Posts by tussock

  • Hard News: Garbage in, garbage out,

    So, let's say the National Party knows that hanging shit on poor people and nominal criminal types is a reliable vote winner with the swingers. For argument's sake (because it isn't always that way).

    Let's say then they wanted to win votes, desperately. To win the election. Which was very close despite Labour getting beat up in the press afterward. Because they wouldn't be politicians otherwise, eh.

    What would be their imperative to tell the truth? Say they asked for a few different reports over the years and one was clearly bullshit but served their interests. Even without trying to get a broken report, they get a lot of them anyway and can just hang onto the right bits of the right ones for election time. Because the sky is falling and it's not the time to rock the boat => votes.

    Surely that's the expected behaviour. They don't want to start a civil war or anything, but demonising people in counter-cultural social clubs, people out of work a long time, anyone the swing voter is unlikely to know personally, it wins elections.

    So when something comes out near an election, a bit close to dig into it effectively, and it's one of those shitty vote-winners for them, it's going to be bullshit. Not fabricated, just wrong and probably long ago corrected.

    It seems like that should be the default assumption, because it's something they are strong incentives to do. Ministerial wage type benefits. Prestige. Just the thrill of winning, really, compared to the kick in the pants of losing.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: The Song of Angry Women,

    There's been a substantial fall in the number of people who couldn't really understand why misogyny was bad, in various forums I frequent, as a result of gamergate conversations. Not to mention the great deal of further instruction that arose, about treating people decently no matter who they are, even when they're not present (because they usually are, duh).

    People I never really expected to be convinced of that have come on side. Not that the arguments were pretty, but almost no one wants to be on the side that's … those guys. They are exceptionally creepy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Housing, hope and ideology, in reply to Richard Aston,

    eg The 3 Strikes policy , simple ( dumb) solution to a complex problem but I bet it pulled in the punters ( um voters) .

    3 Strikes was ACT policy when they got under 1%. National passed it because ACT is the vehicle for their policies that voters hate.

    @Land values.
    See, building housing is profitable, because you buy bare land and put houses and roads and sewers and communications on it which makes the land worth a lot more money.

    People do it for a living, because it's profitable (and you can hand off the risks to all sorts of suckers), but it's even more profitable to build mansions rather than public housing. Which is why National has been tearing down public housing to build private mansions.

    They know building houses for poor people is profitable to the state, they'd just rather not. Like their tax system starves them of money for public health and education, but there's plenty of money for huge new public spending on private schools and hospitals. Like the beneficiaries have to be treated like criminals all the time, but those regulations on employers are a bit tough because obviously none of them would ever abuse weak-ass employment laws.

    They say it's about cost. In a way that's even true, being a decent society would make it more expensive to get people to fluff their pillows for them. How inconvenient is it that the poor don't give you free housemaids any more? Benefit cuts, that's what we need. Market rents. Got to keep "costs" down.

    That's what people vote for. Privilege. Not how rich you are, but how much richer. Having a few things that other people can't have is much nicer than having more things, don't you know.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Housing, hope and ideology,

    It's the underpants gnomes all the way down, except they've got a step 2.

    1: Supply and demand works, for profit maximisation.
    2: Price-indexed subsidies to remove the price drag on demand.
    3: Profit!!!!!
    3a: Also a massive subsidy cost, borrowed from future generations. Suckers.

    Obviously if you cared about making rent prices come down, you'd increase the supply. Of things for people to rent. Like houses. Or reduce demand by taking people out of the rent market. By giving them a state house with a low rent. That's what works. For people who aren't landlords.

    So for a thousand people to support them in income related rents costs us $12 million, to build a thousand state homes costs us half a billion.

    1: It doesn't take a thousand homes to house a thousand people.
    2: If you actually build a thousand homes, you get massive bulk discounts, like how you can fit them all in a few big buildings.
    3: The money you spend on rent is a "loss", while the money on houses is an "investment". That means the house money is still on your books. Think of it as a $12 Million+ (you also get rents) return per annum on your $500 million- (how are they spending $500k per house anyway? They can get land cheap, prefabs cost fuck all, so whut?) investment.

    Which is to say, this is all about giving money to the bourgeoisie.

    (in Marxist theory) the class that, in contrast to the proletariat or wage-earning class, is primarily concerned with property values.

    Muldoon was the same with the subsidies for farmers in the little farm seats. Key is with propping up the dairy. Find the biggest, most precarious bubble in your economy, pump a whole lot more air into it whatever the cost, and hope like hell it holds until the next government's term. Meanwhile, more wine for the drunks: other people's sobriety is bothering them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness,

    If word gets around this thread could get really long.

    So I always like to drop into these conversations that if some thug beats the snot out of you or breaks all your stuff out of spite, it's bloody nice to have a police force that will take offence on your behalf and go sort them out, and then later also take them to court for you.

    Assuming someone can point them in the right direction and they happen to like the look of you more than said thug.

    The thing is the police really need to be quite gentle about even that, on account of how they've so often got the wrong end of the stick along the way. Not to mention all the victimless crimes that so easily fill in their charge sheets for them. Otherwise we end up with a lot more victims of the police and the law than of any actual thugs.

    Which is where you get the "jokes" about resisting arrest and assaulting an officer by bruising his knuckles with your face. Or bleeding on his uniform as a bit of a shocker from the US recently.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: What to make of the spray, in reply to mark taslov,

    OK, so I don't think the government can use evidence from 2008 in the decisions they made in 2006. Time, it only goes one way.

    The numbers from are you seeing patterns in noise, confirmation bias. 1/256 is ONE PERSON. There's no R^2 there, it's not even a correlation, let alone causative.

    The "silent crisis" people aren't saying there's an increase, they're saying we could do more with the large numbers of people who die of that group of cancers and always have died from them. Which is where we could do more with pretty much everything in NZ. 30% tax doesn't pay for itself.

    People being evacuated after showing unusual reactions is because people who show early allergic symptoms from anything are prone to anaphylaxis with continued exposure. Metal. Plastic. Peanuts. Sawdust. Bee stings. Anything.

    Worldwide death rates for anything are useless for NZ. Almost everyone in the world is very poor, and those people die of things that don't happen here. Few of them live long enough to get our most common forms of death, heart attacks and cancer. We have more cancer deaths than poor countries because we don't die of everything else first.

    Yes, pesticides and herbicides and fungicides often show health problems in heavily exposed populations down the track, more so in the past (especially in NZ where things sometimes got dumped after being banned elsewhere, under the Bretton-Woods system you sometimes had to buy some awful crap to be able to export /aside). But they're mostly very rare and located in people who are regularly exposed in relatively massive doses. I've got a cousin used to spray for a living and had to stop after developing nasty allergies due to constant wind-blown exposure, unrelated congenital problems making it much worse. Nearly killed him one day and he finally thought better of it.

    But compared to normal stuff like particulates from road traffic (or, say, the sugar added to your food), the numbers exposed in dangerous amounts are tiny and so are the number of deaths. Workers are much better protected and the sprays are much better targeted at specific organisms.

    Like, the one farmer who gave himself a hundred doses every couple weeks for two years, that's not how people in Auckland were exposed.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which took place in the 12 and 13th centuries.

    The Troubles in Northern Ireland are rather more recent. The Bosnian war, an ongoing extension of the Balkans Muslim purges dating back to 1812. The foundation of Israel. The Russian pogroms. The Holocaust. The Armenian Genocide. Manifest Destiny in the Americas.

    They all had their witch trials. Special courts for the lesser people, with less care for evidence or stated charges or rights to this and that, eventually falling to death for guilt by association. It was just enough that you were Catholic, or Muslim, or Orthodox, or Jewish, or NOTA.

    What are the thousands of drone strikes but yet another witch trial? Secret evidence, secret charges, guilt by association, no right to a defence, and the sentence is death (but only for Muslims, naturally).

    There's been this thing in our press for years now, that radical Islam is somehow unique in the modern world it's barbarity or factionalism or power of the church, or anything at all. Some reason to "other" them and not feel their bones crushed under the weight of imperialist bombs.

    But really? George W. Bush, a man who hinted that he regularly talked to his lord Jesus about which countries he should invade, and then dredged up a bunch of bullshit as evidence to support that, refused to hear any defence, and went on to murder a "we don't count enemy casualties" worth of people. Set up a secret court with secret evidence for all those "terrorists" who fought back. Supported by a bunch of crazy religious zealots in the US.

    It just doesn't seem very 13th century to me, that someone would take religious offence at other people and send tens of thousands of armed men out to save them all or kill them in the attempt to stop the spread.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative,

    I've always preferred the mirror of Islamic fundamentalism to the Christian fundamentalism of the reformation wars. Those thrice-damned protestants with their assassination of political leaders, visceral hatred of music and art and fun, destruction of ancient religious monuments, and strait up genocide of regions who refused to follow their one true way of worship.

    The insistence that all must be taken from the Word of God in His book, and none from a contemporary examination of it, the expulsion of it's prominent leaders from the stable states into more loosely governed areas, the theocracies they set up, the peasant rebellions they inspired so ruthlessly crushed by the great imperial states, the mass executions (by the thousands) to stop the spread of the radical ideas.

    The following fragmentation of the great empires along religious lines, the endless wars between their successor states as each great noble family tried to save the souls of their neighbours or kill them off to stop the rot. The depopulation of vast chunks of Europe as a result.

    And the peace it eventually codified into. First that each mini-state ruler would be allowed to chose the faith of their people, and not be bound to that of the emperor. Then that all churches would persist in each state as leaders changed. The first codified rules of war to forbid pointless attacks on non-combatants in all Europe, treaties that eventually became our modern laws against war crimes, as each new horror was forbidden by cooler heads after the fact.

    16th and 17th centuries. The same time period as the scientific revolution, the green revolution, the growth of modern cities, founding of universities, Newton's laws, the great water and wind powered pre-industrial states with endless canal construction, river diversion and land recovery from the sea, ever-deeper mines with great Rube-Goldberg pumps and sumps.

    It's not modern by a long way, but it's no closer to medieval. The founding of the American colonies was by religiously fanatic puritans hounded out of their homelands for being associated with horribly violent killjoys.

    The reformation was an attempt to cleanse the church of the influence of money, how it's influence had corrupted the heads of state into lawless abominations. The Salafi movement in Islam is pretty similar. Brutal puritanism in response to the corruption, legal immunity, and cruelty of the heads of state bought by great wealth, and accompanying rejection of everything the modern nation-state brings with it. Which is naturally captured and directed by various heads of state for their own Machiavellian ends, as the protestant reformation movement was.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I suspect it’s something to do with being traumatised by the discovery that one was deceived over the existence of Santa Claus.

    In Oz (Vic.), where I went to school on and off instead of NZ, they teach teenagers not to trust the police. In high school. It's a very old thing between the teachers union and the cops to some extent, but it's also an accurate lesson on police powers and the best use of individual rights in the face of them. From memory, "don't say anything, get your parents in, get a lawyer in, let your lawyer talk, no exceptions".

    Obviously we don't have that here, but the news media is also very police-friendly in terms of framing stories and demonising the "criminals". That probably leads back to access, you only get the stories if you can tell them right.

    My experience is most people in NZ think the police are this magical wall holding back the growing darkness, and continue to until one day a policeman stitches someone they know up for some bullshit little thing and their whole world tuns upside down for a while. Then none of those media stories about "criminals" look quite the same again.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: What to make of the spray,

    So, basically, it's a vital and effective antibiotic that kills between 1 in 24,000 and 1 in 240,000 depending on application method, with sufficient dosage. Thought to be a rare genetic susceptibility.

    It's banned in food because it's an antibiotic, and they're all banned in food. We're trying to preserve the effectiveness of our useful antibiotics.

    It does increase childhood leukemia rates, but there's no evidence for it increasing adult leukemia. The rates of childhood leukemia from Auckland's DHB over the relevant periods should probably be available somewhere, as should the rates of all leukemia.

    Seems like the expected number of deaths from it should be zero (up to about 3). The government of the day refusing to publish the active ingredients would have worked to prevent to nocebo effect to a large degree, against the crap going out in the media.

    Writing from his extensive experience of treating cancer (including more than 1,000 melanoma cases) at Sydney Hospital, Milton (1973) warned of the impact of the delivery of a prognosis, and how many of his patients, upon receiving their prognosis, simply turned their face to the wall and died an extremely premature death: "... there is a small group of patients in whom the realisation of impending death is a blow so terrible that they are quite unable to adjust to it, and they die rapidly before the malignancy seems to have developed enough to cause death. This problem of self-willed death is in some ways analogous to the death produced in primitive peoples by witchcraft ("Pointing the bone")."

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

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