Open mike 23/05/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 23rd, 2016 - 138 comments
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138 comments on “Open mike 23/05/2016 ”

  1. Paul 1

    If you didn’t hear this talk at the weekend, then I highly recommend it.
    Linda Tirado is the author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. The book began as a first person blog post about living in poverty in Utah that went viral.

    “I will not apologise for my poverty.”

    • whispering kate 1.1

      I listened to it as well Paul and I thought it was mind blowing, the courage and conviction that she spoke with and the “I will not apologise for my poverty” was very profound. Good luck with her future career as a writer representing the under-privileged.

  2. Tom Pained 2

    9/11 Trumped Democracy.

    Elementary, my dear Watson !

  3. Ad 3

    Finally snow on Ruapehu! And Cardona!

    • Ad 3.1


      • Graeme 3.1.1

        Yeah, been quite a turn around in the weather in last week, shorts and tee shirt and not a sign of snow on Remarks the week before. Still very early though for snow to stay there but the first good dump is usually late May.

    • weka 4.1

      Not sure about sparking, but maybe more water wearing away at the rock.

      Have to say I’m very glad that Shaw is co-leader. Having him, with his background in business, in that photo in a suit, is what is needed at this time. It’s his message to the business community and other power holders in society that is critical now. And the GP do have a plan that NZ could pick up and implement right now. Not as radical as many of us want or know is needed, but it’s a plan that those powerholders could get on board with.

      The Green Party has developed a number of solutions that can be undertaken immediately to show New Zealand’s commitment to make this happen.

      “First, we would put a proper price on pollution and redistribute the revenue as tax credits to direct spending and investment towards climate-friendly goods and services.

      “Second, we would set up a politically independent Climate Commission to advise the Government on policy settings to guide the transition to a low-carbon economy.

      “The Green Party would also set up a Green Investment Bank to spur investment in high value green jobs and industries.

      “The world doesn’t have time for National to pay lip service to climate change measures. We must take action now. The consequences of a 2 degC temperature rise are too grave.

      “Our climate change policy is about improving the way we live and do business. We can reduce emissions, create jobs and enhance our quality of life,” said Mr Shaw.

      Last year’s discussion paper,

      Options for domestic climate action to achieve a target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030

      • weka 4.1.1

        as an aside, for the people that think that the Greens believe electric cars will save the day,

        No ‘silver bullet’ for climate change

        “New Zealand’s top scientists have shown in this report that reducing emissions will require a re-think of the current strategy for agriculture, and that climate targets won’t be met by relying solely on tech-fixes like electric vehicles and methane inhibitors,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

        • Colonial Viper

          he thinks that electric cars are part of the solution. You have to release a lot of GHGs to manufacture an electric car.

          • weka

            Yes, petrol or diesel too. If you are going to manufacture a car, make it an electric one. But if you read their policy interconnectedly it’s obvious that they value things like public transport and biking more and have policies on them too.

          • b waghorn


            They’re still a better option depending on which country your in.

            • weka

              It’s more that replacing the current fleet with electric cars means a huge amount of emissions when we should be powering down and not relying on individual car ownership. We need to travel less, because all travel has a GHG cost. More public transport, more walking/biking, more working and playing closer to home. It’s actually pretty recent in NZ for so many people to own cars (remember when Japanese imports were first allowed in in the 90s?).

              I don’t have so much of a problem with the GP policy because NZ is patently not ready to give up its car culture yet and the GP don’t have enough power to be pushing that (thanks lefties who haven’t been voting for them!!). It’s just a pragmatic approach. If it takes us 20 years to transition to not relying on personal cars, we will still have lots of people in that time buying new cars, so they may as well be electric (the case can also be made for preserving the existing fleet for as long as possible, but there are problems with that too).

              • b waghorn

                “It’s more that replacing the current fleet with electric cars ”

                Those cars are going to get replaced regardless through the fact that companies tend to be on 3 to 5 year cycles and wealthy kiwis tend to be the same as companies. Add to that cars just don’t last now 20 years use would be rarity now.

                As for depowering your right but it won’t happen willingly.

                • weka

                  Which I’m guessing is part of what is behind the GP policy. If you have to replace a car anyway, why would you not make it electric in a country that already has power generation at 80% renewable and could pretty easily get it to 100% (GP policy is by 2030).

                  My car is 20 years old 🙂 I reckon if it had been looked after someone would get another 10 years out of it. If parts were available, it could last a lot longer. It’ll be the lack of parts that will eventually scrap it.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    There was a post recently which relayed the scientific opinion that we need to get down to zero fossil fuel use by 2030.

                    Manufacturing new cars is out of the question, in this scenario.

                    • weka

                      Sure. But not politically feasible in 2016. If we want to do the best thing, we have to start where we are. You and I can push for faster and more radical change. The Greens can’t. I don’t mean to have a go at you, so please don’t take this as that, but honestly, the GP were that radical back in the day, and not enough people voted for them including many lefties like yourself. This is a group of people who were thinking long and hard about CC and resource depletion well before we were even aware it was an issue. The time for them to lead that charge is past. NZ had it’s chance at being progressive via govt and it blew it. It’s going to have to come from somewhere else.

                      However, I still believe that voting Green (or supporting them in other ways) gives us a much better chance of achieving any meaningful change. Can you imagine how these conversations would be going and what would be happening in the public mind if we had a govt that was taking CC as seriously as the Greens are, even if they’re not yet where we want or need them to be?

                      I also believe that if a movement arises outside of govt that shifts the public, then parties like the Greens will follow. They want to do the right thing.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I can see the logic in pursuing formal position and power and therefore justifying participating in the Parliamentary game of status quo pretend and extend.

                    • weka

                      But they’re not justifying pretend and extend. I wonder how much of the GP material you actually read.

                      It’s really a shame that people are so hung up on the electric car thing.

                      Edit, sorry, that sounded a bit harsh. I’m just aware that there are lots of misperceptions about the Greens from outside views.

                    • Pat

                      “It’s really a shame that people are so hung up on the electric car thing.”

                      the hang up is created by a desire to believe that all we need to do is make a few changes here and there and we can carry on pretty much as before…….self delusion can be powerful

                    • weka

                      But the Greens don’t believe that so why get hung up on that one small part of their policy?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      It’s like people not being able to let go of Labour proposing that we have to raise the Super eligibility age.

                      What’s the big deal?

                      Well, the big deal is that it provides a huge insight into how they look at the world, and what they believe the real issues are. As well as the kinds of solutions which are needed.

                      And it’s not good.

            • weka

              Thanks for that link. Really good to see people including manufacturing emissions in their thinking.

      • Chooky 4.1.2

        Shaw is going where Hooton would advice him to go…well suited and cap in hand to the business community

        the Green Party however would do well to remember what Naomi Klein has to say about such liaisons in ‘This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate’…from her massive research and evaluations this modus operandi fails

        ( whenever I see Shaw in a suit I think of the failed ‘Red Peak’ corporate flag and Shaw’s attempt to curry favour with jonkey nactional)

        …it will be interesting to see whether the new Green Party strategy is a winner with it’s grassroots voters

        • weka

          Hooton would also advise dissatisfied lefties to frame their potential parties in a poor light, so I guess that makes you and Shaw alike (both apparently defined by what Hooton might suggest).

          Shaw isn’t going cap in hand to the business community. He’s speaking their language so he can influence them. It’s smart strategy.

          The grassroots membership chose Shaw as co-leader. The green vote has increased every year since Norman was chosen as co-leader (in a business suit!) and everyone was ‘oooh, sell out, you’ll lose the grassroots and fail’. The grassroots chose Norman as co-leader too. Looks to me like they know what they are doing as a party.

          If we want the business and political classes to adopt an actual climate change action plan, what other way would that happen if it wasn’t being spearheaded by someone they could understand and relate with?

          The beauty of the Greens is that beside and behind Shaw are a whole team of very skilled MPs from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Having one suit in that team is not going to destroy the party.

          • Chooky

            well I guess with Norman he wore his suit very casually ( as does David Cunliffe)and it was clear Norman was an activist in a suit

            …with Shaw the suit wears him

          • Pat

            at least Russel Norman’s suit was green

            • Chooky

              lol …the Green ELF look

            • weka

              What makes you think Shaw’s isn’t?

              • Pat

                I have heard him interviewed a number of times and if I didn’t know who he was the last party I would pick him as representing would be the Greens….his presentation of issues almost appears to deliberately avoid Green party platforms….

                An observation of a non activist voter….politics is perception so they say.

                • weka

                  Interesting how we can hear such different things. Do you mind me asking what kind of interviews you heard?

                  • Pat

                    mainly RNZ,couple TV…all relatively brief granted…..perhaps he improves with time

                    • weka

                      What you will be getting from RNZ and TV is the messaging from the Greens to the business and power holder communities.

                      His maiden speech in parliament is worth listening to/reading. Then read Gordon Campbell’s interview and assessment of the speech and what it means and why it doesn’t meant what Hooton thinks it means (and let’s never forget that Hooton wants everyone to think that Shaw is Blue because it will lessen the green vote).



                    • Colonial Viper

                      What you will be getting from RNZ and TV is the messaging from the Greens to the business and power holder communities.

                      None of this makes sense to me. Why would you use your RNZ and TV time to message to the business elite.

                    • weka

                      It’s not just the business elite. And why wouldn’t you? It’s not like it’s the only way that the Greens talk to that part of society.

                    • Pat

                      “Because I’m asking you about why *you* believe Shaw is Blue/Green, not what the media present”

                      I answered that in my original post……I am voter, not an active party member (like the vast majority of the electorate)….where do I get to “know” the politicians?… their public presentation.
                      If he is presenting as green/blue (your term) and he is not then it inspires little trust other words, simply another politician……do we need any more simple politicians?
                      As things stand , and until some party with a vision and path form (unlikely imo to be any of the existing) the Greens will probably keep my vote next election despite Shaw

                    • weka

                      I don’t think he does present as a blue/green, I assumed that was what you meant when you implied that he wasn’t green. When I listen to him on TV or radio I can hear the green politics in what he says. I’m not put off by the suit.

                      For people that are put off, I’m pointing to evidence that he is real. What you appear to be saying is that he’s somehow misleading you by how he is on TV. I don’t really understand that, probably because all you’ve said is that you think he’s not green but you haven’t said why (and I assume you haven’t bothered watching the vid or reading the Campbell piece).

                      The Greens will always be open to speculation about who they are and if they are genuine, because they don’t fit into conventional notions of left/right politics. That’s why you can people like Turei and Shaw leading the same party. And that’s why Shaw can be pro market and pro intervention.

                      There’s not much Shaw can do to make himself more presentable to people who doubt him based on not much evidence (if he presented himself differently than he is, that would be him being false). I have to wonder here if it’s not the politics but the suit that is the problem. The criticisms I hear about Shaw are very similar to what people used to say about Norman.

                  • Pat

                    whether your reasoning for his delivery on RNZ and TV is correct or not is irrelevant….its the perception it creates….anything M.Hooten has to say automatically instills an opposite view so no traction there….have read Gordon Campbell for a while and admire his work (though don’t always agree but hard to fault his research)….an exert from that piece you linked may bear re-examination…..

                    “Doesn’t a values-centred party always get hammered if it starts messing with its brand, in a belief this will lend them more credibility? “They do,” Shaw replies, “ And some of our people went and joined Mana for precisely that reason. There’s a political risk in anything you do. “ He points to the other current risk. “ If we remain outside of government permanently, I can’t see why anyone would want to continue voting for us. Like, I think it is now getting to that point.”

                    • weka

                      What’s your point about the Campbell quote? It’s not clear (and I think you have taken it out of context, but I’ll wait to hear what the point is).

                      If Shaw was say Tanzcos or Bradford, do you think he wouldn’t be creating an impression of some sort? I don’t get what is wrong with him appealing to the suit community. They have to change. Do you think they would listen more to someone who was more hippy or radical?

                      You appear to be saying that you personally believe that Shaw is Blue/Green based on what you see on brief interviews on TV. Did you listen to the speech and then read the Campbell interview? Because I’m asking you about why *you* believe Shaw is Blue/Green, not what the media present. If you already know that it’s a perception thing, why not go and find out who he really is?

                    • Pat

                      “I don’t really understand that, probably because all you’ve said is that you think he’s not green but you haven’t said why (and I assume you haven’t bothered watching the vid or reading the Campbell piece).”

                      I have heard him interviewed a number of times and if I didn’t know who he was the last party I would pick him as representing would be the Greens….his presentation of issues almost appears to deliberately avoid Green party platforms….

                      An observation of a non activist voter….politics is perception so they say.

                      …and have read the Campbell piece a number of times.

                      “You appear to be saying that you personally believe that Shaw is Blue/Green based on what you see on brief interviews on TV.”

                      If he is presenting as green/blue (your term) and he is not then it inspires little trust other words, simply another politician……do we need any more simple politicians?

                      mainly RNZ,couple TV…all relatively brief granted

                      “I have to wonder here if it’s not the politics but the suit that is the problem. The criticisms I hear about Shaw are very similar to what people used to say about Norman.”

                      lol…the suit goes with the job…I have no idea of what people said about Norman but I was never in any doubt as to what party he represented.

                      I think you may have answered the question……”And that’s why Shaw can be pro market and pro intervention.”….no, he cannot.

                    • weka

                      Ok, so this is an ideological issue for you. I think that’s why you can’t hear the green in what he says. Norman is also pro market and pro interventionist. It matters what people say about both of them, there’s precedence, and a much higher level of rw meme attack on the Greens now.

                      Repeating yourself doesn’t actually explain what you mean any better.

                    • Pat

                      the repetition appeared to be required ….I thought it was expressed clearly enough….sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

                      and ideological?..meh…always considered myself a more of a pragmatist

  4. Ad 5

    Did anyone go to the anti-child-violence marches on the weekend?

    • ianmac 5.1

      No but support the outrage. This is a good example of how a specific easily identified issue results in vast outrage and intense responses, but a more complex issue like TPPA gets a puzzled muted response. Clever corporates and politicians have deliberately made the TPPA issues obscure and have buried the real issues too deep to find.

      • mauī 5.1.1

        It doesn’t solve the problem though, white middle class outrage at a problem in poor brown neighborhoods. Getting people out of poverty would help and there’s probably loads of other things that could help too.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          maui…if poverty causes child abuse, then there would be a shit load more dead babies.

          Poor people don’t stomp on their children until their insides burst.

          Bad or totally mad people do.

          • Puckish Rogue

            Hi Rosemary

            I agree, I think that while being poor does play a big part (stress, worry causing excessive drinking etc) in domestic violence, I’m not sure how big a part it plays in the cases of child murder (its murder in my mind anyway) otherwise there would have been a lot of dead kids during the depression

            • McFlock

              I’m not so sure about that – firstly, I’m not even sure the data exists to make an assumption that there wasn’t a lot of dead kids during the Depression, and secondly we’re talking about somewhere around 8 kids a year being killed out of a population of 4 to 4.5 million. That level has been pretty consistent for at least the last ten years. So a major spike would be needed to demonstrate a meaningful difference in the rate, anyway.

              On the flipside, we also know that assaults on children are much more frequent among poor kids.

              Poverty doesn’t make people bad, but it might make them mad.

              • Puckish Rogue

                Yes true, theres probably a lot that happened in the Depression that we’ll never know about.

                When you’re assaulting a child it doesn’t take much for a hiding to turn fatal but I guess the point I was trying to make was that by focusing on one issue (poverty) then other , potential, issues might get ignored

                • McFlock

                  Yeah, but when you have a factor of 6 or 8 times the rate when talking about poor kids, you definitely need to look at that issue.

                  There aren’t a huge amount of other factors that even come close to that level, especially (I suspect) when normalised for deprivation.

                  That having been said, there’s still a level of abuse that crosses economic boundaries (a prominent and unapologetic sports broadcaster comes to mind), so of course there are other issues to consider.

                  But my perspective is that if we know a major correlative factor and have significant case studies and plausible arguments to attribute a level of causation, then fixing that factor is the low-hanging fruit in solving the bulk of the problem.

                  And in this case, it would solve a lot of other issues as well.

                  • Puckish Rogue

                    That’s a good point but since this problem has been brewing for years (decades?) it’ll probably take the same amount of time to fix, but whats a short term issue that could be fixed right now to make a difference?

                    • McFlock

                      Make benefits more accessible (e.g guards, forms, staff who treat you like muck, walk-in appointments). And boost every benefit by $50/wk.

                      That would put a dent in poverty right there.

                    • Puckish Rogue

                      I’d have no issues with an increase in the benefit paid out however I don’t think it’ll do anything to stop kids getting killed

                    • McFlock

                      Well, given the comparatively low numbers, you might be right (or at least not demonstrably wrong 🙂 ).

                      But it will have an effect on some of the 110-odd other kids who die every year, too. And a more testable hypothesis is that it might bring down the assault hospitalisation rate (some of the static nature of assault deaths could well be just because we’re better at keeping them alive after they’ve been savagely assaulted).

                  • Molly

                    This is a complex situation. But it may be that financial poverty is often found in the same households where there are other types of poverty: social connections, lack of support etc, time.

                    And it could be that these are the types of “poverty” that result in increased domestic violence – not necessarily a lack of cash.

                    • McFlock

                      I think economic poverty exacerbates and even causes much of those lifestyle poverties.

                      An example is social poverty – going out costs money, even just visiting. Petrol, busses, that sort of thing. I have a friend who has to save up to get the bus across town. Similarly, one of my key social groups is a regular weeknight at the pub. Anywhere between 4 and 8 people turning up on the same night. And I spend about $20-$40 on a given night. Once a week, but if I were on the dole I would gradually lose contact with those folks.

                      Time? I can earn in one hour what someone else has to work for an hour and a half to get. And I don’t have kids.

                      My firm opinion is that this is all just another way Marx was right: the system alienates people from each other, down to even the family unit.

                    • Molly

                      Reply to McFlock:

                      “I think economic poverty exacerbates and even causes much of those lifestyle poverties.”

                      I agree to some extent, but to emphasise – there are those without funds who do have extended social support networks, and who do have a work/life balance that improves their ability to withstand stress and manage difficulties. So the lack of finance is not a causation – although it may be present.

                    • miravox

                      I agree Molly, that the breaking up of social networks that provided positive social, educational (e.g. childcare and establishing effective households) and cultural support is an important factor in domestic violence. New Zealand’s Pakeha history seems to me a case study, as does the changes to employment and social structures that began in the 1980s that disproportionately affected low income (especially Maori) families.

                      At a guess, this is more important in poorer families with transient work because they are less likely to afford to build alternative community networks in the same way that people moving for high income jobs may be able to do. Having said that, it would be interesting to know if the rates of domestic violence, depression and aggression are greater in high income families that have a history of moving around compared with those that have long term social ties in the community in which they live.

                    • McFlock

                      I’m not sure I agree with that logic, Molly.

                      Lots of smokers don’t get heart disease, and lots of non-smokers do get heart disease, but smoking still causes a substantial amount of heart disease.

                      Similarly, lots of poor people might have strong social networks, and lots of rich people might have weak or non-existent social networks, but I also know people whose poverty directly damages their social networks – embarrassed to visit or be visited because they can’t provide a box of bikkies, can’t afford transport, can’t afford to go out, etc.

                    • Molly

                      Reply to McFlock:

                      Yes, having been in that situation myself, I agree there is reluctance on keeping some social contacts going because of lack of funds.

                      But the original premise, was that financial hardship is predicative of domestic abuse. I still think this is too simplistic.

                      It is the lack of social connections and reliable support that may be worth looking at.

                    • McFlock

                      @ molly

                      I’m a bit hazy on the word “predicative” – it might be a technical word, but I’m hoping that it was a typo for “predictive”as in “can be used to predict”.

                      In which case, that wasn’t my premise – like pretty much all aggregate data, one can’t really say “this person is poor, therefore they probably have encountered domestic violence as victim/perpetrator”. But with enough data, we could maybe say “if we lower poverty by 50%, we would expect xxx fewer DV hospitalisations”. I.e. the attributable risk of poverty as a factor.

                      Again, apologies if you used a word bigger than I am and I went off on a tangent.

                  • The Chairman

                    “I think economic poverty exacerbates and even causes much of those lifestyle poverties.”


                • Rosemary McDonald

                  “When you’re assaulting a child it doesn’t take much for a hiding to turn fatal…”

                  Hmm…in the majority of cases where an abused child has died the abuse was repetitive. Postmortems showed older injuries, sustained before the injuries that killed the child.

                  These older injuries include skull and limb fractures, most of which went untreated. The child would have been in pain.

                  I can stretch my brain to see how a caregiver can ‘lose it’…a one off incident with tragic results, and there are a few of these in the gallery of the dead children, but not many.

                  And there is a real element of devious deception as well in these cases…denying, hiding, blaming siblings for the abuse, threatening others who might ‘nark’.
                  You’d normally associate ‘mad’ with a don’t give a shit anymore attitude…this is not the case.

                  Self preservation is strong in these perpetrators.

                  I have no answers…I would just like to see various agencies doing their job properly, so when there is a complaint or disclosure they act proactively and promptly. Put the child first.

                  • Puckish Rogue

                    I’ve got none either, I like the idea of dismantling CYPS and starting anew but my worry is the same people will be put in the same areas with the same reults

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      They will contract the work out. (with former cyfs and ngo staff in prominent positions with ‘providers’.)

                      As with the other group of not-quite-real-people in New Zealand. Disabled New Zealanders.

                      The scariest thing is with disability support…the very portal through which one accesses support is run under contracts with “budget control requirements”. The disabled people with the highest need for support fare badly.

                • Sabine

                  a quick read on the ‘family’ during the great depression.

                  start here


                  or here


                  click through the three pages

                  or here

                  IF you wanted to know who the great depression affected the children, you could use that great search engine GOOGLE to help you find pages upon pages of information on the effect that hunger, homelessness, despairing parents, lack of schools/hospitals/ other public services had on children.

                  The Depression era is actually quite well documented, they did have a. newspapers, b. film, c. cartoons/caricatures, b. photography.

                  especially the photography is poingnant. it also pays to remember to see the parents not as 50+ years old, but often only in their late thrities. But i guess lack of food, water, basic sanitary hygiene and medicinal care in case of sickness will age one quickly.



                  In regards to child abuse, poverty is the one and the first thing to tackle. Stable housing (average rental time in NZ is around the 12 month mark), will lead to stable communities where people know each other and in times of hardship might be able to help each others, will lead to better school attendance where abuse might be recognised early enough, will lead to better job attendance / abilities as the resources needed to move every 12 month might be used to actually find a. a better job, or b. some extra up skilling via night courses etc.

                  But without tackling poverty we have always poverty as an excuse, oh what can you do, these people are lazy, bludgers, having children only for the benefit etc etc etc etc etc etc, and of course other then lamenting the injured or dead child and locking up the abuser nothing much is done. Its easier that way.

      • Rosemary McDonald 5.1.2


        “This is a good example of how a specific easily identified issue results in vast outrage and intense responses, but a more complex issue like TPPA gets a puzzled muted response…”

        In terms of numbers attending, and actual engagement with the issues being marched about (rather than just along for a selfie op) I’d say the Moko March and the TPPA March and the Climate Change March had about equal turnout in Hamilton.

    • Rosemary McDonald 5.2




      Nearly abandoned the whole thing at the muster point as there seemed to be more interest in taking photos of self and groups….all grinning and laughing as if little Moko wasn’t dead.

      I guess I’m getting old, tired, cynical and grumpy.

      However….awesome turnout…despite the shitty weather.

      Best speaker was Karen Morrison-Hume the Missioner for Anglican Action…( is a paper she prepared for the Prison Forum which gives a very good picture of where she is coming from )

      The other standout speaker was Cherie Kurarangi Sweeny…(

      And there was a short but effective speech from Darryl Brougham (

      There was singing, then a haka….which I personally thought was utterly inappropriate under the circumstances.

      And nobody remembered that Hamilton had done the march for (another) dead baby thing 16 years ago.

      We marched for Mereana Edmonds. (
      Some of us also decided to apply to be foster families, so the CYFs and other agencies could not use the excuse that there was a shortage of emergency foster homes to justify doing fuck all when a child discloses abuse.

      I’m laughing….really.

      I think the next slogan should be…”Hey, Child Protection Agency…What’s With the Phonecall???”

  5. weka 6

    Another researched based public health stance bites the dust,

    A large worldwide study has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death compared to average salt consumption. The study suggests that the only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and have high salt consumption.

    We have a real problem here. The fat hypothesis (dietary fat causes high cholesterol causes heart disease) is now being shown to be wrong, yet the public health message to eat less fat was based on medical research and conventional processes whereby authorities take research and turn it into health policy. The fat is bad message is now going to have to change, but health authorities are still lagging far behind the research and the growing public movements to make the changes regardless.

    The salt hypothesis looks set to go the same way. This is a problem with how science is done and how it is used. It’s not good enough to say that this is science working, see they’ve figured it out eventually, when we’ve had 30+ years of exactly teh wrong advice being given. People will have died and been made sick from that advice.

    If this was tobacco companies instead of the US FDA, AMA etc, we’d be talking lawsuits by now.

    • Bill 6.1

      It’s got nothing to do with how science is done.

      It has however, got everything to do with how results or supposed results are reported and it’s also got everything to do with (largely vested interests) funding dodgy research or promoting deliberately twisted research findings.

      You want the crap to end, then have all science funding come from the public purse and get the private sector out of it, or legislate that every piece of research funded by private interests must headline the source of the funding and provide a rigorous breakdown of the various funding bodies/companies in an attached summary… and have all public funding levels guaranteed.

      • weka 6.1.1

        “It’s got nothing to do with how science is done.”

        That depends on what you think science is. If you think about it in the abstract as set of tools to explore and explain the world, maybe. But even if you solve all the vested interest problems from commerce, there is still the issue that the Western scientific mindset creates pathways to follow and those aren’t always good.

        Any piece of research is fallible. It’s the believe that the scientific method itself is somehow pure that is also giving us really bad results. Scientists are humans just like everyone else and have bias. Take someone out of the commercial framework and you still have bias, often unacknowledged. The scientific method doesn’t prevent that, and IMO encourages it by the very nature of its core ethos. It doesn’t help that too many pro-science people treat science like god.

        None of that is unsolvable, but the very idea that science isn’t the problem is the one of the things that is stopping us from sovling that.

        And yes, how science is funded is central as well. But government departments and governments can also have bias and agendas, ditto NGOs. I agree about full disclosure.

        • weka

          Ancel Keys, responsible for the fat hypothesis, was a university scientist.

          One of his main studies was funded by the US Public Health Service,

          From what I remember, vested interests kicked in along the way, but those included the government and medical associations as much as drug companies and commerce. And it’s clear in hindsight that Keys was on a certain track from the start and that that led to the eventual fuck up.

          • Psycho Milt

            Ancel Keys, responsible for the fat hypothesis, was a university scientist.

            Yes. Same with the anti-salt fanatics. And all the public health academics peddling bullshit in New Zealand will be in the public sector as well. Industry funding of research is not the problem here.

            • weka

              Yep. Plus the GPs who are well aware of the problem but keep recommending and prescribing as if there weren’t one because of the direction from public health agencies and organisations.

              I do think the pharmaceutical companies are a huge problem as well, with the whole bullshit that’s gone down around statins. Shifting the goalposts of what is unhealthy/healthy, and trying to use drugs with high serious side effect rates is largely their responsiblity. They’re the ones who will probably end up being sued (pretty sure they’ve lied about what they knew too).

              • Colonial Viper

                Surely the truth can remain intact and be properly expounded and delivered to us from within massive hierarchies of money, power and prestige.

          • Bill

            Ancel had a hypothesis. Nothing wrong with that. But Ancel did absolutely no science that I’m aware of to try to prove or disprove his hypothesis, and Ancel didn’t appeal to any scientific experiment or enquiry or, well…. anything, that might prove or disprove his hypothesis. He looked at some numbers for heart disease rates in a population and he looked at some numbers for fat intake in the same population. He inferred (I think that’s the right word) a causal link from the two sets of numbers. That’s not science. That’s not even in the ball park of science.

            It’s, as Psycho Milt says below – “analysing (interpreting) survey results or other statistical sets…”

            And in flies vested business interests to push, what they want to promote as, a scientific finding or conclusion. Bat shit and dog shit.

            • Colonial Viper

              Good luck to you guys chasing this science around in circles. Ancient cultures already figured out what is required for good health and a long life.

              No human can survive in a toxic, hostile environment for long.

              • Andre

                Which ancient cultures had longer life expectancies than say the current American population, even with America’s current enormous dietary, substance abuse, environmental toxins and all kinds of other really unhealthy problems? What were the common causes of (non-violent) mortality in those ancient cultures? Do those problems still commonly cause death today?

                • Colonial Viper

                  mate, you think its such a superior lifestyle, you are free to go live like the typical American. Good luck.

                  But since you are over here, I think you already figured out something different.

              • Bill

                Y’know, the same could be said of almost any culture… broad knowledges around unhealth and health.

                But it’s the explanations or understandings, and how useful they are, that matter in the end. So, y’know, when science discovers that germs and not vapours are responsible for the likes of cholera, it’s not that the previous common sense explanation was wrong that mattered, so much as that a scientific understanding allowed for effective action to be taken against the disease…it was a more precise understanding.

                I mean, London might have built sewers just to make the smell go away and so ended recurring cholera epidemics. But I doubt it.

                And the Tibetan doctor who felt the pulse of a dying woman and gave her a fairly poetic and, to all intent purposes, accurate enough diagnosis or description of her heart failure and why it meant she’s going to die, was more useful on a number of levels than the western doctor who had diagnosed the same condition but rattled off a rather technical, and some may say sterile, prognosis for the woman to take on board.

                And then again, without medical science, the Tibetan doctor would have been unable to operate had her condition been diagnosed sooner and been operable…

                This whole black and white, or science and anti-science bullshit that flies around is just that….bullshit. Different knowledges have their place and uses, and none can be judged as blanket good or bad just by how close or far they seem to be from a scientific understanding.

                That said, it would be pretty stupid to contend that vapours cause cholera…a field of knowledge exists that has given us an understanding so that we know vapours aren’t the cause.

                And on the other hand (I don’t know if this is still the case) acupuncture works, but seems to be resisted by the western medical professional bodies on the grounds that no scientific explanation has been provided for its efficacy…or then again, maybe it’s just the same old story of a closed shop in operation 😉

                Anyway. Fuck all cultists, say I.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yes its very handy to know that bacterium cause cholera.

                  But most old cultures had long figured out that you don’t shit upstream of where you collect your drinking water.

                  As for the vapours causing cholera…IIRC only primitive western culture believed in that one.

                  • Bill

                    I have no idea how many different knowledges there are or were around the disease. I’d be very surprised if only Europeans associated bad smell with illness though, and if only Europeans assigned a carrier capacity to smell.

                  • joe90

                    As for the vapours causing cholera…IIRC only primitive western culture believed in that one.

                    Miasma huh, and then John Snow drew his picture.

        • Andre

          And yet, for all its flaws, science still works better than some charismatic random just making shit up and getting a bunch of followers to believe it through a combination of placebo effect and confirmation bias.

          After all, it is good science that ends up exposing the crap science or just outright bullshit and fantasy.

          • weka

            I have no idea who exactly you are referring to but you just dropped a gobsmackingly bad false binary into the conversation, one almost certainly based on ideology and prejudice not on evidence. I’m going to guess that you are referring to people people who practice and use non-Western medical health care (which is most people on the planet btw).

            Scientists were critising Keys’ methodology right from the start. That’s nearly 70s years ago. And the public health message still isn’t changing, despite the problems now being very well known. I’ve been listening to non-medical people talking about the problems with the fat hypothesis long before Time magazine put it on their front page. Yes, they were relying on science, but the scientific community wasn’t doing anything about it (and were in fact ostracising and suppressing contrary evidence), so other communities of people did.

            Basically your argument is that it’s ok to kill and maim people so long as afterwards you say oops, sorry, we were wrong, we’ve got a better idea now. Seventy fucking years. Then you have the gall to hate the alternative practitioners 🙄

            • Colonial Viper

              People like Andre who are such huge backers of science as the ultimate way couldn’t possibly be victim to the very same biases and lazy thinking as he accuses others of.

              As for the placebo effect.

              It helps get a lot of people better. Even the orthopaedic surgeons are coming to that view.

              • Andre

                Yep, the placebo effect is astonishingly effective. It’s made many a snake-oil salesman wealthy. Amazingly, it even works when the recipient knows it’s just a placebo, though not as well as when both the “practitioner” and recipient are fully emotionally invested in it. Modern medicine really should put a lot of effort into how to use it better.

                • Colonial Viper

                  My pain medicine lecturer said he considered it every practitioners ethical responsibility to maximise their use of the placebo effect. Safe, cheap, effective.

                • Colonial Viper

                  It’s made many a snake-oil salesman wealthy.

                  Like the big pharma corporations.

                  • Andre

                    The difference being that some of big pharma’s products actually do work as claimed, better than a placebo. Not all of them get dodgily pushed onto the market on the basis of cherry-picked studies produced and reviewed by …ahh… financially compromised parties, just some of them. I figure that by the time a product has been on the market for 20 or 30 years, there’s been enough guinea pigs gone before me that the hokey products will have been weeded out.

            • Bill

              Scientists were calling bullshit on Keys’ assertions from the beginning, yes. And a whole shifting edifice of non-scientific business and government power pushed it along and…threatened the livelihoods or careers or reputations of any scientist who stood up to say “Hey! – Just a minute”

              In a different area of science, it happened to Hanson when he piped up with a politically unpalatable truth about global warming.

              And so most scientists get on within their field of research and do (probably) good science and keep their mouths shut. You blame individual scientists for not taking it in the neck? I’d call their reaction kind of normal human behaviour and nothing peculiar to the field of science or to scientists.

              Besides which, scientists are usually involved in narrowly demarcated areas within fields of research, and their findings are gathered up and compiled by those that stand on the cusp between science and public policy. And they (those on the cusp) are under pressure to say politically palatable stuff.

              That’s a systems failure, not a failure of science.

              Sometimes I read these criticisms of science and scientists and it’s as though on the one hand they are being accused of playing at god, and then on the other they get condemned for being merely human. Can’t have it both ways.

    • This is a problem with how science is done and how it is used.

      It’s a problem with treating social science research as though it were science. All of these anti-food studies involve people analysing survey results or other statistical sets for evidence to back an agenda, from Keys down to the present day. That’s not science.

      • weka 6.2.1

        Can you explain that some more?

        • Psycho Milt

          Sorry, only just got back to this thread. The scientific method involves hypotheses that can be disproven, and a means of disproving them. That applies even to stuff where you can’t set up an experiment to disprove your hypothesis, eg Haldane’s reported response to the question of whether the theory of evolution was science because what could disprove it? “Rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian.”

          The problem with all this diet-related epidemiology is that there’s no useful way to disprove anything. It all involves studies in which you can’t genuinely isolate the factor you’re interested in (because you can’t fully control what a large number of people eat for a long period), which means if any study refutes your pet theory you can find umpteen ways in which the study was “flawed” and those results shouldn’t be taken seriously. The whole field is a mess of correlation = causation errors and confirmation bias. There’s no hypothesis involved for which any disproof that’s found can’t be weaseled out of.

          Worse, the agendas seem to come first. The last Listener had a piece on how to live longer in which Jennifer Rowan refers (without citation) to a study in which Type-2 diabetics who replaced red meat with various carbs supposedly improved their blood glucose levels, to which anyone with any idea of the chemistry involved can only think “What the fucketty-fuck-fuck?” What mechanism could even be proposed for that happening? These studies are referred to as though they were science, but any scientist would have alarm bells shrieking in their ears on reading a paper claiming that.

          Edited: please note the diet-related epidemiology part. Epidemiology for infectious diseases does a great job.

      • Bill 6.2.2


        • weka

          A huge amount of medical research relies on epidemiology. Likewise public health policy. Are you saying it’s all bogus? What constitutes proper research?

          The problem with what Keys did wasn’t that he used data from people’s experiences, it was that he manipulated that data to suit his agenda.

  6. Ad 7

    OMG Scotland just won a Sevens round against South Africa!

    New Zealand team really need to improve before Rio if they keep running fourth in every round.

  7. Elijah Wood: ‘Hollywood in the grip of child abuse scandal similar to Jimmy Savile’

    Hollywood is in the grip a child sexual abuse scandal similar to that of Jimmy Savile in Britain, Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood has claimed.

    The 35-year-old former child actor said paedophiles had been protected by powerful figures in the movie business and that abuse was probably still taking place.

    In an interview with the Sunday Times, Wood said he had been protected from abuse as he was growing up, but that other child actors had been regularly “preyed upon” at parties by industry figures.

  8. Sabine 9

    this is a good read.
    One does simply not forget having been homeless, and in the last few days i again (as so many times before) realised just how lucky i am.
    At home, a nice fire, a happy partner, a happy pooch and warm meal waiting for us.

    the worst night in my life was spend in an unfinished building in November in Germany. I was seventeen and i believed that i would freeze to death that night. One simply does not forget that shit.

    And shame to a society that wants to pretend that it does not affect them, that it will not happen to them, and that those to whom it has happened deserve it cause they took a ‘bad decision’ or other bullshit that society wants to make up in order to feel better.'i've-been-homeless-i-know-how-it-feels

  9. Following up on my post here linking to the interview I and Vinny Eastwood had with William Black banker hunter extra=ordinaire and as people are waking up to the horror of having a Wall street banker for a prime Minister, I thought Id republish a series of articles written from 2007-2008 Called the Financial Tsunami by William Engdahl on how we got here.
    Here is part 1:

  10. Penny Bright 11

    Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump – sordid connections of the global elite?

    How much support is Donald Trump going to get from ordinary ‘anti-establishment’ Americans when this story spreads?

    ” Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is a financier and political donor. He is also a convicted sex offender who is the subject of ongoing litigation from at least a dozen of his then-underage victims.

    Flight logs show Bill Clinton traveled at least 10 times on Epstein’s private jet, dubbed the “Lolita Express” by tabloids, and he is widely reported to have visited Little St. James, Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands. That’s where, according to attorneys for Epstein’s victims, many of the worst crimes against minors were committed by Epstein and friends who traveled there with him.

    In a 2011 interview with her attorneys, Virginia Roberts, one of the teenagers preyed upon by Epstein, said he had told her he had “compromising” information on Bill Clinton and that the former president “owes me a favor.”

    Yet despite Bill Clinton’s ties to Epstein and Trump’s stated willingness to make Clinton’s sexual past an issue in the campaign, Trump will almost certainly avoid bringing up Epstein’s name. Because in addition to haunting Bill Clinton’s past, Epstein also haunts Trump’s.

    * * *

    Trump’s attorney Alan Garten told VICE News last week that the presidential candidate had “no relationship” with Epstein, and only knew him because Epstein was a member of Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence in Palm Beach.

    “A lot of people hung out there, including Jeffrey Epstein,” Garten said. “That is the only connection.”

    But according to someone with intimate knowledge of the situation, Trump and Epstein appeared to have a somewhat stronger connection.

    “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New Yorkmagazine in a 2002 profile of Epstein written three years before Epstein began to be investigated. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”


    In my view – sickening.

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    • Chooky 11.1

      …@ Penny…well I guess everyone who knew and thought Rolf Harris ( the Queen) and Jimmy Saville and Bill Crosby were good guys did not suspect their true nature and that they were sexual predators…this is how pedophiles and predators get away with these crimes for so long..they are experts at hiding what they do in secret

      …so just because Trump came into contact with Epstein and thought he was a good guy does not mean Trump knew his real nature or crimes and endorsed them.. or partook in them!

      Bill Clinton however does seem to have a history…

  11. Following up on my post here linking to the interview I and Vinny Eastwood had with William Black banker hunter extra-ordinaire and as people are waking up to the horror of having a Wall street banker for a prime Minister, I thought Id republish a series of articles written from 2007-2008 Called the Financial Tsunami by William Engdahl on how we got here.
    Here is part 1

  12. adam 13

    This is what a war on the weak looks like

    Just one more reasons why civil disobedience is the only answer.

  13. Bob 14

    Anybody else seen this. 14000000 owed to the IRS is a lot of money.

  14. Et Tu Brute 15

    Not a good look having Tamati Coffey’s husband calling a journalist a nobody, even if it was an off-the-cuff remark. It shows what they really say about people behind closed doors. ‘Nobodies’ vote and make up the missing million. When are we going to get an effective, people-focused opposition? I think Andrew Little is doing a good job but he will need MPs and candidates to back him up. Not ‘somebodies’ who think the plebs are ‘nobodies’.

  15. The Chairman 16

    While National play the on again off again tax cuts, seems Labour are doing similar with capital gains.

    • weka 16.1

      Not sure what your point is. Labour are saying they’d like to change the tax structure in NZ to make it fairer, including looking at taxing property speculation. Seems like a good idea to me.

      • The Chairman 16.1.1

        Not to long ago Little ruled out a capital gains tax, now it’s back on the table.

        Areas of high demand and short supply (in which vendors set the asking price) will allow vendors to pass the burden on, adding to the cost of housing.

        Does that still seem like a good idea to you?

        • weka

          The property market has to be sorted out anyway, shouldn’t stop Labour rearranging the tax system to be fairer.

          Citation for Little ruling out a CGT?

          • The Chairman

            “The property market has to be sorted out anyway”

            Indeed. However, a capital gains tax is not the solution. Moreover, sorting out the property market will cease soaring capital gains. Eliminating the problem.

            Don’t you think adding to the cost of housing should make Labour stop and think?

            • weka

              Taxing capital gains is about making taxation fairer. Why should some forms of income be taxed and not others?

              “Don’t you think adding to the cost of housing should make Labour stop and think?”

              I’m pretty sure that Labour think all the time and that like other parties weigh up the pros and cons. Looking at one aspect of a tax policy in isolation is not useful IMO, nor is looking at that one aspect out of context. I’m guessing this is why they’re forming a Tax Working Group, to look at the whole thing.


              Labour leader Andrew Little would not rule out a comeback for the policies in the future, but said if it got into Government in 2017 it would not introduce them without campaigning on them again in a future election.

              Nov 2015


              The working group would look again at a capital gains tax (CGT), dropped from Labour’s platform when Andrew Little took over as leader in late 2014, and a land tax.

              A capital gains tax would not be part of the party’s platform in 2017, but it was not off the table for the working group.

              May 2016


              That looks consistent to me. Perhaps we should leave this conversation until the 2020 election.

              • The Chairman

                “Why should some forms of income be taxed and not others?”

                For starters, if the burden is going to be passed on, those attaining the income won’t bare the tax burden. Is that fair?

                Moreover, the goal of sorting out the housing sector (which would take one term according to Little) is to eliminate soaring gains, therefore, with that achieved there would be little if any income to tax.

                In a stable housing market, properties that aren’t maintained can actually decrease in value, resulting in losses.

                Of course it shouldn’t be looked at in isolation. However, one can’t afford to overlook the risk of adding to the cost of housing when one’s goal is to improve the cost of housing, thus the need for a rethink.

                In 2015 (as your first link highlights) Little said if Labour got into Government in 2017 it would not introduce them without campaigning on them again in a future election.

                However, while it has been dumped and no longer on the party’s campaign platform, there was no longer any mention of them not introducing them later in that term when the working group reports back – see my link above (which is also your second link).

                I’m guessing the use of a tax working group is similar to the ploy Lockwood Smith highlighted a number of years back – see link below.


                Labour don’t seem to want to let this one go.

  16. aerobubble 17

    Militrary helicopter, snow mobiles, sourced to rescue trapped snowed in drivers caught over night in Otago. Not so much S.Auckland overnight car sleepers.

    Hooten worried, they might get pregnant, but not worried enough to call on govt to get them into housing, as he scoffed that one car refugee got pregnant while living out of their car. I mean, like they must have been in a benifit, and givt intervention in private citizenship was a sicial impertive for his social fascist.

    • Chooky 17.1

      yes Hooton was particularly strident on RNZ…and particularly sickening really…his making light of the housing crisis for New Zealanders….and he got away with it….you were left with the impression that there was NO REAL PROBLEM!…but there is a PROBLEM…and there is a CRISIS!…for Gods sake can’t nine-to-noon get on an effective counter to Hooton’s spin !!!???

      However this interview with Danielle Bergin by Kathryn Ryan was MUCH better than Hooton’s spin…

      “Once homeless herself, Danielle Bergin talks about, Island child, the housing trust she set up in East Auckland, and why more and more people are forced to sleep rough. She traces the start of the current housing crisis back to when WINZ took over housing assessments from HNZC.”

      • aerobubble 17.1.1

        Instead of limiting foriegn and new investor kiwis to building new homes, Key pushed the inevitable housing bubble burst out a decade, with the consequence that the bottom of the housing need had no place to live.

        This is all on Key, but we’ll never hear it since media is run by those locked into bubble economics.

  17. The Chairman 18

    Some good insight here

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Ha, watched this last night!!!

      What was shocking was how undemocratic the EU officials were, and how little power the elected EU finance ministers had in the face of the unelected Troika bureaucrats.

  18. Chooky 19

    ‘Beware what you wish for: Russia is ready for war’

    …”Russia does not want – and does not need – war. Yet the “Russian aggression” narrative never stops. Thus it’s always enlightening to come back to this RAND corporation study, which examined what would happen if a war actually took place. RAND reached an “unambiguous” conclusion after a series of war games in 2015-2015; Russia could overrun NATO in a mere 60 hours – if not less – if it ever amounted to a hot war on European soil. …

    …”The Threat Narrative rules that Russia has to meekly accept being surrounded by NATO. Russia is not allowed any response; in any case, any response will be branded as “Russian aggression”. If Russia defends itself, this will be “exposed” as an unacceptable provocation. And may even furnish the pretext for a pre-emptive attack by NATO against Russia…

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Worth remembering that “NATO” is at least 75% US forces.

      • Chooky 19.1.1


        ‘Architects of disastrous Iraq War still at large’

        …Everything we were told by the neocons in the lead-up to war was false. To quote the title of a book by the antiwar British MP Peter Kilfoyle, there were Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq.

        ‘Saddam has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes’.

        Horse manure.

        ‘Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program is active, detailed and growing’.


        ‘Saddam Hussein… has the wherewithal to develop smallpox’.


        ‘We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade…We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases’.


        ‘The threat is very real and it is a threat not just to America or the international community but to Britain.’ Has the trash been collected yet?…

      • joe90 19.1.2

        Worth remembering the shitty wee deal anticipating the territorial and political division of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland into spheres of influence.

        • Colonial Viper

          It was the ordinary imperial/colonial behaviour of the day. From dividing up China to dividing up the middle east to dividing up europe.

  19. The Chairman 20

    A ratepayer-backed insurer is seeking permission to hike directors’ fees by 15 per cent, even though it is unable to write new business.


  20. lprent 21

    Picking up from a comment on the Guest post yesterday

    My only issue with inflated numbers on this site is figuring out what causes them so that I can make them drop back to reality. I’m interested in measuring what is actually happening rather than doing a Cameron and inflating numbers.

    That is why we have 4 systems counting the numbers. Google analytics, statcounter, wordpress stats, and the log system. Because they operate in different three ways, I usually manage to spot the one(s) that are misbehaving.

    For instance, a month ago, I was bemoaning (to the authors) that we seemed to be having inflated google analytics figures. I eventually tracked that down to a double hit in the mobile stats with two seperate plugins requesting the google analytics on the same account – one using async and the other using sync. Found and fixed about two weeks later. It was obviously an error simply because none of the other count mechanisms showed the same bump.

    Back in 2012 we had some issues with facebook making a ‘pageview’ every time that someone scrolled past our page. That was showed up in both analytics and statcounter, to a lesser extent in wordpress stats. However it only showed up in awstats on the logs as an aberration with aborted page reads. It took weeks to find and a few months to fully work around. But I eventually worked around it by making statcounter only work on the footer. After a few months facebook obviously fixed whatever problem they had.

    Then there are the external changes – especially with getting the growth in persistent visitors. Late last year and early part of this year, we had a minor drop in the growth of google search traffic as they did some significiant changes in their search algorithms. It hit some sites pretty hard – probably why Whaleoil dropped their public stats earlier this year.

    I was having a look at this post last month (repetitive as it was to read)
    I particularly liked the

    If you’ve followed my posts about algorithm updates, you’ll notice I’ve covered ad problems many times. That includes aggressive advertising, blended advertising, too many ads, etc.

    During the March algorithm updates, I noticed some sites in a competitive niche that employed very aggressive advertising that inhibited the user experience. Those sites got hammered by the March updates. It’s just a reminder that aggressive and annoying advertising can cause users to run screaming from your site, never to return again. Google can pick up on this in a number of ways. Avoid this at all costs.

    Which essentially describes the problem that Whaleoil has most likely to have suffered (ie why they don’t show their figures in public any more). The last few times I have been over there, I’ve really noticed just how crappy the massive ad footprint makes it as a site to discuss issues on. I suspect that it causes pretty major bounce rate because people can’t find most of the post and certainly would have to look to find the comments.

    I blame it on Cameron’s chronic inability to do anything in a moral fashion (eg dirty politics, trying to buy a criminal hack on my computers), stay out of court (eg his ignorant and eventually failed attempt to appeal to the Court of Appeal) and his need to make both a living and pay his court costs off the site. He just seems to keep stupidly hoiking ads on to the site and filling the site out with basically rubbish posts without considering what it makes him look like to a google SEO long term. The site has probably been relegated to trash level with recent google search changes.

    Just to give you an idea how important google is for our readership growth. Today we have had about 17,500 page views according to wordpress. Incidentally it was a bit less than 17k according to statcounter and analytics. I’m not even going to mention the multiple thousands difference between sessions / visits / etc or each engines supposedly similar measurements of how long people stay on site.

    Of those ~17k, ~2800 came from referrals.

    About 1600 came from google search in various forms. ~800 from facebook (more than half being the tail end of one widely spread post). 135 from twitter (which is one of the reasons I generally ignore it).

    260 from all others. Search sites (38 from yahoo and 14 from bing), blog sites (bowalley at 47 and no minister at 31), news websites (25 from scoop), and nothing much else.

    But more importantly, we get almost all new users who stay in via google search. Of the new readers who visit more than 10 times over the following 30 days after first entering the site, usually about 80% come in from google. About 35% start by googling “The Standard” or some variation indicating word of mouth, about 40% from a query about non-current topics, and the remainder from topical topics – which used to be the mainstay. Obviously google search is pushing further back into the excellent posts here in the past from the rate that posts older than 6 months old have been rising. Gotta love google analytics 🙂

    Facebook starts us with a lower number of new repeat users. And twitter just gives us people who already know of us (one of the other reasons I tend to ignore it – it appears to be quite self-referential).

    Moreover most of the sustained abnormal boost in readers from searches in recent months that has come from NZ. I think that google localised their search results a bit further and made them a lot better targeted. Certainly I’ve noticed much reduced bounce rates both here and from some kiwi destination points offshore. We’re generally getting a lot less bounce traffic from offshore – including those audiences with massive bounce rates from the US overnight. We’re a definitively kiwi site with about 90% of our page view traffic coming from a small country with 4.4 million people. Random searches by humans for loose associations from the US shouldn’t be sent to us.

    Anyway, the site is looking pretty healthy for the month. We should do as well as we did last year (and May was the top for 2015 at 537k pageviews) and far higher than May 2013 at the same point in the political cycle – 364k pageviews.

    Even more interesting to me is the breaking of long standing periodic patterns. The last couple of years have shown we don’t drop much in winter any more which used to be a depressing yearly trait. I think we have also started to lose that summer vacation drop off as well.

    But there are some pretty clear effects in the ‘day’. Since 2013, the times that the site starts and finishes are now quite different. We now start getting traffic at 6am and it goes through pretty solidly to 11pm with a lunch time spike. A far cry from the days when it was largely being read during work hours from 9am to 6pm.

    Part of that I think is due to the amount of mobile traffic we now get. That lunchtime spike is has a large chunk of cell phones – about 50%. Probably why google now penalises sites without a good mobile version. Urrgh – for example the micro print of The Daily Blog in its desktop splendour or kiwiblog when I forget to manually insert m. instead of www. There is a reason why some sites say “mobile friendly” when you read google results on a mobile & kiwiblog doesn’t really deserve it.

    Anyway, I’m starting to think about how I get the system to not fall over during the usual election month tripling of the site traffic next year and the usual headache of planning to get enough increase in data and speed to withstand both the election year and the subsequent 40-50% boost in annual traffic.

    All done for total operational cost of about $250 per month largely from those who do a small voluntary, seldom mentioned, and completely unforced donations over a year (hint: you can donate here).

    Of course a lot of skilled unpaid volunteer time, and the deliberately uncosted donation of part of my hotted up and over specced home computers (PBTech love me) helps.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

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