Read it and weep. Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’


Nicky Hager‘s important new book Dirty Politics – How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment is out (and quickly ‘sold out’ in some places).

The information in Nicky Hager’s book exposes — and for some of us, confirms — our worst fears about the grubby activities being undertaken by nasty, dishonest people to manipulate politics in this country.

Honestly, it is disgusting to read what they’ve been doing, and how they talk about it among themselves. That’s strong language, I know, but read the book and consider these matters for yourself. Hager has made the Preface of his book available here at

I’ve just finished carefully reading it. Work obligations aside, I’d decided I wouldn’t comment on the book here at until I had read it all (including the detailed endnotes) partly to avoid fulfilling this:


Besides frequent feelings of disgust and outrage about how dishonest, devious, cynical and downright nasty some of the players in this dirty game have been, I have come away from reading Dirty Politics feeling glad that I’ve opposed them and been a thorn in their side — even if in only a small way.

Regular or occasional readers of The Paepae will know that for years I’ve tried to shine a light on some of the dark arts operators exposed in Hager’s book. I’ve criticised their actions, their deceit, their twisted ‘logic’, ‘morality’ and double standards. I’ve highlighted their abusive, fixated, relentless bullying and smears. And, as it turns out, I had fingered their hidden commercial PR, political propaganda activities and agenda.

Balack-ops-300wA number of the characters exposed in Hager’s book have been the subject of scrutiny here …

… as I’ve discussed their propagandising and smear campaigns.
Looking back, I knew they were ‘dirty’ and I’m bloody glad I repeatedly hassled them for their deceit and manipulation.

Jason Ede, cast in the book as the PM’s ‘black ops’ staffer, almost doesn’t feature at all here on The Paepae. Just one mention: Deceitful “PR blog” questions worth considering. That says a lot about the spin doctor’s determination to keep his actions on behalf of his masters hidden, below the radar. (Well, until now.)
Wayne Eagleson, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, features only on the periphery. I mentioned him around media management (vomit) at the ill-fated Urban cafe ‘cup of tea’ stunt with John Banks, and in relation to spying on Fairfax’s Andrea Vance around the Kitteridge report leak. I’ve always liked Wayne, since he was Rob Eady’s offsider in Jim Bolger’s office.
Sarah Boyle doesn’t appear here. Maybe she should. Continue reading →

Nice ‘Fancy’ spoof — ‘Ponsonby’

from 2014 Auckland Law Revue featuring Miriam Moore.

Robin Williams RIP



What can one say about Robin Williams that hasn’t been said in the last 24 hours?

I loved him, what I knew of him from his work.

His brittle, manic side seemed always near the surface — but so too, even nearer and unmistakable, was his sensitive, heart-warming, generous, warm and encouraging side.

Robin Williams inspired me.
Farewell. Rest in peace.

- P

‘Scarecrow’ by Alex and Sierra

Boy, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what this heart-warming couple comes up with …

Very nice.

- P

Acoustic version here, which I actually prefer.

The escape of exnzpat, Part 23

The Precipice

I know much about my cell, too much, in fact.  In my more lucid moments there, I explored every inch of it, looking for ways and things I might use to kill myself with and, just because I live now, it does not mean to say I found nothing. Continue reading →

Quinn Norton talking sense about ‘surveillance’

An important message and perspective delivered in an entertaining way. Good on her.

Quinn Norton – When You Are the Adversary

(52 mins) If your name isn’t Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras, or Glenn Greenwald, chances are that while the NSA may be a rights-violating threat to all, it’s not your actual, day-to-day adversary. Real world adversaries tend to be spouses, parents, bosses, school administrators, random drive-by malware, and maybe local law enforcement. While federal threats create a terrible security culture, they aren’t stepping into the lives of most people. And while obsessing over various intelligence agencies and trying to build tools against them makes you feel like a badass, it doesn’t help most people. Fixing Flash and building easy to use communication tools does change the lives of countless people. This talk will focus on the infosec needs of the 99 percent – who aren’t geeks. This talk will touch upon the value of bad crypto when it lets someone escape an abusive spouse, and the common situations where tools that let people sidestep the requirements of their IT departments make the world a better place. Yes, the big bad guys still matter, but fighting a billion little bad guys probably matters more. — from HOPE X

More videos here

Obviously the start of a ‘We [fill-in-the-space]ed some folks’ meme

How the admission was covered at Mashable (click)

How the admission was covered at Mashable (click)

During an otherwise sleepy news conference about immigration and the economy, the president answered a question about the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes the CIA’s treatment of detainees after 9/11. “We did some things that were wrong,” Obama said. “We tortured some folks. We crossed the line and that needs to be understood.”
Obama said he believed the mistreatment happened because national security officials felt pressure to forestall another attack. He said Americans should not be too “sanctimonious” about passing judgment through the lens of a seemingly safer present day.

How long before we hear: “We spied on some folks” ?

Laid-back Tennis Court – Lorde (Diplo’s Andre Agassi Remix)

Look Up: a poem to make you think about ‘social’ media

‘Look Up’ is a lesson taught to us through a love story, in a world where we continue to find ways to make it easier for us to connect with one another, but always results in us spending more time alone. — Written, Performed & Directed by Gary Turk.

Nice work. Think about it.

- P

Orwell on writing, sincerity and simplicity

Wonderful advice — especially in election season, when dealing with politicians and partisan nut jobs.

from Advice to Writers (click)

from Advice to Writers (click)

- P

Update: thinking about this reminded me of this just fabulous cartoon:

A writer? she gasped

Lovely work from ProPublica: The NSA Revelations All in One Chart

Click to visit the DYNAMIC chart at

Click to visit the DYNAMIC chart at (or right-click to enlarge)

The NSA Revelations All in One Chart —

An (extra) step in the right direction: Apple extending two-factor authentication to log-in

A while back, I enabled two-factor authentication to a number of my accounts following Mat Honan’s terrible hacking story.*

This morning I noticed that, without any fanfare, Apple has extended that preference to the website portal …


… so that to log in to iCloud, I need to have one of my ‘trusted devices’. (Well, given the Snowden/NSA revelations, ‘trusted device’ is a relative term now, surely?)


Apple sends a four-digit verification code which is entered and voila!


Anyway, that’s a good step.

I highly recommend you enable two-factor authentication on your key accounts. It’s a small inconvenience with a huge potential pay-off in terms of security.

- P

* See Learning from Mat Honan’s disaster (Apple & me)

The evolution of news media pinching pics off social media

I noted this photo credit: “Photo / Supplied by Facebook” in the NZ Herald‘s front page story today.


Really? Facebook ‘supplied’ the photo? More likely the NZ Herald TOOK it, don’t you think?

Whatever. I’m not that critical, and, in this case, it’s probably fine with the ‘subject’ … but what do you think?:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Is it OK for news media to take and re-publish items from someone’s Facebook profile? (And in this case, it was huge on the front page! – see right)

What if they wanted to illustrate a story about a crime? Or a tragedy? That’s been done, certainly — with or without permission.

Not a new question — but I was struck by the oddly-worded credit: ‘Supplied by Facebook’ 

- P


Umm, before you download that PDF from the NSA’s website …


I skim-read, and was just about to download the Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities from a web page run by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, when I remembered spotting this:

[McAfeee] attributed the trend to Adobe’s greater popularity in mobile devices and non-Microsoft environments, coupled with the ongoing widespread use of PDF document files to convey malware.

Remember? Beware the ubiquitous PDF? Really?

Now I’m not paranoid … am I?

- P

“Like a girl” – a brilliant, blistering piece of PR. Watch.

So restrained, so understated, so brilliant.

Good on them ( for doing this.