Posts by Stephen R

  • 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 • 202 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 • 202 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 • 202 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 • 202 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 • 202 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 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Art with a job to do, in reply to Moz,

    Although I also think there's a good case for saying that the PKK/PYD army are fighting exactly for human rights and specifically women's rights.

    I'd probably say they're fighting for their existence. Between Turkey and ISIS, I suspect that if the Kurds just rolled over, many (most?) of them would be killed as being "the wrong sort". That appears to have been the case for a long time.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reading Murder Books, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Barry Hughart's ancient-mythic-China detective novels

    Are they the ones that start with "Bridge of birds" and have "Number 10 Ox" as the sidekick character?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: In defence of the centre, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm not a typical Green voter either (so far as I know), since I mostly like their economic and social policy - environmental issues are a distant 4th or 5th place really

    That's a significant part of why I vote for them - I looked at relevant financial policy and decided that I didn't trust Labour not to screw things up without the Greens keeping them honest, since Michael Cullen left.

    I also think Labour has developed a certain amount of authoritarian tendency that bugs me, which I hope the Greens would help keep in check if they ever got into power together. (I mostly think this after a long conversation with Annette King in her position as Minister for Police who was pushing for the right to confiscate people's stuff without having to convict them of a crime.)

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Ten Thousand Maniacs,

    Totally affected by the fact that I've walked down some of those streets, and I have much sympathy for the people of Paris, but Francois Holland's speech about having war declared on them made me a little uneasy.

    Given that the French have been bombing ISIS in Iraq since September 2014, why are they surprised that ISIS fought back? Since ISIS doesn't have an airforce that could bomb Paris, this is exactly the sort of attack they must have been expecting. I'm uneasy at the implication that "it's OK for us to bomb their cities and hospitals because any civilians we kill are collateral damage, but it's not OK for ISIS to shoot civilians in our country because they're intentionally shooting civilians."

    To be clear, I'd really rather nobody killed civilians, but that's not an opinion followed by countries with big airforces...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 202 posts Report Reply

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