They let anyone in. Its a bloody crime, I tell you…

Woohoo! My citizenship ceremony is on the evening of the 17th. Now I just have to sing the national anthem and learn the Affirmation of Allegiance. It goes like this:

I solemnly, and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful and bear true witness against my neighbour’s ox… umm… hang on…

I solemnly, and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful and bear truly down upon the err… thingy….

I solemnly, and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful and truely allegiate myself to the Queen with big dogs biting her coz she’s too saved… no, that’s something else…

I solemnly, and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful and bear fruit throughout the summer months… girding loins is in there somewhere, isn’t it….

I solemnly, and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful true to bears… oh I’m losing it here….

NZ should have a more memorable and suitable national oath. How about:

Er yeah g’day. Right ho. I promise do whatever Queen Liz says, if she can remember where Godzone is, I promise to behave myself most of the time, not to give the cops too much lip, unless I’ve had a few, to rarely drive when I’ve drunk, and to slag off the bloody Aussies at every opportunity. So help me Fred.


Google Earth have updated their Wellington imagery. Round about feb-march this year, judging from the state of assorted construction around about the place. So, its time for another far too hard quiz:

Where is this and who lives there?
First person to get them all wins the entire contents of my head. But if you’ve got them all, then you probably already have the entire contents of my head, so I’ll get you a beer instead. And they’re not all in Wellington. And by “lives”, I mean used to, will, or is there occasionally. And by “there” I don’t necessarily mean Wellington, either, though most are.

1. (We’ll start with an easy one) – solved by

pics, glorious pics


Coz of today’s dissappointingly slack contribution from and in lieu of any more bombshells from , you get to be treated to what’s on my mind. Strangely, its not Jake Gyllenhaal:

New Zealand’s very own Uranium Rush!!!. It wasn’t very big.

Why companies do better than governments. Coz companies tackle the easy problems and governments the hard problems. And that’s how its supposed to be.

The economics of petrol. In short, prices go up, people use less. And moan about it lots.

Craigslist makes money and always has done; Amazon lost an astounding amount of money and is barely breaking even. Some people very upset by Craigslist’s approach. Boss of Craigslist not too fussed.

WoW guild names: “My little Pwnies

[EDIT – ah fvck it, kittens:

Tokyo Drift

F&FIII – Tokyo Drift should have ended with the bad guy’s Celica falling off the cliff, landing upside down on top of the good guy’s Mustang, then they finish the race together, get out of the cars, make their piece, declare their love for each other and live happily ever after. All to the tunes of Evil 9’s “Restless“.

This was my road in Japan:,140.17514&spn=0.009459,0.019999&t=k&om=1

And a brief glimpse of a TVR Tuscan, but not drifting? Its perfect for it, ludicrous engine in front, rear wheel drive, no traction control, easily replaceable glass fibre bodywork. Perfect (its right at the end of the clip).

Anyone know of something to convert mpeg-4 into wav or frankly anything else. Its gutting that this:

won’t play on my ‘plays anthing’ iRiver. Also, its fantastic. You want it. You want it now. Go get it.

winamp plays it just fine, on a puter

All quotey today

“Socialism collapsed because it did not allow prices to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow prices to tell the ecological truth.”

said by Oystein Dahle, a VP of Esso. A few more businessmen like that and we wouldn’t be in the mess that we’re in.

Minor irritation

I had yet another really boring dream. This time, the van ran out of diesel in Wiltshire. I got the spare fuel tank and walked to a nearby garage. Came back, filled it up, it worked.


And my citizenship application has been approved, so I am just one singing of the national anthem away from officially being a Kiwi.

EDIT: Just got caught in an icy shower. It was cold enough that the scars on my face started hurting, which is a new and entirely unpleasant experience.

And this week’s editorial:


Despite all the snuggling into multiple duvets, there’s one part of me that still gets cold. Not my head, you’d be surprised at how warm two millimetres of hair is. Yup, its the back of my neck.

There’s only one solution – I’m going to grow a mullet.

yes, this is in direct response to all the people impressed by me – stop it, you’re creeping me out

How to:

How to lose a war:
Rear Adm Harris said:
“They are smart. They are creative, they are committed,”
“They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

You couldn’t make it up, US military considers Guantanamo suicides ‘acts of war’ against America.

How to win a war:
California has had thirty years of astounding economic growth with no growth in electricity use. Why? Efficiency. (Also, Rod Oram is good.)

How to get ready for Peak Oil and make ourselves rich in process:
Damn, didn’t get a personal mention, but hell, we got the ideas into the paper.

And how to confuse a Jez:
Free trade makes everyone better off, because the countries who are best at making a particular thing can export it to everyone else, and import different things from those who are best at making everything else. So why in the name of Jeebus did Britain import 465 tonnes of gingerbread whilst exporting 460 tonnes? Its the The chocolate biscuit paradox.

Oh crap

I have nothing to do. This is a whole new experience for me.

I could tidy and clean, but its pretty clean here. I could train more, except hockey this morn and aerials this afternoon, so body is dealt to. I could think, but brain all thinky no argh thinky. I could go see people, but its just turned manky out.

So I’m going to sit on my arse and do nothing. I’m seriously out of practise at that.

And, I have new tunes.

Fvck Yeah

Its not often you get to walk out of an exam going “fvck yeah!”

So I think I may have crossed the line between annoyingly chipper and utterly insufferable.

And then I went and sat in the sun outside Deliaro and enjoyed not having to do anything with my brain at all. Also, a blue cheese and quince toasty, which is one of the best combinations in the world.

And then there was shopping for Tunes and bumping into People. Now there will be a Jaunt on my Velocipede in the Sunshine, followed by a Movie, then a Party.

And then I may die of exhaustion, coz I’m deeply, deeply shattered.

How to mislead

Yet another press release slagging off the Green party, from NZ’s climate skeptics claiming that New Zealand has got colder since 1998 and therefore climate change is a myth.

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it, ‘everyone’ knows that global warming is happening, so if its getting colder, then maybe, just maybe, the huge environmentalist conspiracy is wrong after all. And they’re making this claim based on proper scientific evidence, too, not like those wooly-haired hippies in the Green party.

And strictly speaking, they’re absolutely right about the first part. NZ has got colder since 1998. This is all pretty convincing stuff, except they’ve missed out one tiny fact.

1998 was the hottest year on record.

Consider, the men’s high jump world record hasn’t been beaten since 1993. Every high jumper since then has done worse. Does this mean that men are getting shorter? No. In fact, a more realistic view of the evidence would consider that the record in 1912 was 2.00 metres. The fact that its 2.45 metres now rather suggests that men are jumping better, over the long run. However, choosing the highest level ever reached as your baseline, you can make a claim that everyone recently has been worse.

Now, if you don’t know that 1998 was a record year, then what they’re saying comes across as eminently reasonable. If you do, then their argument come across as utterly specious. I’d like to call it lying, but they’re not, just misleading. What is a mystery to me, is that such dire reasoning and blatant misuse of evidence can get published in the newspapers.

Science, part 3

Can you tell the difference between these graphs:


One is a measure of reality and can be explained with one paragraph. This we call science.

The other is a random bunch of lines, thrown together with sufficient complication to stop anyone from disagreeing. This we call propaganda, lying, bare-faced cheek, or economics. And it makes Edward Tufte cry.

But less bitching, what can we learn from this? (Aside from the fact that I don’t like economists, but you’ve probably worked that out by now.) Rather a lot, actually.

How to save (one third of) a MILLION DOLLARS on your mortgage

(in which our hero realises things about mortgages that they really should teach at school)

We’re building a house in Brooklyn, or nearly about to start on the carpad. And the house we want is going to cost something like H!L!F! dollars. We can afford it, but with a twenty-five year mortgage.

Kicking the numbers around, it turns out that we’d paying more to the bank in interest than we’d be paying for the house.

Swyvst that for a game of soldiers.

So here’s Plan B – build half the house. Build the half with the kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom. If it costs half of H!L!F! then we pay off mortgage in 8 years. Build second half of house. Pay of mortgage in 8 years. Save approx 75% of the interest costs.

Why? Coz on a mortgage of H!L!F!, our first payment would be mostly interest, not paying off the loan, so the loan initially gets paid off very slowly. On a mortgage of half that, our first payment is mostly paying off the loan, not paying interest, so it gets paid off faster and there’s then less interest, so the loan gets paid off even faster.

Saving us getting on for a third of a MILLION DOLLARS in interest.

(not saying that this is what we’re going to do, there’s other considerations, but its something we’re considering)

So the solution is obviously, buy the smallest house you can squeeze into, pay it off before moving up.

And yes, this is deeply regressive, in the economists sense of the word, where regressive means “kicking the poor in the nuts”. The Poll Tax in the UK was not regressive, it affected everyone the same. Yes, poor and rich hit with the same size bill. This is perfectly fair, for some meanings of fair. Cue riots and the downfall of Maggie.

This is worse.

If a rich person and a poor person buy the same house, but the rich person can pay the mortgage off quicker, then the same house costs the poor person more overall. Whoops.

Who’s got an incentive to change this sorry state of affairs? Banks are quite happy giving out 25 year loans secured on property, coz that means 25 years of interest payments. Developers get a better return per cost of land by building big houses that need 25 year mortgages. Poor people can’t complain coz they’re busy trying to afford the rent. Government? Well, obviously the market is working wonderfully, so why should they intervene?

On eloquence

Wot I wrote:
“Our national energy security is at growing risk from our total dependence on overseas supplies of oil. Our economy is affected by the rising price of oil and its impact on our current account deficit. The continued use of fossil fuels is accelerating climate change, which will introduce a new layer of costs.”

What someone else wrote:
“Oil, …, its volatile price erodes prosperity; its vulnerabilities undermine security; its emissions destabilize climate.”

And that’s so much better than mine that I feel like never trying to write again.

This is an increasing concern for me, witness the first Glorious George‘s concern for Saxon language and yesturday’s example of translating a rap into a far-removed different dialect, maintaining both sense and scan. That’s just showing off but I couldn’t do it if I tried.

Its not that I’m bad, I can take agricultural productivity, the epitomy of a worthy but dull topic, and turn out an interesting editorial. But I’m not as good as I want to be at writing common English. I can write perfectly acceptable scientific English, I’ve been trained to, with all its latin and greek roots to provide an aura of unquestionable authority. That leads nicely on to writing appropriately complicated Management Drivel, but that merely provides access to The Club, rather than being useful.

I think I need to remember how to speak very plainly, before all that education intruded. My original dialect comes from a mix of Mercia and Wessex, I grew up north of the river, went to school south of it. Reading plenty of older English would help. How old?

Fifteenth Century, no prob:
“And one of theym named Sheffelde a mercer cam in to an hows and axed for mete and specyally he axyed after eggys. And the good wyf answered that she coude spake no frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wold haue hadde egges and she vnder-stode hym not. And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolder haue eyren. Then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel. Loo what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren. Certaynly it is harde to playse euery man by cause of dvuersite and chaunge of langage.”

Fourteenth Century, I’m tenuous:
“Siþen þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe borgh brittened and brent to brondez and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of treasoun þer wroght
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erthe:”

Older than that, I’m stuffed.

So maybe I’ve found something to learn after this economics is done. Oh, and getting back to being fit, having some fun building the house, then starting on the List.