Posts by Dennis Frank

  • Hard News: About that Lancet study,

    From a sceptics point of view, such findings do show that there's no universal panacea effect - but there rarely is with medications anyway. Media organisations have to spin a contraversial headline out of a story somehow, so not surprising when we get an over-dramatised & over-generalised summary appearing. It would help if user-groups lobbied on the basis of common ground experience, such as forming a group (if one doesn't yet exist) of all users who feel they have experienced benefits from usage. Then have that group nominate several members who are willing to speak publicly on their behalf.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let Canada do our cannabis homework, in reply to nzlemming,

    I thought the most interesting bit from the SMH was this: "the results are not straightforward. Most of the cannabis users reported they personally felt it worked well to treat their pain – despite also reporting higher levels of pain."

    A paradox, requiring interpretation. Most users got pain relief from their usage, but it was temporary, because the cause of their pain was not removed. If you treat symptoms instead of causes, you fail to solve the problem. Science, when used by the media as a smokescreen, produces disinformation.

    Healing ought to be the focus. Merely managing patients institutionalises a high-cost health system. Science applied to medicine via statistics has an unfortunate tendency to lead to banal generalisations, as in this instance. Running regularly makes many people more healthy but we don't force everyone to do it because it doesn't work for many others. The reason people need the law changed is because it produces a better quality of life for many, and that evidence comes from personal testimony, not stats. Dismissing it as hearsay is traditional science and bad public policy!!

    Deb Lynch, president of the Medical Cannabis Users Association: “It has given me back my life. Prior to starting on the oil treatments, I was on high doses of multiple opiates. I was in bed wanting to kill myself and my pain wasn’t being addressed. Now I’m running all over the country.”

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: They want to blow it all up,

    I don't think the Trump crowd want to blow it all up - no capitalist can succeed in a social environment of total chaos. They're now intent on implementing their anti-establishment agenda. Replacing ideologues like the Breitbart guy with pillars of the establishment like the mad-dog military dude is meant to show that they're serious about reforming the establishment.

    The target being the global control system. Can't make America great if that octopus keeps throttling it, right? So house & senate republicans who are compliant with the system and signal to voters that they are anti-trump risk getting dumped at the mid-terms later this year. Nationalists vs globalists is simplistic, but seems to explain the behaviour we see.

    The cleverest thing the Bilderbergers can do to retaliate is to televise part of their conferences: adopt a public profile to demonstrate that they are operating on a common-interest basis. Just televise the output of their collaboration, I mean, as a pr exercise. Continuing to operate in secrecy is a recipe for impotence now.

    Readers keen to point out that the Bilderbergers are just working for the 1% plus a bit of trickle-down are missing the point. In geopolitics, as in politics and warfare, perception is often more influential than reality.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let Canada do our cannabis homework, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Girls just wanna have fun. She went on to author four books, was actress, photographer, tv talkshow hostess, got awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from a university in Ontario. Tours giving talks on bipolar - wonder if she opines on the tendency of certain drugs to escalate that predisposition...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let Canada do our cannabis homework, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yeah, Ian, indeed relevant. I happened on this too: Cool that Fidel's other son acknowledged Justin's co-paternity in his suicide note eh? Wonder if someone's told Justin yet.

    Sceptics point to the lack of evidence of any conception opportunity in March '71. Common sense tells us that any such tryst was designed to be secret, of course! Anyone who looks at the faces of the contending fathers & son can see at a glance who the real father is. No scientic basis for the inheritance of charisma (yet) but I can see where he gets it...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let Canada do our cannabis homework,

    Thanks Russell, good appraisal & I agree we ought to get past convictions scrubbed (even if most such convicts are probably now dead).

    Let's keep an open mind re the current Minister of Justice. Binding would be best, but if he designs one that has suitable text - to produce a mandate for subsequent legislation - he'll deserve our respect.

    I agree with Alfie & the Drug Foundation that users must be able to grow their own. Canada setting four plants per person could be a problem: gardeners know plenty of seedlings get wiped out by nature before getting established. If the legislation specifies four fully-grown plants, no problem.

    I agree that teenage users get damaged, but they'll use it anyway - so a twenty anything age discrimination law will never work. Jeez, I recall one of my younger brothers telling me he & school-friends were getting high & I warned him accordingly. That was 1971, Wanganui (he was 16). As a result he's been straight & extremely hostile to drug-taking since the early eighties. Zillions of similar stories around the world since then provide a substantial common ground of experience.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Radio With…,

    Appreciate the feedback folks. Hey, I remembered buying the first vinyl album of the Members, Chelsea Nightclub, due to rave reviews & playing it during the breaks between live sets. It grew on me enough that I actually paid to go & see them when they came & played Mainstreet. Parked myself safely on the balcony as pogoing fools in the maelstrom down below spat at the band.

    There's four tracks on that made it into my carefully-selected best songs of all time (4,000 or so - nowadays a library of electronic files). I still sporadically make compilation CDs, and listening to Soho a Go-Go & Sound of the Suburbs recently found myself again rating their guitar sounds as right up there with the all-time very best (John Cipollina, Roy Buchanan, Carlos Santana, Edge). Excellent blend of classic lead & rhythm lines like Keith Richard, but even more definitive & elegant. Ok, there were two of them, but their rapport in synch makes the synthesis quite stunning. Punk bands doing thrash made me tune out, but the superb artistry of those guys was something else entirely.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Radio With…,

    Obviously a generational thing. I was a regular viewer of C'mon despite its cringeworthy covers format. Pete Sinclair knew how to pace a show and his dynamism & flair made up for the marionette-like performances of the local bands & singers. Later we got the Grunt Machine, some dork of a dj called Paul Holmes pretending to know something about rock music, and RWP seemed an unwatchable outlet for music industry wannabes faking it continuously for an incredible 15 years.

    As the old saying goes, no accounting for taste. So much wonderful new music being made during those years that was never promoted by either commercial radio or tv - cognoscenti shared it via word of mouth despite the media bias.

    I made a brief contribution to the local music scene, which is detectable if you run `squeeze' in the Audioculture search module, and check out Garth Cartwright's review at the top of the list. "I think it existed for a year from mid-1979 to mid-1980." Correct. "Who set it up and ran it? No idea." The editor provides that info, courtesy of liaison with my second wife Annie in 2013: scan down to the picture of us at the bottom of the page. The page features a bunch of posters from her archive, but I've also got some somewhere that I was too busy to dig out at the time. Same problem nowadays & I may never get around to telling the full story but here's a brief sketch...

    Annie had a stall at Cook Street Market, top floor opposite (owners) Brian & Ronnie’s near the front ramp, and there we got friendly with Ray Hart-Smith. I remember Ray telling us the Island of Real couldn't fit all the people who tried to get in each weekend, so there was room in the market for competition. Ray was a few years older than me - seemed to get his style from the beat hipster era, so he was the entrepreneur. To me the enterprise was just an incidental creative venture. Annie was the enthusiast, so I credit her & Ray for making the business happen.

    Calling it The Squeeze was my idea (not sure why the young clientele preferred to drop the definite article). Ray's wife Lynette also helped run the venue, as did our young extremely attractive friend Angie who was also a market regular. So the basic plan was to capture half the trendies from Charlie Gray and when Ray told us several months after we launched that nobody was going to the Island of Real any more I was surprised: must've worked better than expected. Problem was there weren't enough new-wave bands around to keep the trendies coming so we had to resort to featuring punk bands as well.

    That meant attracting the crowd from Zwines, who were composed of two subcultures, the skinheads & the boot-boys, both prone to violence. I had decided to become non-violent early in 1964 (post-adolescence) and Ray & I were doing the door because our profit was too small to employ security. Bit of a challenge, eh?

    As it turned out, the worst that happened was when I told a bunch of them that they couldn't come in due to over-crowding, and one karate-kicked me in the chest. My hand came up in quick reflex just before impact & fingers got crunched. A year later I noticed the little finger was a bit crooked so maybe it broke. Anyway, could be they noticed that I wasn't as impressed as they expected, or maybe I said the right thing to defuse the situation, because they drifted off.

    Think we had Toy Love play twice and I saw Chris Knox run the sharp edge of a broken bottle down his arm while the band played, saw the blood start running in several trickles from the cut. Realised, okay, this guy's as far out as me in his own way, give him credit for authenticity. Years later in the nineties his daughter & my daughter became friends due to living close by in Grey Lynn & as a result Annie got quite friendly with Chris Knox. She's been friendly with Murray Cammick since the club days too.

    Annie reckons I did the wall-painting op-art backdrop of that photo. I have no memory of that but I did the large flood-lit sign we had above the front door which I both designed and painted & was real proud of: black & white psychedelic patterned lettering of The Squeeze on a vivid scarlet background. Unfortunately that was a chattel when we sold the business so I couldn't souvenir it. Mainstreet had started by then & taken too many trendies away; time to bail out.

    But yeah, the idea of a music club was to provide an unlicensed venue for young folk, and was the only legal way. The entry fee was called the membership fee, and nobody complained about having to become a member again each attendance! Ray recruited the bands. The MeeMees were still at school when we gave them their city launch, as Garth mentions: I remember talking to them with Ray to negotiate that - quite gratifying when they went to number one on the charts about a year later! Probably a couple of dozen bands played our place all up. The only one I genuinely liked (due to resonating with their melodies) was Flight X-7, but I've always been hypercritical & the cultural generation gap was too vast for me at the time.

    Sometimes the cops would come down the stairs, around half a dozen of them, stand around the perimeter of the dance floor, pretending they could out-cool both band & audience, who reciprocated by pretending they weren't actually there. Sometimes the harbour would flow into our drains. You could actually look & see it happening: they were around the perimeter of the basement where the walls met the floor! A reminder that Fanshawe St & adjacent Victoria Park are on land dredged up a century or more earlier. That building hasn’t subsided though, you can still see it, south side, around 6/7 storeys high, think there’s a service station next door...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: A submission on the…,

    Graeme makes some useful suggestions in respect of improving the bill. What puzzles me is why nobody in the debate thus far seems to want to focus on the political psychology of the situation. Verbal contracts seem now to be recognised by the legal profession, so why can't they get their heads around the electoral contract??

    Winston's a lawyer, so I always assumed his intention was to hold delinquent MPs accountable for breaching their contract with electors. Perhaps he has not been explicit about that but it seems rather obvious.

    On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Rights, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was published in 1762. I get that lawyers are constrained to be slow learners by their professional culture, but you'd think that 2.5 centuries is sufficient time to figure it out, eh?

    A member of parliament who abandons their party in order to pursue self-interest during a term of parliament must be held accountable for their disregard of our common interests. Human nature makes their betrayal of those a highly-charged issue in the minds of their electors. The fact that such misbehaviour hasn't happened since the nineties is insufficient reason to ignore the design flaw in MMP that enabled it: the authenticity of our political representation is at stake. That ought to be the primary focus of the select committee: redesigning the legislation to incorporate enforcement of accountability. I hope the select committee will produce such a design - but the exclusion of GP and NZF members makes that unlikely.

    We must acknowledge the right of an elected representative to use their freedom of expression to adopt a moral stance on an issue in accord with their conscience. However, it is unwise to discount the moral constraint imposed by the traditional convention of democracy: an MP is elected to represent their constituency, which in our MMP format is either a local or a non-local community. Electors vote for both an MP and their party separately, so their collective voting contracts parliamentary reps & their parties separately. Political stands taken and promises made during an election therefore form a social contract between voters and representatives. Voters will be likely to view any breach of this contract as immoral behaviour.

    Winston's bill attempts to represent this substantial body of public opinion. From the perspective of human nature, the right to change one's mind is a natural right which must be paramount. However human groups have been imposing rules that limit political behaviour for millennia. Breach of contract is illegal in other social contexts. We need only hazard a guess as to the percentage of the electorate that tacitly recognises the equivalence in the waka-jumping bill to see that we cannot marginalise them. Better to propose legislation that reconciles both views in a balanced way. For instance, allow an MP to publicly disagree with his/her party during the term, but require they vote in accord with their electoral contract until their current term ends, or else resign.

    Lawyers may claim there's no such thing as an electoral contract but nonetheless it has tacitly operated in the minds of voters for the past couple of centuries. Although Rousseau made the social contract famous prior to the American and French revolutions, its historical influence has been traced back more than two millennia (Social Contract Theory, 1990, ed. M. Lessnoff). This principle seems an essential part of democracy. I suggest we alter MMP to implement it, to ensure that MPs can no longer betray their electors. We could signal historical relevance by retitling it The Alamein Kopu Memorial Bill so as to reassure Winston that it isn’t really all about him!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to andin,

    Sympathy for the underdog seems often so widespread as to be a part of human nature. Then one notices that this huge crowd vastly outnumbers those who are ready, willing & able to translate that feeling into political action. Like more than a hundred to one, perhaps a thousand to one.

    Then look at all those refugees from south of the border, voting with their feet, trying to get in to join the falling through those cracks? As if all the other countries seem worse.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

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