Hard News by Russell Brown

The Pain

Nick Smith has an interesting story in this week's Listener on forensic psychiatrist Yolande Lucire. It's just a shame that she's completely full of shit. Lucire holds that what we know as repetitive strain injury is really a form of workplace hysteria, urged on by self-interested persons in the "occupational health industry".

Actually, I had a crippling attack of RSI several years ago. But I wasn't in a workplace, unless you count my home office as one. I wasn't being urged to wish myself an injury by any consultants or shop stewards.

Indeed, I really couldn't work out what the hell had happened on the morning my wrist collapsed and I dumped a cup of coffee into my computer keyboard. It was three days later that I got the pain: a sharp feeling like a nail going into the underside of my wrist, and a more general pain that developed through my forearm. Given that, like Terminator X, I speak with my hands, it was pretty scary.

But, while Lucire claims that "RSI was not relieved by its purported remedies", I did find a remedy: a floating wrist-rest called the ComfortPoint that can be obtained with some difficulty (these people seem oddly unfamiliar with the concept of e-commerce) from its Australian distributor. But the RSI is never far away from the surface. I can't play PlayStation for longer than about 20 minutes without the pain beginning.

And this week - which, I will grant, makes me additionally pissed off about Lucire - I've had the worst RSI attack in a long while, partially because I've knocked a 6000-word transcript for a Listener cover story. I suspect that too much time spent lately trying to shoot three-pointers in the driveway hasn't helped either. Lucire spoke here under the auspices of the Skeptics, an organisation I greatly admire, but a few of whose members have an ironic talent for fooling themselves sometimes …

Neil Falloon has a very funny account of Friday night's ASPA awards on the new collective blog Dog Biting Men. Some of it is even true. But I've told Nippert he'll never make it as a breakdancer until he gets a haircut …

MediaCow is also back on the same blog. She now has a gender and has some comment on the NBR's Hubbard hatcheting, making the reasonable point that if Mrs Hubbard wants, as she says, to reactivate the dormant role of Auckland's mayoress, she must expect some more scrutiny.

I still don't think that extends to being followed into church so her personal worship can be made fun of. The Cow asks me "where was the scorn" when Metro ran its "expose" on the incumbent John Banks. Well, for a start, Metro never called its story an "expose" and it never ventured into Banks' private life.

It was bylined "Gilbert Wong explains how the record comes up short," and covered, among other things, the city's alarming spending on consultants in the mayor's first two years (nearly double the three-year total for which Banks slammed Fletcher during the last campaign) and the Eastern Motorway fiasco. But the basic difference between Metro on Banks and NBR on Hubbard is really that the former was well-researched and accurate.

The Guardian has an editorial on the British ambassador to Italy's comment in what he thought was an off-the-record speech that President George W. Bush is the "greatest recruiting sergeant for al-Qaida."

Andrew Sullivan, one of the right-wing bloggers who has not decamped to la-la land, has quite a few interesting thoughts about Iraq, the Robert Novak column citing administration "sources" who tipped a near-term bail-out from Iraq, and the Bushites' rollback of gay rights. Worth spending some time on.

The Guardian has Huda Alazawi on her grotesque brush with Abu Ghraib prison. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya's post-Beslan account of being Poisoned by Putin is pretty alarming too. Democracy seems to be running quite rapidly in reverse in Russia.

And - top news! - Pacifier have gone back to being Shihad. Good call. Quite seriously, I think it will make their music better again too …