Posts by tussock

  • 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 • 480 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 • 480 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 • 480 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 • 480 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 • 480 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 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness,

    So, speaking of the police raiding the guy who wrote a book that seriously inconvenienced the political aspirations of the previous minister of police, who had obviously had a part in appointing our most senior police officers, often photographed with them touting the new powers she'd given them ...

    Wouldn't it just be nothing other than that? He hurt Judith, a friend to the boys in blue, so he gets the stick. Bound by the law this is the worst they can give him, hovering around the family for a day and walking out with his work gear while worrying him on the phone. Putting it all away for evidence of something they'll never get around to, so basically just stealing all his stuff, lawfully.

    Putting airs on the police about seeking to intimidate journalism or something, every experience in my life with police suggests they are much simpler than that. Someone they like (someone like them) got hurt, they dish it out in return, all legal like.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why we should not dismiss…, in reply to HORansome,

    I'm with you up until that point, and all I want to say is that I don't think we need to bake into the definition of a conspiracy theory that it's for personal gain or anything vaguely nefarious or malevolent.

    True. I'd protest that I'm coming from the view where "personal gain" includes doing things you feel good about, incentives in general. People can conspire to throw someone a surprise party for "selfless" reasons that totally give them a high and great sense of accomplishment and community building. But that would be silly. So I won't.

    I agree people can be disinterested conspirators, just in it to be in it, or benevolent conspirators (AKA creepers) aiming to brighten someone's day. The deniability and lack of openness is very prone to problems though, no matter how well meaning folk are.

    Not every plan is a conspiracy, you can inform all the interested parties (and even just the curious). Banks do just loan people money at a profitable published rate, as well as conspire to jack house prices up with their mobile mortgage managers helping everyone bid as much as they can afford at auctions because they're loaded up on cheap credit and need to get it out there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why we should not dismiss…,

    The thing about secret conspiracies, is that the CIA and various other spooks are massive public organisations which have been proven to do really horrible things, including murdering people who challenge them in the courts. And they're not secret organisations, there's a line in their government's budget for them, it's just that most everything they do is legally secret, to the point of torturing people for years who tell anyone.

    Like how we have monopolistic supermarkets that drive up prices and drive down service. Monopolistic power supply arrangements that drive up prices and drive down service. Monopolistic telecommunications companies that drive up prices and drive down service. Dairy, fuel, fertiliser, etc. Those are all massive public conspiracies in NZ, taken part in by government as a stealth poll tax, that are still basically secret in their internal workings. There's not a lot about that stuff in the newspapers, they don't teach it in school, but you might find it in a blog comment on occasion.

    The funding arrangements for the National party, through the "secret" trusts, where all their ministers are obviously just selling policy for donations (hello Sky City) and you can't prove that because it would be illegal to do so, and they'd just deny it anyway.

    The thing with Peter Jackson where the unions got ambushed with a massive publicity campaign for National's surprise new labour laws and then the company got $30 million dollars of public money for no reason at all (what law does Bill English even use for those?). I mean, the history of that story was the company wanting to shift the movie for years and the rights holders saying it had to be made in NZ by Peter Jackson or not at all, and then we just all pretended otherwise for a while so Peter could un-lose his court case and treat his workers like shit again. Gigantic conspiracy, in plain sight, for obvious reasons, never quite see it expressed that way on the news, because they're part of it.

    Where private information about people who complain about this government keep getting illegally leaked via bloggers to the press. Where the press are openly threatened for reporting things about the government they'd rather stay quiet.

    Māori TV, holding government to account: suddenly former National party ministers put in charge, troublesome award-winning newsfolk suddenly demoted and removed from programming control. Focus returned to, basically, faff and nonsense. Key has openly threatened TV1 with the same whenever they dig too hard at his government, and people very tight with National have been involved in their programming for ages now.

    I mean, you see a news article about some new policy, it's been floated by a secret donor, taken up by their pet minister, pushed through the ministry, market-tested with polling to get the sales pitch right, there's pet reporters to talk up the good it'll do, there's attacks on the character of people pointing out any flaws carried out and printed happily by certain journalists. That's not exactly secret, any of it, but no one really sees it that way.

    A conspiracy is just a few people doing stuff out of public sight that's deniable and for personal gain. Huge numbers of things are that. The risks that big banks get into when they know the government will always bail them out if things go wrong, the ratings agencies who get paid handsomely to downplay those risks, the brokers who get crazy kickbacks to pile it all up higher, the regulators who still work for the fucking banks.

    Maybe they don't even need to conspire, maybe their perverted interests just naturally align, but a bit of a wink and a nod go a long way when there's a few thousand dollars come with it. "Everyone's doing it" don't you know, it's just, they weren't always doing it, it started somewhere, with people talking about doing it, as a conspiracy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Election 2014: the no…,

    And with the specials counted (update the post!) the Greens grab a seat off New Zealand First, instead of from National, in this counterfactual situation.

    Still 7 seats change
    +5 Conservative and +2 Mana,
    National -3, Labour -2, Green -1, NZ First -1.

    @PualRowe, Without National supporting Dunne, his overhang disappears and the other seats remain the same. They need 61/120 instead of 61/121, which means they need to get one more seat voting for S&C somewhere to govern.

    In this counterfactual, it's National 57 + anyone that adds to 4, so Labour (free trade and neoliberalism), Greens (socialism), Winston (nationalism), Colin (kicking the poor), Maori/MANA, Maori/UF/ACT, MANA/UF/ACT.

    Without United, the last two options disappear and they're back to 5 ways to pass legislation. Note that the opposition can also pass things by including all but National+2, which seems unlikely. Blocks asset sales though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

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