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Open mike 02/01/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 2nd, 2016 - 120 comments
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openmikeOpen mike is your post.

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120 comments on “Open mike 02/01/2016”

  1. Gangnam Style 1


    The police here admit maybe ‘Isis’ or the people/would be terrorists they are looking for don’t actually exist. Bit of a glitch in the matrix here, or someone has lost their script. Let 2016 be the year of no fear.

  2. Ad 2

    I’m marooned in a Lakeside Drive house in Wanaka where the magazines are English Country Living, the bookshelves crammed with the Mitford Girls and GK Chesterton and stuff about naval battles. The top household sports are rose pruning and complaining about The Way Things Were.

    Still, weather’s perfect.

    • Anne 2.1

      The Mitford Girls’ books make for fascinating reading – like an upper class British synopsis of the times they lived in. One became a Communist, two became Fascist and befriended Hitler, one became a duchess and the other a famous novelist. They were all fiercely intelligent but being girls they were denied a decent education and were not allowed to attend school – as was the practice of the day. They rebelled when they became adults and hence their extreme views and questionable behaviour. They were also beautiful when young which I guess always helps.

      • alwyn 2.1.1

        Someone else who appreciates the great eccentric characters in the British upper classes.
        I always loved the alliteration of the youngest one’s title. She was, late in life, Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. She also described her occupation in Who’s Who as being a “housewife”. The house was, of course that 375 roomed pile of Chatsworth. Mansion is far to understated for that place that she preserved for posterity.

        They were all wonderfully interesting. I can remember the Guardian describing them as the Forrest Gumps of the 20th century. They knew everyone and were involved in everything.

        • Anne

          I would love to see a TV series of their lives perhaps along the lines of Downton Abbey only in this case they were real people who lived fascinating and eccentric lives. I recall hearing a delightful story about Pamela – the least known of the sisters – who was attending a dinner party and she turned to the man sitting next to her and asked in that typically loud horsey-set upper class way “and to whom do I have the honour of sitting next to?” It was Lord Louis Mountbatten – arguably the most famous member of the aristocracy after the Royal family.

          • alwyn

            “were real people who lived fascinating and eccentric lives”
            The problem would be, I suppose, would anyone believe the stories were real?
            The idea is a great one though.

            On the other hand I can understand the one about Louis Mountbatten. I once, when I still played rugby many, many years ago went to a preseason do and asked someone I met what grade did he play. I had not been introduced so I didn’t know his name. He was a current, although very young, Wellington provincial rep and a later All Black. Luckily he didn’t hear me and a friend hurriedly told me who he was. Blush, blush.
            I suppose Pamela got one thing right. Imagine if she had asked “and who are you to have the honour of sitting next to me?”

          • Grant

            Did you see the bbc series Love In A Cold Climate from 2001?

            • Anne

              No Grant. I hadn’t discovered them at that stage. That was the name of the first of Nancy Mitford’s best selling novels and is still the most famous. I believe the characters were based on members of her family and friends. Evelyn Waugh (author of Brideshead Revisited) was one of her close friends.

      • Ad 2.1.2

        For century-length folly, try The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy. The colonies were where good families sent failed or disgraced sons, with wool company management jobs, naval or Governor-General postings, diplomatic fob-offs, and found non-Debutant but solid matches.

        • Whispering Kate

          My grandparents used to say these disgraced people sent out to the colonies were remittance men. They used to work on a farm in the Wairarapa during the time of 1914 – 1926 . The owner of the farm had been from a “good family” in the UK but had the misfortune to fall in love with a local barmaid. They married and he was shipped out here in disgrace and set up with a farm. They lived the life of UK aristocrats complete with a grand house with tennis courts, lovely grounds etc and a cook and a gardener (my grandparents). I see in the dictionary that remittance people were sent out to the colonies on subsistence income but that wasn’t the case with these people. An aside, my grandparents said the wife was a delightful woman and kind – so the guy made a good choice with his barmaid.

          I wonder how many of our “founding forebears” were renegades and poked their nose at the system in the UK and made it good out here.

    • Macro 2.2

      Lucky you! I’ve read all my books on Naval Battles and they haven’t published any more recently that I want to read, and Father Brown is far more humane than Sherlock Holmes, but just as clever.
      As Chesterton said
      “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

      • Macro 2.2.1

        GKG said some really perceptive things – I like this one in particular

        “Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”

  3. greywarshark 4

    So Ad you are on Planet Key where the view is breathtaking.

    • Ad 4.1

      This far south it’s English Country.

      • Gabby 4.1.1

        What a grand opportunity for you to educate yourself on another culture.

        • greywarshark

          Gabby LOL

          English Country, Mitford, sounds 1930s. Watch out you don’t get caught in a time warp Ad. All the books and films with this situation show it is very hard to get back
          to your own time place.

          There is an interesting series called the Outlanders I think where someone goes back from modern Scotland to the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie. I don’t know how she is going to get back but it involves magic, and using all her wiles. Keep your wiles brushed Ad. I’ll watch the next episode soon and take note of anything useful in case you need help.

          • Ad

            No, they’re more Downton Abbey and Two Ronnies here.

          • James Thrace

            You’re thinking Outlander which is based on the Cross Stitch series of books by Diana Gabaldon.

            Excellent series, and the TV show is doing the book series justice, so far.

        • Ad

          I’m just their little Liza Doolittle.

          • alwyn

            Oh dear. Do they use phrases like this about you?
            “Professor Henry Higgins: She’s so deliciously low. So horribly dirty. ”
            I suppose you could reply
            “Eliza Doolittle: I ain’t dirty! I washed my face and hands before I come, I did.”

      • weka 4.1.2

        You need to head to the other side of town Ad.

        Are you allowed to talk about politics or would that be impolite (all things considered)? I hope they don’t know you are sneaking off to post on ts.

        • Ad

          I always remind them that they leech more taxpayer subsidy per person than any of the poor. They’re all over 65, capital-untaxed, perfect Healthcare etc.

          Fantastic place to be a dog.

          No-one’s changing anyone’s mind here though.

          • greywarshark

            They listen to you and think he is just as good as The Two Ronnies. If you have to watch them, you could do worse during your holiday.

    • JanM 4.2

      Do you really think John Key has heard of the Mitfords? He’d be more at home with the Kardashians, I’d have thought!

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        I think FJK would be more of a Charles 1st type.

      • greywarshark 4.2.2

        Good point about Key. Though he follows in the train of people who were at home with Hitler as admirers, they are really not his sort of people. But he is magnanimous and finds their wealth, possessions and eminent societal position quite magnetic.

        Like so many of the nouveau riche as well as the aristocracy, he has narrowed his interest in history down to that part which pays. Like the rest of us he has very limited historical perspective, not tending to go too deep, just looking and venturing where there are inviting perspectives. The rest – well ‘There be dragons’.

      • Ad 4.2.3

        Brought back Knighthood and adores Cameron and the Queen? Don’t be fooled.
        Key has an exceedingly sensitive nose for class markers.

      • Anne 4.2.4

        @ Jan M
        Good God, the Mitfords would see through Key in the wink of an eye. They would dine out on him for years afterwards.

        • greywarshark

          From what point of view would they see through Key. They liked Hitler, one married Oswald Moseley. They had as many points of view as a prism, and seem like total mavericks.

          • Anne

            They were mavericks and went to extremes but you have to view that in the light of the era they lived in plus the upbringing they had. There were six sisters and only two went down the fascist path. The oldest, Nancy was a socialist and her younger sister, Jessica went the whole hog and became a communist but in later life she was to reject the communist ideology. They also didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we have. But they were highly intelligent and would be able to spot a fake a mile off. Key is a fake.

            • greywarshark

              The Mitford girls dabbled in things and people. And though some of them had moral compasses or found them later, their approach seemed to me fairly accepting of anyone who was interesting to them. Highly intelligent yes, and I think appreciative of people who were bold, and determined, and were good at their chosen interest. Key actually fits that description. He sounds dull when I hear him talking though, despite his ability to move millions, and that would never have done for them.

  4. greywarshark 5

    I’ve just recharged some batteries for a handy old radio I keep for emergencies and gardening companionship. They aren’t working well, perhaps I should throw them out.
    I find them hard to deal with. The old ones just went then were history, but these are supposed to have such long lives yet how many recharges do you get?

    Just thinking in a situation where batteries can’t be obtained, and the electricity is down, and the landline telephone would be gone, pigeons would come into their own. Perhaps bird fanciers would be a useful interest for the thinking person. Both pigeons and laying chooks.

    I was trying to listen to RADIONZ and what the people collecting heritage apple trees in Southland do. They have good skills, and know the right root stocks to graft their precious slips of scion wood to.

    It was a bit fuzzy, might be the batteries not up to it, but might partly be the way that RADIONZ signal gets swamped on all sides by powerful signals that I feel must be exceeding their allocated band width. That would be another tool to suppress our cherished radio, apart from putting skewed ginks on their board who have commercial models in mind, and possibly gluing it on to TV1 to provide a sort of national television – that would be likely to swamp RADIONZ (notice they have dropped Radio from their call sign and now it is three letters RNZ – I don’t trust people who don’t describe themselves with actual words. Too amorphous). Our radio would be lost completely under the onslaught of tv people who are sold on appearances and titillating the masses, and pleasuring themselves.

    • weka 5.1

      I’ve never had much luck with rechargeable batteries, they never seem to last. How many charges you get and whether you should discharge completely before recharging comes down to what kind of rechargeable it is.

      I prefer this now, http://www.nznature.co.nz/products/13/2338/solar-power/freeplay-solar-wind-up-radio-with-torch

      You can get ones much cheaper (mine was) but that one looks very efficient.

      • Andre 5.1.1

        That still uses nickel-metal-hydride batteries, so limited charge/discharge cycles and a bit sensitive about charging schedules (but a lot better than NiCads). Lithium batteries are less sensitive. If anything like that stored energy in ultracapacitors rather than batteries I’d be really interested.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      The old ones just went then were history, but these are supposed to have such long lives yet how many recharges do you get?

      Depending upon battery type anywhere between about 100 to 1000. That said, they also need to be maintained (i.e. used). If you just leave them in a cupboard they have a tendency to degrade.

      Just thinking in a situation where batteries can’t be obtained, and the electricity is down, and the landline telephone would be gone, pigeons would come into their own.

      Get a solar powered radio.

      It was a bit fuzzy, might be the batteries not up to it, but might partly be the way that RADIONZ signal gets swamped on all sides by powerful signals that I feel must be exceeding their allocated band width.

      The Post Office used to have a team went around measuring radio interference but I suppose that it’s gone by the wayside now due to cost cutting and they (Whichever ministry it is) simply believe whatever the radio stations tell them.

      • greywarshark 5.2.1

        Thanks DTB. I wondered about degrading. I have tried to charge batteries fully and have them waiting with camera only to find that they will manage a couple of shots only. Damn. And then you can’t just put new rechargeable ones in as they have to be activated first to get the best long life out of them.

        Maybe I should just have a card of 10 or 20 cheaper batteries. But then I have to watch that I use the right sort as defined in my instruction bookee. I remember fondly the bit in the film Back to the Future where Doc shoots back to collect Marty to help his kids from the future who are in trouble. Doc puts some aluminium cans and banana peel in for engine fuel. Cameras need to be able to run on nail clippings which I could chew off in frustration.

    • Sirenia 5.3

      I always try and tune the radio to Radio NZ when I travel around NZ. There are large parts of the country where you can’t get it at all, and even in urban centres you can only find it squeezed between much stronger signals from other stations. All part of the government’s underinvestment in public radio over many years.

      • greywarshark 5.3.1

        Good to hear your experience. Wondered if mine was repeated elsewhere.

      • Rosemary McDonald 5.3.2

        The good thing about Natrad is that you can tune in on either FM or AM.
        We spend much of our time travelling…and can usually pick up RNZ on either band. BUT…we suspect that the stereo fitted in our Bus, which is wired to our house batteries (deep cycle) sucks up a heap of power trying to get the signal.
        We will test this when we head off again in a few weeks time.

        My man has a wee trannie that he uses to listen to the cricket and rugby….he runs that on the cheap batteries, which seem to have the same life as the more expensive brand.

        The signal for the sports radio is even more variable than Natrad’s…for the really important, ‘can’t miss for the sake of domestic harmony’ games, we have a list of preferred ‘good signal’ parking spots.
        In the far Far North, just down from the Cape, the radio signal starts to deteriorate as the night wears on. By about 11pm we’ll be listening to some Aussie radio station. One night, I swear we got a station from South America.
        Some of the problem with radio reception I suspect is interference. One camp we occasionally stay in has shocking radio reception….since they installed one of those rooftop wifi thingies. So…we have have to listen to the radio through the laptop.

        • greywarshark

          Ooh Rosemary – you actually venture into the esteemed bush and open country. Real Kiwis. Hope you have a good New Year.

          We have had so much rain in Nelson that tenters are starting to leave. The Met Service says that 5.5 mill and thunderstorms could come early afternoon. The birds aren’t singing but the farmers and the horts and the Council waterworks probably are. The bees not around, but I notice that the bumble ones, lately mostly the shorter ones, do have a capacity to manage in humidity.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Here in the Waikato (west), we have had two days of rain falling like mercy…gently to the place beneath.

            No flooding…just steady, gentle precipitation.

            Bumble bees…we were parked in the rest area at the intersection of SH6 and SH63…escaping the sandflies and killer wasps at St Arnaud. Within minutes of turning off the engine a swarm of bumble bees zeroed in on our Bus. They came from all directions…hundreds of ’em…battering themselves against the vents and windows. I had been repeatedly stung by one of those nasty wasps you have down there a few hours earlier…and was reluctant to even get out for a look around. No other vehicle got the special attention we got.

            The date?….http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4717909/Silence-around-the-regions-as-Christchurch-earthquake-remembered

            • greywarshark

              Rosemary Mc
              Blue bus? Run on mead? Raining and happiness was a warm engine?
              Or just desperate for a free ride?

              About wasps. The free market user pays proponents were quite prepared after 1984 to do nothing official about the wasps, they had decided they were a private affair. Probably till being stung on their privates!

              Banks Peninsula was included in Christchurch by Sir Bob the then BP Mayor.
              Then Christchurch didn’t continue wasp killing services to them, and one of the local women took on the job. She recounted how she operated on a giant nest built mostly underground so escaping notice as to its size.

              Now they are killing lots of things because there is more honeydew around than normal and they give imported pests a bad name.

    • weka 6.1

      The photos on that page would make a good media bias study 😉

      • Ffloyd 6.1.1

        What were Richie’s services to the country again. Remind me!

        • Andre

          Participating in the creation of yet another vacuous entertainment industry product and getting paid vast amounts of money for doing so.

        • mary_a

          @ Ffloyd (6.1.1) – “What were Richie’s services to the country again. Remind me!”

          Services to FJK, more like. FJK’s plaything to create attention for himself in the local and international media.

  5. Chooky 7

    ‘Your health & the environment: an interview with Dr Mitchell Gaynor’


    “Thom recently interviewed oncologist and author Dr Mitchell Gaynor on alternative healing, gene therapy and the rule of thirds. Shortly after the interview Dr Gaynor suddenly passed away, so this special hour-long interview was his last. Rest in peace, Dr Gaynor.”

  6. Wainwright 8

    Bit early in the year for politics, but anyone else get this letter from Labour about the new digs they’re building in Auckland? Plus the chance to “buy a brick” in a fancy wall celebrating the centenary. Reads like a membership form for Scientology:
    – $250 “unwaged” for a brick
    – $500 for a brick with your name on it
    – $1000 for a brick with a certificate
    – $2000 for a brick with a certificate and a letter from the leader
    Payment either lump sum or two-year weekly installments,.

    idk about you but it’s a bit off for the party who built state houses and created social welfare to say if you’re out of work you should give us $250 for a brick but we won’t put your name on it. Especially sending it at Christmas when moeny’s tight for heaps of us. Gotta get the $$ somehow I gues.

    • weka 8.1

      Unbelievable. Seriously, how is it possible that senior Labour people don’t sort this shit out? Or is that they just don’t care? Or they don’t understand how bizarrely stupid that is?

      Wainwright, if that was an email any chance you could cut and paste the whole thing (without identifying detail)?

      • Wainwright 8.1.1

        Sorry weka, it’s an oldfashioned letter with a flash donation form attached. Probably just sent to members. idk who’s idea it was but it doesn’t feel very Labour.

        • alwyn

          Of course it feels like Labour. The leaders of the party think that everyone has the sort of money that they do.
          Remember the leader before Little who regarded a $3 million mansion in Herne Bay as just being a “do-up”. They make sure that they are very well looked after.
          I bet that all the Labour MPs are going to club in and buy one brick between them.

          • Leftie

            Bet the do up didn’t even cost anywhere near $3 mil when the Cunliffe’s first bought it, in what is now Auckland’s over priced housing bubble that the National government have encouraged and fostered.

        • greywarshark

          When you can get this letter scanned or faxed? and send it to TS. It would be useful to be able to see this thing that we have been talking about.

    • b waghorn 8.2

      All n all you’re just a (unnamed ) brick in the wall!!

    • Leftie 8.3

      Nope, the last email I got was on 31st Dec from Nigel Haworth. Didn’t mention anything to do with bricks/cost of.

      Can you post the letter please, would like to read it.

      • Wainwright 8.3.1

        Not an email. Letter. It’s bloody long and I don’t have a scanner handy. Usual “our party is in good heart” stuff talking about rebuilding and getting out the Labour message in 2016. The wall stuff:

        There are many ways we’ll commemorate our centenary but one of the most important to ensuring our Party’s future success will be a new project we’re commissioning – Labour’s Centenary Wall.
        This wall will be built from bricks engraved with the names of our Partys most influential and greatest leaders. It will act a s a reminder of the people who have carried the flag of our movemnet, as well as those who currently dedicate themselves to our shared cause. I twill show that together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.
        I’d like to offer you the opportunity to have your name featured alongside those great figures from our past. Your name could feature on a brick next to party heros like Michael Joseph Savage or Helen Clark. You’ll have hte knowledge that your name will not only be a part of our partys history for the next 100 years but that you’ve also played a key part in getting us back into government in 2017.
        To have your name engraved on a brick on our centenary wall all you need to do it commit to make a regular weekly contribution of $5 $10 $20 or more to Labour until at least the end of 2017. For those who are unwaged we’re ogffering the opportunity to buy a brick for just $2.50 a week.

        Then more stuff about Labour House in Auckland and how it’s going to be the campaign hub for the election.

        • marty mars

          Jeepers – are the disgraced former labour MP’s getting a brick too – bit of bover ending next to maddog prebble – although he had his uses in the old days eh. bassett? moore? dunne?

          sounds like a wank to me

          • weka

            Roger Fucking Douglas. They really haven’t thought this through. I’m wondering if it’s a local branch initiative. Wainwright, can you tell which office the letter came from?

          • Anne

            Jeepers – are the disgraced former labour MP’s getting a brick too…

            I think you know the answer to that mm. If they buy a brick then their names will be on a brick but they won’t be buying a brick – of that I can be reasonable sure. The idea has been around for a while and it’s really a revenue gathering exercise in readiness for the 2017 election.

            I gather this wall is going to be built in front of the new Auckland office in New North Rd, Kingsland. It’s too gimmicky for me but hey… if they net desperately needed money then good on them. My name won’t be on a brick but I will donate in the normal way.

        • alwyn

          It sounds rather like the Vietnam War memorial in Washington DC.
          Probably appropriate I suppose. The party will be dead in another couple of years won’t it?
          On the other hand can you really call it a wall if it turns out to be 3 bricks long and 2 bricks high? I think that it is likely to be quietly forgotten when they discover how little money they raise and how embarrassing it would be to put such a tiny little thing out in public view.

          Edit. Sorry Andre. You slipped in your reply while I was composing this and beat me to it about Washington DC.

          • Andre

            We were thinking the same? We’d better both go have a stiff drink and a lie-down.

            • alwyn

              I shall simply consider the quote, misattributed to everyone from Wesley to Booth that “Why should the Devil have all the best tunes”.
              We can both use the image. I won’t comment on who I think is the devil.
              As an aside, have you ever seen a more moving memorial anywhere than the Vietnam one in Washington. I was amazed how it affected me, a foreigner and one who had no involvement with the war.
              On the other hand, at this time, the idea of a stiff drink does have a certain appeal.

        • greywarshark

          The wall will have leaders names on it but the Party only exists through the efforts of its members doing the leg work assisting the fund raising. So put their names on it you dillbrains. Then when a dog comes along and p/sses on the wall it will fall on people who are resilient to that sort of thing.

          Take note of Marty Mar’s K9 comments:
          Jeepers – are the disgraced former labour MP’s getting a brick too – bit of bover ending next to maddog prebble – although he had his uses in the old days eh. bassett? moore? dunne?

          A lot of dashed hunds there.

    • maui 8.4

      At risk of putting the boot in, I visited the Labour facebook page today. Apparently it’s still Christmas and New Year hasn’t happened yet… I’m just not sure if they have really got a handle of social media yet, your hardcore supporters want updates from you, and you never know, you might get new supporters because you’re putting effort into engaging people. You don’t want large gaps like a week going by and there’s nothing from you, which is what I saw last year. I almost wonder if they can’t really be bothered with it and the effort to reach out to people.

  7. greywarshark 9

    A brick without a name on it – sounds like one thrown through a window.
    Labour as usual lacking sensitivity about reality.

    What about funding bricks to build a model housing area? In South Auckland. Of which photos will be published in 50 years time when commemorating large practical humanitarian steps forward as with the first state house! A commemorative wall?? Like the wall of death that has gone up somewhere to commemorate a large tragedy of accidental occurrence. This wall would be commemorating a deliberately structured tragedy by Labour of NZs downfall by free market ideology and the Middle Way. Don’t do it Labour.

    Nats have already built a commemoration to past glories in WW1 – our defeat and slaughter and grim determination not to be wiped out at Gallipoli and other hellholes.
    And the grandsons and -daughters of them are now stripping away NZ gains in humanitarian living and creating another hellhole as noted yesterday by Wily Wayne. The Nastys have already commemorated with $26 million? spent. Use that wall Labour. Put bells on it to be tolled at suitable occasions and frightening events, to warn the populace. Mainly to warn them not to take any notice of gabby politicians who say they represent all the people and will serve them and provide for the country’s needs faithfully and well.

    (Here I am presuming. Do they say such things. Possibly not – shrugs.)

    • weka 9.1

      lolz @ “A brick without a name on it – sounds like one thrown through a window.”

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 9.1.1

        Aye it’ll be a circular wall and inside will be hidden all those discarded items from the past – the right to strike, the 8 hour working day, 40 hour working week, state housing, railways, free education….

        All hidden behind a wall that puts the leaders ahead of the people, individuality ahead of the common good, puts style ahead of substance.

        Aye a commemoration wall.

        The Labour Party of old could have built a celebration wall quite easily cause they would’ve still represented brickies.

        • weka

          the ironies are piling on thick and fast.

          But as Anne points out, it’s a revenue generating exercise (which did occur to me when I saw the bit of the letter, it looks like Labour’s other clunky attempts at such via bank payments).

  8. The Chairman 10

    As the last of four 10 per cent annual tobacco tax hikes came into effect on Friday, anti-smoking groups say quitting rates have slowed. Tobacco tax increases were losing momentum.

    Registrations to the Quitline this New Year are predicted to be what they were in 2010, before excise increases were introduced.

    The Taxpayers’ Union said research shows higher taxes have the least effect on lower socioeconomic groups – meaning poor families go without, to maintain smoking habits.

    Government staying mum on more smoking tax hikes




    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      The Taxpayers’ Union said research shows higher taxes have the least effect on lower socioeconomic groups

      I’d take that with a truck load of salt.


      The cigarette companies have opposed tobacco tax increases by arguing that raising cigarette prices would not reduce adult or youth smoking. But the companies’ internal documents, disclosed in the tobacco lawsuits, show that they know very well that raising cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce smoking, especially among kids.
      • Philip Morris: Of all the concerns, there is one – taxation – that alarms us the most. While marketing restrictions and public and passive smoking [restrictions] do depress volume, in our experience taxation depresses it much more severely. Our concern for taxation is, therefore, central to our thinking . . .
      • Philip Morris: When the tax goes up, industry loses volume and profits as m
      any smokers cut back.
      • RJ Reynolds: If prices were 10% higher, 12-17 incidence [youth smoking] would be 11.9% lower.
      • Philip Morris: It is clear that price has a pronounced effect on the smoking prevalence of teenagers, and that the goals of reducing teenage smoking and balancing the budget would both be served by increasing the Federal excise tax on cigarettes.
      • Philip Morris: Jeffrey Harris of MIT calculated…that the 1982-83 round of price increases caused two million adults to quit smoking and prevented 600,000 teenagers from starting to smoke…We don’t need to have that happen again.
      • Philip Morris: A high cigarette price, more than any other cigarette attribute, has the most dramatic impact on the share of the quitting population…price, not tar level, is the main driving force for quitting.

      The Tax Payer’s Union, being a business union, is concerned about profits.

      • The Chairman 10.1.1

        The Taxpayers’ Union has been known to raise a valid point or two from time to time.

        Nevertheless, anti-smoking groups say quitting rates have slowed, suggesting tax increases are having less impact.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Nevertheless, anti-smoking groups say quitting rates have slowed, suggesting tax increases are having less impact.

          In nominal terms or proportional terms? It’s unclear in the reporting.

          That said, I’d agree that there are probably diminishing returns.

  9. weka 11

    AFP (link is external) reports that Germany has just opened the first 5km stretch of a traffic-free bicycle highway that is set to span over 100km. Running largely along disused railroad tracks, the network will connect 10 western cities in the Ruhr region.

    Cities to be linked include Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm as well as four universities. Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR said that almost two million people live within 2km of the route and will be able to use sections for commuting. A study by the group calculates the track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day.


  10. greywarshark 12

    The Chairman
    More of the lower classes smoke. So it doesn’t hurt the uppers. So they are prepared to come down on the lowers and charge them more. They are interested in preventing them being a health cost and don’t care about their lives at all and it’s a useful stick to beat them with.

    So the fact that it is a little part of the overall drug dependence situation does not affect the thinking of the uppers. Or that people who are dependent are probably likely to be performing better on cigarettes than on other drugs. And that it might be better to slacken off on taxes because of diversion of money away from their responsibilities such as kids.

    That doesn’t satisfy the tunnel vision of the utopian managers of the policies who get their money from meeting targets, making announcements about being cigarette free in another five years, not letting people smoke in parks, being strident and narrow-thinking and marvellous themselves, so healthy, so controlled, so conforming to the good-living society, etc. and so on. Why can’t people all be like me, sensible and well-spoken with rosy cheeks and well dressed. Giving up cigarettes is only the beginning it will turn these people’s lives around. Right. Getting them to cut down would be a help and offering a counselling service when they are stressed might help, and keeping it funded along with other practical and measurable services.

    And it creates another illegal way to make money, by undercutting the huge taxes, which all creates demand and keeps the economy fizzing. Woohoo. There’s money to be made in inflexible laws against human things like ups and downs from whatever takes your fancy.

    • The Chairman 12.1

      The Taxpayers’ Union is suggesting it’s a little more sinister than that.

      The organisation says it’s a revenue gathering tool for the Government. With the Government refusing to allow the sale of more effective and healthier alternatives, protecting their tax revenue stream, while funding tobacco groups who lobby the government for higher taxes.


      • greywarshark 12.1.1

        That higher taxes bit is interesting – if I am right and it mainly affects the lower paid, then they are getting tax hikes that come out of what should be their discretionary income, if they had any, so probably something in the disposable portion goes down – protein, f&v? In contrast, the wealthy get tax cuts, which would come out of their ample discretionary income without pain. And those tax cuts for the wealthy, we have had them and I heard Blenglish referring to them again.

        The wealthy don’t want people to be able to earn adequately from our own businesses and employment so we can all pay our share of tax required for a proud little nation, but having organised themselves to get good incomes in the jobs that still are available to the minority, they don’t want to pay their fair percentage of taxes and moan that they are having to support the country. They want it both ways, the w..kers.

        This sets out the economics of disposable and discretionary income. It’s wise to check up on these meanings so we can attempt to keep up with the latest swingles being attempted from Wellington.

        Discretionary income is disposable income (after-tax income), minus all payments that are necessary to meet current bills. It is total personal income after subtracting taxes and typical expenses (such as rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, medical, tithe, transportation, property maintenance, child support, food and sundries, etc.) to maintain a certain standard of living.[6] It is the amount of an individual’s income available for spending after the essentials (such as food, clothing, and shelter) have been taken care of:
        Discretionary income = gross income – taxes – all compelled payments (bills)

        Of course the comment has been made till it is trite, that the government itself is addicted to excise tax on alcohol and cigs. That’s why it is such an uphill battle to try and reduce alcohol outlets. Never mind that the public responds to more drug outlets by using more drugs (alcohol is a drug), they don’t really care about healthy bodies and minds, it’s the money, stupid.

  11. The Chairman 13

    Severe shortage of Queenstown rental housing hits summer workforce.

    Companies bringing staff in to work on big building contracts were having to consider accommodating them nearby in towns such as Cromwell and Kingston.


    • Graeme 13.1

      Nothing new, and normal around Central Otago for a very long time.

      Most local construction outfits are based in Alexandra, 100 km away. Long daily or weekly commutes to work are the way it’s done, everywhere is a long way.

      The accomodation thing is Queenstown is more a demand side problem. Everyone want to live here for “lifestyle” reasons. This puts upward pressure on accom. costs and massive downward pressure on wages and employment. There’s always someone coming over the hill who will do your job better and for less. This goes right up to the top of the food chain too, under-emploment is massive here. At the bottom employers struggle to find people they can employ legally, no shortage of those they can’t.

      Interesting anecdotal statistic, I think it came from real estate source, is that Queenstown turns over half it’s population every two years.

  12. The Chairman 14

    Cash payments to the poor are the most effective policy intervention we have right now for improving children’s lives in Aotearoa New Zealand – Jess Berentson-Shaw.



  13. Penny Bright 15

    My considered opinion on the following Fairfax political prediction for the 2016 Auckland Mayoralty:

    “Fairfax’s 2016 political predictions

    Fairfax do their annual list of 20 political predictions:

    1. Phil Goff will win the Auckland mayoralty, triggering a by-election in his Mt Roskill seat.
    … ”

    My questions:

    1) Whom exactly were these Fairfax purportedly political ‘brains of Britain’ who came up with this genius prediction?

    2) Can these predicting pundits do basic political maths (of the 101 variety)?

    Please be (again) reminded of the following:

    a) In the 2013 Mayoral election, only 36% of Auckland voters actually bothered.

    (This eaves 64% of Auckland voters, waiting, in my view, to be inspired by an Auckland Mayoral candidate, who is ‘pro-citizen’ – NOT ‘pro-business’, who doesn’t just make passing references to trendy terms such as ‘fiscal prudence’ / ‘fiscal responsibility’ – but has clear policies and a proven track record on defending the LAWFUL rights of citizens and ratepayers to ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ local government.)

    Unlike all the other Auckland Mayoral candidates, who have confirmed that they’re standing, my stated policies and, more importantly, in my view, PROVEN track record, conclusively shows that I am NOT ‘the same as the rest of them’.

    ie: I may be ‘pale’ – but, in my view, my policies and proven track record are definitely NOT ‘stale’.

    b) How will this (increasing) variety of, in my view, ‘centre-right’ / ‘pro-business’ candidates – do anything but SPLIT that voting base?


    Here is the list (to date) of all the other confirmed Auckland Mayoral candidates:

    Stephen Berry
    Mark Thomas
    Phil Goff
    Victoria Crone
    David Hay

    Now – ask yourselves what have any of the above-mentioned Auckland Mayoral candidates (to date), ever successfully accomplished for (the public majority) of Auckland citizens and ratepayers, in the field of ‘local government’ ?


    Which of the above-mentioned 2016 Auckland Mayoral candidates were opposed to the (forced) Auckland ‘Supercity’ amalgamation?


    Which of the above-mentioned 2016 Auckland Mayoral candidates were opposed to the proposed Wellington ‘Supercity’ amalgamation?


    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    • alwyn 15.1

      It’s a pity the iPredict is closing down Penny.
      You could back yourself to win with a couple of thousand dollars at odds of about 1,000 to 1 and make a fortune when you do come out as the Mayor.
      Can’t say I like your chances myself though.

      • Penny Bright 15.1.1

        So which part of my electoral maths 2016 Auckland Mayoral campaign do you particularly dislike?

        The 64% non-voters in 2013?

        The 5 way split votev

  14. Chooky 16

    ‘Your health & the environment: an interview with Dr Mitchell Gaynor’


    “Thom recently interviewed oncologist and author Dr Mitchell Gaynor on alternative healing, gene therapy and the rule of thirds. Shortly after the interview Dr Gaynor suddenly passed away, so this special hour-long interview was his last. Rest in peace, Dr Gaynor.”

    [Hey chooky check your handle. It looks like it had some stray text in it which I deleted – MS]

    • Chooky 16.1

      @MS…thanks, seems to be fixed now …it has not been working…and I could not delete the text…and my comments do not come up when I post them…but some time later…hence the above has been posted twice

      • greywarshark 16.1.1

        Hi Chooky
        I don’t know if this is relevant but I have found that when I go to type something in the comment window the cursor is in the name line and my first words go in there. This did not used to happen. I have to remember to remove them and transport them below.

        I wondered where my comments were going to earlier on. I must have typed and found the words gone astray and just started again without noticing that they were in my name line, but have picked up on that and thought it was just me. Maybe others have had the same. I have noticed that some have been advised that their ‘handle’ has had stray text.

        Mickey Savage – please note. This might be useful. Also can we have a caption competition please if it is in your purview? Just thought I’d ask while you are looking my way.

        • Chooky

          thanx greywarshark….good to know I wasnt alone with this problem

          Happy New Year to you! Hope it is a good one for you!

  15. Jcuknz 17

    Years ago I read a book which formed the basis of my political views long before I became involved in politics and while I remember the title I never can remember the author.
    The Responsible Society
    by one of the leading members of Labor back around WWII and years following.
    Can anybody tell me his name?

    • Macro 17.1

      William Sutch I think – One of his publications was “The responsible society in New Zealand”

      • Anne 17.1.1

        Interesting. Bill Sutch was a deep thinker. Too deep for the likes of the Security agencies of the era who were convinced he was in cahoots with the KGB. Instead he was trying to build a bridge between the [then] Soviet Union and NZ because he saw the enormous potential to NZ of a trade agreement between the two countries. Perhaps a little naive given the circumstances, but also hugely ironic given the lengths countries will go to these days to negotiate such trade deals.

        In other words, all Bill Sutch was guilty of… was being 45 years ahead of his time.

  16. Draco T Bastard 18

    The brains of compulsive gamers are wired differently, study finds

    The scientists also found increased coordination between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction in the brain, which is a more troubling finding – links like this are associated with schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome, and autism, and are also found in people with poor impulse control. This could point to hardened video gamers being more easily distracted and less self-disciplined.

    Right now though, we don’t know whether years of playing video games have caused these changes, or whether these differences in the brain’s internal wiring came first and then led to the participants being drawn towards gaming. Further research and performance tests are necessary before a clearer picture emerges of the long-term effects of excessive video gaming on the mind.

    “Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial,” says Anderson. “However the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them.”

    IMO, there have always been people who reached for risk, excitement and challenge but the new generations are reaching for those things through the digital medium.

    • Chooky 18.1

      DTB…interesting!….thanks for that post…I have passed it on to a gamer I know well!

  17. Jcuknz 19

    You are right Macro it was Bill Sutch … thanks for jogging my memory 🙂

    • Chooky 19.1

      on Bill Sutch



      …”Sutch’s life was not just that a path of one man, it is a symbol of issues which confront New Zealand. While intellectual cogitation a New Zealand strength, his life forces us to face up to some key ideas….”

      the persecution of him by the State was an absolute disgrace….shades of what has happened to Nicky Hager and Dotcom

    • Macro 19.2

      Your welcome Jcuknz.
      Bill Sutch was a good man. I’m sure it would be a good read.

      • Jcuknz 19.2.1

        Yes it cristalized my views about how society should be and only another socialist Sir Roger Douglas pointed out another path to a responsible society where both government and people in return were responsible instead of simply grasping which is the right wing attitude to life.

        • Chooky

          was Roger Douglas really a “socialist” ?! … I don’t think so !

          …how many New Zealanders did Roger Douglas make unemployed, particularly Maori?….there have been desperate generations of Maori unemployment since!

          ….Douglas destroyed the ‘socialist’ NZ Labour Party….and he set a precedent to destroy a ‘socialist’ New Zealand… he was more like the nact neolib wolf in ‘socialist’ sheep clothing!

          The NZ Labour Party has never recovered!…It is now a pale shade of blue nact

          On the issue of personal responsibility …I heard an interesting programme on RNZ ‘ Summer Noelle'(incidentally a very good programme)…whereby an American woman has written a book on her studies of extreme altruism eg individuals putting outsiders before the interests of themselves and their own families…and even their own lives

          …It sounded all very fine and what we should all aspire to until one listener commented words to the effect….

          “How typical of an American to put moral responsibility for others on the shoulders of the individual….surely it is better and more effective to vote for and work towards a socialist society…whereby people are not in such dire straits that they need acts of individual extreme altruism…. or corporate altruism?” ( I couldn’t agree more with this sharp critical commenter !)

          Larissa McFarquhar

          Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquhar


          “Sinners are supposed to be much more interesting than saints.
          Not to longtime writer for The New Yorker, Larissa MacFarquhar. She finds the kind of people who adopt 20 children or turn their backs on family wealth to set up a leper colony in India or open their doors to the homeless endlessly fascinating. Some of us are skeptical and uncomfortable with acts of extreme generosity.

          Strangers Drowning: Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity is a new book by MacFarquar that asks, in a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help?
          We spoke to Larissa McFarqhar in New York and asked her what it was that drew her to the stories of people who’ve pushed themselves to moral extremes.”

          • greywarshark

            I think this sort of altruism is a form of obssession. People with it will neglect their own children and family in order to assist others. Because it is impossible to right all wrongs, help all people needing it – even in one’s own small village – we have to try and put public systems in place and share the cost and duties. But altruism becomes a mental condition when it overrides normal life. I have the feeling that is over-compensating or transference to others’ problems the time, thought and action that is personally needed.

            This is why the USA quote comes into it. They are great on ‘charity’, preferring to wait till someone is in extremis and they can play the kind angel for particular people, rather than having permanent taxation paid systems for all and adequate for prevention as well as aid. (Ditto here now.) It’s troubling about how little one does compared to the need, and can do. I do a few small things and advocate for responses from the wider community from time to time. At present I have to give some more towards a small group helping in Greece with the Syrian and other refugees. Trouble is my credit card is maxed and I have to pay that down. Time, I give some to good causes and put time into the blog which is absolutely necessary to me so I can communicate with other thinking people with moral and practical concerns.

            In wartime maybe different responses are required. I have two books about Sally Trench who was so moved by the Sarajevo orphans plight that she got a truck went there and managed to motor them out of the war zone. She then wrote a factional novel called Frans War about a young child of about 10 who became a seasoned fighter, and is shown hoisting a businesslike gun and smoking a cig on the cover.

        • greywarshark

          and only another socialist Sir Roger Douglas pointed out another path to a responsible society
          You sound as if you are infected by British Labour that got Blairblight from which virus it hasn’t recovered.

          Douglas’ family were firmly in Labour, some working for unions and Roger learned how to work the Labour levers but as usual with us, didn’t read the instruction manual explaining how Labour worked. So he felt free to ginger it up a bit and the thing crashed. Since then the wreckers yard got hold of it and patched it up and now it limps on. Sir Roger just wished he’d done a better job and completely wrecked the thing.

          His family had strong ties with the trade-union movement, and actively engaged in politics. His grandfather, William Theophilus “Bill” Anderton, (1891–1966), was a left-wing Methodist lay preacher and small business owner in Birmingham, England, who migrated to New Zealand with his wife in 1921.[1][2] Anderton served as MP for Eden from 1935–1946, then as MP for Auckland Central from 1946–1960. He was Minister of Internal Affairs in the 1957–1960 Second Labour Government, establishing the Arts Council.[3] Roger Douglas’s father, Norman Vazey Douglas, (1910–1985), a former trade union secretary, served as MP for Auckland Central from 1960–1975, and as opposition spokesman for labour, education, and social security from 1967–1972.[3] Roger’s brother Malcolm Douglas was briefly Labour MP for Hunua 1978–1979.

          I think he was a subject to the mental virus which can be called affluenza. It seems to occur when people change their financial situation for the better and remain comfortably moneyed for long enough – it can strike like cancer.
          Affluenza 2014 film – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza_%28film%29
          Book – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza:_When_Too_Much_is_Never_Enough
          Documentary 1 hour by PBS – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_from_Affluenza

  18. Jilly Bee 20

    I have been having a quick look through the N Z Herald website in the hope of being brought up to date with news, both national and international. What do I find – a piece about the ongoing angst by someone opining over Richie McCaw’s apparent rejection of a Knighthood. Onya Richie, if you did in fact decline the offer, I often wish a few more recipients had opted not to take up the offer, especially those who were bestowed with the alternative honour before the John Key led Government promptly restored the titular honours. I know only of one other person who turned the honour down, though there are probably others who have decided to remain schtum. Then there’s the breathtaking piece about tennis player Ana Ivanovich amazing $20,000 gift of a new diamond ring – yawn. Then there’s the Queen’s new favourite in-law – all according to a gossipy royal aide, it’s non other than the Duchess of Wessex, which apparently is putting Kate Middleton’s nose well and truly out of joint. On to John Roughan’s ongoing ‘fetish’ or opinion, with the late Lecretia Seales and her husband’s campaign to legalise assisted dying to those with a terminal illness and who are suffering unnecessarily. I happen to know one of the recent letter writers to the N Z Herald who related her partner’s extremely painful exit from this world due to cancer and the reply from a ‘doctor’ who was extremely dismissive of her letter. To that doctor and to John Roughan – Get a Life you two and step outside of your little square. ‘What to Expect in 2016’ did make for an interest read though.

    I’m a bit grumpy today having had a family member plus her new partner staying with us and have decided he’s a pillock of king size proportions. Am feeling better having let that Herald stuff off my chest, for better or worse!

    • Anne 20.1

      You don’t have the grumps on your own Jilly Bee. I went online last evening to catch up with the news only to find that top billing was given to some girl who was on a camping trip somewhere in Northland and she woke up in the morning to find her mattress was drenched.

      Jesus wept.

      I’ve also noticed that most websites are still reporting pre-Xmas news. I suppose if Israel drops a nuclear bomb on Palestine or the US declares war on Russia we’ll have to wait until the 11th Jan when people return to work before we find out about it.

    • Chooky 20.2

      You could try RT on line…this is where i go when I feel bored with local papers and local news and want stimulation …and to know what is going on in the world


      (Of course this site and the Daily Blog and a few others are also good )

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    5 days ago
  • Minister of Defence to visit counterparts in US and Canada
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    Minister of Defence Ron Mark today announced New Zealand is sending three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, and two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires.  The New Zealand Defence Force ...
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