Friday, 12 October 2012

Holiday In Albania

Well, maybe not Albania, but somewhere kind of vaguely like that.  So, for a couple of weeks blogging at ETS will be intermittent at best, unless I can work out how this "blogging by email" thing works.  I hope Telecom don't screw me with massive charges for data.

Attila the Stockbroker - Cautionary Tales for Dead Commuters, 1985 and Live at the Rivoli, 1990

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Don't Look Back

One day we will stop pointing the finger at everyone else and start solving the problems of leaky buildings.  Meanwhile the problem will continue to grow bigger, as it did today when the Court of Appeal confirmed that a Council's duty of care is not limited to ordinary residential dwellings.  It's a huge problem, it's cost a fortune already, fixing it will be an enormous burden and at the moment only lawyers are making any money out of it.

The Church - The Blurred Crusade, 1982

Effect and Cause

It's been obvious for a while now that this whole Kim Dotcom thing will roll on and I'm picking it will be the undoing of the government in one way or another.  If a catastrophic failure doesn't pull the government down (and I reckon it's 50/50 at present), attrition over the next two years will.
Looking at the trends on the Roy Morgan poll out today, attrition will leave a terrible result for National.
New Zealand GCR

This graph, which I copied straight from the Roy Morgan website (go read it) shows confidence in the National Party dropping to levels that it took Labour eight years and a coalition with NZ First to reach.  National have achieve the same dire result in four years and what they claim was a strong mandate from the last election.  Yeah?
Care to test that mandate?  Now, before the next election turns to 2002 all over again with Bill English as leader after Regular John quit while he was behind (because, typical gambler, he forget to quit while he was ahead) and in the aftermath the caucus couldn't choose between Judith and Steve?  Stranger things have happened.

Back on track - the whole "blame the spooks" approach seemed flawed to me.  Here's how Stuff describe it:
Key has lashed the GCSB for a series of bungles over the Dotcom case which have left him politically exposed.

In the same article on Stuff the head of the GCSB, Ian Fletcher, says suggestions that a video was taken of Mr Key mentioning Kim Dotcom before the critical date of 17 September are false.  As proof he says the system has been searched and no such video found.  The suggestion was that the video was recorded on one or more cellphones; in which case it probably never made it on to a server.  However it seems unlikely a video would be leaked as it would be fairly easy for GCSB to work out who shot the video.  Audio is a different story.
If Mr Key had not dumped so heavily on the GCSB he would have not caused nearly as much resentment amongst the rank and file.  But his political nous has deserted him; a smarter politician would have found a creative solution.  But that understanding of effect and cause is absent.  Is the GCSB's pride injured enough to leak the audio?  Again, stranger things have happened.

White Stripes - Icky Thump, 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Up & Down & Back Again

The government have updated the budget figures. Mysteriously, Bill English is out of the country.
Keeping Stock thinks this is good news, to which I can only ask how bad do things have to get to be considered bad news?
The figures make for a sorry sad tale, and the days of "it's worse in the rest of the world", "it's the GFC's fault" and "it's Labour's fault" are gone.  Questions of when we will have a budget surplus are begging to be asked.  "In three years" was always a joke, however I doubt the updated answer will be any better.

Powderfinger - Odyssey Number Five, 2000

Smile

As the aftershock rolled us around late yesterday morning, and it really did roll, and we all sat looking at each other wondering how long it would last and what to do next, a colleague who is renown for not saying much, ever, looked up and said "Gerry's back".  Black humour.  Then back to work.

Elastica - Elastica, 1995

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Our Prime Minister has been reduced to an object of widespread ridicule, he's a joke.  Joe Bennett's article this morning exemplifies the contempt in which he is held.
As their best asset, John Key's main value to the National Party was his electability, rather than intellect, leadership skills, political nous, management style or knowledge of anything practical, all of which can best be described as adequate.
If I were a National MP in a marginal seat (what's he swing been like since the election?) or a list MP ranked  low on the list (and in case it isn't obvious, I'm not an MP, National or otherwise) I'd be seriously concerned about my job prospects after the next election.  My guess is the main reason there is not mass panic is the dearth of talent in National's senior ranks; there is no one electable to replace John Key.  So as long as John Banks doesn't completely self-destruct, and no one else is found to have a trouser problem, drug addiction, difficulties with the truth, or a penchant for dipping into someone/everyone else's pocket, Key will remain our unhappy PM.
However, it seems unlikely that things will return to normal.  As time passes the disquiet amongst National's vulnerable MPs will continue to grow.

Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed, 1969

Let The Train Blow The Whistle

I blogged about Manu Caddie, a councillor at Gisborne District Council, when I first started blogging (at the start of the year).  This week I came across him again, on the radio, trying to raise funds to challenge KiwiRail's decision to mothball the Napier-Gisborne railway.
Manu's blog details the progress towards funding the review.  $10,000 was needed in a couple of days and the target was surpassed in time, so the review will proceed.  Well done to the team who organised it.
It is difficult to fathom why the government is allowing yet another revolt to develop; the cost to avoid this one pales in comparison to the Rena clean-up or the South Canterbury Finance bail-out.

Johnny Cash - American Recordings, 1994

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tender Shoots

Money doesn't grow on trees, or so the proponents of the government's opposition to quantitative easing would have us believe.  It's true, money doesn't grow on trees, at least not directly.  Indirectly?  Well that's a different story.  It does grow on trees, in a sense.  It looks like this:
-- In Central Otago --

-- In Hawkes Bay --

-- In the Bay of Plenty, well, hopefully --

-- In the central North Island --

-- In Northland, I am reliably informed --

-- In Marlborough --

-- In Canterbury, and plenty of other places --

Horticulture (aka growing money on trees) is an ingrained part of our economy, society and culture, and not necessarily in that order.

Stephen - Radar of Small Dogs, 1993

Beat On The Brat

I doubted that National could do anything more dumb than what they've been doing since the asset sales fell to bits.  But they sure are trying.
Mr Parker produced a graph on departures to Australia, and Mr Winter blogged on the subject.  I suspect Mr Parker knew what was coming this week, because National announced the reintroduction of youth rates.
I have used the graphic from Mr Winter's blog, which he attributed to Mr Parker, and added to it.
So there it is - most of the people leaving for Australia are in their twenties.  National have identified that people in their late teens could be encouraged to leave at the same rate and implemented policy to suit.
Regular John tried, over the weekend, to spin this as "brain exchange".  And yet it's not.  The net loss was 40,000 people, with almost four departures for every arrival.
Are we better off, as a society, for having this emigration?  Back in 2008, when it was 750 people per week (and bad), it was a problem, but now it's 1,000 people per week (worse) it's not, according to Regular John.

Ramones - Ramones, 1976

Friday, 5 October 2012

Reena

$27 million towards the $47 million cost of cleaning up after the Rena was smashed across Astrolabe Reef.  For a government that thinks the RoNS are a good idea (and on Planet Key they are) I suppose this is par for the course.  Kudos to the negotiators for getting more than was legally required, though it did occur to me that the $27 million represents what the shipping company would have been liable for if any government since about 1996 had bothered to update the law.  And to the shipping company who, after their initial mistake (where there ship ended up polluting someone else's beach) behaved responsibly.
I thought I heard a minister, while explaining what a good deal it was, say that the whole thing was not foreseeable.  Which would explain why the oil Pollution Fund has been run down.
As for being unforeseeable it's not like ships have come to grief around our coast before, well:
except the General Grant
 or the Pacific Charger, which I remember seeing stuck on the rocks
and the Mikhail Lermontov.

A sensible government would accept that it's bound to happen again, and would plan both to deal with it and to fund the response.

Spelling Mistakes - 7", 1980

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Fallen

On Moorhouse Ave, 3 October.
On Barbadoes Street, also 3 October.
A cherry blossom tree, by streetlight, on Lichfield Street, 3 October.
All photos taken by and copyright of Armchair Critic.

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better, 2005

Memory

Kim Dotcom sure does make people forget a lot of stuff.
John Banks forgot a donation to his mayoral election campaign from Dotcom, and forgot visiting Dotcom'ss house in a helicopter.  Lucky he remembers he never had sex with Dotcom.
A GCSB officer had a brain-fade, and not in my words but in Regular John's, late last week.
"I expect better and I'll be getting better out of them in the future. But the simple facts of life are that they suffered what can only be described as a massive brain-fade by one person who actually reviewed the file.That's wrong and it shouldn't have happened but people do make mistakes."
Fair enough, people do make mistakes.  A whole lot of finance company directors made mistakes over the last few years.  They were held to account.
And now Regular John has been found to have had brain-fade too.  From National's website:
The Prime Minister visited GCSB offices on 29 February for a briefing on the broader capabilities of the bureau, and to meet the staff. A paper prepared as talking points for the staff member conducting a presentation contained a short reference to the Dotcom arrest a few weeks earlier, as an example of cooperation between the GCSB and the Police. The presentation was an electronic slide presentation. The cover slide was a montage of 11 small images, one of which was of Mr Dotcom.
and the PM says:

“I have been clear from the outset that I received no briefing on the operation from GCSB prior to 17 September, and this review confirms that,” says Mr Key.
“While neither the GCSB Director nor I can recall the reference to the Dotcom matter being made during my visit to the bureau back in February, I accept that it may well have been made.
“Given the public statements I have made in Parliament and in the media, it is important that I take this opportunity to provide this additional information.
“I will be correcting my answers to the House when it resumes on Tuesday 16 October.”

Don't correct your answer to the House, John, go and tell the Governor General.  Then ask him to dissolve parliament.  Think of it as an opportunity to confirm that mandate you got to sell asset.

Elaine Paige - Cats, 1981

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Turn

Regular John was anything but calm, composed and nice for TV3 this morning.  He tossed his toys quite openly under what could only be considered to be mild questioning.  That cup of tea before the election really did signal the end of the media honeymoon.
At least he is consistent with his "hands-off" approach to his job.  He asked very little about national security, and now he expects to be asked very little about his failings on national security, in return.  And apart from making him look (much less be) completely unsuitable to be PM, that's not a bad approach.

Therapy? - Troublegum, 1994

North by North

The Napier-Gisborne railway will not be repaired.  At least, not while National are in power and while KiwiRail focusses on the short term.
I'm trying to see the positives in this, but it is difficult because the repairs should have been made, the line should have been reopened and KiwiRail should have continued to develop their business on the East Coast.

About the best I can say is that it will make an issue for the next election, especially when people like Alan Dick (mayor of Napier for twelve years and now a regional councillor) are asking questions about the decision.

The Bats - Daddy's Highway, 1987

Monday, 1 October 2012

Caught By The Fuzz

Urewera Raids, Kim Dotcom and now this.  Since it's before the Court it would be unwise to comment much further.  The Police do seem to be set on pursuing some silly prosecutions, recently.

Supergrass - I Should Coco, 1995

Franz Kafka at the Zoo

What with the next election not due for at least two years, what the polls say means very little.  It's always the trend.
Ever since I've been hanging around political blogs (I think that's back to mid-2009) the polls have said "National".  Except recently, when they have said "Too Close to Call".
And then, late last week, the Roy Morgan poll said:
If a National Election were held today this New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll says a combined opposition of Labour/ Greens & New Zealand First would be favoured to form a new Government.
Which is nice news for someone who has had a goal of "seeing National out of government" since, well, probably 1981 when I opposed the Springbok Tour.  Well, as much as you can when you are under ten.
The next step is to see the words "...& New Zealand First..." omitted.
What I find telling is the Government Confidence Rating.  I've copied the graphic from the Roy Morgan website.
New Zealand GCR
It shows that the government, up to the start of last week, is inspiring about as much confidence as Labour did in their last year in government.  And that was a pretty awful year for Labour.  National have two to go, if they go to full term.
Meanwhile I'm still wondering two things:
first, for Labour, the gift begs to be taken, the lucky find is waiting....
and second, for National, when will the desperation will surface, and like 1998, when the rats will start leaving.  Can't be long now.



The Clean - Unknown Country, 1996