Hard News by Russell Brown


Strange Southern Superman

Predictably, Tim Shadbolt was on full noise as he claimed credit yesterday for the Southern Institute of Technology's receipt of $6.5 million from the Quality Reinvestment Fund:

He said SIT had only received $1m in the past two years from the Quality Reinvestment Fund and the huge leap in the amount awarded this year was clearly spurred by his take-no-prisoners campaign.

"To suddenly get $6.5 million is a huge victory," he told NZPA.

A quick look at the paperwork suggests this is beginning-to-end bullshit.

The Quality Reinvestment Fund was established in 2005 to help tertiary institutions improve their services and adjust to the new tertiary education strategy.

Yes, SIT only received $1m from the fund in the past two years. But so did everyone else The first two stages of the fund were early adjustment funding, intended to help institutions prepare a case for funding. The first year's maximum grant was $250,000, the second's was $750,000. Most of the country's polytechs signed up for both. SIT got $1 million over two years not because it has been cruelly neglected by a now-contrite government, but because that was the maximum available.

And if Shadbolt had been the true Southern Superman, surely SIT would have received the full $9 million it requested from the TEC, which administers the fund?

The only potential intrigue around the grant is the timing of the announcement. I suppose it's possible that was influenced by the publicity. But SIT has been negotiating with the TEC for this money for about a year, and has become more agitated since its 18.5% decrease in teaching, learning and research funding since CPIT won its argument about what it regarded as SIT's predatory offering of fee-free courses in Christchurch. It would have expected a result some time soon.

So let us be clear: this isn't the funding he'd been campaigning for, and claims of "victory" are, to put it mildly, overstated.

With Shadbolt's tirade against senior council staff, his subsequent "healing the wounds" party (originally to be funded by ratepayers, until Shadbolt's corporate sponsors hastily picked up the tab), and his curious attempt at polling the public, you really have to wonder where the man's head is at.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney's fatuous departure speech is admirably dealt to by Jon Stewart here.

Good news from Iraq: the release of letters from two commanders of al Qaeda in Iraq lamenting that things have turned to crap for them in a very large way. This shouldn't really be a surprise. These people were appalling brutes and the local Sunnis seem to have been happy to defect to the forces controlled by the Awakening Councils and get paid in US taxpayer dollars.

But anyone under the impression that things are sweet in Iraq might wish to consult recent posts on Iraq Today. If anything, it appears that violence is surging again, and that repatriation of the two million external refugees from Iraq has slowed sharply.

Juan Cole runs down Friday's violence, including more US troop deaths, and McClatchy reports Thursday and Reuters does Wednesday. It's actually hard to take in.

But just to cheer you up, I noticed that Boing Boing discovered the notorious "guido" pictures last week. The club culture of New Jersey is dressy in a rather strange way:

And oh no, that's not an isolated case of spray-tan madness. It's a look:

There's much more at Barstool Sports and in the copious archives of Hot Chicks With Douchebags.

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