Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When the fast track seems a good track

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  • Russell Brown,

    I might also add that a comparison between Waterview and the shambles of a process around the St Luke’s Road interchange and its threatened pohutukawa is interesting.

    I would love to see Professor Richard Easther’s bracing analysis of the modelling assumptions around that interchange get a proper airing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    A fascinating piece by both you and Prof Easther! [In my experience a Prof is several degrees scarier than a mere Dr. Interestingly,, in Germany, they are ranked above saints and only slightly below the trinity. There is talk (amongst German professors themselves) that they may even be ranked within the trinity.]

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Interesting stuff.

    Even though my inner grammar nazi is screaming at verb + gerund without the preposition. "Consenting [to] a request" is not the same as "consenting adults" (adjective + noun)!

    I'm all good with informal communication (obviously), but I loathe jargon in formal communication where it's not needed. Especially when a mere two letters are being "saved".

    /off-topic

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 696 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to David Haywood,

    Interestingly,, in Germany, they are ranked above saints and only slightly below the trinity.

    And almost on a par with Engineers, an attitude that would be good to see in this country.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    It would be a shame if that's because the government doesn't entirely like the results of its own reform.

    I have no doubt the Road Transport lobbyists will be gnashing their collective teeth and calling for heads to roll. For once, the unintended consequences work against their creators methinks.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    To be fair to the modellers, it's a very difficult job. But what Richard said has to be the case, that really the uncertainty in these models could be huge, and does not seem to be included.

    They have to use some kind of model, just to claim being evidence based, but that doesn't mean that even on our best analysis we can really claim much surety about what the future holds for that intersection under any of the proposals, especially not in light of the huge change to the motorway network nearby.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to David Haywood,

    In my experience a Prof is several degrees scarier
    than a mere Dr. Interestingly...

    ...and this Prof has really nailed those theses!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Haywood,

    A fascinating piece by both you and Prof Easther! [In my experience a Prof is several degrees scarier than a mere Dr

    Eek! Just as well I have godlike editing privileges ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Haywood,

    In my experience a Prof is several degrees scarier than a mere Dr.

    In no small measure because Prof is conferred by the bureaucracy of the university whereas Dr is merely conferred by the scientific community. Be afraid of those able to wield the power of the bureaucracy.

    As for the German system it is arcane and terrifying, it is no wonder that German graduates casually wreck havoc whenever they feel the urge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    they’re all good outcomes of the government’s legislative move to fast-track

    I think one of the fears of this kind of fast track is that a small panel could be corrupt. But equally a small panel can often achieve goals impossible for a larger group in a longer more drawn out bureaucracy.

    Whether the government actually intended the outcome it got or not, it does seem as though the panels put together recently have actually cut through bureaucracy to achieve really good outcomes for the communities affected.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I certainly hope the Basin Reserve flyover is indeed dooomed, with the extra o, mostly because I don't want the entry to my 'burb to be a big great ugly lump of concrete.

    My favourite plan for traffic in the area, invented entirely by myself with no regard whatsoever to such paltry concerns as cost, is to lift up the whole Basin Reserve cricket ground, stands and all, and put the traffic underneath. I can't imagine any problems with that plan at all. None whatsoever. You may point to pesky historic places protection on the stands. You may point to seismic risk, and likelihood of liquifaction in former lake-beds, and tons of dirt crashing down on cars underneath. You may point at the estimated bill for such a plan, and turn green and have to sit down. I will point at you, and say "Stop standing in the way of Progress!"
    or
    "Stop limiting my artistic vision"
    or
    "We cannot let mere financial considerations limit our greatness!"
    or something.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I think one of the fears of this kind of fast track is that a small panel could be corrupt. But equally a small panel can often achieve goals impossible for a larger group in a longer more drawn out bureaucracy.

    Yes, I think that sums it up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I’m convinced the idea that we have a traffic problem requiring huge amounts of concrete stems from a traffic planner way back when drawing a line on his map marked “SH1” from Cape Reinga down to the southernmost landmark he could find, which was the newly built Wellington airport.

    Ignore the fact that it ends in a car park barrier capable of handling but a few cars a minute – the line has been drawn, that is State Highway One, and it needs to be of an appropriate scale for our country to hold its own in world concrete pouring circles.

    The answer, of course, isn’t to build a more elaborate motorway – it’s to erase the line on the map and make SH1 end at the Terrace Tunnel.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    erase the line on the map and make SH1 end at the Terrace Tunnel.

    Or at the ferry terminal, where you can even put your car on a ferry and carry on on SH1 on the other side...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • richard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I am pretty mellow about the title ;-) In the States, where I was first enproffed, everyone who teaches is a professor, and a lecturer here would be an Assistant Professor in the US -- whereas in New Zealand where I studied (or the UK) the title implies a degree of seniority.

    So the first time a student in the US called me "Prof" I almost looked behind me for the old guy he was actually addressing.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • richard, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Usually both, actually. I pretty regularly get requests for my opinion of candidates being considered for promotion at other universities.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Petyt, in reply to richard,

    I've always wondered at that. Do you think it has anything to do with the spanish word for teacher being 'profesor'? (Unlikely I guess when you consider the general disregard they have for Mexico. I read somewhere that the spelling for marijuana gained a 'j' in place of an 'h' to make it look more 'Mexican'.)

    I note also that Americans call dentists (and I assume all surgeons) 'Doctor' whereas we follow the Brits with 'Mr'.

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Some dentists get to be dr here. So in Auckland my dentist was Dr Kool. Which I always thought was pretty, well, cool.

    How that's relevant to roading projects and the democratic process I'm not sure. Something to do with 'pulling teeth'?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Petyt,

    The Basin saga certainly felt like pulling teeth. Like you I'm very reluctant to relax and expect that the current status will stay quo.

    Are you sure the dentists in NZ are not just calling themselves 'Dr' as some kind of affectation? They are surgeons aren't they?

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Roger Lacey, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    And almost on a par with Engineers, an attitude that would be good to see in this country.

    +1

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to richard,

    I was being somewhat flippant. The difference is that prof is highly variable ranging from revered academic to bureaucratic flunky, by contrast Dr is theoretically a bit more standardised. In practice though Dr is highly variable too with value depending very much on the granting university.

    In the end nothing beats actually talking to the person and in Dr Easther's case it doesn't take long to figure out he's a smart cookie.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Cameron Pitches,

    My main concerns with the Boards of Inquiry approach is the lack of consistency.

    I submitted to the recent Board of Inquiry on the Puhoi Warkworth toll road, on behalf of the Campaign for Better Transport. The new toll road will be just 700m shorter than the existing road and will have a travel time saving of just three minutes over the current time of 13 minutes. The BOI ended up approving the project, despite the fact that no economic evidence in support of the project was presented by the NZTA. In summing up, the Board said:

    One of the difficulties with which these submissions posed the Board is that no expert evidence was called to challenge the economic and cost benefit assumptions on which NZTA’s applications were based.

    We pointed out that no economic evidence in chief was supplied by the applicant in support of the project, so there was no evidence to challenge. All along I had hoped the Board would be of a mind to inquire of such things, by appointing their own experts to judge the economic impacts on the community, as the Board of the Basin Reserve had done. However, the Puhoi Warkworth Board was apparently of a mind to simply judge the evidence put forward. I pointed out that for the Basin Reserve Inquiry the NZTA themselves declared that "The economic wellbeing of people and communities and the efficient use of resources are relevant considerations under the RMA", but the Puhoi Warkworth Board took a different view:

    Perhaps I’ll just mention, Mr Pitches, talking about cost benefit ratios, the Board of course cannot take cost benefit ratios into account in its decision making.

    In retrospect, we should have engaged our own economist to prove the low (or negative) economic worth of the project, but we simply didn't have the resources to do this.

    For those interested, I did a series of posts at Transport Blog that cover the Puhoi Warkworth BOI here:

    http://transportblog.co.nz/tag/cbt-boi/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Doc workers...

    So in Auckland my dentist was Dr Kool.

    ...as a child in Chchch we had a Mr. Minty for our family dentist - he was in no way a jawbreaker, he was in fact quite sweet...
    with a dentist's chair that looked straight at the traffic going through the Bridge of Remembrance and to-and-fro along Cashel Street... I can still smell that bunsen burner, the mercury, so much fun to be had with one's cloves on...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I was being somewhat flippant. The difference is that prof is highly variable ranging from revered academic to bureaucratic flunky, by contrast Dr is theoretically a bit more standardised. In practice though Dr is highly variable too with value depending very much on the granting university.

    Or we could learn from the Germans and, instead of solely using the 'highest' honorific, concatenate them, and have Professor Mister Doctor Easther.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    first off the rank...

    concatenate them, and have Professor Mister Doctor Easther

    Nice - a chain of office - as it were...
    to 'Finnish' it off we could add 'dottir' or 'son', even ...
    ; - )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

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