Police AOS play with their toys in Napier shooting

First off the shooting in Napier was a tradegy, a policeman lost his life and I’m not about to criticise the way they dealt with the situation, only one other person died – the offender.

In the aftermath we are going to get the usual hand-wringing and silly miss-informed nonsense about guns and gun licencing and how things should be restricted and people shouldn’t be allowed to have guns. All this will ignore that Jan Molenaar wasn’t a licenced gun user so he would have done what he did regardless of how gun licences are managed.

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The AOS keeping a low profile. Note empty seat in front - why risk injury on the outside?

My contention is that in a way, the Police themselves (possibly deliberately) play into the hands of those who want to ban legal guns. Why? have a look at these photo’s from the NZ Herald. 

What do you see? Lots of guy’s running around dressed up in  more equipment than a Marine on patrol in Baghdad, festooned with semi automatic rifles. Add to that uniformed officers wandering around far from the scene of the siege with semiautomatic rifles slug over their shoulders.

The public have seen these particular guns before, every night on TV when they see something about Iraqi or Afghanistan. This gets everyone worried that the streets are descending into chaos with Police having to arm themselves to the teeth to keep us all safe. Talk-back has been buzzing with it.

I’m puzzled as to why a Policeman escorting a lady with shopping back to here house requires a semiautomatic rifle to perform this task? Were they worried Mr Molenaar was going to break out of the Police cordon and this officer was going to protect the lady with a Bushmaster? Surely if the aim was to protect the civilian then a bullet proof jacket would suffice? The officers patrolling the cordon – which was well back from the actual scene, did not require semi automatic rifles, was there an imminent threat of a gun fight with groups of spectators standing by? If there was, then surely the cordon should have been further back.

The other thing that is all a bit odd is why the AOS insist on riding around hanging onto the outside 4WD’s. Initially I thought it was a budgetary constraint, the AOS couldn’t afford many 4WD’s so some of the officers were forced to ride shot gun, but then I saw that in a number of photo’s there is clearly room on the inside of the vehicle. Why can’t they ride vehicles like everyone else? Surely OSH would require them to ride safely in a vehicle? There’s no immediate threat that is going to see them shooting from the running boards – if such a thing were possible, and in any case, this is very dangerous and what use is it to the public if an AOS officer is injured riding in such a silly way, especially when there is plenty of room inside the vehicle.  The more likely explanation is that these guys have been watching way to many movies.

All this rather dramatic display of weaponry, and in the case of riding outside the vehicle, stupidity, is hardly discrete, in fact it’s in-your-face high profile stuff. It’s also operationally unnecessary. Sure’ it might make for good TV and give the MSM the chance to go crazy/insane/crazed with over the top headlines, but it also gives people the incorrect impression that the Police require lots of guns to deal with a situation.

If you’re a law abiding gun owner you should worried about whether the licencing is going to be affected by events like this. It’s not just that some nutter has shot people using an illegal gun that’s the issue, it’s that the highly visible Police response reinforces the perception amongst a large portion of the population that there are criminals on every corner popping caps in peoples heads and that the Police need officers running around decked out with automatic rifles and ballaclavers to cope. Over time this can only suit those who want to take away your legal right to own a firearm for perfectly legitimate reasons.


Star Trek movie – if you like scifi, see it!

backgroundWent and saw the new Star Trek movie last night in a half empty cinema (and that was the opening night too).

I admit although I like scifi, I’ve never been a huge follower of Star Trek, more of a Star Wars fan I guess.

The movie is the best piece of scifi cinema to come along for a long time and I would recommend it. I’m not going to write an in depth review, too lazy and well, Russell at the Herald has done it already.

I went with some Trekkies and they thought it was great, and for someone like myself  who’s only taken a passing interest, it was fantastic, maybe I’ll be converted (from the dark side).

It’s very entertaining, fast moving with some good acting, great special effects which have been done seamlessly and not too many of them either unlike the last/first Star Wars movies. 

Go see it, you won’t be disappointed!

Oh, and a plug for Village cinema’s online service, it works well if you want to book your tickets before you get there.

Telecom hasn’t changed. Vodafone 3G vs Telecom XT

I got a bit of heat for my criticism of Telecom’s ‘new’ 3G service. I contend that while it does show a bit of an improvement on Vodafones (and I’m just as critical of them), it’s really a slightly improved service many years too late – and anyway, Vodafone is about to release it’s ‘new improved’ service so customers will gain little by shifting.

Like some others I had noticed problems with Vodafones service for a while, I had put it down to the fact that despite these services being hyped as fantastic, actually they are just OK – a bit like running Windows on a PC, there is a gap between the level of service promised, and the actual service. I’m an IT expect by any means, using a Mac simply because you don’t need to understand much about how it works. Sometimes you have a gut feeling something is shonky with an IT service or product, but proving it is time consuming and requires you to become an expert, life’s too short for most of us!

Now it transpires that despite Paul Renyolds contorted spin of the latest clash with Vodafone over 3G, in fact Telecom’s service has been stuffing up Vodafones. It appears in their haste to get the product to market before Vodafone, Telecom cut some corners with filters to stop interference with Vodafone’s network.

Mr Reynolds somewhat disingenuously says he only became aware of the problem in the last 48 hours. This really means one of two things, that Telecom is completely disorganised and someone forgot to tell Mr Reynolds exactly how they were going to beat Vodafone to the start line, by cutting corners, and this means that Mr Reynolds isn’t really in control of the company at all, it just stumbles along. On the other hand if we are to assume that Mr Reynold’s is getting paid a huge salary because of his management skills, we could then draw the conclusion that he has miss-spoke and did indeed know about the problems all along.

Whatever the case, it looks like once again Telecom is behaving in a very traditional way – arrogant.

I maintain that in fact the corporate culture hasn’t changed from the State Owned days. Shaking such an ingrained culture probably takes generations of management changes, and maybe sometimes it’s just impossible.

Whatever has gone on consumers can be sure of something. That despite all the spin and posturing from both companies, the service, when it arrives will not be as good as they make out. It will be an opportunity to milk customers of more money for something that promises much, but will under delivers. The service to back it up will be average to poor, with staff in call centers not knowing whats going on and you will have to wait for ages to speak to someone, and when you do, chances are they won’t be in NZ and won’t be much help. Like you currently do, you’ll feel frustrated, but in the end you’ll accept it because that’s how thing have been with Telecom for years, many many years.

Mac’s Ginger Beer & Green Apple… drinks are delicious!

green-apple-straightIn my (somewhat cynical) eye’s Mac’s can do no wrong. They have put out a string of very nice beer, they don’t feel the need to use preservatives and they’re advertising is clever.

Their latest products – non-alcoholic – are Ginger Beer and Green Apple.

The Ginger Beer is really like “your mother used to make it” in fact it’s a bit like the last batch of home brew stuff I made (except mine had alcohol in it – great for young nephews and nieces). It’s not as sweet and fizzy as Bundaburg Ginger Beer. It’s ‘clean’ and refreshing on ice with with a slice of lime. I also noticed that even left until the next day opened it was still fizzy so it must still have the natural yeast busy working away in it – so it is authentic.

The Green Apple drink is really nice too. Not sweet or cloying. It makes as great mixer – as winter suddenly arrived over the weekend and cool drinks are not required, but alcoholic ones are.

Try this…

  • Martini Glass (or similar)
  • Bottle of Mac’s Green Apple
  • Roses Lime Juice ‘concentrate’
  • Bacardi (or vodka if you don’t have white rum)
  • Some ice

Pour a couple of shots of rum into glass onto about three or four ice cubes, if it’s been a tough day, add a couple more.

A dash of lime, if you have fresh limes then use those.

The pour over the Mac’s Green Apple juice… ahhhhh! Knock that back and make another one.

I know what you’re thinking. The ice will dilute the drink, and yes it will. But unless you’re organised and have everything pre-chilled, then this is the only way to do it. Whatever you do, do not try mixing this all in a shaker (thus being able to strain out the ice), that is, unless you what to make a green apple fire extinguisher, and wiping it off the walls is a pain… a mate told me that could happen, I’d never be so stupid.

Next time your’e in the supermarket check these two latest Mac’s additions, well worth it!

Cheers.

NZ Defense review starts with whimper, Australia’s ends with bang

It’s interesting to see the contrasts between the New Zealand Defense review (which is underway) and the just completed Australian Defense White Paper released today.

Our defense review started on a somewhat underwhelming note. The most controversial issue being the idea of leasing land off private companies, an idea that appeals until you consider the practicalities and why you’d bother – it’s hardly going to save money in the long term if you already own the land. Mostly the talk was about cutting back, although there’s stuff all to actually cut back. There was no talk of possible threats, or the need to at least be seen by allies like the USA of taking of defense seriously.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

The Australian’s in typical robust style and going to spend more – and this is a Labour led Government. The Australian paper wasn’t shy about identifying China’s “unexplained military build-up” as a cause for concern in the Pacific. They also recognised the need to at least be able to offer a serious deterrent to possible adversaries, while acknowledging that they would still need to work with the USA.

The white paper offers an opportunity for New Zealand – we get a specific mention. Our review should consider how we can dovetail our defense planning more closely with Australia. They are planning to build a lot of the new capability in Australia. This could offer opportunities to purchase the same equipment, and surely there must be opportunities for business in New Zealand? 

Surely we need to be bolder than the piece meal approach we have historically had. There is every indication that this Government will take defense no more seriously than previous ones. If we aren’t going to be too concerned with it, why not just become a virtual wing of the Australian Defense Forces. Do the same things they are, but on a significantly smaller scale. Buy exactly the same equipment at the same time from the same suppliers, communication, guns, hardware, ships, tanks… exactly the same stuff. Rebuild our air strike force with a few F 35’s they are planning to buy (if we’re allowed) maybe we could lease some from Australia as part of a defense pact.

If we are looking at selling land and leasing it back, how about the same approach for everything else?

Why not approach the Australians on the basis that we will develop our own defense force, but almost as part of theirs. Contract training from them for planes, tanks, ships etc, on the same equipment which we will purchase – work with them on maintenance for equipment, some aircraft done here, some in Australia, same with boats. We could form a close defense pact that allows for our Independence, but with complete interoperability and identical equipment.

We should accept we are a small bit player, I’m sure everyone does already, and embrace it. We should aim to be able to completely seamlessly work with Australia. This gives us a narrow focus and something that allows politicians to focus on more interesting things. It could be adopted in a bipartisan fashion so it’s becomes a policy a bit like the Reserve Bank Act or (possibly) Kiwi Saver. It is just something the Defense Forces can get on with.

When it comes down to it, the majority of Australia’s concerns in the Defense paper are perfectly aligned to what ours should be. The concern about protecting our Pacific interests  should be the same. To simply adopt their review, taking into account our budget constraints, and sit down with them and align our equipment and logistics makes sense.

John Key has shown some vision and creativity in dealing with things since being elected. Maybe this is a chance to put our defense on a new path for the coming years. 

NZ Swine Flu response woefully inadequate

I’m sincerely hoping that the latest flu scare turns out to be not so bad, and that everyone with it gets well soon. So far the signs are that only people in Mexico have died from it, and hopefully the 14 (latest figure) people with it here are going to respond to treatment.

I sincerely hope that happens because our health services have responded with the professionalism and urgency that reminds me of the Gisborne Tsunami response from Civil Defense – who responded after the tsunami would have hit, because they were all in bed at the time, the tsunami warning coming outside business hours and thus being a bit inconvenient (why can’t these things happen to match our time scale?)

The whole point of having an emergency response plan is that when something looks like it might go wrong you get going, fast.

This kind of response from so-call health professionals scares the crap out of me, I quote:

Auckland Regional Public Health clinical leader Julia Peters defended the response time, saying health authorities could not act till they knew what they were dealing with.

“As soon as we got a provisional diagnosis we swung into action and began contacting people …”

She said test samples were not sent to a specialist lab in Melbourne before Monday because they required special preparation and packaging.

Put in plain English it seems to mean, we were slow off the mark because we didn’t think it was so important and or systems are chaotic and need work. That you would wait until you knew what you were dealing with and assume that would be a sensible approach is willfully negligent.

The virus isn’t sitting around waiting for a Melbourne test result, and it sure isn’t waiting for Julia and the Auckland District Health Board to figure out how dangerous it is, it’s busy spreading amongst the population.

It seems to me that when the WHO says it’s serious, you immediately isolate everyone you suspect of having it. You also don’t do the sort of isolation that ADHB did with one family where two members were confined to the house while the third occupant (wife) was allowed out and about. WTF was someone thinking with that idea? that’s not smart, it’s just plain stupid – even a five year old could work that one out.

As a result of ADHB reaction, or lack of reaction, the Health Minister says we are now just going to worry about dealing with it, rather than containing it – which is impossible now because the response was too slow.

The justifications for the response now really seem like convenient excuses, Dr Jacobs (Public Health Director) says;

“There is no indication it is any more or less contagious than any other form of influenza”

The problem with that statement is that at the time, the ADHB didn’t know that, they did know people were dieing of it in Mexico and therefore should have assumed it was going to kill people here. 

Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups and in this case the ADHB assumed a whole lot of things they shouldn’t have given the information on hand. It would be interesting to see the responses if in fact people had started to die. 

We shouldn’t be surprised, health professionals screw up quite often here and are never held to account, so their attitude is not surprising. If this does get out of hand, then those responsible for the terrible response should be prepared to resign. For too long we have been at the mercy of the somewhat arrogant attitude of some health professionals, they are playing with our lives and need to be held accountable for their actions. 

If we’re lucky, then things won’t be too bad, but what happens next time? The health services seem reluctant to admit mistakes, and slow to change their systems, usually people have to die – often frequently – before finally enough fuss is made and Health Professionals grudgingly ‘look at’ their systems and actions. In this situation there was a potential for hundreds of people to die, possibly thousands. Yet the response from those whom are responsible for decision making is as opaque as ever. The attitude with some in the health sector to take personal and collective responsibility is disgusting and needs to be changed quickly.

I’ll leave you with this from  stuff.co.nz… which is a terribly polite way of putting things…

Auckland doctor Jim McVeagh, who works at a private accident and medical clinic, said everyone should have been contacted immediately it became apparent passengers had symptoms of the deadly swine flu.

Dr McVeagh treated a patient on Monday from the same flight as the infected pupils. She had rung Health Line and been told to visit her doctor “one of the most spectacularly bad pieces of advice” he had heard.

“I am hoping this isn’t a big deal, because we’ve probably already missed the boat with containment. I think the Health Ministry has been a bit tardy, a bit relaxed.”

Paying ‘more’ for Water in Auckland

I see Rodney Hide with usual honesty and frankness, has said that water rates will go up for some people under the new ‘super city’.

The anti Watercare group and other who think water should be ‘free’ will be performing their usual tantrums.

Water, as in the stuff that falls out of the sky, is free of charge.

We have a water tank, we collect water from the roof, store it in a tank and use it. If we run out because there’s no rain, we have to buy it. No problem with that because someone has to truck it out to us. There’s also a cost to us for the infrastructure we own in tanks, pipes, pumps, and I guess, even the roof, plus maintenance involved. The water isn’t treated, we don’t bother and have never been sick (touch wood). I’ve never done an analysis on it, but I’d guess over the long term it works out cheaper than a reticulated system. Of course, if there’s a power cut, the pump won’t work so no water, also if a rat fell in the tank, then there’s a lot more fuss and cost involved.

no service is free!

no service is free!

It’s also worth noting that we are very very careful with our water usage, no bath only showers etc etc, this way we have only ever had one ‘externally’ provided tank fill in five years. I guess we treat the water supply with a lot of respect, it really is a precious commodity in February when it hasn’t rained properly for weeks!

As you can see there are costs involved in collecting water and using it. No different in Auckland city on a reticulated service. With this service you get treated drinking water, as much as you like, 24/7, you can water the garden with it, have 50 baths a day if you like, it will be there 99.99% of the time, it’s safe, clean and convenient – it’s on tap!

Hell, out of most service utilities I’d bet in Auckland it’s the most reliable, more so than electricity and much more so than telecommunications – both of which could be regarded as equally important.

So, that people get upset about paying for what is an excellent, world class service, which is taken for granted, puzzles me. It’s not cheap to achieve, and like anything there is a cost that has to be recovered somewhere, which brings me to the next point.

In an increasing number of countries, water is now a scarce commodity. It’s so scarce that they buy it in by the super tanker load from other countries, or ration it’s use. This of course means that the cost, or if you like, price, of water is increasing as a commodity internationally. It’s not just that the infrastructure to collect, treat and get the water to your tap is expensive, it’s just that there is only so much water to go around and the demand in some countries, outstrips the supply. It’s predicted that wars could be fought over water in the future, and in fact it could be argued that in the Middle East and Africa, they already are.

So next time you have a gripe about your water bill, consider that the service in Auckland is among the best in the world, and it’s cheap for something you only think about when you get the bill. If you don’t want to pay for it, use less or get a water tank to supplement supply – but you may find the costs outweigh the benefits which again makes your service look pretty cost effective.

Remember, you’re not paying for the water, you’re paying for the service of collecting it and getting it to your tap, the water itself is still ‘free’.