Friday, November 23, 2007

FUD from Genesis

When I moved into my new flat, it was connected to Genesis Electricity. Getting the bill put in my name resulted in the remains of several trees being delivered to me in the form of bills, corrected bills, bumph, "charity" begging, etc. Destroying the planet is a hard job, but somebody's got to do it.

Amongst the bumph was a document with the following statement, which is repeated at their website:

We know that New Zealanders are concerned about future generation. So we are committed to keeping the energy coming. If lake levels drop we can rely on our other energy sources such as wind and thermal energy.

Now, that would suggest to me a claim that where other generators might cut power in a crisis, Genesis would be able to keep their customers going. That's how I read it anyway.

So I checked this fact with somebody in the industry. Can the customers of power generators be selectively connected / disconnected from the mains? (perhaps in the same way as your hot water tank gets turned off at peak times through a device called a ripple relay).

Nope - can't be done either technically or legally.

So basically, Genesis are putting out a blatantly misleading statement to sell power. As a customer and shareholder (they're an SOE) I object to this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sorry, I gave earlier

I guess I might be being a bit curmudgeonly, but I am slightly irritated with this "Movember" thing that has induced a substantial proportion of the males around town to grow facial minge.

Firstly, I have this belief that essential public services, like healthcare, should be funded out of taxation, not dependent on charitable contributions. The several thousand dollars I fork out each month in tax ought to pay for a decent health system without my having to find a few more quid voluntarily. If it doesn't, then we should be paying more tax.

For me, charities should be funding "nice to have" areas of spending, like sport, parks and art galleries; they should also be campaigning for change (which government obviously can't do).

Secondly, charitable donation should be an act of entirely voluntary altruism. If charities try to guilt trip me into giving them money, the iconoclast in me says no. I object to chuggers, badges, stickers, etc. The Movember thing is getting a bit like poppies are in the UK - you're obliged to have one or people think you're a callous bastard.

Incidentally, did you know that when you give money to charity via a business through the "do you want to donate a dollar for cute babies" thing they hit you with at the till, the supermarket company or whatever is taking a tax deduction. So basically, as you give money to the charity, you decrease the amount of tax money that's going to fund healthcare, etc.

I gave some money this month to the Urewera 17 legal fund. Plus I gave some to the SPCA, just because they're were some chuggers buttonholing people next to a nice SPCA lady sitting quietly with a bucket - so the latter got my money.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Distorted fireworks

More distortion in the Herald today, this time with fireworks as the target.

They claim that "at least nine people were injured in fireworks-related incidents at the weekend" and report calls for a ban on all private firework sales. Apparently we have been told by the Prime Minister to "behave" or fireworks will be banned.

Let's examine those reported nine injuries:

Incident 1 was two kids slightly injured when a home firework malfunctioned and shot fireballs, apparently with enough force that they were still able to inflict burns 10m away.

Incident 2 was three children slightly injured by a faulty firework at a public display.

Incident 3 was a 22-year old man with an eye injury from a private firework. No details are provided on what happened.

Incident 4 was two idiots in the South Island1 throwing petrol on a fire and each other on top. This dumbass accident involved petrol not fireworks.

Incident 5 was a professional pyrotechnics operator injured by a firework at a public display.

So actually, three people were injured by the private use of fireworks. Four people were injured at public displays. Two were injured by stupidity with gasoline, which I assume the government isn't going to ban, at least until supplies run dry.

Two, maybe three of the injuries stemmed from "misbehaviour" rather than product or procedural failure. Only one of these involved fireworks (and we don't know they were being dumb, it might have been another dud).

But the Herald manages to turn no evidence whatever that anyone was injured by fooling with fireworks into an unanimous call for a ban. They didn't even question the fire chief when he said "[the new restrictions] are a positive thing but they just don't work". They're meant to be journalists - should they not have asked what his criteria was for a success? Or why he was saying that, when *nobody* had been seriously injured in Auckland as a result of fooling with fireworks. Should they maybe have asked whether the reduced sale time for fireworks was having a bad effect on product quality?

1. What is with South Islanders? They're only a quarter of the population but account for a disproportionate amount of dumbass injuries (eating ten party pills at a go also springs to mind). Maybe just the South Island needs a ban on anything flammable, toxic, or longer than it's wide?