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Open mike 29/12/2010

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 29th, 2010 - 35 comments
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Open mike is your post.

It’s open for discussing topics of interest, making announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

Comment on whatever takes your fancy.

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Step right up to the mike…

35 comments on “Open mike 29/12/2010 ”

  1. ianmac from UAE 1

    Funny how alcohol while pretty rare and technically outlawed in the UAE, leads to remarkably little strife on the streets and although traffic travels at 120kph on excellent 3 + lane highways accidents are pretty rare. Nil alcohol would never happen in NZ but I bet the violence stats would drop and the sports events would be a delight. Dream on.

    • jcuknz 1.1

      I guess the same could be said for Colorado where both alcohol and cannabis are available and the later is legal to be grown and sold and apart from the smell 🙂 the B B King Concert at Red Rocks auditorium was enjoyable, once I fitted my ear plugs 🙂 The only bad point was afterwards hundreds of cars slowly making their way down the one lane road out into the roading system.

  2. T 2

    Kind of interesting: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9323000/9323237.stm

    (Talks about a study that has not yet been peer reviewed/published)

    • Bill 2.1

      heh – did he really say that lefties have thicker brains and righties have bigger emotional processing capacities?

      Don’t know what to say about that. Stumped.

      Guess I’m thick, but that I don’t feel too bad about it thanks to my stunted emotional processing capabilities.

      • T 2.1.1

        Umm no.

        From Wikipedia:

        The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is the frontal part of the cingulate cortex, that resembles a “collar” form around the corpus callosum, the fibrous bundle that relays neural signals between the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the brain. It includes both the ventral and dorsal areas of the cingulate cortex, and appears to play a role in a wide variety of autonomic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate, as well as rational cognitive functions, such as reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy[1] and emotion.[2][3]

        There is more of this stuff in liberals and left wingers apparently.

        From Wikipedia:

        The amygdalae (singular: amygdala; also corpus amygdaloideum) (Latin, from Greek αμυγδαλή, amygdalē, ‘almond’, ‘tonsil’, listed in the Gray’s Anatomy as the nucleus amygdalæ)[1] are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans.[2] Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions, the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system.[3]

        There is more of this in conservatives and right wingers apparently.

        This is according to a Professor Gary Reese of University College London in a paper that has yet to be peer-reviewed and published. No causality is implied.

        • Puddleglum

          This and this may add to the picture of what the anterior/dorsal cingulate cortex is involved in.

          It’s generally thought to be involved in ‘higher level’ cognitive monitoring of performance of difficult tasks and, interestingly, receives input from the limbic system (that is itself involved in emotional expression and response) including from the amygdala (which the study in question claims is most pronounced in right wingers – an interesting interaction).

          The authors of the second article claim this part of the neocortex is an evolutionarily late development, especially the spindle cells found only in the ‘higher’ primates and also that these spindle cells develop postnatally.

          If you wanted to be partisan, I suppose you could argue that ‘left wingers’ tend to be more reflective and self-critical of their performance (presumably including during political discussion) while ‘right wingers’ shoot from the amygdala and to hell with the consequences. But that would be being too partisan, I suspect.

          This study is, however, an interesting take on a previous comment of mine on another post. There, I argued that emotionality is undervalued by some on the left. The study makes me wonder what would be found if left wingers from different social classes were compared (e.g., working class or less educated left wingers vs. middle class or more educated left wingers).

          These biological bases of political commitments are actually well-established. Pinker (with whom I disagree in general orientation to the ‘nature-nurture’ issues) points out in Chapter 16 of his book ‘The Blank Slate’ (titled ‘Politics’) that the heritability coefficient for Liberal vs. Conservative attitudes is about 0.62, which is pretty high. Heritability is a statistic that doesn’t mean that a trait is, for example, 0.62 caused by genes. It is an estimate of the proportion of the variation of a trait, in a population, that can be assigned to genetic differences rather than differences in the environment.

          I should also caution that it would be misleading to speak of a ‘gene for’ Liberalism/Conservatism since what that innocent sounding phrase really means is that the effect of the presence (or absence) of a particular gene is most salient to ‘us’ in a particular arena (e.g., in political attitudes). In evolutionary terms, that bit of DNA may have been selected (if selected at all) for some completely different function than political attitude, in the modern sense of that notion.

          My guess is that the brain differences described, if true, may well result from something Noam Chomsky has pointed out many times. If you are a status quo ‘conservative’ you simply don’t have to justify your position very often (beyond saying ‘Well, everyone knows …’) so are unlikely to get, or need, much practice at defending your position. By contrast, if what you have to say challenges the normative rhetoric you have to be very reflective about the basis for your opinions and pre-empt counterarguments. This would probably give you an anterior cingulate cortex to be proud of.

          Unfortunately, this predilection for monitoring responses may ‘predispose’ some on the left to become overly intellectual and to devalue emotional commitment and expression – which then could turn off many people who go with the status quo flow of opinion and mood (even if their lives aren’t great).

          Who knows? Interesting study though.

          anti-spam: Why

  3. Selling wine in supermarkets @$6.00 a bottle has turned New Zealand house wives into alcoholics. I have many friends with piss-head wives/partners.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Then there are the divorced/separated middle age ones who go through a bottle an evening by themselves, two on Friday/Saturday/Sundays.

      • QoT 3.1.1

        Oh, misogynist behaviour-policing, how cute.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hmmmm, I thought my comment was pretty neutral and without judgement, actually. Mostly the peeps I knew in this situation decided it was not a sustainable or healthy habit, and stopped.

          • QoT

            Yeah, you’re right, there’s absolutely no cultural memes about single older women being pathetic drunks at home alone on weekends drowning their sorrows because they’ve failed in their roles of Being Wives and Raising Babies. And you can’t possibly have bought into that by replying to a “housewives are alcoholics” comments with “and the non-wives I know get pissed too!”

            What can I have been thinking.

            • Colonial Viper

              Fair enough, I see where you are coming from now. BTW when I referred to “peeps” who are divorced or separated, I meant that I have seen this problem drinking happen to both men AND women.

            • Olwyn

              When you associate wine-drinking with sophistication, and glue it onto an underlying condition of anxiety and despair, what else can you expect?

              I was given David Harvey’s “A Brief History of Neo-liberalism” for Christmas, and finished reading it last night – an astute and insightful book, though better perhaps at diagnosing the problem than offering solutions. Then again, adequately diagnosing a problem prepares the ground for finding solutions, and the problem by Harvey’s account is that Neo-liberalism is an enterprise in dispossession, with no intended pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for any but the chosen few. One thing I take heart from is that after 30 years, the Neo-liberal model has not proved able to settle down as a broadly accepted status quo, the way the Keynesian model did – it has been quite unable to translate domination into generally accepted authority.

            • prism

              What if it’s a common happening QoT? But it seems we couldn’t draw attention to it as a negative thing because it would be commenting on women’s behaviour and addictions. Women being very special people who can never bear close examination of an unflattering kind.

              Oh dear, such non PC thoughts – what am I thinking.

              • QoT

                Oh, fuck off, prism. If you can’t tell the difference between “examing trends in society and looking at binge drinking culture and society’s disavowal of older unmarried women” and “LOL SPINSTERS DRINK CHEAP WINE” you’re a fucking moron or playing a really pathetic strawman.

    • Augustus 3.2

      If you lived in Marlborough, where grape growers occupy every inch of productive land, control all the water resource, run helicopter engines at night to ward of frost and put tens of thousands of arsenic treated posts in the ground, althewhile employing cheap foreign labour instead of locals, you might think that $ 6 is too expensive, if wine is all you have to console yourself.

      • Adrian 3.2.1

        And earn $1.2billion a year of foreign exchange so that you can buy a new computer and all that other crap you like, pay above award rates to registered seasonal workers from all over the Pacific who send the money home where it is more than welcome raising living standards considerably. During the Labour administration Marlborough had the lowest unemployment in the world , there are now about 200 unemployed here, most of whom can’t work in vineyards for various reasons and a few who wouldn’t work in an iron lung. FYI, 6 bucks is below the level of cost… $2.20 of excise, 80 cents GST, $3.56 of bottle, label, cap, carton and bottling. Funny no room there for grape cost, this 6 buck crap is the arsehole banks flogging off distressed stock and brake fluid from Argentina and Australia. There is plenty of water in Marlborough and it is very tightly controlled and only used for a few months a year, oh and by the way, arsenic, one of the most common trace elements in sub-soil only leaches a few parts per billion millimetres from posts. It is used because it is a naturally ocurring substance. Get your facts right before running off at the mouth and proving that you are Luddite boofhead.

        • Augustus

          Thought so, you don’t live there.

        • Augustus

          So being against monoculture and corporate control of water supply is now “Luddite”?
          You wouldn’t be a grape grower by any chance? The price of wine is low because of
          over-supply, is it not? I think that you should not let “market forces” dictate prices for
          consumer goods, like wine and milk, and then when the market is short on labour and
          should be forced to pay better wages (so we could afford to pay market prices), the forces
          are circumvented under the guise of development aid. And what “award rates” would they
          be? You’re talking about the minimum wage, aren’t you?

          • Adrian

            Yes I’m a grapegrower and know what I’m talking about. The oversupply has been caused by fucking arsehole absentee developers who have been run out of elsewhere, bullshitting the stupid venal greedy banks to underwrite their avaricious lies about values, ripping off their unviable project ( wrong area, supply unmatched to current demand, etc ) with “management fees” and then doing a runner when it all turns to shit. Prior to these arseholes getting involved Marlborough wine companies were roughly matching development to projected demand, by 2015 we will be short of product even with the marginal areas on stream. It was just too much a few years too soon. There is no ” corporate control” of water in Marlborough, it is applied for under a strict regime administated by the Council and severely limited, the biggest waster is old historic 99 year water rights held by grazing farmers, and contrary to your obvious ignorance there is still vast areas of cropping and grazing land here. The broadcast irrigation rights can not be used for grapes. And as for the idiotic suggestion that market forces can not determine prices for consumer goods, who do you suggest to do that and under what criteria .. “I know, if we charge $10 for an apple for all apples we can all get $60 an hour for picking them”, all you have done is confirm your pre-eminent position as the high priest of boofheadery. BTW, most vineyard workers are earning above minimum wage, with skilled operators doing quite well relative to other industries such as transport and other farming tyes.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.2

        I have this gut feeling that $1M of NZ wine sold causes far less damage to our water resources than $1M of milk powder sold. Is this actually the case?

    • Salsy 3.3

      Theyre known to turn into “white wine werewolves”, ive heard about them too.. Though im not sure if its the price of wine thats causing it.

  4. Herodotus 4

    And the new fees that Aussie banks have thrusted onto NZ just continues. Have just had the “Global credit Fee” increase by 20 points. This fee was not even known of 2 years ago, along with now fees for depositing physical cash at banks (Is that not what banks do – accept cash !!) Now we also have banks actively assisting clients to change banks, and change for this.
    At least on the good news front Dom Perignon is on sale for $189 down from around $300 😉
    And I wish everyone a great Christmas

    • jcuknz 4.1

      It seems obvious to me that the latest bank moves are intended to reduce their reliance on staff with mine introducing charges for making/changing APs except by phone banking. It couldn’t have taken more than two minutes the last time I did it. Then taking a word off the title of my account … I suppose that saves typist’s time? 🙁

      • Herodotus 4.1.1

        Westpac have also removed blank deposit slips, so to make a deposit without a pre printed slip you now need to queue up. The banks want our money and for us to spend spend spend, charge more for their services and give us back nothing but being inconvienced and for them to conduct business their way. Their use to be a saying ” The customer is always right” and one I hold t” To do anything that makes it easier for the customer”

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    China the west’s new Saudi Arabia

    Except it is the global source for 95-99% of these metals.

    HONG KONG — China’s commerce ministry announced on Tuesday in Beijing a steep reduction in export quotas for rare earth metals in the first months of next year, a move that threatens to cause further difficulties for manufacturers already struggling with short supplies and soaring prices.

    The reduction in quotas for the early months of 2011 — a 35 percent drop in tonnage from the first half of this year — is the latest in a series of measures by Beijing that has gradually curtailed much of the world’s supply of rare earths.

    China mines more than 95 percent of the global supply of the metals, which are essential for smartphones, electric cars, many computer components and a range of military hardware. In addition, the country mines 99 percent of the least common rare earths, the so-called heavy rare earths that are used in trace amounts but are crucial to many clean energy applications and electronics.

  6. Armchair Critic 6

    An article in the Herald today annoyed me enough to write a long comment. It’s about electricity, wind farms and climate change – feel free to not read it.

    Brian Leyland misses the point of the phrase “when you have nothing to say, say nothing”, by spending 700 words saying nothing, here.
    For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr Leyland’s efforts (I can’t bring myself to call them works), he is somewhat sceptical about the existence of climate change. He spends considerable time haranguing the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ on the subject. The Institute has the good grace to give him the space to air his views, as does Granny, on occassions, though I cynically suspect this is more to do with self-promotion than a firmly-held belief on Mr Leyland’s part. Point is, he’s an unhelpful and misleading idiot.
    Today’s article is full of snide asides, incorrect conclusions, exaggeration, falsely attributing statements to others and general rubbish.
    For example:
    The primary driver seems to be that we need more renewable energy to “fight climate change”…
    With the current structure for electricity supply and distribution, the primary driver is to make money. It’s curious that Mr Leyland can’t or won’t acknowledge it.
    We do need renewal energy to fight climate change. What’s with the quotes around “fight climate change”? An implication that there is no need to fight because there is there is no climate change?
    …and that wind power is a very good way of doing this.
    Not sure about the “very good” part, I assume the exaggeration is added just to force people to take sides.
    The fundamental problem with wind power is that it is intermittent and unpredictable.
    No, it’s not the problem. The problem is that wind can not be stored, like water in a reservoir behind a dam.
    In NZ there is usually some wind, with some periods of no wind and periods of high wind. In periods of low wind no electricity can be generated, obviously. Slightly less obviously, wind farms must be shut down to avoid damage to the equipment.
    But wind is predictable; there will usually be some. And periods of low wind and high wind are generally predictable, either hours or days in advance.
    This means that the system operator must take a pessimistic view and assume that no wind power will be available over critical periods.
    Rubbish. As noted above, a smart operator will assume some wind power will be available over the medium term (i.e. weeks to months) and will use weather forecasts to determine how much wind power will be available in the short term (i.e. hours to days).
    …windpower generates most when it isn’t needed and least when it is most needed.
    Only examining an extreme leads to false conclusions. A unit generated by wind is a unit that does not need to be generated at hydro stations or thermal stations. This means the reservoirs remain fuller for longer, and less CO2 emitted. It also provides operators with great flexibility to operate their systems.
    Windpower is expensive. According to my calculations, its true cost is between 11c and 17c/kWh. This is between 50 per cent and 100 per cent more expensive than conventional power. As an expert witness in the wind farm debate, I have put forward my evidence and my calculations on a number of occasions.
    This assumes the cost of conventional power will not rise relative to wind power. No evidence is provided to support this assumption. There is some evidence to the contrary, though, in the form of rising fossil fuel prices and the lack of suitable sites for major hydro projects.
    Also, Mr Leyland neglects to mention that his area of expertise for which he has given evidence is somewhat less than the full scope of his opinion pieces.
    No one has refuted them.
    Well IMO the fact that wind farms continue to be planned and built in spite of Mr Leyland’s expert evidence seems to be a very solid form of rebuttal.
    Windpower is a totally ineffective way of “fighting climate change”. Firstly, it is widely accepted that a 20 per cent contribution by wind is about as much as our system can accept without running into excessive costs and serious problems with system operation.
    Spot the contradiction? In the first sentence it’s “totally ineffective”. In the very next it can provide “[up to] a 20 per cent contribution” to the electricity generation capacity.
    This leads us to a paradox: if wind power is so bad, why are generators still pursuing wind farms with great enthusiasm? I believe there are a number of reasons.
    First, and in spite of the evidence, the Government and many people believe that wind power can make a substantial contribution to generating capacity and to mitigating “climate change”.

    That would be because it can make a substantial contribution. The article has not demonstrated otherwise, as acknowledged by Mr Leyland immediately above.
    So, for a generator there are a lot of “greenie points” to be won by securing rights to wind resources.
    “Greenie points”, whatever Mr Leyland imagines them to be, don’t appear on the balance sheet or statement of cashflows. For better or worse, that’s what power companies are interested in. Not greenie points. Wind farms aren’t built for greenie points.
    Secondly, there is quite a large difference between the wind resources in one place compared with another. Places with high, steady winds will always be better and are in short supply
    A difference between wind availability is not a reason to build a wind farm. The reason to build is economic – is enough wind available? Not “is more wind than elsewhere available?”
    Thirdly, having secured a resource, they have created an asset which they can place on their books and make it appear that the money expended in getting a resource consent is a real investment.
    Getting a consent is part of the investment process, not all of it. The implied criticism in the quoted statement is no substitute for proper criticism of the resource consenting process.
    The consent process for wind farms is not different to the process used to consent hydro or thermal power plants, at a high level. So this is not a good reason not to pursue consents for wind farms.
    The long list of wind farms with approvals or going through the process leads people to believe that there is no problem with the security of supply. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    Most people are unaware there is a long list of wind farms with approvals or going through the process, so the conclusion about their beliefs is wrongly drawn.
    Sure, security of supply is a huge issue. Beating up on wind projects does nothing to address it.

    Brian Leyland is a crank, and deserves to be recognised as such. I hope this comment goes some way towards achieving this. FTR I’m no fan of wind farms.
    Apologies for the long comment.

  7. Deadly_NZ 7

    What the Hell is going on with the teens this Christmas holidays?


  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Not a good look for our SAS in Afghanistan

    New Zealand Special Air Service soldiers led a botched raid on a Kabul factory on Friday that left two Afghan workers dead and two with life threatening injuries, the Times newspaper reports.

    Thirteen people were taken prisoner in the attack.

    The New Zealand soldiers are identified in the report as the commander “Sean” and his deputy “James”.

    New Zealand has 71 SAS soldiers in Kabul attached to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).


    • Tigger 9.1

      Look at the makeup and hairpiece on Key in that pic! My god, I’ve seen less obvious makeup on a drag queen!
      These mystique of Key pieces are frightfully boring. Why do people obsess over understanding h? It must be because never before has someone so bereft of depth gone so far.

  9. Herodotus 10

    There are some bad people out there. This to me is an attack on the elderly. So I have another name to those that feed off the bottom An Aussie Bernard Whimp

  10. Jenny 11

    Kiwi troops in alleged execution type killing of two Afghan security guards.

    A named Senior Afghan officer and an anonymous NZDF spokesperson, give two different versions of the same attack. As long as, no Senior NZDF official has the guts to put his reputation on the line to back their soldiers. Which version has the greater credibility?

    New York Times:


    “It was murder,” said Col. Mohammed Zahir, director of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, who arrived at the scene shortly after the raid began and said both victims had been shot in the head.

    “I have seen a lot of cases of violence, but I have not seen an incident where they kill civilians like this for no reason,” Colonel Zahir said.

    He and other witnesses described a scene of chaos in which gunfire went on for more than an hour, with coalition forces firing at the Afghan police and refusing to transport wounded detainees for medical care.



    “SAS soldiers involved in a Kabul raid in which two Afghan security guards were killed acted in self defence, the New Zealand Defence Force says.”

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