Friday, May 12, 2006


I have to admit to being somewhat amused at both the story and the talk back around the possum that was killed at Spotswood college in New Plymouth.  The fact that I went to school in New Plymouth and already had views on Spotswood from that time probably increased my personal hilarity at the story, however my views actually tend to revolve around the reporting of the story:

The possum was not "bashed to death", its skull was staved in with a hammer - these are very different deaths.
Spotswood is a high school - was this a 3rd form / 5th form / 7th form class that was involved (yes - I havent got the hang of this new "years" thing).  There is a huge difference between getting a 13 year old and a 17 year old to smack in the skull of an animal.
The defense of this being no different to what these kids see on the farm - New Plymouth isn't THAT much of a hick town; most of these students ARE NOT farmers.  And most farmers in the region send their kids to NPBHS / NPGHS anyway.
To those claiming trauma of the children - most of them were probably high anyway at the time - particularly if this was after Horticulture class.

All in all I say good on the teacher - what better way of teaching those invading Australians that they should be more careful where they tread...
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New Zealander's pay less tax

That's right - there is actually one tax where we are now paying less than predicted: petrol taxes.
Stuff reports: petrol tax revenue 2.9 per cent less than predicted in the nine months to the end of March, and road user charges, mainly from diesel vehicles, 4.3 per cent below forecast.

To me this is a great thing - it shows how the market is far more efficient than political interference, and more importantly it shows that higher taxes can lead to a drop in revenue.
Wow - that may come as a surprise to some of those left wingers who continue to think that dropping taxes necessitates a drop in revenue...
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So shouldn't ALL the loops be unbundled?

An item on ZDNet caught my eye and made me think tangentially about the telecom Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) - basically it is talking about how the cable companies in the U.S. are currently facing similar unbundling threats from regulators over there and have a similar retort in terms of "we've made an investment, and I don't think the government should be coming and telling us how we can work that infrastructure, simple as that".

The query this suddenly raised in my mind was - why isn't the Government regulating for ALL the local loops to be unbundled?  If there is such an economic bar to investment in the local loop then surely this means that where additional loops have been created (EG by TelstraSaturn in Wellington) then all of these should be subject to the same unbundling legislation?  If fair and reasonable rental rates are to be enforced as suggested - and why Telecom's competitors are saying they shouldn't be complaining on a commercial basis - then surely those same competitors would not be disadvantaged by a compulsory rental arrangement on their own lines?

If not what REALLY is the difference? And please do not come whining about the lines never having been "sold" to Telecom - either they were and they should be theirs to charge / monopolize as they please, or they weren't and this could have been sorted out through a court case, not new legislation.
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Correlation and Causality

Scoop today fawns over the report Decades of Disparity III by Pete Hodgson which attempts to blame inequality in social circumstances for the inequalities in mortality rates and health outcomes in our society.  This is despite it explicitly realizing: "Socio-economic inequalities explain much of ethnic inequalities in health but do not account for all the disparity."
When you are only able to explain a portion of a statistical correlation but are left with a large remainder co-efficient this is frequently a good sign that you are looking at exactly that - a correlation NOT a cause.  Please note I am not disputing that poorer socioeconomic groups have poorer health - what I dispute is that the statistics PROVE that the lower socioeconomic conditions RESULT in poorer health outcomes.
Being poor does not CAUSE someone to smoke, participate in less sporting activities, or be obese - and yet these are all factors that are ALSO highly correlated with lower socioeconomic conditions - and ethnicity.  I have no issue with a health policy that targets these risk factors, and in attempting to target them in an effective way means different policies may be required for different ethnic and social groups - because they frequently think and act in different ways (hence the correlation in the first place...)  However for this to be effective people need to stop BLAMING the social strata as being the CAUSE of those conditions.  Otherwise these people become powerless to affect the necessary changes in their own lives.  It needs to be recognized that having less money does not CAUSE someone to smoke and/or drink, what needs to be found is why poorer people tend to CHOOSE to smoke / drink and give them the actual responsibility for that choice.
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Monday, May 08, 2006

It's a small world?

Hmmm - one of which I've only visited 11% of. Aiming at least to break 50% by the time I'm 33! How do you fare?

create your own visited countries map
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Shocked and Amazed

I was witness to something in the weekend that shocked and amazed me - but on reflection I suppose I shouldn't be.
While at our local bakery to pick up lunch a Polynesian family of Mother and two sons (about 14 and 8) attempted to steal 2 large bottles of coke.  This was despite the operators of the bakery picking up on the plan part way through and while the mother was paying pointedly checking that they did not want the two bottles, were not paying for the bottles and were not going to take the bottles (which had been positioned outside the fridge to one side of a cabinet).  And yet the family still in a *brilliant* piece of confusion work managed to walk out with the bottles which fortunately the operators picked up on quick enough to send pursuers after the three - that even then were trying to hide the bottles.

Bottles retrieved the bakery operators didn't even bother trying to hold the 3 to prosecute - I only wish it was legal to take a photo and post an A3 flyer in the window proclaiming the 3 as thieves.
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Civil Defence alters procedure to account for media cockups

Hattip: Stuff
I find it amusing that the radio and TV have still not picked up on this but still seem to be mocking Civil Defence for having not "publicizing the Tsunami warning".

The key here is that:
The Ministry’s National Crisis Management Centre staff were, within ten minutes of the earthquake, in contact with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii to monitor the tsunami risk to New Zealand, and report on any action needed in Tonga or other Pacific islands. In the event there was no risk to New Zealand and no warning was issued in New Zealand.

So the problem was never Civil Defence - it was always the intial "misreporting by the BBC" - and the subsequent misreporting by other media agencies that caused any issue at all; which was the panic about a Tsunami, not the risk of a Tsunami.

In any event - if people want a more effective Civil Defence network they should probably demand that the Government funds it more than what they spend on TV ads for middle class welfare.
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