Hard News by Russell Brown


Conversation Starters

We used to have a tinny house at the end of our street. Philosophically, I could hardly object to the sale of cannabis in small quantities. In practice, it was a real pain. Kids would come out and skin up in the car outside. They'd score, then roar away and pull noisy wheelies at the bottom of the cul de sac, right outside our children's bedroom window. Twice, our car, parked at the roadside, got sideswiped.

I tell this story by way of trying to illustrate the flaw in the Herald editorial headed Attitudes the problem, not liquor outlets, which argues:

The solution to problem drinking in this country remains what it always has been: to make wine and beer a normal, unremarkable part of civilised life. That end is not served by restricting its availability to big outlets selling in bulk rather than from one of the local shop.

Certainly, the proposed law restricting liquor licences to premises of more than 150m sq is a blunt instrument that will probably produce some perverse results. But the airy declaration that "The solution to problem drinking in this country remains what it always has been: to make wine and beer a normal, unremarkable part of civilised life," is the idle thought of a writer who does not live near any hole-in-the-wall liquor outlets.

These places are, effectively, the tinny houses of the liquor trade. It is quite consistent to enjoy a glass of wine with one's meal and not want one of those selling slabs of Woodstock to teenagers at the end of your street. Perhaps there is a better way to allow communities more control over the granting such licences, but dismissing anyone who doesn't want to live by one as a nimby hardly seems a helpful way to get there.


If Anne Tolley thinks Professor John Hattie's monumental "study of studies" on student achievement will have a “profound influence” on the future of schooling in New Zealand, does she now feel a bit silly having just forced through education amendments enshrining constant testing and teaching-to-test -- two of the top five things Hattie found do not aid student achievement? Having hailed the study as "exciting", what does DPF think?


Lynn Prentice at The Standard draws a tenuous link between the Greek riots and the (quite reasonable) unhappiness of local activists about what the outing of Rob Gilchrist has revealed about police surveillance. He might want to be careful about what he wishes for. In comments, self-professed "anarchists" display their usual arrogance, proclaiming "an end to capitalsim and all illegitimate authority, ie complete emancipation of humanity". Except for like, Facebook, y'know?


As the horror in Gaza grinds on, might I recommend Jonathan Freedland's writing in the Guardian? See Israel has plenty of tactics for war, but none for peace and Gaza after a Hamas rout will be an even greater threat to Israel. These columns will undoubtedly be earning Freedland the usual accusations that he is a self-hating Jew, but their logic seems persuasive to me.


Over at The Fundy Post, Mr Litterick has gone blog wild. I recommend it all as summer reading.


And the Media7 Summer Editions are back, with the latest show focusing on the story of the One News weather graphics in conversation with Alison Harley, who led their development in 1996; and the New Year Honours, with Jock Anderson and Tom Scott (ONZM). You might also enjoy the best-of shows compiled by myself and Simon Pound respectively.

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