Refusing to step on the slippery slope …

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s speech about the city NOT outlawing a mosque near ‘ground zero’ World Trade Center is being hailed as one of his finest hours.
New YorkDaily News:

He’s usually a technocrat, and often comes across that way, but today’s speech was a stirring declaration of principle.

Key passage, quoted around the world:

Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.

“This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favor one over another. The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

“For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right.

Putting my (uninvolved) discomfort at the dichotomy aside, I think he’s right about that.

It’s not how others act, it’s how WE act that matters.

Read the whole speech here at

Starting them young

By coincidence I came across this badge given to my 9 year old son for attending the Anzac Day service earlier this year with his Cub pack.

Given our recent thoughts about the intertwining of religion, war, the military, it’s interesting that this should come to the surface now.

I’ve got to say: It puts me in mind of McDonalds and their “Happy meals” … same psychology, do you think? (Again, I’m not knocking it — just observing and reflecting upon.)

On cycles — Joseph Amato

Also spotted in the Howick Library today, in the prelims of a lovely book on writing  A Broom of One’s Own by Nancy Peacock …

That line, “… the small into the big and the big back into the small …” Nice. – P

Picked up in the Howick Library … Crimestoppers

This eye-catching card, um, caught my eye at the Howick Public Library this afternoon. It reminded me of my post: Why speak up? — in part because it assumes a public duty to report crime, or at least share information about it … and recognises there’s a ‘risk’ in standing up.

It only makes me appreciate even more the courage of whistle-blowers and those who speak up about wrongdoing rather than keeping their heads down and leaving it to others. Yeah. Kia kaha. – P

That’s not a bad camera on your phone, buddy…

Photographer Pete Belanger used an iPhone 4 to take his cover shot of … an iPhone 4.

A bit of a testimony to the improved camera, huh? image: Pete Belanger (click)

Read all about it at his blog.

There’s a photojournalism maxim: ‘Q: What’s the best camera? A: The one you have with you.’

With one of these in your pocket, well, not bad…

Thanks to John Gruber (again).

OK. I’ve heard of selling your grandmother …

Oh boy! The first ever ‘All-Conservative Email Service Provider’!


Don’t miss out! [snort]

image: (click) Click (more..) to watch video

Send Michael Reagan $35, get a e-mail address!

by ALEX PAREENE 30 Jul 2010

For the low, low price of $35 a year, you can trade in your tired old “free” Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail e-mail address for the privilege of enriching the man Ronald Reagan and his hated first wife adopted in 1945 and promptly forgot about. That’s right: Michael Reagan is selling “” e-mail addresses. Offer ends tomorrow!

(You can still buy an e-mail address after tomorrow, but it will cost you $40.)

Read on at and watch the Video (hosted on ‘The Conservative Alternative to YouTube’ — no kidding!)  below the fold. Continue reading →

“God is on OUR side…”

Here’s what that got me thinking … some new posters for some classic movies including this:

"They'll never be caught. They're on a mission from God." Hmmm. Image: Olly Moss (click)

During the first and second World Wars, both (all) sides told themselves they had God on their side. The Armed Forces had padrés and priests in place, performing their pastoral duties and administering their religious services and last rites etc.

In many countries after the wars, including ours, War Memorials of all shapes and sizes were erected to mark the catastrophic loss of life inflicted by the fighting. (And rightly so.) Continue reading →


Hey, I like Google’s new image results page… ‘endless’ images like Bing.

Here’s a snapshot of‘s result today — although they’re not all actually from* (click to enlarge):
Google search result for August2010

It provides a nice retrospective, doesn’t it? – P

(* Most are. I don’t know how they select which images to display. There must be a link somehow, I guess. And knowing Google — but I’m not claiming to be an expert! — a ‘most viewed’ algorithm is bound to be part of it.)

‘Wretch of the week’ — that’s a nice phrase

I enjoyed satirist Steve Braunias talking with Radio NZ’s Jim Mora on his Eight months to Mars slot this week.

As part of it, Steve described his own ‘The Secret Diary of …’ column in the Sunday Star Times as ‘Wretch of the Week’ and disclosed that in getting the voice of the subject right he sometimes comes to ‘despise‘ them. (about 22 mins in the audio below)

I know just what he means.  — from a profile by Tom Fitzsimons (click)

Sometimes flipping through the semi-literate, self-serving pap that some of those I describe here write and publish at great length on the internet in their unceasing hunt for fresh victims, I feel my bile rising.

The hypocrisy, the naked lies misstatements, the convoluted over-promising marketing bullshit they assiduously pump out to part the naive and gullible from their cash — it leads me to the same conclusion as it does Steve Braunias. Yeah. I see them as contemptible.

Wretches? I can think of better words. (Or worse.)

Here’s the Steve Braunias interview with Jim Mora courtesy of Radio NZ National.
Worth listening to.

Not a bad ‘hands-on’ review of the iPhone 4

image: (click)

New iPhone 4 – the verdict is in

By Stephen Fenech, National Technology Writer The Daily Telegraph (AUSTRALIA) July 30, 2010

WE’VE heard a lot about the iPhone 4 ahead of its launch in Australia today – and not all of it has been good.

I knew it would be impossible to review Apple’s new iPhone 4 without first discussing the antenna “issue”.

Before I received the iPhone 4 I’d already heard the reports of the “death grip”.

Users holding the bottom left corner of the stainless steel band, which holds the front and back glass panels together and also act as the antenna, could reduce the number of signal bars in weak reception areas.

I’ve been using the iPhone 4 for nearly a week to make calls, send and receive emails and surf the web from various places around the city and suburbs.

Is the antenna an issue? No it’s not. Have I dropped calls? No, I have not.

Have I noticed an impact on the device’s performance? No.

Read on…

OK, some might say he overuses the word ‘impressive’ (twice) … still, he’s got one in his hands, so, fair comment?

Oh, and sing it with Jono: “If you don’t want an iPhone 4 …

The escape of exnzpat, Part 2

Conversation with an Angel

“Lincoln?” I asked again.

A sharp bark reverberated through me.

“It is you!  It’s really you; but how?” I called out delightedly.

And then…  Something more: Lincoln was not alone! Continue reading →

Pattern recognition

An ADHD friend of mine, a medical doctor from New York, once described medical diagnosis as ‘pattern recognition’.

That’s why, he said, a competently written computer-based questionnaire can actually be more effective at diagnosing medical conditions than a human being: because the computer will ask ALL the relevant questions, not skipping some that don’t seem appropriate, or being disarmed by ‘appearances’ or noble-sounding ‘assurances’ presented by the patient … as some human doctors will do.

A computer will follow the questions and answers where they lead … whereas a human will sometimes think, ‘No, that’s not likely…’ and perhaps miss a clue. A computer will ask the embarrassing questions about, say, sexual partners, alcohol consumption or needle use.

Paying attention

I mention this because, although I (deliberately) don’t make a fuss about it here, I’ve run a training company since 1991 and been involved in many seminars teaching aspects of investment, business and personal development before then and since. (None of them have involved selling property or investments to ‘students’.) As such, I’ve paid attention to what’s offered in the investment education ‘marketplace’ and seen various operators over the years posing as ‘educators’ to pitch their snake oil.

I talked elsewhere about working with one of my authors, Olly Newland, in uncovering the Blue Chip scam, and how he and I and another colleague collated evidence and material which Olly then laid before the Minister of Commerce, various Members of Parliament, the Commerce Commission, the Serious Fraud Office, the Police, and the news media in an effort to hold the Blue Chip operators accountable.

It’s a matter of public record that when his direct negotiation with Blue Chip broke down, Olly’s public agitation and his formal complaint kicked off the Commerce Commission and SFO investigations. The wad of Statutory Demands he and I personally served on the Blue Chip companies on behalf of BC victims were met a few days later with a raft of company liquidations. Bastards. It’s been frustrating to see how slow and seemingly ineffectual the authorities have been in that situation.

Anyway, back to pattern recognition: Over the years, I’ve observed various wide boys, liars, salesmen and spruikers preying on the innocent — sometimes posing as ‘investment educators’ etc. At times, for the reasons I explained  yesterday in ‘Why Speak Up?‘, I’ve tried to oppose them and sound warnings about them. I even sued one whom I regarded as particularly pernicious.

Here, from my files, is one of the FIRST I ever spoke up about: Investors International. These guys were so smooth they even sucked then ACT MP Rodney Hide into being a speaker at one of their seminars in Fiji. Window dressing.

I warned people at the time, even contacting some involved in the pyramid scheme-style selling of the seminars, telling them straight that Investors International looked very dodgy and they should avoid them. Eventually I was proved right, with Investors International boss Rudy van Lin even jailed for fraud in the US. But only after sucking a LOT of money out of Aussies and NZers with their claims of ‘quick and easy massive riches’. (Are you seeing a pattern yet?)

I warned about this 'financial education scheme' that turned out to be fraudulent. (click to enlarge)

Continue reading →

Talk about product placement!

Funny, I’ve got one of those MacBook Pro laptops like the one President Obama used to demo the new website … but mine doesn’t have the Presidential seal plastered over the Apple logo.

OK, I know I'm a geek, but why cover the logo? (WhiteHouse via - click)

Jeez, those of us using Macs used to be ‘oddballs’, ‘outlaws’ and renegades (‘the elite’ I always used to say, which infuriated some of my ‘but I can build it so much cheaper using PC bits’ friends).

Oh boy, times sure have changed. Now even my best friend from my Radio Tech days is using a MBPro (running Windows, he assures me), is on his third iPhone, and just posted on my Facebook wall this morning that he wanted to buy an iPad duty free but they were out of stock.

My, my. Now we’re mainstream.

I remember Tom Clancy (yup, the writer) advising:

Never ask what sort of computer a guy drives. If he’s a Mac user, he’ll tell you.
If not, why embarrass him?



Kiwi super hacker wows Vegas

By Alice Neville | NZ Herald Thursday Jul 29, 2010

Kiwi Barnaby Jack wowed an American crowd this week by making cash spew out of an ATM machine like magic.

But although he was in Las Vegas, Mr Jack is no magician – he’s a super hacker. …

A key quote:

If it sounds like a criminal mastermind’s dream, it is. But Mr Jack is using his knowledge for good, not evil.

Yes, that’s the test, isn’t it?:
With what aim are we using our time, attention and energy? Huh?

Click to see a video of John Campbell's TV3 Campbell Live interview with Barnaby Jack.

And here’s a link to a video of John Campbell’s TV3 Campbell Live interview with Barnaby Jack.

Why speak up?

Recent events have seen me revisiting a theme (or meme?) of this blog — and central to my own thinking:

WHY SHOULD one speak up about perceived wrongdoing?

Adapted from Neil Roberts' slogan, Wanganui Nov 1982

Let me start by saying this: Life is complicated.

Sometimes people and things can appear to be one thing on the surface but as you look closer, you begin you notice cracks in the façade or artifice. You may detect inconsistencies in the narrative, or note a dichotomy between a person’s words and deeds, or be subject to broken agreements … even being strung along with excuses for non-performance.

You may start to experience a feeling of dissonance.

Later, you might even reach a point of seeing the person or situation as 100% the opposite of your original impression. It’s happened to me. When it does, the chain of events leads one to reach certain conclusions.

But back to the question, Why speak up? Why not just quietly go about your business, live and let live, look the other way and let the chips fall where they may? Why open yourself up for criticism as um, well … a critic? Why do it?

I’ve discussed part of it before: I’m sick of seeing the effect on the victims of certain types of ‘sales’ operations. It’s tragic in some cases … and just downright wrong in others.

I also personally think that the decision to remain SILENT in the face of what you perceive as wrongdoing is a perverse mistake and causes a ‘social harm’. (I’m not going to use the word ‘sin’ because it’s loaded with baggage, but, hey, if it fits for you… ) I’ve expanded on this aspect in another discussion prompted by a claim that ‘God told me to cover sin’ … on my way to drawing conclusions.

There’s another very important reason why I think people who SEE what’s going on have a duty to blow the whistle. It’s this: Continue reading →