Hard News by Russell Brown


Dunce Dunce Revolution

Here's an irony: in the same month that it becomes clear that educational funding will be diverted from arts and sciences into the narrow curriculum embodied in the government's national standards policy, we can read a major report that doesn't merely criticise the British government's adventure down that path as damn it to hell.

National, and its minister, Anne Tolley, really had no grasp on the implications of its policy at the time it was promised – and, to judge by the way it was whisked through under urgency late last year, had no intention of being troubled by evidence. I made it clear here at the time that I was troubled by the fact that such a major change to New Zealand's educational system could be introduced without debate. And now it's here.

Tolley's whining that schools would have complained just as loudly had she not diverted funding into support for the standards policy is as irksome as it is ridiculous. Lady, it's your policy, not some act of god.

Grant Robertson and Gordon Campbell have more on this.

The British system is not the same as ours, and the Cambridge review covers only primary education – but it finds against nearly everything our impending standards system embodies or implies: school "league tables", a narrow 3Rs curriculum and the bypassing of researchers and educators themselves for political reasons.

In a week when significant changes to the ACC scheme have also been set in motion more on the basis of ideology than evidence, we would to well to contemplate where that kind of behaviour tends to get us.


Phew. After that, I'm happy to say that my boys and I will this weekend embark on an educational activity of quite a different stripe. Yes, it's Armageddon Expo time, and I for one am very glad that the expo has moved to the Auckland Showgrounds. It outgrew the Aotea Centre years ago, and if the suburban streets of Greenlane won't be the friendliest place for cosplayers, the event itself will be easier to stay at for longer.

But how long do you reckon we'll have to stand in line to get Seth Green's autograph?


Last night's Media7 is available on demand from TVNZ. It kicked off with a discussion of the coverage of the Crafar Farms story (where it was particularly useful to hear from Waikato Times editor Bryce Johns) and moved on to an enjoyable look at this year's top conspiracy theories.

I feel a bit remiss in putting Mikey on the spot with respect to one of his friends -- Jonathan Eisen -- without putting similar questions to Vicki Hyde with respect to one of her friends, Skeptics co-founder Denis Dutton. No, I am not saying Dutton is the same as Eisen. But hear me out.

Dutton is essentially a conspiracy theorist on climate change. He imagines that the ideas he finds most politically congenial are marginalised because they are suppressed by the IPCC, governments, etc – and not simply because, in the view of the majority of expert opinion, they lack merit. And, like an intelligent design enthusiast, he has created a website for the "debate" which centres on the depiction of a false equivalence between the ideas he favours and the view of all major expert bodies. It's classic behaviour. And, I think warrants calling when we're bagging the crazy people.


I went along to the launch of the second series of The Jacqui Brown Diaries on Monday, and it looks like it's going to be fun. There's fighting and stuff blowing up all over the place. And there's Media7! Yes, in episode 7, I interview Jacqui's character and ask what happened to the role model she used to be. It was a lot of fun to do.

Anyway, the show kicks off on TV3 tonight at 9.30pm, before 7 Days.


This has turned up in comments, but I think it deserves highlighting again. Communities do not get any safer together than this:

And Paul Henry interviewed Sergeant Guy Baldwin himself on Breakfast this morning.


The inaugural Auckland Laneway Festival lineup looks pretty good, with more to come in December: Echo and the Bunnymen and a reformed 3Ds for John Campbell; and N.A.S.A., The Xx and Florence and the Machine for the indie kids.

If you haven't heard the Xx's remix of Florence and the Machine's cover of Candi Staton's 'You Got The Love', you really should. It's gorgeous. The song itself has a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Got_the_Love" target="_blank">an intriguing history.

Meanwhile, you can probably write down The Pogues for the next Big Day Out reveal …


And finally, some giving away:

The next LATE at the Museum, on 5 November, looks like a cracker: David Kilgour and Sam Hunt performing together, with SJD and various other artists playing in the galleries. The panel discussion is looking at the human migration to NZ. I have 10 double passes to give away for the evening. Click "Reply" and email me with "LATE" in the subject line.

And I have two copies of the Fly My Pretties CD/DVD A Story to give away too. Click Reply and email me with "Fly My Pretties" in the subject line.

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