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Open mike 15/04/2022

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, April 15th, 2022 - 121 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Step up to the mike …

121 comments on “Open mike 15/04/2022 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall fired another broadside at the Labour Party in her valedictory speech to Parliament:

    Wall also laid out her side of the story of what drove her to leave Parliament – a decision that, in Wall's telling, was not made of her own accord. Wall said she was "forced out" of her Manurewa electorate before the last election, "by the unconstitutional actions of the Party President, Claire Szabó, and some members of the Council [Labour's governing body)". Wall said the process leading to her ouster was "corrupt".

    "The President accepted a late nomination [for the current Labour MP in the seat, Arena Williams], did not share the fact of its late receipt with the Council until questions were asked and then retrospectively tried to justify and legitimise her actions," Wall said.

    Wall said the "devastation" was not just against herself, but "about the devastation wrought on my Manurewa Labour Electorate Committee when their voting rights were removed to ensure that a central party vote would prevail".

    Szabó soon issued a statement, saying: "The processes of the Manurewa selection in 2020 were in accordance with the Labour Party constitution."

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/departing-labour-mp-louisa-wall-gives-valedictory-speech-after-claims-she-was-unwanted/LVL373OGWHXXQGGRIUI2AHXCSE/

    So the Labour Party constitution allows Party controllers outside the electorate to subvert the democratic process of their electorate committees. If we believe the Labour president is telling the truth, that is.

    The intent of the Labour control system seems to be defeat of the locals when the locals choose someone the controllers don't like. Such closet stalinism seems a tad un-Aotearoan, but if the party rules do actually implement stalinist intent, we can't complain. I think Wall complains about it because she believes Labour ought to be democratic instead. I'd be surprised if she was alone in being that naive.

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      NZ Labour has long had many contradictions as per all the “cross class” Parliamentary parties. Labour rules allowed Jacinda Ardern to assume the leadership in 2017 without contest because of the proximity to a General Election.

      The “Parliamentary Wing” has long dominated the ordinary members and LECs of the NZ Labour Party.

      But Dennis, I question your barely disguised glee in sticking it to NZ Labour, I critique them out of years of history, and I still have a number of friends in NZ Labour, and a class left analysis rather than right opportunism.

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.1

        Dunno if I really feel all that gleeful about it. I'd be quite happy to be proven wrong in my analysis. The way a Labour member could do that is to quote the relevant specific clauses from the Labour Constitution here. If they are able to prove the thing is actually democratic, I mean.

        I predict that won't happen. The PM was adamant in refusing to confirm that Wall was correct in stating what the PM told her. Aversion to the truth is extremely deep-rooted in Labour political culture. That's why the commenters here who didn't like Wall telling the truth resorted to character-assassination. Evasion, the leftist way.

        • mac1 1.1.1.1

          The NZLP Constitution is available freely on line. Google those words and you will find a 111 page document, clearly indexed.

          Your answer is in there. 3.9.3 in the Schedules.

          Tiger Mountain is right about 3 month proximity to an election.

          • Dennis Frank 1.1.1.1.1

            I'm impressed you didn't provide the answer to readers here. Very shrewd! Totally finessed my intellectual challenge. You must be a lawyer. wink

            • mac1 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Nah, just gave you the opportunity to look it up yourself so that you can be truly happy.

              "I'd be quite happy to be proven wrong in my analysis." Happy Easter.

              • Incognito

                He will be shocked when he realises how few references to Stalin and Stalinist doctrine he’ll find in the document when he reads it. He might even be a tad disappointed. Hopefully, the NZH will soon do another (…) piece on NZLP and/or the PM and all will be well again.

            • Incognito 1.1.1.1.1.2

              IIRC, mac1 is/was a teacher, and by the looks of it, he was a good one too.

              • Dennis Frank

                Yep, few teachers are any good at dodging an intellectual challenge. yes

                • Incognito

                  Why don’t you just say that you’re not up to challenge of doing a simple search and checking? Does everything need to be spelled out to you in the NZH?

                  You can lead a horse to water

                  https://www.labour.org.nz/constitution

                  but you cannot make it think.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    Why don't you think about what went wrong with the candidate selection process & why Labour defaults to a cover-up?? Honesty is the best policy.

                    • Incognito

                      I’m so grateful for the NZH doing all the digging (in) and uncovering the cover-ups of closet Stalinism in NZLP. We’ve always known that NZLP Caucus has mandatory Kozak dance costumes in their closets in the Beehive, which they wear every Friday for drinks and the comradery of backslapping and having a good laugh at the expense of Proletariat. There’s not enough dirt in Wellington for all those cover-ups, so the best tactic is to make it appear part of the legitimate Party process of spring-cleaning and hanging out of the dirty laundry in the sunshine. Got it?

                      BTW, have you read the document already?

                    • McFlock

                      What "went wrong" for Wall was that there was only one nomination for the candidacy, which required the NZ Council to make a decision.

                      Read 8.9, p46

                    • Dennis Frank

                      I've not seen any report that Wall was the only candidate but if so, I don't see on what basis they rejected her. She was the sitting MP, for god's sake. Seems bizarre. Or are you suggesting that nobody in the committee nominated her & the sole nominee was the current electorate MP? If the latter, I'd be inclined to agree that she must have lost local support to not get nominated Occam's razor…

                    • McFlock

                      OK, fair call, it turns out the selection had three candidates, but was delayed to check the eligibility of some members. And Wall eventually withdrew her candidacy after NZ Council felt that Williams' nomination was in keeping with the LP constitution.

                      Between the two articles, it does seem Wall lacked electorate support and support from the party hierarchy. That does not bode well for political longevity.

                • mac1

                  Most of the intellectual challenges I had were in my classes. Some, alas, were irrecoverable. I had to retire to dodge them. Then I discovered The Standard….

                  • Incognito

                    At times, you must feel at home here. At other times, you must feel like you’re back in class.

                    Happy Easter.

        • Bearded Git 1.1.1.2

          Dennis-Maybe in your posts you should compare Labour's candidate selection process with the complete and utter shambles that is National's candidate selection process (scandal after scandal) just to give some context?

          • Dennis Frank 1.1.1.2.1

            I haven't actually heard of National's hierarchy intervening in local candidate selections. That could be due to successful cover-ups – or they don't. Either way, nobody can comment on political happenings that don't get reported unless they have inside knowledge or a tip-off. If some such gets into the media I'll be happy to have a go at it…

            • Anne 1.1.1.2.1.1

              National claim to have a more democratic system than Labour but imo that is not true.

              Their membership by and large is more docile than Labour's. They meekly tow the party line whatever it may be. When selecting candidates, word from above seeps quietly down the line and ordinary members soon get the message who they are to vote for. Hence less electorate battles. Its not cut and dried of course, but Labour members are more bolshie by nature 😉 so disagreements tend to be thrashed out in the public eye.

              The same goes where policy decisions are concerned. Labour conducts most of its policy battles in the public eye for all to see. National does it behind closed doors and their members accept them with little to no in-put into them.

              I know which I consider to be the more democratic in practice and that is Labour, where the debates are out there for everyone to see – warts and all.

              • Louis

                Anne, apart from the PM, what is the input of caucus when selecting ministers? How much say do they have on who should be ministers?

                • mac1

                  Louis, LP rules are that caucus selects ministers and the PM allocates portfolios.

                  A National PM both selects and allocates.

                  I know of one National woman MP who was told by her leader she'd never make cabinet so she quit after six years. Her male replacement lasted nine years before losing his candidacy whilst still an MP to a challenger who has been there for nearly nine years. And achieved nothing.

                  Local word is that his supporters now regret supporting his challenge to the previous incumbent, known as the 'roi faléant", who was by my reckoning a decent man- did nothing and was just shut out of the loop.

            • Incognito 1.1.1.2.1.2

              Either way, nobody can comment on political happenings that don't get reported unless they have inside knowledge or a tip-off.

              You reckon? I despair at the naïve nonsense you put out here. I’ll be happy if you don’t make a go of it because your closet Stalinism sensor seems off.

              • Bearded Git

                +100 incog

              • mac1

                "your closet Stalinism sensor". Mine must be off, too. It hasn't gone off during fifty years as a member of the Labour Party.

                • Incognito

                  Maybe it is just a little dusty?

                  • mac1

                    Nothing dusty in my closet.

                    Interesting though what you find in there….. in earlier years in the Labour closet there were relics of ACTs best not spoken about, United party of one, Future now in the past, New Labour no longer so, Māori party which has not yet hung up its hat, NZFirst which didn't last, the Alliance that split, the Progressives that halted, the Pacific party that caused no waves.

                    They were all in the closet- but nary a Stalinist, a Leninist, a Trotskyist.

                    But what would you find across the hall in National's closet? Maoists, more quick ACTers, Il-Liberals, Conservatives that couldn’t bottle it, decidedly un-Christian Democrats, more dis-United now in parts, and Independent Advance NZ gone to the rear.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waka-jumping

            • Louis 1.1.1.2.1.3

              Labour's hierarchy didn't intervene in the local candidate selections.

              "As for Wall being moved on from her Manurewa seat at the election, Ardern said it was a decision for the local Labour team – not her. "Ultimately, these are decisions that are actually made by local membership, not by me as party leader. At a local level, our members determine who will locally represent them."

              https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/07/prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-s-rationale-for-excluding-experienced-labour-mp-louisa-wall-from-cabinet.html

              • Dennis Frank

                We won't know the truth unless details of the vote are reported by someone who was at the selection meeting to the news media. All the evidenceless assertions coming from Mike Williams, others, and you, are never gonna change that…

                • Louis

                  I don't think you want to see the truth, as it doesn't fit your narrative.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    I don't have a narrative. I'm not telling a story. I'm doing political commentary on political events. Analysis. It's why TS exists.

                    • Louis

                      Analysis? You are telling a story though.

                    • Incognito []

                      Exactly, and spreading one or two too, with some pseudo-analysis and quasi-commentary soaked in strong personal beliefs, which is almost completely devoid of self-awareness and self-reflection. In other words, not too dissimilar to the likes of Mike Hosking.

                • Peter

                  What is not going to change is your attitude and agenda. You have your typical "won't know the truth unless details are reported" as the back-up defence for insinuations and implications. It's a guilt by suggestion position, a claim, as wild as is wanted, and a "prove I'm not wrong."

                  Do you go round claiming your neighbours are fraudsters, paedophiles or Nazi sympathisers and they can't say they're not until they prove they're not by furnishing details?

                  (If you're so concerned about the details in Labour Electorate Committees and their operation and decision-making and want to have some impact on how they do things, maybe you could sign up.)

                  • Dennis Frank

                    Nope, my attitude would change if Labour did democratic candidate selection & proved it. Or proved that Wall is lying.

                    • Louis

                      Doubt that. You wouldn't believe it anyway.

                    • Peter

                      Labour can do their selection as they want – it's their organisation. The same as our local hockey club and bowling club run their internal affairs including selections. If I want a say in how they do their I should join. Otherwise I should f… off, it is their business.

            • mac1 1.1.1.2.1.4

              There is another explanation, Dennis Frank. Dare I say that you are being a little… 'binary'?

              The 'happening' just might not have happened which would explain why, ah, you never heard of it.

              Did you ever meet a man on the stair, btw?

            • Drowsy M. Kram 1.1.1.2.1.5

              I haven't actually heard of National's hierarchy intervening in local candidate selections.

              Actually” depends on your source(s) of information, choosing to listen, and whether you have a ‘decent’ memory – there's something about Mervyn.

              https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/09/nz-election-2020-senior-national-party-figure-merv-from-manurewa-aka-roger-bridge-still-in-leadership.html

              • Dennis Frank

                Yep, that's an authentic example. My comment would be the dude got caught out trying it on, but doesn't necessarily mean it's endemic. Could be though. Makes sense they'd do it as part of the culture (rather than via rules). The fact that they kept him on as a regional head after forcing him off their board seems indicative. 🙄

                • Descendant Of Smith

                  It's like Slater, Ede, Lusk and Collins never ever happened.

                  Must be great living in a parallel universe.

                  And then there is the payoff for candidates to finish up when it has been decided they are past their use by date.

        • Patricia Bremner 1.1.1.3

          Dennis, there you are dissing again. The PM is not responsible for Louisa's take on things. The PM does not have to "prove" anything.

          Louisa has always said she is a maverick. (If I may speculate as well?) One time too many?

          The use of emotive language is telling. "forced out, corrupt, devastation".

          Then you accuse us of "character-assassination" "Evasion, the leftist way"

          I'm sure someone more erudite than I am will prove the case to you….. but, will you accept it?

          ( Thanks Mac1)

          • Dennis Frank 1.1.1.3.1

            The PM does not have to "prove" anything.

            I didn't say she does. I was merely pointing out the own-goal syndrome operating within Labour that will further corrode poll support for it.

            The thing hinges on whether the candidate selection process was fair or not. Democracy, and our trust in the system, depends on fair play, right? So Labour ought not to do stuff that works contrary to that. The PM ought not to exhibit flawed leadership on the issue.

            • Incognito 1.1.1.3.1.1

              The PM ought not to exhibit flawed leadership on the issue.

              In other words, you want to know when the PM stopped fucking pigs.

              • alwyn

                "In other words, you want to know ….."

                NO. NO.NO.

                There are some things we really don't want to know. We will leave the date and time of that particular event to you. Please don't bring the subject up again.

                We really don't need to know all the things you appear to be cognizant of.

    • Anne 1.2

      Wall also laid out her side of the story of what drove her to leave Parliament – a decision that, in Wall's telling, was not made of her own accord. Wall said she was "forced out" of her Manurewa electorate before the last election, "by the unconstitutional actions of the Party President, Claire Szabó, and some members of the Council [Labour's governing body)". Wall said the process leading to her ouster was "corrupt".

      That paragraph from the Herald article does not align with what I heard at the time. Granted it was only a broad brush out-line, but I was told Loiusa was a bully and she had alienated many of her local members. It must have become a serious matter for those members to take the step of requesting a new candidate.

      I'm not saying that Louisa Wall does not have a genuine axe to grind over the way the matter was handled (I don't know those details) but my impression is she is over-egging what happened. We have not heard the other side of the story and I doubt we will because it is likely to turn into a she said/he said or she said/she said stoush as the case may be, which Labour would want to avoid at all cost.

      • Dennis Frank 1.2.1

        a she said/he said or she said/she said stoush

        I think that's a reasonable framing if the discord hinged on competing interpretations of the party rules & how they got applied to the situation.

        However it does send this message to the electorate: Labour doesn't do local democracy. Can't see how this signalling works to Labour's benefit…

    • Louis 1.3

      Stalinist? What planet are you on?

      • Dennis Frank 1.3.1

        Covert subversion of the democratic process got described as closet stalinism in the old days. Only by those capable of detecting it, of course! Genuine kiwi males call a spade a spade. Doncha know? angel

        • Incognito 1.3.1.1

          Only by those capable of detecting it, of course!

          Ahah! You were dog-whistling. And here I was thinking that you were after the truth.

          • Louis 1.3.1.1.1

            +1

          • Dennis Frank 1.3.1.1.2

            No, the idea that Labour party members are dogs never crossed my mind. I've always seen them as inherently capable of adhering to the truth. A shame their party culture seems to get in between the two but that's not my problem. I wish them all the best in whatever rule-improvement process they embark on to prevent a recurrence of the shambles… angel

            • mac1 1.3.1.1.2.1

              " A shame their party culture seems to get in between the two" you wrote.

              Two what? Minds? Ideas? Truths?

              If you are going to be binary, what are the two that party culture seems to get between?

              I hope it's not the dogs you've been whistling at……. that's far too binary for me.

              • Dennis Frank

                The members & the truth. I was referring to the warping effect of culture on truth (the primary structural component of culture doing the warp is the group belief system).

                You can see the same thing happening in the Green caucus nowadays, sadly. Doesn't really matter if you frame it as group narcissism or collective tunnel vision, the effect is the best thing to focus on: disconnect from the body politic (voters).

        • mac1 1.3.1.2

          Cue Oscar Wilde, (on the National Party?)

          " I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.”

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    A UK think-tank hired by the Department of Internal Affairs studied New Zealand's online extremist ecosystem.

    "The far-right are by far the most numerous and active group online. Over half (356,170) of our 608,335 posts and just under half of the accounts (170) identified came from them. Conspiracy theorists accounted for another 226,870 posts (from 134 accounts), and had significant overlap in audience and followers with the far-right, at least on the platforms where this was able to be analysed."

    The whole report is here [https://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/Files/Countering-violent-extremism-online/$file/NZ-Online-Extremism-Findings-Report.pdf]

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/extremism-government-agendas-and-media-coverage-your-questions-answered/7UNWP337NBQVHM35IW5ZJ6DYBM/

    • Jenny how to get there 2.1

      Disinformation:

      How it spreads, how to fight it, how it bleeds into real world harm.

      In my opinion an important thinker (and mover) in this sphere of study is Daniel J. Rogers,

      When we see autocratic states like Russia attacking free speech under the guise of regulating against "Fake News", and at a time when our government is formulating laws against hate speech, what Rogers has to say about getting the balance right is important.

      …..I do not advocate regulating disinformation directly; so-called “anti fake news” laws passed in other countries are ripe for political exploitation to suppress free speech and antagonize dissidents, activists, and political rivals. Instead, by regulating the toxic business models underpinning our information environment, we will create a healthier ecosystem that stems the flow of disinformation, mitigates harm, and leads to a freer more productive conversation.

      Disinformation Is Among the Greatest Threats to Our Democracy. Three Key Ways to Fight It

      By Daniel J. Rogers, March 5, 2021

      [ Rogers is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of The Global Disinformation Index, a non-profit focused on disrupting online disinformation, as well as an Adjunct Professor at New York University's Center for Global Affairs. He is also a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. ]

      • Dennis Frank 2.1.1

        regulating the toxic business models underpinning our information environment

        Sounds good in principle. In practice, there are three requirements: a design for implementing that, a method of implementation, and the political muscle to do it.

        • Jenny how to get there 2.1.1.1

          Kia ora Dennis,

          The first two elements 'design' and 'method' for implementing it, are simply technical matters, for expert advisors.

          Just as any other piece of legislation, the government have to call on technical advisors on its design and method of implementation. In my opinion the government couldn't go far past some one like Daniel Rogers for expert advice on these matters.

          As regards "political muscle to do it" I would have thought the current government, the first to rule the country with a simple single majority since the introduction of MMP would have more than enough 'political muscle to do it'.

          But I could be wrong.

          What do you think is the road block?

          • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1.1

            What do you think is the road block?

            Perception of power imbalance, global corporates in relation to states. Govts in thrall to neoliberalism. Tacit acceptance of market forces in hegemony status.

            Comes down to political will to regulate that mix. States would need to coordinate globally to be effective in culture-change of corporate thinking.

            Currently govts file social media regulation in the too-hard basket although pressure they have put on did achieve some algorithm-tweaking by Facebook & Twitter in recent years.

            Basically the design challenge is almost as big a hurdle as political will. Lack of prosecutions using hate-speech laws has proved that!

      • aj 2.1.2

        A cog in the machine.

        https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/truman-doctrine

        According to Tablet Magazine, some progressives are uncomfortable with the Truman Project’s pro-military stance which they describe as "Republicanism lite"

        https://www.disinformationindex.org/about

        ..he founded and led Terbium Labs, an information security and dark web intelligence startup and before that worked in the US Intelligence Community

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    In September "an event of planetary importance" is scheduled: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/dream-walking-towards-the-planetoid-bomb

    With the assistance of a privately funded rocket, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will test the feasibility of redirecting an asteroid. The mission is, in NASA’s words, “to test and validate a method to protect Earth in case of an asteroid impact threat”. NASA’s spacecraft will crash head-on into a small asteroid called Dimorphos, with the aim of altering its orbit around a larger asteroid, Didymos.

    In their 1964 book Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, astronomers Dandridge Cole and Donald Cox envisioned manoeuvring asteroids to serve as the ultimate deterrent, a “planetoid bomb”.

    At the time, these plans were advanced as solutions to the threat of nuclear war, specifically to the vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons based on Earth. Cole and Cox wrote that a “captured planetoid” of between 2 kilometres and 8 kilometres in diameter would have the “impact energy equivalent to several million megatons”, would create a crater 30 to 80 kilometres in diameter, and “would destroy whole countries through Earth shock effects”. They hastened to add that such devastation would “not be anything near as bad” as a general nuclear war because there would be “no nuclear fallout carried by the winds to all parts of the Earth”.

    A captured planetoid would be “the ideal deterrent system”, they said, because it could not be de-orbited in less than several hours and “would not be feared by a potential enemy as a surprise attack weapon”.

    The technologies to divert an asteroid away from the Earth are essentially identical to those needed to direct objects towards the Earth. If the DART mission succeeds, humanity will have demonstrated a destructive capability vastly exceeding that of nuclear weapons.

    Daniel Deudney teaches political science, international relations and political theory at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, and the Ends of Humanity, which further explores the ideas in this article.

    • Jenny how to get there 3.1

      Nuclear winter, climate change, asteroid mis-direction, our methods of destroying the planet are getting more grandiose every day.

      What could possibly top slamming an asteroid into the Earth?
      Inducing a supernova in the Sun perhaps?

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Macho thinking still trendy eh? No, physics rules out such an effect on the sun but impact here would produce a nuclear winter (without radiation) due to magma droplets in the upper atmosphere shading sunlight, producing global crop failure.

        I think the old warfare scenario of the 1960s is secondary. Current planning would be partly to upskill around impact-diversion technique plus orbit-shifting into proximity suitable for asteroid mining. Big money!!

    • RedLogix 3.2

      High kinetic weapons like this was the core plot element of Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

      Humans are going to have to be a lot better at self-governance before we are allowed seriously into space.

      • Dennis Frank 3.2.1

        Allowed by whom? The ETs?? Elon is inclined to boldly go where others are too timid to. Heavy metal prices could drive him forward…

        surveys have detected about 8,000; therefore, NASA officials think it is imperative to develop an effective plan should a near-Earth object threaten Earth.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Asteroid_Redirection_Test

        • alwyn 3.2.1.1

          It might be nice to have an option if a collision looked likely.

          It is generally accepted that it was a collision of this sort with an asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. Along with about 75% of all the life on earth. I doubt if global warming or a nuclear winter is going to be as bad as that.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    A few interesting developments in the war in Ukraine.

    Firstly, the weather over there is terrible at the moment. That is important because the ground is turning to an absolute bog. I have seen reports of Russian tanks sinking up to their turrets in the stuff.

    One of the reasons that the Russians have decided to focus their forces on the Donbas area is because the topography of the area is more suited to their tank style of warfare. However, spring in Ukraine is probably the worst time to conduct open warfare. It is recommended to attack in the winter when the ground is frozen, or in summer when the ground is dry and hard.

    So, Russian forces are still confined largely to roads which makes them vulnerable to Ukranian attacks. Because the Ukranians are a lot more nimble, and know the territory, the lack of mobility of Russian forces is giving the Ukranians the opportunity to counter attack and disrupt while the Russian forces are confined to roads. For instance, they have just blown a bridge to Izium while a Russian convoy was crossing.

    Izium was captured by the Russian a couple of weeks ago, and was considered a point of attack for the Russians. So, disrupting supplies to this area is a really good strategy.

    Also, the Ukranians have been carrying out attacks on logistics within Russia. The latest endeavour was to take out a rail bridge that was an important supply line for the Russians to bring supplies and equipment to Ukraine. The Russians have not been happy about this, so are threatening to attack Ukrainian command centres. Apparently it is OK for the Russians to invade Ukraine, destroy Ukranian cities and kill civilians. But it is not OK for Ukraine to inflict a few pin pricks inside Russia. Go figure.

    So interesting times ahead. The Russian flagship, Moskva, is badly damaged but still afloat. However, it is definitely out of the game, which is a big blow for the Russians. The rest of the Russian fleet has moved much further to the South, obviously fearing further attacks from Ukraine. So, the attack on the Moskva not only took out one of the important Russian naval assets, but also has restricted the capability of the remaining ships.

    A big problem for the Russians with their naval assets is that Turkey is not allowing any more military ships to enter the conflict zone. So what the Russians have there now is all they can get.

    Interesting times. I think the weather definitely favours the Ukranians. Not only does it allow them to pick away at Russian assets through special ops missions and the like. It also gives more time for Western heavy military assets to arrive. For instance, the US is supplying a package including artillery and helicopters at the moment.

    It is going to be very difficult for Putin to meet his objective of a victory by 9th May. It will be interesting to see what their military parade will be like this year given all the assets they have lost, or have stationed in Ukraine.

  5. DB Brown 5

    Powerful Stuff.

    "Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families."

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/?

    • Dennis Frank 5.1

      Yeah. Haidt wields a triad (Neptune wielded a trident):

      Social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories.

      Social media has weakened all three. To see how, we must understand how social media changed over time—and especially in the several years following 2009… Once social-media platforms had trained users to spend more time performing and less time connecting, the stage was set for the major transformation, which began in 2009: the intensification of viral dynamics… research showed that posts that trigger emotions––especially anger at out-groups––are the most likely to be shared.

      This new game encouraged dishonesty and mob dynamics: Users were guided not just by their true preferences but by their past experiences of reward and punishment, and their prediction of how others would react to each new action. One of the engineers at Twitter who had worked on the “Retweet” button later revealed that he regretted his contribution because it had made Twitter a nastier place. As he watched Twitter mobs forming through the use of the new tool, he thought to himself, “We might have just handed a 4-year-old a loaded weapon.”

      As a social psychologist who studies emotion, morality, and politics, I saw this happening too. The newly tweaked platforms were almost perfectly designed to bring out our most moralistic and least reflective selves.

      All good, but does pose a profound question: why do morality issues online get adults acting like 4-year-olds? Somehow, belief-systems kick in and we get tribalism being reinvented. Social Darwinism 2.0 I guess…

    • Dennis Frank 5.2

      Trust is the glue that produces societal cohesion:

      The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer (an international measure of citizens’ trust in government, business, media, and nongovernmental organizations) showed stable and competent autocracies (China and the United Arab Emirates) at the top of the list, while contentious democracies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and South Korea scored near the bottom (albeit above Russia).

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/

      • DB Brown 5.2.1

        Trust is the glue – absolutely.

        The issue is not so much a humanity problem as an unregulated tech-bro problem. The internet was the wild west (but wasn't it nice, back in the forum days) and cowboys have taken over. They've eroded trust for cash. These owners of all the data know exactly what's happening to the populace. The trending to the right is convenient for capitalists such as these.

        The truth can't be restored without controlling social media. This passage from the same article explains:

        "I think we can date the fall of the tower to the years between 2011 (Gurri’s focal year of “nihilistic” protests) and 2015, a year marked by the “great awokening” on the left and the ascendancy of Donald Trump on the right. Trump did not destroy the tower; he merely exploited its fall. He was the first politician to master the new dynamics of the post-Babel era, in which outrage is the key to virality, stage performance crushes competence, Twitter can overpower all the newspapers in the country, and stories cannot be shared (or at least trusted) across more than a few adjacent fragments—so truth cannot achieve widespread adherence."

        “A mean tweet doesn’t kill anyone; it is an attempt to shame or punish someone publicly while broadcasting one’s own virtue, brilliance, or tribal loyalties. It’s more a dart than a bullet, causing pain but no fatalities. Even so, from 2009 to 2012, Facebook and Twitter passed out roughly 1 billion dart guns globally. We’ve been shooting one another ever since.”

        • DB Brown 5.2.1.1

          Nail after nail ( or is it dart) on the head.

          "When everyone was issued a dart gun in the early 2010s, many left-leaning institutions began shooting themselves in the brain. And unfortunately, those were the brains that inform, instruct, and entertain most of the country."

          https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/

          • DB Brown 5.2.1.1.1

            And look at the power of the Tech-bro toddler. Those whom are Deified.

            Musk just offered to buy Twitter outright, so he can make it private. "I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe" he reckons.

            https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/04/14/elon-musk-offers-to-buy-twitter-for-us43-billion/

            • McFlock 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Looks like Twitter will be going even more abysmal pretty soon, then.

              • DB Brown

                The article points out a few obvious (thus fixable) features:

                Facebook's 'like' and 'share' buttons.

                Twitters 'retweet' button.

                Sociopathic attention seekers crawling over others to gain followings.

                We should burn the fucking influencers to the ground.

                My brief foray on twitter saw me decide it's not for me. I love it for getting early signals of news, but as a community, it's stacked against being social. (for early signals enter the right search terms and use the recent and refresh buttons).

                The biography/signature features on twitter and FB are also a problem. Especially twitter, that fancy they're intellectually superior to facebook. No really, NZ twitter has a cult following of itself to itself. I saw a trend of rubbishing FB so I rubbished it and people followed me. Daft!

                Everyone wears their political heart on their sleeve. The majority have lost sight of presenting themselves as Joe Bloggs from Podunkville. Not today:

                Joe (Go Blow) Bloggs. Podunkville, best town in the west. Libtard masher, All Lives Matter. Flag, another flag, laughy face.

                But the left are just as bad.

                Joe (You Should Know) Bloggs. Podunkville, full of podunks. BLM, LBGT. Rainbow, unicorn, rainbow.

                Both versions are tribal before they open their mouths. They're just red rags to each other, pointless horseshit.

                • McFlock

                  A capitalist isn't going to "fix" the problems that capitalism has spawned and profited off.

    • RedLogix 5.3

      Haidt is one of my intellectual lodestones; more than anyone else he cemented my sense that while differing values and ideas are essential to a healthy society, that there are boundaries. That extremism of any kind is corrosive and dangerous.

      The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.

      More than a few people have pointed the finger at the rise of social media.

      Good find thank you.

  6. arkie 6

    An interesting article about the government apparently considering splitting the supermarket duopoly:

    Commerce Minister David Clark told Newsroom he would respond next month to the commission's report on competition – or the lack of it – between the two big supermarket chains, Foodstuffs and Woolworths.

    He wants to move quickly on agreed changes, most likely a code of conduct to prevent the chains exploiting farmers and other suppliers, and consistent unit pricing so shoppers can compare how much different products really cost.

    But the big questions his officials are discussing with the Commerce Commission is whether lawmakers can go further than the commission was able to, under its constrained deadlines. The Government is understood to be considering whether it can break open the wholesale duopoly or, more likely, the cosy club of retailers.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/talks-to-fast-track-supermarket-regulation-and-break-apart-stores

    Promising stuff, I'd be very pleased to see some action in this area. I've always seen supermarkets as unnecessary middlemen. It would be fantastic to imagine supermarket buildings being repurposed, housing multiple individual businesses and stalls, the car parks too for special occasions. Maybe becoming buyer co-operatives, connecting consumers directly with the local producers… I'm sure there are many more ways to improve our relations with food, each other and our environment. We may well see this happen!

    • Craig H 6.1

      Here's hoping!

    • alwyn 6.2

      " I've always seen supermarkets as unnecessary middlemen".

      Why don't you say the same things about all shops? After all what is special about the little ones? They tend to be more expensive than supermarkets and have smaller ranges of goods so we should get rid of them too.

      Then we can do all our shopping by going out to buy our food from the original producer. You want a couple of carrots? Go to a grower and dig them up yourself. You want 4 lamb chops? Collect up some friends who want other parts of the lamb, buy one and slaughter it and then split the butchered beast up between you.

      Way to go baby.

      • arkie 6.2.1

        Supermarkets have aggregated what were once numerous separate businesses, butchers, greengrocers and now liquor stores and tobacconists. The issue we have now is that there are only two dominant supermarket companies who have been determined to be unnecessarily expensive by the Commerce Commission. Many little businesses have to compete for customers, this leads to lower prices, isn't that basic economics to you?

        As to your scenario; Sounds good, there exist models of similar schemes:

        Community-supported agriculture (CSA model) or cropsharing is a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming. The model is a subcategory of civic agriculture that has an overarching goal of strengthening a sense of community through local markets

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-supported_agriculture

        So yes, this could well be the way to go, baby.

        • alwyn 6.2.1.1

          "Many little businesses have to compete for customers, this leads to lower prices, isn't that basic economics to you?".

          No, and I can't think of any Economist I know who would agree with it. There is nothing at all in the theory that says that small is always more efficient than large which is what you are suggesting. There is plenty of evidence for economies of scale though.

          • arkie 6.2.1.1.1

            What is competition alwyn?

            Basic economic theory demonstrates that when firms have to compete for customers, it leads to lower prices, higher quality goods and services, greater variety, and more innovation.

            https://www.whitehouse.gov/cea/written-materials/2021/07/09/the-importance-of-competition-for-the-american-economy/

            It's hilarious to see you now arguing for monopoly due to efficiencies of scale. I'd expect you to now advocate for the nationalisation of our natural monopolies like power generation and supply.

            But in all seriousness this just further demonstrates the bad faith in which you argue.

            • alwyn 6.2.1.1.1.1

              You did notice the source of your link I suppose?

              It was people in the White House spruiking the actions of their boss. Hardly a neutral, expert opinion was it?

              However please tell me which of these two cases you think would be best for the general New Zealand member of the public.

              200 firms produce a product, They vigorously compete for sales, sell their product at a price where marginal cost is equal to marginal revenue and sell their product at $10/unit.

              Alternatively there are three firms. They also compete and sell similar quantities of their product at $8/unit. They are much bigger businesses of course and have lower cost more efficient plants so they make more profit, and pay more taxes than the 200 minnows. Their price is more than the marginal cost of what they produce but so what.

              Which one is better for the consumer, and for the country?

              • arkie

                You really are reaching now, and I’m not into your irrelevant hypotheticals other than to bring it back to the original post and ask: What products do supermarkets produce exactly?

                Enjoy the mental gymnastics. Helps to warm up first to avoid injurious and inconsistent contradictions.

                • alwyn

                  The provide you with the ability to go to a single shop and to get all the food and vegetables and basic household goods you want in the quantities you want and when you want them.

                  That is the service they provide, and one most of us use and want.

                  Where do you get your food from?

                  Why do you think most people go there?

                  • arkie

                    Ouch, could have warmed up more I see.

                    • alwyn

                      Yes, you really should limit your comments to things you know something about.

                      When, as you have done here, you try and comment on something you clearly know nothing about you are only going to make yourself look foolish.

                      Try and get to grips with the topic you are talking about and warm up on the topic a bit better in the future and you may do better.

                    • arkie

                      Yet another torturous contortion, cf. alwyn @ 6.2.1.1

                      Oof. You do have the long weekend to recover though.

  7. aj 7

  8. joe90 8

    Yet to be confirmed but if true, Poots' treatment of high ranking officers perceived to have failed seems a little purge-ish.

    Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, is arrested by people in civilian clothes. Witnesses report that the detention was rather harsh – the admiral's adjutant was beaten very badly.

    • Adrian Thornton 8.1

      "Yet to be confirmed but if true"…..that statement encapsulates much of your Ukrainian commenting quite nicely Joe90.

      • Dennis Frank 8.1.1

        Well the buzz is on low-level news sites according to the Google front page of my search – but it's a lively rumour in Ukraine. And it fits the pattern:

        Leonid Nevzlin, a Russian-Israeli businessman who fled the country in 2003 after being targeted by Putin, said yesterday that 20 Russian generals have been arrested over the military's failings along with 150 FSB officers for providing false information about Ukraine's defences.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10721351/Ukraine-war-Fears-Moskva-warship-carrying-nuclear-weapons-sank.html

        The numbers given by this source suggest he's had the inside word from someone in the know in the Russian military or political hierarchy…

        • Dennis Frank 8.1.1.1

          Found this further down that page:

          The Moskva is supposed to be equipped with powerful radar arrays to guide its anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine missiles which are also used to operate six 'close-in weapons systems' that are designed to take out incoming missiles.

          It is not clear exactly how the Ukrainians were able to penetrate these defences. Sources linked to Russia's Wagner group suggest Bayraktar drones may have been used to distract or overwhelm radar before the attack, though it is also possible the drones were being used as spotters to direct the incoming missiles on to target.

          The same Russian military sources claim the Moskva was hit twice on its port side by the missiles, rolled over and caught fire.

          • joe90 8.1.1.1.1

            Moskva…what Moskva?

            • alwyn 8.1.1.1.1.1

              I don't believe it. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov is still alive, at the age of about 130. Surely he is the middle one of the 3 in the photograph?

          • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.2

            I found one low level site that was saying that the dated radar system on the Moskva was capable of only tracking targets in one sector only at at time. Apparently while the radars were tracking the drone it was blind to the Neptunes coming in from another direction.

            I have no idea if this is true or not, but however unlikely it seems we have to stand this up against the general incompetence of the Russian forces to date.

            • joe90 8.1.1.1.2.1

              Ukraine has shown just how vulnerable armoured vehicles are to hand held anti-tank weapons and UAVs. Now the Moskva, supposedly well protected by anti-missile systems, has been distracted by a UAV and sunk by a domestically produced Ukrainian anti-ship missile system.

              Imagine the consternation of PRC naval planners about how any attempt to attack Taiwan by sea, or indeed attempts by the US and allies to send warships anywhere near the Chinese coast, might pan out.

              Taiwan to mass produce extended range anti-ship missiles

              New Hsiung Feng III missile able to travel 400 km, will be outfitted on mobile launchers

              https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4290059

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