The Dim-Post

November 29, 2010

Break from my break, NZ Wikileaks headers annotated edition

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 7:06 pm

It took a while to get around to it but I’ve posted an annotated csv file of the NZ tagged wikileaks cables here. It’s a date list with the tags replaced by glossary explanations of what they all mean.

I’ve used an approximate match for the lookups, so some of them might not be quite right, but it looks a lot more accurate than the exact match algorithm results. (Update: I realised this was lazy so now it looks for an exact match and if this returns a null value it searches for an approximate match.)

The body of the cables relating to New Zealand haven’t been made available yet, and with Wikileaks promising to release further documents progressively over a period of months it could be a while. But that does raise the delicious prospect of New Zealand’s cables getting dumped during the election campaign. The histogram below suggests that this would mostly be bad news for Phil Goff.

November 26, 2010

Pike River logistics

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 8:16 am

Just a short break from my break to make a small point re some of the commentary around Pike River, best summed up by Ian Wishart:

Mine Blast: Cowardice in NZ Police

I am staggered that police have so far failed to enter the mine because of poisonous gas.

One man with breathing gear could sort this out.

Obviously I spent a bit of time dwelling on this whole tragedy, but I still can’t figure out how one person with breathing gear could effect the rescue of 29 people, and Wishart doesn’t expand upon his point.

The trapped miners were at the top of a two kilometre long tunnel inclining up into the mountain. It took the miners who escaped two hours to walk out, it’s going to take a rescue team carrying equipment and breathing gear at least that long to walk in, and maybe another thirty minutes to an hour to continue on to places where trapped miners could have reasonably be expected to be found. You then have to carry them out on a stretcher, which is a four man job (at least, mountain search and rescue teams use eight/person).

So let’s say four men can effect the rescue of one miner over a six hour period.

To carry out an effective rescue you’re going to be sending maybe ten teams, staggered. So let’s say forty men can rescue ten miners over eight hours with the time/miner increasing as each rescue team is travelling to more remote areas of the mine and taking longer to find each miner.

Now lets say you’re the rescue co-ordinator. You know that (a) the mine is still filling with explosive gas and (b) there is a fire somewhere inside the mine, so (c) each hour there is a non-zero, increasing chance of a second explosion. Your decision is whether it’s prudent to send forty men into that environment for eight hours to possibly effect the rescue of ten men who may or may not be alive, with a total rescue time of around thirty hours for all twenty-nine miners, with the risk of a secondary explosion and a situation in which you now have seventy men trapped/dead, seventy grieving families and so on.

November 10, 2010

This rough magic I here abjure

Filed under: blogging,Politics — danylmc @ 3:18 pm

NZPA carries the story of National Minister Jonathan Coleman introducing legislation to the house with a ten minute long speech that actually described a different bill introduced three years ago. Normally I’d get a kick out of something like this – or the artlessness of Pete Hodgeson’s latest smear – but instead they just feed into my deepening depression about the mediocrity of New Zealand’s political class and the culture surrounding it, related to my wider despair at the state of the economy.

Someone once asked Jonathan Lynn – co-author of Yes Minister - why his show never dealt with events in the House of Commons. He replied:

there was not a single scene set in the House of Commons because government does not take place in the House of Commons. Some politics and much theatre takes place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see.

In our current situation we have a government that knows much about theatre and politics and almost nothing about government and an opposition that probably knows much about government, but in vain because they know nothing about politics or theatre.

Anyway, I’ve reached the point where it’s all too banal even to laugh at so I’m taking a break from blogging for an indeterminate period.

Update: Thanks for your emails, tweets, comments everyone. Your support is very humbling. Just a few points in reply.

1. No, I am not going to Mali.

2. It’s just a break but already feels pretty good so I expect it’ll be for at least a few months, barring some unforeseen sea change in national politics.

November 7, 2010

Curiously ommitted from the Ministry of Defense White Paper

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 4:07 pm

The SST informs us that MoD is hiring out the SAS for corporate entertainment gigs:

Star-Times inquiries revealed that staff from Auckland-based private equity company Direct Capital and several of its partner businesses were allowed into the Papakura Military Camp last month for a day of hands-on training that concluded with a cocktail party.

The bill was understood to be $35,000 – $500 a head for the 70 people instructed to meet at Auckland’s Botanical Gardens for a “conference”, but who were instead whisked out to SAS national headquarters.

At the camp, participants were put in a darkened room and SAS agents in night-vision equipment removed selected “terrorists” from the group without anyone hearing them do it. Participants were also given access to SAS firearms and allowed to shoot at human cut-outs.

Pretty good money for a day of indulging our corporate elite while they waddle around in their boat shoes playing with guns and pretending to be soldiers.

Also, clearly we need further cuts to the company tax rate so businesses like Direct Capital can grow the economy by investing their profits even more strategically than they are now.

November 6, 2010

One advantage of atheism

Filed under: personal — danylmc @ 1:39 pm

So God appeared to me in a dream last night and told me to go to Mali. No joke – this really happened, although I am now a little fuzzy on the details. I do remember that the dream was astonishingly vivid and I woke from it with a sense of flailing urgency. ‘I HAVE to get to Mali!’ It took me a while to get back to sleep.

This morning it occurred to me that if I were religious I’d have to take this dream pretty seriously. It was that powerful and God has a strong track record of transmitting instructions through dreams and visions and punishing his worshippers if they don’t jump when he tells them. So I’d have to consider going to Mali, which would be inconvenient on a whole lot of levels. I might wait for a second sign, but since I’m now sensitive to any references to Mali (none yet) I’d probably view a random mention of Mali – in the news, say, that I’d normally ignore – as a second sign. As an atheist I don’t have to sweat any of this, although I will keep my eye out for Mali and relay any more dream visions on the subject.

Tasered kitten footage of the day

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 10:04 am

[Youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsqfutlAzJs"]

November 5, 2010

Is it me?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:21 am

Or is Hilary’s visit way less interesting and significant than the nation’s news editors think it is? Reiteration that we are ‘very good friends’. Zero development on trade or defense issues. I’m not even sure why she’s here.

Yet again the dead hand of the state stifles the limitless innovation of the market

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 7:37 am

Sent in by a reader:

Pa. Debt Collector Will Shut Down ‘Courtroom’

ERIE, Pa. (AP) ― A northwestern Pennsylvania debt collector has agreed to cease collection tactics the state says included a sham courtroom where customers would be summoned.

Unicredit America Inc. agreed Tuesday to stop sending letters to consumers threatening them with arrest if they failed to respond. Erie County Judge Michael Dunlavey also ordered the mock courtroom torn down within 30 days.

The state attorney general’s office says Unicredit used people appearing to be sheriff’s deputies to deliver hearing notices to consumers and used fake court proceedings to get money from them. Authorities say a person dressed in black would preside from behind a raised bench at the front of the room.

The state has also filed a civil suit against Unicredit alleging unfair trade practices. That suit seeks civil penalties for hundreds of affected consumers.

 

November 4, 2010

Face of the day, get used to looking at it edition

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:12 pm

My wife Maggie is in the US covering the mid-term elections, she took this photo of Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio at his victory party last night. Rubio is a tea-party candidate and the son of Cuban exiles. You gotta figure he’ll be the vice-presidential nominee for the Republicans in 2012, unless he wins the nomination and runs for President.

Inerrant

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 2:05 pm

Scott at Imperator Fish has seen the light and transcribed the Revelations of Don Brash:

1. And when Mr Key had opened the report, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2. And I saw seven of his Cabinet members which stood before him; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3. And another cabinet member (Gerry) came and stood at Mr Key’s altar, having a golden crown (thanks to the Canterbury earthquake emergency legislation); and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it to the four ACT MPs who were desperate to let rip.
4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with Gerry’s prayers, ascended up before the debating chamber.
5 And Gerry took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it down onto the floor of Parliament: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake as the four ACT MPs let go all of the hot air within them.
6. And the seven ministers which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
7. The first minister sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and my report was cast upon the earth.
8 And the second minister sounded, and as it were my entire career was cast into the sea: and became nothing;
13.And I beheld, and heard a minster flying through the midst of Parliament, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the far right, we’d like to do all this but the public won’t let us!
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