Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anatomy tutorial

My long held belief that you don't read newspapers for the acquisition of facts has been upheld this morning with the Royal New Zealand Herald branching out into anatomical drawings. The recognised doyen of this genre is Frank H Netter MD, an American who died in 1991. The Herald did not raid the vast library of Frank's work for its illustration to accompany the front page story of a jack the lad who had a 'miraculous escape' after an encounter with a tree branch.

I shall be extra vigilant when in the fields this morning. This is just plain wrong - or then again as it is in the Herald it must be right. And for thirty years I had been labouring under the apparently false impression that the oesphagus was a direct anterior relation of the vertebral column and posterior to the trachea. Silly me.

Off to insert a few gastroscopes into punters' 'windpipes' - give me a break.

Anyone believe the footy results?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

J M Hendrix

Jimi would have been sixty five today if he hadn't inhaled his vomit in London thirty five years ago or so. There is a bit of a rash of this stuff at the moment.

As an aside there are swag of videos on YouTube of Grace singing White Rabbit. They range from the great performance at Woodstock (when she was obviously practising what she was preaching) to a really naff one when she was Jefferson Starship. I never liked Starship and Grace is not looking at her gorgeous best in this performance - all eighties power dressing and hair.

And speaking of hair I also found a video of Marsh Hunt - now we are talking serious hair.

How sixties is this photo? - taken by Lord Lichfield, I think

Rugby World Cup Final 2011 to be held in Sydney


The Resource Management Act has today decided that New Zealand will not host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The plans to alter the upgrade for Eden Park to include an extra Hot Dog stand in Reimers Avenue mean that the Resource Consent Process will have to be restarted. Aaron A Aardvark, a Librarian and longstanding resident of Reimers Avenue, complained to the Human Rights commission that the extra Hot Dog Stand breached his right to a tomato sauce free environment and the commission ordered the RMA hearings to be reconvened.

We have just heard from the IRB on this matter.

'The New Zealand Resource Management Act is a piece of legislation that has morphed into something that it was never intended to be and is making a laughing stock of your country . We had been given the tip by some bunch of jokers who wanted to run a street race in Auckland and Sir Mick Jagger told us about the wheel chair access required to the stage for Rolling Stones concerts. We frankly did not believe these reports but the Hot Dog stand nonsense leaves us with no alternative but to conclude that you are pack of wankers who couldn't organise a nun shoot in a convent. The 2011 World Cup will be held in the nearest sensible country and Australia fits the bill nicely'

Statement ends.

Fact not Fiction

For the terminally slow - read the world's governments and especially ours - Chris de Freitas does us all a favour this morning. I am not quite sure why today was chosen to publish his latest piece but reinforcing the message never goes amiss.

Monsieur de Freitas is a scientist who speaks on behalf of the sensible people in New Zealand who are the 'man is wrecking the planet' debunkers. I forget their exact name but they are the mob that the late Augie was in with. There is nothing new in his piece but it just is not getting through is it? There is no scientific evidence for all this political claptrap that is costing us squillions in the pocket and is running the real probability of making loads of people look like complete dicks. The fact that most of these people deserve such a fate is but small comfort.

I am not going to go through it all again but 1) Man made carbon dioxide has virtually nothing to do with climate change 2) The IPPC is a political body and is not the fount of all truth on anything scientific and 3) Hmm......I can't remember what that was. Man made climate change is a load of bollocks and you are all being conned will do.

de Freitas misquotes Voltaire so I will misquote a bit further and probably end up getting sued by Voltaire's estate. 'It is dangerous to stand up and be right if the government are wrong'. Well regular consumers of these ramblings will know how much I enjoy safety - especially the government mandated variety.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ozzies turn left

They never miss a trick do they? The rousing of Howard over the ditch has been acclaimed by both sides of the political divide over here as a pointer to what will happen next year. Those who want Helengrad to march on to greater things hail it as indication that the world has seen through capitalist lies and that the way of the left is the only true road to salvation. Meanwhile those thinking people who want pragmatism and vastly overpowered cars to rule the roost say it shows that people get fed up of anything however good it may be and will vote for change however bad that may be. Therefore Helen should be looking at opening a tofu bar sometime next November.

As usual in these attempts to put a black and white solution onto a problem of an infinite number of shades of grey the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I suspect (hope?) that the latter scenario is nearer the truth and next year enough people will have had enough of this odious, all controlling regime we now have and give them the arse.

There is an article by a lawyer on the opinion page of the Herald this morning giving yet more reasons why the hated Electoral Finance Bill should be given the elbow. I've had enough of this. It is patently bad law being introduced for all sorts of vengeful self serving reasons. We all know this to be true. This law is something you do not want? Tough. We are going to get it anyway as they have the numbers to get it through. Today's doges point out that it will likely result in next year being an election campaign run by judges who are unsure as to how to rule on badly written law. If that is what they want they should be happy because that is what they will get.

As usual it matters not that this is not what the rest of us want.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Away Day

An away day today. Not a thing I do a lot of this ‘corporate fly somewhere for a meeting and fly back in the evening’ stuff. But I am sitting on a plane somewhere over the Waikato on the way to Christchurch for a meeting on affairs of state pleased to have a day off from the fields. Accompanied by a colleague who is currently reading a trout fishing magazine, the weather is glorious and there really is little wrong with the world. The plane is an hour and a half late and this before we leave the ground. Leaves on the line in Penge or some such is the excuse – who cares?

I don’t think I‘ve ever been to Christchurch. SWMBO says I spent a couple of days there a few years back when taking the kids skiing on Mt Hutt. She may well be right, she usually is, but that must have been in winter so doesn’t count. Anything in the winter in the South Island can’t count; it is too bloody cold by definition. Trout reader tells me it is like England. This makes me even more skeptical as I left there twenty-five years ago mainly because I no longer liked the place of my birth. This was very strange transformation. I was born and brought up in South London, went to University in Paddington, thought London was the centre of the universe and wogs started at Dover. I then spent two years in Papua New Guinea and realised that all these basic tenets of my existence were just plain wrong. I have now lived outside the UK for almost longer than I have lived in it. I wouldn't go back to live there if you paid me. Naff weather and too many people are just for openers.

Business meeting at midday went better than expected and next meeting is not until five o'clock. What to do? The choices are a half day conference registration for $270 to listen to a bloke from Oxford who talks like he has a pound of fruit and veg stuck in his throat prattle on about inflammatory bowel disease or a walk around town for no money at all? Tricky one, eh?

What town is not looking at its best under a cloudless sky on a late spring afternoon? Christchurch scrubs up pretty well. Excuse the camera phone images.

This is all very Oxford or Cambridge is it not? The speaker with the plum in his throat must think he has caught the early flight home. What we really need is some Japanese tourists being punted down the Avon by some joker wearing a boater.

A cup of tea under the willows watching all this pastoral stuff was pleasant enough but has as much relevance to to real life as listening to all the guff about complex small bowel immunology. No, Christchurch is not for me - where's the nearest blue water for starters? Trolling 14" lures for blue cod is not quite the same as putting them out for blue marlin is it?

Five o'clock meeting is slated to finish at six-ish. However our mob is ejected by the chairman (from Christchurch - rude sod; I'm definitely not relocating) and so it is back at the airport by six. Any chance of an earlier flight home? The leaves on the line at Penge earlier in the day are still making their presence felt and the schedules are a disaster. We easily find a seat on a delayed flight (for the normal punters) that gets us home two hours earlier than planned - all good.

Air New Zealand have taken away any pretense that internal air travel is any more than getting on a bus. No tea and biccies ( just to spite them I took two boiled sweets - both were horrible) and the seats are great if you are anorexic. The female in 19A was not by any stretch of the imagination anorexic. Her more than ample frame was intent on taking over most of 19B which meant I had to cuddle up much more closely than would appear right and proper to the gent in 19C. He was very smelly. Ms 19A (and a bit of 19B) decided to fill her flight by doing a crossword - it must have been the only hour this year she had not spent eating. She did the 'JUMBO' jous de mots from the NZ Women's Weekly. I had no choice but to join her in this literary pursuit as most of the grid was in the 19B bit of her space on the aircraft. I can report that the NZ Women's Weekly 'JUMBO' crossword is bloody easy. The longest word I could find was seven letters. However my voluminous companion made this really very easy conundrum unnecessarily hard for herself by exhibiting a quite staggering inability to spell. I mean she couldn't spell anything at all. She might have been able to manage the indefinite article but beyond that she was struggling.

Why would you chose doing crosswords as your intellectual press ups if you can't spell? It is like taking up jogging if you are a double amputee, indulging in a bit of bird spotting if you are blind, taking Baroque music appreciation classes if you are deaf. Barmy. Big Bertha was nothing if not persistent. By the time we had started our descent over Raglan she had the puzzle about two thirds complete - and it was about two thirds wrong. 'A beer like drink' - 'lagre'. 'Mechanical word entry' - 'Tipe'. Where the words crossed we got even worse nonsense. I can recall 'ch' and 'lm' occurring together without an intervening vowel. The whole thing was a disaster. However she seemed happy enough so why should I worry?

This all reminded me of another crossword and public transport story from many years ago. The London tube and a 'city gent' gets on the train and very ostentatiously pulls a copy of The Times from under his arm and folds it over to do the crossword. Now, The Times crossword is a few steps up the difficulty scale from the NZ Women's Weekly - JUMBO or not. Anyway gent pulls out his pencil thinks briefly and fills in the first clue. A few seconds more of careful thought and clues two and three are cracked. A brief pause at Ludgate Circus for breath and we are off again at a break neck lexicographical pace. A couple of stops later CG throws the paper down on the seat with the puzzle solved in six minutes flat and exits the train to take over a couple of multinational companies. Somewhat curious and a little in awe that I had been in the company of a literary genius for a couple of stops on the Circle Line I wandered over to glance at his work. He had filled in 'aardvark' as the answer to every clue. Class act.

Back at Obald Towers a couple of hours earlier than I had feared but still knackered. This international businessman lifestyle is not for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

From the Hawkes Bay

I very rarely publish extensive quotes from other sources (I regard it as idleness in the extreme) but this from Louis Pierard in an Editorial in Hawkes Bay Today very well encapsulates my own thoughts on the odious Electoral Finance Bill which, make no mistake, will be passed despite the tsunami of public condemnation of its contents.


WHEN the present Government departs office, it will do so with the martyr’s sigh that it has been profoundly misunderstood. There will be no recriminations and there will be no insightful reflections. There will be just the pious conviction that the electorate had got it hopelessly wrong.

It is that zealous commitment to one’s self that sustains politicians - of all stripes.

The election law is just such a case. Nothing in New Zealand’s recent political history has been so comprehensively panned as that partisan piece of legislation. Even the accountants’ professional body was moved to condemn it.

The Electoral Finance Bill was inspired by an instinctive hatred of personal wealth (especially when it benefits political opposition, as witnessed by the Exclusive Brethren’s ridiculous attack on Labour and the Greens) and resentment by the Government that it was unable to steal public funds for its election campaigning. However, the overarching impulse, revealed in the desire to raise the weights of any opposition, has been to legislate to remain in power.

Of course, the bill has been characterised as a struggle between simple goodness and the dark forces of mammon, or as Prime Minister Helen Clark put it “to get the hollow men and secret money out of politics”. It does neither.

In its revised form, the bill moderates the naked desire to clear the decks of political dissent. Plans to give Government advertising campaigns immunity and to suppress pressure groups were ditched (though the use of megaphones falls under the bill’s ambit and an 11-month restriction on political expression before an election is the longest for any western democracy).

But while the bill meets its intentions of hurting National, which received $1.7 million through trusts in the last election, “anonymous” donations of up to $240,000 are still allowed (tellingly, not far short of Labour’s anonymous donation haul in the last election).

If concerns about secret political funding were genuine - as they deserved to be - the bill’s ambition would have been for full and complete transparency of donations instead of a Byzantine contraption to kneecap political opponents.

Perversely, to the righteous, any opposition to such an enterprise merely endorses it. When political survival is predicated on the need to be self-serving, it is difficult to attribute any other motive to one’s critics. To the corrupt, all are corrupt.

Despite the changes to what many of its critics correctly deemed irredeemable, the bill remains an obnoxious piece of lawmaking for what has driven it, for the disdain it has shown to the principles of freedom of expression and fairness and for the loathing and contempt that it generates for those who, in principle anyway, we ought to be able to show at least a modicum of respect.

This editorial will likely be illegal come January 1st 2008.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pass the metoclopramide

Tim Barnett's civil union got itself more coverage in a national newspaper yesterday than most events of this nature manage in the local rag.

We will gloss over the fact that I think civil unions are a crock especially when there are perfectly good marriage certificates available. Also I have no interest in the fact the other side of this joining doesn't sit down to have a pee - none of my business.

Barnett is British. However he had his big day on a marae wearing a shirt coverd in koru motifs and with a green stone pendant round his neck. The day was attended by a 'who's who' of the Labour party.

I can think of no set of circumstances that would bring on larger waves of nausea.

Here we go, here we go, here we go

The IPPC has put on its purveyor of doom and gloom hat and come out with more of its imprecise science. They have issued a bull and we are all doomed - again. This time I can't remember whether we all disappear in the conflagration by Thursday or sometime in 2050 - and that is one of their more precise predictions. Global temperatures will rise by between 1.1 and 4 degrees (margin of error there is approaching 400%) and this rise 'could' be 'abrupt' or 'irreversible'. We can stop/slow down/speed up - who cares? - this with only a 5.5% decrease in global GDP over five years (for those of use who don't have the precise grasp on hard sums that these wallies have we are told this is 1.1% per annum) or it could be done with an increase in GDP of 1%.

NCEA exams start today. If you were to put answers like that into any paper that required some sort of scientific precision even the 'no one must fail' mentality of our education system would biff you into the not achieved basket. It is lunacy. This is not the scientific fact that it is being advertised as at all. It is speculation from computer modeling and none of these models has yet to be born out in what eventually happens. There is a US$ 1 million prize out for anyone who can come up with a mathematical model that will predict what a gaseous/ liquid fluid interface (oceans and winds, that sort of stuff) will do over time. They will even pay out if it can be proved that such a model could exist. The money is still up for grabs so get your pencil out and look for the back of a discarded envelope.This pseudo-science cobblers is certainly not the sort of stuff you should be basing national and international policy on. And as usual the dements who run this country (and, to be fair, a lot of other nations) have bought it hook line and sinker because it suits their political (not scientific) purpose and are spending my money on it like drunken sailors.

What can I do about it? More than I do, I suspect. I write about it in these trivial columns and you must trust me that I will cast my vote wisely next year. But I was guilty of dereliction of duty at the weekend. I should have been in Queen Street on Saturday at the Kill The Bill march. I have never done anything like this in my life but I should have been there on Saturday. Leighton Smith went - good grief.

I played golf.

If I and other sensible people carry on like this we will continue to be ruled by this:

Now we really don't want that do we? Do we?

Friday, November 16, 2007

About time we heard from the trees

There has been too much recently about trivial matters like the erosion of democracy and it is timely that the most important things in the land resume centre stage.

The pohutukawa gets himself not one but two stories in Granny this morning. The deference we accord trees never ceases to amaze me. The stories of people getting fined telephone numbers for making even a mental association between a Husqvarna and a rimu regularly appear on the same page as those chronicling a spot of community service for mugging old ladies. A tree is a deity in New Zealand with the same place in the bureaucratic firmament as the cow holds in India. All thoughts of pragmatism disappear when a tree hoves into view. The only way around a tree that is in the way is years of bureaucratic nonsense involving resource consent hearings and submissions from stakeholders. As an aside I am yet to run across these bands of people carrying pointed sticks.

First we have Marc Ellis. He is a harmless enough buffoon. Smart though and I'm sure he gets into the 39% tax bracket by the second week of the financial year by judicious use of his 'ladism'. The bluff eruption of Rangitoto was a great success yesterday in that it got Ellis's new business venture on the Six O'clock news. That was all it was meant to achieve. Many years ago Dick Smith towed polystyrene icebergs up Sydney Harbour for the same purpose. But instead of being regarded as the harmless prank it patently was we have to have a DoC official wearing his 'seriously concerned' face telling us all of the danger to the largest pohutukawa forest in the universe. This is after the event of course when nothing has happened to even a leaf on one of these weeds.

Then we have a picture of Murray Deaker standing next to a pohutukawa outside his house. There is a bit of history to this as Deaks has been having a running battle over these trees and their surroundings with the North Shore City Council for years. Apparently a branch fell off one of these arboreal gods yesterday narrowly missing sixteen people. They must have been standing very close together or it was a very large branch - no matter. The crux of this story is that these trees were declared dangerous some time ago with collapse of all or part of them a very high possibility. Some part of the council then start to remove them under 'emergency provisions'. Another part of the council say it is not an emergency, stop the work and start resource consent hearings. First part of council get out the chainsaws again waving OSH concerns and Department of Labour regulations. The tree lovers parry with more resource consent. And so it goes on - for years.

This is what New Zealand is good at - wasting time and money over things that don't matter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tools of the trade - I hate Redmond

To do this blogging lark you need only a few basic bits and pieces. A couple of ideas, a rudimentary grasp of the laws of libel and you are up and running. Oh yes, you need a computer.

A couple of years ago I was coaxed away from Redmond toward Cupertino. It started with youngest daughter wanting a Mac for university. A G3 iBook was purchased. I borrowed this on occasion when on business trips and quite liked it. It looked cool (but who cares) but it just worked. No blue screens of death, no falling over, no virus scanners, no uninstalling things - just drop them in the trash. I could get to like this. Next number one daughter gets a G4 iBook and I get her cast off Compaq to use as the boat computer. What a heap of junk, but at least it was sort of zero cost despite the fact I had paid for it a couple of years previously. Still I persevered with my Dell desktop. G3 ibook gets swapped out for a G4 and I again get the cast off. I find myself using this more than the Dell. This is gathering pace.

The straw that broke the camel's back came about two years ago. The bloody Dell crashed for the third time in two hours and I started a piece of work for the fourth time that night. Sod this for a game of soldiers and in a fit of pique I bought a 20" G5 iMac the next day. Now this is what a computer is supposed to be. I even like the fact that it looks cool. But bottom line it just works - day after day after day after day.......... Number of crashes in two years? None, nil, nix nada, not a one, not a sausage. Bliss.

I still have a Pocket PC as my PDA so I buy a third party piece of software to sync with the new white God. It doesn't work. I throw the PDA away and buy a Treo650. I am slowly divesting myself of all things Microsoft and it is like losing pounds of useless blubber. I 'need' Office for Mac so I can use Word documents and PowerPoint presentations in the unenlightened world. I actually use Entourage for my email program for a long time but a few months ago I even got over that. The G3 iBook dies after about four years. Number one daughter buys a MacBook and I inherit the G4 iBook which swaps his Panther for a Tiger.

The Dell has been given to SWMBO to just serve as an email terminal in her work room. I buy a wireless network card for this and it has a working range of about 14 Angstrom units. This bloody heap of garbage works only when the world price of tin is aligned with the value of Pi and starts gathering dust.

I am completely smitten by Macs now and only tolerate PCs in my life at work (where an eighteen month campaign to get Mac support for VPN is bogged down in trench warfare reminiscent of the Somme) and on the boat. Ah, the boat computer is what is driving this lament. There is just not the range of navigation software for the Mac as exists for the PC.

We soldier on. It becomes obvious last week that I need a 24" Dual Core Intel iMac. So one is purchased - an extra gig of RAM is a steal at $110, I can't use Time Machine with out a backup drive and it would be rude not to get 500 gig number would it not? Oh, I might as well buy a MacBook for number two daughter to save bleating around the Xmas tree. Fire up the new machine and every Mac in the house that is AirPort equipped (five as I type) is immediately networked without my doing anything. This is what it is supposed to be like. The Mac can 'see' the bloody Dell but that's about it. Its a bit like my being able to see a DB9 - not a lot of use unless I can get the keys. I have tried intermittently for three evenings now to get it in the network and I may just give up because there is nothing on it's smelly frame that I want to put anyway near my lovely Mac gear.

Just to remind myself that I hate Microsoft products (I don't think I hate Microsoft) I decided to get the boat laptop ready for the fishing season by get the real time GPS input sorted. Who in their right mind would want to spend four hours wrestling with serial to USB converters, serial splitters, stop bits and parity when there is a company that makes tools that work. Plug things together and turn them on and they talk to each other. That it is how it should be not worrying whether the application will allow COM 6 to be split to COM port numbers that are greater or less than 6.

This is what a computer should be.

Unfortunately most computers in my past have looked like this

This is not using technology as a tool; it is using it as a stick with which to beat yourself.


........between how the country runs and how the country is run are vast.

A vast majority of the great unwashed get up, go to work, earn a crust, spend most of it on stuff to keep themselves alive so they can do it again tomorrow and then do just that - do it again tomorrow. There are also the minorities who get up , don't go to work because we give them money to keep themselves alive and spend the day marching on Wellygogs. and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I mean how embarrassing from a national image point of view was all that? As an aside my daughter is a dentist in Wellington and there was a lot of work going on offer on the news last night. On second thoughts they (I mean I as I would be paying for it) couldn't afford her. That is how the country sort of gets by on a daily basis.

Then we have how the country is run. That is the nonsense that goes on in the Beehive and surrounding cess pools. We have daily exposure to the sewer of public debate that is Parliament but we got an insight yesterday into the civil service. It bears no relationship to life in the real world at all. There has been an enquiry as to the debacle that was the sacking of Madeleine Setchell. The enquiry was conducted by Mandarin Prebble (as opposed to his brother Mad Dog). A precis of his report into himself and his two IC (I think) was given in the Herald this morning. I didn't understand a word of it - and this was the 'shortened for the stupid' version. I think the upshot of it was that he fined himself $2500 and stopped his mates performance bonus of $28,000. Prebble earns north of $400,000 pa and his mate $320,000. He decided that neither of them needs to lose his job - well he would, wouldn't he. This means the boss will have to make do with an eight foot Xmas tree as opposed to the nine foot number and deputy will have to forgo the chocolate macadamias at Yuletide.

What do we do to deserve this rubbish? We deserve it because we don't stop it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm getting old

Great command of the bleeding obvious as Basil would say. However this was rammed home in a very odd way yesterday. Was ploughing the fields with Hauraki on as muzak as I am won't to do. 'Somebody to love' by Jefferson Airplane was played and with a few minutes to spare I Googled Jefferson Airplane with misty visions of Haight Ashbury, the summer of love, plans to slip LSD into Nixon's tea and White Rabbit.

Grace Slick is 68.

I am shattered. She is 26 - everyone knows that. When all my mates were going all doolally over Susan Maughan, Lulu and were forgetting Helen Shapiro I thought Grace was the most wonderful female creature on the planet. And they want me to believe she is approaching 70, has lost her sigmoid colon to diverticular disease, has had a tracheostomy and is no longer perpetually chemically altered.

It's all lies.

Place your bets

This week is the biggest to date for the odious Electoral Finance Bill. Is she going to get away with it? I wouldn't bet against it - she has an enviable track record for getting whatever she wants. That public opinion is against her in tsunami proportions hasn't seemed to faze her at all. Granny gave up her entire front page yesterday to an editorial flaying Labour's destructon of democracy - very out of character. All this notwithstanding she spent yesterday answering queries as to whether she would be swayed from her course in the simplest possible way - no. As John Armstrong nicely puts it this morning, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

One can't help but feel that there is an element of spite as well as desperation in what she is about. She needs both the EFB and the new laws allowing government departments to spend whatever they please on adverts to be in place by the end of this year to have tilted the playing field so far in her direction that she thinks she will be safe going to the country in a few months. She is piqued because it is her perception that National has bottomless pockets with which to fight a cash strapped Labour Party. Just consider the numbers for a second. The thing that started all this was the $1.2 million that the Brethren threw at National a couple of years back. Inland Revenue has spent north of $3 mil promoting Kiwi Saver in the last year alone. Total government department spending on advertising for 2006 was in excess of $60 million. No money from the EB but go for your life Government departments. Level playing field my backside.

As we have discussed before, Helen is a career politician and is very good at what she does. She must have calculated that she can get away with this ten or eleven moths from the election. She has to get one of these calls wrong sooner or later. Lets not forget that New Zealand's parliament is unique when compared to other so called similar democracies. There is no second house. The only real restraint we have on what happens in the Beehive is having elections. This degree of moderation has already been hamstrung by MMP. You don't want your sitting MP so you give him the flick at election time. He also happens to be at, say, number ten on his party's list and there he is back where you didn't want him. Just tell me where Margaret Wilson's constituency is. You'll struggle because she ain't got one. Not wanted by Tauranga but still in the big comfy chair.

In a perverse way I hope the EFB gets through with as little modification as possible. I also hope that government departments are given carte blanche to spend what they will on promoting Labour's agenda. Let them push both items through under urgency to make them look even more desperate. Surely that lot will be blatant enough for even the terminally stupid to realise that they have been shafted and give this lot the flick. They'll bounce back on the list, of course, but at least they will not be on the Government benches.

Friday, November 9, 2007

It's the law

I have a lot of sympathy for Ana Samways. She has to come up with a whole column of trivial bits and bobs every working day of the year. Her Sideswipes column is worth no more than a fleeting glance most days but occasionally she finds a real gem. Today is such a day and it is very timely that she has uncovered a swag of stupid British statutes when our own law makers are quite correctly being held up to ridicule.

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. This was brought in to discourage you going there to have your heart attack on the expectation of a state funeral - to which you would be entitled. This saves heaps of dosh for the nearest and dearest and makes you feel like Winston Churchill - which, as you are dead, is not that important I suppose. It is an act of treason to place a stamp on a letter upside down if the stamp bears an image of the Queen (and they all do). I actually knew that. I have been very careful all my life - takes the shine off sending out the Xmas cards to end up in the Tower. A pregnant woman is entitled to pass urine wherever she please, including in a policeman's helmet. You can see why New Zealand got rid of those. It is illegal to eat mince pies on Xmas day. You always knew I was a bad man. And then my favourite. It is illegal for a woman to go topless in Liverpool unless she is a clerk in a tropical fish shop. Makes you want to go to Merseyside just to buy a guppy, doesn't it?

Not to be left out New Zealand showed it could foot it with the best in the silly law department when the anti terrorism laws were give a real pasting by the solicitor general. In one terse statement the SG has made a whole swag of people look like real dicks. The police have just come up for air after their pasting on all sorts of fronts and then they get this. They probably survive - but only just. They can quite reasonably claim they were working within the framework of the law as it stood. You don't want a police force that is too bright or powerful (think Fiji) and I think their conduct was just about OK. The people that rightly come out looking the most stupid in all this are the law makers. The Parliamentarians and the armies of civil servants who make up the crap that passes as legislation in this land.

Even bloody Helen has agreed that the anti terrorism legislation needs a rewrite (after yesterday she could hardly have said anything else - the lambasting was dished out by a solicitor general she appointed) but that didn't stop parliament last night debating amendments to the flawed law. How daft is that? You have a law that has been shown up as being a crock and a couple of hours later you ignore that and debate changes to it.

That we have had exposed yet another piece of dreadful law drafting is the nub of this particular gist. We have recently had the smacking nonsense and I hear rumour that the grand daddy of them all the Electoral Finance Bill is going to get pushed through next week - you ain't seen nothing yet. All the left wing loonies will say the events of the last twenty four hours justify their hand wringing. The Tuhoi Nation (give me a break) has been victimised and traumatised etc. etc. Same old, same old. It is so same old, same old that it requires a same old, same old response. Bollocks.

This country is run by very unintelligent people.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I have nothing against mangroves at all. Nor do I have anything against pohutokawas. But they are trees for God's sake and bloody common ones at that. A few acres of mangroves here and there serve a good function - protect against erosion, provide habitats for all sorts of things (most of which, again, are incredibly common) etc. But if they start growing out of control you deal to them and don't start worshipping them. Same with pohutakawas - there's billions of the b*st*rds - all very pretty around Xmas (not so endearing a couple of weeks later, but never mind) and an asset to the place. But if one or two are in the way of something sensible that you want to do - nuke them. I-t-'-s a t-r-e-e.

The trouble with people who lay down in front of bulldozers that are advancing on a stand of mangroves is they have lost all sense of balance. On or off, black or white and nothing in between. I think they have an intense dislike of people - especially mainstream normal people. If you are from an ethnic minority with questionable sexual orientation and a disability of some sort you might pass muster. But, if you really want to get in their good books, you're much better off being a damned tree or an aquatic mammal. They are nuts. They pick the eyes out of the bits of modern life that suit them (the Greens prided themselves on running a Hi-tech election campaign in 2005 with their manifesto on a CD ROM) and treat all the rest that doesn't suit their warped view of the world with the same affection they reserve for weapons grade plutonium.

The thing that really gets up my nose, though, is that these loonies are not harmless buffoons just to be laughed at - if that were the case they would add value to life - on a par with Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. These cretins have the ear of government (NZ has signed the Kyoto protocol remember) and are actually part of government. MMP politics allows for this sort of nonsense and has a lot to answer for


An hour (two,three...) to spare whilst waiting for the next available tractor with which to plough a furrow and I wandered over to Whaleoil for a moment to try and relieve the tedium of an unseasonably wet and cold afternoon. Mr W is a right wing Blogger whose dislike of Helen borders on unbridled hatred and generally has views that would make Atilla the Hun look like Lenin. A good alternative to kicking the cat is Mr Whaleoil.

In amongst the usual diatribes was an invitation to watch about ten minutes of Parliamentary Question Time on YouTube. Why not? I've nothing else to do. It was posted as it shows John Key scoring points off Helen - well it has my attention already. I've never watched Parliamentary TV before and frankly I was horrified. I am not sure what I was expecting but I certainly wasn't prepared for the banality and downright lying that awaited.

It is awful on a biblical scale. They could persuade you that the sun rises in the West if you weren't paying attention. The whole thing is couched like a game of charades. You don't get up and say 'The Prime Minister is a lying toad' (which she patently is). You ask the Speaker whether the Prime Minister could tell the House when she first knew there was enough of a budgetry surplus to announce tax cuts. The answer to this question could to my mind be one of three things. 1) A time - half past six, 2) a date - Thursday 4th October 2007 or 3) the truth - I haven't the first idea.

The Rt. Hon (vomit) Helen Clarke (Prime Minister) responds along these lines 'I am astonished that the Leader of the Opposition has such a poor grasp of the basics of economics (we pause here to ponder that he is a millionaire retired money trader in his forties and she someone who has never had a real job) that he does not realise that a Labour led Government has brought in Working for Familes - a measure which he voted against' Eh? It's like asking 'How do you get to Penrose?' and getting '$4.50 a kilo' as reply. Not to be flummoxed JK tries again. 'Madam Speaker my I ask the Prime Minister when she first knew there was enough cash for tax cuts' Speaker then says ' I listened to her reply and I thought she already answered that.' It is staggering. I began to wonder what SWMBO had slipped into my lunch. Were the mushrooms of the Magic variety and not the Field version I thought them to be?

I gave up after about three minutes. This is no more a sensible debate surrounding the running the country than a commentary of the 3.30 at Riccarton is a precis of Sweden's foreign policy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gamefishing with a laptop

A couple of winters ago myself and a good friend, Dead Ant, thought we would try and develop a system that would put realtime GPS, depth and temperature readings on to bathymetric charts as we were fishing. We also wanted to put realtime GPS information into georeferenced Sea Surface Temperature (SST) charts. This was the 'Cunning Plan'.

Some of you may be interested to see how all this Cunning Plan stuff works in practice (and then again you may not). I was very aware during the winter when Dead Ant and I were beavering away that this might just be a techo wheeze that didn't in the end do anything. Far from it - this works. This is just the chart plotting bit - there is the SST bit as well. Maybe later.

This is what we generated last week at Houhora. It is taken off a scungy old laptop that was lying around at home and DA breathed over it to give it a new lease of life before it became 'El Boat Computer'. It is running a fairly old version of Maxsea as the machine doesn't have enough grunt to support the graphics of the newest versions. In all these screen shots the 'Nav Data' window shows loads of noughts as there is no GPS connected in my office. All the fields are filled on the boat via NMEA output from the Raymarine C120.

This an overall summary of the weeks trolling. The track changes colour as the temperature changes (blue cooler, green to yellow warmer) and is set on a rasterised bathy chart. I only connect the guessing machine up after the lures are set and pack it up before we steam home so that is why we appear to have been teleported into the area off Cape Karikari. It is obvious that we were a bit obsessive about one area with a wander off to Berghans on Day 4 - more of that later. Also notice the one short track going North out of the mess. This was going off for another bit of topography but we only went on the proviso that the water didn't go tits up on us. The SSTs predicted it would and the track colour changes true to form so we came back. Right, let's zoom in on the place that held our attention for so long.

With the eye of faith you can see that the depth contours come together a bit here but it is not really striking. Turn on Maxsea's 2D feature with range set to 70-250 metres and the contours set at 2 metre intervals and it all becomes a little clearer.

This depth info comes from a built in database that is in Maxsea and is taken from C-Map charts. Over this is superimposed actual depth readings taken off 'Surprise Surprise' as it traverses the territory (these are the bright red crosses). If you now turn on the 3D function it becomes even more obvious why this, with all other things (bottom composition, bait, bird signs, hook-ups etc) might be worth giving a right royal thrashing.

We had the structure (the fishfinder shows that this is all foul ground and a rocky drop off with sand on either plateau - it was also covered in bait all week) and we had all the other ingredients - except temperature. This was not the warmest water around at all. On Day 3 we downloaded a new SST and it showed a good temperature break heading out off the Berghans/Cone area. Maxsea would have us believe that this bottom structure was also there:

How can we go wrong? Day 4 sees us toodle down to Berghans (see track on first screen) and the water was warmer as we had predicted. It was also a great colour. It also had no bait or fish in it. However once we had taken some real soundings off the bottom the predicted structure looks nothing like we were led to believe:

Creating this picture was terribly amusing. Drive over a mythical Maxsea hill and it just vanishes in front of your eyes. It's a good feeling moving bits of the planet around. The last two pictures represent what is really there.

However all this techo nonsense is a guide only. There were no fish (for us anyway) at the sure fire spot off Berghans. We caught our last fish by looking at the sea and seeing some abnormal dolphin behaviour and thinking we saw some non dolphin fins in amongst the mammals. But at least the new toys put us in the right place to be able to see that.

It works for me and it is huge fun.

You have been warned

Helen has reinforced the ideas outlined earlier in the day warning the proles to behave themselves this evening or she will take our fireworks away for next year.

She doesn't like fireworks, you see.

Get rid of her. She is an interfering, nosey, I know what is good for you, busybody toadess.

Personality or Policy

If there was any remaining doubt that the current administration is a one man (sic) band it was dispelled at the truly nauseating goings on in Takapuna at the weekend. That it was all happening not a mile from Obald Towers was even more worrying. 'Things I would pay no attention to' is a pretty long list. Scone recipes, OSH regulations, rainfall statistics for Kansas would bolt in for instance but wouldn't squeeze the Labour Party Conference out of first place. I can think of nothing worse than watching a bunch of left wing zealots spend a couple of days telling each other how wonderful they are.

The fact that some unionist clocked a bloke with a megaphone raised the beach side love in to a level of mild interest. This tempts the unwary (me) to look further and listen to some of what was going on. And what is reported? Helen. Helen, Helen and more bloody Helen. The only picture in the paper this morning is of the matriarch of the country striding regally into the gathering with her male consort (and do you need to look further for a worse apology for a representative of the male of the species) shuffling along a respectful few paces behind.

It is Guy Fawkes time. Stupid that we in the People's Republic pay any attention to happenings in Blighty four hundred years ago but no worse than spending up large on Halloween I suppose. Harmless fun and I mean that in the loosest sense. We had people o the beach outside Obald Towers letting off rather noisy pyrotechnics for an hour or two on Saturday night and it was a minor irritation - but no more. SWMBO however likened her billet in Mount Albert on Saturday night as reminding her of Afghanistan. Give me break. How the hell would she know? The only thing she has ever come close to in her sheltered life to do with Afghanistan would be a chocolate biscuit. She then tells the fawning masses that she doesn't like it so we (read she) will have to do something about it. And that won't be a move to free fireworks for all I'll give you the tip. What will happen if the damned woman decides that Mount Albert resembles Bethlehem in a few weeks time? She'll likely ban Xmas. After-all it is very dangerous with the high chance of electrocution from fairy lights. Tell you what, even better, make everything that people might enjoy illegal and then wait for the government can tell us what we can do. Much better all round. Tell me what it is like because I will not be here.

Back to the goings on in Takapuna. Notice how all the dirty work in the way of announcements is delegated to minions timed to coincide with Dear Leader's absence from our shores. Contrast this to her insistence that anything she perceives to be glad tidings which have to be announced by her himself. Thus, having at last realised that the proles will not stand no tax cuts for any longer she tells Cullen to sit in the corner while she announces that we are all to get get great bags of gold winging into our bank accounts. Well if you believe that you have fairies at the bottom of your garden. Helen accepts the thunderous applause from the fawning faithful and it is left to Cullen to creep out of his corner and tell us all not to expect too much as to be fair (that noxious notion again) any largesse will have to be spread very thinly. Meanwhile Helen strides majestically toward her eco friendly limo.

My dislike for this mob knows no bounds