Posts by Gabor Toth
Hard News: Together Alone, in reply to
Meth prices have skyrocketed.
What about meths? There may still be some for sale in certain supermarkets and grocery stores (of course all the hardware shops are closed).
Take 7 parts of methylated spirits, add 3 parts clean water and (ta dah!) you now have a 70% ethanol solution which is the same concentration as standard hand sanitiser. Apart from the gelling agents and the purple colour, it’s essentially the same stuff. Stick it in a small atomising spray bottle and you can also squirt it over supermarket trolley handles, ATM buttons etc. Methanol (which was used as a toxic ‘denaturing’ agent) hasn’t been used in NZ meths for about 20 years after the government took the sensible approach that if some alcoholics were going to drink the stuff, it wasn’t in society’s best interest to poison them. Methanol was replaced with c. 0.01% denatonium benzoate (aka “Bitrex”) which isn’t toxic but is bitter enough to ruin any attempt to turn a slug of meths into a base for a vodka and tonic.
Speaker: Russian Underground part 1,
Lovely! It's a shame that photographs can't capture scent; though I haven't visit St Petersburg, one thing I've noticed around the world is that every metro / underground railway has its own unique smell.
Hard News: Sky and 2020, in reply to
Not wanting to turn this into Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch but...
We live in a reasonably well-to-do part of Wellington in the western suburbs, 12 minutes drive from the CBD and about (as the crow flies, not as the cable runs) 600 metres from the nearest exchange. For $105 per month we get a landline and an ADSL connection that will do about 3.8 Mbits off peak (1 Mbits upload) but this will often drop to 2.5 Mbits during peak times (...and no there is nothing wrong with our phone lines or modem). No VDSL, no coaxial cable (the former Telstra Saturn network) and Chorus is not expected to lay fibre until December 2019. I'm not saying "be thankful with what you get" but try and appreciate the fact that crappy internet speed is something that many of us have to put up with and will continue to do so for some time yet.
This is where library databases come into their own; in this case Proquest ANZ Newsstream which most public libraries offer their members for free via their websites (as long as you don't have a stack of overdue book fines sitting on your account...). Being relegated to a small write-up on page 14 illustrates how MSM didn't really get the significance of what was happening at the time.
Dominion 16 May 1996, p.14
"TELECOM staked a claim in the burgeoning Internet market yesterday when it set up Xtra -- Telecom's Internet access service and Web site.
Chairman Peter Shirtcliffe said the Internet was in its infancy as a mass medium, but Telecom would position itself for a leadership role as the market developed.
"New Zealand businesses have yet to realise the savings the Internet can offer through immediate access to data," Mr Shirtcliffe said.
Telecom anticipated significant growth for Xtra as a market for goods and services, he said.
The site features 12 categories, including sport, news and weather, community, education and reference, travel, shopping and entertainment, as well as the Yellow Pages and Directories search.
Apart from Reuters, major news outlets were not represented but Telecom was negotiating with several outlets, including Television New Zealand.
The launch was accompanied by special offers of free connection and 10 hours free access within the first month for the first 5000 subscribers and for all schools which take advantage of Telecom's special Learning Line offer within a year.
The connection fee is $39.95 and three time-based pricing packages are available. Monthly charges ranged from $19.95 including two hours connection to $49.95 including 10 hours connection.
Noting that Telecom's prices were competitive but not significantly cheaper than other Internet service providers, Telecom's general manager Internet Services, Chris Tyler, said Telecom would respond to market conditions as required.
He said in the first year Telecom expected to win more than half of all new Internet connections. "
Hard News: The next four years,
The day after the election I met up with a North Carolina voter who had voted Trump. I think his expectations of what a Trump presidency would look like are completely wrong and only time will tell but the signs of instability and randomness favouring the richest and most privileges are all there.
This is worth a read. As well as the author's regret in voting the way she did, it also gives an insight into the problem with "Obamacare" which led to many voting for Trump in the first place; i.e. the absurdity of a monthly medical insurance bill of US $893 supposedly being "affordable care".
Speaker: Apocalypse on the count of…,
It’s interesting seeing these images (great photography Clinton) having just finished reading the geo-political thriller 2017 : War with Russia. The book is one of the most interesting pieces of bad writing I have come across recently; it makes Tom Clancy look like a Booker Prize winner. The writing is as clunky as hell but the reason so many people are paying attention to it is that the author is General Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff, the recently retired former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe. His premise is frighteningly believable; NATO has run down its non-nuclear forces to such an extent that it runs the risk of not being able to respond to a Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine became the third-largest nuclear armed state in the world. In 1994, the signing of the Budapest Memorandum saw an agreement signed between Russia, the USA and the UK (with France and China also having a hand in) that if the Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal, their sovereignty and territorial borders would be protected and guaranteed by all. The Ukraine signed up, gave up its nuclear weapons which were disposed of, and 20 years later Russia invaded, annexed Crimea and the world sat back and did f-all.
Shirreff’s concern is that Russia may try this again with the Baltic States and even though they are NATO members, his concern is whether the West would be willing to retaliate when the Baltics have traditionally been seen as being within the Russian sphere of influence. Russia is developing masses of new conventional weaponry, much of which is far more advanced than anything coming out of the West (check out the T-14 Armata tank sometime; it's frightening).
Shirreff's feels that the west probably wouldn't hit the red button in response to a Baltic invasion, running the risk that NATO is seen as no longer being fit-for-purpose and essentially collapses.
The 20-page introduction of the book is worth reading for anyone interested in the state of east-west geopolitics should you happen to see a copy in an airport bookshop or similar
He has also just become the first sitting president to publish a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Journal of the American Medical Association).
Just to note a couple of things about some of the nomenclature being used in this discussion. The AR15 which dominates in the US civilian rifle market and which has been used in several recent mass killings is not an assault rifle but a military-style semi-automatic. The M16 (the military version of the AR15) is an assault rifle because it is a “select fire” weapon (i.e. it can shoot single shots, full-auto or a three-round burst). However assault rifles are generally not available for purchase by civilians in the United States without a special license issued by the Federal Government which relatively few people have. Also the detachable bit that holds the ammunition is called a magazine, not a “clip” (a clip is different). The incorrect use of these terms by the media doesn’t make them correct.
This is important when entering into any discussion with or about the gun lobby or pro-2a individuals as they will generally ignore any argument when basic terms are used incorrectly. The same applies to when discussing an issue with people from a military background; e.g. get the word “battalion” confused with the word “company” and they will often ignore everything else you say regardless of how sound and rational your point of view is.
Hard News: Radio being made, in reply to
i've done a few retunes of both my freeview (satellite) decoders and can only pick up the radio (without pictures)
Yes; RNZ's PR machine doesn't appear to realise that their Checkpoint radio-with-pictures TV simulcast is only on Freeview UHF / terrestrial.
Freeview Satellite users miss-out (partly because Sky TV has snaffled so much of the Optus D1 satellite's bandwidth); something RNZ could be doing a better job of making people aware of.
Hard News: Ten Thousand Maniacs,
I've been yelling repeatedly at the radio over the past few days at the often reported "fact" that this is the "deadliest violence to strike France since World War II". It's a terrible event for sure and I would never belittle it BUT the above statement conveniently ignores the Paris Massacre of 1961 which has been swept under the carpet of collective memory due to the fact that the perpetrator was the French State via Maurice Papon.