Saturday, December 31, 2005

My nomination for a New Year's Award

Back in 2002, or thereabouts, I kept hearing this guy Aaron calling talkback radio going on about a movie he wanted to make. He was determined. But more than that he was full of passion and self-belief. The talk hosts kept giving him a go because he was trying so damn hard. The only way his dream was going to come to fruition was if he could sell enough shares.

I've never bought shares in anything but I really wanted this guy to get a chance. I contacted him but had to admit I couldn't afford more than half a share so he matched me up with someone else in the same boat.

Since then Aaron has made his movie, hawked it around the international film festivals, won several awards and made the front cover of a Hollywood mag. BUT still no distribution deal.

Just before Xmas I received a greetings card from Aaron and his family (one of many communications he has sent to keep his investors constantly in the loop) to say that he has at long last secured a deal!

I was thrilled to bits. And I feel privileged to have been able to help in a tiny way, what was a superhuman effort on his behalf.

Oh, and the movie. POP. Go and have a look.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Is he for real?

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven yesterday called for Parliament to consider tougher penalties to bring down the toll but, in the meantime, urged motorists not to tolerate bad road behaviour and to report dangerous driving.

"If you come to a place where you see someone who has driven like an idiot, talk to them, tell them. That might result in a punch in the head, so you've got to exercise a bit of discretion. "

Brings a whole new meaning to getting "clocked" on the road.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Partner violence

The Women's refuge centres are apparently overflowing. Their National Manager, Heather Henare says, "If anyone knows a violent person within a family they must ensure the safety of the women and children."

She was obviously trying to be diplomatic on one hand with her use of the word "person" but then drops any ambiguity about the sex of the person by referring to the safety of women and children.

Unfortunately men hit women and they injure them. It's nasty and it's cowardly.

But scant attention is ever given to the fact that women hit men.

The highly regarded and on-going Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study followed a cohort from ages 5 to 21. One aspect of the study looked at partner violence.

Although the research relied on self-reporting, when the reports from each of a couple were matched up there was a high correlation, that is 70-80 percent of one partner's report agreed with the other partners.

What did the reserchers find?

"About 27 percent of women and 34 percent of men among the Dunedin study members reported they had been physically abused by their partner. About 37 percent of women and 22 percent of men said they had perpetrated the violence."

Yet we assiduously avoid the issue of women hitting men. The portrayal of domestic violence is nearly always about women as victims. Treating the issue in black and white terms isn't honest and it isn't helpful.

I am reminded too about about an anecodote from the British pyschiatrist Theodore Dalrymple.When he asks a female victim of abuse, if she thinks he could have predicted the male's behaviour, she responds, yes. He asks how? She then lists all the clues which she herself had determinedly ignored.

Why NZ broadband uptake is low

A recent DomPost Gareth Morgan column commented "...uptake of broadband in New Zealand is pathetic and Telecom is already on the public record as not fulfilling earlier undertakings to facilitate a competitive broadband market."

A letter responding appeared today. One John Goulter of Telecom says, "An economist might note that New Zealand's broadband penetration almost exactly matches our GDP per capita. It is a fact that broadband closely matches GDP per capita in most OECD countries and we are no exception."

Let's check that. The highest broadband subscription per 100 inhabitants occurs in Korea, which is incidentally below New Zealand in GDP per capita. The richest country, Luxembourg, has only average broadband uptake. A quick look at the US shows it second from the top in GDP per capita but 12th in broadband uptake. There's three exceptions.

(Do you notice when somebody, usually a politician, is on the defensive, they default to 'we are only like the rest of the world' and when they are on the offensive or taking credit for something, we are 'world beaters - innovative, number-eight wirers punching above our weight.')

Whatever, it seems to me we have a chicken and the egg situation developing here. We supposedly have low broadband uptake because we are relatively poor but our lack of access to broadband at a competitive price will continue to impede our economic growth. Something has to give.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Go Jonah

Great to see Jonah Lomu back in the winner's circle.
Thumbs down to the curmudgeons who think he owes it to all those waiting on a kidney, to lead a "careful" life.

The benevolence of government

Here is a fine example from Canada, awarded's daily brickbat.

Provincial authorities in Manitoba, Canada, say they will fine the Maples Surgical Center. Not for botched surgery or unsanitary conditions, but for charging patients for MRI scans. Government statistics show Manitobans wait an average of eight to 15 weeks for an MRI in the government-funded system, and that's after a specialist says it's needed. Scheduling that visit can also take months. But Maples says it will allow patients to get an MRI within 48 hours, if they are willing to pay for it. The government says that violates the Canada Health Act. "If the minister of health wishes to be heartless enough to sanction people who provide health care to people who need it, then that's certainly his prerogative," said Dr. Mark Godley, medical director for the clinic. But Godley says the clinic will fight any sanctions in court.

Alternative headlines

Drink young and crash is the frontpage headline in the DomPost today. Fair enough. It relates reasonably to a study which has shown road crash rates increasing for young people.

One inference is the lowering of the drinking age is to blame.

But the headline could have read,"Road crashes up since Boyracer legislation introduced". It all depends on which angle the media wants to push.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tagging the ragtags

The British Child Support agency is considering new measures to make 'deadbeat dads' cough up.

I'll say it again. If the welfare state wasn't paying an income for single parenting most of the genuine 'deadbeats' wouldn't find a repository for their sperm.

And when are we going to hear about the 'deadbeat mums'? The number of fathers raising their kids on welfare is growing steadily. In NZ it is particularly noticeable with Maori. In February 49 percent of the almost 13,000 single fathers on welfare were Maori.

The Child Support agency is wasting its time and more of the taxpayers money. Deal with the problem at its heart or forget it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Gender Politics

The DomPost has run an interesting article from the Times today. It concerns research published by two British academics which shows that parents of daughters are more likely to be left-wing. Naturally, as you will do, I ran through the families I know to see if the theory checked out. Having three brothers and no sisters my own parents should be right-wing. Wrong. (Although one did party vote ACT but the circumstances are slightly unusual and would probably be tossed out of any data set being analysed.)

The researchers analysed "one of the most comprehensive sets of data available to social scientists" and only decided to release their findings after they found "the same pattern in German households."

It really is the most thought-provoking read. For me it re-inforces my view which is, people vote with their hearts, not their heads. Now that wouldn't be a bad thing if their hearts were in the right place.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Conservatives confused

This amuses me no end. Confusion breaks out in the ranks of the British Conservative Party (just what Cameron needs). Are they turning into socialists? Sorry. Are they becoming more socialist?

Maybe his new policy chief meant that wealth redistribution is good and desirable when it is done through the job market (voluntary and mutually advantageous) as opposed to when governments do it (through coercion and damaging to both parties).

Somehow I don't think so.

Men's rights

It has been suggested on Peter Cresswell's blog that my posts about child support are an attack on women and that I must be associated with those "losers" who promote men's rights.

For the record I am not interested in men's rights. Neither am I interested in women's rights. The only rights I care about are those of the individual. I explain why here in an article published by The Press last year.

By the way, I have changed the settings to allow anyone to make comments. I am still learning how this thing works and hadn't realised there were options available.

What's in a word?

Pansy Wong has changed the name of her newsletter to Pansyspeak. The DomPost's Last Word made this comment today;

"Given the growing number of gay MPs in the House, it's surprising one of them hasn't grabbed that title first."

Is it OK to infer that Parliament's gay MPs are pansies? I guess we will find out.

It's possible to avoid political correctness without actively practicing political incorrectness. As comments go, it's not even very funny. Which brings me to another question. Would it be OK if is was?

David Farrar makes a comment on his blog today that a woman who swallowed her cellphone must be a blonde. The blonde stereotype has delivered some of the best jokes which I can't repeat here. As a blonde I enjoy them.

I guess it's a fine line between bad taste and humour and where that line gets drawn is very subjective.