Posts by NBH

  • Up Front: Not Uniform, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I think a uniform is one of the easiest and least disruptive ways to avoid kids feeling shitty 'cause they can't all have the flashest clothes all the time.

    And as someone who went to a no-uniform school (Wellington High, mid-90s), I can tell you that's the exact opposite of my experience. Granted, it may have had something to do with High's very Liberal culture, but there was absolutely no hassling on the basis of clothes, and certainly none on the basis of expense. It was the kids from Wellington College, Wellington Girls', Queen Margaret's etc. who were absolutely obsessive about what they wore and vicious to their fellow students that didn't measure up.

    Besides, the number of stories I've heard subsequently from friends about the 'cool' and 'uncool' ways to wear their old uniforms are legion. Being a teenager is remarkably like living in the Court of Louis XIV with the number of invisible social rules governing your behaviour.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Campbell interviewed, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    The list of professions where the highly trained knowledgeable and skilled professionals are managed by twatcocks with an MBA are alarmingly long.

    Although conversely, there is an unfortunate tendency in a lot of professions to denigrate management and assume that it's something that anyone can do. That's absolutely not true at all, and in some areas the sort of qualities that professional success rewards or selects for are not those that will make for good managers - and I've seen that phenomenon again and again. In my own area, for example, having a publication list that needs to be spiral-bound is no indication that you're particularly good at thinking about the current and likely future challenges to your department, have any understanding of what students actually need from their lecturers, or are particularly good at maintaining good relationships with your colleagues - including that nasty relic from the 1950s who does, however, have a publication list that needs to be spiral-bound. Good management is an art and a skill in its own right, and - like the ability to teach or communicate to 'lay' audiences - it doesn't automatically go hand-in-hand with professional expertise.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Voter turnout would drop markedly.

    If you're basing that on the existing low participation rate of 'young people', I don't think you can make that statement with such certainty. One of the elements of the habituation argument for lowering the voting age is that because - as izogi notes above - kids at school exist in a totalising institution that would presumably be strongly pushing the 'you should vote' message, they will be much more likely to vote than those who aren't. It's entirely possible that we'd see a large influx of people with voting habits more like the over-60s than the age group immediately above them.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Media Take: The creeping…, in reply to Tinakori,

    I suspect that the identification of ministerial advisors as political advisors in that study was made to give the impression the introduction of the political advisors in bulk under Labour was a simple and not very significant progression from the existing setup.

    It's a bit rough to accuse the only people in NZ who have actually studied this of falsifying their data. I think the Marsden Fund would be very interested in any evidence you have of that.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Media Take: The creeping…, in reply to Tinakori,

    There most definitely were not in the Bolger governments. I can think of one outside the Prime Minister's Office and they were a former electorate secretary

    I'm not sure that Eichbaum's work - which is pretty the definitive research into this in NZ - bears this out. For e.g. in 'Enemy or ally? Senior officials' perceptions of ministerial advisers before and after MMP' (2006), Eichbaum and Shaw identify a total of 39 political advisors in 98 (rising to 50 in 99 and remaining pretty stable around that level until a spike in 2004). They do claim that previously the term 'Executive Assistant' was commonly used for these roles, and that through the early 2000s it became more common to use a designation like 'Ministerial Advisor'.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yup. The brutal fact is that a good MSc is worth almost nothing. We pay our managers, finance and admin staff “market rates” but we pay our technicians the lowest amount we can get away with. We see people all the time make the entirely rational decision to take their talent and intelligence and use it in careers that actually will allow them to pay their mortgage.

    Yeah, and this is why current government 'STEM' policy is so misguided; it insists on treating the 'problem' in this area as an education one, when the real issue lies in the labour market. We already have a pretty high number of people studying in these areas (48% of degree students in 2013 were studying in STEM areas; 68% if you include Health under that umbrella), and simply trying to increase the number of students studying in these areas is pointless and a waste of everyone's time if there aren't sustainable jobs (& postdocs) available at the end.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat,

    It is worth noting that Peter Gluckman's been the driving force behind the National Science Challenges and they're one of his pet projects; I'm somewhat surprised that no one's asked him for his views on all this yet.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Jones: The contender leaves, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Point being these people were voted in by their Electorate. They didn't think they were deadwood and it was their choice.

    Oh totally - I was just responding to the commonly-articulated view that the Labour caucus consists primarily of 90-year old Roger Douglas clones who spend their days twiddling their thumbs in high-backed armchairs. The whole deadwood discussion seems like an unhelpful distraction to me.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Jones: The contender leaves, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Again, the dead wood issue comes into play

    Can I just ask who exactly constitutes the 'dead wood' that's supposed to be dominating Labour? Aside from Jones (and for all that I loathe the guy and am glad he's leaving, the supermarkets issue was a really good one to jump on), I can see an argument for Clayton Cosgrove, Mallard, and Damien O'Connor (though the last has a seat for life and from what I've heard is genuinely well-thought of as a constituency MP). Phil Goff and Annette King might have come in during the 80s, but both have excellent command of their portfolios and Goff's work around the MFAT restructuring and Defence has been really good.

    So aren't we really talking about three MPs out of 34, two of whom are now firmly on the backbenches? I guess you could bump that up to five if you included Ruth Dyson and Ross Robertson, but again they're both unranked and won't be making the trip back up anytime soon.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

  • Hard News: Standing together, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    There simply is no "code of ethics" for scientists that has any strength other than in the individual morality of the scientists themselves

    Um, I don't think that's true. Even if you don't belong to any professional scientific associations or societies that have codes for conduct or similar criteria for being members in good standing (and I'm pretty sure almost all will), you're subject to the definitions and standards of ethical practice associated with your employer. If you conduct research with human subjects without obtaining human ethics committee approval, falsify data, or engage in plagiarism, then although there's a good chance you haven't broken any law you will be subject to professional sanctions up to and including effectively not being able to practise as a scientist ever again.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report

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