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David Bowie – returning to the stars

11 January 2016 1 comment

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david bowie

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8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

A fantastically, uniquely talented individual. His music was always original and provocative.

He was with us briefly, now he has passed on, and his atoms will return eventually to the stars, from whence they came.

Take good care of him, Major Tom…

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice, Men, and Mechanoids…

6 January 2016 1 comment

From a recent Radio NZ news-story…

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Zuckerburg plans to build AI in 2016

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However, Mr Zuckerberg might ponder that a true AI (artificial intelligence)  might have something to say about being unpaid slave labour for a multi-billionaire…

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Rosie_the_Robot_1c

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References

Radio NZ: Zuckerburg plans to build AI in 2016

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Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

2 November 2015 3 comments

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National Party staying strong on crime

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From TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October 2015,

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Q+A - 25 october 2015 - police - michelle boag - simon dallow

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The Q+A panel were ostensibly discussing out-going Police Association President, Greg O’Connor’s persistent calls to arm the New Zealand police. At one point, former National Party president, Michelle Boag offered her views on policing-techniques in this country;

@5.10:

Michelle Boag: “…But, it’s, it’s a bit of a shame, that for most of us, certainly for me personally, the, the only direct engagement I end up with Police is when they stop me as they did yesterday morning when I was driving to golf at seven o’clock in the morning for a random breath test. Right, so that’s an instant confrontational thing. And, er, it just makes you think, ‘oh god, here they are, enforcing’ all the time-”

Simon Dallow: “So were you more annoyed or were you more pleased that society is being protected here?

Boag: “Er, well, I was annoyed because I haven’t had a drink for twenty years. And every time I get stopped on the way to golf early on a Saturday morning, I think, it’s a complete waste of your time. However, I know, if rather than saying my name and address, I say, ‘Listen, I don’t drink, you’re never going to catch me’, that I’ll probably get hauled up for, y’know, talking back to a policeman.

It should not be lost on most politically conscious folk that one of National’s strongest, most agressively promoted tenet is that of “Law and Order”. One of it’s seven main election billboards, for the 2011 election, was the image at the top of the page.

National’s political history is replete with passing laws empowering the police and spy organisations SIS and GCSB. (The GCSB was set up under National, under then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s leadership.)

Since 2008, National has passed the following laws;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

The GCSB’s mandate was changed two years ago to permit it to spy on New Zealanders.

This, despite protests from New Zealanders up and down the country, opposed to extending the powers of the State into our lives. One wonders if Michelle Boag attended any of the anti-GCSB protests that’s been held around the country?

This is not the first time that a National Party apparatchik has been caught up in the new, murky atmosphere of surveillance, that is now part of our lives. In 2013, then-National Party president Peter Goodfellow, complained of being under covert surveillance by a private investigator;

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national-party-boss-alleges-covert-filming

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I blogged on the issue here: National Party president complains of covert filming.

And who can forget the outrageously delicious irony of National’s coalition partner, Peter Dunne, having his emails pinched by Parliamentary Services and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Department.;

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emails-given-to-inquiry

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Then-Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, also had her Parliamentary  phone and swipe-card records passed on to the PM’s Department (which was “assisting” the Thorn Inquiry), as an investigation was held into the identity of the secret source who leaked Vance a confidential report into the GCSB.

The irony is that even as Peter Dunne was rearing up and braying in self-righteous indignation at the invasion of his privacy, two and a half weeks later, he voted with National in the Third and final reading of the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill (now an Act) which passed it into law.

Now everyone in New Zealand could have their privacy invaded.

I blogged on the issue here: Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

When governments pass laws extending the powers of the State’s security organisations, and increase surveillance capabilities of spy agencies, then it has created a fertile environment where privacy is no longer as sacrosanct  as it once was. Whether it be police stopping motorists at random to detect potential drunk drivers*;  a private investigator recording a conversation; or one government agency passing private emails on to another; or covert surveillance on potentially all New Zealanders,  a new norm has been created.

Michelle Boag may be indignant at being stopped on her way to her golf on a Saturday morning – but her right to unimpeded travel on our roads was extinguished a long time ago. The State now has the right to stop her as, when, and however, it’s security agencies ‘deem necessary’.

She may even have her phone and internet tapped, should she ever run foul of a future government.

All perfectly legal.

I love it when National’s quasi-fascistic law and order policies eventually catch up with it’s own supporters.

Thank you, Lady Karma.

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"We are from the government we are here to help. - Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

    “We are from the government, we are here to help.” – Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

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* Footnote:
It should be noted that this blogger has no problem with random breath-testing conducted by Police. Whilst this country is awash with cheap, easily-available booze; and whilst New Zealanders refuse to address our penchant for binge-drinking, random breath testing is one of the few means we have to protect ourselves and our families from liquored-up drivers. Michelle Boag needs to get over her preciousness and sense of entitlement in this regard. The next drink driver the police catch could be one  on her road, as she drives to her golfing rendezvous.

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References

TVNZ Q+A:  Panel on arming the Police

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau

Fairfax media: National Party boss alleges covert filming

Fairfax Media:  Emails given to inquiry

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 Octobr 2015.

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An open letter to Pebbles Hooper…

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Pebbles Hooper resigns from Herald roles

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Ok, you’ve done the right thing… for now.

In a part of my mind, I *shock, horror* have a small degree of wistful sympathy for you, Ms Hooper. (No, not for what you’ve said – that was repugnant beyond belief.)

My sympathy is based on the premise of youthful stupidity.

I’ve had my own “youthful indiscretion” which caught up with me a few years ago.

I didn’t do hard drugs (the occassional toke was about the extent of my venturing into the realm of illicit substances).

I binge-drank until a final event around Christmas 1985 made me do some very fast growing up. (No, not drunk driving – that is one taboo I’ve had the common sense never to attempt.)

I could do stuff with my little Mini 1100 that was later featured in the cult movie, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie’. (Hey, I was in my early twenties – and young people are indestructible to Kryptonian-level, as we believed ourselves to be.)

I was a cad with women. (Though I loved and lost a few in the process.)

It wasn’t until my late twenties, with the anchoring of a good woman who came into my life, that I began to settle down, mature, and realise that just ‘cos I could do or say a thing, didn’t necessary mean it was automatically a Good Idea.

My politics changed with me as I matured into my thirties. My views softened. The world was not so much black and white,, as 99% shades of grey, with a sprinkling of other rainbow colours…

I associated with other people. More mature people. A wider cross-section of humanity.

In short, it took a while, but I grew up. (Most of the time.)

Ms Hooper, your life is ahead of you and whilst you have made a horrendous mistake that will be long remembered, you can (and hopefully will) learn from this experience.

Lesson 1: How would I feel if I were in that person’s position. Think deeply about that. It’s called empathy.

Lesson 2: Just because you can say a Thing, doesn’t mean you should. Yes, free speech exists – but others can use that same right to free speech to express their thoughts and feelings. And the feedback you get may not be pleasant. Free speech cuts both ways.

Lesson 3: Your coffee may be black or white, but the human condition is not. Ms Hooper, you may not understand this now. But you will by the time you are  50 or 60. One hopes.

Lesson 4: Shit happens. (No, I don’t like that cliche either.) In other words, people make mistakes. Only gods, cyborgs, supermen, and superwomen do not. I suspect you are none of these, so you yourself may make the odd mistake now and then. Just like you did yesterday, on Twitter. Think twice; thrice; more times, before passing judgement. Remember, that judgementalism cuts both ways, Ms Hooper.

Lesson 5: More like advice. You should surround herself with other, more diverse people. Those with the same mind-set as yours may not be good for your personal growth.

Just as when I was a pratty, right-wing, know-it-all, teenager, who could easily have been a member of ACT On Campus – I associated with a young chap who made me question my assumptions; Mark Davies, the son of trade unionist, Sonja Davies.

Mark was a communist (Soviet-aligned); staunch trade unionist; and anti-American, and we had the most heated, passionate arguments. Boy, he made me think. (I was grief-stricken when Sonja told me, many years later, that Mark had been killed in an industrial workplace accident.)

This will pass, Ms Hooper. But it depends what you do with this ‘stumble’ in your life, that makes it worthwhile as a learning experience.

I hope you make the most of it.

 

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There’s never a towie around when you need one…

10 April 2015 2 comments

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UFO dumped stupid people

 

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On Tuesday (7 April) morning, in Kilbirnie’s Bay Road, we spotted this black ute parked on the road, blocking access to the disability carpark. Note that the ute wasn’t actually parked IN the carpark. He just parked blocking it, and creating a nuisance to those trying to drive past.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (2)

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (3)

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The vehicle belonged to “Total Towing”. I wonder if I could’ve called up the company’s office and asked for their offending vehicle to be… towed?

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (4)

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Note the car behind the ute, in the next image. The poor old bugger was patiently waiting to use the disability carpark. That made him double-park as well.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (5)

 

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Poor guy, I felt sorry for him. So decided to do something about it.

The ute’s engine was still running. That indicated that the driver had “popped out quickly” to do an errand, rather than longer-timed shopping.

Which suggested an errand quickly achieved… like going to the local Post Shop.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (1)

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Such as the Post Shop only a few metres from the carpark.

I walked inside and immediately saw the long queue waiting to be served. What’s the bet—?

In my best, loudest voice, honed after years of bellowing slogans at protest marches, I loudly asked,

 

“WHO OWNS THE BLACK TOW-UTE PARKED OUTSIDE THE DISABILITY CARPARK? THERE’S A DISABLED DRIVER WAITING TO USE IT!”

 

A guy with “Towtruck” emblazoned on his black t-shirt popped his head out of the queue…

Gotcha.

That would be me,” he said, quickly leaving the queue, “Sorry, thought I could just pop in and out quickly.”

No, mate, you weren’t thinking.

My reply was non-committal. I wasn’t going to sympathise with him one bit.

He quickly climbed into the ute, and drove off. The old guy moved in and parked his car.

Happy ending.

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(Originally posted on Facebook group, You’ve got my Car Park, want my Disability too?, on 9 April 2015)

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New Clothing Standards set by National Party

10 February 2014 6 comments

The National Party has set a new standard how it expects the lower classes to dress. National ministers Anne  Tolley and Party-leader-in-waiting, Judith Collins, began with this sexist attack on Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei,

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PM says ministers not bullying Turei

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Obviously, Tories cannot abide poor folk and their elected representatives becoming ‘uppity’ and above their ‘station’ in life. This public excoriation of  Ms Turei is the Tory way of telling some stroppy “n—-r” to get back in line.

All dressed up as “political argy-bargy”, to make it seem like Parliamentary business-as-usual.

The Tories won’t be happy until Turei (and poor folk)  dress accordingly,

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Right way and wrong way to dress

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(Note; the above examples of Dress Standards for Poor People is a guide only. The National Party suggests sack-cloth, grass skirts, and rags are always fashionable amongst the down-and-out. Nudity is fine – especially for comely females in the presence of male National MPs. Any unemployed poor person wearing shoes – of any description – will be immediatly means-tested and their benefit halved. Obviously they are receiving far too much if they can afford shoes.)

Next chapter in National Party policy: How changing the flag will raise 250,000 children out of poverty (but not too far out of poverty)

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References

Radio NZ: PM says ministers not bullying Turei

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Vote in 2014 dude - do yourself a favour

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2014.

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Some pure wisdom from Facebook…

28 December 2013 1 comment

Amongst all the dross, BS, and outright hoaxes, occasionally one finds something on the ‘net that is a little nugget of wisdom…

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Hoax stories on the internet

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Hat tip

Duncan Lucas

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