Posts by Jan Rivers

  • Hard News: Planet History: Heroes (and villains),

    You are right Russell. The Hero Parade and event on the wharf were utterly joyful celebrations no matter what notice the press took of them. I was there and I recall Michael Parmenter’s thrilling and risky blindfolded acrobatics above the crowd; incredible glittering drag artists lit momentarily by spot lights; a licentious and laurel leaved tableau with persons with tunics, gold body paint, grapes, figs and wine which was lit for perhaps a minute and then plunged in to darkness; a massed troupe? of lesbian square dancers with chequered shirts and chaps and an altogether raucous celebratory good time - a fitting and courageous response to the AIDS crisis.

    I’m curious that we appear to have moved from that pressure cooker into an altogether darker time. For many lesbian now means “same gender attraction” which kind of misses the whole point in my opinion - and includes “anyone who thinks they are a woman”. Even our own Human Rights Commission uses this definition. In NZ more than a hundred young women (many of whom would otherwise likely be lesbian) are on a waiting list for chest binders that damage ribs, backs and breathing while they save for the double mastectomies that are euphemistically called “top surgery”.

    Many of them will have had their transition decision sparked by the question "do you think you might be transgender?" - often by an authority figure such as a counsellor or a GP. Ot they will have watched hundreds of hours of proud young "transmen" talking about how they are “passing” and building muscle and about their forthcoming surgery. Meanwhile most of our professional caring classes from academics and medics to social workers and counsellors are forbidden by codes of practice from asking such young women what issues might at the root of the sudden belief that they are male. There is no NZ research that has asked the question why are young women presenting to gender clinics in ever greater numbers. In the UK numbers have expanded by 40 times over a decade and though figures are hard to come by NZ is not far behind. Even to propose such a project would be deemed “transphobic” as it has overseas.

    OIAs have revealed that more than half of them are suffering from mental health sequellae often caused by abuse, trauma or homophobia. About 1/3 will have autism spectrum disorders. When, as is happening more and more frequently, these young women mature – often breastless and sometimes infertile realising they were never male and detransition their insights are often that they were seeking to be less vulnerable. There is not let up for them though – as they recover they are criticised by their erstwhile community as ‘never trans’ and much worse. The pattern is the same for young men although the numbers are smaller.

    The current iteration of Pride where I and hundreds of other NZ lesbians are unwelcome, in fact some have been banned, as supposed TERFs is a disaster for the Rainbow community and more broadly for issues such as non-partisanship, tolerance, evidence based public policy, for the young people caught up in it and for supposed medical and counselling ethics. As an unfortunate experiment on vulnerable people it equals the cervical cancer debacle in the 1970s but unlike that debacle is almost wholly supported by the silence and aquiescence (or at least the fear of speaking out) of NZ's professional classes.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Polity: Behavioural economics and Hekia Parata,

    A couple of issues about nudge unit in the UK is that it is privatised and that it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Therein lie some big problems. as described in this Guardian article

    While the simpler implementations of nudge (behavioural modification)- the locations of toilets and refreshments in venues, opt-out rather than opt-in on organ donations, or road markings that support slowing on corners - implement ideas that are broadly supportive of the public good without a declared programme of work, openness and consultation there are potentially sinister ideas that could easily be developed.

    Firstly because of the UK FOI secrecy the nudge unit may already be operating contracts in NZ - we would be unlikely to know - and officials would presumably be bound to cite commercial confidentiality in relation to any OIA questions.

    Second there is nothing to stop political parties from hiring the nudge unit to carry out initiatives that manipulate populations without their knowledge in areas that have nothing to do with public good policy implementation.

    Let's not forget we already have in the public sector a behavioural modification scheme in use with more than 10,000 staff (through another company) that equates blue with positive behaviour and green and red with passive and angry behaviour respectively. See this by Jane Bowron

    Secret "nudge" initiatives are anathema to democracy. Citizens are not a laboratory for secret policy experiments and should not have to second guess what programmes we are being nudged (manipulated) by.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: NZME and you,

    In Wellington there is a mini-conference on 9&10 October - a Friday evening and Saturday at St Andrews on the Terrace which will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues. Amongst those speaking are:

    - Alastair Thompson from Scoop,
    - Alex Clark whose News Renewed research looked at the market for paywall journalism and concluded that while few readers would pay for a single 'paper' behind a paywall the interest in a bundle of media - say NZHerald + NYT - is significantly greater.
    - Peter Thompson, a Victoria academic whose recent research has looked a models for funding public interest broadcasting.
    - Oliver Lineham from OIA website
    and more.

    Public Good website has the information.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • OnPoint: Don't put words in our mouths, Rob,

    Good point The oxygen is still rather sparse given that we are possibly days from a TPPA signup and even as late as this morning Bill English is still being reported as saying "the Government was open to clamping down on foreign buyers, "whereas the South Korea trade agreement not only brings China into the no limit on sale provisions by foreign entities ever but the TPPA is expected to have the same provisions.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • OnPoint: Don't put words in our mouths, Rob,

    It's been revealed in the news that the National government has already signed the South Korea and Taiwan FTAs, which contain rules that prevent NZ from legislating to prevent residential sales by overseas speculators forever. The TPPA it is alleged contains the same rules. While NZ progressives have been eating each other over accusations of racism I can't help thinking some eyes should have been on the main ball earlier - the use of undemocratic power to disenfrachise NZ residents new and established of whatever background from the ability to legislate on issues of national interest.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Polity: House-buying patterns in Auckland, in reply to petronious,

    If you're explaining, you're losing

    What a spectacularly silly comment. So debate, clarification and argument are all superfluous making a case? Are you also proposing that public address is therefore populated by losers on all sides or are some kinds of explanation valid?

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Hard News: The GCSB and the consequences…,

    "Fewer whistleblowers, more corruption, less stability "

    Another consequence - not directly of mass surveillance but of the mechanisms and legislation that enable it - is that NZ is in danger of becoming a back water in ICT as the heavy handed, poorly drafted TICSA legislation prevents world leading research taking place in NZ.

    There's not a lot of point spending $24M to set up new post-grad ICT courses when another part effectively outlaws the biggest area of new research opening up. Juha Saarinen has written about the decision of Google and others to relocate to Australia as a result of concerns about punitive fines.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Speaker:'s Operation…,

    There's just over 24 hours to help Scoop renew and refresh it's governance arrangements into a social enterprise/community ownership model. Another $15,001 will see a mobile version on it's way.
    You can help too.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Speaker:'s Operation…,

    I don't think lawyering up is the issue here. The institutional users of Scoop get huge benefits from posting their information and having it available - curated and linked to similar information on Scoop - as well as the ability to use Scoop as a research resource. Councils, universities and polytechnics, political parties, NGO's large and small, professional bodies, corporates and unions all benefit from having an 400,000 + monthly audience for their stories. This audience importantly includes politicians and public sector officials who read and note the issues raised.

    With the demise of TVNZ7 & Heartland TV and the inability of Triangle TV to broadcast nationally NZ has lost 3 important news channels in the last few years. The corresponding crisis in the print media - a case of market failure if you will - cries out to be addressed by large public institutions recognising that they have an interest in paying what is essentially a very small amount of money to Scoop - as they do to the other news media through the PCMA.

    That the delivery model is a public good one - rather than a solely commercial one - should not undercut the moral case for paying to use it.

    Finally although the invisible firewall is innovative in publishing there are similar models. Institutions typically pay more for a journal to reflect the multiple usage than an individual subscriber does. In the software industry there are many examples where licences are free or low cost to 'not for profits' but other users are charged more. The question is would a university library buy a single user licence for the New Scientist ( or a government department choose to pay the not for profit fee for a software tool. If the answer is no then the situation is pretty clear what the right action is for institutional users of Scoop should be without an expensive court case to prove the point.

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

  • Speaker:'s Operation…,

    Hi Alastair,

    As you know I'm a fan of Scoop and fully aware of the value it offers. I wrote this piece recently identifying some of the information I was unable to find easily elsewhere (belying the reported comment about content aggregation)

    I'd like to know more about how you see the new governance structure working. What kinds of representatives might be involved and how could they engage with their sector to build Scoop's services? Also what are your ideas about what Scoop could achieve if it were able to raise say an additional $100K or $250k per annum from community supporters?

    Since Apr 2011 • 19 posts Report

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