Lyndon Hood - correctorer, Wellington

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Viz earlier post about Nat DNA testing:

Using Scoop's new souped-up archive search I found this:

6. We’ll make it easier for police to catch and prosecute criminals by giving them the power to take DNA from every person arrested for an imprisonable offence.

We will pass this law as a matter of priority and work with police to provide the resources needed to ensure that, by the end of our first term at the latest, this is the practice of every police district in the country. As is the case with fingerprints and photographs, we will require DNA records to be destroyed where charges are dropped or where suspects are found not guilty.
So while it does still seem inexplicably extreme to me (why not just wait for convictions), that does preclude the particular evilness I was concerned about.

*breathes out*

Now we can move on to the merely daft and counterproductive aspect of their justice policy.

[Update: It struck me that it's still likely to encourage the cops to charge people just to get the DNA. But I'll try to wait and see.]

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Lyndon Hood - self-referencer, Wellington

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

W/r/t the whole parade thing, after some recovery:

Looking through my notes and doodles, I found a parade participant I mean to do and didn't. Something for the RMA, an ostensible watchdog, but with perhaps two legs.

So not a million miles away from this:

As a sometime amateur actor, I eventually learned to take compliments. If not gracefully, then without becoming vaguely disgruntled. Part of the problem is that from the inside it's hard to tell exactly what people are complimenting.

So I'm pleased about all the positive feedback on the parade thing, some of which was in real life. Thank you.

Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to work out how to deal with the 'your best yet' thing, because that's like, y'know, pressure...

Apparently one lesson is I should always include leeks. To use the parlance, it sounds like I owe a few people a new keyboard.

As it happens, I would have been hugely disgruntled if I didn't get some love for that one (I actually said as much out loud as I was near finishing). I'm aware - or at least I hope this is what it is - I've reach the point where I'm sufficiently established that I need to do something particularly good (or timely, or impressive) to get feedback. On the bright side, that means the average excitement of getting praise remains about constant.

(Also basically why I turned on comments on this blog.)

The reason I wanted linky love for this one in particular was it was an awful lot of work. Possibly not as masterworks go, but still enough to draw polite implications from workmates that perhaps I should be doing something else during a busy week.

I had it mostly mapped out before the election (I reasoned it would be at least as piquant if team Key didn't win), actually started election afternoon and kept working, very much on and off, until the Monday week follow, when it was fortunately relevant (like many others I was taken aback at how quickly the whole government-forming thing went).

Hopefully the difficulty doesn't show too much. In David Low's autobiography he says that at one time he would spend three days on a cartoon: two days of effort and one removing the appearance of effort (I suspect he was drawing more lines than he did later in his career). Not actually drawing stuff no doubt helps me with the appearance-of-work thing. That said I am doing more of drawing - and I think my general work has improved - since I got my graphics tablet.

This might also be a good time to talk about my relationship with copyright, but - for all that predictions in blogging are perilous - I'll save that for later. Hopefully you'll hear more about David Low before the summer is out too.


A Victory Parade For John Key

Monday, November 17, 2008


"It's The Allegory, Stupid"

-- Competition: Spot All The Hidden Agendas* And Win A Prize** --

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With numbers
Without numbers

hole, floating cow, john key, bill english
Click to enlarge


(1) A patched up, exapanded Economy propels New Zealand along the road to success, only saddled with a bigger, better national debt. High inflation is no longer considered an issue, so they're pumping it up as hard as they can.

Six months ago there was a plan to use this as a cash cow, but it turned out to be bull. And, though they are building infrastructure urgently, there is still a big hole ahead.

(In the hole, the artist has cunningly depicted the optical fibre in the form of a Lamp, to remind the initiated of the Torch of Freedom.)

"Onward," cries the Driver, "and don't spare the emmissions! Let's grow our cake, and eat it too!"

(2) The Victor leads the parade. He is portrayed here with Eyes, to indicate that he has a Vision For New Zealand.

Holding his master's Laurels is the traditional Slave, to whisper to him as they go among the worshipful masses: "You, too, are mortal."

rodney hide, peter dunne, lockwood smith, maurice wiliamson
Click to enlarge

(3) The Champion, in his new Winston-Skin Cloak, ready to recieve his reward. Behind him, a carefully-quarantined Roger Douglas.

(4) This lonely Rooster follows the Leader now, finally lured away from his earlier position sitting on the fence. Grand though his plumage is, he wasn't able to bring any friends along on his tail.

(5) It's the Dead-Fish Swallower with some other Baggage From The 90s! How the crowd laughs at their ideological contortions!

leeks, shadowy backers, maori party
Click to enlarge

(6) A series of unexplained Leeks.

(7) These Shadowy Corporate Backers might be pleased, but who can tell? Hopefully, they'll be more transparent next time, but don't bet on it.

(8) The Third Cab Off The Rank, about to test the wisdom of hitching their wagon to a Ministerial Post.

So far in the Parade, our New Leader has rather more votes than he needs. Who says he doesn't believe in Big Governments?

boack pockets, boot camps, immigrating kiwis, crime policy, education
Click to enlarge

(9) Look! Now there are more blocks of cheese in the Back Pockets of Hard-Worker New Zealanders. And Camp Boots. That's what they are. Not boot camps. Nothing like boot camps.

(10) Kiwis flocking to return from Australia. Welcome home! Thank goodness for tax cuts!

(11) It's Crime-O, mascot of the private prison industry! Crime-O's new, harsher formula: no promises about cleaning up your streets but, boy, is it harsh. Crime-O: now also more expensive.

(Crime-O is a division of the Halliburton Corporation.)

(12) The credible, affordable and practical Solution to one in five children failing at school.

Five-Headed Left Wing Monster, kiwisaver, discussion documents, tolls, tax cuts
Click to enlarge

(13) The terrifying Five-Headed Left Wing Monster. Slain by a magical Four-Handed Sword.

(14) This Kiwisaver Retirement Saving Scheme has been gutted. Look how much money was inside! How many lollies could you buy with that?

(15) The Discussion-Document-White-Paper-Line-By-Line-Review-And-Committee-Report Bearer. Awww.

(16) Ask not for whom The Toll is tolled; because even if the incoming Minister answers you the incoming Prime Minister will probably overrule him immediately, and you'll end up none the wiser.

(17) A Tax Cut Dispensing Machine. Compared to the troubles being forecast, the tax cut may be small change, but that's good. Becuase it's time for a change, as we all apparently agree.

dead hand, public service, razor gang, helen clark, michael cullen
Click to enlarge

(18) The Dead Hand Of The State.

(19) An In-Control Public Service, capped and with emergency arrangements to control waste.

(20) We'll be cracking down on every kind of gang except the Razor Gang: he hasn't been called on yet - in so many words - but he knows he'll be wanted. Slashing or slow bleeding, he promises you won't feel a thing. He doesn't mind if it's a haircut or an amputation - either way, that's "less" bureaucrats.

"Here's and idea," he says, "If we can't sell off state assets, what say we privatise the government?"

(21) The Prime Minister De-Elect, accompanied by her Sidekick who you will note has Two Long Ears (if I heard the story right, he did have Nine Long Ears, but wasted them). She is walking before her entourage can fight about who gets to roll her.


* Of course you can't find them. They're hidden.

** For prize, apply to Mike Williams. Time limit may have expired.

*** See what I did there?


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Lyndon Hood - corrector, Lower Hutt

Monday, November 03, 2008

[Update 26/11/08: Is not actually that bad]

DNA First, Questions Later

If there's one thing that actually give me a warm feeling to know I'm not voting for National, it's in their law and order policies.

A National government will as a matter of "as a matter of priority", add DNA samples from everyone charged with an imprisonable offense to the police database.

Charged. Plenty of these people will be found not guilty. Plenty of them are not guilty. In some cases, there won't even have been a crime. And in every case, they have to be treated by the law as innocent until proven guilty or we may as well give up the whole 'justice' thing now.

National intends to force innocent people to give a DNA sample, and then to keep that in their database forever.

I actually put it in a headline on the Scoop front page: "National Will Begin DNA-Testing Innocent People As Soon As Possible". We have a tendency to be flippant, but we do also try for accuracy. So I hope people realise it's not a joke.

Look on the bright side: at least they're not raiding everyone's medical samples.

Anyway - firstly: It is wrong.

Secondly: It is wrong.

Thirdly: It makes me wonder how someone could suggest it in the first place.

Talking to Nine to Noon, John Key mentioned his faith in his own judgment. That no doubt served him will in foreign exchange (where I get the impression you have to be decisive and mostly right) and overall seems to be doing quite well now. But I think in running a country you're only as good as your worst mistake.

I mention this because I'm reminded of the not-exactly boot camps: Involuntary programmes for off-the-rails kids based on an arbitrary combination of voluntary programmes for at-risk or not-at-risk kids. I've twice heard John Key call this his scheme - like he made it up and just expects it to work. People practising in the area hate it, mostly because they don't think it will.

In a similar case, Dim found the parole policy ill-advised. Or rather, igonore-advised.

Come to think of it, Don Brash demonstrably made up his own policy at least once; but he was worse at keeping his spokepeople - the one's whose job it is to actually understand the portfolio - in line when he did.

Don Brash also produced (and then finance spokesman John Key defended) a budget where the numbers for corrections seemed rather too small. In the apparent absence of an actual shadow budget this year, I have an issue with the parole policy costing - they estimate 512 extra prisoners and one more prison. Lord knows that's not every cost, but I'm thinking of one particular trap for new players.

While it's normal to project forwards to the third year, in the case of the three-strikes-and-no-parole scheme this approach is useless. Hardly anyone would be serving that extra time by the third year. By, say, the tenth, it will be much, much bigger and it will presumably continue to increase until their lifetime prisoners start dying.

I digress.

Perhaps the impression of personal interference is just the price Key pays for fronting a crime plan full of random hard lines. But to me it all makes it look like he's not as clever as he thinks he is.

And that an honest opponent of nanny state has more to fear than they might think from a change of government.


I note the ACT TV ad, apparently courting the 'people who hate the Greens' vote.

I wasn't looking at the TV on Saturday night, so I missed that they had actually just ripped off the Greens' image. I have professional reasons for agreeing with Mr Price that this sort of thing should be allowed (though sometimes decried). OTOH as things stand it is flouting the law. And it's amusing to see ACT abuse some's property rights, even though "intellectual property" isn't a very sensible phrase.

And I can't take Rodney Hide's environmental position very seriously. Mostly because, in terms of what actually comes up in Parliament, his solution to every environmental problem is to do nothing.

But what struck me, as a marketing thing, was the bit that encouraged people to be a real green, not a "watermelon green".

Why put that in an ad?

I mean, if you want to sound like you have nothing better to do than attack other parties and are maybe a little psycho, sure.

But my point is, how big can the target audience for that phrase be? Surely everyone who understands it ('Green on the oudside, red in the middle! Ha! Take that!') already knows who they want to vote for.

Elsewhere Elswhere

Just a theory on Labour's me-tooism on special welfare for fired people.

It's not that having the same plan as another part is really unusual. For example, I half expect National to complain that Labour has stolen its policy-stealing policy. And I suspect parties who aren't leading the government tend to call for thing as early as possible, and then by the time the actual policy work is done and government can announce it, they can claim it was their idea.

But what I'm thinking of is the "we've been developing this for ages" thing (rather than the "we promise not to announce new spending" thing). One time before when this happened National got the relevant cabinet papers and found that, yes, there had been work done one this, and cabinet had turned it down. The implication being, it suddenly became a good idea when the opposition announced it.

After nine years I imagine they must have, in that sense, been working on just about every policy position there is.

Personally, while I can sort of see the extra hardship in being fired as opposed to not having a job in the first place, I can't help thinking it would be simpler if we just had a proper unemployment benefit.

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Lyndon Hood - extractor of the quintessence

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I've mentioned elsewhere that I've been reading Rabelais' Garganua and Pantagreul (Project Gutenburg has a version with Doré illustrations - as above). I've got to the third book and I worry that, having been outed from under his pseudonym, M. Rabelais has gotten duller and preachier; either way I'm not currently in the mood so rather than read it, I'll write about it.

Rabelais seems to have been in it for his own entertainment and, bodily functions aside (though bodily functions do feature hugely), the thing that apparently entertains him is the words. No doubt his delight in puns translate poorly, but it's still obvious; he also has a habit of embarking on enormous lists of things - lists that you'd think would be too long even for an American to love, but take on a kind of grandeur in their endlessness.

A combined example: One character, having been brough back from the dead (he had his head sewn back on) describes the degraded occupations of various classical celebrities in the afterlife, playing on the words of the standard tag that accompany their names. This book has no notes (correction: very few notes); I can only confirm this because I know the hero of the Trojans was known as "Hector, Tamer of Horses". Luckily for me, Rabelais' joke on this one works in English. In the underworld Hector is a Taster of Sauces. Ho ho ho.

You'll get some idea of the mind we're dealing with if I say that list goes on for most of three pages.

You will also deduce the plot runs to the big and silly (Garganua and Pantagreul are both giants, as you might imagine). Various satirical points come up, often quite explicit, but the whole thing is so blatant they somehow sneak up on you.

Keen readers will know I've been looking - profitably and usually enjoyably - at various Great Works of Satire. I didn't expect to be influenced by Rabelais the way I was by Swift, Cervantes, Twain or Bierce (and others) but in a small way it happened.

For one thing, that last column includes a rather uncharacteristic, but slighly rabelaisian reference to vomit. And it wasn't the first thing I though of either. I'm sure M. Rabelais would be rather bemused by my self-censorship.

But I think the mad monk's playfulness influenced a bit that went down well with my test audience - the passage in the coalition conditions about "... with a determination equal to the number of days since an international sporting victory multiplied by the baubles of office while keeping government honest." I'm thinking in particular of Gargantua's masterful resolving of an legal case which everyone else has found incomprehensible. Because it is: the exposition and solution are presented as a large quantity of finely-crafted nonsense.

Both fun things to write, anyway.

So. On the shoulders of giants, more literally than usual.

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