Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bring it on!

The UK government is planning to build new nuclear power stations.

According to their consultation document, one of the top proposed sites is just outside Brighton.

For those that don't know, Brighton is the core of crustiedom. Anarchists and freedom fighters have sallied forth from there to such (unsuccesful) battles as Manchester Airport, the Newbury Bypass and Stop the City, not to mention the (succesful) Poll Tax Riot.

Trying to build a nuclear power station 10 miles outside the town is just going to be the trigger for the biggest uprising since 1649. It might even radicalise enough people to start a real alternative force in British politics.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Rather than spend another weekend bouncing frantically to dance music, I had a healthy outdoor weekend. I hiked up Mt Ruapehu.

It's a good walk. Starting from the Whakapapa carpark (outside ski season there is a huge amount of parking space) I headed up the lift lines. Navigating on an out of season ski field is easier than an unsullied mountain, although one needs to remember that you can't always follow a chair lift - especially when descending. (Skis and boards are a wonderful invention - some of the slopes that are quite easy to slide down are a bit alarming when you are standing on the bare rock).

I made fairly good progress up past the top draglift. The last few hundred metres before the crater are pretty crumbly though. Last time I was up here there was snow and steps kicked, which made it a whole lot easier. I made the mistake this time of aiming for what looked like solid rock rather than scree and ash - unfortunately it was steep and totally frangible. Will remember next time..

So I got to the crater at 3pm:

Took a photo and started down. The downclimb was easy enough, made it to the car just before it got dark.

Something I noticed is that there was a lot of bits of rubbish left lying about where the lift company have been building things. This isn't really on. I've got no objection to neccesary ski machinery, but they need to clear their crap up afterwards. If you leave bits of wire, fastenings, broken signs, etc. lying around on an eroding mountain, it all gets carried down with the scree and gets strewn all over the hill. Like Snowdon.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Events in history

"Violent criminals threaten Paris"
(Headline, Le Matin, 14th July 1789)

"Violent criminals threaten Paris"
(Headline, New Zealand Womens Weekly, 17th May 2007)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Power saving chargers

Nokia are making a phone that emits annoying beeping when the battery is full. Apparently this will save a huge amount of energy.

What would save even more energy, and not be annoying, would be for the phone to send a message to the charger to tell it to power down when the battery gets full. A properly designed switching supply should, in any case, draw very little current from the mains when the mobile device isn't taking any current.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fired for taking prescription meds

Two women have been sacked by a state funded Te Atutu based addiction treatment centre "Higher Ground" for taking their prescribed medication (citalopram) for depression.

Both of them presented to their GP with depression and were prescribed a standard, evidence-based treatment. Their employer, on learning of this from one of the women, suggested that they instead take St. Johns Wort - an unlicensed drug of unproven effectiveness. When they did not take this advice, they were fired.

The Employment Relations Authority has rejected one of the womens claims on the grounds that she did not follow correct process in challenging the authority (the other has complained directly to the Human Rights Commission).

I think this is unacceptable on several grounds:
- Psychiatric illness is a disability and a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act. It should be as unacceptable to sack someone on these grounds as to sack them for being black. And I don't believe the ERA would accept a race-based dismissal on grounds of incorrect process.

- Organisations which systematically breach the HRA should not be funded or endorsed by the state.

- The public health system is based around evidence-based medicine - encouraging people to uptake appropriate treatment is part of this. The system should not be funding organisations that actively work against the uptake of such treatment.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Will Gordon succeed Tony?

Gordon Brown is widely expected to become the next British Prime Minister when Blair retires next month.

Will he though?

Brown has (and I write as no fan of the Blair government) been by far the most successful British Chancellor (finance minister) in living memory. He is the longest serving modern holder of the office and has presided over the longest period of sustained growth in British history, as well as achieving consistently low inflation and unemployment. Britain is now thought of as a rich country - it wasn't when I was a kid!

If he becomes PM, he is almost certain to be defeated at the next election.

One would have thought that he might want to be remembered as a highly successful Chancellor rather than a failed half-term PM (after the fashion of James Callaghan - John Major got re-elected).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

(Don't) Smack your kids up!

I'm posting this here, although it's actually an answer to this post on Tactical Ninja because I didn't want to deface Tatnja's LJ with a 400 word political rant/essay...

Firstly, I'd be the first to agree that NZ is a bit overregulated. I'd like to be allowed skyrockets. Or to drive on deserted South Island roads at a bit more than 100km/h. Or to go to a (mainstream) festival without having to pass through checkpoints between the "beer-free" and "child-free" areas. Or to advocate sofa burning (actually, I *can* - the Dunedin police just failed to prosecute a publican for that).

I don't think thumping kids falls into that category though. Small people are people, and they have rights not to be assaulted like anyone else. That's all changing the law does. The cops aren't going to wade in every time someone is spotted slapping their kid in Woolworths, but there will be the ability for the authorities to deal with violent abusive parents without them being able to claim immunity on grounds of "discipline".

Something I would also note is that, since schoolteachers have been banned from physical punishment, instances of teacher-child abuse (like the dreadful behaviour of "Christian" Brothers in the 1960s) has declined almost to zero.

Finally, I think NZ has a bit of an issue with violence and it's acceptability. Something I've noticed here is that people will say quite often "if you do/say x you'll get beaten up". Which they didn't in England. Or Switzerland. Or even the US (I guess when your preferred instrument of violence is a firearm you have to be that bit more sparing about when you bring it to bear). I think that needs to change and less clouting of kids might be a small step.

(BTW, Sue Bradford has three children)