Posts by BenWilson

  • Hard News: The Midterms, in reply to Roger M,

    Yes, it does. Periodically it completely overthrows its leadership without violence, by ballot that is open to most of the population. That is the bare minimum requirement to be considered a democracy. But yes, it could be improved enormously. And I don't think it will in any foreseeable future.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    There were structural reasons why the Senate was unlikely to flip, the main one being that half of it was not up for election. But I'm not following what your reservation is. The election followed the poll predictions - it was not a rogue result. The people who make the laws and control the purse strings in the USA are now a Democrat majority. It's a huge part of the governance, and does not flip lightly. To move by around 8% in 2 years is a sign the voters want this check on the President, who has only just been elected. His honeymoon is most certainly over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    No discernable trend apart from the swing to Democrats in the house.

    It's really quite a large swing, though, however much the annoying coverage on American TV tries to talk it down. Just because it did actually follow what the polls predicted doesn't mean it's not highly significant. The House being in Democrat hands is a major power shift in the USA, and it will begin manifesting immediately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The big vision and the small problems, in reply to dcnbwz,

    It looks to me like certain factions of the National party are moving into Trump like politics, one faction with a definite agenda of getting to be leader.

    I can't see it working out for National anywhere near as well as it has for the Republicans (and I don't think it really will work out that well for them either, in the long run). Trump has at least made me realize that when the other side polarizes hard, that instead of trying find the middle ground, the natural response really is to take your side harder. Otherwise their strategy works, and the center is dragged out by the extremes. I'll be fucked if I'm ever going to find a middle ground with white supremacists, and this kind of position from Woodhouse is something I have no time for whatsoever.

    It's a dog-whistling non-sequitur, and engaging with it is mostly a waste of time. The initiative will improve outcomes for a lot of children in need, but as a result, it will also improve outcomes for all other children too, as special needs children disproportionately drain teacher time, dragging down their effectiveness in classrooms. To bring it back to entrepreneurial tax burdens is idiotic in the extreme.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think at one point Nate was trying to explain that his model was being too aggressive. Yeah.

    Yes, I don't think that kind of probability based prediction is easy to do when information comes in an order that is not random, but instead has a clear and known pattern.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms,

    Well Fivethirtyeight just collapsed that to 100% chance that the Dems take the house. ABC has called it too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms,

    Phew, that worked. Fivethirtyeight puts it at 14:1 for the Democrats taking the house. When I went to paint it was only 5:4. But I think that’s normal as the daylight passes across the country. First blue, then red, then blue again. Funny to think that the probability of winning moves around that much, but probabilities are always based on what we know at the time, and throughout the day projections are overpowered by realities, causing the knowledge situation to literally fluctuate. Just how it works.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Midterms,

    Stressful as. Think I might paint the house for a few hours and check back in then. Although a Republican win of the House is unlikely from the polling leading in, it's not so unlikely that I'd be shocked.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The better place,

    I too feel very much bummed by the news of the week. Spent the whole time painting with the family - my eldest really got into it, and I had to strongly resist the temptation to send the kids away for getting in the way. After a while, they stopped being worse than useless and he put in some solid hours. I realized that watching The Block (not my idea!) has piqued his interest generally in the process. And it is fun - for a while.

    It also turns out that he can read maps way better than me. Like a lot of what he knows, he learned that from video games.

    On our drives, I got your lad to navigate using my map book. At first, he was lost (and had quite an amusing go at me for having such an archaic thing in my car as a map book), but picked it up fast, once I explained the index. I felt like local geography was a pretty important thing to have a mental map of, and laboured the point a lot. Good to hear it's a skill he's developed.

    There's so many, many little skills in life that we take for granted as being self explanatory that really aren't. I'm constantly amazed at therapists for my point picking up on quite simple things that my eldest hasn't worked out, and how after they do, he weaves it in to his life. I'm resigned (and I thank you and your lad for helping me with gaining this insight) to the concept that teaching him how to be an adult is just going to be long process with a lot more hand holding than is usual.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Abroad and Home,

    Maybe a little holiday in Europe or down in the land of plenty while it's going on?*

    The world is watching in steadily increasing astonishment at a formerly prosperous and powerful country imploding. It's not pretty. The worst part is that it's entirely an own goal. No external party can be blamed for any of this. It's like watching an alcoholic self destruction spiral, in a wealthy family.

    *I can't say things are all peaches down here - came across my first West Auckland shanty town on a walk last night. Along an unused pathway next to the railway line there was a row of 5 tent like structures, jerry-built from tarpaulins, housing at least 5 people, one of whom was a young woman, who looked as miserable as you'd expect, anticipating a cold, wet night. I know such sights are commonplace around the world, but it's something I've literally never seen in West Auckland before. Or actually anywhere in NZ, for that matter. This was a small homeless community doing their best not to die on the streets. I'm regular getting approached by beggars, and frequently questioned by the police just for walking around at night (a sign that they are struggling to deal with roving thieves and robbers). There is constant copper chopper presence most nights.

    At least it seems like the Government are doing their damnedest to crank out housing. It's long overdue, and Ardern has showed just how easily solved it really is, it only involves having a will to actually do it. I think it's going to take a long sustained bipartisan effort across at least 20 years to pull us out of the housing poverty spiral that's happened here, though, and I don't see any indication of National coming to that party. Long may they stay in Opposition, in that case, until they get their heads out of their arses. But established right wing parties all around the developed world are showing signs that heads up arses is the new normal, and nowhere more clearly than in Mother England.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10568 posts Report Reply

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