Gavin Ellis – Retired 2005 as editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald

Dear Sir/Madam


It is hard to imagine what value Gavin Ellis adds to your operation. Perhaps I’m wrong and I would like to know if I am.

Having just heard him on Radio NZ National with Kathryn Ryan (about 11.45 am 16Sep2014) I am shocked at his stupidity and lack of a scientific outlook. I can’t imagine a role for him in a Science Media Centre.

He made one statement after another which was demonstrably false. Fortunately Kathryn Ryan pulled him up.

But the amazing thing to hear was how he then glibly contradicted himself, apparently now agreeing with Kathryn. Is there a role for this type of person in the Science Media Centre?

In particular, he insults my integrity by telling me – at the end of the day people always vote with their wallets. Again, clearly wrong and without evidence, apart from a discussion with his wife apparently.

Is it time to put Gavin out to pasture?

I’d be pleased to get your response.

Debating liars on the media – proposed rules of engagement

liar liar pants on fire

Let’s face it. The media rarely does a good job in mediating political debates. Many mediators can’t even stop the participants talking over the top of each other.

What annoys me are the obvious lies some politicians think they can foist on us.

The media rarely pulls them up on their lies. They think their job is to provide entertainment as this extraordinary revelation by Patrick Gower shows. He says he hasn’t time to find truth and his job is to be hard on both sides to show the drama.

So here’s a proposal.

Set the debate rules from the start and make sure you spend some time doing so. Tell your opponent and the mediator you will follow the three strikes rule. The first time you hear a lie you say “Strike one” and ask for time to show why it’s a lie. After three strikes, if no opportunity is given to correct the lie properly, you walk out, smiling very sweetly, saying:

Sorry, that’s three strikes. Gerry clearly shows no respect for the facts and you as a journalist haven’t allowed the facts to be properly discussed. I won’t be back on your show until you as a journalist check the facts on each strike and report your findings to your audience. Good bye.

Physios and physios – 5 point guide


There are physios and physios.

In my experience only one out of four has the slightest clue. Here is my 5 point guide.

1. Get a solid diagnosis from a competent DOCTOR first.

2. Look for a physio who knows ANATOMY incredibly well. A physio, rather than a physio, will know anatomy better than most GPs. How to check a physio’s anatomical knowledge: 1. ask about the names of the muscles he/she is focusing on and why. 2. ask them the name of the bone or where on the bone a muscle attaches. 3. ask what bursas you should be concerned about. 4. a physio will know the importance of human variation in anatomy, which is much more common than you think. Search your own issue and add “human variation” (glenoid “human variation”). It doesn’t take long to find out if your physio is a “little rusty” on anatomy and if they are, find a physio.

3. Look for a physio who says it’s up to YOU to retrain your posture and/or remould your muscles via a long term exercise program.  Plenty say this, but if they lack basic anatomical knowledge OR want to proceed without a solid diagnosis, make sure you exclude them straight away. And make sure you stick to the set of exercises they will give you.

4. BEWARE physios who want to massage you and “fix” you that way. Temporary relief is not what you need and inappropriate massage can be incredibly damaging. I know because one arsehole money grubbing physio failed to send me for proper diagnosis of what turned out to be a very badly ripped shoulder. It took me ten years, lots of pain and lots of recurrent injury on the badly healed and weakened rip to get proper treatment.

5. Avoid anyone whose methods aren’t evidence-based. ie avoid acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractors. The PLACEBO is an incredibly powerful and poorly understood thing and you may think the treatment works and your practitioner may believe it too, BUT what is probably happening is that your body is naturally healing itself despite your wasted money on anti-science quackery.

I’ve had more than the shoulder injury and can speak from lots of experience as runner and athlete.

Three things to say to Conservatives in local politics

animals person table meeting

Recently when speaking at local meetings (community forums, speaking to submissions, Residents Associations etc) I have begun to say that local politics is not democratic because it uses the First Past the Post system to count our votes. If we want democracy, I think we have to hammer this point again and again and again. I have also made the point that local politics is indeed political.

So now the conservatives have started to begin their speeches by saying local politics is not political and that they are here to consult and do as you ask. AND they say they are not tied to the platform of any political party. Cameron Brewer in particular launches full scale political attacks on anyone he doesn’t like and uses a whole barrage of pre-packaged lies, all the time expecting no one will demur.

So here’s how I’m planning to begin from now on:

1. “Kia ora everyone, you’ve just heard a conservative local politician, [name politician], say three things. 1. He/she is not tied to a political party 2. local politics is not political and 3. local politics shouldn’t be influenced by national parties. I suspect that you like me have some doubts about such claims. Especially after the whaleoil emails, we all know that the Citizens and Ratepayers Association has very intimate links with conservative parties in New Zealand.

2. I am proud to say honestly that of course local politics is political. And, I’m proud to say that the integrity and ideals of the Green Party do not change from one meeting to another. The Green Party will always work for the good of our communities whether it be at local or national levels.

3. And one more quick point before I speak to the issues. If you don’t want our rates to help poorer people in our area, please stop saying you want to live in a community which respects Christian values. The ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ mantra is simply untrue. We spend our rates on supporting local business. So it’s totally unfair so say we can’t support other community programs for people who need them. We all want the best for everyone in our communinity and I’m convinced we can work together to achieve it.

Three myths about New Zealand Democracy

myth reality

Myth 1. New Zealand has democracy

Myth 2. Local Politics is not party-political

Myth 3. New Zealanders can influence politics

Myth 1 – New Zealand has democracy

Yes we have MMP (Multi-Member Proportional).

But we don’t have proportional voting in our Electorate Seats, and without it we don’t have democracy. Instead we have a winner takes all system called First Past the Post (FPP). We know that politics is not a zero-sum game and that we only advance by listening to each other and working together. And we all know the rorts which means voters actually have to vote for candidates they DON’T want in order to exclude even worse candidates.

A simple short term solution (until we get proportional representation in Electorate Seats) is to count Electorate seat votes under a Preferential system. The voting would stay the same and the ballot paper wouldn’t have to change, but the counting system would be preferential – candidates would lodge their preferences with the Electoral Commission. For example. Candidate A would lodge a ticket saying “if we don’t get elected then our votes should be counted towards  Candidate B, C and D etc, in that order.” Here is how a preferential count works.

Myth 2 – Local Government is not party-political

Go to almost any neighbourhood organisation meeting or Local Board meeting and nine times out of ten the first speech by the rulers will begin by saying “It’s wonderful that national politics doesn’t intrude into our local government” or “We don’t want party politics here.” This is the myth propagated very very deliberately by the Citizens and Ratepayers group which is an arm of the National Party. The revelations from the

Guest Blogger Starling: Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Originally posted on Shapely Prose:

Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs.  She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins.

Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection…

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Waitangi Tribunal Report on Orakei (extract)

The full report is available here (pdf).

Paora Tuhaere canoe Taheretikitiki on the Waitemata Harbour in 1890

(pic: Paora Tuhaere canoe Taheretikitiki on the Waitemata Harbour in 1890)

This is from the summary:

The Maori people there were first to promote British settlement following the Treaty of Waitangi. They moved to protect the settlers from threatened attacks on the new town of Auckland and rallied support for the Crown when New Zealand was on the brink of civil warfare.

They led some of the earliest pan-tribal conferences that rank high in Maori history. They developed and through all adversity main­tained a policy of respect for law, order and due process.

Yet it was this group of Maori people who suffered at the hands of the Crown one of the worst cases of cultural genocide this country has known.

The story of Orakei gives sharp relief to the same problems that beset other people in other places and covers national policy from 1840 to the present day.

For Orakei is a microcosm of the country …

A history is available here.