing to take it on deserves respect for their effort.

    My (second hand) understanding is that Pharmac has a way of classifying medicines on a scale that roughly comes out as $/quality life year, and they try to rank all the stuff they could fund in order, and then they work down the list until they run out of money.

    If pharma companies want to improve their chances of having their drug funded, they can come to the party on price (moving their $/QLY up) or release drug studies that show that it's more effective than they thought.

    From what I hear, one of the things that's getting up some noses at Pharmac are the companies who don't release all their study results, just the ones that make them look good...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber driver,

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A cog in the Mediaworks machine,

    I'd have more schadenfreude if I thought Weldon wasn't walking away with well lined pockets...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The place where things happen…,

    Some of the criticism of "Harm minimisation" aligning it with prohibition seems to me to ignore one of the biggest harms around drugs - the risk of getting busted, and having to deal with the criminal side of society to access it.

    The downsides of the "War on Drugs" are significant, quite apart from the actual affect of drugs.

    There was a National Radio interview by Wallace Chapman with an ex-doctor in the UK on a Sunday morning about a year ago (sorry for lack of details) where the doctor had taken over a general practice and discovered that there were about 40 heroin addicts on his books that would come in once a week for a prescribed heroin injection. He was initially horrified, but then met the people. They all were holding down jobs, they were healthy, they didn't have many of negative outcomes associated with Heroin use, they weren't involved in petty crime to pay for their habit etc. He continued the practice and added more addicts to his inherited program. In the following two years, nobody on his books died of an OD.

    Then he got invited to a conference in the US to talk about what was working and why, and he came to the attention of the FBI or DEA or similar. That TLA put pressure on the UK government (can't have drug stories that don't involve prohibition, eh?) who basically booted him out of his practice and stopped the prescription heroin provision.

    Within another two years, a bunch of his ex-patients had died, most had lost their jobs, or descended into the stereotypical heroin addict behaviours including crime to pay for their habits, and the doctor was somewhat depressed about the whole exercise.

    Another interview on the same day talked about how 95%+ of the violence around drugs is associated with the illegal nature of the trade and how the dealers can't go to the cops when they get ripped off or threatened, so they need to react with violence themselves (and how more and more extreme violence is a competitive advantage).

    This suggests to me that harm minimisation is definitely not aligned with prohibition.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Banking on a relationship, in reply to Nick D'Angelo,

    And I try to use my card as soon as I get home, so they know I'm back in NZ. And therefore that luxury handbag purchase in Hong Kong (not on my itinerary) can't be mine.

    That's an interesting wrinkle I hadn't considered. Nice idea.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Banking on a relationship,

    I carefully tell Kiwibank whenever I'm going overseas, with a list of countries I might be spending money in. They have yet to decline my card while I'm travelling.

    I used to do that with Westpac too though (with no problems). I guess I'm just scared about being stuck a long way from home with no working cards.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Banning begging will be about…,

    I had a brief discussion with Cr Sarah Free in Wellington about the whole "text this number to donate money to the council instead of giving to beggars" campaign WCC was running, and my position was that a lot of the people begging on the street are doing so because for whatever reason they can't manage the bureaucracy required to get a benefit and that a WCC fund would just be more of the same kind of hoops to jump through.

    Since they folded the pilot scheme shortly afterward, I don't think I was the only person giving them feedback that the idea was a bit wrongheaded.

    It was with somewhat mixed feelings that I read that Wellington was seen as a soft-touch by street beggars. (Quote from memory: "You don't go hungry in Wellington"). I'd prefer to live in a country that didn't have people who needed to beg to get by, but if we don't have a system that will look after those people, I'm glad that some of the people with means have some compassion towards them.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The unstable Supercity,

    Several things to consider:
    $200k per year is probably half what it's costing per dev, once you take contract rates, Project manager, and hardware.

    Long term projects in large institutions are crippled because nobody wants to tell the new IT manager that they can't do it, and they're pretty sure that if they say that they can do it, in five years either
    a) the person being asked won't be there any more, somebody else's problem
    b) someone else critical to the problem won't be there any more and they can blame them, somebody else's problem
    or
    c) it might actually work!

    Thus at the start of the project the IT manager gets all the good news, and a few years down the track it all goes to pieces.

    As to expecting the final costs to look like the original estimate; the problem won't be sufficiently understood, or described, for anyone to have made an accurate costing. If the people paying get strict about how much they're prepared to pay, the people doing the work can get strict about doing what they were originally asked to do, which probably isn't fit for purpose.

    This is why large long-term IT projects go over-budget.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Dark Sounds of Africa,

    That Spoek Mathambo is an awesome Joy Division Cover... I'm really enjoying it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 206 posts Report Reply

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