Thursday, 19 August 2010


I've been spending all day processing emails ... see, I havm't had access to my main email account for a couple of months due to the move and there are some 800-odd outstanding mails. Too much for my poor waiheke dialup account :( so I'm using vodaphone webmail from an internet cafe; which is easy to use and streamlined, perfect for emergencies ... not!

I'm also looking to secure some sort of income - I have three teaching jobs to apply for, which will mean ressurrecting my CV and practising certificate. Kam are sending me Extra work again ("Go Girls" this time!) and I'm trying to navigate Income Support red-tape. Citizenship is the stumbling block - I entered this country on my parents passport from the UK in 1971, before an entry stamp was needed. Probably time I sorted this out. In the past I've been able to use ISS records as proof of legal residence but it appears this is no more.

Software Freedom Day this year looks to be a bust - I'll have to update the webpage. It looks unlikly that I'll be able to get to Orewa for my usual gig outside the library but I may be able to rig something up on Waiheke. We'll see. Meantime, HBCLUG members who want to do something better get it sorted out soon :)

Meantime, webmail is slow with little in the way of batch-processing. I killed an hour playing Plants vs Zombies ... addictive but not really challenging. Fun. And, of course, filling in a blog post. More later.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Too much 24

I had a bit of a tummy bug this last week. Bored and cooped up I decided to watch some of my DVDs ... maybe a couple of episodes or three of 24. Yeah right! It is not actually possible to watch just a couple of episodes!

Even on the third repeat viewing (that is the fourth viewing overall) the stories are compulsively watchable. Even though I can now see the gaping flaws in the premises. There are places where information is sought and obtained in a couple of minutes and where an individual is stated to be the only lead (justifying torture - which almost never works BTW) when there are several. There are also times where satellite archive images are checked, and where this is not tried - like star trek transporter malfunctions isolating the ship despite the presence of shuttlecraft. Nobody seems to use the toilet all day, except Cloe, once, to mislead someone. Perhaps they go in the ad breaks or when the focus is on someone else? Perhaps their dedication to duty is that strong?

The later seasons gradually get sillier. There are several crises sometimes, where there is a short break between and CTU or whoever start acting like its all over ... but they don't change shifts, like they want to be there all day or something. It would be reasonable to change over, and I think that is what I would have done for one of the seasons, for better drama. Imagine, you think its over, initiate an overdue shift change, then Jack calls in with the complication.

But its great fun.

I see season 7 is on DVD now, at $90 ... that's too much for me right now, I'll have to wait.

On the movie front, it has all been DVD rentals. Finally seen The Lost Boys and Phone Booth ... both with Keifer Sutherland. TLB still works well, even if the hip-vampire gang now come across more camp than cool (the glam-rock look has aged). Phone Booth got bad reviews but I sorta liked it - the premise (a psycho sniper using terror to "help" people) is silly and the characterisations cartoon, but cartoons are fun and the movie does not try to be anything serious.

Also saw and liked Daybreakers. I found it a competent dark comedy - it finishes with the minority humans going round infecting vampires with mortality. Cute. Not many films have dealt with the whole "the monsters have taken over" theme - and most do it badly (see "I am Legend"). It is still difficult for movie makers to portray humanity triumphing as a bad thing.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Derek Acorah in NZ?!


We've been graced with Deb Webber and .... . These people are coming out here because they've been outed everyplace else as the frauds they are.

DA must be one of the most outed "psychics" in the World. That he has managed to make millions at his laughably obvious routine only shows the extent of the human desire to be deceived. Watching a performance, even reading a transcript, is like watching a car crash in slow motion - there is a kind of horrible fascination but people really get hurt he's that bad. No, seriously:
Man: I just wanted to ask about my dad who died of cancer and I want to make sure he's all right.
Derek: I can't tell you that because he's not front of the queue.

Curiously, his wikipedia page is very hard to correct (it parrots the official, false, history and trivializes and underreports the outings). Everything is fake from the origin of his name (why bother making up a story for goodness sake: its just a stage name) to his achievements. Fortunately it is not hard to find verifiable accurate accounts. You know, like the UK birth, deaths and marriages register.

Do not pay money for this tripe - if you must watch, do it via that repository of bad taste: youtube.

I do see that he's supposed to get interviewed on Campbell Live: that should be worth a look. Lets hope John C. does some research first and actually asks some tough questions. If he doesn't, then he may hear a faint angry voice as from a distant ranting. That would be me, shouting very loudly at the TV.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sarah, Megan and NZ

Sarah's Law for NZ? We need to think carefully about this.

Right now anyone with routine unsupervised access to your children are already subject to police checks. For instances, teachers must submit to a police check to be registered and again when they apply for work. A criminal conviction of any kind disqualifies you. If you want to hire someone privately, you can always ask them to provide permission for the police to disclose their criminal record ... if they refuse permission, don't hire them. Beyond that it gets a bit silly -- what right have we to go prying into random stranger's history?

There is another sensibility of course - perhaps we can feel that paedophiles have committed such a horrible offence that there can be no trust again, ever. There is a substantial literature on this subject. A review of the serious ones show a general agreement that about 20% of those convicted go on to do it again. There are studies that put the repeat rate over 60%, but these are based on guesswork. It is important to get this right because is it repeat offending that is targeted bvy this kind of law. But perhaps the crime is so serious that we can afford to victimizing the genuinely reformed 80% to keep the remaining under a watchful eye. Their locations should be in a database and available to the public, and their movements tracked, effectively sentencing them to life-time home detention at the least. This would be a severe punishment, but it's a severe crime. Until we can think of something better, perhaps we should make an exception to our normal jurisprudence in these cases, after all, their victims didn't have their civil rights?

OK so you're a convicted paedophile and you've done your time, had therapy, and you want to just live a blameless life now. This kind of law makes it difficult for you to live in one place for long. You get your windows broken a lot. Well boo hoo cry me a river, you should not have done it in the first place.

The flip side is that a clever defense attorney is sure to use this sort of result as a reason to reduce any prison term. "My clients life is effectively over," he'll argue, "a prison term on top of all this disclosure is surely excessive?" Don't we want the courts to throw the book at these criminals?

If we want to be sure our children are safe from random pedophiles, then we need to supervise them (the kids) surely. This measure has the advantage of also protecting them from the many more likely things that can also happen.