Bias only wrong when it’s right

16/01/2018

Green Party candidate Hayley Holt is to join Jack Tame as a host on TV1’s Breakfast show.

Holt, 36, stood for the Green Party in John Key’s Helensville electorate in last September’s general election. At 17th on the party list, she missed out on a place in Parliament.

A former New Zealand snowboarder, she previously hosted alternative sports news show The Crowd Goes Wild on Prime and the breakfast radio show on More FM. . .

If this was a National candidate there would almost certainly have been an uproar from the left.

They petitioned against Mike Hosking hosting pre-elections debates because of his views but he’d never been a candidate.

The left won’t be campaigning against her appointment because in their eyes and ears political bias is only wrong when it’s right and it’s alright when it’s left.

She’s not the first former candidate to front such a show. Paul Henry who fronted breakfast shows on both TV1 and TV3 once stood for National.

Many years before that, Brian Edwards who had been a Labour candidate, was an interviewer on political programmes.

Bias doesn’t necessarily make people wrong for such work and if  they are politically biased it’s better to be out in the open than hidden.


Log in left eyes

19/08/2015

Winston Peters started the criticism of Mike Hosking as a National Party stooge.

Labour leader Andrew Little and Green co-leader James Shaw joined in, followed by several left wing bloggers lamenting bias in the media, especially on state-owned TVNZ.

Hosking has an unlikely defender in Brian Edwards who says rather than being right-wing he’s a social conservative.

. . . While I’d be surprised to discover that Hosking is a closet member of the Parnell, Remuera or Epsom branches of the Labour Party  – total membership five! – I’d also risk my bottom dollar that he isn’t a member of any political party. This is, or should be the default position for any broadcaster working in the field of news or current affairs.

What Hosking betrays on Seven Sharp, on commercial radio and in his writing is not political bias but social conservatism. The two may overlap from time to time, but are inherently different. It’s entirely possible and even commonplace to be left wing and socially conservative. . . 

Whatever his views, isn’t it strange that many of the people who are so upset by Hosking thought it was absolutely marvelous that John Campbell who wears his left wing heart on his sleeve was appointed to state-owned RadioNZ  National.

Perhaps the log in their own eyes blinds them to their hypocrisy and to Hosking’s professionalism.

Both he and Campbell are very good interviewers who are more than capable of putting their own views aside to ask tough questions of people across the political spectrum.

 

 


Freedom only for those with whom agree?

09/12/2014

Judith Collins’ first column in the Sunday Star Times has provoked an outpouring from the left about media bias and right-wing conspiracies.

The column was about an issue of health and safety in the building industry which a constituent brought to her notice.

It wasn’t party political. It’s highlighting the sort of issue which comes to MPs’ notice and which the good ones act on.

The condemnation from the left wasn’t universal. Brian Edwards  defended the column.

But others from that end of the spectrum threatened to cancel their subscriptions.

They appear to not grasp the concept that freedom of expression isn’t only for those whose opinions with which you agree.

 

 

 


Quotes of the year

31/12/2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” – Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. – Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics – that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” – Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  –  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


Labour doesn’t need enemies

25/08/2013

Quote of the day:

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

Labour doesn’t need enemies, its members and friends are more than capable of highlighting its failings.


GSCB Bill explained

15/08/2013

In between interruptions and attempted justifications from John Campbell, Prime Minister John Key explained the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Amendment Bill.

Do people care?

“We got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill, and 30,000 on snapper,” he says.

Mr Key says he spends a lot of time touring the country, but the GCSB bill is not a topic that comes up in his discussions.

“People do not raise GCSB. I have public meetings, I have question sessions at everything I do. I probably have half a dozen meetings a day with public engaging with people…People don’t raise this issue,” he tells Campbell Live. . .

Whether or not people care, doesn’t change the facts:

*  The GCSB will need to obtain a warrant from the Commissioner of High Security Warrants – a retired court judge appointed by Mr Key.

* The surveillance of] Kim Dotcom was illegal under the old law and it’s illegal under the new law.

* Mr Key says some discussion around the bill has been misrepresented, and the organisation will not be able to spy on New Zealanders.

* the original problems with the GCSB stem from a section passed by the Labour Government in 2003.

Another couple of points from the video (at about 18:15)
* The only legal things they [GCSB] can do is provide assistance, and they do that about nine times a year.
* Anything else they might do in cyber searches would require a warrant, they wouldn’t have access to content and it would be a bit like virus protection.
Some other points not covered in the interview:

The Bill clarifies the law that the GCSB operates under.

* The GCSB had been assisting other agencies like the NZSIS, Defence and Police for years, under the previous Labour Government as well as under the National-led Government. The Labour administration knew about this activity and signed off on it.

* The GCSB believed that it was operating within the law at all times, but it is now clear that there are difficulties in interpretation in the law.

* The Prime Minister is responsible for for national security and takes it seriously. That’s why the Government is moving to clarify the law so that it is legally clear the GCSB can assist other agencies, as it has done for years.

This Bill won’t change what can be done, the SIS can do anything the Bill would permit the GCSB to do.

This isn’t a debate about whether a particular New Zealander will have intelligence gathered about them and about their activities.

It will happen with appropriate oversight and safeguards.

The question is whether the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) does it, or if GCSB does it under a warrant gained by the SIS.

The GCSB has the capability to do it now, the SIS doesn’t. If the Bill isn’t enacted what would have been done by the GCSB will be done by the SIS, more expensively.

I thought the Prime Minister won the debate, so did Gravedodger who reviews the interview here.

But it’s not only those of us in the blue corner who weren’t impressed with the interviewing.

Whaleoil found this on Twitter:

@JohnJCampbell Raving is not interviewing, John. A graceless and embarrassing performance. This from your greatest fan. Brian

 

 

 

 


Is anything of note happening here?

10/03/2013

Many years ago a British TV programme lampooned New Zealand television for the items carried in the news.

I’m a little vague on the details but I think something to do with the theft of a few sheep had been a leading story at the time.

The implication was we were just a quaint little country where nothing of note happened.

Anyone whose been looking for serious current affairs on television could be forgiven for thinking this still applies.

Seven Sharp didn’t promise to be serious and has failed anyway.

I’d hoped for much better from TV3’s 3rd Degree. It promised much but delivered so little I stopped watching after a very few minutes.

I take it from several reviews, including One Guy too Many from Cactus Kate and why TV3 should hang its head in shame over ’3rd Degree’ and why I suspect Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner would agree with me from Brian Edwards, that I was wise to do so.

There’s one last chance for television this morning. Q & A starts at 9am.

A media release from TVNZ says:

We speak to the Government’s Mr Fix It, Steven Joyce, about the deals with Novopay and SkyCity, and question how committed the government is to creating new jobs.

Also on the programme, should marriage be solely between a man and woman; we hear from a gay couple who question why they’re being treated as second class citizens. We debate the same-sex marriage bill with Labour MP Louisa Wall and Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig, and ask if gay couples should be able to adopt.

On the panel this week is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, publisher Ian Wishart, and former Labour party candidate Josie Pagani.

Join host Susan Wood and political editor Corin Dann on Q+A at 9am this Sunday on TV One.

I probably won’t be. I have other things on my agenda this morning – as do most other people at 9am on Sunday. But I will try to catch up with what happened on MySky later in the hope that maybe one little corner of television thinks there is something happening in New Zealand which people ought to know about.


Only two people know

09/06/2011

Only two people know what happened in Annette King’s house in the early hours of the morning around three months ago.

One of them made a complaint to the police about it and has name suppression. The other lost his job.

Police have finally decided to take the matter no further:

Police said this afternoon that they had decided to take no further action after deciding the complaint against Hughes did not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges.

That might have been the end of it but the man against whom the complaint was laid was an MP.

He says he did no wrong and his supporters say he’s now been cleared. Others say he hasn’t.

Andrew Geddis explains what the decision means:

. . . a decision not to press any charges does not necessarily mean “nothing much happened – and certainly nothing criminal” … it may be that the police simply consider there isn’t enough evidence to justify charges (in that there is a low probability of a conviction being obtained). However, I suspect that if this comes down to a “he said”/”he said” situation with nothing much to back one side over the other, the police will err on the side of bringing matters before a court. In part, that’s because of a general awareness that such allegations have not been taken seriously enough in the past, and in part it’s because the police will be desirous of avoiding “cover up” allegations. Hence, I’d read a decision not to lay charges as weighing a bit more on the side of “nothing criminal happened” than on the side of “maybe something criminal happened, but there just isn’t enough to say for sure”.

Only two people know which interpretation is correct.

Hughes has paid a very high price for what, based on the facts made public (that he took a young man home after an evening of drinking), was at the best a grave error of judgement.

The young man has also paid a high price for accepting that invitation and laying the complaint. Although his name is suppressed there’s enough information about him in the public domain for a lot of people to identify him.

And someone else has sustained damage in the crossfire. Geddis says:

Hughes’ political fate was effectively sealed once the decision to try and keep the matter under wraps was taken by Phil Goff.

Brian Edwards makes a similar point:

Had the Leader of the Opposition handled things more adeptly, Hughes would still be a Member of Parliament.

Phil Goff is in Greece for his son’s wedding. Given the strength of poison in the chalice of Labour leadership it’s unlikely that he’ll return to find someone has taken it from him. But it provides more ammunition for those who are preparing for a post-election coup.

Meanwhile Hughes says:

“Whatever I do, I would like to continue to serve our community and our country. But there’s plenty of time.

“I now intend to take some time to consider plans for the next phase of my life and will not be making any further public comment.”

He blames the media frenzy for forcing his resignation.

He has a point – only two people know what really happened but a lot of column inches and air space were filled with speculation.

The name suppression laws are also to blame. As soon as police said an MP was under investigation it became inevitable he would be named and enough was made public to narrow the field for anyone determined to identify the complainant.

Only two people know what happened, one’s lost his career and will always be remembered for this episode. The other still has name suppression but he too will be known by many as the one who went home with Hughes on that night.

Only two people know what happened there, both have paid a very high price for it.


Quake communication by social media and memoirs

01/03/2011

Discussion of on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with how on-line media complemented the MSM in coverage of the Christchurch earthquake.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs helped people connect with family and friends and also mobilise volunteers and equipment to help with recovery effort.

Among the many blog posts was one in which Brian Edwards and  Judy Callingham wrote of how Twitter brought us news that our family in Christchurch was safe.

Another which caught my eye was Not PC, who wrote of the tragedy and included descriptions of what happened to the buildings.

Many bloggers in Christchurch didn’t have power or internet connections at first but started posting when they could and their accounts provide a powerful human record of the quake and its aftermath.

It might be just as well they didn’t read the problem with memoirs first. In this column Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor at the New York Times writes disparagingly on memoirs written by people with nothing much to say.

One of those whose memoir he disparages, Sean Manning, responded in the Daily Beast.


Edwards 1 – SST 0

11/02/2011

The media is supposed to be one of the guardians of free speech, why then would a national newspaper seek to muzzle a blogger?

Brian Edwards has had a series of blog posts on Amanda Hotchin and the Sunday Star Times. 

His second last post on the matter was a carefully worded one in which he reported on four affidavits from witnesses who backed Ms Hotchin’s story. It was a model of how to give the facts without disclosing an opinion.

The SST has responded by threatening him with defamation.

The email informing him of that is headed not for publication:

I have chosen to ignore that advice. The Sunday Star Times is a national newspaper with a circulation massively bigger than my website. It has a large and powerful voice. If it is unhappy with what is said about its content or its writers, it has the opportunity, not available to the average citizen, to make a public response which will reach a large audience. Instead, in this case, it has chosen to send me a lawyer’s letter, marked “Not for Publication.” My response is that I am not prepared to be bullied or intimidated, and certainly not in secret.

Edwards 1 – SST 0.

The blog is probably read by only a few hundred thousand people but the threat ensures it will be read by many more.

It was referred to a post on the journalist’s chat group Journz last night.

It’s made the  NZ Bloggers Union see red. Cactus Kate , Kiwiblog and Whaleoil,   three  of New Zealand’s most widely read blogs, have taken up the fight for free speech.

And the paper’s only rival, The NZ Herald, is loving it.

What would have been a story read by a few hundred people is now reaching 10s of thousands.


Did you see the one about . . .

19/12/2010

(Brain) farting in church – Credo Quia Absurdum Est on politics at the school’s end-of-year mass. While you’re there he’s also got 10 top money savings tips for the new Stadium SOuthland.

Hypotheses please – Dim Post graphs mentions of NZ in Goggle’s new toy the ngram viewer.

Before you think about booking a cheap flight – laughs (and some bad language) at Brian Edwards Media.

Han(g)over for Lawyers – Cactus Kate writes an alternative media release.

A real live book – A Cat of Impossible Colour has the first copy of her book.


Did you see the one about . . .

05/12/2010

A Thanksgiving Day lesson in political philosophy – Jeff Keren guest posts at Not PC on individual effort vs collectivism.

TVNZ Whizzing through the years – Brian Edwards looks back with the help of YouTube.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Keeping Stock puts a price on the gifts and includes the Irish version of the song.

Movie Economics – Macdoctor and the difference between giving and not taking.

Political crystal ball – the Veteran and No Minister looks ahead to 2011.

And now for something completely different – Food court flashmob does the Hallelujah Chorus at Inquiring Mind.

Welcome to Commissioner Marshall – Stephen Franks on the Police COmmissioner to be.

Uesless information for you – Lindsay Mitcehll on who’s paid for what.

Dulce et decorum est – Monkey with Typewriter on miners.

And a couple I missed from Tuesday’s Poem:

Orphans by Michele Amas – Mary McCallum on losing parents.

Not A Tuesday Poem – Ballad for Molly – Cadence pays a musical tribute to her Scottish grandmother.


Old fashion new attitude – upadated

12/11/2010

This could have been written when I was at high school in the 1970s:

The school’s guidelines require girls’ skirts to touch the ground when they kneel . . .

However, while the fashion has gone back a few decades, the rest of the story is very much one of the times:

A pupil told that she “looked like a slut” by her school dean says she feels unfairly singled out and her parents are furious the school has done little in response to their complaints.

Would a teacher 40 years ago have told a pupil she looked like a slut?

Possibly.

Would a pupil 40 years ago have gone home and told her parents a story like this?

Probably not.

Would her parents  have taken their daughter’s side if she did?

Almost certainly not.

Would they have gone to the media?

Almost certainly not.

Would the media have reported the story?

No.

But 40 years later a teacher says something she shouldn’t have, although reading through the lines I suspect she may have been provoked.

The pupil runs home to her mother who calls the school, which admits the teacher was wrong but says her verbal apology was enough. The mother then goes to the media which turns a bit of nonsense into news.

Sigh.

A friend who’s a senior teacher with responsibility for discipline relaxes by building stone walls. He says it’s therapeutic and better to hammer rocks than pupils.

If he has to deal with the sort of behaviour reported in this story I wouldn’t wonder if he was only partly joking.

Hat Tip: Roarprawn

UPDATE: Brian Edwards puts it better in: why absolutely no apology was due to Amethyst Staladi or her parents.


Right to die gives right to kill

23/07/2010

When proponents of euthanasia talk about the right to die they omit to explain that it involves other people and would also give the right to kill.

Would health professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm want to do that?  Is it fair to ask them to? Even if the answers to those questions were affirmative, how could we be sure decisions would always be based on medical and humanitarian grounds?

Macdoctor points out the dangers of a financial incentive to hasten the end of dying patients.

This brings me to the central problem I have with human euthanasia.

It is a cheap cop-out.

Least I be called insensitive in the face of Dr Pollock’s eloquent and  emotional letter, let me say that I say this entirely in the context of medical practice. I do not consider Dr. Pollock’s desire to die rather than suffer a “cop-out”, I consider the legalisation of euthanasia to be a cheap (and nasty) alternative to adequate palliative care. And therein lies the chief dilemma.

Governments being what they are, as soon as euthanasia is legalised, there will immediately be a subtle drive to euthanase dying people.

 Would it be possible to have safe guards that ensure that those who wanted to opt for voluntary euthanasia  could without the danger that others would feel pressured into it?  They may feel they have to opt for an early death, not for their own sakes but that of their family and friends or even because they felt they were using scarce resources and wasting the time of the people caring for them.

Most of us think if we were severely disabled we would opt to forgo treatment, but would we?

Theodore Dalrymple writes of a man whose life support was about to be turned off until he blinked:

Mr Rudd, 43, was injured in a motor accident. He was paralysed and thought to be severely brain damaged. . .

However, taken to the neuro-intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, he was kept alive by the miracle of modern technology, without which he would undoubtedly have died.

His close relatives and doctors thought that the life he now had was not worth living. They prepared to turn off the machines keeping him alive. They thought this is what he would have wanted. It is also what most of us probably would have thought too.

At the last hour it was noticed he was able to move his eyes and that by doing so he could communicate a little. And what he communicated to everyone’s surprise was that he wanted to continue to live, even the life that he was now living. In other words his relatives and the doctors, with the best intentions in the world, had been mistaken. . .

That would have been a fatal mistake.

Dalrymple goes on to explain about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and how that measure could influence treatment.

Health policies are often decided on the basis of QALYs. Interestingly and alarmingly the QALY assumes that the life of a quadriplegic (someone paralysed from the neck down) not only has no value for the person who lives it but has a negative value for him: that is to say such a person would rather be dead and in fact would be better off if he were dead.

Whatever they thought before they were paralysed, however, most quadriplegics think their lives are worth living.

With a few exceptions, such as the young rugby player who was accompanied by his parents to Switzerland to be able to be given assistance in suicide, they don’t want to die. The fact that before they were paralysed most quadriplegics thought (as most people, including health economists think) that life as a quadriplegic would not be worth living but change their minds once they are quadriplegic, has very important implications for the idea of living wills.

In fact it invalidates the very idea. It is impossible to decide in advance what would be intolerable for you until you experience it.

When discussing this situation most of us think we would choose death rather than a life with severe impairments, but how can we know how great the desire for life, or death, would be until we are faced with making a choice?

When euthanasia is spoken of, it’s usually described as providing a merciful end, but would we feel the need to hasten our deaths if we could have a painless and natural one instead?

Dalrymple raises another problem. If we did legalise the right to kill, where would we draw the line and how would we stop it moving?

One of the problems with assisted suicide and euthanasia is what the Americans call mission creep. We live in non-discriminatory times: why should only certain categories of patients have the benefit of what Keats called “easeful death”? Indeed, when euthanasia was legalised in Holland it was not long before a psychiatrist killed a patient with supposedly intractable depression.

Why should only the terminally ill and the quadriplegic have the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia? Do other people not suffer equally, at least in their own estimation?  An old saying goes that hard cases make bad law and it is also true that there are pitiful cases in which a quick death would seem a merciful release.

Unfortunately it is well within the capacity of carers to make suffering unbearable and therefore death seem the preferable, quick and merciful option. And if people have a right to death on demand then someone has a duty to provide it, otherwise the right is worthless, a dead letter.

Who is this person who has such a duty? Will we strike off doctors for refusing to kill their patients? This is something that the indomitable Mr Rudd would not approve of and I think he deserves to be heard.

Euthanasia is not the same as choosing to forgo treatment. It is not passively letting someone die or even giving pain relief which might have the side effect of hastening death. It is actively killing and if we give the right to do that how can we be sure it wouldn’t be misused?

Rather than agitating for the right to die we should be agitating for the right to live with dignity and without pain.

The right to die sounds like control is in the hands of the patient and I struggle to see any difference between that and suicide.  But euthanasia is much more than that. In legalising the right to die we’d also be legalising the right to kill.

UPDATE:

Lucia Maria aat NZ Conservative has similar concerns in  euthanasia raises it’s ugly head again.

Dim Post is cautiously in favour of legalising euthanasie but also sees the dangers in death panels.

goNZo Freakpower supports legalisation in any last requests,

So do Brian Edwards in the doctor and the right to die and Richard McGrath at Not PC in Cancers – personal and parliamentary.

Lindsay Mitchell asks what happend to the death with dignity bill?


Did you see the one about . . .

21/07/2010

I’m not finished with Duncan Garner yet – Brian Edwards gives credit where it’s due.

Dinner with the Stars – Not PC asks  where and in which period in history you’d pick as being the best in history in which you might get a large number of your heroes around a dinner party table.  He also has a post on the malapropisms of refudiation.

Vagrant spotted in Parnell – Inquiring Mind gets satirical.

Under Aotearoan skies – goNZo Freakpower takes us star watching.

Star the nineteenth – In A Strange Land continues her stellar effort for Dry July.

Question (and answer) of the day – Keeping Stock found a gem from question time.


Attack from within

24/06/2010

The headline Goff totally loses the  plot would be of little significance if it came from the right. But this one is from the left – Brian Edwards.

He starts:

Either Phil Goff is getting appalling advice from his media advisers or he is ignoring good advice. Either way, his recent handling of Chris Carter would suggest that he has totally lost the plot.

He concludes:

So what is Carter to do? If I were advising him, I would suggest that he swallow his pride, do whatever will satisfy Goff’s apparent bloodlust, then keep his head down until after the 2011 election, when he will almost certainly be answerable to a different, and more reasonable leader of the Labour Party.

I agree that Goff has handled this badly. Punishing Carter for travelling too much when he was a Minister in Helen Clark’s government is bizarre; not least because it has unleashed her supporters.

Carter has an unfortunate inability to see himself as others see him, but treating him like a child, dispatched to his room until he says sorry and learns to play nicely, will only reinforce his nobody-understands-me syndrome.

That someone outside the party and from the blue end of the political spectrum thinks this means little.

When someone who has been (not sure if he still is) a Labour insider and is from the red end of the spectrum thinks and writes this it’s a sign of trouble within the party.

Attacks from outside can help a party unite. Attacks from within simply cause trouble within.


Did you see the one about . . .

06/06/2010

Bring your own basil (and garlic and fresh vegetables) – Brian Edwards on pizza problems.

I’m in love (again!) – Lindsay Perigo has a close encounter of an All Black kind.

An interview with Hone Harawira – Dim Post goes where no blogger has gone before.

Sayonara second class meat  Cactus Kate converts to Japanese beef.

Quote of the day – Anti Dismal sees what entrepreneurs see.

Emissions Tradings goings on – Keeping Stock reminds us what Winston was like.

None so blind – Macdoctor diagnoses a problem in Labour’s caucus.

Police crackdown on speedsters to enter new phase – Zen Tiger at NZ Conservative gets satirical. He’s also asking for people to give a taste of New Zealand to help an overseas reader.

May 10 NZ blogs Sitemeter rankings at Open Parachut and  May Half Done NZ blog stats at Something Should Go Here apropos of which in Further on BOT Kiwiblog suggests a ratings site which uses a bot (whatever that it) to scan blogs and collect the data needed for rankings.


Did you see the one about . . .

08/05/2010

A new literary genre – Quote Unquote on reading matter for the more mature.

Feliciy Ferret – Quote Unquote disects a media rodent  – prompting Cactus Kate to Bow to the Master.

I guess we’ll never know then – Something Should Go Here on the worst thing about censorship

Return of the Wowser – Bowalley Road diagnoses the alcohol problem.

RIP Fair Go – Brian Edwards has good reason to be in mourning.

Last Words Nana – Craft is the new black on living, and laughing, until tomorrow.


La Brasa de Sancho

12/07/2009

brasa

The personality of the owner, a Frenchman, first attracted us to La Brasa de Sancho  in Vejer de la Frontera.

He and his Spanish wife welcome customers as friends and carry on treating them that way.

Their welcome is complemented by good, fresh food, cooked and presented simply. It’s served by friendly, attentive staff  and all of that has made us repeat customers.

Dishes on the menu include:

Lamb kebab:

brasa 4

Tuna Steak

brasa 2

And marmitas de mejillones – casserole of mussels which are smaller and more tender than the green lipped variety we get in New Zealand.

brasa3

P.S. Apropos of happy dining experiences, Brian Edwards has a post on good service.


Helen Clark in the making?

27/04/2009

The good voters of Mount Albert might want to take note of Brian Edwards’ view of Meg Bates, one of those seeking to be the Labour candidate in the by-election:

But get to know Meg and you realise that you may well be looking at a Helen Clark in the making. If she were to win Mount Albert, the very real possibility would  exist that only four MPs will hold the seat in a hundred years.

Now that would be something!

It would indeed be something.

A Helen Clark in the making would be something too – but would it be a good thing?


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